February 14, 2013

Shoot/no-shoot: checking fire under pressure

The recent post and discussion on dodging lasers in GURPS has led to further thoughts.

One of the things that happens in real target shooting, and presumably it can happen in combat too, though it would be under considerably more stress, is a shooter knows he's off target. His breathing is wrong, he feels a sneeze coming, he sees the target jink, or he's otherwise pointing at air.

I always thought that this would be a natural use of the Precision Aiming technique, which is covered in GURPS Tactical Shooting (p. 26-27).

In fact, there would be an interesting way to adjudicate aiming in general, which will add die rolls, but perhaps make a trade-off in narrative fun. We'll see. Consider this somewhat stream of consiousness - so it may wind up all a bad dream.

The way I shoot, you line up your sights on the target, and when you're where you want to be, you squeeze the trigger. The key being "where you want to be." There's no set time for this. Sometimes you're right on and it happens quickly, and sometimes you're not, and you keep aiming. Sometimes, as you start to pull the trigger (especially for single shots), you know you're off, and you relax and don't shoot.

Maybe what you need to do is something like this:

All of this assumes you can see the target.

When you Aim, go ahead and roll some dice. Maybe you always use the Precision Aiming technique (but I don't think so), but I think it's just a straight-up DX-based skill roll. If you succeed in your roll, you get +1 Acc. If you succeed by a bunch, you can get even more, up to the Acc of the gun.

If you want to shoot go ahead. If you hit, great, you shot, you hit, fine.Maybe it's actually this roll, the aiming roll, that you have to trade off in order to get the Prediction Shot bonus that penalizes your foe's Dodge score.

So, what if you fail? Maybe you can make a Precision Aiming roll, and if you succeed, you don't fire. Your margin of success might tell you how much of your Acc bonus you retain.

That way, it's not "I will fire every three seconds," which is basically how it works right now. Sometimes, you might get a very rapid sight picture. Sometimes, you have to work at it.

9 comments:

  1. Some of this might be subsumed in those moments where the player says "What, I have a 5 to hit? I don't shoot."

    If you're mean like me, and make them decide on the shot before they calculate the hit score, then it might organically result in more Aim maneuvers - waiting until you're sure you're as ready as can be.

    Or perhaps an easy (but dice heavy) fix is to let people roll Precision Aiming or an IQ-based ranged weapon roll to figure on range. That would make high-tech ranging scopes (that tell you all of this instantly) really game-changers.

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    1. I like the range check a great deal. It occurred to me in a fantasy game that, when you break out the hex map, everyone is immediately an accurate range-finder, and knows if they need to step before they attack to break into the next range grouping.

      I really like the idea of needing to make a roll to get any Acc bonus, though, using Precision Shooting. Adds an additional dice roll, but on turns where all you're doing is Aim anyway, it's not appreciably longer.

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  2. I like the no calculation before decision thing, that seems fast.

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  3. Calculation to me implies "I have all the time in the world". Second-by-second combat? You don't. Try it: go to the range, give yourself a count of one-thousand-one...one-thousand-three and then shoot NO MATTER WHAT. It ain't easy. Or do it under some pressure to perform, such as trap shooting. Sure, you've got a window, but the longer you aim, the further away the clay pigeon is; God help you if it's windy. Hunting is the same way if your prey starts. You've got about a second to pull the trigger with ANY chance of hitting unless you're WAY better than most normal people are at shooting.

    However, the calculation matters only in a "longer" engagement. In a more tactical, which is to say "less than 50 yards out" engagement with bows, guns, etc., I require the decision. I.e., "I aim/shoot/wait/do something else". Over that in a foot/horse context you have the luxury of aiming/waiting/etc. for another round. I also abstract "charge" situations into how many volleys a group can get off based on the slowest archer (though following Doug's previous post, this has "only come up in play" a couple of times). But all of these are on the spot rulings that I can't actually say I apply uniformly.

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  4. In many games that I have played, it seems to me that GURPS has a lot of rolls and a bit more factors when trying to resolve conflicts as apposed to systems similar to d20 style games and Flavor centric systems such as FUDGE.

    Mind you this could simply be my perception, but when considering combat, I have found that there is often an attack roll, a dodge roll, and often other skill rolls that can impact these rolls.

    Add in the fact that these same systems typically resolve turns in 6 second increments, compared to the regular 1 second intervals in GURPS, I am quite unsure of how quickly a combat can resolve.

    The group that I had once gamed with when doing games in GURPS would often times require that I have 6 hours at the very least for most sessions.

    More recently, I have been moving towards playing Mutants and Masterminds due to the fact that I can run through an adventure/combat easily enough within a span of 2 to 3 hours, and if I have a full 4 to 5 hours I can easily get through multiple conflicts in short order. Though with my schedule being very random at best most days, having the ability to get a short 2 to 3 hour session ironed out is something I can look forward to.

    What has been your experience with this, and considering that I am finding that in your blog you mention actions often taking anywhere form 3 to 6 seconds for most attacks/spells and the like, I have found this quite interesting (As such actions are typically within the realm of standard or full-round action in d20 style systems).

    How much time does it typically take for you to have an enjoyable experience in GURPS and how much of that time is spent actually rolling dice/resolving combat?

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    1. Last GURPS DF game we did three combats in four hours. Last GURPS Space game, we played for about three hours, and had one combat but we didn't spend the entire time on it.

      If you know what you're doing, or pre-calculate common options like we discuss at Dungeon Fantastic in the comments section, things can go pretty fast.

      The thing I would prefer, and I'l looking for mechanical solutions here, is to spread out the pace of attack/defense so it feels natural to have some pauses in there.

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    2. I have played in Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands campaign using both Swords & Wizardry and GURPS. I haven't really noticed a time difference in our sessions as far as combat is concerned. Low-level d20 combat can be a "miss fest" if there are a lot of bad rolls and high-level d20 combat often feels like a 15 round heavyweight battle.

      We have several GUPRS newbies in our group and Rob prepared a cheat sheet of combat options with pros/cons. We also play online using Fantasy Grounds, which speeds up GURPS play (more so than it does d20).

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    3. I've never tried Fantasy Grounds, but I've used Roll20 and MapTool. Does it have a purpose-built GURPS engine available?

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  5. Interesting topic! It made me want to relate my own past tinkering in the same area. And so I did, but it got a wee long (gee, surprise...).

    So I put it up on my own site. As with your post, it falls under the category of unfinished musing, but take a read if interested:
    http://www.gamesdiner.com/2013/02/game-design-musing-drawing-bead-on-ranged-combat-targeting

    Incidentally, there's plenty on your site I'd like to comment on, but I may frequently do so on my own site or elsewhere. As I mentioned before, I can't comment using Safari (this site only, that I know of); Chrome works fine, but the OpenID login process is fiddly.

    Oh, the pain of First-world problems. : ) I may log in and comment once in a while anyway, though will be on the lookout for any notices concerning easier comment login.

    Anyway, please keep up the great posts (and the posting frequency that I greatly envy : )!

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