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Corradus

The Silliness of Explosives

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So, before I go into full rag-on mode of how things like Concussion Grenades and Frag Grenades and Thermal Detties work in this game line's mechanics, lemme make sure I haven't misunderstood the rules for them.

So, Jimmy The Itchy Rodian is a pirate and he and his crew have just boarded a crippled Consular Class Cruiser.  Jimmy has a couple of Concussion Grenades amongst his kit and so he, they and his blaster carbine do some good ol' fashioned compartment-clearing.

 

So in he goes, and he encounters a room that has Joe the Aqualish, Sally the Mon-Cal and Tessko the Trandoshian in it.

 

Because of how the Initiative Check went, Tessko goes first and tries to fill poor Jimmy with holes using his blaster.  Jimmy takes a hit but his armor and soak take care of most of it and no Crit is rolled.  Jimmy's turn is next on the Initiative Check so he says "Nuts to this!" and tosses a Conkie Grenade in the room, using Tessko as his "primary target".

Now, again, I wanna make sure I get this right.

1)  Jimmy chooses a primary target for the grenade.
2)  Assuming the grenade hits its primary target, damage ensues - pretty hefty damage - at least to the primary.

3)  If Jimmy manages to come up with some Advantages, he can spend them to "activate" the Grenade's Blast Keyword because it's a special feature of the weapon and must be activated or, regardless of who else is nearby, regardless of how powerful the grenade happens to be - only Tessko would take damage.

*imagine a record scratching to a stop here*

Okay, so, assuming I have this right, can you guess what I'm gonna say next?

Explosives and items with Blast in this game are handled...in a manner that strains credulity.

There are very few settings, realistic or speculative that see any grenade or explosive's efficacy as being that erratic.  For one thing, it's unlikely most players would get enough Advantages in a Check to be able to affect more than two people other than the explosives' primary target, which, in the open isn't that big a deal (it's still not quite credulous but its better) but in closer quarters just doesn't reflect how deadly grenades are.

My big problem is that it's possible for a grenade to miss its primary target and do no damage to anything at all (or at least anything that can shoot back at you). Again, this is a little easier to take in open spaces than in confined ones.

I know the standard answers are gonna invariably involve choosing to look at the Check results in the "right light and frame of mind" this game is a haven for situation-based mental gymnastics (and some of you guys are impressively good with those I must say), but...I dunno...it's hard to say the words "grenade", "confined space" and "zero damage yield to combatants" without somebody raising a red flag...

Am I alone here in these thoughts or what?

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This has come up before, some points to consider.

 

  1. The engaged range band is pretty big, so when you're talking room clearing, everyone in the room is likely engaged unless the room is a pretty big one. Remember the Blast rules are the same for a concussion missile, so still talking Engaged Blast range, so yeah, pretty big.
  2. Explosives are weird and rather unpredictable. Yeah this game handles things kinda differently but it's not all that unbelievable that a grenade could land in such a way, behind appropriate obstructions, that not everyone within the burst radius would be hit. I've seen situations where a bomb hit a tank, punching a hole right into the drivers compartment, but didn't kill the jackrabbit sleeping under the tank, another where the exact same kind of bomb leveled an entire building. Even a nuke site that vaporized the stand it was on, but only shattered the windows of a house just a couple miles away.
  3. 3 Advantage can still allow a blast weapon to hit the target and engaged characters for blast damage. So evena "missed" grenade can do it's thing.
  4. I'm having trouble finding it (might have been in the beta) but there is a breakout box that says when dealing with explosives in a confined space the GM can tweak things. Since you're already talking short range 90% of the time, just adding a couple of Boost dice for extremely beneficial conditions might be all it takes.
Edited by Ghostofman

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Look at things this way:

 

You can throw a grenade at someone, but without the Advantage to activate the Blast quality, other targets managed to duck behind cover that shielded them from the explosion (remember that a round is actually 1-5 minutes long, so a lot can be taking place). Think about how many movie scenes involve an explosive being lobbed at the hero(es) who managed to dive out of the way just in time to not get obliterated. Just think of a lack of advantage that way.

 

As for missing and not hitting anyone, as was pointed out, the book specifically calls out GMs making adjustments to conform to credulity, but also, you could rule that the thing was a dud (since it didn't deal anyone any damage), or that it went down a hole, or rolled under something that could absorb the blast, or one of the characters batter the thing away, or it fell out a window...

