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Old 12-16-2021, 08:20 AM
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Default 4e Mechanics & Rules Discussion

Having gotten over my initial skepticism, and started to wrap my head around the 4e rules & mechanics, I am eager to give them a try.

Why is only one PC allowed to Keep Watch as an action during marches? Although I understand the intent to cut down on die rolls, this mechanic seems a bit odd. First off, the roll can't be pushed. Other PCs can't Help with the skill check either. And doesn't this mean that the PC with the highest Observation skill is pretty much stuck always assuming the role of keeping watch during patrols. It all seems a bit all-or-nothing for a task that, IRL, more or less every member of the team would be actively participating in whist moving through disputed and/or enemy-held territory. Is there something that I'm missing?

Also, why do MGs (but not SAWs) have a slower ROF than assault rifles? This also seems odd. MG ammo types have a higher damage per hit, but being able to roll more hits with an assault rifle negates this advantage, does it not? Again, is there something that I'm missing?

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https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...ula-Sourcebook
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Old 12-16-2021, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post

Why is only one PC allowed to Keep Watch as an action during marches? Although I understand the intent to cut down on die rolls, this mechanic seems a bit odd. First off, the roll can't be pushed. Other PCs can't Help with the skill check either. And doesn't this mean that the PC with the highest Observation skill is pretty much stuck always assuming the role of keeping watch during patrols. It all seems a bit all-or-nothing for a task that, IRL, more or less every member of the team would be actively participating in whist moving through disputed and/or enemy-held territory. Is there something that I'm missing?
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This tracks pretty closely with 2.2 rules:

Spotting and Surprise: When a group of
characters encounters a group of NPCs, each
group has a chance of spotting the other (Difficult:
Observation). Spotting a group moving
in vehicles is Average: Observation. Spotting
a stationary and camouflaged group is Difficult:
Observation. The roll is made only once
per group, using the highest Observation in
the group.
The asset level used is reduced by
one for each character in the group and by
five for each vehicle in the group. It is increased
by alike amount for numbers of characters
and vehicles in the group encountered.
However, the Observation asset used may
never be more than halved or doubled by
these modifications.

Observation: This column gives the Observation
value for the group. Not every character
in the group will be this good; instead, it
represents the best Observation available or
the Observation asset of the point man.

If you want to optimize a 2.2 party from a RAW mechanics POV, have one PC pour every available point into OBS during chargen. Have another pour every available point into Survival. These two skills control encounter ranges, the party's ability to avoid an encounter (which is critical if encounters are being generated randomly, RAW, and you roll a large or well equipped Patrol or Military Convoy) and food acquisition, which are base elements of gameplay.

Looking through FL's rules, that also seems to be a good base for an optimized 4e party as well.
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Old 12-16-2021, 02:00 PM
unipus unipus is offline
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Until either of those characters dies, then the whole party rapidly follows.

As for MGs - not looking at ROF specifically, but MGs in 4e are pretty weak using RAW. "More ammo" is essentially the one advantage they have, which has always felt wrong to me. I've played with house ruling it in a variety of ways (starting with reducing the default penalties for shooting them from -2/-3 to -1/-2, giving extra suppression dice chances, etc) but this supplement (yes, it's a bit overpriced for what it is, but full of good stuff) has an optional rule that has solved the issue for me, I think.

Essentially it includes a "recoil limit" for every weapon, which if you exceed (in ammo dice) from an unsupported position gives you a -1 penalty. That's it. Too simple? Maybe, but I think it works fine for what it is. The recoil limit is typically 3 or 4 for assault rifles, and 2 for 7.62 battle rifles and MGs. An MG's bipod removes that penalty whenever deployed, letting you go full cyclic. Of course any other weapon with a bipod gets the same bonus, but those aren't super common. You can also remove the penalty by bracing your rifle, but that takes an action (and somewhere you could realistically brace it).

It's a nice easy rule that gets the job done and has tactical implications.
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Old 12-17-2021, 09:57 AM
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Default Weapons & Vehicles

Thanks guys.

This is a minor quibble (and unrelated to my previous questions), but the Officer archetype lists starting weapons as an SMG or pistol, and presumes in the flavor text that the character is default American. However, there is no SMG listed under the US weapons in the rulebook, nor was any SMG standard issue in US Army regular(i.e. non-SOF) formations during the 1990s, IRL. The closest thing to a standard-issue SMG would be the M3 'Grease Gun' issued to AFV crews, but that was on its way out. Of course, one could use a foreign-made/issued SMG, but that seems like an arbitrary constraint that the other templates aren't bound by, so...

As a ref, I would house-rule this obvious error by allowing a US officer to take a carbine instead of an SMG. It was fairly common, in Vietnam at least, for officers to carry CAR-15s, and I've seen enough photos of officers in the 1980s and 1990s carrying M4s to justify it in the T2k '90s. I hope that if I ever play a US officer, the Ref will not hold my PC to the letter of the [rulebook] law for starting weaponry.

