Ammunition

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Ammunition

Postby youngneil1 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 6:10 am

Just randomly stumbled about the question whether we want to have ammunition (arrows, darts, bullets, enegry cells..) for ranged weapons. This would also mean another slot probably in the inventory menu, to e.g. place a quiver with arrows or to indicate the kind of magazine loaded into some fire arm (like e.g. kevlar piercing, EMP stuff). I think it opens further nice design and reward possibilites. On the other hand it means a little more micromanagement. All in all, I think I would like to have it in (no biggie for me though), just for the flavour alone. For starters it could be the same system for modern firearms and ancient ranged weapons - just an ammunition item placed in that "quiver" slot (this would imply extra work on rule system side, too, though as the ammuntion would likely influence attack properties, as e.g. extra damage/range/to hit bonus/armor piercing). Later on for modern games there could be something like a "reload" option in combat or special attacks using sevreal bullets at once ("bursts"). What do you fine guys here think?
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Re: Ammunition

Postby Lurking Grue » Mon Feb 11, 2013 7:58 pm

This is a curious topic, as on the surface it looks as a simple, little thing, but as one starts to think about it a lot of complications arise. I will start by saying, I will definitely want ammunition for ranged weapons to be factored in and counted to the arrow/bullet (I really don't like unlimited ammo). I would also like some form of reloading rules make it into the engine from the start. It's not just for modern weapons, mind you, even crossbows would need these rules.

I'm going to borrow from the PnP world and propose a system with two stats governing ammunition and reloading. This might be too much detail for some, but maybe it gets the discussion going at least. I'm just making a suggestion here (and writing in a bit of a hurry, again, so readers beware!).

OK, the first stat would be "Shots", which would tell how many individual shots the ranged weapon can shoot before it needs to be reloaded. A bow has Shots of 1 (can shoot one arrow and then needs to be reloaded with another), a 9mm Browning HP-35 pistol has Shots of 13 (the detachable box magazine, "clip", holds 13 bullets), for example. The second stat would be "Reload Time", which would tell how many actions (or turns) it would take to reload the weapon (with ammo from the inventory). If RT is 0, it takes no separate action to reload the weapon, it can be fired every turn (i.e. reloading is done automatically - it's part of the attack action or the "space between turns"). If RT is 1 or more, it takes as many actions/turns to reload the weapon before it is ready to fire again. A bow has RT of 0, a light crossbow could have RT of 2-3, a heavy crossbow of 4-6, a musket at least 6, a modern semi-automatic pistol 1, and so on. (Ongoing reload action could be shown on the character's status as "Reloading x/y" with x showing how many reload actions the PC has accomplished of the y required actions, e.g. "Reloading 2/3".)

To further complicate things, firearms and other higher tech ranged weapons are usually capable of firing multiple shots very rapidly (either separately or in bursts). If we're to model this too, then we need another stat called Rate of Fire (ROF), which would indicate how many shots the weapon can fire per action/turn. The value would depend on the length of the combat turn, but even if the turn is only a second, most automatic weapons can fire 10 bullets in just a second. The effects of full-auto fire are usually simplified in games and maybe we ought to do so too, e.g. just have a single shot and a burst be the options with separate damage values (and ammo use) and call it a day. Or?

And then there's the issue of differing ammo types for the same weapon. It's not just for modern weapons either, even with only bows, we have numerous different types of arrows to choose from (not counting the fantastical or magic ones!) - there are broadheads, bodkins, blunt ones, incendiary ones, etc. Of course not all of them need to be implemented, but I'm just saying how this ammunition thing gets pretty "deep" quite fast. How deep are we wanting to go?

I'm for the "whole shebang", of course. ;)

Then, there's the matter of ammunition and the UI, plus whether it ought to have its own equipment slot or not. IMO, ammunition doesn't necessarily need an equipment slot of its own, in fact for firearms and the like, a separate equipment slot could be a bit misleading even (as the ammunition container is inside the weapon). I think just letting the player select the ammunition from his inventory (with USE command) should be enough. The game would check the equipped ranged weapon and the chosen ammo - should they be compatible, then the ranged weapon would be used with that ammo. If the ammo and the weapon are not be compatible, the game would notify the player of this (and disregard the command). This would be only necessary if there are several different ammunition types for the same weapon; if the character has only one type of ammo that goes with his equipped ranged weapon, that would be used by default. The inventory would show ammo in use by a symbol (e.g. an asterix) before the ammo entry. Like, "*Broadhead Arrows (12)". Pure and simple.

Hmm, wait... That wouldn't work for party inventory. Darn, there might need to be a separate equipment slot after all. Maybe have ammo shown in parentheses after the ranged weapon on the equipment list, like "Longbow (12)" ot "Laser Pistol (30)"; this wouldn't need a separate equipment slot. Problem would be for differing ammo types, there might need to be a letter or two after the ammo count to denote what type of ammunition is in question, e.g. no letters = regular ammo (broadhead arrows, regular bullets, etc.), AP = armor-piercing ammo (bodkin arrows, AP bullets), and so on and so forth.

