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Old 09-26-2012, 09:04 AM   #1
joncarryer
 
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Default What use is Suppression Fire?

I had never really thought about the paragraph in the rules headed Suppression Fire before, beyond skimming through it when I first read the rules. However, in the game I play in last night, it seemed that we had the ideal situation to use it; my character planned to run out of the APC we were in and hitch up the trailer sitting right behind it, but we knew that there were two snipers out there waiting to take me out. We knew pretty much where they were and had spotted them earlier in the fight. Seeing as two of my fellow adventurers were right beside me, with an LMG and an auto rifle. We figured that each of them would pop up and hose down the area that one of the snipers was hiding in for the 5-10 seconds it should take me to get the trailer hitched, thus keeping their heads down and keeping me alive. However, when we actually applied the rules, we found out that not only does suppression fire give less of a chance to actually hit the target (which makes sense) but there is no provision at all for any kind of psychological disincentive for the targets to expose themselves. As a result, our GM decided that these snipers would continue calmly firing away through these hails of bullets, leaving me unconscious and bleeding in the dust. Seeing the uselessness of suppression fire, one of my comrades then switched to aimed shooting and killed them both; cold comfort for me.

So, is there some crucial aspect of these rules that we're missing, or do we need extensive house-ruling to make covering and suppression fire have the desired effect (i.e. keeping the enemy's head down)?
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:12 AM   #2
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

This is a situation where Fright Checks are in order (for those two snipers, in your example). Tactical Shooting even provides some more details for it.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

Okay, I hadn't thought of checking TS, but even there, all it really adds is how to maintain the necessary ROF with multiple weapons. Nothing about how to ensure that the targets of suppression fire do what they're supposed to and keep their heads down. My GM (and reasonably so) is of the opinion that if it isn't specifically stated in the rules, then he's under no obligation to make stuff up to make the situation work as expected.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

It's helpful to refer to what the book calls "Suppression Fire," instead, as "Area Fire"—because that's what those rules cover; no mention of "suppression" effect there. Then refer to Tactical Shooting for good "suppression" mechanics (as VM mentioned above), or just use good-old-fashioned role-playing+common sense (which the GM failed to do—bad GM! :P )

In TS, you're wanting to look at "Cool Under Fire" (p. 34)
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

Well, generally speaking if you have a choice between shooting in someones general direction, and actually shooting them, the former is not going to serve you better. The Basic Set rules for suppressive fire are chiefly useful, insofar as they ever are, if you can't actually shoot at your intended target but want to get lead up to pre-empt their future movement.

However, suppression fire works a lot better with the Cool Under Fire rules from Tactical Shooting p34 and optionally the 'dare to leave cover' rules on p21. Those allow you to actually suppress somebody.

Cool Under Fire really just codifies (with extremely useful details) the point that, yes, highly stressful gunfight situations, including having your vicinity hosed with automatic fire, are scary and should be handled as usual for scary things.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:25 AM   #6
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joncarryer View Post
Okay, I hadn't thought of checking TS, but even there, all it really adds is how to maintain the necessary ROF with multiple weapons. Nothing about how to ensure that the targets of suppression fire do what they're supposed to and keep their heads down. My GM (and reasonably so) is of the opinion that if it isn't specifically stated in the rules, then he's under no obligation to make stuff up to make the situation work as expected.
Well, no, there's nothing that actually forces people to not poke their heads out and shoot back in the face of suppressive fire.

Assuming they've not been stunned by the fright check, pass the will check to expose themselves from cover, and don't actually get taken out by any of the bullets.

Suppression isn't a guarantee. It's mostly a strong encouragement to stay down.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:31 AM   #7
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Suppression isn't a guarantee. It's mostly a strong encouragement to stay down.
Which follows along with Murphy's Law: "Suppressing fire doesn't"
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:36 AM   #8
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

Exactly. One of the premises of GURPS is that players always choose what their character tries to do, barring supernatural compulsion or a failed Fright Check. The Basic Set psychological disincentive for ignoring suppressive Fire is the chance that you might get hit, Tactical Shooting adds some more complicated optional rules.

The other use of Suppressive Fire is that it can be used whether or not you can see the target. In a recent arena game the German side took out two of five Russians with suppressive fire without ever seeing them: one was shot in the leg and the other failed a Fright Check after a near miss and passed out.
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:55 AM   #9
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

Some final thoughts: As players, you don't know whether you were suppressing the right hexes, or how well-trained and determined the snipers were. And the other advantage of suppressive fire is that once it starts moving around the target has no way of knowing whether it will drift over his hex this turn. In the arena game (link), the Russian side found that once suppressive fire began they were never sure whether it was safe to get up and move, or whether they should stay safe and prone.

I am assuming that you could not see the snipers until they exposed themselves by starting to shoot. There are rules for spotting hidden shooters in Tactical Shooting as well ...
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Old 09-26-2012, 10:05 AM   #10
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Default Re: What use is Suppression Fire?

And depending on the situation, those snipers may have been emplaced well, so that they didn't have to expose themselves, and only things like muzzle flash would give them away. If you're already prone behind a rifle scope, behind the best cover you can manage while still able to get off a shot, you're not exactly disposed to do much more than maybe lower your face to the ground to reduce the exposure of the top of your head.
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