Monday, September 19, 2016

New Styles: Military Tactics

As noted before, the purpose of designing martial arts is not just to create a style for someone to use in combat, but also to provide interesting tactics that unimportant NPCs can use: You just grab a few of the "signature moves" and slot them into the right NPC.  This is especially true of military tactics, as characters are less likely to see military training with a blaster as "a martial art."

Nonetheless, I plan on including a "Martial Artist!" powerset, which will allow character to focus even more intently on their training, and at least two of the styles below (Elite Gunner Training and Sniper) both suit that sort of player.  Style familiarity works differently for ranged combat styles, and this difference is defined in both Gun-Fu and Tactical shooting. I highly recommend both.

Note that despite the description above, this does post deals exclusively with ranged combat.  I expect soldiers may well learn some armed and unarmed styles as well. Those I've saved for a later post.


New Rule considerations



In examining these styles, I've noticed that I had neglected details on ranged combat in my combat cheat sheet.  Tactical Shooting is to gun-combat what Martial Arts is to ranged combat, and thus is certainly worth a look.  However, we don't want to make things too complicated.  I did find the following useful:
"I can't see anything with the blast shield down" - Luke Skywalker, a New Hope
Helmets: Tactical Shooting applies penalties to sighted shots if firing in any kind of mask.  While I can see no explicit rule covering this for helmets, I've decided to apply it to helmets with masks.  While not strictly necessary, I have hunted around for further helmet rules: Low-Tech applies No Peripheral Vision (B151) and Hard of Hearing (B138).  Ultra-Tech doesn't specify these rules, but they probably assume a full-face visor and a sensor suite.  However, Star Wars is full of characters showing their face and complaining about stifling stormtrooper helmets are, and a problem with masked shooting fits the stormtrooper accuracy problem.  Finally, strikes to the face seem very common in the martial arts I have devised (and in Star Wars itself), meaning only a fool would go without some kind of armor on his face.  All together, this creates a situation where people might be willing to go without a masked helmet, and those who choose to use one both benefit (from armor) but suffer (accuracy and sensory issues)
  • Apply the Masked Shooting rules (-4 to sighted/aimed shots while wearing a mask)
  • Unless noted otherwise, masked helmets apply Hard of Hearing and No Peripheral Vision.

Cool Under Fire (Tactical Shooting 34): Personally, I like mechanics that force characters under suppression fire to remain hiding in cover, as opposed to stepping out into a hail of fire saying "It's only going to hit on a 7 or less!".  Let's simplify these rules, though, and only apply them to NPCs:
  • Non-named NPCs or named characters without Combat Reflexes who come under suppressive fire or suffer a near miss (margin of 2 or less) must make a fright check (using the usual modifiers, including the +5 for combat). If they fail the fright check, they must immediately seek cover (dodge and drop, or dive for cover) and they're Mentally Stunned.  Don't bother with the fright tables.
Immediate Action (Tactical Shooting 17): GURPS Action suggests that firearms should never critically fail, but Action is  game that lives and breathes with firearms.  Psi-Wars relies more heavily on melee weaponry, so failing guns are alright.  We'll use a simplified version of Immediate Action.
  • On a critical failure with a firearm, you may make an Immediate Action to attempt to clear the stoppage (fix the wiring, whatever).  Make a single Ready action and roll Armoury (Small Arms) -4 or an IQ-based blaster roll (also -4).  Success means you can continue firing.  Failure means something much worse is wrong, and the weapon needs a thorough cleaning/fixing that will take a proper shop and several minutes.
  • Gatling weapons (like the gatling blaster) must verify a critical failure with a second critical failure.
Tracer Rouds: 
  • For the purposes of any rule you wish to use that discusses tracer rounds, blaster shots always count as tracer rounds.

