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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 37 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [d20 Modern] Adding mechanics  (Read 8355 times)

Posts: 5

« on: February 05, 2011, 07:51:28 PM »

I've been reflecting over my (admittedly short) time playing d20 Modern and Mutants and Masterminds and decided some of the mechanics required serious overhaul to reflect the more realistic, fast-paced and lethal combat system that I desired. Two things struck me as conspicuously missing from the d20 system: Suppression and Bleeding. I've spent time since drafting ideas for the mechanics. Any references to nanoprograms have to do with a dramatically changed magic system, the information regarding which is still not fully finished. Autofire is a 3-round burst attack, while Suppressive Fire has the same functionality as d20's Autofire. Combat Endurance Threshold is the less brutal replacement for MDT, instead it is a large factor in determining how much Bleeding is received by a character.

Suppressive Fire

   The doctrines of modern combat have changed little since the time of the Superpower Wars. Modern ranged combat acknowledges that the common infantryman is likely incapable of engaging targets at long range with any precision. This is the job of a marksman. Common infantry have another tool at their disposal: the doctrine of Suppressive Fire. The sound (and sight, if tracer rounds are used) of a bullet flying by brings up a deep, primal fear of death. That fear will cause most anyone to cower behind cover or hit the dirt, effectively neutralizing them.

   In the game world, Suppressive Fire is handled as a special attack. The shooter fires a large number of rounds rather rapidly in the target's general direction, typically 20. The target then must make a DC15 Will save with the (Attacker's Level/5) added. The target (or targets) may add their Level/5 to their save result. Failure will render the target(s) Suppressed. Becoming Suppressed causes the target to lose their next half action, inflicts -5 Initiative (often causing the target to become lower in the initiative order), inflicts -5 Ranged Attack and causes the target to drop prone (unsaveably interrupting their current action or skill check). Weapons with a High Rate of Fire bonus raise the DC of the Will save by +2 for each additional point of High RoF. Tracer rounds add an additional +1 to the Resist DC.

   Suppressive Fire can be readied, allowing the user to attempt Suppression only if the target attempts an action. This means Suppression can be used tactically as an interrupt or area-denial tool as well, not just in face-to-face combat.

   A Suppressed target may break the Suppression by making a Will save equal to the DC of the Resist save, with their Level/5 added to their result. The DC of the save goes down by 2 for each round they are not attacked with Suppressive Fire. They begin making this Will save the round after they are attacked with Suppressive Fire. If the Will save is successful, they may rise from the prone position, and regain their former Attack score, but the Initiative loss persists. They will occupy that spot in the turn order unless they Delay or Ready an action. A Suppressed target also takes an additional -2 penalty  to Will saves against Suppression for as long as they are Suppressed.

   For example: say 'Boomer' Glados has taken position over a courtyard facing one entryway. She has Readied a Suppressive Fire action, waiting for foes to enter the chokepoint. Two enemy riflemen enter the courtyard through the one door, right next to each other. She empties 20 rounds with a Suppressive Fire action into the area, causing both soldiers to drop prone and cower, losing a half action and taking +10 Damage. They both roll Will saves and one succeeds, He stands up from prone, consuming his remaining half action.

   With a semi-automatic weapon (or a weapon that can't fire the large stream of rounds required, for example due to a smaller magazine size) Suppressive Fire uses 5 rounds, affects a 2m x 4m area, deals no Damage and uses a DC(10+Attacker's Level/5) Will save with the defender's Level/5 added to his result. An additional 5 rounds increases the area of effect to 4m x 4m and raises the DC of the Will save by 2.

   Multiple allies may coordinate Suppressive Fire on the same target area. They may either choose to delay their actions until they may all use Suppressive Fire at the same time (increasing the resist DC by 4 for each ally) or attempt to further Suppress an already Suppressed target. If a Suppressed target is Suppressed again, they lose an additional Half action and take an additional -2 Attack penalty.


Though modern combat has given battlefield medics powerful tools such as nanotechnology and regenerative bandaging, soldiers still sometimes die to simple bleeding. Though a few wounds won't kill the soldier, the more holes poked into him, the faster he will lose all-important lifeblood. Big holes are an even bigger problem, as even modern body armor cannot stop everything. While a shell from an anti-material rifle may not extinguish the target's lifespark immediately, the gaping wound will surely leave him dead in seconds.

A soldier's resiliency directly affects how quickly he will bleed to death. A Civilian Nanomagician could bleed to death rapidly from a blow that would merely annoy a Zayl-Ych Enforcer. Every time a character is forced to make a CET save, they accrue one tick of Bleeding whether they are successful or not. If they fail, they endure an additional ([20-Con mod]/4) ticks of Bleeding (Minimum 1). For every 7 Damage a character takes in one attack,  they must make a DC20 Fortitude save or accrue one tick of Bleeding. Every time a character drops down a Health tier, they must make a DC20 Fortitude save or accrue a tick of Bleeding. Every time a character takes more than (20+Con mod) Damage in one round, they must make a DC20 Fortitude save or accrue one tick of Bleeding. This save is only made once per round. These saves can be made multiple times in one round unless noted. Multiple ticks of Bleeding may be incurred with a single attack, for example, the 7 Damage tick(s), the (20+Con mod) tick and the CET tick. A battlefield healer must be sure to take even simple Bleeding into account when prioritizing healing. Bleeding that goes untended could take an ally out of action at a most inopportune time, or be impossible to heal past.

