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Some questions for Jason (if you have time).


Nightshade

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Now that I've gotten my book and had time to read it (in parts at least) a few things have struck me; if you feel like giving your responses, Jason, it'd be appreciated but anyone else who has a couple of pennies to add will be welcomed to. Most of these have to do with combat and weapons.

1. Shields and Dodging: As far as I can tell, shields are normally only the better choice as a defense because of Encumberance and armor penalties; otherwise dodging seems to be as good or better (since you don't have to deal with the shield wear-down effect) in the majority of cases. Is that a fair assessment?

(Weapons seem to get a bit more complicated, as they have the benefit that you're getting a parry and an attack for one skill unless using the optional rules; on the other hand they're almost completely useless against ranged attacks).

2. Page 191, Parries and Dodges: I'm curious why this limitation exists; as long as you're applying the -30% penalty to successive defenses, there doesn't seem any overwhelming advantage to mixing and matching.

3. Page 191, Parrying: How do the special rules involving parrying missile weapons with shields interact with successive parries? Is it in practice the case you can only parry one missile attack a round with a shield (since the -30% would almost always go to 0 or less if just using the base)? Also, does the base include skill modifier if that's in use, or is it just the base value? Also, is this rule intended to apply to thrown weapons? (That would seem awfully severe (as it is the above rule seems pretty severe against archery and the like, though I suppose you could apply the slung shield rule to get some value out of them).

4. Page 256, Advanced Missile Weapons: I'm getting the sense perhaps something is missing regarding the Disintegrators; the discussion of them suggests extremely dangerous weapons, but by the numbers they seem less dangerous than the equivelent plasma weapons and not uncomparable to the blasters; but they don't have a listed special result. Is there something missing here?

5. Page 259, Random AP: This seems, by the examples present, to do more than introduce more variance in the armors listed; in all cases I saw, it also seems to make them noticably weaker; this is particularly noticable at the modern to advanced armors. Is this an intended result? (If so, its probably would have been a good thing to emphasize in the discussion of the option).

6. Page 267, Explosives: How are these weapons supposed to be applied when hit locations are in use? I suspect given the example of the Magic fire and cold spells, and the demonic fire breath that they're supposed to be applied to all locations equally, but it doesn't say.

(As an aside, I'm not convinced that's a good way to deal with that; even for humans that effectively multiplies the damage of such weapons after armor by seven, and has the odd effect that the amount of damage you take varies according to how many hit locations you have).

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I realize now that I'm reading it that the random AP issue is even more complicated than it appears; some armors lose big time by it, while some actually come out ahead, and it changes the relationship between them noticeably.

For example, the three leather armors do pretty well by it; they can come out lower but on the whole they'll come out as well or better than their fixed value equivalents (cuirboilli is very noticeable here as it has to work to be any worse than its fixed value). Chain suffers pretty badly, though, and notably suffers in comparison to Lamellar, which under the random version is better in every way; its got the same die range but is otherwise worse.

Almost all the heavier armors lose by the deal, often pretty profoundly.

Edited by Nightshade
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1. Shields and Dodging: As far as I can tell, shields are normally only the better choice as a defense because of Encumberance and armor penalties; otherwise dodging seems to be as good or better (since you don't have to deal with the shield wear-down effect) in the majority of cases. Is that a fair assessment?

(Weapons seem to get a bit more complicated, as they have the benefit that you're getting a parry and an attack for one skill unless using the optional rules; on the other hand they're almost completely useless against ranged attacks).

You've half-answered your own question.

Some types of attacks are Difficult or Impossible to Dodge, but might be easier to parry. Similarly, having a shield in hand gives you a weapon if your primary weapon breaks. The GM may also rule that a shield allows you to partially or fully parry an area of effect attack (depending on the size of the shield), whereas a Dodge may have no effect.

2. Page 191, Parries and Dodges: I'm curious why this limitation exists; as long as you're applying the -30% penalty to successive defenses, there doesn't seem any overwhelming advantage to mixing and matching.

It's a limitation on actions per round, essentially, and a holdover from Elric!, I believe.

Some of these rules I'm not 100% sure I agree with, but I did want to break as little as possible with the core rulebook.

3. Page 191, Parrying: How do the special rules involving parrying missile weapons with shields interact with successive parries? Is it in practice the case you can only parry one missile attack a round with a shield (since the -30% would almost always go to 0 or less if just using the base)?

