Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I've Been Doing It Wrong, Too

In short, D&D has lied to us, and that lie has become very pervasive.


This guy is very entertaining and seems to be more historically accurate.

As for the long space in between posts, well I've had another motorcycle accident as well as a busy holiday season. As for the accident, this time it was a raccoon hit squad duo charging out in front of my bike. I have a broken thumb, a badly twisted ankle and bruised foot, and a bit of road rash.

It's time for me to stop riding. Three accidents in three years is not a good average, even if none of them were my fault. When the fireman who shows up to the accident remembers you from last year, it's a sign.



Friday, December 16, 2016

More on Chases and Vehicle Combat


I've been delving more into Vehicle Chases and Combat, mainly because I want to keep them abstract and not need tabletop miniatures. I've done some personal hacks during game to keep things running F!F!F! but I want to codify my house rules so they aren't constantly changing in game (due to my forgetful nature). Here's what I have so far.

Chases

Honestly, I'm going back to the Explorer's Edition for Chase rules. It handles range and catching your opponent better (imho) than the SWDEX rules. So...

Determine the chase duration. I'd go with 5-10 increments. Pursuers start at 0. Prey start at 1 increment per range of head start (1 short, 2 medium, 3 long, 4 extreme). The goal for the Prey is to reach the end of the chase without being stopped, at which point they escape. The goal of the Pursuer is to stop the Prey before they get there.

In a chase, each vehicle is dealt an initiative card and its occupants act on that card (in the event of a foot chase, each individual character is considered a vehicle and gets their own initiative card). At the beginning of their turn, each vehicle makes a Piloting roll (Driving for cars, Agility for running, etc.) with + 1 if their vehicle is faster than their Prey or Pursuer, +2 if their speed is double their Prey or Pursuer). A success moves the vehicle forward 1 range increment. A raise moves them forward an additional range increment (additional raises do not move the vehicle further).

As always, a draw of a club for an initiative card indicates an Obstacle that must be avoided with a driving roll or the vehicle suffers damage (I'm lifting the modifiers from Daring Tales of the Space Lanes).

Obstacle Table
Card              Modifier
Deuce                -6
3-4                     -4
5-6                     -2
7-10                   -1
Jack-Ace            0

Attacking
The range of the attack is determined by how many range increments there are between Pursuer and Prey. Each range increment counts as a level of combat range (if Prey is one range increment ahead, the range is Short, 2 is Medium range, 3 is Long, 4 is Extreme). When in a fast paced chase, you don't need to worry about exact inches or weapon variables.

Pursuers may fire forward-fixed weapons at their targets. Prey cannot fire forward-fixed weapons at their Pursuers.

Turret Weapons from any vehicle (Pursuer or Prey) may always attack at a -2 Unstable Platform penalty. Passengers in a vehicle that wish to fire personal weapons in a chase count as turrets.

Dogfights

To me, a dogfight is a close combat affair (dare I say melee?). All dogfights occur at Short range so their are no range modifiers to worry about.

To initiate a dogfight, an attacker must pilot their vehicle to close range (0 range increment if it's a Chase) to his target and declare that he is initiating a dogfight.  Other vehicles within Short Range may join this dogfight with a successful Piloting roll, providing a Gang Up Bonus.

Attacking
A dogfight is rapid movement affair best captured in abstract. However, due to such intimate ranges, vehicles are harder to hit. When in a dogfight, attackers must roll against the target's Evasion (Pilot skill + the vehicle's Handling)/2 +2 ). Gang Up bonuses apply.

Turret weapons may always attack, with the -2 Unstable Platform penalty.

Fixed Forward weapons may only be used when the attacker's Initiative card is a 10 or higher. Yes the means that there will be times where both sides are attacking each other in the same turn. It simply represents the furious movement as they dodge each other or fly at each other in a dogfight.

Escaping a Dogfight
Vehicles that wish to flee a dogfight or break the tangle of close combat must succeed a Piloting roll with a raise.

That's my design so far. Any thoughts?


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Chase Rules Ranges Fix



Last night a ran a game for friends and a chase came up. This is the first time I've ever had to run a chase using the new SWDEX rules. Before I just did narration and a few die rolls.

Well the common complaint came up: "Why, in the same round, am I shooting at long range and my target is shooting back at short?" It's a valid concern and it does break some verisimilitude in game.

