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Old 03-16-2018, 05:28 PM   #21
lordabdul
 
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

Thanks for all the information, comments, and ideas everyone! I'll look into how to hit vitals more often, along with a few other suggestions I've seen here.

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
If a wound is not to some vital area or artery, why would bandaging be dramatically difficult for an expert (skill 14+) field medic? I'd expect that it's mostly less trained civilians, who may have had a first aid course or two (skill 8-10), who find any injury at all stressful and challenging to treat. Once you get the injured character under the care of an expert professional, his chances of survival ought to improve significantly.
The problem wasn't really that it was too hard or easy per se, but that the difficulty is constant regardless of the injury. There are no penalties or bonuses between doing First Aid on somebody who cut their finger, and somebody who's been cut to pieces by a werewolf. Sure, maybe the field medic shouldn't have any problem patching the werewolf victim, but that just means the penalties shouldn't get too high -- not that the penalties shouldn't exist. Virtually all skill rolls have some form of difficulty scale (attacking, influencing, picking locks, etc.), but First Aid doesn't have any, and I'm wondering why, and how that's actually realistic?

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Originally Posted by mhd View Post
Don't let common CoC characters have HT 12 in the first place is a good start.
In my CoC campaigns, characters are usually 100pts and stats are capped at 12. I think that's quite fair.


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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
1) Make the HT roll vs death tougher as HP go further negative a commonly suggested house rule, and a helpful remedy for high-HT types that just won't die. Simplest method: -1 on the HT roll at -HP, -2 on the HT roll at -2xHP, etc. - dead simple to remember. (That's tougher than RAW from the start, as even the first death roll is at a penalty but I think that's the goal here...)
I've actually considered doing that too... is that a common house rule? Does it work well in practice?


One thing I realize is that although GURPS is possibly realistic here, as pointed by many people, the problem is not so much realism as it is gameplay-related. If you play Call of Cthulhu using the original rules, or the Delta Green rules, or whatever, you'll notice that guns are a lot more deadly. Whether it's less realistic or not (even after taking into account the lower crunchiness of those systems compared to GURPS) is not the question -- that's just how the systems compare. What it does imply however is that the gameplay will potentially be different.

Even assuming that gunfights are equally scary in both systems, and that the players will avoid them in equal measure (which is my personal experience), the aftermaths of gunfights generally play different (again, in my experience GMing CoC with GURPS). In another system, a character will die in combat and the other characters will flee, and we can give the player a new character fairly quickly and move on. In GURPS, however, there will be a lot more action around pulling the wounded character out (making the overall combat scene longer), rolling through medical procedures, finding a hospital, and finally giving the player a new character much later, once we figure out if the wounded character will convalesce for too long. We also end up having to deal with what the wounded character does during that down time... do the cultists go after him at the hospital and the player learns that his character was killed in his bed? Do we play that as a standalone scene? There's a lot of stuff there you have to deal with, that you don't have to deal with if using the BRP rules. It's as much an opportunity for cool scenes and roleplay as it is a downside of GURPS' arguably "more realistic system".. but it's different. I guess I'm trying to wrap my head around the general fact of life that different systems actually do bring out different gameplay, and that as a GM I need to know about it and adjust accordingly... where is Gollum when you need him?! :)

Last edited by lordabdul; 03-16-2018 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 03-16-2018, 05:33 PM   #22
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

Playing (and tinkering) with the bleeding rules goes a long way to increasing lethality of wounds. For instance, if you track each wound as a separate source of potential bleeding, and have modifiers for worse wounds and/or the need for surgery to force stopping bleeding, then after a group fight with many wounds there's a medical mini-game...

The effect of high HT on death checks, stun recovery, consciousness rolls and bleeding checks has always seemed excessive. I wouldn't increase the cost of HT itself, but I do suggest adjustments rather than an unmodified roll for all of those. I usually halve the deviation from HT 10 for some or all of those purposes (rounding up), so I either roll 6d6 vs HT + 10, or roll 3d6 vs:

HT 7-8 = 9
HT 9-10 = 10
HT 11-12 = 11
HT 13-14 = 12
HT 15-16 = 13

And/or I apply modifiers for the type/amount of damage involved.
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Old 03-16-2018, 06:40 PM   #23
DouglasCole
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Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
The effect of high HT on death checks, stun recovery, consciousness rolls and bleeding checks has always seemed excessive.
Indeed: https://gamingballistic.com/2014/02/27/defend-vs-dea/
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Old 03-16-2018, 09:48 PM   #24
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

Quote:
Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
By default, it seems getting shot will rarely kill a character unless they get shot a lot. Assuming ST 10 and HT 12 (a common combination for a Call-Of-Cthulhu-type character in GURPS), cumulative HT rolls to avoid death will drop below 50% if you have to roll 3 times or more... which means dropping to -30HP or below, which means getting shot at least 5 times with a 9mm. So if you get shot 4 times with a 9mm, you have more chances of making it than not! (and yes you have higher-than-average HT, but still...) After the fight, you just need to get some rest for a while.
Four or five shots to the abdomen, sides of the chest (Hitting just meat and maybe ribs), shoulder, limbs, etc.