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Well, I reserve the right to use two threat to activate the Blast keyword of a player's weapon, or even Destiny. Otherwise, they might get the idea of dropping a Therminator at the feet of a foe they're engaged with.

When playing in an old WEG star wars game we were pinned down in a speeder bay and I called in an orbital strike on my position, the look on the GMs face was hilarious, the plan was for us to hop on a speeder and escape the blast.

A GM needs a way to punish players for doing stupid things like that, spending threat to trigger blast seems like a really good way of handling it.

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The game promotes use of common sense. A GM may adjudicate that characters are caught in the blast if it is appropriate. A confined space or such. But as also noted, explosives are a fickle beast and there are stories of people surviving various types of explosions.

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Explosives can do strange things. There are real life examples of this. My grandfather was a victim of a a Stuka dive-bomber attack in WW2. A bomb blew up (set to go off before ground level) directly above my grandfather's head. Those around him died. My grandfather only got a couple pieces of shrapnel in his face due to the bomb blowing outward from his position. Being in the direct center actually saved him.

 

I agree with GM's using common sense. 2 Ewoks dive into a small shipping container. You open the lid and drop a grenade in with them and close it while screaming, "Die Care Bears!". As a GM I'm going to rule the Blast automatically activates unless there's something like a Despair to cause a dud, one of the Ewok's plays hero and dives on it, etc.

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For one thing, it's unlikely most players would get enough Advantages in a Check to be able to affect more than two people other than the explosives' primary target, which, in the open isn't that big a deal (it's still not quite credulous but its better) but in closer quarters just doesn't reflect how deadly grenades are.

 

You don't need to activate blast multiple times - just once, and it effects everyone in Engaged range with the primary target (as someone else already pointed out, you can even activate Blast if the attack isn't successful).

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doing some test rolling, with a skill of 3:1, 2 boost, and unmodified difficulty, you'll hit most of the time, and can trigger blast most of thethe times you hit.

If it's one thing I've discovered with the dice in this game, you can come up with some pretty head-scratching results, so one person's dice experience really does not always translate to another.  I know mathematically that doesn't seem so, but my own eyes have seen some real wild stuff.  Besides, in any given dice check, you're not taking the average of a bunch of rolls as the norm, it's whatever comes up that single check.

Also, boost doesn't come into play all the time.  Oh sure, we're encouraged to boost like a bugger, but sometimes there's no juice in the boost bin, so I tend not to factor that in regularly.  Same for setback dice.

 

 

For one thing, it's unlikely most players would get enough Advantages in a Check to be able to affect more than two people other than the explosives' primary target, which, in the open isn't that big a deal (it's still not quite credulous but its better) but in closer quarters just doesn't reflect how deadly grenades are.

 

You don't need to activate blast multiple times - just once, and it effects everyone in Engaged range with the primary target (as someone else already pointed out, you can even activate Blast if the attack isn't successful).

 

Are you sure?  Because having read the rules, I came away with the impression that you had to use two advantages to trigger Blast for every target you wished to affect.

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The wording (imho) of Blast is pretty confusing. But, broken down what it says is:

 

Damage = Base weapon damage. Add # of Successes.

Blast = Typically less then Damage. Still Add # of Successes (if any).

 

Failure, Blast not Activated = Nothing happens. Grenade bounced away.

 

Success, Blast not Activated = Target (only) takes Damage. Others dove for cover.

 

Success, Blast Activated with 2 Advantage = Target takes Damage, those Engaged take Blast. It was a good toss, landed by the target's feet, catching him with the full force and everyone else nearby with a lesser blast.

 

Failure, Blast Activated with 3 Advantage = No one takes Damage. Target and those Engaged take Blast. It was a near miss. No one took the full brunt, but everyone was still caught in the blast.

Edited by Sturn

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doing some test rolling, with a skill of 3:1, 2 boost, and unmodified difficulty, you'll hit most of the time, and can trigger blast most of thethe times you hit.

If it's one thing I've discovered with the dice in this game, you can come up with some pretty head-scratching results, so one person's dice experience really does not always translate to another.  I know mathematically that doesn't seem so, but my own eyes have seen some real wild stuff.  Besides, in any given dice check, you're not taking the average of a bunch of rolls as the norm, it's whatever comes up that single check.