My fix? Why it is Trappings, of course.

In this instance it was a car chase through crowded city streets. The odds of a fire fight at long range were very unlikely given the cluttered terrain, so I kept all combat in Short Range. I didn't change the modifiers from the cards at all. Instead of using them as range modifiers, I described them as circumstance modifiers; "You don't have a clean shot from your vantage point", "The car is too unstable for accuracy", "Your line of sight is obscured by the vegetable cart your driver ran through".

This worked fine for my players, Just be mindful of the type of environment where the chase takes place. Open space makes for a boring chase and really just boils down to who has the faster ship. I wouldn't use the chase rules for that (I would for a dogfight), but a Chase through an asteroid belt or mine field...

Before running a chase, make some notes of the type of obstacles that would interfere with a character's aim.

Edit: I should mention that according to the rules a vehicles can only attack lower cards, but I treat passengers with guns as turrets, meaning that they can always shoot with the unstable platform modifier and having a lower card already imposes a larger penalty on them.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

My Travel Kit

I've been redsigning what I travel with in anticipation of PaizoCon 2017. Yes, it's 6 months away but I like to be prepared and last year I packed way too much and hurt my back.

I'd love to be this excited about a Pinnacle Con but they don't come up here. And with my home life being what it is, a 4 day break is a rare god-send.

So here is my PazioCon kit. Items not pictured that are going in the bag are my iPad with pdfs of books and Herolab installed, iPad backup charger, 5x9 notebook, 5x9 graph notebook, sketchbook, pill box, and hand sanitizer.


So from upper left to right: Player Character Folio which grants me 1 re-roll per game in Pathfinder Society, dice box with jumbo dice (my Fave), Plano box with items I will describe later, Summoned Creature cards so I won't have to flip through the Bestiary, and along the bottom are are affect cards for spells and what-not.

The Plano Box

This holds a couple of mechanical pencils, a laminated initiative card which can also be used for tracking rounds, Pathfinder Condition Cards and Buff Deck, 3x5 pad of index cards vertical ruled for notes, wet erase pens, minis of my characters, and a stand from a delivery pizza box that serves as a stand for flying characters (like my Faerie Dragon side-kick, "Riddywipple").

I have another Plano box for Savage Worlds stuff.


So far it has 2 decks of cards, my modifiers tokens, and some card stands for figure flats. 

My dice box
Geez these are expensive! And most are made of wood. I don't want to lug a wood box around a con. It's expensive, bulky, and can get damaged. So instead I took a relatively cheap Vaultz box that I got from Fred Meyer and glued some craft foam in the bottom as well as some blue felt. Now I have a place to keep my dice and a tray to roll them in, quietly, without damaging the table.





 And finally my messenger bag. I picked it up at Best Buy for about $50. The dice box and the Plano fit into the outer pockets nicely, freeing up the internal room for other things I will be carrying or buying.




It also has straps in the back if I need to carry my maps in a tube.

Well, that's my Con Kit. Actually that's about my everywhere kit since I never game at my house so I often have to travel light. If I am GMing I would also carry the Basic Paizo flip map and any adventure materials or extra Savage Worlds books I might need.









Thursday, November 10, 2016

My Despair Shall Not Win.

Yes, my depression is kicking my creative butt right now. To say I am disappointed and fearful of our new president elect is putting things mildly. But I am not going to spew vindictive venom. There is enough of that on Facebook at the moment. So I'm going to take some time off and stare at pics of my Minion.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bristling Guns! Or Maybe Not.



Still hammering on my vehicle system, but I had a brain burst regarding weaponry (especially for larger ships). Many starships like those found in the Sci-Fi Companion are designed around a naval or air force analog. Battleships are bristling with guns. Even Starfighters are armed with multiple, forward-facing cannons. Star Wars did it too and there's nothing wrong with that, as it is. After all, I am going for space pulp so realism is optional.

But Star Trek started floating through my mind. The Enterprise wasn't bristling with guns. In fact, in  each series you never saw more than two phaser arrays firing at once. It's not something you get much in RPGs anymore, so it appeals to me.

It also has the added bonus of cutting down the number of rolls you have to make when large ships get into combat. And lastly, big ships firing on smaller ships already have a big advantage of higher damage. Adding multiple guns increases the amounting of pounding they can dish out.

Again, nothing wrong with that. But I would like starship combat with a different feel.

