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Author Topic: Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?  (Read 1425 times)

-E.

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« on: January 30, 2010, 03:09:41 pm »
I posted this at RPG.net, but I think people here might have a good, old-school-paradigm perspective on it... This is a question that's come up a few times in discussion with my gaming group with respect to a variety of military-oriented modern-day and near-future/recent-past games.

Here's the question, as clearly as I can phrase it:

   Are weapons that are designed to be targeted against vehicles / fortifications (e.g. big things) fundamentally harder to hit individual people with than small arms (e.g. assault rifles)?

The rest of this post is my own thinking, some illustrative examples, and an attempt to clarify what I'm asking:

0. Here's an example: let's say a character takes a .50 caliber machine gun and fires it single-shot at a person 100 feet away.
  • The .50 cal is more or less designed to shoot at vehicles with (or to engage groups of people with automatic fire); it's not primarily designed as an anti-personnel weapon
  • If the character has a "skill level" of 80% with the machine gun, should that 80% be considered to assume he's shooting at a considerably-larger-than-human target?
  • If so, maybe he'd only have a 60% chance of hitting the stand-alone human being (-20% for firing at something considered a "small target" relative to the weapon mount and sighting)


1. Sighting mechanisms for rifles, handguns, and shotguns seem to be somewhat different from sighting mechanisms for heavier weapons (large machine guns, rocket launchers), leading me to believe that there may be some difference in accuracy.

Does anyone know where I could find something written about this?

2. Conversely, heavy weapons (machine guns, rocket launchers) are often meant to be used at long ranges -- maybe that accounts for the mechanical differences.

3.  I want to assume roughly the same amount of time spent aiming at the target when comparing heavy weapons to small arms -- in the case of shooting at a person on foot, I'd assume the target is running from one covered area to another and is only vulnerable for a few seconds.

4. I'm assuming games where the chance to hit is based on the firing character's skill with the weapon, +/- situational modifiers (e.g. high winds, range to target, etc.)

Anyone have any thoughts on this? My own experience is with small arms up through light machine guns. I've never practiced trying to hit anything other than a vehicle with a shoulder launched rocket (AT-4) or a wire-guided missile (Dragon), and I don't really have a clue as to what trying to shoot a person with one would be like.

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-E.
 

Phantom Black

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2010, 04:27:17 pm »
Uhm, regarding .50 BMG rifles...
You're just plain WRONG.

"1. Sighting mechanisms for rifles, handguns, and shotguns seem to be somewhat different from sighting mechanisms for heavier weapons (large machine guns, rocket launchers), leading me to believe that there may be some difference in accuracy."

Depends on a given weapon.
A Vulcan could be used to evaporate infantry if fitted with tracer ammo and/or a gunsight.

AFAIR the US had even portable .50 BMG caliber rifle in usage during WW II.
And a rifle with stock is a rifle with a stock, no matter the caliber. Ok, the recoil is greater, but the rest seems to be the same.

"2. Conversely, heavy weapons (machine guns, rocket launchers) are often meant to be used at long ranges -- maybe that accounts for the mechanical differences."

I bet you could hit someone quite as easy with a Panzerfaust III as with a rifle.
 
Ok, if you're not used to the sights of heavy weapons, i would be quite difficult, the level of proficiency needed to hit a moving human target should be the same, i think.

Oh, and a hit by a .50 BMG normally tears the hit member off, as far as i remember a documentary i once watched.
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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2010, 04:43:46 pm »
Quote from: Phantom Black;358371
Uhm, regarding .50 BMG rifles...
You're just plain WRONG.

"1. Sighting mechanisms for rifles, handguns, and shotguns seem to be somewhat different from sighting mechanisms for heavier weapons (large machine guns, rocket launchers), leading me to believe that there may be some difference in accuracy."

Depends on a given weapon.
A Vulcan could be used to evaporate infantry if fitted with tracer ammo and/or a gunsight.

AFAIR the US had even portable .50 BMG caliber rifle in usage during WW II.
And a rifle with stock is a rifle with a stock, no matter the caliber. Ok, the recoil is greater, but the rest seems to be the same.

