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Old 12-16-2021, 09:20 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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Old 12-16-2021, 10:38 AM
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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.

Last edited by Spartan-117; 12-16-2021 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 12-16-2021, 03:00 PM
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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, 10:57 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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Old 12-17-2021, 02:34 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, 02:57 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, 03:35 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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Old 12-17-2021, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
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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It's a jam cannon at ROF 6.
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Old 12-17-2021, 03:53 PM
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Default Jams Rule, uh, Jam Rules

Quote:
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It's a jam cannon at ROF 6.
Can a weapon jam if the shooter didn't push the roll? The only jamming rule I can find reads:

"If you roll two or more * on your base dice or ammo dice after pushing, your weapon jams immediately after resolving the attack..." p66

Checking index...

PDF says Jamming 65, but it's not actually mentioned until p66 and then all it says is what's quoted above. So, if I'm not missing anything, and I'm reading the rule correctly, it looks like jams only occur on pushed rolls.

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Old 12-17-2021, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
Can a weapon jam if the shooter didn't push the roll? The only jamming rule I can find reads:

"If you roll two or more * on your base dice or ammo dice after pushing, your weapon jams immediately after resolving the attack..." p66

Checking index...

PDF says Jamming 65, but it's not actually mentioned until p66 and then all it says is what's quoted above. So, if I'm not missing anything, and I'm reading the rule correctly, it looks like jams only occur on pushed rolls.

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Then it's even worse.. it's a miss cannon...

Being able to push is what allows you to hit effectively in many cases. The negative modifiers stack up quickly. Not being able to push because you rolled 6 die and got 2 1's on some of them, is really limiting.

IMHO, ROF 2 or 3 is the sweet spot. At ROF 5 and 6 you are taking real risk of getting a pair of ones. Not that it can't happen with ROF 2/3, but it's less likely to happen. Throw more die, you have more chances for 6 - yes, but an equal amount of chances for 1s.

A min-maxer's dream, from my perspective, is a weapon that you can reliably push to achieve a hit, and if it hits it crits immediately, no need for an extra success or ammo die (those are gravy).

Suppressing the enemy is good. Killing them is better.

*You can debate wounding them might be best - if the OPFOR will reliable react to treat a wounded soldier, tying up action economy for the medic/combat lifesaver (who was otherwise a combatant), that's a pretty good outcome as well.*

Last edited by Spartan-117; 12-17-2021 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 12-17-2021, 04:45 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.

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Old 12-17-2021, 04:51 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, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
Can a weapon jam if the shooter didn't push the roll? The only jamming rule I can find reads:

"If you roll two or more * on your base dice or ammo dice after pushing, your weapon jams immediately after resolving the attack..." p66

Checking index...

PDF says Jamming 65, but it's not actually mentioned until p66 and then all it says is what's quoted above. So, if I'm not missing anything, and I'm reading the rule correctly, it looks like jams only occur on pushed rolls.

-
Just confirming that this was my read of that rule as well. It’s only jamming if you’re pushing.
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Old 12-17-2021, 05:39 PM
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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, 06:04 PM
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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.
I haven't examined this issue in detail yet but it seems like the easy fix is to give MGs a limited ability to ignore 1s on ammo dice - possibly ignore the first X 1s, where X equals half of current Reliability, rounded up (so at Reliability 5, you'd have to roll four 1s to affect Reliability and five 1s to jam - not counting any 1s on your base attack dice). This would reflect their designed capability for reliable sustained automatic fire in a better way than just pointing to the action economy advantage of belt feed.

They still have the disadvantages of encumbrance, reduced performance when hip-fired, and high consumption of your most precious natural resource (i.e., lead).

- C.
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Old 12-17-2021, 06:21 PM
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Obviously if we change the mechanics of the RAW we change what is optimal.
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Old 12-17-2021, 06:29 PM
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I don't want a universal optimal weapon. I want different weapons to be optimal for different situations and roles. Keeping the hefty penalty to hip-firing MGs while making them less prone to RUD when being used as intended feels like a reasonable balance to propose. It keeps infantry rifles the best choice for the maneuver element without penalizing your MG team for doing that base of fire thing.

At least, that's the intent.

- C.
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Old 12-17-2021, 06:37 PM
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Quote:
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I haven't examined this issue in detail yet but it seems like the easy fix is to give MGs a limited ability to ignore 1s on ammo dice - possibly ignore the first X 1s, where X equals half of current Reliability, rounded up (so at Reliability 5, you'd have to roll four 1s to affect Reliability and five 1s to jam - not counting any 1s on your base attack dice). This would reflect their designed capability for reliable sustained automatic fire in a better way than just pointing to the action economy advantage of belt feed.

