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Guns In The MHI RPG


Steve Long
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Something came up recently in a comment on the Kickstarter page that I though was worth sharing here.

 

One of the Kickstarter’s backers, Brian Smith, asked a question that I’m sure has occurred to more than one MHI fan who’s been following the project:

 

I’m curious how you are going to handle the weapon statistics. For example, I might decide to equip a character with an FAL, M14, or G3. These rifles are very similar for all practical purposes. They are all 7.62x51 battle rifles with 20 round magazines and nearly identical ballistic performance. How will you differentiate them so that players will have a reason to pick one over the other? I’d hate to see a generic “assault rifle” or “battle rifle” on the equipment list. The detailed gun stuff is part of what makes the MHI books great.

 

And here’s how I responded:

 

Brian -- we’ve already published extensive lists of guns for the HERO System, which I’ll be taking some guns from, and then adding to them any guns specifically mentioned in the MHI novels. So there definitely isn’t going to be anything like “Generic Assault Rifle” or the like anywhere in the book, I promise. ;)

 

That being said — even in a system as detailed as the HERO System, there’s only so much game information that can be provided for any gun without descending into ridiculous levels of complexity. It’s certainly possible to get that complex with HERO if you want, but for the average gamer — not to mention the average MHI fan who may be new to gaming — that much information, and that many rules, are simply counterproductive.

 

For example, looking at the “Modern Assault Rifles” table in The HERO System Equipment Guide, I can see that the FAL, G3, and M14 are all listed individually. However, the FAL and M14 are virtually identical -- based on my research and the information available to me when I wrote that the HSEG, there weren’t too many legitimate game-based ways to differentiate them. The G3 is a little different, but that’s all.

 

I absolutely agree that the detailed gun stuff in the MHI novels is one of the things that makes them so much fun to read! However, for dramatic purposes — or for game play purposes — all those details are generally cosmetic. They’re cool window dressing, but they don’t affect the outcome of the story in most cases. Whether Owen shoots a zombie with an FAL, a G3, or an M14, the zombie’s going to get hurt the same way and the effects on the story are going to be the same.

 

That’s the sort of “dramatic realism” we strive to simulate with the HERO System. If there’s a significant difference between things that can affect what happens in the story, we have a rule to represent that somewhere. If there is no significant difference for dramatic/game play purposes, then that’s not something we’re likely to go into in the basic rules. But if you want to add more details and rules in than the average player, there are ways to handle that, too. :)

 

All that said -- we are, of course, both willing and happy to hear from MHI fans about what they want to see in the MHIEHRPG, gun-wise or other-wise. ;)

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Re: Guns In The MHI RPG

 

FWIW there isn't that much actual performance difference between various and sundry firearms that shoot a given round. For example, think of the thousands of different firearms that shoot the .357 magnum round. The guns may have cosmetic, functional, quality, and an infinite number of other things to differentiate them, but in the end the bullet coming out of the muzzle is still the same caliber and within a small range of variables will perform approximately the same as the round fired out of any other firearm. Now you could give the real low-budget gun a - OCV, and an activation roll, while giving the custom Binford 8000 bonuses, in the end the terminal ballistics are going to be roughly equivalent.

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Generally, your real big differences are going to be ergonomics (some guns DO require a bigger frame of person to wield and smaller shooters should take a penalty, for example) or maintenance (certain irons are less reliable and break more frequently, some use commonly available parts while others are harder to get spares for, etc.).

 

So, differentiating within a "caliber/barrel length" combo by abilities, bonuses or penalties sounds only reasonable. :)

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SW -- I agree. :)

 

DB -- the HERO System already has that covered. ;) Every weapon has a "Strength Minimum" required to wield it effectively. Characters with lower STR can still use the weapon, but suffer penalties; in the case of melee weapons, characters with STRs higher than the Minimum sometimes do more damage. So I think that covers the point you raise pretty effectively.

 

Thanx for the input, folx!

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For example, on an online forum RPG I'm on, I write a character who carries what was once J. Edgar Hoover's personal Tommy gun... the TSMG itself I'd say should have a penalty for being difficult to repair or get parts for anytime after about the 1950s or 60s (even though the FBI did buy one last batch in '86 just before the line closed), and the Hoover Thompson specifically might get an individual bonus for psychological effects (whether fear in targets, morale in shooter or both) from its history, but a penalty for "Irreplaceable" and "Priceless Historical Artifact". Basically, sounds like ya got it covered.

 

OT: My background is mainly D6 and D20, what's the learning curve going to be like?

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OT: My background is mainly D6 and D20, what's the learning curve going to be like?

 

There'll be a bit of a learning curve, but it's not a particularly steep one.

 

I'm not familiar with D6, but the big difference between the HERO System and D20 is that for skill and attack rolls, instead of rolling one die and looking for a high number, you're rolling 3d6 and looking to roll low. The 1d20 is a "linear" mechanic, where you have an equal chance to roll a 1 or a 20 (5%). The 3d6 is a "bell curve" mechanic, where you're more likely to roll numbers in the 10-12 range than on the lower or upper ends. This tends to improve the characters' odds slightly, and actually makes it easier to predict success or failure once you get used to it. OTOH, it also means that bonuses or penalties have a stronger effect a lot of the time -- it depends on where you are on the curve in terms of your initial roll. If you want to see the actual math I can send you some tables from the full 6th Edition rulebook. ;)

 

In terms of character design, the main difference between the HERO System and other systems is that you have the ability to create any ability, weapon, gadget, or what have you for your character. In most games, during character creation you're essentially just picking from a list of abilities. In the case of D20 it's an enormous list, spread over many books, but it's still just a list. In the HERO System, you get all the "building blocks" you need to create anything, and you can put them together to create whatever you want. This takes a little learning, of course (and we have plenty of pre-built resources if you prefer not to bother), but once you get used to it the flexibility and creativity of it will knock your socks off. ;)

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To expand slightly on what Steve wrote, skills are expressed as {number or less}, e.g. 11- is read as {11 or less} which is the standard even odds skill roll. So whatever your skill roll is on your sheet is the number you want to roll on 3d6 or less. There are a metric ton of modifiers that can be applied based on anything you want to name, most importantly GM mood. As a general rule of thumb a 14- is very good, an 8- is pretty bad. Once you get over 14 and under 8 you're really out at the fringes of probability.

