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Point Blank Damage

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Just to clarify, a character can successfully sneak up behind someone, place a revolver at the back of someone's head, pull the trigger (successful hit), and get zero bonus to damage?

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28 minutes ago, Addison said:

Just to clarify, a character can successfully sneak up behind someone, place a revolver at the back of someone's head, pull the trigger (successful hit), and get zero bonus to damage?

Yes.

But they should have had an increased chance to hit - Normal chance to hit because of range, point blank range gives a bonus die, if they aim another bonus die, if the keeper is generous another bonus die from the successful sneak.That's 3 bonus dice which should see a difficulty level drop. There is no difficulty level easier than Normal, but you could say Easy is double chance. That could be double your normal chance with bonus die. Which greatly increases the chance of an Extreme check which causes an impale result of max damage plus rolled damage.

Or the keeper waves their hands and says they are dead.

Or that its an automatic impale.

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Ended up with a crazy scene where there was 4 points of damage from a point blank - barrel of the gun to the back of the head - shot. Which meant that the cultist, having been shot in the head, could turn round and attack with no penalty. Eventually brought down by a journalist character who hit the cultist with a stool, doing twice as much damage as the gunshot. Instantly turned a regular Cthulhu game into Pulp Cthulhu. All because of the skewed damage results.

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3 minutes ago, Addison said:

Ended up with a crazy scene where there was 4 points of damage from a point blank - barrel of the gun to the back of the head - shot. Which meant that the cultist, having been shot in the head, could turn round and attack with no penalty. Eventually brought down by a journalist character who hit the cultist with a stool, doing twice as much damage as the gunshot. Instantly turned a regular Cthulhu game into Pulp Cthulhu. All because of the skewed damage results.

That kind of thing does happen in real life. The bullet glanced off the skull. 

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2 hours ago, Addison said:

Just to clarify, a character can successfully sneak up behind someone, place a revolver at the back of someone's head, pull the trigger (successful hit), and get zero bonus to damage?

A bonus to hit is, as @Gundamentalist has correctly pointed out, warranted in your scenario. With a sneaky contact shot the target is completely oblivious of, I‘d go as far as ruling it as an automatic hit, with a dice roll only necessary to determine a possible weapon malfunction.

As for a damage bonus due to distance (zero): projectiles shot from firearms have a fixed muzzle velocity, depending mostly on the projectile’s mass and the size of the bullet’s propellant charge, and thus a fixed momentum (= the projectile’s kinetic energy). Once the projectile is fired, this momentum can only deteriorate; it starts to decrease as soon as the bullet exits the muzzle due to drag, the resistance that air offers to the projectile travel. So, the amount of damage a firearm can do decreases with distance, but the RAW forego such technicalities for the sake of simplification and ease/speed of play. Things are harder to hit at greater distances anyway.

As for a damage bonus due to the specific hit location (head): well, the CoC 7th edition RAW use hit locations only optionally to determine whether armor might be deducted from damage or not (unlike other flavors of the BRP/D100 family)—a ballistic vest doesn’t protect when being shot in a leg, for example. Again, this is done for the sake of simplification and ease/speed of play. Most Mythos creatures don’t care about being shot, anyway (and are usually not in the habit of wearing ballistic vests).

So, GM/Keeper handwaving is, as @Gundamentalist has aptly pointed out, totally appropriate if it serves to further development of the story. I’d go as far as ruling a headshot (especially to an unsuspecting target, i.e. a person not in “combat mode” and thus being without the benefits of an adrenaline rush) as an automatic Major Wound regardless of the actual damage done, so the target would fall prone and fall unconscious on a failed CON check—if it were important enough to me to determine such specifics in the first place.

Reading your follow-up description of the situation, it seems to me that there were different expectations between you and your Keeper on how the scene should have played out. I found that when there’s a conflict between what the rules do say (it’s often the lack thereof that sparks misunderstandings) and common sense, the latter should trump the former, and a combined effort should be made to make the former comply to the latter in a satisfactory way for both sides (a.k.a. making house rules).