Those are the rules as written for shields parrying missile weapons. I've seen it houseruled that you can parry them at full skill, and wrote the rules to accommodate that.

Also, does the base include skill modifier if that's in use, or is it just the base value?

Base value.

If you feel like being generous, then you can add the optional skill modifier, but those shield values are really based simply on the relative sizes of the shield and an average PC. If we wanted to get really complicated, there would be some modifier based on a ratio of the shield's SIZ versus the character's SIZ, but striving for that level of detail is a step towards madness...

Also, is this rule intended to apply to thrown weapons? (That would seem awfully severe (as it is the above rule seems pretty severe against archery and the like, though I suppose you could apply the slung shield rule to get some value out of them).

To me, the rules are more severe to someone attempting to use a shield against missile weapons.

The way I play is that I allow full shield parry skill vs. thrown weapons if you can see the attacker and the weapon (make a Spot roll if it's not obvious), Difficult vs. archery or equivalents (see above for conditions), and Impossible vs. firearms or energy weapons.

4. Page 256, Advanced Missile Weapons: I'm getting the sense perhaps something is missing regarding the Disintegrators; the discussion of them suggests extremely dangerous weapons, but by the numbers they seem less dangerous than the equivelent plasma weapons and not uncomparable to the blasters; but they don't have a listed special result. Is there something missing here?

The average damage for a disintegrator pistol is 8-9 points. The dice for the rifle version is 12-13 points.

They are admittedly a bit underpowered, mostly because the outright disintegration of a target is often a serious game balance problem. If the numbers are problematic, I'd suggest altering the dice to pistol (3d8+1) and rifle (3d12+2). That's crazy-high, but might be more to your liking.

5. Page 259, Random AP: This seems, by the examples present, to do more than introduce more variance in the armors listed; in all cases I saw, it also seems to make them noticably weaker; this is particularly noticable at the modern to advanced armors. Is this an intended result? (If so, its probably would have been a good thing to emphasize in the discussion of the option).

True... random armor values don't really stack up against fixed armor values. The "missing aspect" is that random armor values aren't really usable with hit locations, where fixed armor values become much more important.

It's one of those cascading design issues, where one option creates a series of issues that ripples across multiple options.

If backwards-compatibility weren't a goal of the book, I'd probably adjust most of the random values upwards, or rather, their minimums upward, so it'd be more like 1d4+3 rather than 1d8-1.

6. Page 267, Explosives: How are these weapons supposed to be applied when hit locations are in use? I suspect given the example of the Magic fire and cold spells, and the demonic fire breath that they're supposed to be applied to all locations equally, but it doesn't say.

(As an aside, I'm not convinced that's a good way to deal with that; even for humans that effectively multiplies the damage of such weapons after armor by seven, and has the odd effect that the amount of damage you take varies according to how many hit locations you have).

I'll admit that hit locations are, next to fatigue points, my least-favorite aspect of prior BRP games, and if not for the vociferous cries from the playtesters when I hinted about losing them entirely, they'd be gone.

I agree completely that applying damage equally across all hit locations is pretty brutal. As an alternate house rule, I'd suggest one of the following:

  1. For every die of damage done by the area attack, roll a d20 for hit locations. Divide the total damage rolled across that number of hit locations (rounding down or up, depending on how fierce a GM you are), applying doubled hit locations double damage.

  2. Divide damage equally across all hit locations (rounding up). If you have more hit locations, there's (theoretically) more surface area and damage is applied less intensely to each location.

Note that none of these answers are holy writ, and I fully expect BRP to both inherit legacy house rules and accumulate its healthy share of new house rules. I wish it were otherwise, but such is the nature of the beast. I remember joking during the playtest that some of the system's house rules are older than some of the playtesters.

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6. Page 267, Explosives: How are these weapons supposed to be applied when hit locations are in use? I suspect given the example of the Magic fire and cold spells, and the demonic fire breath that they're supposed to be applied to all locations equally, but it doesn't say.

(As an aside, I'm not convinced that's a good way to deal with that; even for humans that effectively multiplies the damage of such weapons after armor by seven, and has the odd effect that the amount of damage you take varies according to how many hit locations you have).

My two penn'orth on this is that all these "mass damage" rules (including Poison, for example, if it does HP damage) can simply be applied to your overall HP score rather than divvying it up amongst your hit locations. I play systemic poison like this, for example, and I'd do the same in the case of large explosions (or fireballs, dragon breath, etc) scoring a direct hit - I really wouldn't bother rolling hit location for a direct hit with a hand grenade, although you could make a case for doing so with an indirect shrapnel hit or land mine.

