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Old 03-04-2019, 11:23 PM   #31
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Default Re: On the Fragility of Life

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Generally why I think that sniper teams should have four people in them. The leader identifies the targets while the flanker protects the team while the sniper and spotter take out the targets. Of course, the larger the force, the more intelligence the force has.
Two, and the spotter identifies and points out targets if the sniper hasn't seen them. Most of the targets will be located before you even open fire.

The leader just adds another layer of management, and a team of four has a lot more footprint than a team of two.
Just out of curiousity, what would you think of the effectiveness of a mixed weapon corps of four divisions? I was thinking that two sniper divisions supported by an anti-armor divisor and an anti-air division would be quite effective. What do you think?
That sniper units would suffer from the same problem light missile units have always had - they can't stop concentrated units from pushing through them. They make life hell, sure, but they can't stop them. Also, machineguns and mortars beat sniper rifles - the sniper units have precision, but lack raw power.

Sniper-heavy units are very useful in low-intensity wars, but when the heavy gear is rolled out they are just another specialist unit - past a certain point they just end up being used as very expensively trained infantry because there's a limited demand for their special skills, but major wars have a limitless appetite for infantry. Combat engineers experience the same thing - very, very useful, but all too often they're mis-used as grunts.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:29 AM   #32
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Default Re: On the Fragility of Life

I am not entirely sure that you can generalize that position to contemporary military forces because we have not had two advanced contemporary military forces go all out against each other since World War II. A lot of military doctrines are likely outdated and obsolete, but we do not know because we do not face comparable military forces. Which is probably why the USA is careful to avoid conflicts with anyone that it is not 100% that it can beat.

For example, can fighters and tanks actually survive in an environment where infantry squads use drones equipped with smart anti-air or anti-armor munitions? If fighters and tanks cannot survive, what hope would there be for helicopters and mechanized infantry? Could they actually be anything but targets in such a military environment?
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:54 AM   #33
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Default Re: On the Fragility of Life

Usually I avoid simulation for the sake of simulation itself, so actual mechanics I would use depend on the purpose of such raid. If assassin wants to reduce enemy forces' manpower, I would carry it out as a Quick Contest of (lowest of) Stealth or Knife against soldiers' Per or Observation, determining their effective skill according to BAD (based on the number of sentries, their professionalism, communication system, camp lighting etc). Assassin's victory in QC would take out 5% of enemy manpower. After each such victory I would allow player to roll again, allowing him to gamble his safety for the possibility of taking out more enemies. Soldiers' victory in QC would mean the assassin is spotted, which can lead to somewhat more detailed chase or escape scene.

If I wanted to reduce the number of rolls, I would ask player to assign a penalty from 0 to -10 to his skill, which represents assassin's dedication to the task of killing as many enemies as possible. A single QC would follow. In case of assassin's victory 10% of enemy manpower would be taken out, with every point of assigned penalty raising this result by additional 10%.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:10 AM   #34
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Default Re: On the Fragility of Life

Realistically the 1 vs 100 camp thing has the issue that the 1 has to get lucky a lot*, the 100 only have to get lucky once (even if the level of luck for both are unequal)

The problem the 1 has is the moment the alarm is raised and a significant number get roused from sleep they're done unless they have a very good escape plan.

There's also the point that in a lot of TL's a military camp of 100 will likely include some manner of watch animals

The sniper at least has the advantage of range and position making getting way once their actions are discovered is easier (but here we get into the fact that suppressors aren't that good and sniping at TL6 at night is not going to be that long range) especially if the camp being shot into is relatively quite. There's also the question that it's unlikely that this sniper is going to find a position they can shoot all 100 potential targets from without relocating several times (and of there is one why doesn't this camp have sentry team on it!)

*Unlike in films and computer games if a sentry spots or hears something odd they tend to alert someone else first before investigating rather than going to investigate without telling anyone and then being conveniently silenced.
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Last edited by Tomsdad; 03-05-2019 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:49 AM   #35
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Default Re: On the Fragility of Life

Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Generally why I think that sniper teams should have four people in them. The leader identifies the targets while the flanker protects the team while the sniper and spotter take out the targets. Of course, the larger the force, the more intelligence the force has.
You could watch the movie Lone Survivor for how this type of scenario might turn out.
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Old 03-05-2019, 08:50 AM   #36
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Default Re: On the Fragility of Life

On the 'one awesome PC character against a company of infantry' problem in general, I'm actually playing a PC in a game where that might come up, namely Chase Taylor in the campaign Jade Serenity.