Also, boost doesn't come into play all the time.  Oh sure, we're encouraged to boost like a bugger, but sometimes there's no juice in the boost bin, so I tend not to factor that in regularly.  Same for setback dice.

 

 

If you're not adding boosts and setbacks that's kinda your own issue. I was running the numbers on a grenade check that added 2 boost for tossing the grenade into an enclosed space. If you wanted you could Aim as well, or even aim twice, to make it +4 boost. That'll get the odds even more in your favor.

 

You can still get the occasional bomb-o of course, but the chances of that are next to nil.

 

And as others have said, you messed up the advantage cost, so to hit everyone in a small room, you only need to net 1 Success and 2 Advantage, or at the very least 3 Advantage. Not a big deal.

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Also keep in mind that combat rounds are not your 6 second D&D rounds.  In film, there are plenty of situations where the heroes (or enemies) are able to avoid a grenade blast.  Whether or not thats realistic or not is a different matter...  Remember Star Wars (especially this system) is all about cinematic combat. 

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This has come up before, some points to consider.

 

  1. The engaged range band is pretty big, so when you're talking room clearing, everyone in the room is likely engaged unless the room is a pretty big one. Remember the Blast rules are the same for a concussion missile, so still talking Engaged Blast range, so yeah, pretty big.
  2. Explosives are weird and rather unpredictable. Yeah this game handles things kinda differently but it's not all that unbelievable that a grenade could land in such a way, behind appropriate obstructions, that not everyone within the burst radius would be hit. I've seen situations where a bomb hit a tank, punching a hole right into the drivers compartment, but didn't kill the jackrabbit sleeping under the tank, another where the exact same kind of bomb leveled an entire building. Even a nuke site that vaporized the stand it was on, but only shattered the windows of a house just a couple miles away.
  3. 3 Advantage can still allow a blast weapon to hit the target and engaged characters for blast damage. So evena "missed" grenade can do it's thing.
  4. I'm having trouble finding it (might have been in the beta) but there is a breakout box that says when dealing with explosives in a confined space the GM can tweak things. Since you're already talking short range 90% of the time, just adding a couple of Boost dice for extremely beneficial conditions might be all it takes.

 

 

And, most importantly - HOLLYWOOD! How many times does a Action Hero have an explosion go off near him, knocking him down - but he gets right back up, machine gun blazing? All the time - especially in the eighties. So, its not that the grenade had no effect - say that it scattered the bad guy group - but it didnt kill any.

 

There, problem solved!

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I also ran into this problem and use an easy house rule.  I allow players to trade successes for advantage 1 for 1 to activate blast effects.  If you can't come up with a combination of 3 successes and advantages, your grenade was either a dud (no successes) or the intended target fell/blocked it (1 or 2 successes).

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This has come up before, some points to consider.

 

  1. The engaged range band is pretty big, so when you're talking room clearing, everyone in the room is likely engaged unless the room is a pretty big one. Remember the Blast rules are the same for a concussion missile, so still talking Engaged Blast range, so yeah, pretty big.
  2. Explosives are weird and rather unpredictable. Yeah this game handles things kinda differently but it's not all that unbelievable that a grenade could land in such a way, behind appropriate obstructions, that not everyone within the burst radius would be hit. I've seen situations where a bomb hit a tank, punching a hole right into the drivers compartment, but didn't kill the jackrabbit sleeping under the tank, another where the exact same kind of bomb leveled an entire building. Even a nuke site that vaporized the stand it was on, but only shattered the windows of a house just a couple miles away.
  3. 3 Advantage can still allow a blast weapon to hit the target and engaged characters for blast damage. So evena "missed" grenade can do it's thing.
  4. I'm having trouble finding it (might have been in the beta) but there is a breakout box that says when dealing with explosives in a confined space the GM can tweak things. Since you're already talking short range 90% of the time, just adding a couple of Boost dice for extremely beneficial conditions might be all it takes.

 

 

And, most importantly - HOLLYWOOD! How many times does a Action Hero have an explosion go off near him, knocking him down - but he gets right back up, machine gun blazing? All the time - especially in the eighties. So, its not that the grenade had no effect - say that it scattered the bad guy group - but it didnt kill any.

