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Old 03-17-2018, 12:32 AM   #31
VonKatzen
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by Tom H. View Post
Hey, thanks for all that info VonKatzen. I'm not well researched in this area.
I am both a gun nerd and extremely skeptical, so I always have a lot to say on the subject - some of which may even be true!
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Hans-Christian Vortisch liked to dispel myths in his GURPS Tactical Shooting, pg. 7.
Most guns are potentially lethal, though tiny rounds like a .32ACP or .22LR have pretty poor odds of putting down a healthy adult, even with fairly good shot placement. Part of the problem is just how d6s work....
Real small arms should have a very small chance of doing almost insignificant damage, a pretty good chance of doing moderate damage, a smaller chance of giving a fatal wound, and a very small chance of killing someone instantly. How likely each category is in relative terms would depend on the exact caliber and barrel length (bigger bullets penetrate better and leave a bigger hole, longer barrels can deliver more acceleration to the bullet) with shot placement being by far the most important determinant of lethality.

In most cases a sword or axe wound is far worse than a pistol or rifle wound. The major difference is that a pistol or rifle can blow right through someone, and thus has a somewhat higher chance of destroying organs or major blood vessels than a glancing blow from a melee weapon. Overall, small arms should do less damage overall than medieval melee weapons but when they critical should do really horrific amounts of damage. But criticals should be less common than in GURPS. You can see how factoring all this into any reasonable dice-roll system would be problematic. A table with multiple rolls and result look ups would be more realistic, but also a pain in the butt. Even most video games (where the math is no problem and hit locations are determined by actual bullet arcs) they don't bother with this stuff - in Rainbow Six 3 the bullet either bounces off your armor, slows you down, or kills you instantly. This isn't particularly realistic, but it's probably as much as most players can be bothered with.

Last edited by VonKatzen; 03-17-2018 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 03-17-2018, 12:33 AM   #32
DouglasCole
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
I myself would steer away from that: if the vitals hit occurs automatically on a good roll, why bother specifically aiming for the vitals?
For what it's worth, I've run two campaigns with the "hit by 3 hits vitals" rules in play, and it works fine. By and large when you aim at a target you aim for the center of the torso, which is basically the vitals. A bit high and you hit the heart, a bit low and you hit the liver, both of which can be pretty fatal. The entire line from skull to mid-belly down the midline has a chance of hitting the spine if it penetrates deeply.

For non-humans it might not hold; for humans it works fast in play and well enough for verisimilitude with how I was taught to shoot that it doesn't break anything.
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Old 03-17-2018, 01:57 AM   #33
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
Exploding on a 6 is a 1.2x increase in average result.
5-6 is a 1.5x increase
4-6 is just shy of 2x
3-6 is just more than 2.5x
2-6 is a lot of exploding! It's about 3.6x
Right. The reason I think exploding damage dice would be fun is I'd like to have a strongly skewed distribution: a small increase in the average, and a big increase in the right tail. So even against a relatively tough target, you would have a substantial possibility of achieving a one-hit kill.
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Old 03-17-2018, 03:14 AM   #34
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
...


I've actually considered doing that too... is that a common house rule? Does it work well in practice?

...
TBH for the longest time I thought it was RAW and did it! (I conflated the staying conscious check penalty with the death check here). IME it wasn't an issue!

Last edited by Tomsdad; 03-17-2018 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 03-17-2018, 03:26 AM   #35
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
For what it's worth, I've run two campaigns with the "hit by 3 hits vitals" rules in play, and it works fine.
Agreed, it'll work. The key there is "center of the torso", as you note.

To wax pedantic for no particular reason:

Say a big archery target is +0 TH. In the center is a small bullseye: -5 TH.

If you just want to hit the big target, you'd naturally aim for the center to maximize your chances. That's no different from actually aiming for the bullseye. Here, it'd make perfect sense that aiming for the target and succeeding by 5 would hit the bullseye – or, that aiming for the bullseye and missing by up to 5 would still hit the big target somewhere. Same thing.

On the other hand, if we're talking human target (+0 TH) vs head shot (-5 TH), the head is definitely not the center; there's no reason to assume that a whole-body shot that succeeds by 5 would automatically hit the head, or that a head shot that misses by up to 5 would automatically hit the body.

The latter is how RAW generally treats all "big part vs small sub-part" situations (with options available to allow that a miss against Part A might hit Part B); it assumes that you have to try to hit the small sub-part. That RAW treatment is what I was referring to.

