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> Sniping Skill, Or: is every Street Sam w/ a smartlink a god of extreme range shooting
Kerenshara
post Mar 3 2011, 04:39 AM
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In SR4X, and especially 4A, there is a big discrepancy between “progression” for Awakened characters and the Sammies and their brethren. The Karma for Cash rule helps right this to some extent, but being a Mage isn’t really cheap, either. We saw in a recent campaign that, short of just piling dice pools up to the heavens, the Sammy winds up going into other things because they can’t rationalize buying that 6th level in Firearms.

The issue is, having know a few snipers, short of the actual trigger pulling, sniping is a skill set all to itself. It’s precise and methodical. When you’re good enough, a lot of it becomes automatic, and the right tools help tremendously. But essentially what it all boils down to is negating the difficulties (read: DP Penalties) associated with range-to-target and / or target movement.

So, here’s my idea:

Offer a custom skill called “Sniping”. It’s a Combat Active Skill not in any group. It’s tied to Logic (take THAT Mr. “I don’t need a brain to geek drek” Sammy!), can NOT be used untrained and benefits from an Encephalon and a Math Coprocessor like a Hacking skill. Specializations would include “Cold Bore” (First shot), “Rapid Re-engagement” (Follow-up shots), “Rapid Preparation” (read: quickly control breathing after running) and “Precision Targeting” (Bypassing cover, armor, etc). The entire point of the skill is that when attempting a shot beyond close range, as part of the “Take Aim” action make a Sniping roll. Any successes are applied against the negative modifiers at the target’s end of the shot. You need not be stationary, buy you can not be in motion yourself (you can snipe from a moving vehicle if you’re stationary within the vehicle). All penalties which would normally affect a shot from the shooter’s perspective (lighting, self motion, wound penalties and so forth) apply to the Sniping roll.

The maximum number of hits on the roll is capped at Skill x2. The result of the roll replaces the usual +1 for Take Aim, but the sniper can choose to keep aiming. They also may take a consecutive total of 3 + Hits “Take Aim” actions, Max = 3 + Sniping Skill.

This way, you can have somebody who really is JUST a sniper and excels at it without having to be Annie Oakley. After all, if you negate YOUR penalties, are highly skilled in Sniping, and can negate the target side penalties, all you’re doing is squeezing that trigger nice and soft. Plus, if they're Aiming all the time, they're not taking double shots constantly, right? If they're using SS weapons, moreso.

Oh, spotters: Another person who has the same LOS and Sniping skill can assist, making their own roll and contributing their net hits to the trigger-puller’s Sniping roll subject to all the same rules. Maximum one person helping.

Thoughts?

-Kerenshara
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Critias
post Mar 3 2011, 04:55 AM
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Sounds like an unnecessary complication to me, but in an already-heavily-house-ruled-in-the-name-of-"realism" game, knock yourself out, I guess.
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Kerenshara
post Mar 3 2011, 05:00 AM
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We had a really decent player who felt their ex-military character didn't feel "skilled" enough. And I had a toon who was supposed to know how to snipe but it didn't seem to work out so well... whereas that skill would have fixed both problems. That's why I was looking for editorial on the setup. And really, it's not much worse than some of the spellcasting (re: limits) or even physical skills already in place (see all the garbage that falls under Gymnastics?)

-Kerenshara
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Muspellsheimr
post Mar 3 2011, 05:08 AM
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Game design:
A game should be as realistic (read: believable/consistent) as possible, while allowing for trade-off in terms of playability. This trade-off often comes in the form of simplifying or combining what would otherwise be complex & separate skills and abilities to make the game enjoyable and accessible.

What you are proposing not only goes in the complete opposite direction in terms of playability, it does so for a single, specific instance in the rules while also adding additional, unnecessary rules to the game, increasing it's complexity.