It’s either this, or playing everything with GURPS[1]. And I wouldn’t want to play anything even remotely resembling Call of Cthulhu with GURPS.


[1] The saying goes “GURPS is not a roleplaying game, it’s a simulation.”  Given your specific situation, it’s very unlikely that it would’ve played out in the same way that you’ve described it while using GURPS—still possible, but very unlikely. But it would have also taken a lot more time to resolve, only to arrive at an outcome that common sense would have prompted and resolved in a flash.

 

Edited by foolcat
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Assuming the investigator isn’t a psychopath, shooting another person in the head in such a manner is not something that comes easily to people. Imminent threat to ones own life might change that. I managed a similar scene by not letting the investigator shoot until they failed a sanity check,as they couldn’t do it in their right mind. This took them a couple of rounds and resulted in some loss of sanity. I also made the death of the target automatic. 

The player was a little disgruntled at the time, but we discussed it and he agreed it made sense, and it certainly added drama to the scene. 

Edited by Cloud64
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I agree 100% with everything @foolcat said above. Another angle to this is the narration of the result. The GM, seeing the result of the damage dice, might have narrated that the cultist moved his head at the last moment, making the shot to the head only a grazing shot as a result (4 points of damage). That would work as well to keep things believable.

Or the GM might have ruled that, even though it was only 4 points of damage, the cultist was stunned because of the shot and could not riposte.

Another thing I always mention to my players is that, whatever works for them also works for the opposition. If a cultist sneak up behind a player character and puts a gun to their head, how do they feel about automatic death?

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I'd probably handle it by putting more emphasis on the sneak. To me, sneaking is usually more standard kinds of hiding in the woods or the shadow of a building or spying at someone from behind a good old fashioned New England stone wall. It's not getting within a few feet with an angle to slit someone's throat or shoot them in the head. I'd have to think about whether I would want multiple sneak rolls or one very difficult roll. I think I'd also take into account what kind of game it was. Standard CoC is very different than playing a commando in a WW2 Cthulhu game. If someone's character was a trained commando and it was all plausible, I'd make it easier. But different than a professor with 30% who walks quietly from their walks in the woods.

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This is has been a good read. To me, this is a lethal situation almost assuredly resulting in PC death. However, the melee wasn't fought by pulling the trigger, it was already lost at that time... that's the end result. In this case, the melee was fought by the stealth of the attacker and the failure of the victim to detect. Surprise is combat is almost always lethal... which is why ambushes and getting that first strike on an unknown target many times decides the outcome. This is why tactically you want to surprise and why patrols in the bush are always so intently alert/scanning. (I think most RPGs fail in this aspect. Mostly because it most likely results in an easy kill i'm guessing... and i get that,... i myself play unapologetically. Don't get surprised.)

For the above, i would say automatic hit (well, roll d100 and 00 is a miss... you sneezed or gun jammed, a revolver wont jam so maybe bad round, etc), major wound and automatic half damage at a minimum. I like the idea of bonus dice to increase the change of impale damage. Remember, the melee was already fought during the sneaking up on the victim.

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If someone puts a gun to the back of someone's head and pulls the trigger, I would give the victim a dodge role. Obviously have to roll a special, but actual contact with the victim means the victim has a chance to nudge the weapon and spoil the shot. There is a martial arts move I was once shown in JuJitsu class by a visiting teacher from Trinidad, which deals with this exact scenario - Trinidad is the kind of place where someone pointing a gun at you is a real possibility. He said most of the time it fails, but attempting this technique is a slim chance to survive vs no chance.

Edited by EricW

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On 10/24/2019 at 12:17 PM, Atgxtg said:

That kind of thing does happen in real life. The bullet glanced off the skull. 

I apologise in advance for getting anecdotal and explicit, so I'll hide the following.

 

I've met one person who attempted suicide by gunshot (pistol, point-blank, inside his mouth) and inflicted "minimum damage" in game terms.  Not to make light of the matter, I don't believe he was able to take any significant action thereafter, much less assaulting anyone in the moments that followed.