I guess the point is, that even if you're using hit locations, you don't have do use them *all* the time - just make sure it's consistent.

I agree with Jason on the inevitability of houserules and preferences - BRP games seem to attract them!

Cheers,

Sarah

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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I'm trying to find the page where I wrote a warning to the effect of "Not all optional rules work well with one another."

I am wondering if it got edited out, and am wishing I'd put it in boldface in the intro block of text about them.

A really good thing for a web extra (or the wiki here) would be a list of relationships between optional rules.

E.g. incompatible (use one or the other but not both), deprecated (you can use it but it really isn't a good idea), recommended (i.e. good idea to use both rather than just one) and required (you can't use one without the other.)

Clearly there's a 5th relationship (no impact on each other) but that doesn't excatly need stating.

So for example, under hit locations you could have: incompatible with major wound table, major wounds, random armour values.

The anal retentive in me would find this a really useful resource and would do it myself if I had a) time and B) time to read the book thoroughly.

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Chain suffers pretty badly, though, and notably suffers in comparison to Lamellar, which under the random version is better in every way; its got the same die range but is otherwise worse.

If it helps any recent research has shown than Chainmail wasn't nearly as effective as many historians thought it was. Spears for example have a tendency to peirce right through the links as if they were not there.

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If it helps any recent research has shown than Chainmail wasn't nearly as effective as many historians thought it was. Spears for example have a tendency to peirce right through the links as if they were not there.

Can't remember who wrote this (maybe Terry Pratchett) or even if it is using the same words, but

"From an arrows point of view, chainmail is just a collection of holes"

Likes to sneak around

115/420

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My two penn'orth on this is that all these "mass damage" rules (including Poison, for example, if it does HP damage) can simply be applied to your overall HP score rather than divvying it up amongst your hit locations.

This is probably the most playable means of dealing with this issue.

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You've half-answered your own question.

Some types of attacks are Difficult or Impossible to Dodge, but might be easier to parry. Similarly, having a shield in hand gives you a weapon if your primary weapon breaks. The GM may also rule that a shield allows you to partially or fully parry an area of effect attack (depending on the size of the shield), whereas a Dodge may have no effect.

Can you give an example? Because other than the missile weapon case (and as written, shields don't seem too good against any of those but thrown either) none is coming to mind and I didn't see any reference to them in the rules.

It's a limitation on actions per round, essentially, and a holdover from Elric!, I believe.

Some of these rules I'm not 100% sure I agree with, but I did want to break as little as possible with the core rulebook.

Fair enough. I just wasn't sure if there was some balance issue here I wasn't seeing.

Those are the rules as written for shields parrying missile weapons. I've seen it houseruled that you can parry them at full skill, and wrote the rules to accommodate that.

I don't think I made my question clear; you have a shield which will parry a missile weapon at 25%; you parry one this way. A second comes in and you want to parry it. Is this impossible because the -30% rule applies? The phrasing could be read that its not applicable, and I just wanted to be sure.

Base value.

If you feel like being generous, then you can add the optional skill modifier, but those shield values are really based simply on the relative sizes of the shield and an average PC. If we wanted to get really complicated, there would be some modifier based on a ratio of the shield's SIZ versus the character's SIZ, but striving for that level of detail is a step towards madness...

That's what I thought, but I wanted to get your take on it.

To me, the rules are more severe to someone attempting to use a shield against missile weapons.

That's what I was saying; that if you couldn't use shields against thrown weapons normally either that's really severe.

The way I play is that I allow full shield parry skill vs. thrown weapons if you can see the attacker and the weapon (make a Spot roll if it's not obvious), Difficult vs. archery or equivalents (see above for conditions), and Impossible vs. firearms or energy weapons.

How do you deal with the issue of ballistic shields against firearms? The slung rule? (If you can reposition it slightly to guard different locations, that's probably about as sensible as anything, but the rules don't really seem to address it, and I can see it coming up fairly frequently in SF settings using the energy shield).

The average damage for a disintegrator pistol is 8-9 points. The dice for the rifle version is 12-13 points.

They are admittedly a bit underpowered, mostly because the outright disintegration of a target is often a serious game balance problem. If the numbers are problematic, I'd suggest altering the dice to pistol (3d8+1) and rifle (3d12+2). That's crazy-high, but might be more to your liking.