To be fair, the PC is actually a superhero, but in a very low-key, subtle way. The most dramatic 'impossible' superpower he has demonstrated so far is an ability to see perfectly in the dark, i.e. Night Vision 9 and an ability to see IR illumination. While he is doing so, he has strongly reflective eyes in the dark, like a cat or owl.

Other than that, he is pretty similar to the example character in the first post, i.e. Stealth and melee combat skills at skill 20, similar physical Attributes, etc. Granted, he's a lot more broadly competent than the example character and thus costs almost 700 character points, but is not actually beyond human capabilities in any way aside from his superhuman senses.

Well, 'superhuman senses' in a broad sense. That is, he has Guns (Rifle) -22 and his superhuman senses include near-perfect situational awareness and almost instant ballistics calculations for any target within the focus of his vision, which I guess could be relevant. In game terms, he has skill 22 and can perform Aim at up to two targets within a narrow arc while he does something else, such as shoot, which means that he can make all his shots Aimed (with his unmodified visual sense providing rangefinding as well) without 'wasting' actions.

In practical terms, it means Taylor can kill two enemies per second at any range up to the effective mechanical accuracy of the firearm and round combination he is armed with. His senses are also good enough that even with penalties for being in combat and not taking actions to scan around him, he'll notice any threat within a combat range of him, at least if it's any kind of threat that a normal human has a chance of spotting when concentrating on providing overwatch of that sector.

This means that alone and armed with an accurate semi-automatic rifle, the character is about equivalent to the best small patrol of Scout/Snipers that could realistically exist, at least as long as his ammo holds out and his weapon doesn't overheat or otherwise fail.

The link at the start of my post is to write-ups of sessions for Season 1 of Jade Serenity. We are actually playing 'Jade Serenity 2: Once Upon a Time in Mexico' now, but I haven't wrapped up the previous thread and posted a new one, even though I promised to do so. Also, a hiatus caused by a player going abroad gave me some extra time to get caught up.

In any case, the PCs are a small group of agents and undercover federal agents, currently just over the Rio Grande in Mexico, specifically in the Juarez Valley, in a world very close to ours.*

The PCs are attempting to contact a whole team of United States Army Special Forces who went AWOL in the area while negotiating with the cartel boss of the Knights Templar splinter faction, one Raul Vargas, former SF Warrant Officer himself (before he was arrested and killed some people during his escape).

In the small town of Guadalupe, Chihuahua the PCs have come across two Mexican Army checkpoints, as well as a school dormitory converted into a billet for the soldiers. It's unlikely that there is a whole company in the town/village of Guadalupe, as there is probably about a company strength unit distributed between several small villages and towns in the municipality.

Best guess, there is maybe a reinforced platoon in Guadalupe itself (actually a reinforced section (Sección), but it's the Mexican equivalent to a platoon). It's also the most plausible location for company HQ and might be the staging point for any patrols the company is making of the surrounding area.

And, lucky us PCs, the soldiers we saw were obviously and, even worse, all but publicly, firmly in the pocket of the Knights Templar cartel. Which means that if things go badly wrong, these soldiers might become the enemies of our characters.

Now, Chase Taylor, my PCs, is not fond of killing and will try to find practical solutions that are non-violent or at the very least, less-than-lethal. He'd much prefer to avoid any confrontation with cartel sicarios, let alone with actual Mexican Army soldiers. But if we assume that something happened which made it imperative to decisively defeat the Mexican Army company in the area and the foreseeable result of not doing so was worse harm befalling innocent people, Taylor would, indeed, agree to kill them.

And, as the other PCs and the NPCs with us are either unreliable or not effective combatants, Taylor would probably have to plan on doing so alone. And if he did, he certainly would not accept any plan that had him getting close to up to a hundred men with automatic weapons, supported by machine guns and maybe even heavier weapons, and trust in his Stealth to somehow prevent the opposition from being alerted during a very long series of attempts at sentry removal.