In games, this is why we have GMs to make sense of these situations.  And why, in RQ, there are precious few HPs associated with the head.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia

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5 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

I apologise in advance for getting anecdotal and explicit, so I'll hide the following.

  Reveal hidden contents

I've met one person who attempted suicide by gunshot (pistol, point-blank, inside his mouth) and inflicted "minimum damage" in game terms.  Not to make light of the matter, I don't believe he was able to take any significant action thereafter, much less assaulting anyone in the moments that followed.

In games, this is why we have GMs to make sense of these situations.  And why, in RQ, there are precious few HPs associated with the head.

!i!

Yup, although the difference between head hit points and a major wound isn't all that much, 1/3 HP vs. 1/2 HP. I think the real "problem" here lies with the fact that the game mechanics for bonus dice do not increase the impale and critical chances they way they would be increased in earlier BRP related games. 

In regards to hidden content, I had a relative that did the same and messed it up. He survived but I wouldn't say that he lived.

But that is also true of many other forms of injury that just get glossed over with "hit points". 

 

Edited by Atgxtg
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I too have seen plenty of head-shots bounce off the skull. That said: CoC is deadly enough that I routinely handwave such things as successful instant-kills. This works both for and against the players: I've frequently declared a PC dead without ever rolling damage.

Edited by mvincent

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On 10/25/2019 at 6:11 AM, Addison said:

Ended up with a crazy scene where there was 4 points of damage from a point blank - barrel of the gun to the back of the head - shot. Which meant that the cultist, having been shot in the head, could turn round and attack with no penalty. Eventually brought down by a journalist character who hit the cultist with a stool, doing twice as much damage as the gunshot. Instantly turned a regular Cthulhu game into Pulp Cthulhu. All because of the skewed damage results.

To be fair, that could happen.  Just because one is at point blank range doesn't mean that the target didn't move at the last moment, or flinch, or the shooter didn't anticipate the recoil or instinctively flinch from murder.  The outcome?  The bullet clips the scalp and ear of the intended victim, but they are alive and able to retaliate, even if they have temporarily ringing ears and damaged hearing from having a firearm discharged too close to them.

On 10/31/2019 at 10:13 AM, mvincent said:

I too have seen plenty of head-shots bounce off the skull. That said: CoC is deadly enough that I routinely handwave such things as successful instant-kills. This works both for and against the players: I've frequently declared a PC dead without ever rolling damage.

Nah, always roll damage, it can only reinforce the point, and who knows?  They may (remote chance) somehow survive.

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26 minutes ago, Darius West said:

To be fair, that could happen.  Just because one is at point blank range doesn't mean that the target didn't move at the last moment, or flinch, or the shooter didn't anticipate the recoil or instinctively flinch from murder.  The outcome?  The bullet clips the scalp and ear of the intended victim, but they are alive and able to retaliate, even if they have temporarily ringing ears and damaged hearing from having a firearm discharged too close to them.

Yes, I recall reading of several instances where people were shot, at "point blank" (actually it's probably not point blank , but that's another topic) range and received only minor injuries. Sometimes these includes heat shots where the bullet glances off bone, and other times where someone got shot multiple times, and then went up tot he shooter and beat them to a pulp or killed them.

The whole someone gets shot so they fall down dead or incapacitated is more fiction that fact. It's why they train cops to be ready to defend themselves from being stabbed it they shoot a knife wielder at close range. There is a very high chance that they guy who got shot will be able to close the distance and stab the cop before they "bleed out" and drop. This stuff does happen.

On a similar note, about once a year somebody falls from a great height and lands with little or no injuries. It's rare (and usually limited to skydivers who have major equipment malfunctions), but ti does happen.

 

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Nah, always roll damage, it can only reinforce the point, and who knows?  They may (remote chance) somehow survive.

I agree. I will say that had this been old CoC or BRP the bonus to hit from the situation would have increased the chances of a impale or a critical hit, and this result would have been less likely to happen, but still possible.