I don't disagree that flat out phaser style dematerialization is not a good thing for a game (I saw some problems with that with the FASA Star Trek game years ago), but as it is, they they seem actually weaker than other weapons of comparable size (this was very noticeable with the Rifle when contrasted with either the Blaster Rifle or the Plasma Rifle), especially since if I'm reading the table right they have no Special result (which made me think perhaps they were supposed to get something unusual there that made up the difference).

True... random armor values don't really stack up against fixed armor values. The "missing aspect" is that random armor values aren't really usable with hit locations, where fixed armor values become much more important.

Well, I wasn't even looking at them in the context of hit locations, but just with the normal system; I'd have thought what you'd want would be something where the average was around the same but the variance greater, but as I noted they don't even keep the same relationship to each other; on the table the value of chain armor drops so much in expected that its arguably worse than cuirboilli (3.5 expected compared to 4 expected). Where these legacy values from somewhere? (I remember the 1d6-1 value for soft leather from some incarnation of Stormbringer or Elric!, but any problems there were subtle because as I recall they only had three or four armor types anyway).

It's one of those cascading design issues, where one option creates a series of issues that ripples across multiple options.

If backwards-compatibility weren't a goal of the book, I'd probably adjust most of the random values upwards, or rather, their minimums upward, so it'd be more like 1d4+3 rather than 1d8-1.

Ah. That probably answers my question then; it sounds like at least some of these were legacy issues, and if you were supposed to keep them backwards compatible, I can't fault you for that.

I'll admit that hit locations are, next to fatigue points, my least-favorite aspect of prior BRP games, and if not for the vociferous cries from the playtesters when I hinted about losing them entirely, they'd be gone.

Well, being an old RQ person, I'd have been right there with them. :)

I agree completely that applying damage equally across all hit locations is pretty brutal. As an alternate house rule, I'd suggest one of the following:

  1. For every die of damage done by the area attack, roll a d20 for hit locations. Divide the total damage rolled across that number of hit locations (rounding down or up, depending on how fierce a GM you are), applying doubled hit locations double damage.

  2. Divide damage equally across all hit locations (rounding up). If you have more hit locations, there's (theoretically) more surface area and damage is applied less intensely to each location.

The one problem I can see with this is that it then ends up overrating armor if you apply it separately to each die. The best I could figure to do was compare the damage to each location's armor, and then divide what's left by the number of locations or some such. Or maybe do something like what you do, but deduct average armor first. They're all messy, but the alternative is to make areas way too vigorous against the lightly armored. No one would ever survive being anywhere near a hand grenade, let alone dragon breath (the only reason RQ characters did in versions where dragon breath worked this way was because their armor values could be so high, but that's less likely to be the case in campaigns derived from the new book far as I can tell (especially since the nearest equivelent to RQ Protection doesn't seem to protect against fire if I'm reading the rules right).

Note that none of these answers are holy writ, and I fully expect BRP to both inherit legacy house rules and accumulate its healthy share of new house rules. I wish it were otherwise, but such is the nature of the beast. I remember joking during the playtest that some of the system's house rules are older than some of the playtesters.

Well, with a game with BRP's legacy, how could it not be?

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I'm trying to find the page where I wrote a warning to the effect of "Not all optional rules work well with one another."

I am wondering if it got edited out, and am wishing I'd put it in boldface in the intro block of text about them.

You mention it in some individual places (for example variable armor and hit locations). I don't think any of my questions actually dealt with interacting options though; the armor question wasn't assuming hit locations in use.

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My two penn'orth on this is that all these "mass damage" rules (including Poison, for example, if it does HP damage) can simply be applied to your overall HP score rather than divvying it up amongst your hit locations. I play systemic poison like this, for example, and I'd do the same in the case of large explosions (or fireballs, dragon breath, etc) scoring a direct hit - I really wouldn't bother rolling hit location for a direct hit with a hand grenade, although you could make a case for doing so with an indirect shrapnel hit or land mine.

The problem here is, what do you do if you've got locational armor? Even if you don't want to apply it locationally (which seems a little odd with shrapnel at least) you have to come up with an armor value somehow.

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If it helps any recent research has shown than Chainmail wasn't nearly as effective as many historians thought it was. Spears for example have a tendency to peirce right through the links as if they were not there.

