Author Topic: Rethinking the cynical 1 shot one kill metality  (Read 1300 times)

Mad Dr Jeffe

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Rethinking the cynical 1 shot one kill metality
« on: November 04, 2003, 10:00:52 AM »
Recently there has been a trend in gaming to up the ante as it were and have weapons do tremendous amounts of damage in a single shot, sword thrust or attack. I have to admit untill I saw that guy shoot at that lawyer on TV (six shots at ultra close range and only 4 hit) and hit him in the head without killing him I though guns were pretty final.

Shane Hensely of Pinnacle Entertainment has some interesting musings on the subject this month and I will post a transcript here.
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Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Rethinking the cynical 1 shot one kill metalit
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2003, 10:01:11 AM »
Damage by Shane Hensly

I'm watching Fox News when I see this amazing footage of a guy shooting his lawyer. He fires at him six times at less than two feet distance and hits him--as far as I can tell--about twice. I turned to my friend, the mysterious Teller, who happened to be at my house at the time preparing for our big Halloween adventure, and said--"The guy can't roll crap for damage." Teller agreed and said I should write about this for my Shooting Blind column and how random damage (and accuracy) works in games--so here it is.

I've been involved in quite a few discussions on "damage," both in fan chats, game industry insider chats, and in my studies as a Masters student in military history. I also have some personal experience. If you're interested in how I come up with damage systems, it might be interesting to know some of my experiences with it in real life.

We all know how one good shot can kill a person instantly. But sometimes in the course of a game players who roll terrible damage get a little frustrated and say it's "not realistic." I mean, you shoot someone in the head and they die, right?

Not always . . .

*Steve Jackson and a few others once discussed a very interesting shootout that took place among some border patrol agents and illegal immigrants and drug smugglers somewhere along the Rio Grande. While I don't have copies of the conversation (I wish I did!), the gist of it was that a great number of shots were fired at relatively close range and very few of them hit. Of those that did, some did great damage (and I believe killed a fellow instantly), while others caused merely superficial wounds.

*Soon after graduating high school, a friend of mine was shot in the back and the back of her head 11 times at point blank range by a .22 pistol. She lived through the incident with no permanent damage. Contrast that with professional hit men who often kill a victim with one shot to the back of the head whit a .22. (It's all about exactly where you hit--the human skull isn't usually penetrated by a .22, so assassins ensure the bullet goes up under it and into the brain.)

*The famous Shootout at the OK Corral took place between eight highly experienced gunhands. Yet though over 30 shots were fired at very close range, only about 12 of them hit. Of those 12 hits, only two proved lethal, the rest had varying effects, from incapacitation to nothing more than a flesh wound.

*Outlaw Bill Doolin--part of the Dalton Gang--was shot 22 times by large-caliber pistols (.45s mostly) before going down.

*In the excellent book "Into Africa," author Martin Dugard relates the following story of African explorers attacked by Somalis. "The (warrior) thrust a javelin clean through Burton's face and fled before Spekes could shoot. The spear remained stuck in Buton's head, jabbing out at right angles. He had lost teeth, and blood poured from his mouth and both cheeks. Unable to pull out the javelin and unable to link up with Spekes, the would-be explorer miraculously escaped into the night before another warrior could finish him." His partner, Spekes, was captured, bound, and emasculated (a habit of the Somalis). Then they severed his hamstrings and quadriceps with spear thrusts that sank into to the ground. While they ran off to loot the camp (they planned on torturing the pinned man later), Speke pulled himself free and "dragged himself three miles down the beach to where a British ship was anchored."

Those are some examples that have helped shape my opinion on how damage should work in a game. My goal as a game designer is to model real life as much as possible while keeping it as simple, fun, and dramatic as possible. I picture Bill Doolin soaking those wounds with Fate Chips or bennies and using Edges like Hard to Kill and Tough as Nails to stay on his feet through that hail of gunfire. I picture deadly and highly-skilled gunhands like Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp missing their foes at point blank range--because they just didn't roll above average. I can imagine the dismay of the attacker in that Fox footage arguing with fate as he not only rolled horribly on his attack rolls, but couldn't roll even average on his damage either. And I see Spekes and Burton doing "down" but surviving and dragging themselves to safety, even though "on paper" they were fresh out of wounds/hit points.

That's the way your mind works once you start designing roleplaying systems. You often catch yourself thinking about life in game terms. Maybe you do too if you're an avid gamer who has tried lots of different systems. I know every time my friend John Hopler trips we blame it on his d4 Dex. ;)
« Last Edit: November 04, 2003, 10:01:40 AM by ElJeffe »
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Entsuropi

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Re: Rethinking the cynical 1 shot one kill metalit
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2003, 08:06:02 AM »
Do you remember 'Black Hawk Down' jeffe? One of my favourite films. But in that, US soldiers would lean around a corner, fire off two bullets which would both hit and subsequently kill some milita guy 50 metres away. But the milita would fail to kill anyone even though they fired dozens of shots. Thats probably due to lack of training, crap weapons, bad firing techniques (firing AK47 on full auto? Whoops) and american use of armour and cover.

One way to think of it is this. American soldiers are not level 1 in D20 - they are probably level 6 or 7. Remember, they need high BAB to represent firing range practice, and they will all have the relevant Weapon Proficiency. Plus the shooting feats. Whereas the milita were probably level 1 (untrained).

When you think of it like that, D20 accuracy and damage works pretty well. It isn't perfect, but then nothing is. :)
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Fellfrosch

Mad Dr Jeffe

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Re: Rethinking the cynical 1 shot one kill metalit
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2003, 10:34:48 AM »
Yeah, I have to say the I am Impressed with D20 modern as a system...
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Entsuropi

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Re: Rethinking the cynical 1 shot one kill metalit
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2003, 12:07:14 PM »
Never read it. I use Call of Cthulhu for my modern needs, although some parts need an overhaul. Mythos books are one use items - shouldn't they be things you constantly come back to and delve a little deeper into as your sanity erodes? Also, the "class" system is dodgy. How come a professor is better at defence than a soldier? There should be an option for non-combat chars, who get higher skills rather than BAB.
If you're ever in an argument and Entropy winds up looking staid and temperate in comparison, it might be time to cut your losses and start a new thread about something else :)

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