 

Basic skill checks are pretty easy, it's when you get into powers and creating stuff from scratch that things get really ....... interesting.

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it's when you get into powers and creating stuff from scratch that things get really ....... interesting.

 

Yes, that's definitely a steeper part of the learning curve than just using the Characteristics and Skills. Fortunately, for most MHI RPG players it really won't be much of a consideration. Aside from a character who uses magic, there will be little or no need for MHI RPG character to custom-build powers and abilities. Even then, I expect you'll be able to play a magic-using character with just the pre-built spells in the book, so you don't have to learn advanced powers stuff unless you want to.

 

There might be more interest on the part of some players in designing their own equipment and weapons to supplement what will appear in the book, but that's a much easier thing to learn than power creation as a whole.

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I don't know that I agree a bullet is a bullet and a gun is a gun. Things like barrel length and machining tolerances make a significant difference to the projectile velocity and accuracy, especially at greater distances. Even the bullet itself makes a difference.

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I don't know that I agree a bullet is a bullet and a gun is a gun. Things like barrel length and machining tolerances make a significant difference to the projectile velocity and accuracy' date=' especially at greater distances. Even the bullet itself makes a difference.[/quote']

 

IRL, all true. But how much RL difference is necessary to see a significant difference at the statistical scale of a game?

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I don't know that I agree a bullet is a bullet and a gun is a gun. Things like barrel length and machining tolerances make a significant difference to the projectile velocity and accuracy, especially at greater distances. Even the bullet itself makes a difference.

 

I absolutely agree. But in game terms, a system that's sufficiently detailed and "granular" to take all of this into account would likely be verrrrry slow in play. The HERO System is complex enough to allow you to factor in some of these details without really bogging down play -- which I think is the best middle ground. ;)

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Re: Guns In The MHI RPG

 

I started a thread in the Dark Champions Forum on increasing ammo consumption rates:

What got me thinking about this was reading the Monster Hunter International series' date=' where "empty the magazine, drop that gun, grab a different gun" is a pretty standard Full Phase action. Steve is probably addressing this in the RPG, but I'm impatient. ;)[/quote']

So out of curiosity, which if any of the "Storm Of Lead" options from DC or other similar rules are you including in MHI RPG? Are they presented as options or as standard setting rules?

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IRL' date=' all true. But how much RL difference is necessary to see a significant difference at the statistical scale of a game?[/quote']

 

When you are talking distance with a rifle, the difference between hitting with an AK47 and Dragunov would be significant with the same round. I'm not saying every rifle is significantly different in accuracy than every others, but they do need to be classed a little finer than rifle, 5.56mm. There is a reason people pay $5,000 for a rifle - there eeds to be a reason in the game as well.

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So out of curiosity, which if any of the "Storm Of Lead" options from DC or other similar rules are you including in MHI RPG? Are they presented as options or as standard setting rules?

 

I haven't made the final decision on that, but the odds are at least one or two of them will be included in some capacity.

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There is a reason people pay $5000 for a rifle instead of $500 IRL - there needs to be a reason in game as well. They talk about this a lot in the books - MHI members have their own personnal weapons, many of which represent a substantial outlay of their personal investments.

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When you are talking distance with a rifle' date=' the difference between hitting with an AK47 and Dragunov would be significant with the same round. I'm not saying every rifle is significantly different in accuracy than every others, but they do need to be classed a little finer than rifle, 5.56mm. There is a reason people pay $5,000 for a rifle - there eeds to be a reason in the game as well.[/quote']

 

The AK-47 and Dragunov do not fire the same round. The AK fires the intermediate 7.62x39mm, while the SVD fires the full power 7.62x54mm round. Additionally the AK has a much shorter barrel 16" vs 24" among the more obvious differences.

 

HERO already covers this stuff pretty well. There is not much difference between two similar guns (even Phoenix Command didn't show significant changes between very similar weapons) but there is some variation by caliber and purpose. So no worry that an M16 and an M24 sniper rifle look identical, they are not in real life and the game does show a difference.

 

As far as high end versions of the same weapon, like a custom built M4 carbine with all the bells and whistles, the game does provide options for doing that.

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With licensed properties there are always going to be differences when converting to any system, even one as flexible as HERO (or any other effects-based system). The guns in MHI represent more of a character signature than anything, i.e. Franks = Glock, Z = Abominator, etc. The designer, ALL PRAISE STEVE, ahem..., has to reach that happy balance between the game and the source. One of the big misconceptions is that playing an RPG is like "writing a novel as you go". They are close but in the book did it really matter if Z wasted someone with the 40mm grenade launcher or silver buckshot? Not really. It was how the weapon was used that made you go "yes - take that silver bayonet you black-hearted hellspawn":)

 

I want a playable game, which I think I'll get, not gun porn.

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