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Ranged attacks while engaged

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I would prefer to just take these modifiers out completely.  These types of rules are in almost every sci-fi/modern RPG I have ever seen and I always think they are a little silly.  They always seem to presume that the gun wielder is perpetually pointing in some random direction while the melee weapon is perpetually whistling towards the gun fighter’s head.  It is much more likely that, unless he is completely surprised, the ranged fighter has his weapon pointed at the melee fighter and at such close range it would be almost impossible to miss, let alone give penalties to the ranged fighter and bonuses to the melee fighter.  Certainly a grappling situation is different, but could just as severely impair the melee fighter, depending on what he is wielding.  Assuming I am not Riddick, if there were two people grappling, one with a knife and the other a pistol, I would prefer to be the one with a pistol.

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 Sure, but isn't the point of a Beta to make comments and change things?  It is definitely a minor rule so I wouldn't even put it up on the forums if this was a completed game.  But it isn't, so if it is bad rule, why not change it?

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 At least as I see it, these rules exist to represent that when engaged, the gun can actually be knocked aside.  You see this all the time in action films.  The Truely deadly distance for a gun is closer to 5 ft, or close range, were it is both very easy to hit, but the opponent cannot do anything to disrupt your attack.

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But I would say that engaged is, on average, probably about 5 ft away.   Like I said, engaged doesn't literally mean your weapon is perpetually in mid-swing at a vital part of your opponent.  If you have a 2-4 ft long weapon, you are generally standing a little farther than that actual distance because you need to move, step in, out, around and swing the weapon.  It is the equivalent of being adjacent in d20 games.  Like you say, you could knock a weapon aside while engaged, but I don't think it would be significantly easier than the gun wielder simply pulling the trigger as you step in to do so.*  It also begs the question of how you got from close range (where it is very easy to hit) to the point where you can knock the weapon aside.  My whole point is that in while engaged it is essentially anyone's game.  The outcome will depend on relative skill, luck and conditional factors.  However, there is no reason to suggest the melee fighter has an advantage simply due to the properties of melee weapons

*This might be different in a stand off situation.  If the gun wielder is holding the melee wielder at gun point, and the melee wielder decides to attack the weapon, he would have a slight advantage because of the physics involved.  Simply put it takes longer to react, than to act.  But that is not the situation we are talking about here.  We are talking about active combat where both opponents are actively trying to kill each other.  Unless the melee opponent is super-human (Jedi) or has surprise or some other situational advantage, than melee provides no advantage, just a different strategy to victory.

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Its a realism issue:  Hitting a person-sized moving target close to you is more difficult at a range of a few feet than at a range of 10 or more feet ("several meters").  This has to do with the relative difference in arc distances caused by a small move at a few feet versus a small move further away.  Look at where players tend to stand in FPS games: When firing at each other, they don't close to as close as possible, they stay a certain distance away from each other.

Also, there are a LOT of ways to knock a weapon aside without placing yourself in the line of fire. In fact, it is MUCH easier to do so compared to the difficulty of maneuvering a 2-4 ft long weapon that fires along a narrow ray trajectory to strike a target physically engaged with you.

Its a cinematic issue:  It represents the foe dodging at point blank and physically interacting with the weapon.  Engaged is defined as being close enough to physically interact with the target.  It is easier to aim a weapon when the target can't smack the weapon away, OR think of it as the target's ability to interact with the action makes the action more difficult than when the target lacks this ability.  

The distance covered by engaging (moving from "several meters" to "close enough to touch") is much, much less than the distance covered by moving from medium to close ("several dozen meters" to "several meters"), despite both cost a single maneuver.  The difference represents that is more difficult to move those last few meters to get into engaged.

Its a balance issue:  At distance, a ranged combatant has the advantage on a melee combatant: the melee combatant can't attack.  At melee, a ranged opponent is at a disadvantage: His attacks are more difficult.  Also, minor point, it encourages players to take different combat skills.  Like real life, different confrontations (VERY generically here "ranged vs melee") require different skills.  If ranged heavy and light were just easy rolls like you seem to think they should be, they would be very "one size fits all", which many players could consider detrimental game.

You claim that while engaged its "anyones game".  Why? It seems more reasonable that the melee combatant (who was more than likely the one who closed to engage, which should answer your question "how they got engaged in the first place") SHOULD be at an advantage while engaged, unless the ranged combatant also has a back up melee weapon (or pistol) prepared.  This is one reason why soldiers wear pistol sidearms.

Stand off situations would probably occur at close range or engaged.  The HERO system had a great mechanic called "held actions", exactly for stand-off situations.  "Prepared actions" are another common method of dealing with these issues found in several other systems, including d20, e.g. a player preparing an attack action in case an enemy comes within range.  

But really, if you shot a target this round and would shot again next round, why should you get an extra attack for shooting when they move closer to you? How would their movement increase your reaction speed?  Maybe the game would do well to have some type of reactive fire action, to allow reaction to approaching enemies, but I think it would be better as a talent somewhere.