On a somewhat related note, I really like the weapon card illustrations in the 4e rulebook. The weapons and vehicles look more "alive" and worn than the line drawings of earlier editions. One thing that bugs me, though, is duplicate weapons. Why bother with separate weapons cards for the Minimi under US and Swedish weapons, and the RPK under Soviet and Polish weapons? The stats are identical. A simple table would have sufficed for duplicates. That would have created more room for "unique" weapons (e.g. L85) in that section of the rulebook. For example, instead of another card for the AT-4 under Swedish weapons, they could have included the BILL ATGM. Also, I'm really disappointed that the LAV-25 wasn't included as a vehicle card, especially given that one of the campaign settings (Sweden) prominently features a USMC unit. I mentioned this in feedback on the Alpha, but whatevs (at least they fixed the illustration for the PKM, which was originally portrayed as an RPK).

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Author of Twilight 2000 adventure module, Rook's Gambit, the campaign sourcebook, Korean Peninsula, and co-author of Tara Romaneasca, a campaign sourcebook for Romania, all available for purchase on DriveThruRPG:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...--Rooks-Gambit
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...ula-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...nia-Sourcebook

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Old 12-17-2021, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unipus View Post
As for MGs - not looking at ROF specifically, but MGs in 4e are pretty weak using RAW. "More ammo" is essentially the one advantage they have, which has always felt wrong to me. I've played with house ruling it in a variety of ways (starting with reducing the default penalties for shooting them from -2/-3 to -1/-2, giving extra suppression dice chances, etc)
Can you expound on which penalty/modifier you're referring to? So far as I'm aware, mgs are handled just like any other ranged combat weapon with the exception of which dice are being rolled.
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Old 12-17-2021, 01:57 PM
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More ammo is probably more powerful than people realize, given that this is an action economy combat system and you will spend a fast or slow action to reload a magazine fed weapon (depending on your RC reload roll).

Screwing around with a magazine in your hand is time you could have been killing Soviets!

You spend an action to reload a belt fed weapon also, but you do so a third to a quarter as much. That means MOAR dead Soviets! HUZZAH!
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Old 12-17-2021, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Spartan-117 View Post
More ammo is probably more powerful than people realize, given that this is an action economy combat system and you will spend a fast or slow action to reload a magazine fed weapon (depending on your RC reload roll).
I keep forgetting about action economy. I don't know if that's because I've only ever used v2.2 combat rules, or exclusively run/played PbP (maybe it's both). Action economy + slightly higher damage per shot probably makes up for a slower ROF.

I reckon the M249 would probably be the min-maxer's small arm of choice then, being as it's got ROF 6 and ammo 200.

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Author of Twilight 2000 adventure module, Rook's Gambit, the campaign sourcebook, Korean Peninsula, and co-author of Tara Romaneasca, a campaign sourcebook for Romania, all available for purchase on DriveThruRPG:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...--Rooks-Gambit
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...ula-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...nia-Sourcebook
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Old 12-17-2021, 03:45 PM
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Can you expound on which penalty/modifier you're referring to? So far as I'm aware, mgs are handled just like any other ranged combat weapon with the exception of which dice are being rolled.

Yeah, it's on p.65 of the PM:

LIGHT (LMG): Normally fired from a bipod. Can be fired when carried, but with a –2 modifier."

GENERAL PURPOSE (GPMG): Normally fired from a bipod, tripod or vehicle mount. Can be fired when carried, with a –3 modifier.

HEAVY (HMG): Can only be fired from a tripod or a vehicle mount.



Like I said, I think those penalties are a little severe so I dropped them to -1/-2 for LMG/MMG.

Last edited by unipus; 12-17-2021 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 12-17-2021, 03:51 PM
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And yes, agreed, pushing rolls is very important to success in general, and the main advantage PCs have over NPCs. You can still push a roll even if you're already showing multiple mishaps, though! I had one player do it in a do-or-die situation and it worked out for him. Jammed, almost broken weapon was a far better alternative than the faceful of bullets he seemed all but guaranteed to receive otherwise.

I do agree that in most circumstances, around 3 seems to be the sweet spot for ROF, except those rare instances where there's a stack of enemies bunched together or you just absolutely need to hose a MF'er right now. Otherwise you end up mostly using a lot more ammo and facing a lot more jams for not huge gain. Every now and then, though, you end up with critical hits against multiple enemies in a single shot. That's pretty ninja.

But, again, all this kinda gets to flaws in the presentation of MGs as I see it. It's not that they can't be effective. It's more that they mostly don't seem to bring a lot of their real-world advantages. IRL the MG is the most important part of the squad. In 4E (which I generally think produces slightly abstract but overall very plausible combat results!) it's a second-rate tool, unless you happen to have lots and lots and lots of ammo.
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Old 12-17-2021, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unipus View Post
Yeah, it's on p.65 of the PM:

LIGHT (LMG): Normally fired from a bipod. Can be fired when carried, but with a 2 modifier."