That'd be a good reason for it to be generally worse, but as it is its better if not using variable armor than lamellar (mildly) and worse if you are; its the difference between the two when using the base and optional rule I was addressing (and I'm not sure there's any reason for it to be as bad or worse than cuirboilli).

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The problem here is, what do you do if you've got locational armor? Even if you don't want to apply it locationally (which seems a little odd with shrapnel at least) you have to come up with an armor value somehow.

I'd just take an average in this case.

"The Worm Within" - the first novel for The Chronicles of Future Earth, coming 2013 from Chaosium, Inc.

Website: http://sarahnewtonwriter.com | Twitter: @SarahJNewton | Facebook: TheChroniclesOfFutureEarth

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  1. For every die of damage done by the area attack, roll a d20 for hit locations. Divide the total damage rolled across that number of hit locations (rounding down or up, depending on how fierce a GM you are), applying doubled hit locations double damage.

  2. Divide damage equally across all hit locations (rounding up). If you have more hit locations, there's (theoretically) more surface area and damage is applied less intensely to each location.

There is already a rule for this on page 223.

"Damage from most explosives is general, and not applied to any specific hitlocation, if that system is being used, though the gamemaster could choose to divide the damage among 1D4 hit locations, rolled randomly"

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There is already a rule for this on page 223.

"Damage from most explosives is general, and not applied to any specific hitlocation, if that system is being used, though the gamemaster could choose to divide the damage among 1D4 hit locations, rolled randomly"

Genius!

(someone should get that guy to write a book!)

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I'd just take an average in this case.

Probably what I'd end up doing too, but its too bad; there's something to be said for being able to know if you took the blast primarily in the armored torso or caught the worst of it in the nearly unarmored left arm, but BRP style armor and damage doesn't make that easy to do without creating other problems.

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Genius!

(someone should get that guy to write a book!)

So was that division intended to be before or after armor? I like it quite a bit conceptually, but there's some penetration issues I'd need to look at if its before.

(Of course I could roll for number of locations, apply the full damage to penetration, then divide what gets through by 1-4; that's not all that complicated...)

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They are admittedly a bit underpowered, mostly because the outright disintegration of a target is often a serious game balance problem. If the numbers are problematic, I'd suggest altering the dice to pistol (3d8+1) and rifle (3d12+2). That's crazy-high, but might be more to your liking.

I like the suggestion to ratchet up the damage to a more acceptable amount. I mean, if you're gonna call a "disintegrator" you are already accepting that it is the most powerful firearm in the game. As powerful as they are, I imagine that in some SF universes (time frame 5:02) they are not desirable from the over-kill standpoint.

they are commonplace and should be considered carefully, though I would hazard that's what red shirts are for.

A Certain Sith Lord: There will be a substantial reward for the one who finds the Millennium Falcon. You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive. No disintegrations.

A Certain Bounty Hunter: As you wish.

Edited by FunGuyFromYuggoth
Possessed by Insect of Shaggai

Roll D100 and let the percentiles sort them out.

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I'm thinking perhaps a better way to go would be to give them some kind of unusual special result; that way the basic damage isn't godawful, but they're ugly with a solid hit. Zap and you're gone still might be excessive, though, but perhaps something more severe than your usual impale or the like.

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As another note, not necessarily an errata, here's the way I treated disintegrators a long time ago when I ran a Star Wars BRP-based game:

  • Disintegrators did double rolled damage with a special success.
  • They ignored all but energy-based armor.
  • Damage was rolled and used in a resistance roll vs. the target's HP total (not current - their normal total).
  • If the damage won, the target was simply disintegrated. Blown to component atoms.
  • If the damage lost the resistance roll, the target took half damage.
  • If there was a tie, the target took normal rolled damage. If the subsequent damage killed the target, he was simply blown to atoms.

We toyed with hit locations for a session, and the decision we made was that if the damage took the location to its normal total as a negative number (so a 5-point location reduced to -5 HP), the hit location was completely destroyed... joining Alderaan in nonexistence. No healing allowed - the location was just gone. If it happened to be head/chest/abdomen... the target died immediately (droids might survive, but were rendered into component parts).

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[*]Damage was rolled and used in a resistance roll vs. the target's HP total (not current - their normal total).

[*]If the damage won, the target was simply disintegrated. Blown to component atoms.

This was sort of the kind of thing I was thinking of for a special success for the current ones. Its ugly, but I'm not sure in practice that much more ugly than a crit will normally produce with high tech weaponry anyway, and the probabilities probably aren't that different.

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