 

-WJL

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 it should also be noted that the penalty that you suffer for using ranged weapons when engaged simply equal out the melee combatants difficulty and the ranged.

a Melee/brawl attack is allways at diff 2

ranged attacks depend on the range in question 1-4 with a special rule that says using a ranged weapon when very close to someone are slightly harder, in the case of pistols the difficulty is exactly the same to shoot someone as it is to hit them with a sword, with a rifle its slightly tougher rifles not being designed for use in close quarters combat.

in 99% of cases the only time you will be engaged is when a melee combatant closes with a ranged combatant in which case you will normally find yourself basiclly equal in ability, not to bad given the massive advantage a ranged combatant has over a melee combatant untll that point.

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it should also be noted that the penalty that you suffer for using ranged weapons when engaged simply equal out the melee combatants difficulty and the ranged. a Melee/brawl attack is allways at diff 2
I hate simulationist debates. From a gamist POV it seems approprate since many characters will want to engage in melee combat and this makes it a less bad option.
Its a balance issue:

Aha.  This is the crux of it.  Why does Boba Fett keep shooting my wookie vibro-ax fighter dead.  Well, first of all…he’s the Fett.  But second of all, its because running at someone with a gun, swinging a sword is, generally speaking, a bad idea.  People can throw out all the unrealistic explanations of melee dominance up close (my rebuttal below), but when it comes right down to it, the real reason those rule are there is because otherwise a melee focused character (not Jedi) is seriously underpowered in Star Wars. 

But ya know, I think that is fine.  Unless you are a Jedi, Grievous, or someone else with some serious superhuman capabilities, melee combat is not the preferred battlefield option.  That is not to say that it is not useful, or even better in certain situations.  It is great for stealth or for locations that guns can’t be used.  It is also great if you want to avoid collateral damage or want to capture your opponent (unarmed specifically).  It is also good if nobody has drawn weapons yet.  Until the guns are out it is not exactly ranged combat, and a quick melee fighter could prevent the drawing of weapons or neutralize someone that did.  That being said, assaulting a squad of stormtroopers set up in a fighting position by running at them with a vibro-ax is pretty stupid.  It doesn’t totally go against the setting (lots of things people/droids seem to be horribly inaccurate when convenient for the story).  However, I would argue that it certainly isn’t essential to it either.  

For instance, I feel like it would be totally appropriate if the PCs were extremely intimidated by the big Trandoshan covered in knife scars when he walks up behind them in the local cantina.  I also feel like they shouldn’t be too concerned about his knife fighting skills (assuming they keep their backs covered) when engaged with him and his goons in a warehouse shootout.    

Also, this

But really, if you shot a target this round and would shot again next round, why should you get an extra attack for shooting when they move closer to you? How would their movement increase your reaction speed?  

 

It wouldn’t increase rxn speed, but, that is completely the wrong way to look at it.   How do gun’s work in close quarters combat?  You play FPS, so you should know.  Either you are running around shooting at anything that moves or you are covering some area.  If you are covering and area and are reasonably good you can get in a lot of shots while someone is trying to move.  Guns just don’t function the way they are represented in this game.  Not that I am arguing for a simulationist approach.  In the abstract, there are some traits that you would expect melee weapons to have, and there are ones that you would expect from guns.  In regards to this thread, the ability to cover areas is one that is particularly relevant.  

Maybe the game would do well to have some type of reactive fire action, to allow reaction to approaching enemies, but I think it would be better as a talent somewhere.

I actually threw up some rules about this in the combat thread.

Its a realism issue: Hitting a person-sized moving target close to you is more difficult at a range of a few feet than at a range of 10 or more feet ("several meters").  This has to do with the relative difference in arc distances caused by a small move at a few feet versus a small move further away.

While technically correct, I think you are over exaggerating the relative difficulty.  Yes, if somebody start out behind me and started running around me in a circle it would be harder to shoot them than if they ran the equivalent distance a little farther away from me.  But I think you might be have played a few too many FPS games.  You have to remember that in those games you don’t have any peripheral vision, none of your other senses are fully activated and it is a lot easier to compensate for the different arc with real muscles than a mouse or game pad that is set up to move arbitrarily fast.  The kind of jerky, helter-skelter movements you get trying to target an opponent that is too close in an FPS is nothing like actual close range combat shooting.  Youtube some combat shooting videos if you don’t believe me. 

 

Also, there are a LOT of ways to knock a weapon aside without placing yourself in the line of fire. In fact, it is MUCH easier to do so compared to the difficulty of maneuvering a 2-4 ft long weapon that fires along a narrow ray trajectory to strike a target physically engaged with you.

But again, where is your weapon pointing when we start?  This system has no facing.  It doesn’t even have map positioning.  When one melee fighter engages another do we automatically assume that the other melee fighter has his back or side turned away?  No.  We assume they are generally facing each other so that when an attack goes down neither side has an automatic advantage.  

