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Daemon13

Called Shot

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I have a player in my group who brought up a question about Called Shot, more specifically he called the validity of Called Shot as an action into question. His point is that there is no real advantage to choosing a Called Shot over a Semi Auto Burst as targeting individual body parts has no real effect. I pointed out that it allows the picking out of less armoured areas of an enemy, to which he argued that most enemies tend to have the same armour all over (Hordes are a good example of this). More specifically, he believes there should be some bonus for shooting an opponent in the head. I've gone through the rulebook with a fine tooth comb and have been unable to find anything along these lines. I came up with a House rule that if a shot hits an opponent  in the head and deals enough damage (after TB and Armour) to equal TB, the opponent is stunned for 1 round. Is this fair and have I simply missed something in the book?

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Yeah but he's right that it is not very important otherwise. A round of stun for a headshot is okay. The problem with called shots is that in most gaming system it ends up with players always aiming for the head.

 

Alex

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Well, you can't called shot a horde, but you're right in that many enemies have the same armor all over.  Burly guard captains, CSMs, and some others have different armor values on different locations, but they do seem to be the exception.  You also have reason to shoot at a location if your enemy is under cover.  If that bad guy only has his right arm and head exposed, and you don't do a called shot it, the +20 AP might make your full auto burst ineffective. 

To Alex's point, I agree fully- if you make called shots (especailly to the head) significantly better you end up with a parade of nothing *but* headshots, which, if nothing else, is annoying.  Players don't aim for the head because that's where their character would aim, they aim because they've run the numbers and they've decided that the bonus damage is worth the wounds/turns/whatnot they have to burn to ge there. 

A 1 round stun for doing TB damage post damage reduction though, does seem okay to me- it gives it a boost without seeming to make it the end all be all.

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 ^This. 

It gets a bit lame when players constantly say 'going for a headshot', and he extra GM admin to record stun is annoying. Basically, your players are looking for a mechanical advantage.

They also probably won't like the tables being turned. Nothing is more frustrating for a player than missing their turn. If you want to illustrate the point, then I'd recommend having a bunch of Eldar/Tau snipers who stunlock the PCs constantly, from 500m away! That should put them off!

Instead, point out the other benefits of called shots: Safely shooting into melee, bypassing cover, less armoured locations... there really are a lot of good reasons to use called shots, but 'Called shot: head' is not really one of them until a foe's wounds are out.

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I agree the called shot seemed a bit... pointless in most situations.

Being able to hit an unarmoured spot or hit an enemies arm or head he has sticking out of cover being one of the advantages. Now many people are choosing to use the Black Crusade equivilent to righteous fury. Which is roll 1d5 on the crit table for that location if you get a 0 on the damage roll. So I can see how a called shot could be better with that option.

I think, though, GMs could provide better oportunities for these attacks. Such as a giant carnifex with a gaping wound from a previous lascannon shot which count any hit to that location as ignoring armour and/or felling. But this may get a bit tedious, or if used too often even predictable.

Definately agree there should be no straight awsome-sauce buffing of the attack though, otherwise players would abuse it.

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The problem with headshot is that I assume that PCs and NPCs normally always try to aim at an optimal location anyway. Perhaps it's only justified to use called shots in sniping situation where someone tries to kill someone else in armour who just has taken off his helmet.

 

Alex

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ak-73 said:

 

The problem with headshot is that I assume that PCs and NPCs normally always try to aim at an optimal location anyway. Perhaps it's only justified to use called shots in sniping situation where someone tries to kill someone else in armour who just has taken off his helmet.

Alex

 

 

I kinda agree with the points you guys have raised.  The rationale for calling a called shot is because that area 'seems' to be the weakest spot of an enemy's anatomy/ situation.  I think you guys may have mixed up the number crunching aspect of a called shot versus the flavour/ notion of a called shot.

The thought of 'Armour the same all round' just seems like number crunching.  An Astartes probably wouldn't go up against a genestealer and think "Ok, its chitin armour 4 all round so I think I'd go for a called shot to the head", he'd use the called shot for a tactical advantage for the kill team.  Maybe a ranged called shot in the leg to slow down the advance and something along those lines.

Another thought that Charmander brought up which I felt was valid was semi exposed targets in cover. A normal shot maybe rendered ineffective so the best possible tactic is to aim and shoot at the exposed area.

