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Brand Spankin New to BRP (need some advice; Sci-Fi)


Loki

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Long story short (too late, I know) I am new to BRP and want to run a sci-fi game, similar to Warhammer 40K (no, no Space Marines) meets Serenity. With that being said, I plan on going rules light for the first couple of games until everyone has everything solidified. My big question is, do you have any advice regarding things that would catch me off guard weapons wise? I plan on everyone having a good old fashioned pistol or sub-machine gun to start. I wanted to stay away from guass weapons, lasers, phasers, grenade launchers, alien beam weapons and other more exotic things. If you have any suggestions outside of weapons, I'm open to those too. ;t) Thanks!

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BRP and weapons ... the only potential advice that comes to my mind

is that you should make a few "dry runs" before the actual game to get

a feeling for the lethality of firearms in BRP, because depending on the

roleplaying games you played until now it may well turn out that combat

in BRP is far more deadly than you are used to.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I plan on giving them a little padding to protect them somewhat, but I definitely want it to be lethal. I just didn't know if there are some things I should immediately rule out in the first couple of things (hand held flame thrower for example). ;)

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Especially when using Firearms it is a good idea for characters to know rules for Cover etc and to have Flak Vests, Energy Shields etc otherwise, like Rust says, combat can be very lethal. It's quite realistic, as in real life you'll be incapacitated or dead within a few bullet shots, if not the first one. BRP simulates this well. It also depends how gritty you want your game setting, as you can't use the Dodge skill with missile weapons usually. In my setting I allow for Difficult % Dodge rolls against Thrown missile weapons and that's it. For a more cinematic experience you might want to allow this for all missile weapons, and for a truly Pulp experience you may want them to use Dodge without impairment.

But for a gritty setting there's either no Dodge against Firearms, so characters in gunfights need to know the Cover rules and hopefully have Armour of some description, otherwise it's a short game session >:> Have fun mate

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Thirding the 'run some test combats' suggestion. BRP combat can be tricky and it runs to individual taste. My games generally have the PCs with combat skills well over 100% versus NPCs that break down like so (off the top of my head).

30%, local farming taking up arms

60%, militia member or soldier

90%, captain of the guard, grizzled soldier

120%, weapons master

Something like that.

Anyway, guns and combat as written is really scary. There are ways to tweak the system though. Run some and I'm sure someone here will help trouble shoot any problems.

70/420

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One way to have players being careful with firearms may be to limit the ammunitions and keep track of them. With an automatic gun, you may run out very quickly.

Funny you should say that, because I was going to add that buffer into the game. Laser weapons/blasters are weapons that are hard to conceal and very deadly, which would draw all sorts of attention. Old fashioned ballistic weapons are far more socially acceptable and sporting (most people don't fight to the death). The party would have to keep track of ammunition and while automatic weapons can cause massive damage, they will indeed run out of ammunition quickly! One of my big concerns is making certain weapons too powerful.

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It's worth bearing in mind that there's actually very little difference in the damage that a firearm does versus an energy weapon by the rules as written. Both a medium pistol (9 mm auto) and a laser pistol do 1d8 damage, for instance. The primary difference is in the rate of fire, range and ammo capacity.

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...although depending upon the setting, armour may or may not protect as well against energy weapons. I can't see a modern Flak Vest holding up well against a Star Wars-like blaster fire, I'ld probably rule that all AP is halved against energy weapons, hence the need for the development of 'energy shields' to counteract this.

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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That's certainly true (although in fairness Star Wars armour doesn't appear to offer any protection against anything at all - rock wielding Ewok, I'm looking at you), and modern armour suffers that penalty by the RAW, but in a sci fi game it's likely that characters will have access to advanced armour which doesn't have that problem - unless you want to use the optional rule about energy weapons and armour.

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I was going to kinda steal from Star Wars and give all the players a Vitality score which would equal their Hit Points. Ballistic weapons would take away from their Vitality first, but energy weapons would go straight to Hit Points (yikes!). The trade off is, energy weapons use LOTS of energy, so have very limited shots. Ballistic weapons, well, how many rounds can you carry? ;) Now alien weapons are for a different thread (ha!).

In my campaign, I'm going to have the classical laser bursts with all the shiny lights. So that will draw lots of attention, as opposed to Mr. Colt .45, and unlike a blaster/laser, there's something to be said for a good old fashioned slug thrower on full auto! ;t) Gosh, I hope none of this came off as snarky! I really am using you guys/gals for all the advice I can get. I'd rather you shoot holes in my plans beforehand than for me to run and all my players say, "Well, what is the rule for this circumstance you big goof?!?"

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Question: how realistic is it going to be? Lasers really shouldn't make any noise when fired. Nor would they even create coherent light unless the area were smoky or the like. Just wondering.

