Relative RPG Newbie

Started by GarretTeldt, February 03, 2011, 03:35:43 AM

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Hello, my name is Richard Rebouche, and I'm fairly new to RPGs. I got my feet wet in d20 Modern and Mutants and Masterminds, and enjoyed both systems greatly. d20 had a certain rigidness that seemed to keep everything in line and a realistic(ish) ruleset that kept the action cinematic without utterly diverging from reality altogether. Mutants and Masterminds had simplicity and plenty of customization on it's side, but was obscenely easy to break (my characters tended to carry the party through with their powers alone). I have a feeling that may have had something to do with the fact that the GM rarely put in any non-combat challenges and tended to railroad the party through god-awful minimalist stories.

However, I don't want to let a bad GM spoil gaming for me forever. I was wondering what systems are more popular nowadays, mostly in the modern/sci-fi realm. I tend to enjoy games more on the realistic than superhuman side. That is, to say, the rogue should be Batman at level 20 (and that might be a bit much), not the Flash, the soldier should end up being a Navy SEAL, not Terminator, and so on. I don't feel I know enough to be a good DM yet (designing encounters and experience systems continues to vex me) but would like to do so eventually.

I apologize if this is borderline incoherent, I've had 5 hours of sleep in three days.

Eero Tuovinen

I liked this post, it's short and to the point. Welcome to the Forge, Garret!

Considering your focus on action gaming and the desire for a more realistic tone, have you considered looking into less recent games? Roleplaying games don't really go old, they're more like literature in that older game texts have a lot to give, especially if you've only come to the hobby recently. Personally I have a lot of respect for the idea that you can learn a lot by looking at the roots of things, including the roots of the gaming culture we currently have. It also seems to me based on your experience that you might like what the history of the hobby has to offer - d20 and Mutants & Masterminds are very tradition-respecting games that draw heavily on late '80s and early '90s game design, so if you're looking for similar games, you might as well go back as forwards. I suspect that you might like Cyberpunk 2020, for example, a game that I remember fondly for its lively delivery of a classical Cyberpunk tone when the whole genre was still fresh in the early '90s - it'd still be my first choice for a Cyberpunk game, in fact, if I was looking for a GM-full adventure game (as opposed to drama or whatnot).

Other games that might be considered classics in the more modern side of things (ignoring fantasy games, that is) are Traveller, Paranoia, Twilight 2000 and various universal systems such as GURPS and Hero System, to mention a few that come immediately to mind. (I live in Finland, so I'm sure that others have somewhat different lists of what they would consider seminal in their own local culture.) Of course there are new games as well in these genres, but it's notable that we're living in the midst of a sort of postmodern revival in the roleplaying culture right now, meaning that most modern (post-millennium) games tend to appeal to smaller audiences who are already familiar with the classics as a baseline of expectations. That might be considered another reason for delving into the older games, in fact.
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Another question I've had for awhile: How should (or can, for that matter) realistic suppressive fire be handled in an RPG? I was working on augmenting the Autofire system in d20 to incorporate suppression tactics (the one thing I found d20 lacking) but I am unsure if such an attempt is wise. Here is a draft of my idea:


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.

Cliff H

Quote from: GarretTeldt on February 04, 2011, 03:42:18 AM
Another question I've had for awhile: How should (or can, for that matter) realistic suppressive fire be handled in an RPG? I was working on augmenting the Autofire system in d20 to incorporate suppression tactics (the one thing I found d20 lacking) but I am unsure if such an attempt is wise. Here is a draft of my idea:

When I first read your question, the title Godlike flashed into my head. This is a game in which you play a soldier in WW II. It has a stat called Cool, which is often coupled with the skill Mental Stability to overcome things like being suppressed by enemy fire. In fact, optional rules even include requiring the roll if you're going to kill someone (this later rule being based on real life army reports that soldiers in WW II seemed reluctant to kill a fellow human being, even if dressed in an enemy uniform).

Godlike, however, is about as far from d20 as you can get, and what you have written seems to be a pretty reasonable transaltion of the idea into the d20 system, as well as consistent with the way existing d20 mechanics tend to work, so I'd be so bold as to suggest that you've answered your own question as far as d20 modern goes.

Marco M.

Your draft seems fine for me. The numbers might be adjusted according to experience while playing (have you already tested this?), but the general mechanic and influences which have to be considered seem to be incorporated well.

Ron Edwards

Hi everyone,

This thread needs to be fixed up a little before I can let it continue.

Richard, if you'd like to discuss your experiences in play, then we can do that here in this forum. That's what your first post seemed to be about, and to do that, all you need to do is talk a bit more about any session or game you've ever played in. However, your second post seems to be about design questions. If you are working on designing a game, then you should start a new thread in Game Development, and follow the requirements in the sticky post there.

Everyone, wait until Richard decides what to do before replying.

Best, Ron


Sorry, I had realized I had gone off topic.


In my experience, the Palladium table top RPG [Rifts] is a good sci-fi RPG system. In Rifts itself you can get overpowered pretty quick; however, palladium offers other products like [modern weapons] and some jungle stuff which aims for realism in jungle fighting with modern weapons, which would probably hit the mark just right. Further, if the game master carefully manages player's options he can keep characters at reasonable strengths- ie, Batman or lower.

Next time you're in a hobby store browse through some Palladium books- if you find the right one it'll make you happy, but many will create character stronger than you wish- no time to be specific, but

Good luck.
My RPG and writing blog:

Ron Edwards

Nate, please read threads entirely before posting. I have called for no more replies until Richard gives this thread its direction. Until then, people posting here are expected to respect the moderation and cool their jets, no matter what they think they can contribute.

Best, Ron