"2. Conversely, heavy weapons (machine guns, rocket launchers) are often meant to be used at long ranges -- maybe that accounts for the mechanical differences."

I bet you could hit someone quite as easy with a Panzerfaust III as with a rifle.
 
Ok, if you're not used to the sights of heavy weapons, i would be quite difficult, the level of proficiency needed to hit a moving human target should be the same, i think.

Oh, and a hit by a .50 BMG normally tears the hit member off, as far as i remember a documentary i once watched.

I carefully didn't say .50 BMG rifle -- I also didn't say anything about the *round.*

You may have read me as talking about either of those things, but look at my post again -- a .50 caliber weapon fitted with an optical scope and mounted or carried in a way consistent with high-accuracy fire is a sniper's weapon, and a very effective one.

But in this thread, I'm talking about a .50 caliber weapons that's *not* fitted with those things. Snipers don't use the factory iron sights.

I'm also talking about factors like "traversal time" for mounted weapons that don't affect accuracy per se, but might be well represented in many games as a negative-to-hit moving targets (or stationary targets, if the weapon is moving).

Are you sure about the Panzerfaust? I don't think rockets are quite as accurate as rifle rounds... but that's really at the heart of what I'm asking about.

For your last point: yeah--anything remotely human would be blown to pieces by one of these weapons.

Cheers,
-E.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2010, 05:10:57 pm by -E. »
 

Cranewings

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2010, 04:59:55 pm »
E, in my RPG, I handle it in two ways depending on the weapon.

My game adds skill and stat to a d20 roll for both strike and defense. Usual bonuses are +6. There are a lot of variables for cover, weapon type, and situation which often add up to a lot more than the skill bonus.

Squad Automatic Weapons and the like suffer a -4 to strike unless they have been stabilized. People firing stabilized weapons can't make defensive rolls, and have to rely on their passive defense score (Faith + Cover + Concealment).

Heavier weapons, like Autocannons, that are broken into multiple pieces to carry take time to set up, some of them as long as 2-5 minutes. In a spontaneous fire fight, they wouldn't become involved. Again, once they are stabilized, the gunners don't get to roll dodge.

If an enemy gets with 120 feet or so, it is very likely they will feed a heavy gunner a grenade and kill him. These weapons have massive long ranges, and should ideally be used to kill before anyone gets close enough to use an explosive.

If your autocannon+ ammo weighs 100+ pounds, it isn't likely a squad will haul around more than one of them.

Now, if one of these weapons is set up and ready to go, and infantry walks in front of it, there shouldn't be a penalty.

Another rule in my game has to do with the size of a weapon vs. the nimbleness of a target. When a weapon is used on an inappropriate target, such as a 12 inch gun vs. a fighter jet or a tank gun vs. powered armor, there is an additional -6 or -8 penalty.

Anyway, hope that helps.

One of the things that serves to limit how much these weapons are used is the difficulty in carrying them. You wouldn't want to go hiking with the base plate for an autocannon and a couple of RPGs along with your normal equipment.

The other thing that can come into play is an initiative penalty. If two people draw on one another - one throws a grenade and the other a hand gun, the guy with the gun will have a chance to kill the guy with the grenade before he can throw it. If the game system allows for one shot kills, this becomes a big deal.

Even if these weapons have less accurate sights or at unreliable at certain ranges, the fact that they fire so many rounds, damage such a large area, or explode should more than offset any penalty as long as they are being used in an appropriate manor.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2010, 05:05:46 pm by Cranewings »

Cranewings

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2010, 05:14:07 pm »
More to the point about what I'm saying E... it isn't that heavy weapons should have a penalty to strike (unless they are grossly disproportionate) these weapons have other limiting factors.

The ability to aim the weapon quickly, fire first, the ability to carry the weapon, draw it, and be unencumbered are all important considerations that will limit the use of heavy weapons. It isn't necessary to use a .50 caliber machine gun to kill someone behind light cover if they are just across the street. The fact that you have such a heavy weapon might slow you if you had to pursue.