That said, while RAW seems fine for most body hit locations, the vitals seem close enough to a "bullseye in the center" that I can easily see treating them that way, as you describe. It's a simplification, and in this case, makes fights deadlier too...
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Old 03-17-2018, 03:27 AM   #36
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by VonKatzen View Post
...

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....
I kind of agree, the way it works now is a 6dx2 Pi+ round bleeds at a huge penalty (-12 on average) so unless your really lucky it's just matter of time.

But one issue with bleeding rules is that the rate of bleeding it still 1 (or 3 on crit fail) per min*.


It might be worth a house rule where as you increase bleeding penalties you also reduce the period of the bleeding test cycles (however this is double dipping, more work and really just speeding up the outcome)





*in this case any location that bleeds faster by the bleeding rules in MA will be mnoot as 6dx2 pi+ won't be capped in them
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Old 03-17-2018, 04:05 AM   #37
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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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.

Require Surgery to stop bleeding for vital hits and/or major wounds (and while you're at it, make vital hits more common, either by a Gygaxian/LT version of 1 in d6, or on a torso hit with a margin >= 3).
This brings up a rather major point – if the investigators are taking HT 12, even for characters who aren’t beefy by nature, then I take it as a statement from the player saying “survivability is a priority to me.” If the GM starts ramping up lethality to compensate, then all that teaches the players is they need to put more points into HT, or go the Hard To Kill route. That just leads to an arm’s race.

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Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
For what it's worth, I've run two campaigns with the "hit by 3 hits vitals" rules in play, and it works fine. By and large when you aim at a target you aim for the center of the torso, which is basically the vitals. A bit high and you hit the heart, a bit low and you hit the liver, both of which can be pretty fatal. The entire line from skull to mid-belly down the midline has a chance of hitting the spine if it penetrates deeply.

For non-humans it might not hold; for humans it works fast in play and well enough for verisimilitude with how I was taught to shoot that it doesn't break anything.
For me I get a loosely similar effect just by modifying the builds produced by training. Anyone with Guns at DX+2 [4] is likely to buy the technique Targeted Attack: Vitals +2 [3] instead of Guns at DX+3 [8]. The end result is the -3 for Vitals shots becomes -1, and the miss by 1 hits the torso.

Now, in campaigns I’m in, “he makes a Targeted Shot to the Vitals” acts as an alarm bell that this is a skilled shooter. And since it’s usually accompanied by Rapid Fire then a skilled shooter means every Attack action threatens multiple hits to the Vitals.
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Old 03-17-2018, 10:19 AM   #38
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by Phoenix_Dragon View Post
Getting hit by that same 9mm in the vitals (Lungs, heart, etc) is a much more severe proposition. [...]
Thanks for the run down! I think I've been vastly under-using shots to the vitals so far with my NPCs. I wonder if the difference between a cinematic and a gritty campaign are not so much the difference in optional rules that you apply, but also the difference in what your basic NPC will go for in combat, i.e. "torso hits and out of combat at 0HP" for cinematics vs. "vitals/head/limb hits and more resilience" for gritty?

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Originally Posted by Phoenix_Dragon View Post
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)
Why is there a -9 Surgery penalty for the wound here? I don't remember either Basic Set or Martial Arts having such modifiers for that skill?


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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
A good optional rule.
Unless you were talking about something else, the "miss vitals by 1, hit the torso" is not an optional rule, it's from the Basic Set

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
I myself would steer away from that: if the vitals hit occurs automatically on a good roll, why bother specifically aiming for the vitals?
That's a good point. Maybe the "aim for torso, hit vitals if margin is 3 or more" rule giving you reduced damage increase? (x2 instead of x3 for example). Or you could make the threshold at +5 or +6, effectively making it harder to hit vitals than if you aimed directly at them, but for the advantage of getting the torso hit as a guaranteed fallback (as opposed to just if you miss by 1 when actually aiming for vitals).

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
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?)
Yep it's in Martial Arts.

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Originally Posted by tbone View Post
On the other hand, if we're talking human target (+0 TH) vs head shot (-5 TH), the head is definitely not the center; there's no reason to assume that a whole-body shot that succeeds by 5 would automatically hit the head, or that a head shot that misses by up to 5 would automatically hit the body.
Indeed, but what makes the torso vs. vitals thing make some kind of sense, is that vitals are inside the torso. The head isn't.


