Ranged Weapons- Thoughts and Ideas


General Discussion


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I'll apologize in advance, this post might become a be a bit long-winded and technical. This is essentially just a "Wish List" of game mechanic's I'd like to see involving the combat system.

I have played most of the d20 systems that feature Firearms and other High Tech weapons at one point or another, so I thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the Pro's and Con's of various design choices I have noticed over the years.

Damage

Thoughts on Base Weapon Damage:
I have touched on this a few times. We haven't gotten word on what the damage values will look like, but I am really hoping that weapon Base damage is significantly higher than we are used too seeing. In d20 Modern, a Pistol would deal between 2d4 and 2d8 damage, depending on caliber (with most dealing 2d6). In Spycraft d20, a Pistol would usually deal 1d10+1 or 1d12 damage. Rifles in d20 Modern dealt between 2d8 and 2d12, while Spycraft went with 4d4 and 3d6 (if memory serves).

d20 Future went even higher (unfortunately, d20 Future wasn't incredibly well balanced, but did have some really nice ideas on weapon modification, more on that later).

These damage values felt right to me then, and they still do now. A Laser/Plasma/Rail weapon dealing less damage than a Longbow is just very wrong.

Recoil

Thoughts on Recoil as a Game Mechanic:
This is something that isn't reflected in rules very often, but I think it should be. Dexterity is a key stat, and it becomes even more impressive when the entire game is based around the idea of using ranged weapons almost entirely. With a point buy system, it would be tempting to "Dump" Strength in such a situation. But what if weapons had a recoil Stat? For those who are unaware of what recoil is, it is (in short) the force applied to the shooter of a weapon by discharging it (generally making follow-up shots more difficult).

Some weapons should have greater recoil, while others should have little or none. This can be used as an additional balancing factor when designing weapons of various power.

An example method of representing Recoil: Let's say, that weapons with a recoil rating suffer a penalty equal too that rating on any subsequent attacks beyond the first in a round. A user can negate this penalty by an amount equal too there Strength Modifier. Additionally, allowing a wielder to increase their STR modifier by +1 for using 2 hands would make logical sense.

Continuing this example, lets say we have two weapons. The first is a Laser Pistol with a base damage of 1d10+1 and a Recoil score of 0. The Laser Pistol can be used by anyone without taking any penalties on subsequent attacks after the first. Alternatively, a Plasma Pistol is more powerful, Dealing 2d8 damage, but with a Recoil score of 2. User's without a 14 Strength will find it difficult to control in one hand (although by using 2 hands someone with a 12 Strength can manage it).

This makes logical sense, and also allows for a wider variation in weapons. Instead of every hero choosing a weapon based on only it's damage value, other factors are taken into consideration.

A character who want's to wield a pair of pistols might be better off choosing lighter models with less recoil (instead of simply picking whatever has the highest damage die), while a character that intends too carry only a single pistol might prefer the extra damage.

Shotguns

Thoughts and Ideas for Shotgun style weapons:
This is an area that really bug's me. I would love for us to get some future-tech shotguns, like Autoflechette guns, but please no cone effects! A MUCH better way too represent Shotgun's would be too assign them a High Base Damage, lets say 5d4, and a low range increment, lets say 20ft. Instead of suffering a -2 penalty to attack rolls for each range increment beyond the first, shotguns suffer a -2 damage penalty. So attacking a Target 60 feet away suffers no penalty to the attack roll, but deals 5d4-4 damage.

Weapon Modification, Accessories and Aiming

Thoughts on Weapon Modifications and Accessories:
d20 Future had a nice assortment of weapon modification's that could be applied too various guns, and I found this to be a great idea. Do you want a Laser Pistol that can be charged up for a more powerful shot? How about one that can be used as an Automatic Weapon? Clear rules for things like that are super valuable, and a great way too save page count in the long run. We don't need 5 different entries for various laser rifles and pistols if we can just modify the base weapon with a flexible "plug in" system.

I would also Like to see some rules for spending a Move Action to Aim (granting a bonus on the attack roll, but limiting you're rate of fire). This is NOT something that should be locked behind a feat, but should instead be written into the new rules (A Feat that makes you better at it would be fine).

