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Old 09-08-2011, 04:06 PM   #1
Landwalker
 
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Default Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

So it seems to be pretty widely known that muscle-powered weapons have a "heroic" issue when it comes to damage. This has been bothering me a lot lately, because I want armor—especially the mid-range armor like mail and scale—to really carry its weight (figuratively speaking—it's the PC's job to carry the literal weight) in low-tech games, rather than simply be a minor speed-bump on the way to moderately strong PCs disemboweling all they encounter.

Currently, that doesn't happen. Fine Mail, which Low-Tech itself describes as able to "resist all but the heaviest sword cuts and spear thrusts," is regularly punctured by a ST 10 schmuck with a basic spear—in fact, the 4.5 average base damage of a two-handed ST 10 spear thrust still beats the fine mail's DR. That's hardly resisting all but the heaviest spear thrusts.

Enter Douglas Cole's Pyramid 3/33 article, The Deadly Spring.

Mr. Cole acknowledges, in his discussion of bow damage, that stock GURPS muscle-powered damage is exaggeratedly heroic. What's more, he offers a solution that produces bows with both cinematic and realistic damage options. All other things being equal, the cinematic damage has a 2.5 multiplier, while the realistic damage has a 1.75 multiplier. This results in realistic damage that is 70% of cinematic damage.

In my frustration over muscle-powered damage in general, I got to wondering whether this same ratio (0.7:1) can be extended to all muscle-powered damage, including melee and thrown weapons, without wrecking anything and without necessitating a reconstruction of ST-based damage progression.

Here are a few examples:

ST 10

Cinematic Broadsword: 1d+1 (4.5) cut / 1d (3.5) imp
Realistic Broadsword: 1d (3.15) cut / 1d-1 (2.45) imp

Cinematic Spear (1H/2H): 1d (3.5) imp / 1d+1 (4.5) imp
Realistic Spear (1H/2H): 1d-1 (2.45) imp / 1d (3.15) imp

ST 12

Cinematic Broadsword: 1d+3 (6.5) cut / 1d+1 (4.5) imp
Realistic Broadsword: 1d+1 (4.55) cut / 1d (3.15) imp

Cinematic Axe: 1d+4 (7.5) cut
Realistic Axe: 1d+2 (5.25) cut

ST 14—The 2d Swing Threshold

Cinematic Broadsword: 2d+1 (8) cut / 1d+2 (5.5) imp
Realistic Broadsword: 1d+2 (5.6) cut / 1d (3.85) imp

Cinematic Axe: 2d+3 (10) cut
Realistic Axe: 2d (7) cut

Cinematic Spear (1H/2H): 1d+3 (6.5) imp / 1d+4 (7.5) or 2d (7) imp
Realistic Spear (1H/2H): 1d+1 (4.55) imp / 1d+2 (5.25) or 1d+1 (4.9) imp



Any thoughts on the viability of this as a reasonable house rule to bring muscle-powered damage more into line with realistic values? Any obvious problems?
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:17 PM   #2
vierasmarius
 
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

That seems like it should work, though your players may be unhappy with you "nerfing" their axe-wielding maniacs. You might consider dropping the cost of Striking ST just a bit (say, -10% to -20%), keeping in mind that realistic characters would still be limited to within 30% of ST.

What I'm really interested in would be a completely revamped ST/Damage table, preferably with a linear progression of ST to Dmg. That's probably beyond the scope of this exercise, however.

EDIT: Oh, something else I noticed. You're multiplying by 0.7 after adding the weapon damage bonus. That means you'd need to have both the original and "realistic" damage marked on the character sheet, and recalculate whenever he picks up a new weapon. It would be simpler just multiply the base damage by 0.7, but keep full the weapon dmg add. This would further incentivize heavy two-handed weapons, especially if using the more favorable stats from Low-Tech. Make of that what you will.

Last edited by vierasmarius; 09-08-2011 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:30 PM   #3
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

The problem is the way damage scales with increased ST, not the baseline damage. The amount of damage done by a ST 10 man is reasonable enough. Just limit characters to a fairly modest general ST score and encourage buying lifting ST.
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:35 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
The problem is the way damage scales with increased ST, not the baseline damage. The amount of damage done by a ST 10 man is reasonable enough. Just limit characters to a fairly modest general ST score and encourage buying lifting ST.
Actually, the OP's point is that the damage dealt at ST 10 is not reasonable, consistently penetrating armor that is supposed to easily block it. I do agree that the scaling is quite wonky though.
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

Quote:
Originally Posted by vierasmarius View Post
Actually, the OP's point is that the damage dealt at ST 10 is not reasonable, consistently penetrating armor that is supposed to easily block it. I do agree that the scaling is quite wonky though.
Hm. Point. There's a bit of a problem with resolution at the low end, though, it's hard to really distinguish between weapons at the low end, since the difference is realistically likely to be less than one point of damage.
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:51 PM   #6
Novembermike
 
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

The problem with mail can be fixed by reworking the armor to a mixed DR/Edge system. With this, Fine Mail might be DR: 2/Edge 8. A fairly mundane blow will deal damage because the Mail doesn't provide rigid protection, but you aren't actually cutting up organs until you hit with a pretty heroic swing.