But how to show the difference between what ammo is ready to use and what's not? This might be too much of an complication, though. Consider that a quiver only holds 12-20 arrows, not the 659 you have in your inventory. Should there be distinction between readily available ammo and carried somewhere in the pack ammo? Also, if a pistol clip holds 13 bullets and you have 4 extra clips on you, how to show this? Does it matter? Is it better to have an "ammo limbo" from which you take ammo to reload your weapon, like in most games, or to go whole hog in the nitty gritty details on this and count clips separately (e,g. "9mm Browning HP-35 (13)" and "4 x 9mm Ammo Clip (13)")? Am I making any sense anymore...? :?

What did I tell you, this is a complicated topic once you start thinking about it and get the ball rolling.

P.S. Also, what if a PC has two different ammo types available, say, regular broadhead arrows and supadupa magic arrows of badassery. He then runs out of the broadheads while fighting measly kobolds. The game should NOT automatically change the ammo type to the next available ammo, because wasting those very rare magic arrows on kobolds would be incredibly unwise. Thus the game should always just notify the player if one of his PCs has run out of ammo, but let the player choose what to do (change weapon or switch to a new ammo type), not to do it automatically for him.
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Re: Ammunition

Postby youngneil1 » Mon Feb 11, 2013 11:11 pm

Lots of good details, Grue. Right now I don't know what I would like best.

To have some sort of ammo in just feels right. From gut feeling I think a quiver/magazine slot would be the clearest thing to display the type of ammo used for each character. Each quiver/magazine in that slot holds a number of shots. When that number is used up, it's reload time. On hitting the reload (actually it's a mix up of reload weapon/refill quiver) button, the player could choose which type of ammunition to use next. It would be nice if, for convenience sake, after each battle the quiver/magazine would be refilled to max with shots of the very same type, but only as long as there are enough shots for that in the inventory. So it's not magical creation of arrows or bullets, but just refilling from the given amount existing in the inventory. It would be a hassle of manually merging or refilling magazines/quivers after each battle to max. Or throwing half used ones away after each battle. Again, such convenience mechansim could be optional though.

From a realism point of view reload times would differ indeed greatly between e.g. bow and crossbow (and a crossbow had 1 bolt, so it would mean - long - reload after each attack, gulp). I just would find it very hard to balance out such great differences (and how to handle multiple attacks per round due to BAB for weapons requiring reload rounds between single shots?). Alas, reload time would be definable for each weapon, so each module author could look for his own balance there (theoretically the super slow shooters could do thrice the damage, cut through armor, crit on 15+, - stuff like that). I would personally proabaly screw realism here and penalize crossbows by "just" having to reload - for one round, as all relaods - more often (tecnically due to smaller "quiver size", logically just by simplifying that they can do less shots per minute, ignoring the per seconds situation). So all ranged weapons would force the user to reload every few rounds, bows every 20 rounds or so, crossbows every 5 rounds or so.

Remains the question, what does the ammo do? I think the damage itself would still be defined by the weapon. The ammo could give specific boni, depending on type. Like more range, a damage bonus, partial armor absorbtion negation, better crit chance... stuff like that).

Oh, and how to handle thrown weapons, like daggers, darts, grenades? Just the same, but with limited capacity of quiver/belt from which they are drawn? So they would work like bows, but reload would be neccessary sooner (like only 6 or 8 daggers in that belt comapred to e.g. 20 or 30 arrows in a quiver)?

And while looking at those ranged attacks - how about long range penalties, line of sight, cover, shotting "through" enemies at opponents behind them and finally hitting allies by accident? Alone by thinking of all of this, I make a note to self to have ranged wepaons do real nasty damage ;-). Seems it will be hard to fire them often and have them actually hit what they are intended to :-).
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Re: Ammunition

Postby Lurking Grue » Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:47 pm

(Writing this at work, so I might have to end this abruptly.)

I don't see a pressing reason to balance bows and crossbows. Or to balance any other weapons with each other either. Balancing to me is mostly relevant in multiplayer games, not so in single-player ones. Tastes may and will vary, of course, so lets consider the bows vs crossbows balancing. I'd think looking at how these weapons were realistically different from each other and what their advantages over each other were, ought to give us good "balancing" options. Crossbows were a lot easier to learn to use than longbows, for example, and their bolts had straighter flight paths compared to arrows from longbows. So, what this translates to, IMO, is a bonus to attack rolls (the "to-hit" roll) with crossbows, something like a +2. To offset this advantage (to "balance" it), the crossbows have a much longer reload time compared to longbows. To me, these factors are enough of balancing, there's an advantage and a disadvantage. It's a choice between easier hit, but longer reload; versus not-as-easy hit, but fast reload.