 

There, problem solved!

 

And depending on your party's makeup, 5 single minions are a lot more annoying than an unscattered group of minions.

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I also ran into this problem and use an easy house rule.  I allow players to trade successes for advantage 1 for 1 to activate blast effects.  If you can't come up with a combination of 3 successes and advantages, your grenade was either a dud (no successes) or the intended target fell/blocked it (1 or 2 successes).

Which kind of takes away from the whole point of Advantage/Success in this system over the flat, numeric systems like D&D, Shadowrun, etc...

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Have your PC define their target.  Are they trying to bounce the grenade off someone's snot locker, or are they trying to just lob it into the room?  That's a pretty simple Difficulty I would imagine and it should be a piece of cake to activate the Blast effect consistently.  

 

It's not really doable to handle grenades like they would work in RL otherwise people would be re-rolling characters constantly. In RL if an explosive goes off in a confined space it's the blast wave/overpressure that does the most damage and will collapse lungs, induce pulmonary edemas and all manner of icky sticky internal badness etc

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I think it's just that a lot of people are used to games that use maps n stuff so they expect "the grenade automatically hits everyone in X distance from the grenade." Activating blast and figuring out range bands is confusing if you're coming from a world of maps and grids.

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I don't see the issue, unless you believe that a successful roll means that the grenade lands right on the target. That's not what I believe the rules suggest:

  • If you fail, then you threw the grenade too far away.
  • If you have a successful roll, you threw the grenade close enough to the target that they get hit, but not close enough to hurt everyone else.
  • If you succeed and activate blast, you throw the grenade close enough to everyone so they all get hit. 
  • If you fail and activate the blast, then you threw wide and the target wasn't in the blast, but others were.

The system doesn't work as granularly as others, but as someone who has had years of calculating "chunky salsa" damage in Shadowrun as a GM, I think it works fine.

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I don't see the issue, unless you believe that a successful roll means that the grenade lands right on the target. That's not what I believe the rules suggest:

  • If you fail, then you threw the grenade too far away.
  • If you have a successful roll, you threw the grenade close enough to the target that they get hit, but not close enough to hurt everyone else.
  • If you succeed and activate blast, you throw the grenade close enough to everyone so they all get hit. 
  • If you fail and activate the blast, then you threw wide and the target wasn't in the blast, but others were.

The system doesn't work as granularly as others, but as someone who has had years of calculating "chunky salsa" damage in Shadowrun as a GM, I think it works fine.

 

Agree with all of this, but the last bullet point is slightly off. The target is still hit with Blast (only) when the roll fails but Blast is still activated (which in this way requires 3 Advantage instead of just 2 required with a Success). RAW the primary target will always end up affected if anyone was hit by blast without some other affect (Despair?).

Edited by Sturn

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It's not really doable to handle grenades like they would work in RL otherwise people would be re-rolling characters constantly. In RL if an explosive goes off in a confined space it's the blast wave/overpressure that does the most damage and will collapse lungs, induce pulmonary edemas and all manner of icky sticky internal badness etc

 

One of my favorite terms, I believe from Shadowrun, was the Chunky Salsa Effect. Explosives in small rooms does nasty things.

 

However, I've heard that explosives in open spaces are much different than in confined spaces. If you're in an open enough area, especially outside, then it becomes fairly hard to hurt more than one person because the blast dissipates and the shrapnel goes everywhere except where the targets are. Apparently Hollywood does a lot to make grenades seem more deadly than they actually are. (Note: I've never used a grenade and any knowledge I have on this topic I believe I read on the internet, for whatever that's worth.)

 

Explosives can act weird too. Ever read survivor stories from bombings? I read one from the Boston bombing about a mother who was standing pretty darn close to the bomb with their child sitting on their feet. Basically all that separated the child from the bomb was the mother's legs. Mom lost her legs but the child was practically unscathed. It's amazing how much of a blast can be absorbed/deflected/contained by meat.

 

To me this means that a miss in this game means that something got in the way of the blast and the characters were not meaningfully injured. Narrate minor cuts and bruises and being showered with debris, but they can get away without suffering any Wounds. Doubly easy to narrate if they are wearing armor which could also help lessen the impact. A miss is not necessarily a miss, just like a hit is not necessarily a hit.

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