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Old 01-18-2008, 10:43 AM   #1
Stupid Jedi
 
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Default Hit Location Penalties

I searched the forums, but I couldn't find anything on it so please forgive me if this is an old topic. But, why is the face -5 to hit and the hand only -4? By any physical measure, the face is larger than a hand. Also, I would argue that the face is also larger than the vitals portion of the torso. Is this purely for game balance?
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Old 01-18-2008, 10:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stupid Jedi
I searched the forums, but I couldn't find anything on it so please forgive me if this is an old topic. But, why is the face -5 to hit and the hand only -4? By any physical measure, the face is larger than a hand. Also, I would argue that the face is also larger than the vitals portion of the torso. Is this purely for game balance?
Hit location penalties are not purely size modifiers. Size is a factor, but also how the various bits are "presented" in a fight and in normal posture.

In a fight situation, hands tend to be "out there", exposed, wheras every instinct demands that the head be protected at all costs.

If someone is standing around with his hands tucked in his armpits, they're going to be REALLY hard to hit and the attacker should get a major task modifier penalty.
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Old 01-18-2008, 11:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

There might be some balancing in the design... dunno for sure... but the hand is pretty close in surface area to the face. The latter, for hit location purposes, is limited to the lower half of the face; the part below the eyes (but including the ears). It might also take into account hands generally being slightly forward of the body, more so in a combative pose.
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Old 01-18-2008, 12:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

Hands are assumed to be out in front, fighting. If you sit on them, stick them in pockets, etc., they might be struck at -8 or worse -- like a hand behind a shield (see note [6] on p. B552).

Heads get an extra penalty for being well-protected in most fighting stances and subject to what amounts to semi-random movement as the owner looks around in battle. If you put a head in a clamp, have it stuck through a tight opening, etc., it might be struck at a bonus.

Neither has much to do with game balance. Given the skull's extra DR, the relatively high effectiveness of cheap head armor, etc., the head isn't the fight-ending target that one might at first think it is . . . while the hand might well be that, given that crippling a weapon hand both disarms the target and gives him a major wound. If game balance were the issue, things would be the other way around.
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Old 01-18-2008, 12:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

Thanks Kromm, that is helpful to know. But, aren't the vitals just as well protected (or more) in most fighting stances? And, even if the hands are out in front, why would that affect hit location from ranged attacks? Hands are subject to far quicker and more unpredictable movements than the head, yet shooting a hand is easier than shooting the face.
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Old 01-18-2008, 12:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno

Hit location penalties are not purely size modifiers. Size is a factor, but also how the various bits are "presented" in a fight and in normal posture.
This is 100% correct. Hit location penalties consider three factors:

1. Target size. How large or small the body part is -- in essence, its Size Modifier. (On bigger or smaller foes, overall SM accounts for changes in the size of body parts; e.g., since an SM +2 giant is attacked at +2 no matter where you hit him, his hands and head are effectively larger by +2.)

2. Target mobility. The body part's potential range of movement, speed of movement, and likely movements in a combat situation. (This isn't treated as a Dodge bonus simply because a body part moving unpredictably is still a hard target for, say, a surprise attack where no defense is allowed. An entire man running in a straight line isn't, really.)

3. Target attitude. How the body part is normally offered in combat. This accounts for whether it's presented or denied by combat stances, often behind other body parts or a shield, above or below the usual line of attack for an equal-sized foe, etc. (Incidentally, this explains why the feet of a higher fighter or head of a lower fighter are struck at a bonus, despite the body part not changing size!)

A helmed head, for instance, isn't all that small; it's between 8" and 1' across (SM -5) and basically spherical (+2 to SM, for a net -3 for size). However, it's highly mobile (-1): it twists around on a neck constantly in a fight, and it's maximally displaced from the center of mass, meaning its potential range of movement is exceptionally high. It's also generally denied (-1): no tried-and-true combat stance leads with the jaw; moreover, against another man, it's above the median line of attack. This gives -5.