Getting hit by that same 9mm in the vitals (Lungs, heart, etc) is a much more severe proposition. That's 27 damage, giving you an immediate death check. With his noticeably above-average health, he probably survives the shot, and if he does fail, he's probably 'mortally wounded' rather than outright dead (75% alive, 15% mortally wounded, 10% dead). Using basic bleeding rules, he's about 50/50 of having to make another death check, but overall, he's more likely to survive than not.

At this point, all you need is the optional rules in Martial Arts to make it a very, VERY dangerous injury. Despite his decent health, he's rolling at -9 to stop bleeding. In fact, he's far more likely to critically fail (16%) than he is to succeed (2%). He's 90 seconds away from another death check, and first aid does nothing for him. It will be an average of 37 rolls before he gets a success (One small comfort, he only succeeds on a critical, which stops bleeding automatically). Of those 37 rolls, an average of 6 will be critical failures, resulting in an average total bleed damage of 49. Unfortunately, he can only survive about 25 of those rolls before he hits -5x HP and automatically dies, twelve and a half minutes after being shot. More unfortunately, by the tenth roll, five minutes after being shot, he's probably failed a death check, and is probably mortally wounded.

So he needs a completed surgery within 12.5 minutes of being shot, at most, and ideally within 5 minutes. Assuming he was shot while in the operating room with everyone ready to go, that's a surgery roll at -17 (-9 for the wound, -8 for reduced time taken), plus whatever equipment bonus is available (Probably +2 if it's a decent hospital, for a total of -15), and even then he's likely to die before the 12 minute mark (Add another -1 to get it to 6 minutes, where the surgery is more likely to help). If they somehow do succeed, then they'll probably have to stabilize a mortal wound, which is trivial by comparison.

So in short, he's probably thoroughly screwed, all from a single decent shot.

Even if he's lucky enough to survive, it'll be a while before he's up to full capacity. If we assume he stops the bleeding on the very first roll, by the Martial Arts rules, he'll be at -3 DX and half move for almost two weeks (Not to mention rapidly collapsing if he takes any injury in this time), and close to another week before he's up to snuff. Without hospitalization and physician care, it's over a month. And he's got a chance of having a lasting or even life-long impairment, but the chance is fairly small due to his good health.

And all of this applies (with slightly different numbers) to any hit to the skull, eye, neck, or arteries, too. And remember, many of these have a 1-in-6 chance of being struck any time you target their general location.

So you can make GURPS pretty thoroughly lethal just with the MA rules.
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Old 03-16-2018, 10:02 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by VonKatzen View Post
. . .
Combat in real life is not actually super-lethal. Most people in hand-to-hand melee and gunfights survive - even the ones who lose due to injury. Most of the deaths in WW2 were civilians who were never in combat. People are surprisingly tough.
. . .
This is interesting.

How do you win a combat if you don't kill the enemy?

The answer would seem to be that you impair the enemy so that you can then overwhelm them, control them, or deny them first aid.

What is the main source of impairment in combat with firearms in real life?

It seems to be that enough wounds take an enemy out of action.

Is this mainly psychological? The soldier is hunkering down, assessing his injuries, and concerned.

Or is it somatic in nature? The body is in shock (general, not GURPS) and preventing activity.

I don't know this for sure, but is it safe to assume that a wounded victim bleeds a lot faster if engaged in the rigorous activity of continuing to fight. So shock is the body's mechanism to keep a willful individual "down?"

With regard to unconsciousness in GURPS pg. B423 says:
Quote:
It is up to the GM to decide whether you are truly unconscious or just totally incapacitated by pain and injury - but either way, you can't do anything.
In a typical firefight (disregarding headshots) would you say GURPS unconsciousness more often represents the body responding to wounds by restricting activity than true loss of awareness? (Victims are lying all over the place, groaning, but no longer effective.)

To me this all shifts the question of lethality toward which side can survive the battle for consciousness (GURPS) so that their casualties can be rescued from death.

So then, are the unconsciousness injury rules sufficiently realistic and potent?

(To me, the HP danger zone seems near enough. Issues with high HT have already been identified.)

