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Old 12-31-2012, 03:20 PM   #1
JCurwen3
 
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Default Rescaling Melee Weapons (notes)

In this recent thread, the subject of muscle-powered damage being unrealistically high was raised, and I posted a link to a post by Douglas Cole from a similar much older thread, here:

Rescaling Melee Weapons

I use these rules in all of the GURPS games I GM and one in which I play (specifically, the realistic option of thr dmg as ST/20 dice and sw dmg as ST/10 dice). They work beautifully. I've shared below a sort of very informal generalized description of my playtest experiences with them, for Douglas Cole and for anyone interested in using them.

To clarify, the campaigns include very high magic DF (converted from AD&D), hard sci-fi with a smidgeon of space opera, low tech medieval low fantasy, modern horror with a bit of MH and Lovecraft, and post-modern zombie apocalypse. They all use these ST damage rules, as well as all of the harsh, gritty realism rules for armour, combat, and injury in Martial Arts and other places. There is magic and superscience in some of these, sometimes a lot, but the idea is that the laws of physics and biology are otherwise in play and work accordingly.

Treating the "adds" as the power of the lever arm being applied (as recommended in these rules) gives greater differentiation in weapon effectiveness, encourages use of larger and more powerful weapons, and also scales really nicely for very small (and weak) and very large (and strong) combatants. I highly recommend it... even if you don't take anything else from Douglas Cole's rules. In the DF campaign, where many weapons had "pluses", we counted those as the same as regular weapon "adds", making magical weapons vastly superior and a lot more threatening since this meant higher effective ST.

One thing that emerges is that well-armoured combatants (for instance, in plate mail) are generally safe from most attacks from swords and other melee weapons with the exception of critical hits and the super strong. This meshes well with historical accounts. This strongly encourages attacks to unarmoured areas, targeting chinks in armour, and taking advantage of armour damage and any armour divisors you can exploit from selected weapons (eg, picks and spears). You can't really defeat an opponent in full plate mail by just randomly swinging at them, hoping to wear them down - you need to fight smart and strategically. Committed and even All-Out Attacks (Strong) become more common and less suicidal for such combatants as well.

On the other hand, lower ST-based damage makes fist fights much less deadly. It also makes it more survivable to fight without much or any armour protection vs melee weapons, so you see less armoured "tank" characters as it becomes less dangerous to go with a less encumbered light or not armoured swashbuckler type. Grappling also becomes more important (we're all eagerly awaiting Technical Grappling!), as does any attempt to disarm or subdue an opponent rather than beat them to death.

Magical attacks, firearms, and powered ranged weapons end up favoured much more, because muscle-powered damage scales realistically with firearms, with a character even in the upper end of the human realistic ST range unable to match the damage of most firearms. Admittedly, this somewhat discourages certain character types (pure melee warriors) over others, but not enough so you don't see people choosing to play them anyway. In the campaigns where firearms exist (and are effective vs the selected targets), they'll be used realistically in preference to melee weapons, as one would do in real life if one were aiming to inflict lethal damage.

I don't charge Douglas Cole's lower value for ST - it's still the same for Striking ST, and a total [10] for ST. Buying up ST was still attractive, and in DF we still see many warriors buying it up to near their respective racial upper limits.

I might be forgetting aspects of my experience using these rules, so please ask if curious. I'm also curious to hear the experiences of anyone else using them in their games.
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Old 12-31-2012, 03:43 PM   #2
DouglasCole
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Default Re: Rescaling Melee Weapons (notes)

Thanks for this!

I will link to it from Gaming Ballistic if you dont mind?
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Old 12-31-2012, 04:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rescaling Melee Weapons (notes)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
Thanks for this!

I will link to it from Gaming Ballistic if you dont mind?
Oh no, of course that's fine.

I just hope this was helpful. Having never approached using your rules as "playtesting", nor having any experience playtesting or documenting such, if there's any need for further clarification or questions, feel free to ask. I will say using them just seemed natural. More natural and realistic seeming than the standard GURPS ST-based damage values.
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rescaling Melee Weapons (notes)

Not sure if I should post this here or the other thread, but I'm assuming someone will take note of it here:

If someone were interested in these rules but did NOT want to fiddle with fractional dice (table lookups...yuck...the math isn't too bad, but I wouldn't want to scare away players either), how would you recommend things be rescaled? Seems like you'd need to do something to DR and something to firearms damage...that's perhaps more yucky than fractional dice.

I like the idea that armor matters more, but don't really care much about the differences between firearms damage and hand-to-hand damage simply because they so rarely co-exist in our games (and if they did co-exist, it's probably gonna be low tech firearms anyway, meaning that you get 1 shot in all likelihood before "switching to knives").

It seems to me that the edge protection rule from Low Tech is the "official stance" on "fixing" this issue--what if one wanted to go a bit further, but not as far as Mr. Cole's fractional dice and rescaling of melee weapons? What would you recommend?
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: Rescaling Melee Weapons (notes)

Quote:
Originally Posted by apoc527 View Post
If someone were interested in these rules but did NOT want to fiddle with fractional dice (table lookups...yuck...the math isn't too bad, but I wouldn't want to scare away players either), how would you recommend things be rescaled? Seems like you'd need to do something to DR and something to firearms damage...that's perhaps more yucky than fractional dice.
The fractional dice, and associated calculations or look-up table, are the main thing stopping me from using this (admittedly more realistic) houserule. I think the only alternative to make a houserule like this work would be to increase the granularity of the damage results, either by doubling HP and DR and shifting damage accordingly, or allowing decimal damage totals (ie, 0.7d becomes 1d*0.7, giving results of 0.7, 1.4, 2.1, etc.) The former would probably be simpler to use in-play, and not terribly difficult to modify existing stats for. The latter would have some advantages for representing truly tiny creatures (ST ≤3) but that's only rarely going to matter in most games anyways.

Quote:
It seems to me that the edge protection rule from Low Tech is the "official stance" on "fixing" this issue--what if one wanted to go a bit further, but not as far as Mr. Cole's fractional dice and rescaling of melee weapons? What would you recommend?
You could further boost all armor DR and give firearms an inherent armor divisor. I've also seen the suggestion of giving melee attacks (including cutting blades and unarmed strikes) an armor multiplier. But again, there just doesn't seem to be the granularity necessary to accurately represent differences in ST-based damage without exaggerating its effects.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:41 AM   #6
DouglasCole
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Default Re: Rescaling Melee Weapons (notes)

I used fractional dice in order to give some bite to each extra point of ST.

the truly EASY way to do this is to realize:

+1 is 0.28 dice
+2 is 0.56 dice
+1d-1 (so from 1d+2 to 2d-1) is 0.71 dice
+3 is 0.86 dice

So, using 2d to 3d as an example

2.0 to 2.2 dice = 2d
2.3 to 2.5 dice = 2d+1
2.6 to 2.7 dice = 2d+2
2.8 to 2.9 dice = 3d-1 or 2d+3, your choice
3.0 dice = 3d

that means there are "dead" regions, but you might not care.
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