Tactical Shooting Sighting Rules:
  • Unsighted: May make an Attack or Move and Attack. +1 on Cascading Waits and Fast-Draw.
  • Sighted: May make All-Out Attack (Determined). -4 if wearing a mask.
  • Aimed: As sighted, but with the Aim bonus. -4 if wearing a mask. Gain half accuracy bonus on subsequent turns if the weapon is braced.
Stances (It takes a ready maneuver to shift grips (one-handed to two-handed or back):

  • One Handed Pistols: Default
  • Hip Shot, Pistol: +2 to Fast-Draw and Cascading Waits, may use Close-Hip Shooting, may not make sighted or aimed attacks.
  • Two-Handed, Pistol: Reduce Bulk by 1, gun counts as braced.
  • Shoulder Shot, Rifle: Default
  • Hip Shot, Rifle, Gunner: +1 to fast-draw, or cascading waits, may use Close-Hip Shooting, may not make sighted or aimed attacks.
  • One-Handed Shot, Rifle: Weapon becomes Unready after one turn of firing.
Altered Weapons
  • Blaster Gatling: Uses Gunner (Beams)
  • Fusion Gun: Uses Gunner (Beams)
  • Blaster Rifle: Is added as a standard weapon.

Perks and Weapon Considerations

The weapons of Psi-Wars differ substantially from those of the real world.  Plasma weapons have no real comparison in the real world, and blasters are much lighter than firearms, and you often see characters wielding a blaster carbine with one hand.  Furthermore, Tactical Shooting and Gun Fu have numerous Perk suggestions that we can fold in with some modifications or simplifications:
  • Barricade Tactics: Rather than deal with complex cover rules, partial cover is worth -3 for people trying to shoot you, rather than -2.
  • Carbine Cowboy: You may ignore the two-handed tag for any beam weapon noted as a "carbine," and treat it as a pistol, if you wish (including pistol grips).
  • Cinematic Knockback (Explosive): Rather than allow the target to roll Dodge for cinematic explosions, the attacker may elect to automatically inflict knockback only, but double the knockback.
  • Dead-Eye: Rather than deal with Precision Aiming, add allow a character to aim for a 5th turn for an additional +1 (making the maximum accuracy bonus equal to Accuracy + 4).
  • Muzzle Flamethrower (Plasma): Add +1 per die if within one yard of your target, +2 to intimidation rolls while firing a plasma weapon, and you're at +3 visibility in darkness.
  • Plasma Breaker: You may learn Breaking Blow (Plasma), which can only be applied to vehicles and structures, and increases the armor divisor to 10!
  • Recoil Rocket (Plasma)
  • Standard Operating Procedure (Cleaning Bug): Reroll your first critical failure in a fight with your preferred weapon.

Infantry Tactics

The following martial art represents how soldiers might be trained for combat with blasters.  This is a style better for choosing techniques and perks for soldiers than it really is as a proper style, and it lists some signature moves, which you can pillage to build your own combat tactics for simple, rifle-bearing mooks.

Skills: Beam Weapons (Rifle)
Techniques: Close-Quarters Battle (Rifle), Fast-Firing (Rifle), Immediate Action (Rifle), Retain Weapon (Rifle)
Perks: Armourer’s Gift, Barricade Tactics, Battle Drills, Cool Under Fire, Lightning Fingers, Motorized Training, Standard Operating Procedure (Cleaning Bug, Move Under Cover, On Alert), Tap-Rack-Bang.
Optional Traits: Acute Vision, Combat Reflexes, Fearlessness,
Optional Skills: Guns (Grenade Launcher), Savoir-Faire (Military), Soldier, Spear, Staff, Throwing

Signature Moves

Suppressive Fire: While firing from the hip, move up to half or your movement and make an unsighted All-Out Attack (Suppression fire) using Fast-Firing (-4 or -2) for RoF 5. Roll Beam Weapons (Rifle) with the applied penalty, to a maximum of 7. Your recoil is 2. Anyone under the suppression zone can be hit (to a maximum of 5 targets) and must make a Will or Will-based Soldier roll (Add Fearlessness as a bonus, +2 from Combat Reflexes, and characters with Unfazeable automatically succeed) to expose themselves to the suppressive fire zone. Successful hits strike a random hit location and deal 5d(5) burn You may not defend. Gain +2 to Fast-Draw or to act first during a cascading wait.

Combat Assault: While firing from the shoulder, make a Move and Attack. Move up to your full movement and roll Close-Quarter Battle-3 (or -0), using full RoF 3. Successful hits strike a random hit location and deal deal 5d(5) burn. You may dodge, but you may not retreat or drop.