Striking an enemy at the weakest area (like Alex describes as the optimal location) is very logical.  But herein lies the portion where players are able to abuse something meant to add flavour to the game.  Preventing the abuse of the number crunching player, may be the reason why the game designers decided to give all round 'chitin armour 4' rather than have some parts of the anatomy with different armour rating.

Just my own five cents of thought here.

 

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As others have mentioned, the 3 main reasons to perform a called shot with the RAW are:

1. Hitting an exposed portion of a target while in cover. Some of this requires a bit of adjudication on the part of the GM, thinking through what parts are exposed, based on their previous actions with said cover.

2. Hitting an unarmoured/less armoured area.

3. Dealing a more lethal critical hit.

4. A means of making pinpoint shots to objects (you must make a called shot to hit that coolant pipe in the ceiling)

 

What the rules sorely need with called shots is a better narrative use. Basically, as it stands, if critical damage is not dealt, nothing happens besides taking more wounds in RAW. The problem is, rewarding a called shot with anything beyond this makes it a bit too powerful (as it is basically a glorified standard attack with a guaranteed body part hit).

Also, I personally dislike a focus on headshots, its too much of a videogame thing. I'd much rather see a focus on allowing leg shots to hamper movement, or arm/hand shots to disarm a target.

The problem is, these are far too useful to just "give out" as a base aspect of the rules. In the end, I just see called shot as being another one of those highly situational combat actions that come up from time to time (not every encounter requires the use of feint, not every encounter requires the use of called shot).

I would be open to allowing a called shot against a horde to provide a higher mag damage result, using the shot to make a particularly spectacular hit.

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Our GM has a house rule that if you deal enough damage to the head in one turn to drop the enemy to 0 then you insta-kill them, unless they are a high end enemy (named foe).

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 I think that the reason the called shot exists is as a result of the much older much more lethal dark heresy and wfrp lines which used similar rules. In those lines it was very much the norm for an enemy to be wearing leather armour and some steel bracers, but hitting them in the head was much more effective. Also the characters in those games had about 6 wounds so one decent blow to the head would cause a critical stun wheras the same blow to the arm might be shrugged off by the enemy. The effect still exists in deathwatch but to a much lesser extent due to the fact that space marine weapons do epic amounts of damage anywhere you hit them, so much so that most enemies you don't even count wounds any more, you just say "there a load of bad guys, you shoot some of them, some of them are dead". In my opinion the primary use in deathwatch of called shots by far is bypassing cover, as has been said before. 

Something interesting to bring up, in Black Crusade righteous fury rules have been changed and bring called shots back into fashion in my opinion, because you can shoot a hive tyrant in the head and stun it without having to shoot off 100 wounds first. Trying the rules for zealous hatred (BC's righteous fury) might make the called shot more useful, and certainly makes the game more interesting in my opinion

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 No one mentioned using Called Shots in order to do *less* damage.  If the person you are shooting at is a friend or innocent that is momentarily possessed, drugged, mind controlled, etc. you are purposely trying not to blow his/her head off.  There is also trying to cripple a limb to slow your opponent down or give him large negative modifiers when attacking.

I do have to laugh at how many of you seem to be criticizing your players for always going for the headshot.  Most Special Forces and snipers go for headshots.  Shouldn't the game simulate real life?  The rest of us go for center of mass because we don't have the talent to hit such a small target in the heat of battle.  Perhaps headshots should be more difficult than calling a shot on a limb?

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aristodeimos said:

 No one mentioned using Called Shots in order to do *less* damage.  If the person you are shooting at is a friend or innocent that is momentarily possessed, drugged, mind controlled, etc. you are purposely trying not to blow his/her head off.  There is also trying to cripple a limb to slow your opponent down or give him large negative modifiers when attacking.

While this is possible, in most game systems (DW included), the margin of doing less damage as per RAW is a difference ot 2-3 points.  Meaning a head or body shot is going to kill people slightly quicker than an arm or leg shot.  That is of course unless the GM allows you to bypass that and get a special rule.  It's a valid way of looking at it, system wise I've just not seen it work particularly well.

aristodeimos said:

I do have to laugh at how many of you seem to be criticizing your players for always going for the headshot.  Most Special Forces and snipers go for headshots.  Shouldn't the game simulate real life?  The rest of us go for center of mass because we don't have the talent to hit such a small target in the heat of battle.  Perhaps headshots should be more difficult than calling a shot on a limb?

