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Advice For Ranged Combat In Mythras


Opiyel

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So for awhile, I've been running an M-Space campaign, using the modern and laser firearms in the RQ Firearms document. I was curious on how to make ranged combat a bit more interesting in the game, since a lot of it ends up being people crouching around in one area without really moving much. Thanks for any help.

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Grenades or explosive rounds, or high penetration rounds wearing away the cover, to make them give up a position. Secondary damage from splinters, ricochets or droplets of molten cover at near misses (about the same as disruption damage). Possibly a maneuver that combines covering fire by allies with a change in position. Offer both the carrot (you will improve your situation by changing position) and the stick (if you remain hiding here without someone else taking out that shooter, you'll be whittled away).

Battle fog: whether it is blackpowder soot hanging in the air or smoke and ejecta from near misses with high energy ammo, both sight and breathing may be impaired when remaining in the same firing hole for too long. That's a disadvantage for the person hiding there - in a ballistic or line of sight firefight, knowing the position of the target eliminates the need for seeing the target (as long as the projectile or ray penetrates the smoke screen better than the visuals). Even more so for grenade launchers, or primitive autonomous drones delivering explosive payloads.

If the players don't think of smoke grenades or strobe light grenades, have their opposition use them against them. They'll adapt.

A well positioned sniper should be able to eliminate a number of mooks before being encircled in his nest. A duel of snipers probably isn't the stuff that makes a pen and paper rpg fight exciting, although it should be an intense experience for the player participating in that duel.

 

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For near-future settings, light and smoke grenades are good choices as already stated. They will give everyone a chance of repositioning without becoming targets. 

More deadly solutions would be grenades and autonomous drones. Just keep in mind that drones might be possible to hijack by the target, turning them against the original attacker. 

For high-tech games, various forms of protection will make players less hesitant to move around. The battle dress is an obvious choice, but perhaps let it cover only the head, chest and abdomen to make it less powerful. 

Personal energy shields can also be fun if they have some setbacks (limited operating time or slow-moving weapons not stopped like in Dune for example). Or perhaps a 'shield grenade', offering a powerful shield for only a few moments? 

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On 12/15/2017 at 7:00 PM, Opiyel said:

So for awhile, I've been running an M-Space campaign, using the modern and laser firearms in the RQ Firearms document. I was curious on how to make ranged combat a bit more interesting in the game, since a lot of it ends up being people crouching around in one area without really moving much. Thanks for any help.

That's probably because modern missile fire works like that.

If you want a more heroic game, allow acrobatics to reduce the chance to hit, as you roll or jump between cover. Give a Special Effect for the Combat Style of "Fire while rolling" or something similar, allowing you to shoot while rolling/jumping, , thus getting the advantage or reducing the chance to hit and not reducing your own chance to hit.

You could use temporary holograms to confuse the opponents by giving more targets to shoot at. Camouflage suits could blur your outline, making it harder to shoot you. As stated earlier, flash/stun/smoke grenades could be used to confuse the opponents or reduce their chance to hit. Shooting out the lights while using infra-red visors can give you an advantage in combat, as it reduces the opponent's chance to hit while not affecting yours.

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Use of the pin down action is probably going to help here, as it’s going to allow your attackers to move more. You are going to need to make some solid cover for this, then once folks are pinned down, surround him so that he can’t get the benefit of the cover. Also, superior numbers, as you need people to be able to flank. 

Also note, for those swat door breaches, the back guys all have guns and are using the front guy for cover.  In some cases, the front guy passive wards with a shield and uses a pistol to clear through the door. Flash bangs are used to stun anything in the room so that the door can be cleared without response. 

Essentially, move when they can’t respond seems to be the rule here :)

http://www.cqb-team.com/entry_technique.php seems like s useful site in this regard, with lots of drawings of techniques and videos. I’m not even remotely around law enforcement, so I can’t speak to the accuracy, but seems pretty reasonable 

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Remember, the "assault rifle" is WWII-era tech.  Modern assault-rifles are improved, but basically still the same thing.  It's my understanding that "postmodern" firepower (currently in testing) may make the old style of "crouch behind cover, alternate between hiding&shooting" gunfights a bit old-school.

The advanced weapons are still in eval-mode, with small early deployments mostly to elite fireteams; there's a lot of fear that they may just be too fiddly and breakage-prone for widespread use.  Presumably, that's a matter of engineering, and in a sci-fi setting we can just fiat "this has been solved, and they are as reliable as a sword."

But guns like the X25 (built-in laser rangefinder, built-in programmable-fuse minigrenade launcher:  range to target, then airburst a grenade one meter over your "crouched behind cover" target; but ALSO an assault-rifle to just shoot with) make for a much deadlier (and less-static) battlefield.  Offhand, it looks to me as if field-armor (esp. a concussion-resistant helmet!) is coming within a decade or two... at least, for some engagements!