Weapon Accessories are something else we could use. A few suggestions would be.
Recoil Compensator's: Going with my recoil Idea above, this would reduce a weapons Recoil rating by 1.
Scope's: These can reduce penalties for range, as well as increase the bonus from Aiming (see above)
Holo-Sighs: These can reduce the time needed to Aim too a Swift action, or perhaps simply provide a static bonus to hit.

I would be interested in hearing what people think?


I lot a like of your points there. Something that i thought was off in the tech guide was that all of those high tech weapons barely did more damage than base weapons. And having most of them be energy weapons in a game rife with energy resistances and immunities was harsh. I hope Starfinder defaults to physical damage or force, something that isnt highly resisted at least.

Recoil is sort of modeled by the restricted number of shots per turn and the additional penalties to hit based on attacks made, ie. using rapid shot with a semi-automatic weapon meant that all attacks where made at a -6. This isnt so bad when you are shooting at touch AC but at least makes an attempt to model recoil without adding in extra weapon rules, strength checks or specialized training.

I love the idea of weapon attachments and mods taking the place of a lot of enchantments. Maybe mix the two, have enchanted barrel shrouds add the flaming property but you can also choose to swap out the part for a silencing shroud or a distance shroud.

I am curious how they will handle things like fully automatic weapons or squad support weapons. Something like a built in clustered shots rule?


I think the lethality of small arms is better illustrated with a higher critical multiplier, which is how PF does it already. And only really high caliber guns should have lots of damage dice IMO.


IonutRO wrote:
I think the lethality of small arms is better illustrated with a higher critical multiplier, which is how PF does it already. And only really high caliber guns should have lots of damage dice IMO.

The critical multiplier is more of a result of being exotic i would think. 20/x4 is one of the standard exotic weapon ranges after all, being a step beyond a martial battleax. It is also such a rare occurrence that it is very poor to simulate how deadly firearms actually are. I dont want to derail that greatly but there is a whole lot, i mean a really big number here, that goes into firearm efficacy and bore size is a bad way to try modeling that. A more accurate and yet still massively simplified look at gun damage would be kinetic energy transferred from bullet to body and caliber or bore size has very little to do with that. The real problem for any sort of "realism" (aside from D20 games being horrible for modeling real world physics) is that armor in an advanced technology setting should stop most attacks cold but anything that penetrates armor should be almost immediately fatal to a baseline human.

I am not sure if i want to see the game try to model different ammunition effects for armor piercing, expanding, incendiary, explosive etc. etc. But it could be kind of fun (on hit this deals 2D6 fire in addition to weapon damage, when using this ammo type treat targets hardness as 10 points less but suffer -5 to all damage rolls...)


There are more martial x4 weapons than are exotic ones (discounting firearms).

And I highly disagree, a critical hit is what happens when you hit a vital area such as the head or lungs, while the normal dice of a weapon represent hits to non vital locations and, when rolling low damage, glancing hits.


Well, to each their own. For me, a 20/x4 is a horrible way of representing something like the effect of a hollow point bullet impacting an unarmored target's torso. I would rather depict is as something like a base damage value for the weapon (2D4 light pistol, 2D6 one handed pistol, etc) and then the threat range, multiplier and other riding effects are values of ammunition. But that does make for a much more complex system.


What I'd like to see is scaling damage.

Perhaps it's a class power, or perhaps a feat selection.

But I'd like to see ways where someone who gets better with ranged weapons also deals more damage with those weapons.

For example, perhaps you have Weapon Focus, but it also deals a x2 damage modifier when you hit as well. Then you have Greater Weapon Focus which deals a x3 Damage modifier.

Or perhaps as a Rogue's sneak attack goes up as they level, a Martials ranged weapon damage goes up by multipliers as they level.

Perhaps with other additional options as well, such as stunning on a hit if you roll so much greater than the required amount, or paralyzing someone if you choose and roll an amount over a certain threshold.

Things that give martials that used ranged weapons something that can bring them up to the level of higher level spellcasters as the Martials gain higher levels as well.

I think sci-fi ranged weapons with the various things that have been associated with them in sci-fi in general could be an excellent way to do that.


GreyWolfLord wrote:

What I'd like to see is scaling damage.

Perhaps it's a class power, or perhaps a feat selection.

But I'd like to see ways where someone who gets better with ranged weapons also deals more damage with those weapons.

