Friday, January 2, 2015

Ammunition: Alternate Rules

So a thought about ammunition occurred to me last night at work. In Pathfinder, guns aren't that impressive. Shotguns are kind of cool in that you can use a regular old mundane weapon to do a cone attack, and in a regular campaign without the Unarmored Combatant cheat the targeting touch AC would be super fantastic. Plus, the 5% chance of a critical hit dealing quadruple damage is nice as well. 

There are definitely some awesome things that firearms have going for them, but it's not anything monstrous. A pick can deal damage just as impressively, more so even, as they're a melee weapon and firearms need class features from Gunslinger, a feat or class features from Fighter, or magic bonuses, or feat bonuses (at the cost of -1 to hit/ per +2 damage for deadly aim) to increase their damage and a pick can just add in Strength. 

Normally, I don't make players account for the weight or cost of mundane ammo. This is because in Pathfinder guns really aren't that crazy in comparison to bows and crossbows, and even thrown weapons. I do make them track the costs of specialty ammo like dragonspit bullets, wolf-iron bullets, and so on. 

Guns are a little more...gun-like in GURPS though. I'll explain.

So in Pathfinder, you normally can't make called shots. Critical hits are an abstraction for what we define as a knife to the kidney or an arrow/bullet to the eye, and they just deal damage, sometimes impressively. There are variant rules that add called shots to your game though. Each target location on a body has a penalty to hit as well as different effects that occur on a hit (a hit on the location that deals less than 50 damage), a critical hit (a critical hit that deals less than half the creatures hit point but does at least 50 damage), and a debilitating blow (a hit that deals half the creature's hit points in damage, but does at least 50). 

To explain the differences in guns in GURPS (beyond the fact that their base damage is higher), I'm going to compare the called shot system in Pathfinder with the combat system in GURPS, using the eye hit location.

In Pathfinder, the Eye hit location has a -10 penalty to hit. A called shot hit to the eye grants all creatures concealment (25% miss chance, or 50%, I forget) when attacked by the creature. It also gets a -2 penalty on Perception checks (but not vision based ones specifically, which I'm not too bent out of shape about as I assume a bullet or arrow to the eye is going to be fuck me in the ass with a bowling pin level distracting). Both of these effects last for one round, and there is a note that if the creature only has one eye it gets the blinded condition for one round.

A critical called shot to the eye does that same thing, but it also costs the target the sight in that eye. These effects last for 1d4 rounds. 

A debilitating called shot to the eye destroys that eye and causes blindness until subject to a remove blindness/deafness spell or similar effect. It also deals 1d6 bleed damage. A successful Reflex save reduces the blindness to 1d4 hours and eliminates the bleed damage (which is odd because normally you can't Reflex save your way out of weapon based attack). The target also suffers the effects of called shot to the eye for 2d6 minutes. 

So yeah, a hit to the eye will mess you up. Let's look at GURPS. In GURPS, you choose where you are targeting, and each hit location has a penalty to your effective skill level with an attack. The torso location has no penalty, but also has the least effect. Eyes have a -9 penalty (so Guns - 16 becomes 8 unless there are other modifiers to effective skill). Guns all have an accuracy statistic in GURPS, this is a number that is added to their effective skill level every round they make an aim maneuver (the Gunslinger advantage automatically adds the gun's accuracy or half its accuracy, depending on gun type, to your effective skill level). 

Critical hits in GURPS automatically hit and deny the opponent an opportunity to dodge, parry, or block an attack. There's also a critical hit table the determines effect by location, as well as explanations for the effects of dealing damage to a particular hit location. In GURPS you make a skill check to hit, roll basic damage, apply the target's damage resistance if relevant, then calculate wounding modifiers based on damage category and hit location. This final total of damage is called injury. I sometimes call it penetrating damage.  

The eye location can only be targeted by impaling, piercing, and tight beam burning attacks (lasers). Basically something that can fit in the eye hole in your skull. Other damage types just default to your head location. The eye hit location isn't particularly impressive by itself, it just notes that injury over your HP/10 destroys the eye (getting you the One Eye disadvantage, unless you have a bunch of eyes) and is treated as a skull hit without the extra damage resistance your skull provides. 