I ran a game of Year of the Phoenix and the lasers used in that (in the game I ran) only hummed as they fired, and not very loudly. There was no laser flash, but burns or holes would ignite in people and objects that the beams hit. It was hard to actually do that, as Hollywood's brought us all up to believe that a laser should go 'pew pew pew' or something.

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Question: how realistic is it going to be? Lasers really shouldn't make any noise when fired. Nor would they even create coherent light unless the area were smoky or the like. Just wondering.

I ran a game of Year of the Phoenix and the lasers used in that (in the game I ran) only hummed as they fired, and not very loudly. There was no laser flash, but burns or holes would ignite in people and objects that the beams hit. It was hard to actually do that, as Hollywood's brought us all up to believe that a laser should go 'pew pew pew' or something.

Sigh....my lasers will go "pew, pew, pew." But only to create atmosphere and a "hindrance" for using them.

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Don't be sad: light makes no noise until it interacts with a medium and is not always visible BUT, just like digital cameras artificially add the noise of an opening diaphragm only for comfort, laser guns may -and shall- have an artificial "pew pew" and some visible light for aiming, like tracing bullets on machine guns. May be even a small vibration like in Play Stations hand gears. These features may be "disabelable" for discrete action.

I'm only not sure we will be sometime able to miniaturize a drilling laser in the size of a hand gun, but who cares in a Star Wars setting ?

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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Sigh....my lasers will go "pew, pew, pew." But only to create atmosphere and a "hindrance" for using them.
No problem

Personally, I find it more disturbing and atmospheric to go the other way, as it's not what people expect. When the Zoviets (as they were called in the game) aimed that plastic-toy-looking gun at someone and nothing seemed to happen, but then she heard the sizzle of burnt wood and smelled smoke and looked to see that there was a penny-sized and still smoking hole in the crate next to her, it was unnerving. The guy that got hit was injured to the point where the beam burnt right through muscle and bone of his upper arm. His character lasted another round before the shock of it knocked him unconscious (and his arm was worthless after that due to the massive damage). No blood though - very handy being shot by a weapon that cauterizes the wound. Nerve damage is a bitch, though.

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I think you guys are confusing lasers with blasters.

In Star Wars (for the most part), the weapons were blasters (the same is true with most TV shows and movies). Lasers fire a steady beam, blasters fire bolts of superheated plasma or particles. Lasers may or may not be silent (we currently do not know how a tightly focused beam of light and heat will react to the air around it as it travels to its target, but I suspect some sizzle of air particles will occur which could produce both sound and light as they ignite), but blasters will most definitely make noise, especially on contact with their target as a small explosion occurs.

Take this with a huge grain of salt as this kind of technology really does not exist yet in either case. We are just getting past the 100 kW level believed necessary, and I have not heard (no pun intended) if there is an audible noise.

Ian

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No, I'm not confusing the two. Lasers and blasters, when Hollywood is concerned, are essentially the same thing. I'm not saying they are, but pretty much every laser that ever appeared in a movie or television show (Lost in Space for one example) made a loud noise when it was fired and had a coherent and very visible beam of light.

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So now the really, totally awesome, mondo, doosie of a question is how big do I make their first ship? Part of me wants to give them a Firefly class ship, but does that have true FTL (Faster Than Light) capability? And if it does, whats the range? In Warhammer 40K, a "Sprint trader" class ship can be a mile long and is HUGE, but it also travels vast distances in the warp. If they are going to travel distances, they'd need a decent galley. I don't want to over think it, but I don't want to give them too much to begin with and I don't want to give them too little. I as thinking maybe a "Tantive IV" Star Wars ship that has been refitted as a cargo vessel (no armament). :-/ Thoughts?

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Tantive_IV

Space...sure is a lot of it,

Loki

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Just a few thoughts ... :)

The type and size of the ship depends somewhat on how you expect the

characters to make a living. If they have to pay for their expenses with

the income from freight transports and speculative trade, the ship's car-

go hold should be big enough that the income from a full shipload of nor-

mal freight transported from A to B should be just enough for a little pro-

fit after all expenses (life support, fuel, maintenance and repairs ...) ha-

ve been paid - but only a little profit, not a "money machine" enabling

the characters to buy a battle cruiser after their second freight run. Of

course, you do not have to get into much detail or to design a complete

trade system, but you should have a basic idea what goods and services

cost, because there is a very real risk that the players will take a close

look at their characters' source of income and decide to invest some ef-

fort to "play the system" in order to increase the profits - and it would

make things easier for you if you had at least the framework of a system

in place at that point.

