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van Riebeeck

Shooting a gun is not directing a macrobattery

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I suppose most of you will recognise this: Space combat is well and truly initiated. The ship is in range and the command bridge hums with activity. Cogitator units wirr going through all the transmutations of targetting a hostile ship more than 15 void units away. Skilled crewmen make their calculations, aided by servitors that crunch out the final firing directions. Overseeing this all is the captain of the ship, making sure his team of specialists works as one to fire the massive macrobatteries and awesome lances.....and then up steps the gunslinging bodyguard of the captain. This guy is a great shot. Born in the dangers of an underhive he learned to shoot before he could walk. He can shoot a lho stick out of a mouth at a thousand meters range. He can draw his pistols faster than his shadow. He is bolter and plasma fury personified. And now he uses these instinctive skills and his 81 ballistic skill to hip-shoot with the ships weapons. 

 

This doesn't fit. Of course, RP rules are just fantasy rules, but they should try to emulate (the admittedly fantastic) reality as well as possible and in is clear that in the above example this is not the case. Nothing has prepared this individualistic gunslinger with little or no education and technical skills in directing the complex targetting of shipborne weapons, but this is what is done according to the rules. Furthermore, the quality of the crew hardly plays a role in this. Wether this gunslinger stands on the bridge of the flagship of Battlefleet Calixis and directs the guns of the awesomely experienced crew (60) of the pride of the Imperial Navy or wether he has just joined the rag tag mob manning a miserable trader and its neophyte crew (20) doesn't matter a jot. The ship uses this 81 BS, with all the other modifiers added. 

 

Now, before I continue, let me make it clear that it is obvious that characters have to play a real role in ship combat. This is not a battlefleet simulation, but a roleplaying game and character actions matter. But using the BS of a character to direct a ships gun - with no training required, making it easier to use than a lasgun - is in my eyes an oversimplification that is unrealistic (see above) and destabilising, as it makes player character vessels insanely more dangerous than NPC crewed ships.

 

To resolve this, I am pondering about the following:

 

- We might average out the ballistic skill of the player directing the weapons with the crew skill. This is easily and quickly done and gives the players a direct influence on the capabilities of their ship while making crew quality of vital importance. In the above example the Navy battleship would see its allready awesome skill of 60 boosted to a near mythical 71 (rounding up), a terrifying number. While the rag tag tader would see a very hefty boost from 20 to 51. An enormous difference, but at least the green boys and old men have not reached a near perfect level of firing due to the presence of one man. 

 

- We might add a number of skills to be taken. Shipboard weapon training (macrobattery), Shipboard weapon training (lances), Shipboard weapon training (torpedoes) and Shipboard weapon training (Nova Cannon) seem logical, with a 300/300/300/500 XP cost (or something in those lines). Logical careers for those skills would be those of the Rogue Trader, Void Master, Explorator and Arch Militant (all the careers with the void tactician talent).

 

- A more far going step would be to use the crew skill, and allow the character directing the guns to modify this according to a specific skill. This would uncouple a ships firepower from the BS of a character, but still allow a player to have vast influence on the firepower of a ship. Master Gunner, Master Gunner +10, Master Gunner +20 and Master Gunner (talented) could work quite well and still place a premium on the quality of the crew. In the above example, this might even allow the battleship to reach a skill of 90 (which seems a good reward for any rogue trader party that has worked so hard to get an exceptional crew) while the green trader is steadied by the experienced hand on the bridge to a very respectable skill of 50.

 

This would mean that the bodyguard of the captain would no longer be a mere gunslinger. Dedication to the complex weaponry of his ship has made him a highly skilled and vital crewmember. He seamlessly slides in the often rehearsed positions, directs the bridge crew while trusting that the endless training in the gundecks will now pay off. 

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This has never felt too weird to me, the crew is there to load while the bridge aims and fires. There is no captains bodyguard class and the Arch-militant is the military commander on the ship which means its fully appropriate for him to fire the cannon (he is in charge of the soldiers regardless). It only gets weird when xenos take Control but that's an acceptable thing for me.