Last edited by Tom H.; 03-16-2018 at 10:33 PM. Reason: Added emphasis
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Old 03-16-2018, 10:35 PM   #26
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by temp View Post
Shots to Torso Vitals default down to Torso shots -ie if you miss a torso vitals shot by 1 (including the -3 strike penalty for a vitals shot), you still hit the torso.
A good optional rule.

(Would be nice to see GURPS set a default optional mechanism for this kind of thing: i.e., the chances of hitting the larger target any time you're aiming for a smaller sub-target. Or does Martial Arts cover this in detail, at least where bodily hit locations are concerned?)

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or allow the reverse effect - if you make a generic torso shot by 3 or more, it counts as a vitals hit.
I myself would steer away from that: if the vitals hit occurs automatically on a good roll, why bother specifically aiming for the vitals?

It does make sense, IMO, to use a simple random chance (1-2 on d6?) that a torso shot hits the vitals. (Hm... already in MA, I think?) No adjustment for skill, or degree of success on TH, as the attacker wasn't aiming for the vitals.

(If using this rule, it should be possible to aim specifically for the torso "non-vitals", with no chance of a vitals hit - say, -1 TH? Good for those action flicks where the cop has to shoot his buddy for some contrived reason. "You shot me, man!" "Hey, I left you alive, didn't I?" "I'm too old for this...")
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Old 03-16-2018, 10:49 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Tom H. View Post
This is interesting.

How do you win a combat if you don't kill the enemy?

The answer would seem to be that you impair the enemy so that you can then overwhelm them, control them, or deny them first aid.
That's pretty much it. Also remember that, unlike in RPG combats, most people will not fight to the death. They will surrender to be ransomed, sometimes without even being hurt - if a knight felt he was in a bad enough position (surrounded and flat on his ass) he might be inclined to throw his hands up and have his wife pay a fine for his release, rather than getting pointlessly beaten to death on the ground.

Quote:
What is the main source of impairment in combat with firearms in real life?

It seems to be that enough wounds take an enemy out of action.

Is this mainly psychological? The soldier is hunkering down, assessing his injuries, and concerned.
Short-term, it is mainly psychological. Even a kill-shot will take minutes to kill in most cases (barring severe CNS destruction such as a shot that destroys an important part of the brain or severs a spinal cord). During that period of time some people are still able to fight, even as they're bleeding to death with no hope of survival. Pain and fear are the main man-stoppers on the battlefield, though you are always encouraged to go for a kill because it's more reliable.

Most people fail their shock and fright checks when they have a bullet put in them, even trained soldiers. That will usually either take them out of the fight or seriously impede their ability to fight. For some people adrenaline, a high pain threshold or just being driven will keep them standing and shooting even after taking multiple wounds - even fatal wounds.

Long term, it's the kill and crippling injury that takes the enemy out of the fight. Even if he survives he's not going to make much of a soldier if he has to spend four months in a trauma ward and can barely walk at the end of it.

Quote:
Or is it somatic in nature? The body is in shock (general, not GURPS) and preventing activity.
That can happen, but is less common. Aside from having a bone or major muscle group destroyed (or a more serious CNS destruction to the brain or spine) there are actually not that many bullet woulds that cripple human beings. Sometimes rapid blood loss or overall 'shock' can incapacitate or debilitate people, but more often than any of these it's just that it feels like someone put a hot iron through you that takes people down.

GURPS characters tend to have far too much resistance to fear and pain, as well as too much resistance to shock. This is one reason they're too tough and cussed in fights.

Quote:
I don't know this for sure, but is it safe to assume that a wounded victim bleeds a lot faster if engaged in the rigorous activity of continuing to fight. So shock is the body's mechanism to keep a willful individual "down?"
It's hard to say what the function of these may be. But as there was no real treatment for major bleeding and internal injury until fairly recently I don't know that staying down really prolongs your chances to survive, in an evolutionary sense.

Quote:
To me this all shifts the question of lethality toward which side can survive the battle for consciousness (GURPS) so that their casualties can be rescued from death.

So then, are the unconsciousness injury rules sufficiently realistic and potent?
I believe that if one uses all the optional Gritty Realism and Wounding/Infection rules from GURPS Basic Set, Martial Arts, Bio-Tech and Tactical Shooting that GURPS combat is a reasonable approximation of a real-life firefight in terms of incapacitation and death. There is perhaps too little chance for minor/trivial injuries (which happen all the time, especially with handguns). What really moves it into implausible territory is, as I've outlined above, the fact that GURPS characters have attributes and advantages that are unrealistically stacked, making them far too likely to notice opponents, respond first, hit in combat, take wounds, and make their health rolls.