Fire From Cover: Momentarily come up out of cover (Pop-up fire, -2 or -0) and, while shoulder firing, make a sighted (-4 if masked) All-Out (Determined, +1) attack at the torso of your opponent using full RoF 3, and then return to full cover. Roll Beam Weapons (Rifle)-1 (or+1). Hits deal 5d(5) burn. You may not defend.

Focus Fire: While braced either in a prone position or with your weapon resting on cover, make an aimed attack at a target’s torso (this is sighted, so -4 in a mask). Roll Beam Weapons (Rifle)+11. Characters with the follow-up fire perk may add +5 to subsequent shots on the same target without aiming. You may defend normally, but doing so ruins your aim or follow-up shots. You are -2 to hit with ranged fire if prone or behind cover (-3 if behind cover with Barricade Tactics). Setup: You aimed a braced weapon.

Immediate Action: If you critically failed a roll, your blaster carbine might be jammed. Roll Armoury (Small Arms), IQ-based Soldier, or IQ-based Beam Weapons (Rifle) at -4 to clear the jam. If you fail, it’s worse than a jam and won’t fire again without being dismantled and rebuilt. Tap-Rack-Bang make this a free action. Setup: Your weapon is jammed.

Situational Awareness: Make a Concentrate maneuver and make a Perception roll (+2 if you have Combat Reflexes, plus additional modifiers as deemed appropriate by the GM). You can attempt to spot hidden opponents, or sudden changes in the battlefield.

Butt-Strike: Make an All-Out Attack (Determined+4) and roll Staff, Spear or DX-4 to attack your opponent’s face (-5). Success deals thr+2 crushing damage. Any shock causes a HT roll or stunning.

Sniper Tactics

Derived from Gun-Fu's sniper, this has been modified to accommodate beam weapons and Psi-Wars elements.  While this works fine for creating interesting tactics for snipers and providing an array of interesting perks and techniques for snipers, it works well if taken as a style when someone chooses to take the Martial Artist power-up package.

Skills: Beam Weapons (Rifle), Camouflage, Observation, Stealth
Techniques: Masked Shooting (Rifle), Quick Shot (Rifle), Targeted Attack (Beam Weapons (Rifle)/Skull or Vitals)
Cinematic Skills: Breaking Blow (Beam Weapons), Zen Marksmanship (Beam Weapons)
Perks: Cinematic Knockback, Cool Under Fire, Dead Eye, Gun Schtick (Next Time Its Your Head or Stone Cold Killer), Gun Whisperer (Rifle), Intuitive Armor (Rifle),Trademark Move, Weapon Bond.

Optional Secondary Traits: Improved Per
Optional Advantages: Acute Vision, Danger Sense, Gunslinger, Night Vision
Optional Skills: Armoury (Small Arms), Breath Control, Connoissuer (Guns), Savoir-Faire (Military), Soldier
Optional Perks: Armorer's Gift (Rifle)

Signature Moves

One Shot One Kill: While prone or braced behind cover, make an All-Out Determined (+1), Aimed (-4 if masked) with a braced (+1) weapon against the target’s skull (-7). Roll Beam Weapons (Rifle) + Accuracy (10 for a blaster, 12 for an x-ray laser, +scope bonuses, +3 accuracy (+4 if you have dead-eye) -7. Success inflicts burn damage x 4 after DR. If you have Stone Cold Killer and you killed your target, make a free intimidation attempt. Future attacks on the same target have a bonus equal to half your previous accuracy bonus. Setup: You aimed for 5 turns.

Warning Shot: While prone or braced behind cover, make an All-Out Determined (+1), Aimed (-4 if masked) with a braced (+1) weapon against the target’s skull (-7). Roll Beam Weapons (Rifle) + Accuracy (10 for a blaster, 12 for an x-ray laser, +scope bonuses, +3 accuracy (+4 if you have dead-eye) -7. Instead of striking your target, you wing him. Roll Intimidation + 4. Future attacks on the same target have a bonus equal to half your previous accuracy bonus. Setup: You aimed for 5 turns.

Situational Awareness: Make a Concentrate maneuver and make a Perception roll (+2 if you have Combat Reflexes, plus additional modifiers as deemed appropriate by the GM). You can attempt to spot hidden opponents, or sudden changes in the battlefield.

Spotting: Make a Concentrate maneuver and make an Observation roll as a complementary roll to an ally’s aimed attack. If you had Dead Eye, you can pass that benefit on to an ally if your Observation roll is successful. Setup: You have an ally preparing to make an aimed shot.