Well, yes and no.  The rules system in this, and many games (IMO), don't lend themselves to that level or realism- read the autofire rules or look at the profiles of weapons.  Wounds/Hit Points, armor, toughness, leveling system, etc., all make things like special effects from limb/headshots feel odd, and additionally it tends to overcomplicate combat and many themes.  Also, as others have said, anything a PC can do at some point an enemy can do the same, and headshotting your PCs is a very fast way to piss them off. 

Also remember special forces and snipers are going to go for head shots situationally.  When you have surprise certainly, when you're at close range, but when you're dodging fire and taking cover to avoid dying you shoot wherever you can to eliminate the threat.

If you're intent on it, making head shots more difficult is one way to do it.  I think the key is to keep a balance between how hard it is to hit, the reward you get for hitting it, the plausability of it being accomplished.  Then factor in what your players will do when the enemies to it to them.

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I know we've all been ruined with Call of Duty, but special forces and snipers rarely go for the headshot.

They go for center mass body shots, and the reason is very simple. There is a much higher probability of causing debilitating (out of the fight) and/or lethal damage to a human being from a body shot than aiming for the head. Sure you can't live without a brain. But you can't live without a spine, aorta, major arteries and veins, esophagus/trachea, heart, lungs, liver, or kidneys either. And all of those organs are packed together in a target much larger than anyone's head. Plus add in the pain of smashed ribs/sternum (anyone ever have a broken rib?), blocked breathing (close your fingers together and put them over your mouth, try breathing through them, yeah its harder than that), same pain as a heart attack (if the heart can't pump blood you're having a heart attack), and paralysation (severed spine) depending on where you hit.

Snipers may go for head shots in a controled assassination type shot when they have all day to aim, but in combat situations they'll just be aiming center mass as well. Its even easier for those high powered large calibre rifles to take out a guy with a body shot. The rounds are likely to pulp half the major organs in a human body just with their cavitation effect. And if you get hit by something like a .50 BMG sniper, say your prayers, those things tear people into pieces.

If an SF or sniper conciously goes for a headshot there's usually a specific reason for it. As aiming for a target 3 times smaller than the chest takes more time and effort. Time that can get you killed. Its much faster, and much more natural to aim for a chest hit, not to forget much more likely to get a kill.

 

But thats enough off-topic. I'll re-iterate my stance on the OP. Called shots are good in specific situations (hey that sounds familiar). Should they gain a special rule? I don't think so, otherwise they will be abused. Using the BC 'Eternal Hatred?' rule could give some character to called shots, as could a good GM creating situations an observant and quick-witted player would be able to exploit.

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From what I have heard, SF do go for the headsot because it's the only location that can guarantee you that the enemy doesn't get to squeeze the trigger. Important in hostage freeing operations.

 

Alex

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ak-73 said:

From what I have heard, SF do go for the headsot because it's the only location that can guarantee you that the enemy doesn't get to squeeze the trigger. Important in hostage freeing operations.

 

Alex

But only in non-assault situations where they have time to aim and only if if a hostage isn't  in the vicinity  so there is no danger from stray shots. A head is small target and in a crowded situation the body is a much better bullet trap.

But this goes only for real-life SF and DW is all about cinematic combat (no serious SF would use pistols two-fisted for example) and on top of that Bolts explode inside their targets so there is no overpenetration (but how could a Bolt punch through cover then?).

In our campaign stealth is an important factor (my players learned the hard way that I can always send in more and bigger baddies) and open combat is the last way out. Out of this necessity some of our players often use silenced called shots from cover to eliminate sentries which are mostly human-type troops with less wounds before they can call for help, so a headshot often makes the difference between get the mission done and being torn to shreds by some Demon Prince and as somebody mentioned called shots are also good to do less damage or shooting some specific objects.

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If you're facing open-topped vehicles, called shots are invaluable for attacking the crew and/or passengers rather than the vehicle itself.

Speaking as a GM, I require the Called Shot action for any shot that requires particular precision and accuracy - hitting particular locations on an enemy is one such example, but it's far from the only use.

As for Bolt weaponry and penetration - the fuse for the explosive core is described as mass-reactive, which I've taken to mean that it doesn't detonate until it's reached an appropriate depth into a target. There's also evidence to suggest that bolters can overpenetrate - depending on impact velocity and fuse timing, the shell may enter and exit a light target before it can detonate. There's a discussion between the Mournival Captains (Abaddon, Aximand, Loken and Torgaddon of the Luna Wolves) on the subject in the novel False Gods - higher-velocity shells are favoured for tough or well-armoured enemies, but risk overpenetration on lighter foes.

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