Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Monitors: drafting some weapons

So following my previous post, the question is what and how to implement in terms of weapons balance. I'm aiming for a reasonable mixture of:

  • choice (allowing people to equip characters as they'd like)
  • balance (not having some choices so superior or inferior that maths overrides flavour)
  • variety (having different weapons actually feel different to use)
  • simplicity (keeping choices, mechanics and descriptions straightforward)

I don't want this silly little game bogged down by twenty-column weapons profiles, or long periods spent agonising over shopping lists. At the same time, I'd like to offer people some choice about their equipment, and to have it actually make some difference to how the character plays.

The most basic and essential factors here are range and effect. You need to know what you can shoot at and what happens if you hit - are they hurt, knocked out, turned into chocolate? Having outlined some armour rules, a further concern is how good the weapon is against armour and what protects you against it. We should also give some kind of indication of how big it is. I'd also like to indicate some general properties of the weapon (mostly the way it works) as these may affect its interactions with other mechanics, such as resistances. As some weapons will affect an area, I need to note that down somewhere too.

So an early look at things might look something like this (numbers are arbitrary):

Weapon Range Target Strength Size Notes Class Defence
Flare pistol Short Single Blind 1d4 1 Photon Visor
Magnesium bomb Throw Blast Blind 1d6 1 Disposable Photon Visor
Photon cannon Long Blast Blind 1d10 30 Unwieldy Photon Visor
Stunner Melée Single Slow 1d4 1 Shock Armour
Shock rifle Medium Single 6 5 Two-handed Shock Armour
Mister Melée Single Slow 1d4 1 Gas Chemical Mask
Needler Short Single Slow 1d4 1 Chemical Armour

I don't really like the "Notes" business. And there are too many columns already. I don't see why blast/single needs its own column. Also, I think we could simplify things by having the Class determine the Defence used, rather than a separate attribute. I don't want to use Effect for that because there's no reason why (for example) gas can't blind someone, and this wouldn't target the same defence as a photon effect would.

Weapon Range Effect Strength Class Notes
Flare pistol ShortBlind 1d4 2 Photon Stealthy
Magnesium bomb ThrowBlind 1d6 blast 5 Photon Disposable
Photon cannon Long Blind 1d10 blast 10 Photon Unwieldy
Stunner Melée Slow 1d4 2 Shock
Shock rifle Medium 1 Wound 5 Shock Two-handed
Mister Melée Slow 1d4 2 Gas, Toxin Stealthy
Needler Short Slow 1d4 2 Physical, Toxin Stealthy

Here, we know that Photon effects always target Visor, Gas effects target Mask, and that Physical, Shock and Force effects target Armour. The Toxin keyword will mostly come into play when robots and other entities with odd physiology are involved. Other keywords may well have special properties: for example, Gas effects used in low-G may behave differently, and Shock weapons have more effect against robots. Stealthy weapons are both silent and invisible except to the target, ideal for subterfuge - most photon weapons can't achieve this, as there tends to be visible overspill, but the small pistol can maintain a narrow beam.

Further notes

The eagle-eyed among you may notice that I forgot to include ammunition capacity. Nope. I'm not using ammo. This is part of my effort to distinguish Tech and Magic: technology is fundamentally reliable and predictable, which means your weapon will never run out of juice mid-combat. This doesn't mean they've endless capacity, it just means you shouldn't be taken by surprise. Rather than a resource to manage, ammunition/charge becomes a narrative limit. You know that you don't have enough charge in your blaster to take out every soldier in the base, but you never have to worry about it in ordinary "reaasonable" use. Without having to track it most of the time, the GM can offer appropriate limits if the character is in an unusual situation, perhaps stranded somewhere and unable to recharge. Only grenades have limited use, and the same limit may apply to some other one-use items.

One possibility is to have generic weapon groups (Pistol, Rifle, Heavy) that combined several properties like Range, Size and how many hands you need. This would certainly make the tables smaller, but wouldn't actually be much simpler - you still need to know what those properties are, so I'm not sure it's an improvement.

I could certainly further simplify things by dropping the range of weapons. For example, without the Needler and Stunner, we could decide that all Slowing weapons are Gas, and then use Class to determine the damage type, rather than having a separate entry.

Another thing I want to consider for future drafts is whether the familiar scheme of Light (short range, low damage, low pen) and Heavy (long range, high damage, high pen) weapons is suitable, or whether I can mix it up a bit.

1 comment:

  1. Updated the arbitrary numbers to reflect the fact that Armour is now a d20 roll-under system.