Other than that, I feel like weapons should have a multiplier rather than a flat bonus. They're levers, not extra fire or acid damage. You might do a strength multiplier, so a person with a Maul hits like someone 3-4x as strong, a person with a longsword has a 2x multiplier one handed and a 2.5x multiplier two handed and a knife gets no damage bonus but converts damage to cutting.

From there you'd have to alter the ST damage table but it seems like the most realistic way to do it.
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:01 PM   #7
Landwalker
 
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

Quote:
Originally Posted by vierasmarius View Post
Actually, the OP's point is that the damage dealt at ST 10 is not reasonable, consistently penetrating armor that is supposed to easily block it. I do agree that the scaling is quite wonky though.
This is essentially the right of it—my problem (which I acknowledge isn't necessarily "the" problem) is that the numbers don't match the textual claims, and that as a result, most of the mid-range armors just don't have a great amount of mechanical value. So I'm very okay with a solution that does, in fact, reduce the damage output of an average-ST person.

Quote:
You're multiplying by 0.7 after adding the weapon damage bonus. That means you'd need to have both the original and "realistic" damage marked on the character sheet, and recalculate whenever he picks up a new weapon. It would be simpler just multiply the base damage by 0.7, but keep full the weapon dmg add.
Actually—and I didn't make it clear originally—this was all something I considered and ended up accepting as viable collateral damage, mostly because I don't mind making those calculations (or making a "normal range" conversion table, so you can just find "2d+1 (8)" on the table and it will spit out "1d+2 (5.6)". The other side of that is the understanding on my part (correct or not) that the weapon-based values are also overstated.

However...

Quote:
This would further incentivize heavy two-handed weapons, especially if using the more favorable stats from Low-Tech.
This was not something that occurred to me, and at first blush, I like it. I'll have to think on that some more. What gives me pause is that it'll dampen the effect somewhat, which I'm not sure is something I want at this point.


Quote:
Hm. Point. There's a bit of a problem with resolution at the low end, though, it's hard to really distinguish between weapons at the low end, since the difference is realistically likely to be less than one point of damage.
Fortunately, the really low-end weapons like Small Knives aren't really in any danger of violating the "believability threshold" to begin with, so the lack of low-end resolution isn't a huge problem.... I think...
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

Here's a radical thought: In re-working the entire damage system, why not simply double all values, then place ST-based damage where it should realistically be? This would help combat the lack of differentiation between low-ST damage rolls. Of course, you'd also have to double HP, and probably fiddle with things like Shock, Bleeding and Healing. This would be a lot of work to address a minor (though fundamental) concern. Maybe when GURPS 5th edition comes out (currently scheduled for the year after we get Fusion reactors commercially viable).
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:17 PM   #9
Landwalker
 
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

Quote:
Originally Posted by vierasmarius View Post
Here's a radical thought: In re-working the entire damage system, why not simply double all values, then place ST-based damage where it should realistically be? This would help combat the lack of differentiation between low-ST damage rolls. Of course, you'd also have to double HP, and probably fiddle with things like Shock, Bleeding and Healing. This would be a lot of work to address a minor (though fundamental) concern. Maybe when GURPS 5th edition comes out (currently scheduled for the year after we get Fusion reactors commercially viable).
That is pretty much the reason why. I know that the 70%-method is imperfect and isn't a precise representation of "reality," but I'm mostly trying to strike a balance between "pretty close to realistic representation" and "sufficiently game-able and straight-forward that it won't drive me mad and result in re-writing half of the combat system."

The re-writing thing tends to happen to me far too often, and I'm trying really hard to avoid it this time around. =p
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Old 09-08-2011, 05:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Rejiggering Muscle-Powered Weapon Damage

I've been working on modifying the ST damage table, which is what I had intended to alter (along with some of the damage for certain weapons--I figure that would have to be done on a case-by-case basis) to solve this problem.

What are your thoughts on fine/very fine weapons? That's the biggest problem I've had in trying to rework all of this to match the armor values. Adding +2 damage (or even +1) is unrealistic. What I've been considering doing is having the 'fine' quality weapons be the baseline that I use, and then having regular 'good' quality weapons being kind of crap in comparison, something the players would want to upgrade as quickly as possible. So, a 'good' quality sword could have a thick blade, and we wouldn't start to see the stats the armor is measured against until we get to 'fine' quality weapons (with very fine weapons not adding an extra point of damage, but doing something else--I think two additional points of damage is too much).

So, your fine mail would block the strongest of blows, from a 'fine' sword, and having that be what I measure it against.

I was thinking for ST 10, having something like 1d-3 thrust, 1d-2 swing. That way even if a fine broadsword is doing 1d damage, it still stops two-thirds of all attacks, while stopping five-sixths of all attacks from a regular sword.

The only problem I have here is that it becomes too difficult to hurt someone by punching them in the skull. How do you think one could handle punches? Do you think skull DR might need to be lowered? Should we factor in All-Out Attack (Strong)? Are those common in reality, particularly against foes in armor?
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