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Originally Posted by VonKatzen View Post
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.
Yep I already do this pretty well I think in my games. Most NPCs roll for a Will/Fright Check when they get below half HP to see if they change their tactics (it's at half HP because that's before they drop below 1/3 HP and get half Move and can't flee anymore). I eyeball bonuses/penalties based on difference in numbers between them and the PCs, the general situation, etc., along with any mental Disadvantages they might have (Fanaticism, etc.). So few fights actually end with one side being dead.

As I mentioned previously, however, GURPS' rules mean that the gameplay of combat and combat aftermaths can be vastly different than the gameplay of another system. This is one of the things I'm trying to figure out.

Thanks a lot for all the other information!


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Originally Posted by Tomsdad View Post
But one issue with bleeding rules is that the rate of bleeding it still 1 (or 3 on crit fail) per min*.

It might be worth a house rule where as you increase bleeding penalties you also reduce the period of the bleeding test cycles (however this is double dipping, more work and really just speeding up the outcome)
Like I said previously, I would actually want the opposite -- i.e. rules that increase the period of bleeding test cycles. If the scale on which people realistically die of combat wounds is on the "30min to a couple hours" scale, I don't want to have to roll 30 times or more, that's super tedious -- instead, I would want one roll every 10 minutes or so. Then it's easier to figure out if a character makes it by the time they reach a hospital -- although most of the time the PCs are carrying a First Aid kit and can stabilize the bleeding after the end of combat. What I could do to realistically make this more difficult for the PCs is to have the NPCs stand their ground and switch to a different time scale... something along the lines of "the NPCs are still around, but staying behind cover, waiting for a couple minutes for us to make a mistake". This would definitely force the PCs into doing something desperate to save time on bleeding.

The nice thing with a 10 minute cycle is that, for an average character, it maps to your death checks... so you roll for bleeding, and if you fail, you drop by -10HP and probably do a new death check. Rinse and repeat. It's a tough proposition, as there's a lot in the balance for that one check, but then the death check is even more important so maybe it's not so bad.


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Originally Posted by Railstar View Post
This brings up a rather major point – if the investigators are taking HT 12, even for characters who aren’t beefy by nature, then I take it as a statement from the player saying “survivability is a priority to me.” If the GM starts ramping up lethality to compensate, then all that teaches the players is they need to put more points into HT, or go the Hard To Kill route. That just leads to an arm’s race.
That's a good point, but on the other hand, in a gritty campaign like a CoC campaign, I'm pretty sure the players will take the maximum HT they can afford (12 in my games) regardless of what the rules are. The goal here is to make sure the rules we use in that campaign are indeed hitting the mark of "gritty".

Last edited by lordabdul; 03-17-2018 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:14 AM   #39
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by Tomsdad View Post
I kind of agree, the way it works now is a 6dx2 Pi+ round bleeds at a huge penalty (-12 on average) so unless your really lucky it's just matter of time.
What you could do, as a house rule, is to say that instead of being penalized as the MA rule states, First Aid reduces the penalty for bleeding rolls by its margin of success, and stops it entirely if it reduces it to zero or less. So even severe bleeding is helped by competent first aid.

Maybe halve the reduction (and zero doesn't stop) when dealing with bleeding that would require surgery, provided it makes some sense for external first aid to actually help at all (blood vessels in limbs, for example).
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Old 03-17-2018, 11:35 AM   #40
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Default Re: Increasing lethality

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Originally Posted by JoelSammallahti View Post
Right. The reason I think exploding damage dice would be fun is I'd like to have a strongly skewed distribution: a small increase in the average, and a big increase in the right tail. So even against a relatively tough target, you would have a substantial possibility of achieving a one-hit kill.
My main problem with this would be how armor works. Some armor has about a 99% chance of stopping all rounds up to a certain caliber IRL, which would be more likely to punch through it here. Rigid armor in particular (i.e. the stuff they use for barricades or armored cars) can take thousands of direct fire 5.56x45mm rounds before having much more than a nick in it. On the other hand it's pretty much paper to a 20mm cannon. Armor is much more binary than GURPS dice let it be already, especially as you get into larger rounds the variability in damage is just too great. I think that this is one of the weaknesses of only using #d6+#*# as GURPS does, as it limits the statistical distribution possibilities in ways that don't model real probability arcs in many cases. But as I mentioned above there are some Pyramid articles that deal with controlling the dice on armor, explosives and vehicle hit points to more accurately model them - and this is mainly a problem when you're dealing with rotary cannons and fighting vehicles, not people with pistoleros.

Last edited by VonKatzen; 03-17-2018 at 11:40 AM.
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