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Ragitsu

How do you utilize enemy NPC snipers in your games?

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swat_team_sniper___original_by_angelfire

 

I have seen snipers used in one of a few ways.

 

1. A fully faceless threat to show that a territory is dangerous and that the party ought to "snap to". This typically happens by having a neutral/friendly NPC in the PCs' vicinity getting their melon exploded. Afterwards, the PCs head into a building/underground/vehicle/etc and don't encounter a sniper again.

 

2. An obstacle not unlike a diabolical trap in a dungeon. The PCs must confront them, outmaneuvering through sheer wits and courage. The enemy sniper is not necessarily killed.

 

3. An often unknown foe for the party's resident sniper/marksman to take on during their time in the limelight.

 

4. A named/known NPC the PCs have either run into the past or know of well that serves up a challenging fight. The NPC in question is either the second-in-command to the head bad guy or the head bad guy themselves.

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We've rarely even done #1 as, for the most part, some of the players in our group usually don't form any attachments with the NPCs.  And, if you were to use one of the NPCs they do care about as the "warning shot", all hell would break loose.

 

So, basically, we've only encountered an enemy sniper when we can use #3.

 

Otherwise, the GM just thinks it's way too unfair to use a sniper against us.   Not sure if he's doing it because he really thinks that, or just doesn't think the players can handle the stress/etc of dealing with an enemy sniper "in the wild".

 

I mean, I'm sitting here thinking of all the times we've played and he could have put us against a sniper and, most of those times, would result in the sure fire one shot, one kill of a party member.  Be it a PC or NPC.

 

Now I'm thinking of ways we probably could have handled it, even without a sniper of our own, but I'm not sure how the players themselves would have dealt with that initial death.

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I mean, I'm sitting here thinking of all the times we've played and he could have put us against a sniper and, most of those times, would result in the sure fire one shot, one kill of a party member.  Be it a PC or NPC.

 

Now I'm thinking of ways we probably could have handled it, even without a sniper of our own, but I'm not sure how the players themselves would have dealt with that initial death.

 

Even in more cinematic systems, some random schmoe in the treeline with a basic Parker-Hale rifle is tremendously scary.

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We've rarely even done #1 as, for the most part, some of the players in our group usually don't form any attachments with the NPCs.  And, if you were to use one of the NPCs they do care about as the "warning shot", all hell would break loose.

 

 

 

I think the idea wasn't that there was a strong connection to the NPC, but rather it was a canary in a coal mine. It provides a clear indication that there is danger and you need to consider changing your environment.

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Having been a Shadowrun player, they often get played as 'all four' - the target (usually) isn't a player character, but often their boss or an NPC negotiator who is the target.  What I've had some success with is rolling the dice - sure, in secret - for both sides, because at a meet, characters are ALWAYS tense, and often wind up with the target not dead, because why lose eight points looking for a head-shot if you don't have to?  it provides a heads-up, makes the players go after him, and sometimes is a link to who might want the original target gone.

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I think the use of snipers in an RPG setting as a regular thing runs the risk of bringing in too much 'reality'.  Next to IED's and suicide bombers they are probably the most dangerous part of being a soldier in a modern asymmetric battlefield (ex: Iraq, Afghanistan).  Their use vs. PC's should be limited to about the same number of times the PC's get captured (another situation that most Players hate dealing with in RPGs).

 

I recently worked on building a very detailed model of Keanu Reeves character from the 2014 movie John Wick.  Late in the movie he obtains a modern sniper rifle from a guard and uses it vs. the other guards on sentry duty.  I built the sniper rifle using the current Hero System Equipment Guide as well as the 5e Dark Champions rules.  It is an extremely effective weapon.