If the ship is used to carry passengers, it will need some staterooms -

and a few staterooms are a good idea anyway, in case a nonplayer cha-

racter joins the crew for a while. Besides, passengers - especially myste-

rious ones - can be a lot of fun.

Armament depends on the setting, if there are space pirates or aggressi-

ve aliens, at least some defensive weapons are a good idea. Offensive

weapons can become a problem, too many of them and quite a few pla-

nets will hesitate to let the micro-battleship come near any valuable in-

stallations, including the spaceport.

Drives also depend on the setting, their power should be plausible con-

sidering the purpose of the ship. A freighter will normally be among the

setting's slower ships, merchants are usually reluctant to pay for more

technology than is necessary to keep things moving.

Then add the bridge, an office or two, the crew's quarters, a crew loun-

ge and perhaps a passenger lounge, a galley, a fresher, an equipment

store ("ship's locker") and perhaps a little workshop (or even a laborato-

ry for that scientist type among the characters), and off you go.

Once you have designed the ship in your mind and made sure that it will

fit into its intended role in the setting, you should have a good idea which

of the ship types (from Star Wars or whatever) will do the job, and you

will also have a first impression of what it looks like inside. The next step

could be a deck plan of the ship, but this is another subject.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Rust's suggestions betray an admirable familiarity with Traveller. And Traveller is a good source of possible starting vessels:

The typical Type S scout has enough room for 4-6 people if you really stretch it (about the size of typical gaming group) but can be piloted by one person. It can jump short distances through hyperspace (1 parsec) and has a small cargo hold. It has one hardpoint for attaching a weapons turret but doesn't come armed from the factory. It's the Volkwagen Beetle of starships but can get player-characters places and earn them a small profit, and it can land just about anywhere. Repair and replacement parts are easy to find and (comparatively) cheap.

The free trader is double the size of the scout, is half cargo hold, and has room for 2-4 passengers in addition to the PC crew. Its performance isn't any better than the scout's but it can carry enough cargo to enable them to earn a regular income if they're smart. Its larger size enables it to add a second weapons turret, the better to protect the cargo against pirates, but the Millenium Falcon it ain't.

A yacht is essentially a free trader in which much of the cargo space has been sacrificed for additional fuel (enabling a second 1-parsec jump) and luxury accommodations for the owner and his pals. If the PCs have a sponsor and want to travel in style, this is the way to go.

All three models are tiny compared to Warhammer 40K's massive vessels, even compared to Traveller High Guard's warships. But all of them can land with or without an atmosphere, with or without a starport, and can refuel by skimming the nearest gas giant for hydrogen. If you want the heroes to have basic transportation but don't want them to attempt to raid Ming the Merciless' palace, these are some possible ways to go.

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Just a reminder, which has nothing to do with the previous reply but which get on my nerves when I'm watching a sci-fi movie: there is no noise in the intersideral vacuum. Nothing to hear when a vessel explodes (not talking about "pew pews"). I've however never seen a sci-fi movie allowing something exploding silently in the space...X(

I know, there are much more important things to care about, but stil, I find it quite irritating...:7

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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I've run Classic Traveller many, many times, and while sometimes one or two of the players would be interested in "trade," the trade system never seemed to manage to allow them to make a profit that was in any way useful after all the expenses had been deducted. Even with monetary rewards as suggested in official adventures, they still couldn't really manage to make payments on a vessel.

One incident that sticks in my mind is the "howood" cargo speculation in The Traveller Adventure. Total financial disaster.

In my last Traveller campaign I had the ship's expenses covered by a government agency. In a Star Wars game I ran recently, I just hand-waved expenses. What you do in your campaign should reflect what you want the party's concerns and activities to center around (and of course the players' preferences in gaming style).

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I've run Classic Traveller many, many times, and while sometimes one or two of the players would be interested in "trade," the trade system never seemed to manage to allow them to make a profit that was in any way useful after all the expenses had been deducted.

Of course not, the aim of the system was to force the ship owners to go

adventuring instead of spending their time trading, an actually functional

trade system was not introduced until the Merchant Prince supplement.

However, a plausible setting should have some explanation why there are

any small merchant ships at all - it must be possible to make a living that

way, or the interstellar economy (and, far more important, the players'

suspension of disbelief) would be in serious danger. It makes sense to gi-

ve some thought to this element of the game if the characters have a

merchant ship, because otherwise sooner or later one of the players will

point out any obvious implausibilities and contradictions. Handwaving in-

come and expenses is of course an option, but then I would give the cha-

racters some other type of ship, not a merchant vessel.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I gave them a stripped down cargo vessel that can act as an exploration vehicle if necessary. They can hire out to explore space anomalies in between adventures to supplement their income. They can also bring in emergency supplies when necessary. The rich are always willing to pay so they don't have to wait like the common peasant. ;)

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