Now, if one side used surprise or stealth, than that would be different.  Is every melee on ranged engagement a surprise attack?  Assuming equal conditions, the melee fighter is at close and moves to engage our ranged fighter.  We would assume that the ranged fighter shifts to engage the melee fighter in turn.  Even if approached from the side, the ranged fighter doesn’t stay looking in the other direction until the melee fighter gets three feet away with his weapon poised to strike and wait for the melee fighter to say, “I’m ready, we are at engaged distance, now you can point your weapon at me.”  

Honestly, give a friend a broom handle (or something) have him stand say 4 meters from you anywhere within your field of vision.  You get a water gun.  Let him try to even touch you with the broomstick (let alone make actual attack) before you can shoot him with the water gun.  I will eat my left nut if he can do it even once.gui%C3%B1o.gif  

The distance covered by engaging (moving from "several meters" to "close enough to touch") is much, much less than the distance covered by moving from medium to close ("several dozen meters" to "several meters"), despite both cost a single maneuver.  The difference represents that is more difficult to move those last few meters to get into engaged.

It is as much a game abstraction as a difficulty measure.  Since they aren’t using precise measurements, you almost have to do it this way.  If you broke up the ranged bands more (say 10), you would have a hybrid of the precise and abstract distance measurement that would be worse than either (not as fast as abstract, but not precise enough to warrant the slow down).  By the same token, if you allowed maneuvers to be subdivided into small movement elements, now your are back to a precise movement rate.  While the answer to the question of “how they got engaged in the first place” is rather obviously; the melee fighter spent a maneuver to do so.  The explicit version of my question was, “how did they get engaged without the ranged fighter ending up with the barrel of his weapon pointed at the melee fighter’s chest.”  I don’t think maneuver to engage automatically comes with, “sneak up behind.”

Its a cinematic issue:  

I get what you are saying.  I am just challenging the notion, that cinematically there is an advantage for the melee fighter.  There are plenty of cinematic movie and video game moments with close range gun kills.  There is simply no cinematic reason to penalize the ranged fighter.

 

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I don't actually play FPS, I hate the genre.  Seriously, X-Com is my game, or Mass Effect(s), with targeting assistance cranked to the max.  But I've watched enough people play them.  And in ME, if I was in melee range, I felt melee attacks were a better option.   I was just trying to draw a comparison.  Shooting a target at a few meters (close range) is more difficult than shooting a target close enough to touch you (engaged).  This was the comparison I was making, because it appeared that this was the point of the thread you started:

modifiers on ranged light and heavy attacks at engaged are inappropriate.

"I would prefer to just take these modifiers out completely.  These types of rules are in almost every sci-fi/modern RPG I have ever seen and I always think they are a little silly."  And then continued to point out that ranged attacks while engaged should have no advantages over melee attacks while engaged.

When you say "have a friend start at 4m and try to close", you're taking attacks starting when they're at 4m, which is close range, and easy.  A better example would be to say "have a friend try to shoot you at 4m, and then the same (slightly damper) friend try to shoot you at engaged." I think in this case, we'd find it was easier to attack at a short distance vs engaged.  And I don't see you arguing that point.

 

Your rebuttal seems involves the movement from close to engaged, and that should offer an attack (or some other benefit).  I disagree on this point, because nowhere else in the system does movement allow free attacks.  Doing that gets us back to d20 opportunity actions… and nobody wants that.

 

I really do appreciate that what you're describing a dynamic combat situation, but unfortunately, this isn't a dynamic combat system.  They just don't work well as table top games, at least I'm not aware of any.  Here, we're restricted to turn based systems, which requires more imagination to describe the scene.

For a turn based game, you have to think of it like this:

  • If the melee guy, at close range, has the initiative (acts first, for whatever reason.  Initiative order is blessedly flexible in this game), he's able to close without the ranged attacker effectively bringing his weapon to bear.  The Ranged guy is flustered? wasn't expecting it? However you want to narrate, thats how it mechanically goes down. AFTER they're both engaged, the ranged character has to make the attack as engaged, which should be harder (or disengage then fire).
  • If Ranged guy has the initiative, he can shoot first, at a range of his choosing.  Then the melee attacker can close, but AFTER he's been shot at.

If the melee combatant is "simultaneously" charging at the ranged combatant (A dynamic combat), its initiative that chooses which of the above narratives occur.  No, its not a perfect system, but its what we have.

If you need to remove the penalties for firing at engaged targets, fine, house-rule it.  If you need some other rule to handle firing at an engaging target, fine house-rule it.  But these rules do have a point, and I think your actual concern:

"Oh, why is my ranged attacker always foolishly flailing his gun about" 

is actually already handled via the initiative system.  You've put a lot of work in to those tactical action rules, and you should use them.  But the CORE GAME RULES (mild penalties for shooting while engaged) don't require changing, they represent what they should be as the game is written.

 

As for WHY a character would choose melee over ranged in the first place?  Flavor? fun? who cares, its up to them.  If you think melee sucks, be it due to cannon, the RAW, or whatever else, don't play those characters.  And there are going to be situations where an engaged character will STILL prefer to use ranged combat in melee, despite the penalties, which is why Fett keeps shooting your wookiee ax fighter dead.

 

-WJL

 

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