 

[5]    DTA Stealth Recon Scout (338 LM):    (Total: 141 Active Cost, 39 Real Cost) RKA 3d6-1, +1 Increased STUN Multiplier (+1/4), Increased Maximum Range (1,600m; +1/2) (70 Active Points); OAF (SRS-338 LM sniper rifle; -1), STR Minimum 13 (STR Min. Cannot Add/Subtract Damage; -1), Required Hands Two-Handed (Bolt Action; -1/2), Beam (-1/4), 4 clips of 5 Charges (.338 Lapua Magnum round; -1/4), Real Weapon (-1/4) (Real Cost: 16) plus +1 OCV with SRS-338 LM (2 Active Points); OAF (-1), Real Weapon (-1/4) (Real Cost: 1) plus +3 to offset Range modifiers with SRS-338 LM (3 Active Points); OAF (-1), Real Weapon (-1/4) (Real Cost: 1) plus +1  PER with Sight Group (2 Active Points); Limited Power  Only vs. Darkness Penalties (-1), OAF ( x10 Telescopic Sight; -1), Limited Power Only When Shooter Braces And/Or Sets (-1), Real Weapon (-1/4*) (Real Cost: 1) plus +14 versus Range Modifier for Sight Group (21 Active Points); OAF (x10 Telescopic Sight; -1), Limited Power Only When Shooter Braces And/Or Sets (-1), Real Weapon (-1/4*) (Real Cost: 6) plus +14 to offset Range modifier with SRS-338 LM (14 Active Points); Limited Power Only When Shooter Braces And/Or Sets (-1), OAF (x10 Telescopic Sight; -1), Real Weapon (-1/4) (Real Cost: 4) plus Invisible Power Effects (Invisible to Normal Sight; +1/4) for up to 70 Active Points of SRS-338 LM, Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) (25 Active Points); OAF (Flash Suppressor; -1), Limited Power  Only vs. Muzzle Flash (-1), Real Weapon (-1/4*) (Real Cost: 8) plus +1 OCV with SRS-338 LM (2 Active Points); OAF (Folding Bipod; -1), Limited Power Only When Shooter Sets With Bipod (-1), Real Weapon (-1/4) (Real Cost: 1) plus +2 to offset Range modifier with SRS-338 LM (2 Active Points); Limited Power Only When Shooter Braces With Bipod (-1), OAF (Folding Bipod; -1), Real Weapon (-1/4) (Real Cost: 1)

(Obtained from target)

When used with the Set & Brace maneuvers the combined total bonuses = +3 OCV and +21 vs. Range.  The default Range Modifier @ 2000m = -16.  The weapon's maximum range = 1600m.  The rules for this range do not take into account other extreme ballistic factors like air friction, weather, gravity and spin of the Earth.

http://www.imfdb.org...px-DTA_SRSB.jpg

http://www.imfdb.org...hnWickDTA-3.jpg

 

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I think the use of snipers in an RPG setting as a regular thing runs the risk of bringing in too much 'reality'.  Next to IED's and suicide bombers they are probably the most dangerous part of being a soldier in a modern asymmetric battlefield (ex: Iraq, Afghanistan).  Their use vs. PC's should be limited to about the same number of times the PC's get captured (another situation that most Players hate dealing with in RPGs).

 

I can't speak to IEDs specifically, but explosives are another one of those very volatile (no pun intended) tools for the GM to use. Again, the number four rears it's head.

 

1. The explosive does no damage at all: at least one PC disarms it or a PC/PCs manage to get away before the explosive, well, explodes.

 

2. The explosive goes off and does scratch damage to at least one PC (a "Hollywood Explosion"). At worst, some clothing/hair is singed and hearing is temporarily lost.

 

3. The explosive does injure at least one PC enough to put them on the sideline, but does no lasting damage.

 

4. The explosive kills at least one PC and/or NPC. The latter happens for the same reason a sniper offs an NPC: to show that the lethality of the campaign is present (be it superficial or genuine). The former happens when a PC badly screws up (Critical Failure ahoy!), badly pisses off the GM, or pulls off a heroic sacrifice.

 

Very rarely does an explosive go off and permanently cripple a PC. Nothing is sure to derail a campaign like an infiltrator with a missing leg or a faceman without a face.

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Sorry it took me so long to reply . . . 

 

Even in more cinematic systems, some random schmoe in the treeline with a basic Parker-Hale rifle is tremendously scary.

 

Exactly.  Scary and deadly.  And it's all well and good when that scariness and deadliness is on your side but an entirely different story when it's on the other sides.

 

Like I said, with the 202/20 of hindsight, I can look back on the scenarios and see how we could've handled them but I know for a fact that the players of the time wouldn't have been able to deal with the outright death of an NPC (our GM isn't cruel enough to take one of the PCs out like that) with absolutely no way of stopping it.

