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First off, really excellent site you all have here.
Secondly, I apologize if this has been asked before, I did a search but was unable to find what I was looking for.

Now then, I'm curious to see what sort of rulings/house rules people have come up with for dealing with the issues of Cover, LOS, and perhaps an overabundance of laziness. I'm a newly minted GM, and while I can see the advantages of using a battlemat/map in combat, it also seems like it could be *really* irritating if you're not prepared to detail it down to the location of the potted plants.

What I mean is, okay, say that you have a mage who wants to slings spells at people (as that's sort of what they do.) If he and his target are standing in the middle of a hall, that's fine. But I've been thinking of doing some sort of house rule wherein you can simply make a Quickness (maybe intelligence?) test to Take Cover. My reasoning here is so that I don't have to show every possible thing you might take cover behind on the map.

This is where it gets complicated. If, example, a mage wants to cast a spell on a guard that's just taken cover behind a desk that materialized in front of him (in OOC terms), would the mage still have LOS? Would it only "break" LOS if he has full cover? I suppose I could simply not use a combat map and wing it, but no map and blast radius together scare me.

Or am I simply making things too complicated for myself?

[EDIT] Perhaps it'd make things clearer if I said I was thinking of something like Blackjack's System of Cover™. That way the players can simply declare that they're hiding behind, say, this desk over here, and I don't have to worry about if a desk actually exists there IF it would be logical for one to be there. In an office, sure, on a football field, no.
Materializing things in front of NPCs to avoid magic, bullets, etc. is a good way to piss off your players. If you're going to draw out a map, you should probably draw the things that are on that map.
I generally draw out the larger objects, but leave the smaller items out and just describe them.

For instance, my runners needed a distraction - so Angel cast Magic Fingers on a potted plant at the corner. It wasn't on the map, but it made sense, so it created a ready-made diversion that I allowed.

Never materialize cover tho - I know my players get ticked off enough when I have to describe things in the first place and I don't get detailed ENOUGH...I can't imagine what they would do if I materialized a desk to give my guards cover. *shudder*
We make cover a function of movement. In other words, when you declare your movement, you also declare what kind of cover you are taking.

As a general rule, taking Cover gives the shooter a penalty in +2 increments depending on the coverage, and half of that value to the target as a penalty to his/her actions. In other words, the table on Cannon Companion page 98:
Percent of Target Visible  To-Hit Modifier  Penalty to Attack
          76-100                 +0                +0
          51-75                  +2                +1
          26-50                  +4                +2
           1-25                  +6                +3
            0                    +8 (Blind Fire)   Can't attack
You may also want to look at the Sprawl Survival Guide Lifestyles Edge/Flaw list, specifically Defensive Setup and Ambush Friendly.
Defensive Setup
Value: +0.10
The home with this Edge was either designed with architectural defense in mind or acquired that aspect by pure accident. It features corners and layout characteristics perfect for use as cover or advantageous positions in battle. When fighting indoors, characters familiar with the home (namely the character with the lifestyle and any regular visitors) can always move to gain the Partial Cover defensive bonus in ranged combat or the Superior Position bonus in melee combat. This Edge is incompatible with the Ambush Friendly Flaw.
Ambush Friendly
Value: –0.10
The character’s home was practically designed to be invaded. Anyone fighting indoors must succeed at a Perception (6) Test to locate a way to gain the Partial Cover defensive bonus in ranged combat or the Superior Position bonus in melee combat. This Flaw is incompatible with the Defensive Setup Edge.
As a Free Action, one can also drop prone. Depending on the angle of the shot from shooter to target, this can count for Partial Cover (although the shooter also gets the Stationary Target bonus).

As far as adjucating exactly how much cover is available, we use "common" sense. Our "maps" tend to be drawn on an online whiteboard, so the level of detail just isn't there (unless we want to spend hours drawing tchotchkes on the map that never get used). In general, our group tends to go with the agreement that "We can take cover at any time simply by moving into cover, but so can our opponents". In other words, the cover exists even when not drawn on the map (unless specified by the GM as being barren and flat), and both NPCs and PCs can utilize it at any time.

EDIT: Oh, and lose the vert-smileys in the titles of your posts. It isn't very compatible with the typical underlined hyperlinks on a forum, and it doesn't add any descriptive information (just like regular smileys).
Smiley/Mortand: Yeah, I apologize for not describing better. I was half-asleep when posting, not a good combination. I didn't mean describing it as such, more like describing ahead of time that there are a number of "solid wooden desks" in the room or some such and later taking cover behind said described objects. Materialization was the best term I could think of at the time.
I'll have to remember the trick with Magic Fingers, though.

Hahnsoo: Now that's what I was looking for. No CC yet, I'll have to get that. But I think that's something we could go for, since it seems to balance out. Many thanks.
what is the logic behind an increase in TN when shooting from cover? not that i have alot of combat experiance, but i've some training, and I found that shooting from cover was easier. limited FOV yes, but if you can see your target you can hit it, at least in my game, I mearly increase TN in relation to target size, (if you can only see his head its an automatic called shot, unless you wanna spray bullets where his body should be, then it's just suppressive fire rules)
QUOTE (Krazy)
what is the logic behind an increase in TN when shooting from cover?

Possibly because SR gives a movement penalty that is similar in magnitude for walking/running. Technically, you can't be taking cover AND moving at the same time (other than moving along in a blind spot out of the LOS). The penalty probably simulates the fact that you are actively taking cover, popping out to take a shot every so often. *shrugs*

EDIT: Cannon Companion p97 says: A character who is using cover to shield himself while returning fire will also suffer a modifier on his attacks, because hiding behind cover also means he can't see as much of the action.
Crimson Jack
QUOTE (Smiley)
Materializing things in front of NPCs to avoid magic, bullets, etc. is a good way to piss off your players.

One way to do it would be to call for a stealth (cover) test at a target number based on the room, successes determine the level of cover you are able to find (up to a maximum level based on the room.

Ok I made up the cover specialisation of stealth but it feels good. When you design your map you don’t need to know wether there are pot plants or sculptures you just record the cover target number which represents how much cover there is, when somebody takes cover you can describe it as whatever you want. When describing the room ether give an indication of how much stuff there is in it or just quote the cover TN.

The biggest problem with this is my tendency to take cover behind the riggers drones in corridors that would be target 20 max one level (strait clear corridor)

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