Edited by g33k
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This combined with a startup from Finland which has created replenishing stations for drones.... Charge it there and then go back to patrolling... combine this with 3d printing creating these small things in local factories and small builder bots building those factories all of which solar powered you have quite a nightmare scenario...

Edited by hkokko
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It's less of a threat that creating a lethal virus, and there are countermeasures such as EMP. I'm all for limiting weapons expenditures as they are a waste, in a world where poverty is still a major issue. It's our failure to grow socially which is most lethal, as people continue to hang on to obsolete belief systems, that is the bigger threat. Without that, then all technology is beneficial, defensive weapons are fine.

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1 hour ago, hkokko said:

Leaving the real world implications discussion to non gaming forum

Arguably, issues of "real world" warfare in the future are eminently suitable to a thread like this one!  If only to consider why a given "likely" tech is NOT in-play on the battlefield.

I recall one gaming-oriented discussion of a "likely" transhuman-tech battle, considering tech, tactics, & strategy.  One commentator replied, "if that's what it's liable to look like, the transhuman genre has zero gaming appeal."

 

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5 hours ago, g33k said:

Arguably, issues of "real world" warfare in the future are eminently suitable to a thread like this one!  If only to consider why a given "likely" tech is NOT in-play on the battlefield.

I recall one gaming-oriented discussion of a "likely" transhuman-tech battle, considering tech, tactics, & strategy.  One commentator replied, "if that's what it's liable to look like, the transhuman genre has zero gaming appeal."

 

Yep. It starts to look like many sf books and movies and some games as well are getting out of date with their view what is likely or possible.

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13 hours ago, hkokko said:

In this case was mentioning this for ranged weapon scenario for scifi games in near future. 

 

Leaving the real world implications discussion to non gaming forum

Most RPG's are small scale, small arms; military wise, players have little chance against any modern weaponry anyways, not to mention any sort of tactical situation. I don't see those drones changing anything, not anything more than the will and a pistol, for example, you would have to hold your head very still to get hit by a single drone. Sending out a swarm of thousands would be effective, that is the same type of difference between a pistol and a machine gun, and that is back to a military infrastructure that RPG's don't represent well anyway. Then there has always been a RoE, counter-measure for measure, and the modern battlefield is dominated by asymmetric warfare where there has been more than adequate low tech solutions for high technology. As far as the basic physics of warfare, chemistry has provided the most casualty causing agent in high explosives, and this is as true today as it was 150 years ago. 

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Autonomous drones are the same as a dancing sword or Thor's hammer - sidekicks or minions sent in to do damage on their own while the hero may strut or deflect enemy attacks. That sapient missile in Iain Banks' State of the Art with its autonomous sub-ammunitions is possibly the best-known SF version of such combat style.

True, a combat like that is more like two shamans sending in spirits from their bindings in howling swarms than directly exchanging balls of fire pushing back and forth. Jim Butcher wrote a five-part fantasy series using pokemon-like spirits (on a bet). It still is doable in a fantasy setting when you name the items exchanged accordingly, so why shouldn't it work in a SF setting? (This is also disagreeing with a comment of Ty Franck at a Caltech panel about the science of The Expanse, claiming that there is no emotional involvement sending in a remote probe. If the probe has a controller totally immersed in the perceptions of the drone while inserting, the identification will be a lot higher than that of a car-lover with his vehicle, and the spectator/reader who was fed this direct sensory input will be as disoriented for a moment.)

This is little different from wielding a tricorder or having a surround radar in your spaceship cockpit/helm.

Yes, there is a danger that these gimmicks might be out-gimmicked, or even turned against the original owner. That's one good reason to ride them sensorically into battle, not relying on fully autonomous action.

David Brin's Uplift War has the Terran defenders confuse enemy targeting systems by spreading the terran physiological signals (DNA) all over the native biome, among other things. Dealing with such technology in an asymmetric conflict has great plot potential.

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4 hours ago, dragoner said:

I don't see those drones changing anything, not anything more than the will and a pistol, for example, you would have to hold your head very still to get hit by a single drone.

Not those specific drones, no.  Propeller-driven.  But a tiny solid-fuel component would be easily added, turning it into far-too-fast-to-dodge for the last 30meters.  Come to think of it, the props could probably be modded -- variable aspect, over-rev the motor, etc -- so they could do comparable kamikaze runs just on propellers.

I don't see the "drone" as a "duelist's weapon," though; and fundamentally, most RPG's model "the duel" as their combat (sometimes hero-vs-many-mooks).

But in a hypermodern battlefield?  Dozens or hundreds of soldiers on each side?  With live overhead surveillance on-tap for any soldier to display on their HUD?  With radar and lidar and sonar and WTFdar?  With drones saturating the battlefield, taking a kill when they see a foe pinned-down by the fireteam, but also providing live surveillance from any perspective to any soldier?  Smart munitions fired from 50km away, with a drone painting a target-laser on a target just for the final 1.3 seconds of munition-flight?  Etc etc etc...