 

Part of the "problem" here is that skill doesn't play as big a part in weapon damage, as the damage die from caliber does.  In game terms a hit is a hit, unless it is a special or critical, and so the size of the damage die is the major component. Realistically, shot placement is the major factor, but that is mostly handled by the random damage roll. So the poor damage roll means it wasn't that well placed a shot. 

Edited by Atgxtg
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4 hours ago, Darius West said:

always roll damage, it can only reinforce the point

There are certain instances in CoC where someone will certainly die (i.e. they are hit for 10d6 damage, they are by themselves and have no chance to escape, etc.). I'm actually a simulationist GM, but sometimes rolling it out can break narration, slow down the game, and reinforce the fact that you are playing a game. On some occasions: rolling everything out can even turn the session into an acrimonious downer.

CoC is a horror game, and sometimes turning to the rest of the group and say something like "you hear screaming coming from the building that your friend entered... but then the screaming suddenly stops" makes the game better. It's happened to me too, and I've lauded the GM because of it. 

I mean: ultimately it's a preference thing (and you're certainly entitled to your preference, as am I)... but this is based off of hundreds (thousands) of play sessions, and learning when to do this was a hard lesson. Example: don't play the scene out and reveal everything about the big bad (while the rest of the group sits idly by for the better part of an hour) even though the PC will have no way to communicate this information before dying.

Edited by mvincent

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9 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, I recall reading of several instances where people were shot, at "point blank" (actually it's probably not point blank , but that's another topic) range and received only minor injuries. Sometimes these includes heat shots where the bullet glances off bone, and other times where someone got shot multiple times, and then went up tot he shooter and beat them to a pulp or killed them.

As a compulsive fan of true crime/serial killer-Youtube and podcast channels I can attest that there are numerous cases where people have survived being shot point blank, execution style despite the skill of the killer. When it comes to the skill and callousness of killing people at close range, famous serial killers rank way above any special forces guy. Most of them have it down pat, yet people miraculously survive. In what handicapped state is another matter, of course.

The above goes for stabbings too. Sometimes people survive despite being stabbed countless times. How many times can the average NPC/Investigator get stabbed in Cthulhu without dying when a carving knife deals 1D4+2+DB of damage? Four times with the worst rolls, right?

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I've read multiple accounts too. I'll admit that I think they need to up the crtical/special chance in CoC7 for such situations, but the end result is not all that unbelievable or uncommon. Doubly so considering that CoC doesn't have any sort of rule for Stun/Shock/Stopping Power/Pain resistance beyond the Major Wound rule. A Keeeper could add in POW rolls for such things, but they would have to apply to other weapons and attacks, and might not be all that desirable, as it would make the Mythos creatures even harder for the PCs to deal with. A Deep One shows up in front of a group of four, half of the Investigators fail a SAN roll, then an Investigator who made the roll gets clawed for a couple of points and gets stunned and can't act. Not so good.

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1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

A Deep One shows up in front of a group of four, half of the Investigators fail a SAN roll, then an Investigator who made the roll gets clawed for a couple of points and gets stunned and can't act. Not so good.

Yeah, death spirals are never that good. It's better to deal out any negative effects of minor wounds after a fight, considering the adrenaline that kicks in. Sometimes people don't even realize that they have been stabbed or shot in real life until later. Now CoC is just a game and if things like combat get too detailed it might just be a hinderance. Just look at the chase rules. I have even watched Youtube videos explaining them, but I forget the rules anyway. Every time. As a little sidenote I must confess that the CoC chase rules pale in comparison to the Western rpg chase rules. Those are like a game within a game and absolutely confusing. I can read the rules ten times over but still feel overwhelmed and senile.

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14 hours ago, midwinter said:

Yeah, death spirals are never that good.

Well, I think it depends on what else is going on in the game. If this were an espionage or mordern combat RPG I'd be fine with a stun/shock mechanicac. But for CoC with all the SAN rolls and weapon resistant monsters, it just becomes one more thing against the PCs.