Damage from these weapons shouldn't be that much different. The effects of the damage could be different, but a bullet from an M-16 should be just as useful as a .50 when it comes to keeping the other guy from shooting anymore.

The .50 is better because it is great at suppression, plus you can get him through more cover than you can with an M-16. Not to mention you can get him from farther away.

Cranewings

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2010, 05:17:51 pm »
The majority of my understanding of how modern warfare works comes from the video game of the same name...

-E.

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2010, 05:23:58 pm »
Quote from: Cranewings;358378


Another rule in my game has to do with the size of a weapon vs. the nimbleness of a target. When a weapon is used on an inappropriate target, such as a 12 inch gun vs. a fighter jet or a tank gun vs. powered armor, there is an additional -6 or -8 penalty.

Anyway, hope that helps.


That does help -- I copied the bit I wanted to comment on directly, but first, -- interesting game. What system is it?

Also, to be completely clear: I've tried to ignore factors like autofire and explosive radius for the purpose of simplifying the discussion.

Your rule above is pretty much exactly what I'm wondering about. I have this "intuitive" sense that some weapons are, for a variety of reasons, "inappropriate" against some targets.

That doesn't mean they're not usable -- it just means that they have some disadvantages that might not be obvious if they're modeled by game rules like light arms.

An example would be anti-tank rockets like RPGs, LAWs, and the AT-4 (ignoring wire-guided missiles, like the Dragon, for a moment) -- I've only practiced with the AT-4, but I found that it took longer to bring on target than either an assault rifle or a light machine gun (M-60).

My guess is that if I had an AT-4 and I was trying to shoot at individual infantry men bounding toward my position, I'd be in trouble -- the AT-4 would take longer to bring on-target and be harder to hit someone with than an assault rifle.

When you wrote your game rules did you base the inappropriate-weapon-rule on a gut feeling or did you have some real-life example in mind?

Cheers,
-E.
 

-E.

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2010, 05:31:52 pm »
Quote from: Cranewings;358381
More to the point about what I'm saying E... it isn't that heavy weapons should have a penalty to strike (unless they are grossly disproportionate) these weapons have other limiting factors.

The ability to aim the weapon quickly, fire first, the ability to carry the weapon, draw it, and be unencumbered are all important considerations that will limit the use of heavy weapons. It isn't necessary to use a .50 caliber machine gun to kill someone behind light cover if they are just across the street. The fact that you have such a heavy weapon might slow you if you had to pursue.

Damage from these weapons shouldn't be that much different. The effects of the damage could be different, but a bullet from an M-16 should be just as useful as a .50 when it comes to keeping the other guy from shooting anymore.

The .50 is better because it is great at suppression, plus you can get him through more cover than you can with an M-16. Not to mention you can get him from farther away.


I'm with you on all the logistical issues around heavy weapons -- I used to carry an M-60.

But I think that these weapons perform differently in ways that could be easily modeled for most games. I'm thinking particularly of trying to fire the M-60 from a prone position /without/ setting up the bipod... very hard to hit anything (but that's a standard firing position for the M-16), or the M-203, which I found very accurate and intuitive, but the flight time for the round was so long that hitting a moving target required a *lot* of leading.

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-E.
 

Cranewings

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2010, 05:46:54 pm »
My game is my own system. I plagiarized a lot of other games I liked to make it sense I never planned to put it on line or use it for anything out of my group. I might eventually write a publishable one, but I haven't decided yet.

I don't have any military training, but from playing shooters, I've noticed that the main advantage of smaller weapons, besides the fact that they do kill people, is that you can aim them faster.

The main advantage of heavy weapons is that you can fire them from a vantage point when the enemy can't really fire back.

I think you are on the right track, that the main difference between small and heavy weapons should be initiative vs. range and penetration.

When it comes to super weapons against small targets, I think you have to apply it on a case by case basis. For example, a tank gun wouldn't have a penalty to shoot a guy running across a field, because it can kill him with a miss. A tank gun WOULD have a penalty against a powered suit, because it flies and can dodge really well.