In other words, there is a reason sniping is included in the longarms skill - a good one. This is also the reason why (in my games) Climbing, Running, & Swimming (and Flying, where applicable) are all removed in favor of a single Athletics skill, and part of the reason why Automatics is removed and incorporated into Pistols and Longarms.
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DMiller
post Mar 3 2011, 05:24 AM
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I agree a little with Critias. It does seem to over complicate things. I like the idea however. Perhaps make Sniping a complimentary skill to Long Arms. So the Sniper takes a complex action to Use Skill: Sniping. The hits from this roll are then added to the Long Arms test as bonus dice to the dice pool. Simpler, easier, and still fits within most of the existing game mechanics.

Snipers usually don't make snap shots, so the Use Skill option makes realistic sense. A trained Sniper will have a much larger dice pool on the final attack roll than someone just skilled in Long Arms. Your use of Int + Sniping makes sense. I'd apply all the same modifiers to the Sniping skill roll as the Long Arms test except range and smart link as due to the nature of the skill those two modifiers don't make sense.

Just my 2 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif)
-D
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Kerenshara
post Mar 3 2011, 05:24 AM
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QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Mar 3 2011, 12:08 AM) *
What you are proposing not only goes in the complete opposite direction in terms of playability, it does so for a single, specific instance in the rules while also adding additional, unnecessary rules to the game, increasing it's complexity.

Bad time to admit our group was looking at tweaking (mostly breaking out) the other Combat skills as well?

The combat system is ... weighty as-is partly as a side-effect of how abstract it is. At least that's my feeling on it. At the same time, if the system is TOO abstract the result tends to become "I shoot it" or "I punch it". Sniping is something that's kind of unusual (unless you're an assasin for example) and at low levels doesn't get you much so I don't see it as having a real "down side". That said, if there's a way to account for creativity on the part of the PCs when it comes to engaging the Bad Guys in the scrum, then I'd love a CONSISTENT way to reward them mechanically besides having to do it by fiat every time ("Um, yeah, you get a +2 on that"), mainly because I've known some disasterously inconsistent GMs.

The basic framework of the game: [Stat + Skill + Modifiers] either opposed by same or as a threshold is a very workable system overall. They way they've chosen to set up the (especailly Combat) skills is where we wind up dissapointed. Biggest second example? Heavy Weapons. What does operating an M2HB HMG have to do with proficiency with wire-guided anti-tank munitions, laser-guided SAMs, or using an 81mm Mortar? Or: What is the difference between firing the M16A2 and the CAR-15 if you're firing the M16A2 in Semi-Auto mode? Why are they different skills (Automatics vs. Longarms). Essentially, breaking the skills out more makes sense to us generally.

We play with a lot of the tweaks as well. I guess I should have pointed out that we ALWAYS play with ALL the DP Caps in place: Max Hits = 2x Skill or 1 (lower); Max DP = 20; Max Bonuses = [Skill + Stat] x 2. And funny thing, despite some pretty impressive builds at the table, we seldom ran into the kind of stupid situations I hear described because people are rolling 40 dice on an attack roll. The system's base mechanics fall apart at that point because they didn't assume that level of... creativity. So we're much more about controling penalities at our table than piling on the dice. Does that make a difference at all?

-Kerenshara


*EDIT* Just so y'all know, we don't have any problems with the Magic system generally, and seem to fall back on THAT when in doubt, believe it or not... whereas a lot of people here seem to be of the precise OPPOSITE opinion. We even decided to go with the "tweak" from Unwired that makes Hacking look more like Magic, bringing the stat into it with a cap.
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DMiller
post Mar 3 2011, 05:35 AM
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Hmm, after reading you latest post Kerenshara, I think my suggestion might still be viable. But rather than the Use Skill: Sniping action adding dice to the Long Arms test, perhaps use the hits (or half the hits) from the Sniping skill test reduce penalties on the Long Arms test.