 

I think the idea wasn't that there was a strong connection to the NPC, but rather it was a canary in a coal mine. It provides a clear indication that there is danger and you need to consider changing your environment.

 

::nods:: I've got ya but the NPCs we usually cart around are all "part of the gang", so to speak.  So that's not really an option.

 

But, I do get where you're coming from.

 

 

No one else uses snipers? That strikes me as a little peculiar :shock: .

 

Like I said, we use snipers.  We just, normally, don't have them used against us.

 

At least not in that way . . . 

 

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Like any other combat threat, it comes down to two questions:

  1. How effective/lethal are they against the PCs?
  2. How effectively can the PCs respond against them?

In Real Life, the whole point of a good sniper is to maximize 1 while minimizing 2; but that doesn't make for a great RPG experience. So if the PCs take a shot or two (a decent wound, or even a near miss) and then can retaliate at range, no problem. But if heads start exploding, and all the PCs can do is run for cover...well, you may get points for realism, but I'm not sure I wanna play that game.

 

But then I don't play a lot of straight-up Dark Champs, so I may not be the best person to ask. :)

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I have used Snipers on occasion, however I usually use one (or more) of the following caveats:

 

1) The PC's should KNOW to expect sniper (ie: the enemy has a rep for using this tactic)

2) Shoot an NPC first (not a DNPC)

3) The first shot narrowly misses (or some shmuck stepped into LoF at just the wrong time)

4) The PC spots the glint off the scope/laser-dot/whatever just in time.

 

That said, I once to out a LOT of innocent civilians with a teleporting Sniper while the PC's tried to get him... nastiest combat I ever

ran, and the players really chewed me with "how the <bleep> were we supposed to stop this guy?". From a fun persepctive, I would say use Snipers and Suicide Bombers rarely and carefully....

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Depending on quite how dark your Champions, the sniper doesn't have to miss with their first shot. Getting the casualty stabilised without exposing yourself to followup rounds is a challenge for someone while the others hunt down the shooter. Sucks to be the casualty, perhaps, but, again depending, doesn't have to suck for too long.

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Snipe one PC ... not to kill ... but to wound.  This will slow or tie up that PC (at a minimum) ... and if the wound is substantial enough, could keep one or two more PC's occupied (in defending/protecting, stabilizing, and/or relocating the victim).

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Snipe one PC ... not to kill ... but to wound.  This will slow or tie up that PC (at a minimum) ... and if the wound is substantial enough, could keep one or two more PC's occupied (in defending/protecting, stabilizing, and/or relocating the victim).

It's my understanding that this is a frequent tactic used when a specific target isn't sought.  Kill a man, and you've removed him from the fight.  Wound him, and you've taken him and two or three of his buddies out of the fight as they seek to protect and stabilize him.

 

EDIT: Not to mention trying to get him to safety, which draws others out from cover and into the snipers scope.  Plenty of examples of this in movies like Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket.

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Having been a Shadowrun player, they often get played as 'all four' - the target (usually) isn't a player character, but often their boss or an NPC negotiator who is the target.  What I've had some success with is rolling the dice - sure, in secret - for both sides, because at a meet, characters are ALWAYS tense, and often wind up with the target not dead, because why lose eight points looking for a head-shot if you don't have to?  it provides a heads-up, makes the players go after him, and sometimes is a link to who might want the original target gone.

 

Out of combat, Head Shots are half modifier (ie a Head shot is -4) also the Target is DCV 0 and takes double Stun. Which makes a Sniper very devastating.

 

I have played Snipers, but have never run a scenario with one as opposition. Probably because my Modern Games tend to be Urban Fantasy and not more Military in feel.

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I have played Snipers, but have never run a scenario with one as opposition. Probably because my Modern Games tend to be Urban Fantasy and not more Military in feel.

 

No elves with bows (compound bows or au natural) in your urban fantasy?

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No my "elves" are Faerie lords and ladies. Beings who used to be worshipped as gods.

And are habitually referred to as "Fair folk" because if they happen to hear you being at all derogatory, they'll claw your face off and curse your children to be baboons.

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