For example, perhaps you have Weapon Focus, but it also deals a x2 damage modifier when you hit as well. Then you have Greater Weapon Focus which deals a x3 Damage modifier.

Or perhaps as a Rogue's sneak attack goes up as they level, a Martials ranged weapon damage goes up by multipliers as they level.

Perhaps with other additional options as well, such as stunning on a hit if you roll so much greater than the required amount, or paralyzing someone if you choose and roll an amount over a certain threshold.

Things that give martials that used ranged weapons something that can bring them up to the level of higher level spellcasters as the Martials gain higher levels as well.

I think sci-fi ranged weapons with the various things that have been associated with them in sci-fi in general could be an excellent way to do that.

You made me think of the clone wars where all the troopers were basically the same clone but the more experienced ones were capable of amazing feats. There was an episode about a moon base that really highlighted this, when an experienced soldier rescues a recruit and a giant moon worm burst up from the ground the senior trooper barely turns around before he whips out a standard issue pistol and nails it in the eye, killing it in one shot. The recruit stares at the guy trying to understand how he just did that.

So yeah, i like the idea. Something like precise strike but, weapon category specific, that lets you add level to damage rolls or double level on a crit.


Torbyne wrote:

Well, to each their own. For me, a 20/x4 is a horrible way of representing something like the effect of a hollow point bullet impacting an unarmored target's torso. I would rather depict is as something like a base damage value for the weapon (2D4 light pistol, 2D6 one handed pistol, etc) and then the threat range, multiplier and other riding effects are values of ammunition. But that does make for a much more complex system.

Who said that would be a hollow point? That would be a "normal" bullet.


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Hitpoints are an abstract system, so taking damage from a weapon isn't necessarily even being 'hit'. The HP system doesn't model the lethality of medieval melee combat well either. Ultimately you can't have a highly lethal combat system as you'd run out of PCs.

4e had their mook system with 1 HP monsters that had level appropriate offensive capabilities that could model a more fast and furious playstyle that facilitates mowing down large numbers of opponents with single shots.

Star Wars Saga edition allowed autofire weapons to target a block of squares for unmissable partial damage, allowing massive numbers of even the weakest enemies to be a threat and tax the parties resources but could still be cut down like stormtroopers by mid-level PCs.

Ultimately whatever model is used to mimic a cinematic style where you have one shot = one kill high lethality gunplay but the heroes consistently come out alive is going to have to be handled on the back end mechanically like SW Saga or 4e and not by just making guns highly lethal by themselves.

Scaling damage by player level is obviously another way to go as someone else above suggested.


Well said. There was a D20 game once where you had a dodge/miss/graze pool of HP and actual wound totals equal to your CON score, once you were out of heroic luck (HP) then all damage when to your wounds (CON score) which was far more serious and made weapons seem much deadlier. I think that was a star wars game... cant remember though.

The Exchange

I agree with all that you've said here.


All I wanna know is if going melee is not a death sentence since while you charge tbe frontline with your stun baton or some s@%@, your opponents have machineguns for hands. And eyes. And other appendages. Lots of things are improved by replacing it with only more guns...

Your opponents are gunborgs.

So basically, what madman would do that? Are they some kind of space knight? Do they have a space steed to ride into space battle against space...vikings... or something. Is a barbarian more or less useful in space? Will we finally get ranged sneak attacking implemented or are the rogue equivalent in Starfinder (we will call them Smugglers for now) even worse due to system holdover?

Time will tell.


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Maybe stealth will finally work and most melee specialist sneak up to stabbing range. Or melee is a common skill in boarding actions since tight and twisting corridors dont give much advantage to guns?


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Melee will be there. Being a shirtless barbarian witha battle axe won't work, but being a Jedi with a light saber, an assault terminator ultrsmarine with stormshield and thunderhammer, a cyberninjas with a monoedge power katana, a spice-infused fremen with a crysknife or a clawed 4 armed alíen with wookie level strength and predator like reflex will of course be part of the game, because they are standar tropes of the genre.


Just realized, if they are going with the "force-user/Lightsaber" trope than deflecting ranged attacks will likely be a thing which also makes moving into Melee make a lot more sense. They could also go the KOTOR or Dune route to justify the mix of melee and Lazorz.