Bleeding may be healed by the use of nanotechnology (5 points healing/1 tick Bleeding), bandages (3 points healing/1 tick Bleeding, or 2 points healing/1 tick Bleeding w/ Combat Medic), or Surgery (Stop Bleeding damage for duration of Surgery attempt, restore [Medicine ranks * 1] points Bleeding upon success, restore [Medicine ranks * 2] points Bleeding upon success with Combat Medic). Bleeding may also be healed by use of a Greater Swarm Purge (3 ticks Bleeding/condition purged).

Looking for constructive advice, be it a simple "Learn game mechanics 101 you moron!" or something more eloquent.
Callan S.

Posts: 4268

« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2011, 08:11:30 PM »


Just with the surpressive fire, it seems like it suffers from 'sit there and not do very much' issues. I don't know if you've ever played and been under a hold spell...your simply not playing anymore, yet are generally socially obligated to sit at the table - it's a design that is really contrary to normal real world social interaction and participation. Which probably isn't a concern of anyone of a simulationist inclination (when it's not happening to them).

In terms of that I'd instead think of penalties to hit (though then you get into whiff rolls/I miss so much I may as well not be participating), or perhaps you shoot more bullets than normal, in fear, eating up clips at an alarming rate.


Posts: 19

« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2011, 08:56:59 AM »

I think Callan S has a good point about supressing fire; it shouldn't be a mechanic whose job is to make things happen more slowly. To it more active, could you give bonus to allies who are trying to advance? If one ally is supressing, another can move between cover and have significantly less chance of being hit. This nudges players towards making more proactive, aggressive actions, which hopefully ups the drama, and fits in with the ethos of fire and movement.

As to bleeding; why distinguish it from normal damage? You could assume that bleeding is common in gun trauma, and so normal damage includes bleeding. Then there's no need for a separate mechanic.
Devon Oratz

Posts: 75

« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2011, 12:46:42 PM »

I am not sure if this is the place for my opinion, but I did just want to say that D20 Modern is by far my least favorite system that I've ever encountered. It has a particularly bad compromise between a D&D style class system and a classless system, it nonsensically throws in a bunch of D&D fantasy crap into a modern setting without taking any of the painstaking effort that Shadowrun does to make it thematically consistent, stylistically consistent, internally logical, or cool. If I wanted to do d20 Modern I would probably just use the rules for modern and futuristic weapons in the Dungeons Masters Guide of D&D 3.5 and go from there. 

And as you mentioned it earlier it certainly does not have combat that is fast based or lethal. If you want that, you might consider Shadowrun, nWoD (note, I have not played with every splatgame, so I don't know what breaks what, but the vanilla system seems fairly reasonable) or any of a hundred less well known systems the good folks around here could recommend.

I have never played Mutants & Masterminds and hence have no comment on it.

Onto the mechanics:

I disagree with the choice--although I do think it's interesting--to model autofire with anything involving a will save. Rather, I would have suppressive fire cause all characters who move or act in the suppressed area to make a Reflex save on their turn (at the end of their turn), with a DC equal to 10 + the suppressing character's attack bonus, or suffer the weapon's base damage. Characters who do nothing but take cover on their turn don't have to make the Reflex Save. Characters who have partial cover and are returning fire take some arbitrary penalty/bonus on their Reflex save/attack. For instance, a character firing from behind a crate while being suppressed gets -4 to their attack rolls and +4 to their Reflex save. A character who isn't taking cover at all and just spends the turn moving/acting/attacking at no penalty gets no penalty on their attack but no bonus on the Reflex save. If you start your turn, end your turn, or move through the suppressed area you have to make the save. As to how large the suppressed area would be, I would say that a 10'x10' square seems fair. Naturally only weapons with autofire should be capable of suppression and it should chew through a lot of bullets. Suppressing should take a Full Round Action and if multiple characters suppress the same area, characters in that area must make multiple Reflex saves.

I hope this suggestion is helpful to you, I designed it around a compromise between the mechanic you had suggested and what said you wanted to accomplish (realism or genre realism).

Note that this WILL have the effect of slowing things down if combatants are cautious, which is precisely what suppressive fire does in real life firefights, slow the enemy down and keep them behind cover.

As far as bleeding is concerned, I *think* I agree with SteveCooper but I don't know enough about Mutants and Masterminds to be absolutely sure. I think what you really want to inject some realism are SR/WoD style WOUND PENALTIES which d20 Modern afaik has no way of rendering, and would have to be pretty seriously hacked to include.

~"Quiet desperation, it ain't my goddamn scene!"~
My Blog: tarotAmerican

Posts: 5

« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2011, 07:27:40 PM »

Devon, your suggestion was quite good. That is the kind of advice I was looking for. Perhaps you're right and the player should be the one making the choice, rather than a Will save. I hadn't even considered it. I will take that into account.

I have little experience with other systems, so I appreciate the pointers. I completely agree on both points regarding d20 Modern, which is why I sought to improve it. With the modifications I planned to make, it was to become much... more consistent. And the class system was to be better. The other goal of my modifications was to encourage the use of melee weapons, by making the role of ranged combatants suppression and elimination of support personnel so the melee could close the distance.  I'd especially appreciate any pointers toward other systems where suppression is implemented.

As to wound penalties, I had already decided to adopt a system similar to d&d4, where to begin getting penalties after you drop below certain % of health. I was looking to bleeding to make 'magic' healing less effective than bandages. Should I be looking to start a new thread with the entire modified game system in it? As I explain this, it occurs to me that the system has been changed so dramatically it has little to do with d20 except it uses the same die. I'd almost call it scope creep, I guess. I set out to make the d20 system extremely unforgiving, with combat being a very lethal affair. Basically, one bad call on a squad commander's part could set the entire team up for failure.

Then again, when things get that unforgiving, gamers might just go 'screw this, let's play something else.' I guess I don't know. Should I post the ruleset?
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