People that carry heavy weapons that can't be used on nimble targets would know this and account for it. For example, in my game a lot of heavy hover tanks have lots of mini missile launchers in case they encounter powered armor. As long as the back up weapon can kill the nimble target, it works.

Cranewings

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2010, 05:48:53 pm »
Quote from: -E.;358384
I'm with you on all the logistical issues around heavy weapons -- I used to carry an M-60.

But I think that these weapons perform differently in ways that could be easily modeled for most games. I'm thinking particularly of trying to fire the M-60 from a prone position /without/ setting up the bipod... very hard to hit anything (but that's a standard firing position for the M-16), or the M-203, which I found very accurate and intuitive, but the flight time for the round was so long that hitting a moving target required a *lot* of leading.

Cheers,
-E.

I don't have any real experience with them. I've never fired a real gun.

Do you think you have a good chance of hitting a person with the M-60 because you are firing a lot more rounds?

-E.

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2010, 07:06:11 pm »
Quote from: Cranewings;358386
I don't have any real experience with them. I've never fired a real gun.

Do you think you have a good chance of hitting a person with the M-60 because you are firing a lot more rounds?


This is actually a very complex question that in some ways gets directly into the questions I'm grappling with.

I think answering starts with a philosophical question about what the "odds" of hitting a target mean:

0. When I think about the "odds of hitting a person?" in real life (or in a roleplaying game) I think about odds in a combat situation where I don't have all the time in the world to line up a shot, and I'm taking at least /basic/ defensive precautions (hiding behind something, laying in the dirt, whatever).

In this case, my odds of hitting something are actually fairly low compared to what they would be on a firing range... but exactly what situational factors are considered in my logic aren't always explicit... so...

1. The M-60 is a pretty accurate gun. I don't remember the exact measurements but on a firing range I could hit a playing-card-sized target and some significant distance pretty easily -- the bullet flies where you point it.

2. However, in combat (or, in my case, during training with laser-tag-type equipment called MILES gear) "accuracy" is about a *LOT* more than just how technically accurate the weapon is.

A big factor in the basic accuracy is "can I get the weapon lined up with a potential target while the target is exposed?"

An M-16 is (in my experience) quicker to bring on-target than an M-60 -- especially if you want to deploy the bipod (or set it on a tripod).

Now, usually, you emplace the 60 and fire -- but that takes extra steps and extra time. If identical characters, one armed with a 60 and one with a 16 both flop down prone and start firing, I'd say the guy with the 16 is going to have a much higher "base" accuracy...

Which brings us to the effect of automatic fire...


3. To actually answer your question: Firing a lot of rounds can, under the right circumstances, make up for all sorts of other failings. The M-60' statistically inflicts a lot of casualties  (most of a platoon's causalities are caused by the crew-served weapons like the 60 or a mortar)...

But a lot of that is a matter of the ability to spray an area and engage many people at once -- if your gun is emplaced correctly you can engage an entire platoon with it and anyone who's not face down in the dirt or behind solid cover is in mortal danger.

But does that translate to a huge chance-to-hit bonus in game terms? Debatable. I'd say that the 60 gets a decent but not incredible chance a single to hit due to auto-fire -- but if you give the 60 gunner time to aim and give the target no cover and nowhere to hide, the odds go up to about 100%... of course they do with just about any weapon.

Cheers,
-E.
 

J Arcane

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2010, 07:17:16 pm »
Any of the bipod/tripod mounted machine guns, up to .50 caliber, is going to be plenty accurate enough to target an individual person.  That's actually how the round came to be employed in a sniper scenario in the first place, some nutjob strapped a scope to a machine gun.