Old Battleships of WWI and WWII needed a lot of guns because of how often they might miss their target. The best option was to saturate an area with shells and pray. Also, since they were firing shells there wasn't any drawback to adding more and bigger guns except the danger of the power of volleys to capsize the boat (and weight cutting down on ship speed).

But in spacecraft that use beam weapons, the only real limiting factor to the cannon's damage is the amount of power you pump through it. There really is no point in having smaller cannons mounted on a larger ship if you can just attenuate the amount of power put through the weapon. At least that's the concept I am going with in this weapon design.

So here is what I've got.


Ships can have as many "Emitters" as they want. However, they can only fire one emitter per round at full power. If they want to attack multiple targets by firing multiple emitters, there is a -2 penalty to damage for every extra emitter fired. So if the HMS Guardsman wants to fire three different emitters in one round, each weapon will deal -4 damage. Of course, it has to have at least three emitters installed.

I like it. It's different and makes you think about how many vessels you are willing to target per round.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Damage OUCH! Part 2 - Vehicle Scales



Okay so here is more math, but this is the only way I can find to make damages work at higher tiers. It also means I will be setting up a system where making vehicles is the same or similar as making characters.

Vehicles have a Vigor die, like characters, and Toughness is calculated the same (Vigor/2 +2). Then the scale modifier is added depending on the vehicle's scale.

Personal  +0
Small Vehicle (cars, planes, etc)  +5
Medium Vehicles (tanks, starfighters, etc) +10
Large Vehicles (Planetary Naval ships, Courier starships, Medium freighters) +15
Huge Vehicles ( Star Frigates) +20
Gargantuan Vehicles (Star Battleships) +25
Colossal Vehicles (Space Stations) +30
Scales above add +5 per size

This modifier is added to the vehicle's toughness as well as its weapons damage. So a Large vehicle has a Toughness between 19 to 23 (4 to 8 +15), and its weaponry deals 2dX +15.

And here's the output for damage to Wound using 2d6 (+ scale) damage.

Toughness
+0
+5
+10
+25
+30
+35
+40
4
47%
97%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
5
38%
92%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
6
31%
83%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
7
27%
72%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
8
21%
58%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
9
17%
47%
97%
100%
100%
100%
100%
10
13%
38%
92%
100%
100%
100%
100%
11
10%
31%
83%
100%
100%
100%
100%
12
8%
27%
72%
100%
100%
100%
100%
13
6%
21%
58%
100%
100%
100%
100%
14
5%
17%
47%
97%
100%
100%
100%
15
4%
13%
38%
92%
100%
100%
100%
16
3%
10%
31%
83%
100%
100%
100%
17
2%
8%
27%
72%
100%
100%
100%
18
1%
6%
21%
58%
100%
100%
100%
19
-
5%
17%
47%
97%
100%
100%
20
-
4%
13%
38%
92%
100%
100%
21
-
3%
10%
31%
83%
100%
100%
22
-
2%
8%
27%
72%
100%
100%
23
-
1%
6%
21%
58%
100%
100%
24
-
-
5%
17%
47%
97%
100%
25
-
-
4%
13%
38%
92%
100%
26
-
-
3%
10%
31%
83%
100%
27
-
-
2%
8%
27%
72%
100%
28
-
-
1%
6%
21%
58%
100%
29
-
-
-
5%
17%
47%
97%
30
-
-
-
4%
13%
38%
92%
31
-
-
-
3%
10%
31%
83%
32
-
-
-
2%
8%
27%
72%
33
-
-
-
1%
6%
21%
58%
34
-
-
-
-
5%
17%
47%
35
-
-
-
-
4%
13%
38%
36
-
-
-
-
3%
10%
31%
37
-
-
-
-
2%
8%
27%
38
-
-
-
-
1%
6%
21%


Keep in mind, that's without armor. To me that is a good spread. Also it may look lie a person could damage a tank with a handheld firearm, but the Heavy armor rule already discounts that. It also avoids buckets o' dice. Some people may like that, I don't.

Another advantage with this system is that it's easier to design a vehicle on the fly by designing it as a character then adding the scale modifier.

I'm going forward with this as a part of my vehicle design. I hope to have a document ready soon.

PS> I know, I have railed against vehicles-as-characters before, and the die roll method is still an issue, but it's less of an issue than damage at higher scales (imho).