As to the multiple (ranged) attacks per round, I'd say that any weapon with a Reload Time 1 or greater, cannot be used to attack more than once a round, even if you'd be capable of doing so otherwise. To take advantage of multiple (ranged) attacks per round, you need to use a weapon with a Reload Time of 0, i.e. a bow. I don't see any reason to give crossbows a "pardon" here (or muskets, etc.) and artificially quicken their rate of fire. THey are weapons with a slow reload, that's their disadvantage. A player needs to keep that in mind and make his choices accordingly. Don't want to be constrained by that? Don't use a crossbow, use a bow.

Don't mean to be snarky here, don't get me wrong. I just don't see the need to balance weapons. Realism is what I like to use as my guideline, even if it makes some weapons "clunky" or difficult to use - but if that's how they were, then that's how I like them to be. OK, I undestand the need for playability, it's a game afterall. Sometimes realism isn't what constitutes towards a good game, from gameplay and playability point of view. SOmetimes compromises have to be made and I'm OK with that. It's just that I don't want to stray too far from realism, even in a fantasy game. Realism and playability don't have to be (and, IMO, they aren't) the opposite ends of a spectrum. They can co-exist. Call it playable realism, maybe. Heh.

I got sidetracked, sorry. To recap, I'd balance crossbows vs bows by giving crossbows a +2 to their attack rolls while keeping their long reload times.

(And now I have to go. Nice timing...)
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Re: Ammunition

Postby youngneil1 » Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:52 pm

Balancing and convincing dgeree of realism are very subjective, so it indeed should be at the freedom of the module author.

I think it would be best to setup firearms/ranged weapons with some additional parameters that everyone can fill with life like e.g. damage, to hit bonus or range already:

0. WeaponNeedsAmmo (if set to no, just ignore 1. to 6 below)
1. TypesOfAmmunitionAllowedForThis Weapon (list of tags of ammuntion items that work with this weapon; again would be cool to have category tags possible here, as well)
2. NumberOfShotsPossibleBeforeReloadIsNecceessary (just the number of shots before the reload time listed under 4. is triggered)
3. MoreThanOneAttackPerRoundAllowed (If set to no, this weapon can only ever have one attack per round; if set to yes normal rules apply; better use in accordance with 2.)
4. ReloadTime(time required in rounds to reload the weapon once all allowed shots have been fired; 0 means that reloading takes no relevant time)
5. AutomaticReloadToMaxIfPossibleAtTheEndOfCombat (automatically refill as far as possible to the number in 2. with the last used ammo type)
6. DrawAmmunitionFromPartyOrFromCharacterInventory (just decide here from where reloadable ammo can be chosen: party or character inventory)

"Burst fire" could be a special trait (freely defianable, see rather long threat), consuming e.g. extra shots, but also doing extra damage, only usable if certain ranged weapons are equipped (TS Call condition) , etc.

Ammunition items would have their own attributes, like damage boni/mali, to hit boni/mali, armor absorbtion negation/increase, range bonus/malus, etc.

In the inventory the ammotype used is directly listed under the characters equipped ranged weapon/firearm. Behind the weapon the remaining shots before reload and the max shots are shown. Behind the ammotype the remaning bullets/arrows either in the character's inventory or the party inventory are shown (depending on selection at above Nr. 6). It could look like this:

"Longbow (1/1),
Bonehead Arrows (112)"

"Revolver (4/8),
6mm rounds (17)"

Note: One could go a step further and simulate relaods in magazine sized chunks as further option, discarding left over bullets on each relaod, so each relaod would cost the full number in ammo, even if the weapon was still half full (old magazin out, thrown away, new magazin in).
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Re: Ammunition

Postby Lurking Grue » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:40 am

youngneil1 wrote:Balancing and convincing dgeree of realism are very subjective, so it indeed should be at the freedom of the module author.

Indeed, this is very important for a generic toolset.

youngneil1 wrote:I think it would be best to setup firearms/ranged weapons with some additional parameters that everyone can fill with life like e.g. damage, to hit bonus or range already {snip}

Yes, those parameters are very good and would allow for a lot of customization. Excellent work!

youngneil1 wrote:Ammunition items would have their own attributes, like damage boni/mali, to hit boni/mali, armor absorbtion negation/increase, range bonus/malus, etc.

This is how I conceived it to go as well. Ammo modifies the base damage of the ranged weapon, maybe giving bonus to damage, maybe improving armor penetration, etc.

youngneil1 wrote:In the inventory the ammotype used is directly listed under the characters equipped ranged weapon/firearm. Behind the weapon the remaining shots before reload and the max shots are shown. Behind the ammotype the remaning bullets/arrows either in the character's inventory or the party inventory are shown

Yes, good idea. Maybe even have the spare ammo under the ranged weapon be indented a bit or marked with some symbol to make it stand out as ammo in use for the weapon (in case there are several different ammo types for the weapon in the inventory).
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Re: Ammunition

Postby youngneil1 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 6:00 pm

Great to shape things together with you, Grue. Most the input in the list above wouldn't be there wihtout your ideas and feedback here.
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Re: Ammunition

Postby Lurking Grue » Thu Feb 14, 2013 2:05 pm

youngneil1 wrote:Great to shape things together with you.

Likewise, buddy! Likewise. :)
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