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It's better to deal out any negative effects of minor wounds after a fight, considering the adrenaline that kicks in. Sometimes people don't even realize that they have been stabbed or shot in real life until later.

Yes, from what I've read unless someone get's sot in the brain or heart it's mostly psychological. People get shot, think "OMG, I've been shot!!" and promptly fall down and start dying. If, on the other hand they go" He shot me! I'mm going to beat the stuffing out of him!" they tend to stay up and keep fighting. I've read that police departments actually had to retrain police officers getting shot wasn't necessarily a death sentence, and that the survival rate from gunshot wounds increased significantly afterwards. It also why animals tend to fight on or run away when shot, they don't know they are supposed to fall down and die, and sokeep on going until they bleed out. 

Quote

Now CoC is just a game and if things like combat get too detailed it might just be a hinderance. Just look at the chase rules. I have even watched Youtube videos explaining them, but I forget the rules anyway. Every time. As a little sidenote I must confess that the CoC chase rules pale in comparison to the Western rpg chase rules. Those are like a game within a game and absolutely confusing. I can read the rules ten times over but still feel overwhelmed and senile.

Maybe. I think the chase rules might be a bit more  important than the combat rules in CoC as Investigators often can't fight the Mythos nasties, but instead need to get away. I'm not all that wowed with the implementation though. 

Edited by Atgxtg
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5 hours ago, soltakss said:

In theory, the only thing that slows a bullet down is air resistance, so should a point blank shot do more damage than one at distance?

Bullets don't really decelerate that much at mid range (plus, some bullets may even start to tumble at mid-range, potentially making them more injurious). Game-mechanics wise, there would be no extra damage from the force.

Edited by mvincent

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On 11/6/2019 at 6:03 AM, mvincent said:

There are certain instances in CoC where someone will certainly die (i.e. they are hit for 10d6 damage, they are by themselves and have no chance to escape, etc.). I'm actually a simulationist GM, but sometimes rolling it out can break narration, slow down the game, and reinforce the fact that you are playing a game. On some occasions: rolling everything out can even turn the session into an acrimonious downer.

CoC is a horror game, and sometimes turning to the rest of the group and say something like "you hear screaming coming from the building that your friend entered... but then the screaming suddenly stops" makes the game better. It's happened to me too, and I've lauded the GM because of it. 

Why not do both?  When you roll 10d6 against a 15HP character, they can't complain that they didn't get a fair deal when the numbers fall and so does the character, and then you hit the other party members with the narrative.  I am all for the "gentleman gamer" rolling in the open so the dice help tell the story, but the Keeper still interprets and narrates, while the players know you aren't fudging rolls to railroad them.

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13 hours ago, Darius West said:

Why not do both?  When you roll 10d6 against a 15HP character, they can't complain 

(hmm... that doesn't appear to be "both", and they can indeed complain, but as for "why not"...) Restating: it can (based on my experience) break narration, slow the game, reinforce gamism, increase acrimony, make revelations about the opposition (breaking tension) and make unchangeable commitments to a character's fate. 

My players know that sudden results are the style of CoC (and their characters are fragile), not a railroad. Indeed, they know that I'd prefer their characters stay alive (as that's much easier on me as GM, campaign continuity-wise).

Conversely, I absolutely "roll in the open" in D&D, since that is D&D's style. Still, there's been instances even in D&D that I wish I had summed up the results rather than played it out. Example: when the players were captured by the Slave Lords in order to move on to the module "A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords". Boy, that was a painful railroad that I wish I'd shortened...

 

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2 hours ago, mvincent said:

Example: when the players were captured by the Slave Lords in order to move on to the module "A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords". Boy, that was a painful railroad that I wish I'd shortened...

 

That's an infamous railroad that many players wished was shut down. OI recall a group that actually beat  the encounter, and the DM actually  apologized to the group before knocking them out so he could continue on with the next part, where they are captured, because there was no way around it. It's a terrible way to do things, but it was written a long time ago.

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