One hundred consecutive successful sentry removals without alerting anyone is about as likely as even the best NFL kicker making a hundred 50+ yard kicks in high winds in a row, with the season on the line every time. It's a sucker's bet.

Taylor would spend as much time as he could scouting, marking down the locations of any heavy weapons, communications and command elements. If the company commander and his NCOs were incompetent or lazy, there might be a chance to infiltrate the camp and disable some or all of the heavy weapons and plant a bomb at the communications hub. If the opposition was competent, however, there probably would not be such a chance.

In the absence of that, Taylor would accept that killing them all was impractical and search for another alternative. It's just not feasible. They'll quickly mobilize, spread out, use vehicles to flank and cut off escapes and call in artillery.

It doesn't matter if none of the other side have much of a chance of spotting Taylor at ranges of 800+ yards in the dark or hitting him even if they do, while he can continue to kill two of them per second. Before he had time to take out everyone on the other side, a more or less random shot, probably fragments from a mortar or heavier artillery, or failing that, most likely machine gun fire, would hit Taylor.

The opposition wouldn't even be able to confirm a hit and the person who shot would probably have been shooting at the reported site of a muzzle flash, not a visible target, but given the volume of fire that a modern company of soldiers can put down and, even more so, call down, their individual skill just doesn't matter all that much.

Note that if killing all the opposition isn't necessary, just preventing them from managing to assault a given site at dawn, Taylor would consider the mission quite practical. He could kill sentries and when that was discovered, ambush patrols and maneuver elements sent to investigate before disappearing into the night. Granted, Taylor would probably want to use a suppressed carbine at range rather than a knife close up, if only because any reasonable military unit would notice a dead sentry quickly enough in any case and being 100+ yards away when they do is a hell of a lot more survivable when they respond.

And Taylor could make such small raids repeatedly, always taking care never to stand still or exchange fire with any element of the opposition long enough for them to fix a location on him precise enough to call down artillery or air strikes. Even if he only killed a couple of men each time, it takes a whole lot of time to respond to a sniper killing someone like a driver and gunner, leaving a vehicle stranded under fire, and while an maneuver element is taking cover and sending out a sub-element to flank, they are not moving effectively to a target location or otherwise carrying out their mission.

Of course, Taylor might be relying on his Intelligence Analysis -13, Soldier -18 and Tactics -17 just as much as Stealth and weapon skills. And his Observation -25 + any applicable bonus for Discriminatory Senses or other sensory superpowers that might apply would probably be his strongest asset. It might enable him to maintain enough awareness of the complex battlespace filled with hostiles never to be caught in a firefight without a safe exfiltration route.

*Except that the Ciudad Juarez and Juarez Valley crime rates are at 2011 rates despite it being the year 2017 and there is a surviving splinter faction of the Caballeros Templarios cartel in power in the Juarez Valley, fighting several other cartels for the plaza. There might be a fairly strong correlation between these two counterfactuals.
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Last edited by Icelander; 03-05-2019 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 03-06-2019, 10:50 AM   #37
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Default Re: On the Fragility of Life

Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
The guy shouting orders, the guy with the radio, the guy(s) with the support weapons(s), and anybody who tries to take over those tasks. That's the rough kill order, though it's unusual that a sniper would get very far down that list before deciding that they should quietly fade away and go bother some other unit.
This is a tangent, but back when I played paintball, I learned that one of the easiest ways to get shot was to be the guy who actually stands up and tells people to do things. It doesn't even mater if you have "rank" or not, if you're that guy urging people to move forward, you're probably gonna be exposed.
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Old 03-06-2019, 06:47 PM   #38
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Default Re: On the Fragility of Life

Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Of course, Taylor might be relying on his Intelligence Analysis -13, Soldier -18 and Tactics -17 just as much as Stealth and weapon skills. And his Observation -25 + any applicable bonus for Discriminatory Senses or other sensory superpowers that might apply would probably be his strongest asset.
Yep. For a scenario like the one presented, I would probably be calling for more than just Stealth and Attack rolls. For example, Stealth would be fine for moving past a sentry without being seen, but Observation or Perception-based Soldier would let you figure the moment in the patrol pattern that would give the most "private time" with him.
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jade serenity, sentry removal

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