There is specific mention of toxic damage not having any additional effect whatsoever on the eye and skull hit locations. The skull location normally provides an extra DR 2 to attacks against it, but as I just said, the eye location ignores that. The wounding modifier for a skull hit increases to x4. So if you get hit and after all the DR there's 2 damage and you're using a large piercing weapon (which normally has a wounding modifier of 1.5) it would deal 8 damage of injury instead of 3. Knockdown rolls are also at -10. Knockdown happens when an attack deals injury of more than 1/2 your HP or you are struck in the eye, face, or skull locations enough to cause a shock penalty. You roll against your HT or fall prone and are stunned (you do nothing every turn except make defense rolls at -4 and make a HT roll at the end of each of your turns to see if you get back up on the next one). So the -10 knockdown penalty is pretty significant. 

A critical hit to the head (face, eye, or skull hit location) also has additional effects tied to a 3d roll on a table. The 3 result is ignoring DR and the attack deals max basic damage. So a 2d revolver crit to the eye would ignore any eye DR then deal 12 damage multiplied by the x4 wounding modifier for 48 damage of injury. 

I'm not sure if it is factored into GURPS already, but I'll be making sure to note in the GURPS Hekinoe campaign book that innate DR does not apply to the eye hit location (assuming a character has eyes). For those that  have eyes and want eye DR, the Nictitating Membrane advantage exists and may be purchased up to 1/3 of a character normal DR. So a Fell Human with Damage Resistance 3 could purchase Nictitating Membrane 1 and a dragon with DR 21 could have Nictitating Membrane 7. Wee.

So what is the point of all this? Good question.

Because guns are so much more potent in GURPS, when compared to Pathfinder, I'm going to start charging for ammunition for guns. Kind of. You'll still need to reload as normal of course, and I'm still not going to dick everyone around with noting how much ammo they have for encumbrance purposes, but I am going to start charging them for ammunition. I'm going to break it down into 3 categories of firearm ammunition, cheap, normal, and high quality. 

Just as a note, what I mean by more potent is not necessarily damage. It does take a ST of 13 to get 2d of damage out of swung weapon (axe, club, sword) and ST 19 to get 2d of damage out of a stabby weapon (sword, rapier, etc). Revolvers do 2d and rifles do 4d, which are both solid numbers of damage. So there is a slight advantage to guns in terms of dealing damage. My primary reason for doing this is that injury and HP and armor are very different beasts in GURPS than they are in Pathfinder. Pathfinder is a very abstract game where something like infinite ammo for a 1d8 revolver isn't unbalanced.

Guns are much more versatile in terms of targeting than an axe or club as they have an inherent accuracy that can be applied to better target high value locations like the skull or eyes, and all you have to do to improve your attack skill with them is aim for a round or two. Melee combatants have a similar option, but with the accuracy stat of firearms, they have a big advantage in terms of how quickly they improve their effective skill. I don't think paying a couple bucks every session for ammo is that unrealistic or ruthless of me. 

Back to the ammo categories. Cheap, normal, and high quality.

Cheap ammo is going to be free and you are always assumed to have an unlimited amount of it on hand. However, it will impose a -1 penalty to your firearm's accuracy stat as well as a -1 per die of damage the firearm deals (meaning a 2d revolver will deal 2d-2 damage). Cheap ammo represents something you cobbled together yourself or looted off of other dudes or bought from some guy name Shady Steve who likes to add his ground up toenails to the gunpowder recipe. He can't help it. He just likes to be inside people. 

Normal ammo is going to be normal. It won't modify a firearm's stats at all, and it'll probably go for something like $0.2 per round. Normal ammo represents something purchased at an actual gunshop that wasn't looted off of someone or subjected to questionable storage conditions.

High quality ammunition is something produced by the big name firearms manufacturers in The Known World like Bel'lore arms or Kussethian Military Technologies. My initial thought was to just do the opposite of cheap ammo, +1 to the gun's accuracy statistic and +1 damage per die of damage. I think I might do something different for it though. Some sort of synergy effect. Like if you use a Bel'lore revolver and Bel'lore high quality ammo the revolver does 3d damage instead of 2d or something like that. Not quite sure yet. High quality ammo will probably run $0.5 - $1 per round. 

These ammo variants will also appear alongside stuff like incendiary rounds, wolf-iron rounds, dragonspit rounds, explosive rounds, and so on. 

So there are some thoughts on bullets and shit.