Even up to miniguns, the devices are quite accurate, though I'll semi-agree that there are practical issues making an actual single round fired unlikely, but no one fires those weapons outside of burst anyway, so it's mostly a pointless hypothetical (admittedly something that's annoying gamer geek catnip).

for rocket devices, no, it's just not practical to target an individual, as most of them simply aren't point accurate for something man sized.  Modern devices rely a lot on guidance systems and even the ones that don't aren't really accurized to shoot a specific human target, though the blast might be enough that if you ensured it detonated in their general area they'd still get offed.
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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2010, 07:33:59 pm »
Quote from: J Arcane;358400
Any of the bipod/tripod mounted machine guns, up to .50 caliber, is going to be plenty accurate enough to target an individual person.  That's actually how the round came to be employed in a sniper scenario in the first place, some nutjob strapped a scope to a machine gun.

Even up to miniguns, the devices are quite accurate, though I'll semi-agree that there are practical issues making an actual single round fired unlikely, but no one fires those weapons outside of burst anyway, so it's mostly a pointless hypothetical (admittedly something that's annoying gamer geek catnip).

for rocket devices, no, it's just not practical to target an individual, as most of them simply aren't point accurate for something man sized.  Modern devices rely a lot on guidance systems and even the ones that don't aren't really accurized to shoot a specific human target, though the blast might be enough that if you ensured it detonated in their general area they'd still get offed.

As far as the machine gun goes, yes -- it's technically accurate. But a weapon on a bipod or tripod is less maneuverable and may take longer to track on a target than one carried in the hand.

Similarly, things like vulcan cannons are often mounted on vehicles in fixed points requiring the entire plane to steer toward the target.

I think that could reasonably modeled in a game as a lower chance to hit, even though the round is highly accurate.

No?

As for rockets -- how hard would it be to hit a person with something like a LAW rocket or an RPG? Say a character has an 80% chance of hitting a vehicle with a shoulder-launched missile and tries to hit a single guy -- what sort of negative modifier would you give him?

Edited to add: let's say you need a direct hit to kill him: this guy is a super-hero and you really want the super-hot-plasma lance to burn through his blast-resistant skink

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-E.
 

J Arcane

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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2010, 07:42:00 pm »
I'd still give the bipod machine gun a shot, but above that, I'd just look to scale rules.

Star Wars D6 had some excellent rules for dealing with the difficulties of targeting smaller things with bigger things, and while in some cases these weapons may be man-portable, their targeting methods make them more or less the equivalent of a vehicle mounted weapon.

For your LAW/RPG example specifically, I might also throw in some inaccuracy penalties for those particular weapons.  Rocket-propelled grenades and the like just don't fly very straight, and take practice to even hit tanks with, so hitting a person is gonna be a pretty big penalty.  I might even consider using a scatter check for misses.
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Special Rules for Targeting people with Heavy Weapons?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2010, 07:52:47 pm »
Quote from: J Arcane;358407
I'd still give the bipod machine gun a shot, but above that, I'd just look to scale rules.

Star Wars D6 had some excellent rules for dealing with the difficulties of targeting smaller things with bigger things, and while in some cases these weapons may be man-portable, their targeting methods make them more or less the equivalent of a vehicle mounted weapon.

For your LAW/RPG example specifically, I might also throw in some inaccuracy penalties for those particular weapons.  Rocket-propelled grenades and the like just don't fly very straight, and take practice to even hit tanks with, so hitting a person is gonna be a pretty big penalty.  I might even consider using a scatter check for misses.


Good stuff. Here's what I'm thinking: the US military TRADOC book seems to rate the RPG-7 as... fairly inaccurate.

I'd say that an RPG-7 at negative-to-hit modifier that... *just about* makes up for the size bonus you'd get for shooting at something as big as a tank...

So if you're shooting a tank you're at some small (5%, 10%) penalty over your basic "rocket launcher" skill... but if you're shooting at a person (no size bonus to hit), it gets a lot stiffer.

As far as light machine guns go, I don't really plan to change any rules for those -- I'm still a bit unsure about whether or not I should do anything for turret mounted weapons... clearly they don't have recoil or stability issues, but their traversal time *is* an issue that might be well represented by a to-hit penalty (again, not because the weapon's inaccurate but because the target has more of a chance to take some kind of defensive action)

Cheers,
-E.