They still have the disadvantages of encumbrance, reduced performance when hip-fired, and high consumption of your most precious natural resource (i.e., lead).

- C.
That's interesting and could work. As you've written it I think it's a bit too charitable (I don't think I would ever want to let it get beyond ignoring 1 or 2 mishaps, at the most) but there's something to it. Of course then you've got to think of how it affects the pushing issue. If I know I won't jam until I roll 3 or 4 mishaps I probably push almost every roll.

I don't like introducing MORE rolling usually, but something like "you may re-roll even dice showing mishaps when you push" could also do the trick. That could be limited as well. "You may re-roll up to 1 die showing a mishap when you push (or 2 if your weapon is in perfect condition)" or something. Still a chance that you then roll more mishaps, but it's a nice distinct boost to the MG that differentiates it. Dunno, just thinking out loud. I don't like how I'd have to handle this over Foundry, but, eh.
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Old 12-17-2021, 07:10 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, 10:03 PM
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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, 10:13 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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Old 12-18-2021, 12:17 AM
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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.

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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, 10:01 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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Last edited by Raellus; 12-18-2021 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 12-19-2021, 12:20 AM
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About MGs and ROFs and what makes MGs different from rifles: doesn't this follow from v1 rules? There's not much special in v1 about MGs, other than range and belts for ammo.

unipus' "recoil limit" sounds very interesting here; dunno if I could get my typical group to remember that, though.


Something that bothered me for a bit, until I gave it more thought. One of the suggestions for NPCs is that a GM shouldn't bother to track hit locations and hit points for an NPC, just suppress 'em. That led to the obvious question: "Are NPCs immortal, then?"

But then, I realized one can run NPCs as a group, not as individuals-- pretend it's a whole team/squad/section that's in the hex, and suppression can spread to the whole group. It's a little like playing Squad Leader: the goal really isn't to score a KIA on the enemy, it's to get them to fail those Morale Checks so they stop shooting at you.

That said, I haven't played any more after this revelation, so I'm not sure how to carry on from there.
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Old 12-19-2021, 10:17 AM
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Default And Another thing...

About MGs, it seems like the Crit number should be lower than those for assault rifles. Without getting into a debate about the relative merits of various calibers of small arms rounds, it seems like an MG round should do more damage, not less, than an assault rifle round. Therefore, if I'm reading the rules right, an MG's Crit number should be the lower of the two. Am I missing something?

EDIT: Duh! MGs have a higher Damage rating, so lowering their Crit score would, arguably, make them OP.

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Last edited by Raellus; 12-19-2021 at 03:16 PM.
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  #26  
Old 12-19-2021, 03:05 PM
unipus unipus is offline
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Yeah, it's already not hard to score crits with MGs. My issue is just that they don't seem all that different from rifles in play which I think leaves a bit of a hole when it comes to the small unit tactics that are the meat and butter here! (but yes, the same could be said of earlier editions as well)
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Old 12-20-2021, 07:57 AM
Ursus Maior Ursus Maior is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
About MGs, it seems like the Crit number should be lower than those for assault rifles.
When approaching this, I ask myself this: Does getting hit by a single bullet from a MG make a critical hit more likely? And I don't see the reason here.

What I could see is a higher Armor value, since often MGs have longer barrels, so their velocity is higher, thus they penetrate better. But that's slippery slope with a system that sacrifices granularity for speed.
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Old 12-25-2021, 10:42 AM
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Raellus Raellus is offline
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Default XP and Increasing Skill Level

Regarding XP and skill progression, I have a clarifying question. IMHO, the rules aren't very clear on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4e Player's Manual, p40
To increase a skill level by one step costs a number of XP indicated in the table to the above right. You can only increase a skill level one step at a time. Learning a new skill (at skill level D) costs 5 XP

INCREASING SKILL LEVEL
TARGET LEVEL XP NEEDED
A 20
B 15
C 10
D 5
So, does it cost a TOTAL of 15 XP to advance from D to B, or does it cost 10 to advance from D to B, and then an additional 15 to advance from C to D?

I think it's the latter, but I'm not sure. What's your interpretation?

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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; 12-25-2021 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 12-25-2021, 01:22 PM
Desert Mariner Desert Mariner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
So, does it cost a TOTAL of 15 XP to advance from D to B, or does it cost 10 to advance from D to B, and then an additional 15 to advance from C to D?

I think it's the latter, but I'm not sure. What's your interpretation?

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I don't have the 4E rules but based strictly on your excerpt, I'd say the cost is:

New Skill (D) = 5
Raise from D to C = +10 (total 15)
Raise from C to B = +15 (total 30)
Raise from B to A = +20 (total 50)

Last edited by Desert Mariner; 12-26-2021 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 12-27-2021, 09:41 PM
unipus unipus is offline
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Yes, that's correct.
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