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Obviously there is no Captain's bodyguard class, just as there is no captain class. I was talking about characters. Nor am I bothered if it is the Arch-Militant (who seems to be more of a champion than a commander to be honest) or whomever who controls the fire. What matters to me, is that shooting a gun is not the same as firing the weapons of a city size spaceship. It is teamwork for which a distinct set of skills are needed. And the commander of this team can only be as good as his crew is. 

Let me compare it to a real world example: How good would a sniper be if you placed him of command of the main battery of an Iowa class battleship? 

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I've never had a problem with it.  RPGs are silly things when it comes to skills anyway.  I don't find it so far a stretch to think that someone good with a rifle might also be good with a computer screen pointer-thingie that aims a much bigger gun.  I mean orthopedists, pathologists, and heart surgeons are all covered under a single skill.  If I'm okay with that then what's the deal with pistols, rifles, and missile launchers....or railguns and nuclear missiles launchers, for that matter?

 

But to each his own.  After all, you might want some distinguishing characteristics between the PCs.

Edited by Errant Knight

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If you want to be particularly realistic, both manning the helm and operating the weapons of a spaceship should be strictly Intelligence based, not Agility or Ballistics Skill.

However ... it's a game.

 

 

The gun crews aren't actually making the decisions on how to train the gun they're working - that's all centrally directed. If they're doing anything with aiming, they're training the guns to the settings that are passed down. They're there to reload the guns, not aim them.

As far as sticking a sniper in charge of an Iowa-class battleship's main battery? Assuming the central fire direction and control systems are all functional, I'd expect said sniper to do reasonably well, although there might initially be some trouble in gauging how much lead to give the target.

And, since we're being realistic, there's a lot more to accurate sniping, especially when the range gets up, than just knowing how to aim a gun, and it's a lot of brainpower - gauging bullet drop and relative elevation, atmospheric conditions (ie, wind, rain, etc), coriolis effect, target movement and distance/bullet travel time, etc.

 

 

Personally, I wouldn't bother trying to make it overly realistic. I'd simply assume that if somebody's operating the guns, then it's probably not their first time, and they've gone and done it before in drills and the like.

Granted, I suppose it wouldn't be unreasonable for there to be or have been a Weapon Training talent or two for shipboard weapons, probably Macrobattery, Lance, Torpedoes, and Nova Cannon. Weapon Training (Macrobattery, and Lance) would have to be starting talents for the RT, Explorator, Archmilitant, and Void-Master, and be priced as regular Weapon Training for other careers, whereas Torpedo and Nova Cannon Training would probably end up being priced as Exotic Weapon Training.

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IMO, artillery use should be separate skill(s)... heh, even in AD&D2 it used special mechanics.

The problem is that 40kRP system of wide/narrow skills is sketchy and then there was turn toward less skills (probably in part for this reason).

 

I'd rule

Gunnery [int] (X): prerequisite Tech Use; add Y/2 bonus from Tech Use(Y). Cheap for Arch-Militant, medium for Explorator, Void-master and Missionary. For vehicle mounted (and if you update RT to OW, Indirect) weapons.
Macro Gunnery [int] (X): prerequisite Tech Use; add X/2  bonus from Tech Use(X). Cheap for Arch-Militant, Void-master, RT, medium for Explorator and Missionary. For ship mounted (operating in STs, aimed purely via instruments against dots on the screen) weapons.

 

Personally, I wouldn't bother trying to make it overly realistic. I'd simply assume that if somebody's operating the guns, then it's probably not their first time, and they've gone and done it before in drills and the like.

Granted, I suppose it wouldn't be unreasonable for there to be or have been a Weapon Training talent or two for shipboard weapons, probably Macrobattery, Lance, Torpedoes, and Nova Cannon. Weapon Training (Macrobattery, and Lance) would have to be starting talents for the RT, Explorator, Archmilitant, and Void-Master, and be priced as regular Weapon Training for other careers, whereas Torpedo and Nova Cannon Training would probably end up being priced as Exotic Weapon Training.

Or that.

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