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I can see a soldier with a couple of skills - Drone Control and Drone Awareness. Drone Control is based on the controller's DEX + the cpu POWer of the control rig. Awareness is based on controller's INT +  the cpu POWer. Cpu Power (POW) is rated as a Characteristic. The Maximum control intensity of drones covered is equal to 1/10th of the Drone Control skill.

Each drone has a CPU POWer which is governed by a control intensity, rated 1-X, with a POWer rating of 1d6+(Intensity x 6). They also have an artificial INStinct rating of 2d6+Intensity to represent some basic programming and the ability to keep it on task, and a STR (1d6+(1xIntensity)) and DEX (2d6+(4xIntensity)) rating. They don't have lots of hit points (1d6+1xIntensity), just a single hit location, but they have a little bit of armor (1/2 Intensity). Their SIZ is generally in the 1d6 range. Each can carry a small arms weapon or two - the lower intensity ones normally carry only pistols, but military grade (and higher intensity) ones can carry long arms. Normally they hold some extra ammunition, enough for an extra reload or two, but not normally more due to size constraints. Many have fly speeds of 10m, and some have fly speeds of more than 20m.

how about that? :)

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On 12/17/2017 at 3:37 AM, soltakss said:

That's probably because modern missile fire works like that.

That's what I was going to say, heh.

The big thing with modern weapons is that they are easy to aim and easy to use - even for novices. In the chaos of the battlefield it's not nearly as easy as at the range, but if you present a man-sized target within 100m of men with rifles you stand a decent chance of getting shot. The solution has been to never offer the opponent such a target.

While maneuver and flanking are factors, they're more typically useful for large groups - say ten or so men - because that way when you split-off teams you can still retain fire superiority and the huge efficiency boost from have 2-4 people working in concert instead of one.

SWAT-style breeching works like it does because the SWAT team has massive superiority in armor and weapons, and is usually operating by surprise with sniper-support, battering ram tanks, etc. If SWAT came up against a hostile as heavily armed as they were they would camp outside and snipe at them, like the ATF did to the Branch Davidians - they wouldn't run in, because they'd probably get killed.

That said, the attacker does have advantage over defenders in one key aspect - he gets to choose where and when the fighting occurs, whereas the defender has to spread his resources across all possible fronts. But again, unless you're working in a large area with a large number of people this isn't that relevant.

Most real life gun-fights between small groups of people end with a random exchange, and then one side or both running away. A couple of casualties might occur, but an indecisive skirmish is more likely. Most real people will never fight to the death unless absolutely cornered, which will typically not happen because most real buildings have at least two viable exits. Really in any RPG the enemies should run away a lot more often and a lot earlier. The Hard Boiled scenario where you have criminals holed up in a building en masse is only likely to be acheived by near total surprise, because (if they thought you had a chance of dislodging them) they would just move to a new, hidden location before the attack. This is part of the reason ISIS was so hard to dislodge - as soon as they're spotted by the ground troops they move to the next building, and air support or artillery bomb the crap out of some empty ruin. It only takes a few minutes to evacuate, so catching them - even with overwhelming superiority - is a real pain in an urban environment or a forested/hilly area.

I won't even get into the 'real people don't use bows in personal combat'!

Edited by VonKatzen
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17 minutes ago, VonKatzen said:

The big thing with modern weapons is that they are easy to aim and easy to use - even for novices. In the chaos of the battlefield it's not nearly as easy as at the range, but if you present a man-sized target within 100m of men with rifles you stand a decent chance of getting shot. The solution has been to never offer the opponent such a target.

For perspective gamewise: In Mythras, this is going to be a 2 step penalty for most human sized targets, but it is well within a long arm's Close Range. Not an easy shot (50% of skill) but certainly doable. With Aiming (1 step easier) might help if there are additional penalties, but a simple 2x scope would make that penalty go away. You can get 24x ones on ebay for under $50. 

 

24 minutes ago, VonKatzen said:

While maneuver and flanking are factors, they're more typically useful for large groups - say ten or so men - because that way when you split-off teams you can still retain fire superiority and the huge efficiency boost from have 2-4 people working in concert instead of one.

SWAT-style breeching works like it does because the SWAT team has massive superiority in armor and weapons, and is usually operating by surprise with sniper-support, battering ram tanks, etc. If SWAT came up against a hostile as heavily armed as they were they would camp outside and snipe at them, like the ATF did to the Branch Davidians - they wouldn't run in, because they'd probably get killed.

Indeed. that seemed to be the gist of the documents I posted above. Don't go in one on one duelist style. take them down with superior force.

