Thursday, 27 March 2014

Weapon patterns, marks and mods, and the squearoll

This has been on the list a while. It was sparked off by a discussion on weapons in 40K at an old Outside the Box, but could work for all kinds of games using dice to resolve success and failure.

The starting point was the fact 40K is nearly 27 years old now, in which time a lot of the core weapons have been sculpted in various forms. Compare the original lasgun for the Imperial Guard - or Army as it was - and the Squats, cult etc. to more recent versions. In the real world, reflected in historical and modern wargaming, various modifications and variants also exist, and the same could well be true for other more fantastical settings.

Think about all the possible forms that slings, bows, crossbows etc. can or could take, let alone the range of melee weapons. This is true also for many if not all technologies in conventional science fiction, science fantasy and fantasy, possibly even innate abilities.

Relatively minor differences in operation generally aren't represented in larger-scale games, not least because using standard methods like modifiers or straight rerolls it could be impractical, especially when using dice with a low number of faces, like the d6: the various patterns, marks and mods could then end up more like new weapon types.

The squearoll idea

The key mechanism for managing it is what might be called the squearoll, a kind of reroll that represents tight squeaks, moments the players might squeal. A squearoll is used when the result is on a knife-edge, specifically when one point away from success, with the reroll giving a fixed 50% chance of success and 50% of failure, e.g. a squearoll in 40K would presumably use 1d6, with a result of 1-3 then being failure, and 4-6 success.

Here's an example for 40K. Ten shots are fired using slimline bolt guns with advanced  feeds, represented by Lighter Casing and Faster Action (see below). Each usually has a 3+ to hit, and the results rolled are 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, i.e. six hits. But because of the Faster Action, the 2s can be squearolled. Three dice are rolled, each needing 4+ for success: the results are 2, 3, 4, meaning one extra success, i.e. seven hits in total.

Using this in games

The players agree how many units or individuals in each group have a variant weapon, or how many are assumed to be. Each variant weapon is identical to its normal form but with one or more positive attributes and one or more negative, as agreed by the players.

Possible attributes - rifle-like weapons

Here are some examples for rifle-like weapons, focusing on the 40K ranges especially.
  • Longer Barrel, Sight or Stand  / Shorter Barrel or Hanging Trophy
This weapon has a basic range 10% longer / shorter, rounding up / down.
  • Faster Action or Larger Clip etc.  /  Slower Action or Smaller Clip etc.
Each one-point miss / hit with this weapon may / must be squearolled.
  • Heavier Casing or Gun Shield  /  Lighter Casing or Exposed Workings
Each save or similar roll based on armour or physical resilience failed / passed on behalf of the bearer by one point may / must be squearolled.
  • Larger Stock or Bayonet etc.  /  Smaller Stock or Rounded Casing
Each one-point melee miss / hit by the bearer may / must be squearolled.

It's simple and quick once you get the hang of it, and it's WYSIWIG with miniatures. The squearoll idea has a lot of potential uses, maybe for a large part of a given system. It's one way to get a larger range of results without using a larger die size or rewriting stats.


SinSynn said...

Clever idea, fer sure...
And now I get TWO chances to fail.

Other than that, 40k is already about rolling buckets o' dice, and the rules, as is, are convoluted enough. What you're proposing is a fun idea, but this idea would complicate the already over-complicated shooting phase.
Who has which weapon?
How many 'mods' can a squad buy?
Some of those 'mods' could turn out to be OP. This IS GW we're talkin' 'bout, after all.

With the rumors of a 7th Edition rapidly approaching, one can only hope that they'll clean it up. A new Edition might very well make or break the game...

Now, see...if you applied these kinda fun buffs to Infinity Weaponry...Well, now yer talkin.'

Porky said...

This isn't writing rules for GW, which is also why it's generalised beyond 40K. It's just a relatively universal suggestion for people to follow up and experiment with if they want to represent those small sculpted differences, or the possible variety in a given game world, but without the effect being too pronounced. The squearoll for a given attribute is made only on a single result on the range. In 40K, that's usually only a 1 in 6 chance, and the reroll is always a simple 50-50.

The fact it's a suggestion and aims at being more universal is also why the section on introducing it is so vague and focuses on agreement rather than permitted access and points, not assuming much about the given system or scenario. For wargaming with miniatures, like 40K, if you have models with variants and the features are clear, there's not too much to remember. Adding an extra layer of rules does suggest a reduction in complexity elsewhere, for example in force size, or a consequence in the form of longer game length. That makes it better suited to one or more of skirmish-sized, points-free, GMed or less competitive games.

Bearing that in mind, in a 40K context it could work more comfortably in approaches like Necromunda or Gorkamorka, and for the more mainstream contemporary game also combat patrol, Killzone or Kill Team, especially with members of more individualised unit types, like veterans or honour guard. Again, this assumes the players are happy with a little less balance based largely on who has what specific miniature.

The Happy Whisk said...

Hi Porky. Long time no talk. Hope all is well on your end.

Cheers and boogie boogie.

garrisonjames said...

This would work well in Rogue Space.
I'd like to adopt it for use as a 'house rule' in Bujilli, if that's okay.

Porky said...

@ The Happy Whisk - All's well, but I could do with an extra couple of hours most days. I hope you're managing time better there. There's been a lot of cooking going on regardless, and some minor experimenting, including stir fry with fresh fruit and yoghurt and spring sauces based on very lightly stewed onions, all going down well. It's warming up and the local fruit and veg are on the move again. Always good times.

@ garrisonjames - It would be much more than okay: it's there to be used and it makes me happy to know you might, and for Bujilli no less. The Wermspittle connection with the subtle nature of the setting makes me think it could work well with the d20 to represent slightly keener or clumsier weaponry, or to reflect minor differences between finely differing regional origins. It could also work for those occasions when a weapon is actively working to guide or turn a strike...