Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Weapons

One of the big deals in playing a military game is the hardware that your characters carry. It's important that the core rules include a number of options for weapons that have nuances to differentiate them. One of the design mistakes I made (at least in my estimation, looking at the past through those 20/20 lenses that you automatically receive the next day) in Mythweaver was making weapons 'generalized'. It doesn't matter whether you say your +3 sword is a high quality short sword, a run-of-the-mill longsword, or a poorly-crafted bastard sword. It's +3.

Yeah. Run right out and get your generic +3 weapon of blah. I don't want gear to be a big issue in Mythweaver, since the type of weapon you wield is of secondary importance... except of course to players, who spend a lot of time thinking about the specific nuances of their weapons. It's something that I need to correct or add to the game as a layer if/when I get back to working on it...

I MUST avoid this sort of situation with Army Ants.

There have to be distinct and important differences between the insect world's equivalent of an M-16 vs. an AK-47 vs. another assault rifle... here are some of the ways I'm designing differentiations in weapons:

Range. This is the easiest one. You can create a number of different weapons just by giving them incremental range differences.

Damage. This is a harder one. Since damage is (ideally) just a single die (D6, D8, D10 or D12), it's hard to build in a great deal of gradation. I want the gradation to come from the Munitions Trait... at least, I THINK I do. If I build the gradation of damage in at the weapon end, this gives me a LOT of room for flexibility. Now, there is a HUGE difference between the AK-47 that deals D8 damage, the M-16 that deals D8+1 and the FN FAL that deals D8+2 (in addition to the range differences I've already mentioned). Hmmmm. This then eliminates the Munitions trait altogether, which is a trait that I really like (because it replaces my old weapon tinkering rules and streamlines them). I like the idea that your insect soldier makes his weapon better just by virtue of his ability to maintain that weapon. There must be some other way to mirror this in the game...

Reliability. Basically, how often you botch with the weapon (it jams; it overheats; it needs oil; whatever that slows you down for a round). On an attack roll of 1, you automatically fail, and you have to roll a second time to see if you botch and your weapon requires some maintenance. If the second roll is also 1, you have to stop and fix your weapon for 1 round. The second die depends on the reliability of your weapon; a highly-reliable weapon lets you roll a D12, while a weapon prone to jams and requiring more maintenance (therefore also cheaper to get with Clout) may require you to roll a D6 or even a D4.

Clip size. This would be a factor in the grittier games only, so I'm not sure if this should be in the primary stat block for weapons. It could be included for 'informational purposes' in the high-adventure setting, but become an important factor in the more crunchy games.

I COULD bring back the weapon tinkering rules in some way, allowing you to mod your weapon in minor ways (shifting range, damage and reliability all up to one rating if you have the training). Let's brainstorm here...

Let's say that the AM-16 (the standard infantry assault rifle) has the following ratings:
Damage D8+1; Range 6; Reliability D8; Clout Cost 30

With Munitions, you get to improve different facets of your weapon, although you are capped at improving any one aspect no better than 2 shifts. So, with a trusty AM-16 and Munitions +4, you could improve your Damage to D8+3, your Range to 7 (out of a max of 8), and your Reliability to D10 (out of a max of D12). You effectively still have an AM-16, you just keep yours in such great condition that it out-performs the weapon of all of your allies.

Wow. I think I just solved this. Thanks for helping!


  1. I like this solution. :)

    The customization is minor but goes a long way to making an Ant character unique. Also, this give Ants a good reason to name their weapons and role-play weapon maintenance.

  2. I agree. It's a much more robust system with the minor tweak, in that it now provides a lot more mileage at the table.