GENERAL PURPOSE (GPMG): Normally fired from a bipod, tripod or vehicle mount. Can be fired when carried, with a 3 modifier.

HEAVY (HMG): Can only be fired from a tripod or a vehicle mount.



Like I said, I think those penalties are a little severe so I dropped them to -1/-2 for LMG/MMG.
Ahhh interesting. Yeah that seems like a good way to go with houseruling in that case.
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Old 12-17-2021, 06:10 PM
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The "Keeping Watch" piece makes some sense to me due to opposed rolls being made, but I'm not sure about the mg ROF - agreed that that feels like a mistake/oversight. Maybe if it wasn't just an oversight, it was to simulate barrels heating or something? Just a thought.

My concerns with the mechanics lean more toward the armor/explosions mechanics and AT round mechanics. The 4e covers most stuff pretty well, but there are some distinct areas where I feel like the mechanics are a tough fit - for instance, grenades counting as heavy weapons. It feels like they got shoehorned into heavy weapons based on the authors not wanting the system to be overly crunchy, but I think they should have had their own ruleset. As it stands today, unless you get hit directly with a grenade, which is fairly uncommon, and you're wearing body armor, small explosions aren't going to do much. In other words, that +1 armor modifier plus the bare minimum of armor combines to make some funky game elements. For instance, a player wearing a flak vest could be hit square in the chest with a 25mm HE round. With only a single success on the dice, that round likely isn't going to do much more than knock the player down.

Kinetic penetrators are the other area where I have some concerns, and their relevance against HEAT rounds. Right now there's no functional reason to take AP rounds in the higher calibers, because HEAT does everything that AP does, only it also adds explosion mechanics. There's no reason a penetrating HEAT round should risk killing the entire crew of a vehicle, while a penetrating AP round may only barely scratch one of the crew.
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Old 12-17-2021, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
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For instance, a player wearing a flak vest could be hit square in the chest with a 25mm HE round. With only a single success on the dice, that round likely isn't going to do much more than knock the player down.
Doesn't everyone in the 10 meter hex have to roll 1 damage die if a blast D explosive round hits someone in that hex? If the blast inflicts damage, they then roll hit location, with only head and torso being common armor locations?
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Old 12-17-2021, 11:17 PM
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I'm with you on the rest. I actually had to look up the 25mm stats and you're right, it's wacky. 4 damage, 3 crit, but hitting somewhere with even 1 armor will drop it to 1 base damage. The hex would also be subject to a D blast I think but that also might not do much. It could potentially be hit by ROF 4 of D blasts, I forget how the rules handle that. If it's anything less than "everyone there is hurt real bad" though it's not a very effective rule.

Quote:
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There's no reason a penetrating HEAT round should risk killing the entire crew of a vehicle, while a penetrating AP round may only barely scratch one of the crew.

This part, though... penetrating HEAT can and should do more damage than AP. The issue that the HEAT probably has much less chance of doing so to begin with... something which is definitely simplified out of existence here.
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Old 12-18-2021, 09:01 AM
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As it stands today, unless you get hit directly with a grenade, which is fairly uncommon, and you're wearing body armor, small explosions aren't going to do much.
But what about the limbs? They can still take considerable damage from small explosions (like 40mm HE grenades), no?

Body armor, even older stuff like flak vest and steel helmets, was designed primarily to protect the wearer from shrapnel (more so than bullets), so what you described re protection of body armor v. small explosions seems pretty reasonable/realistic.

Luckily for most player parties (and the Ref's that have to track all this stuff), most Soviet soldiers c.1996 weren't equipped with body armor (other than a steel helmet).

But yeah, a 25mm HE round to the torso, even a torso clad in PAGST or plate carrier vest, should result in a high probability kill just from the kinetic energy of the impact (pre-explosion), IMHO.

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Author of Twilight 2000 adventure module, Rook's Gambit, the campaign sourcebook, Korean Peninsula, and co-author of Tara Romaneasca, a campaign sourcebook for Romania, all available for purchase on DriveThruRPG:

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...--Rooks-Gambit
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...ula-Sourcebook
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product...nia-Sourcebook

Last edited by Raellus; 12-18-2021 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 12-17-2021, 09:13 PM
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this supplement (yes, it's a bit overpriced for what it is, but full of good stuff) has an optional rule that has solved the issue for me, I think.
I downloaded this earlier and it looks like a very nice addition. I appreciate that the author corrected a few issues post publication and updated the version with the changes. It's nice to see continuing support for products at DTRPG. I like the move to fractional EU for the rifles as well (0.75, 1.25, etc.).
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