I would say that no human being would likely have more than 15 HP, regardless of how strong and tough they are. 6'7" Maximinus Thrax types will still probably die if you put a few rounds into their chest and face, even if they stay standing and swinging until they finally bleed out. On the other hand small/weak people have too few hitpoints in GURPS. Most people are not going to die that easily, even 12 year old girls.

It's quite a different matter when you get to heavy weapons, though. If a human being is hit by a minigun he will be chewed into bits. Being near a howitzer shell when it goes off will shred you like a water balloon in a blender. A .50 BMG, while not quite as over-the-top as suggested in movies, can remove a limb and even if it doesn't it has a big enough hole and imparts enough energy that it's likely to not only go through your lung but shatter part of your ribcage, as well. You are almost certain to die from a solid hit by a heavy weapon, and it's much less like that you'd survive a minigun burst than that you'd survive an entire magazine from a handgun at point blank range. GURPS math seems to work well on this, except that blowthrough damage may be exaggerated in the case of heavy weapons - as heavy weapons can deliver significant energy through contact with tissue, energy that small weapons just don't have. 'Hydrostatic shock' is basically a myth in the case of small arms, but tissues merely contacting a .50BMG round may be shattered or shredded, so a .50BMG can actually do more damage than the overpenetration rules would let it.

Modern battlefield medicine can greatly increase survival rates from these kinds of weapons, but the person is still going to be permanently crippled in 99% of cases.

On the other hand, GURPS rigid and vehicle armor is not tough enough in many cases. APC armor will barely get scratched by a minigun, which can potentially chew threw it in GURPS. WW1 tank shells bounced off of WW2 tank armor, but on a good roll can penetrate said tank's DR. Modern tanks can survive indirect hits from thermonuclear weapons in some cases - but in GURPS they'll be outright melted. This has been addressed in a Pyramid issue (v.3 #34, "Armor Revisited" and "Extreme Damage") - DR is designed around the average damage, when really good armor will actually stop the worst that many weapons can do while it will do almost nothing against heavier calibers. Gothic plate armor can not be penetrated by a sword swing from the strongest man in the world. In GURPS it's not even that unlikely. And while plate armor is not invincible (particularly not if the person wearing it cannot defend himself from exhaustion or position) it is actually much better at stopping most melee and pre-modern missile weapons than GURPS (or most other games) might suggest. Indeed, some of it (the really heavy stuff) is bullet proof, at least to handguns. I also tend to think that sci-fi armor is underrated - presuming one had the batteries problem solved, robot-plate made of superior materials than any that the medieval armorers had access to would basically be invulnerable to small arms fire, but typically can be penetrated by a high damage roll. The amount of variability in weapon damage (and consequent penetration) is a major reason this happens.

These are mostly nit-picks (something I love to do), and overall GURPS has some of the most realistic combat rules for any RPG (especially considering how much it covers). RuneQuest 6th Edition/Mythras and The Burning Wheel are comparable for medieval combat, but have a much narrower focus.

Last edited by VonKatzen; 03-16-2018 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 03-16-2018, 11:20 PM   #28
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by Tom H. View Post
How do you win a combat if you don't kill the enemy?
Realistically, by causing him to either panic or recognize the futility of continued resistance. Most battles, of just about any size, end when one side's position or situation becomes untenable and they withdraw. See the Battle off Samar for a case of a force losing a battle due to loss of operational control despite still having, by just about any objective measure, an overwhelmingly superior force.
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Old 03-16-2018, 11:33 PM   #29
Tom H.
 
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

Hey, thanks for all that info VonKatzen. I'm not well researched in this area.


Also, to add to the general discussion:

Something was scratching my memory, so I looked it up.

Hans-Christian Vortisch liked to dispel myths in his GURPS Tactical Shooting, pg. 7.

Quote:
"Small-bore assault rifle calibers like the 5.56x45mm NATO are designed to wound rather than to kill, since an injured man will bind more enemy assets." No, even the "mouse calibers" are intended to be lethal at their usual engagement ranges -- wounded opponents can continue to fight!
In other places, though, he admits to a high variability of effects and circumstances from surviving multiple rifle hits to death by a single .22 and justifies this with the range in a damage roll.
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Old 03-17-2018, 12:10 AM   #30
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
The effect of high HT on death checks, stun recovery, consciousness rolls and bleeding checks has always seemed excessive.
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Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
Heh! Great minds think alike! It's interesting to me how GURPS has evolved (though mostly staying almost entirely the same game) and some house rules are often similar and/or end up official adjustments later.
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