Counter-Sniper: Make a Concentrate maneuver. To note the location from which the shot came, make a Hearing-4 or Per-Based Guns-4 roll (-5 for wearing a helmet, -1 to -10 for urban or mountainous terrain). Success tells you where the shot came from. To see the target, you must have been facing exactly the right directoin when he fired, or you must know the general location where the shots came from. Roll a contest of Vision or Observation, +4 if you actually saw the flash of the shot, vs the target’s Camouflage. Setup: Someone shot at you.

Elite Gunner

One-Man Army inspired this style, but saw substantial modifications to accommodate the alternate weapons of the setting.  This can serve as some tactics for enemy books, or a source of perks and techniques for heavy troopers, it works best as a style as a style choice for characters who take the Martial Artist power-up package, as it represents an extremely cinematic sort of character, and players may well cry foul if they end up facing mooks who are dual-wielding blaster gatlings!

Skills: Artillery (Guided Missile), Beam Weapons (Rifle), Gunner (Beam Weapons), Guns (Grenade Launcher), Throwing
Techniques: Fast-Firing (Rifle), Immediate Action (Any), Quick Shot (Rifle, Gunner or Grenade Launcher)
Cinematic Skills: Breaking Blow (Plasma)
Cinematic Techniques: Dual Weapon Attack (Gunner (Beams) or Beam Weapons (Rifle))
Perks: Armor’s Gift (Any), Army of One, Cinematic Knockback (Any), Flimsy Cover, Gun Shtick (Wall o’ Lead), Gun Whisper (Any), Hand Cannon, Off-Hand Weapon Training (Gunner or Beam Weapons (Rifle)), Plasma Breaker, Tacticool, Walking Armory

Optional Attributes: ST
Advantages: Danger Sense, Enhanced Dodge (Dive for Cover), Gunslinger, Night Vision
Optional Skills: Armoury (Small Arms), Connoisseur (Blasters), Expert Skill (Military Science), Explosives (Demolition), Intimidation, Savoir-Faire (Military), Soldier

Signature Moves

Suppression Fire: While firing a gatling blaster from the hip, remain stationary and make an unsighted All-Out Attack (Suppression fire) full RoF 12. Roll Gunner (Beam Weapons) with a maximum 8 to hit. Your recoil is 1. Anyone under the suppression zone can be hit (to a maximum of 12 targets) and must make a Will or Will-based Soldier roll (Add Fearlessness as a bonus, +2 from Combat Reflexes, and characters with Unfazeable automatically succeed) to expose themselves to the suppressive fire zone. Successful hits strike a random hit location and deal 7d(5) burn. You may not defend. Gain +2 to Fast-Draw or to act first during a cascading wait.

Wall of Fire: While firing a gatling blaster from the hip, remain stationary and make an unsighted attack at your opponents at full RoF 12. Make Gunner (Beams) roll+2. You may divide this fire among multiple opponents. Rather than harm opponents hit, make an Intimidation roll with +2 (at a penalty for the number of people intimidated; see the Intimidation skill). You may defend normally. This signature move requires the Wall of Fire perk.

Fire Support: While firing a blaster gatling mounted on a tripod, make a sighted, All-Out Attack (Determined) attack with full RoF 12 for a total of Gunner (Beams)+3 vs Aimed machine gun attacks while on a tripod. You may divide your fire among multiple opponents. You may not defend. Setup: Your blaster gatling is mounted on a tripod.

Plasma Avalanche: When firing a semi-automatic explosive weapon with an enormous store of ammunition, accuracy isn’t so important! While firing a plasma shotgun from the shoulder, make a sighted All-Out (Determined) (+1) Fast-Firing (-4 or -2) for a total RoF of 6 (+1). Roll Beam Weapons (Rifle) at -2 or +0. Your recoil is 3! You may spread your fire, and roll for scatter if you miss. You may not defend.

Double Trouble Plasma: Wield two plasma shotguns one-handed! While Hip-Shooting, take a step towards your opponent and make an unsighted Dual-Weapon Attack (-4). Roll two Beam Weapon (Rifle) attacks, both at -4 (or -8 for the off-hand). If you do not have Army of One, both your weapons become Unready. You may defend normally.
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