-D
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Whipstitch
post Mar 3 2011, 05:42 AM
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Might want to consider that at least as far as making the shot goes a lot of the mechanical benefits of having a spotter overlap heavily with the benefits of having a smartlink and TACnet, even if the latter is just being provided by a drone and some other good sensors. Which, sorta makes sense, as I've talked frankly with a sniper before and he basically indicated that having a spotter is nice for a lot of reasons but that the best part is that it makes creeping around out there feel at least tiny bit more normal as opposed to mind-rendingly dangerous.
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Glyph
post Mar 3 2011, 05:46 AM
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My personal opinion is that sniping does NOT need a power-up. It usually involves an aimed shot with a high base damage and AP, against a target only rolling Body. Indeed, usually the problem with sniping is the opposite one - that it can be a cheesy tactic, and hard to defend against.

I think a skilled sniper would be better emulated with complementary active skills (such as infiltration) and knowledge skills (such as security procedures).
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Kerenshara
post Mar 3 2011, 06:07 AM
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Not underplaying the secondary skills at all. I'm just looking at the ...

Let me put this another way: If I want a sniper character RAW, I buy Longarms to max I can get. But in addition to being wicked with my prefered sniper weapon, I take a sawed-off fully-auto shotgun and mow people down in job-lots too.

One thing our group was very good at was only taking skills comensurate with their background experience levels. Still meant the Sammy could go a little nutz, but he actually stayed very close to story-line. Most people had 2-3 skill with various weapons at best because there wasn't a good way to justify "Veteran" skill with handguns short of long-service military or similar. We're not talking Zero (The Gun-Bunny Physad character from X-Men Origins: Wolverine) here, either. We chose to go with Karmagen because it ENCOURAGED people to take a lot of skills at 1 and 2 to represent cross-training and oddball experience people pick up around wherever.

Maybe we're just weird that way...

I can certainly see where Active Combat Skill: Sniping as I first depicted it would be an exceedingly Bad Thing at a table where people are slinging 40 dice to begin with.

-Kerenshara
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Ol' Scratch
post Mar 3 2011, 06:25 AM
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This is outside the realm of Combat Skills anyway. What you're proposing is more closely related to a Positive Quality, Adept Power, or Martial Arts Maneuver. In fact, it's essentially Adept Centering or Heightened Concentration, just applied to the target (which is an awkward way of doing it). As an Active Skill, all you're really doing is introducing "okay, you can make two tests to add even more hits to your overall success. But only if you're a sniper, because I like snipers."

There's already a Martial Arts technique that does what you're really trying to do. Krav Maga has "Take Aim becomes a Free Action." And since you can twist and contort the names and descriptions of the various martial arts (they even include one that's firearms based as an example), there's really no excuse for not using that as a basis.

Nevermind that I find it to be a grossly powerful technique in my experience, and one I'm shocked that doesn't show up in broken builds more often. I mean, as is, that's a full +3 dice a shot (or two shots with no bonus as usual with one of them gaining +2 dice) each time your turn shows up. Introduce a Maneuver or Quality that goes along with it that lets you exceed the half-skill limitation on the number of Take Aim actions you can use, and you can build them up at +5 per turn that you spend lining up your shot. Since each of those +1s is effectively equal to a -1 to the target, the same net effect is gained without having to introduce a clunky, biased set of rules that just makes everyone go "wtf can't I do that with my attack of choice, too?!" And no need to go out of your way to explain why the target is getting some random negative modifiers, either.

There's also the small fact that this ignores the most basic concept of the game: When two people of equal Skill perform an action related to their Skill, one shouldn't be getting extra perks just because they chose that skill instead of another one (and definitely not the equivalence of a second Skill to boost the first one). Your problem seems to be one that Sniper Rifles aren't performing the way you'd like. Which, honestly, is quite a joke considering the special ammos and whatnot available for them. But to each their own, I guess.
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Epicedion
post Mar 3 2011, 06:30 AM
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SR4 does have the issue of making certain things too easy. However, I think you'd be better off utilizing something that SR4 doesn't bother to mention about sniping. This isn't exactly a house rule so much as it is simply enforcing a normal rule that isn't necessarily tied to sniping by the book.