26 minutes ago, VonKatzen said:

Most real life gun-fights between small groups of people end with a random exchange, and then one side or both running away. A couple of casualties might occur, but an indecisive skirmish is more likely. Most real people will never fight to the death unless absolutely cornered, which will typically not happen because most real buildings have at least two viable exits.

I think this is well supported in game via the pin down and compel surrender mechanics. It's even stated in the main book (though under Press Advantage) that one might not be susceptible to a special effect due to lack of fear of taking damage. With guns, it seems likely that most things will, and in a modern firefight, I can see how it would be pretty certain.

28 minutes ago, VonKatzen said:

This is part of the reason ISIS was so hard to dislodge - as soon as they're spotted by the ground troops they move to the next building, and air support or artillery bomb the crap out of some empty ruin. It only takes a few minutes to evacuate, so catching them - even with overwhelming superiority - is a real pain in an urban environment or a forested/hilly area.

It seems to me (and I'm not really a tactical expert) the solution to this sort of situation is area denial - you take a building, a zone, etc, and you hold it so it can't be entered by evacuating forces. Establish a perimeter around the area and keep moving in. I can imagine how this might be logistically hard, as you are functionally making a very long perimeter and closing in, but otherwise you are ending up with a threat that you can't uproot.

31 minutes ago, VonKatzen said:

I won't even get into the 'real people don't use bows in personal combat'!

I wish you would actually!

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11 minutes ago, Raleel said:

I wish you would actually!

I wrote something up a few years ago to make longbows function more realistically in RQ6 (before Mythras came out) but I don't know if I still have it. But to point:

It's really hard to aim a bow at a single, moving target in a complex environment. And, given the realistic sprinting rate of a fighting man, he (and his buddies!) are likely to be able to run up and curb-stomp you before you get one-or-two shots off. Bows are useful for surprise, and incredibly effective in mass volleys, but they work best when the shot is arced and you have a target rich environment.

This is not to deny that some bowmen are really crack shots - obviously people hunt with bows, and there are weirdos that can do that Robin Hood trick of splitting an arrow down the shaft with their own arrow. But when you're dealing with a man closing on you, wielding a melee weapon, covered in at least partial metal armor, it's a poor choice. And, unlike a gun, a bow is basically useless at close range. This is, of course, why most bowmen carry knives or little swords or hatchets - and why some Eastern archers wore body armor.

On top of that, contra D&D, nobody has deliberately used short, simple bows in martial engagements since the Assyrian era - the range sucks, the penetration sucks, and a slower and lighter projectile means they're less accurate - all war bows in the late classical period onward would be either a longbow or composite bow.

Regarding your comments on the Mythras rules - they do handle most of this pretty well (aside from what I said about bow ranges and the like), and where they differ from what you'd find in an Osprey book is mostly a nod to the adventure theme (like Luck Points) - it's a deliberate feature, not a mistake, and can easily be fixed by changing some numbers.

One of the things that makes RPGs in general so weird in their weapon selection is that they've inherited armament tropes from a game that was originally about warfare - using troop blocks. While it makes sense for a company of men to all have a longbow, it makes much less sense for a single person to have a longbow. Likewise with that old Baldur's Gate trope of some guy with a huge pole-arm in single combat - that crap will get you killed. A pole-arm is great if you're in a formation fighting men in heavy armor, but it doesn't do 'super damage' or anything, so it's a hindrance in single-combat and not some amazing weapon that blows enemies to pieces on a hit. It's made to punch through plate, against an unarmored person it's just too much leverage and not enough control.

Edited by VonKatzen
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4 minutes ago, VonKatzen said:

I wrote something up a few years ago to make longbows function more realistically in RQ6 (before Mythras came out) but I don't know if I still have it. But to point:

It's really hard to aim a bow at a single, moving target in a complex environment. And, given the realistic sprinting rate of a fighting man, he (and his buddies!) are likely to be able to run up and curb-stomp you before you get one-or-two shots off. Bows are useful for surprise, and incredibly effective in mass volleys, but they work best when the shot is arced and you have a target rich environment.

Odd, I frequently get critiques of quite the opposite - folks whining that RQ6 and Mythras bows are far too difficult to use. Reload times that are in the 5 second range (2AP to reload, 1 to fire), ranges that are realistic (125m for an effective range), etc. A guy sprinting at you from 50m can make 35m in a single 5 second round conservatively - making a single shot possible, but you will have people in your face next round. Said archer is going to be facing a 50% of skill penalty IN ADDITION to range (one step harder) - he's only going to be hitting at 10% of his skill. He's not going to get off a second shot before Mr Sprinter plows through him. Even at 125m, he might be getting off a couple of shots, but they are even going to be HARDER than the 10% ones - functionally impossible.

so... I guess I'm not understanding your "more realistically" - seems like they do exactly what you want?

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