A gloved hand is over 5" across (SM -6) and basically spherical (+2 to SM, for a net -4 for size) when balled into a fist for punching or around a weapon grip. It, too, is highly mobile (-1): it whizzes around striking and parrying, and is highly displaced from the center of mass. However, it is most commonly presented (+1), since all that striking and parrying is a tad difficult otherwise -- and if it's able to defend, then it has a high probability of being right on the median line of attack. This gives -4. The same hand behind a shield has the full -6 for size, as it isn't balled up into a sphere, and is mobile (-1) and denied (-1), which gives -8.

A weapon arm, shoulder to wrist, is about a yard long (SM -2), long and skinny (no SM adjustment), mobile (-1), and presented (+1). That's -2.

A shield arm, shoulder to wrist, is also about a yard long (SM -2), mobile (-1), and denied (-1). That's -4.

And so on. A few body parts might not quite make sense in these terms if you don't agree with my assessments of mobility and attitude, or whether the SM ought to assume a stick (0), elongated box (+1), or sphere (+2), but I think you can see how it works.
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Old 01-18-2008, 12:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stupid Jedi

Thanks Kromm, that is helpful to know. But, aren't the vitals just as well protected (or more) in most fighting stances?
Sure, but the vitals are far larger than the head, and also not very mobile. Consider: the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, etc., make up most of the torso, and are spread over 2' across (SM -2). Given that not just any blow to the torso hits them, I won't assume any adjustment for elongated boxes or spheres. They are neutrally mobile (0); they are right at the center of mass, but the torso does twist some, so they aren't rooted in place for +1. They are highly denied (-1), being inside another body part, behind ribs, and one of the areas most protected by most fighting stances. That's -3.

Compare the torso, which is basically the same size or a little larger (but still SM -2), but which gets the +1 for being an elongated box for sure, since any hit there does count. The torso is still neutrally mobile (0); as I said, it can twist, although not very far. It is, however, highly presented (+1), being the root of all the other body parts and the trained default target for virtually all basic attacks. That's 0.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stupid Jedi

And, even if the hands are out in front, why would that affect hit location from ranged attacks?
Not "out in front" so much as "presented." A hand that's out fighting, where you can see it, isn't the same as one tucked into a pocket or behind a shield. This is no less true for ranged combat.

Quote:

Hands are subject to far quicker and more unpredictable movements than the head, yet shooting a hand is easier than shooting the face.
I'd dispute that the hands are more mobile. They might move very quickly, but once committed to a swing, thrust, or parry, they're carried in a very predictable arc until completion. This is assumed to be when the enemy will strike. Low-skill foes haven't a hope in part because they don't know this, which is why somebody with skill 10 hasn't a prayer of hitting the hands (50% -> 9.3%), while somebody with skill 18 won't find it meaningfully more difficult (98.1% -> 90.7%).
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Old 01-18-2008, 12:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

I'm surprised there are no advantages/disadvantages besides "not vitals" and the like that cover alien physiology a little more.

I mean, if I'm a quadraped, my head is less mobile right?

What if I don't have a rib cage?

What if to hit my vitals is a -1 ?

Would you use a different kind of fragile maybe to emulate this?

Sorry.. A little off topic.
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Old 01-18-2008, 01:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

The game does make assumptions, for sure. But that's for playability -- not game balance or whatever. And you'll note that p. B553 does have tables for things that are't humanoid. These aren't perfect . . . but we did think about this stuff. Generally, a nonstandard table of hit locations is considered a zero-cost racial feature unless it's rather obviously superior ("All parts but torso are at -10 to hit . . .").
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Old 01-18-2008, 01:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Hit Location Penalties

Well, hit locations are making much more sense now. But, I still have a one more question: what about a surprise attack, or a helpless target, where target attitude and mobility are not a factor? If these factors are implicit in the penalties, is it worth noting their significance so when a circumstances arise that would negate them, they could be taken into account?
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