Snipers really need to be good at Perception (visual) to find their target in the first place. Even with binoculars or a scope, at very long distances it can be difficult to spot your target to shoot at him, since you have a very small window through which to search. Now if your target is standing still in a brightly lit field, that's pretty easy. If your target is crouched behind a sandbag in a dimly lit room in the middle of a gunfight with your buddies, it's pretty hard.

I would say that acquiring a target from a kilometer away should require a Perception test.

By the Perception rules, you need to take a simple action to Observe in Detail. The threshold for a "normal" sized target is 2.

Against the guy in the brightly lit field, you're looking at a standard test. Against the guy behind the bunker in the dim room in a firefight, you're looking at a -4 to the test.

Spotters could use the rules for Teamwork Tests (make the same test, hits give extra dice to the main test) to assist in finding the target, so long as they have access to appropriate vision magnification equipment.

After you acquire your target, you can make your Take Aim actions and fire as normal.
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CanRay
post Mar 3 2011, 06:36 AM
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Maybe not a Sniper skill, that would be Longarms, but a Spotter skill for the second-member required of a proper sniper team could be a specialty of Perception, under Intuition.

Working together to give a bonus to sniping and combat awareness.
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Ol' Scratch
post Mar 3 2011, 06:43 AM
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^ That's covered by the Teamwork rules.
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CanRay
post Mar 3 2011, 06:45 AM
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There we go, no wonder I had no idea about it, my group never works as a team.
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Mardrax
post Mar 3 2011, 07:29 AM
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What do you think about just allowing a Teamwork test for the spotter? Possibly with Intuition (since it ties into perception) or Logic if you want to stick to that, instead of Agility?

Agreed with Glyph though. Sniping tends to result in one-hit kills against everything but a heavily souped up troll in milspec armor, and even there it stands a good chance.

Edit: crap. That'll teach me to refresh a page after forgetting I've had it open for an hour (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)
What they said.
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CanRay
post Mar 3 2011, 07:30 AM
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Well, when you consider what Snipers do IRL...
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Epicedion
post Mar 3 2011, 10:05 AM
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You could always remind people how boring being a dedicated sniper would be. While everyone else is running around being awesome, they're sitting somewhere saying "okay I shoot the ork.. okay I shoot the other ork.."
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braincraft
post Mar 3 2011, 10:16 AM
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It sounds like your issue isn't that sniping isn't strong enough, but that skills are too broad.
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Kerenshara
post Mar 3 2011, 12:19 PM
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QUOTE (braincraft @ Mar 3 2011, 05:16 AM) *
It sounds like your issue isn't that sniping isn't strong enough, but that skills are too broad.

It would not be inaccurate to say that what started this was that I believe the COMBA skills in particular are too broad. (No time to reply to some of the great stuff overnight. Have to hit that later.)

-Kerenshara
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Makki
post Mar 3 2011, 01:33 PM
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many times I read about changing the firearms skills from weapon type to shooting type.

Shooting (Group)
Single Shot and Semi Automatic
Burst Fire
Full Automatic
Long Range Sniping

The Specializations are weapon types
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Cheops
post Mar 3 2011, 03:48 PM
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If it hasn't already been mentioned I have found that switching to dice pool penalties = threshold modifiers on a 1-for-1 basis solves a the street sam issue nicely. They still have a good chance of success with their 20+ dice at hitting that threshold 9 shot but the system heavily favors the guy who takes the time to plan everything out and work the penalties in their favor. That to me is the essence of a sniper -- the guy who has the right gear and plans out how to be in the right place at the right time to take the shot. No extra skill necessary apart from knowledge skills your sniper should already have.
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sabs
post Mar 3 2011, 03:50 PM
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My problem with sniping really is the Agility stat link with longarms.

I'm not sure I buy that when you're lying prone, with your weapon on a bipod, shooting down range 1.4 kilometers, that your AGILITY is determining how well you shoot.
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Makki
post Mar 3 2011, 04:25 PM
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make it willpower (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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sabs
post Mar 3 2011, 04:26 PM
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I have actually (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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