By Pathfinder rules and feats, you can do that already with Cut from the Air. Don't ask how it works with laser guns, it's difficult enough as is to work out how you stop a bullet with a dinner fork. Or a ballista shot, for that matter.

The Dune route would make some sense but then we wouldn't want laser guns. Those things explode when they hit force shields. Like, violently.


I am curious to know about weapon ranges and whether it will be possible to run combats on old Pathfinder map boards. If Starfinder weapons have ranges similar even to modern weapons it will be hard to place combatants on the same map.


What's wrong with cone or line effects for shotguns or automatic rifles?


Arrius wrote:
What's wrong with cone or line effects for shotguns or automatic rifles?

Good question! I would have thought cone or line effects would be ideal for futuristic weapons in a space opera type game.

Factoring for recoil, reduced damage over range, aiming as an action and modifications to firearms are all features of GURPS (as well as a whole bunch of other rules that make firearms more realistic). I am all for realistic rules in a realistic setting but to have them in a space opera style game will just slow the game down for no benefit.


Quote:
The Dune route would make some sense but then we wouldn't want laser guns. Those things explode when they hit force shields. Like, violently.

Since sometimes the Holtzman effect destroys the laser user along with the shield user instead of just giving us the nuclear explosion we were hoping for, you put the lasers on little drone swarms, sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Personally I'd like to see the reverse also be true for jedi blocking,etc. Maybe a bit of a 'weapon triangle' or something to help it all make sense?

Sir Zaku the 2nd has a large heat-axe, which really doesn't much care for lasers hitting it, and is wide enough to offer some protection against some big glowy plasma ball, but suffers devastating feedback to its generator if it tries to do the same with an ion-cannon and the solid surface means some point-blank missile launch will knock it aside (we do need to figure out where that missile careened over to now, but that's just more fun).
Totallynotanakinguysiswear has a lightsaber. It can barely slice out a thin bit of plasma as the rest of the energetic death-cloud continues on. It can bounce back lasers with a good swing thanks to some technobabble shenanigans, but at the same time that means a laser can do the same to it. It probably vaporizes that micromissile warhead before it can blow, but can do nothing against shotguns.

Let melee be designed for higher penetration (give melee stuff like custard shots) and for quickly murdering things in close quarters around corners, while most people try to use ranged for obvious, basic warfare-evolution reasons. Plus now we get to figure out where in the hell the missile just ended up. Double the fun!

Boomerang Nebula: It COULD be fine; most combat in pathfinder is generally already in the first increment anyways; if you just accept that and give proper ranges for larger scales it'll still matter when sniping EDC technicians on an enemy hull at ship scales, and matter exactly as much as it did in pathfinder for most combat the rest of the time.


I think you really need damage reduction rules vs. AC rules for firearms. You're not dodging bullets so the outcome of a hit roll should be based solely on the shooters skill (modified by range, cover, etc).

The Exchange

Hey, there's an idea! A skill designated to shooting! Rolling against a higher AC would provide minuses and bonuses dependant upon the size of the foe, how strong his armour is, how dextrous he is and so on. Anyone else think this would be good?


Depends on how much of can of worms you want to open.
>Skill designated to dodging
>Skill designated to melee
>Skill designated to blocking

I can already see the 'space marine' class having run out of skill points before they even touch noncombat skills again!

Sovereign Court

Garbage-Tier Waifu wrote:

All I wanna know is if going melee is not a death sentence since while you charge tbe frontline with your stun baton or some s+!%, your opponents have machineguns for hands. And eyes. And other appendages. Lots of things are improved by replacing it with only more guns...

Your opponents are gunborgs.

So basically, what madman would do that? Are they some kind of space knight? Do they have a space steed to ride into space battle against space...vikings... or something. Is a barbarian more or less useful in space? Will we finally get ranged sneak attacking implemented or are the rogue equivalent in Starfinder (we will call them Smugglers for now) even worse due to system holdover?

Time will tell.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/tytiJ6AJmos/maxresdefault.jpg


Yeah, chances are melee commissars (as opposed to quadrupedal 10t melee rock-crushers) are about on the "exceptionally specialized build that's wasting a lot to try to catch up to everyone else" level of a 1pp-only Gunslinger.

Meanwhile the two other partymembers are clearly visible in that picture!

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