Best way in a game to gauge effect of weak weapon vs. tough target?

Or, “how many pistol rounds does it take to blow up a tank?”

I’ve seen two different ways of handling this, neither satisfactory in my opinion. One is to have a straight linear damage/hit points ratio. So if a 9mm round does 5 points of damage, and the turrent on a main battle tank is rated at 5000 points, then 1000 rounds will destroy the tank. This sounds unrealistic, but it’s an inevitable result of how intermediate weapons and targets rate (2 RPGs will take out the turrent, and a RPG is five times as powerful as a grenade launcher, which is five times as powerful as a .50 cal round, etc.) Aside from debates about how realistic some of the ratios are, there is the result that in theory your main battle tank, having spent the campaign mopping up light infantry and irregulars, can suddenly blow up as a suicidal guerrilla with a side arm inflicts that one last straw that breaks the camel’s back.

On the other hand there was (Riftwars? memory fails me) the “megadamage” system, whereby some targets were rated as effectively invulnerable to any weapon or destructive force that did not inflict “megadamage”. This had problems of it’s own.

I suppose the best solution would be some sort of exponential damage rating system, possibly with special modifiers. Has anyone implemented something like this?

The “Rifts” megadamage system is very likely one of the absolute worst gaming design decisions in the history of mankind.

Pick something, anything, but not that.


Doesn’t the lastet edition of D&D have a damage reduction system in place? So if you had a DR of 10, the first 10 points done are ignored, then anything over 10 is applied? That seems like it would take care of the .45 Tank Killer problem.

That’s how I would impliment it. Any weapon with a max of less than 10 damage (or however much reduction the tank has) would do absolutely nothing at all to it. But another tank’s gun, which does 500 damage (or whatever) would hardly care about those missing 10 points at all.

There’s a highly relevant thread in GQ right now, too, that you probably want to read if you haven’t already. ExTank mentions the practice of friendly tanks “scratching each others’ backs”, deliberately shooting their machine guns at each other to keep “crunchies” (infantry) off. We’re talking there about a weapon significantly more powerful than anything an infantryman would actually be carrying, and it’s still so harmless to tanks that it’s routine to use it on your buddies.

Are you more interested in accurately simulating combat or having a fun play experience?

From the perspective of realism, ANY damage point mechanic is questionable when you’re talking about individual units like tanks. In the real world tanks aren’t gradually degraded until they fail. Instead they tend to be crippled or destroyed by a single catastrophic attack.

Damage points make sense if you’re talking about something the size of an aircraft carrier that can take multiple hits and still function at a reduced level. Or you can use them to simulate units in aggregate. If one counter on the board represents an entire platoon of tanks instead of a single vehicle then a damage point mechanic can be used to model the gradual degradation of the platoon as invidual vehicles are destroyed.

The problem with accurately modelling real-world combat is that it tends to be less entertaining. Abrupt catastrophic death tends to be frustrating for players, even though that’s how it usually happens on actual battlefields … .

Generally, abrupt catastrophic death tends to be frustrating in real-world combat too. :smiley:

Functioning at a reduced level isn’t something I’ve seen in most HP/DP based systems. Usually, it’s “function at maximum effectiveness until you fall unconscious/die.” Exalted and Savage Worlds both have “wounds” that a character can sustain, and reduce his effectiveness, but neither have a clear HP analog. L5R is the only system I can think of offhand that has both hitpoints and wound levels that degrade performance.

What about having categorized damage types? For example, tank armor damage, body armor damage, flesh damage, vehicle damage, blast damage, etc.

Tanks can receive only tank armor damage and vehicular damage, thus they are invulnerable to weapons that damage only flesh or body armor (rifle). OTOH as tank armor damage accumulates, it should become more susceptible to vehicular damage.

I also think that for vehicles or weapons systems, it should be possible to independently damage the wheels, engine, and/or primary weapon. A tank with busted track is much more vulnerable, but still very dangerous until you can deal with it.

GURPS has an interesting system for handling armor. I don’t recall the name of each of the functions, but consider them like this: Armor, Damage Reduction, and Armor Divisors.

Armor (or whatever it’s called) is basically “ignore the first X points of damage each round.” Naturally you can specify that Armor has X points against crushing and cutting damage, but Y points against piercing, and Z points againt corrosion, burning, whatever. You can also specify that the Armor is ablative and wears away over time.

Damage Reduction (or maybe Damage Resistance, I forget) is basically “of the damage that gets through Armor, reduce by a factor of 2 (that is, take only 50% damage).” You can pay more to get damage reduced by a factor of 3 (33% damage), 5 (20% damage), 10 (10% damage), and so on.

Armor Divisors are a function applied to attacks. If an attack says it’s 10d/3 pi, that means it does 10 dice of piercing damage with an armor divisor of 3. You divide the armor rating by 3 before applying damage to it (so a tank with 500 armor against an armor-piercing round of 10d/3 only has an effective Armor rating of 166; however, it will still have enough left to stand up to 10d of damage). This simulates an armor-piercing effect. The armor divisor mechanic also gives you the flexibility to have armor-piercing rounds that would blow away a Kevlar vest, but bounce off of heavy equipment.

I can’t remember how Armor Divisors face up against Damage Resistance, because I don’t have my books here. It’s a pretty good system, though, for simplified realism.

Then if you want, you can apply different damage multipliers. All the damage that gets through the Armor can be multiplied based on a) what part of the target you hit, and b) what kind of damage it was. All the damage that does not get through can be applied toward knockback effects.

There was a system of sorts in Doom. Hit an imp with a single barrel shotgun or pistol bullets and he dies messily. Hit one with an RPG round and he explodes nicely. Pop a few bullets in him though to inflict some damage and if you’ve done it correctly, a single shotgun blast will make him explode as well as an RPG blast.

When shareware Doom was one of the only games I had on the PC, I spend a lot of time figuring things like that out :stuck_out_tongue:

I think that was just, if you take a monster to 0 HP, it dies, and if you take it to X amount into the negative HP with the killing blow, it explodes (you could also explode monsters by punching them with the Berserk power-up). But an imp that’s one pistol-shot away from being killed can still move just as fast, attack just as often, and deal just as much damage as one that’s at full health.

What is a turrent? I’ve only just recently started to see people make this mistake (I take it you meant “turret”?) The last person I saw make this mistake said he’s only ever heard the word pronounced with an N, which seems poppycock to me, I’ve always heard it said tur-ett…

Huh, you’re right :o In my defense, I’ve always heard the word slurred so that it kinda does sound like there’s an N in there; “tur’t”, like it rhymed with “burnt”

Easiest system for assigning damage is a damage matrix. It is a rather brute force method, and with large numbers of weapons/target types it quickly grows cumbersome, but for your average FPS its more than sufficient.

Like so.

            Pistol     SniperRifle     RPG
Body        5              20           100

Head       50            100          100

Tank         0               0             20

This makes it nice and easy to decipher what each weapon does to each target. It also greatly simplifies balance changes by allowing you to tweak a weapons relationship to a specific target, and only that target. Other systems generally require careful thought and management since a tweak to a weapon or hitpoints will skew everything else, as well. Annoying to work with.

Again though, not idea for all games, and certainly not for pen and paper.

Yeah, guess I was just caught reminiscing :slight_smile: