Shotguns

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disasteroid disasteroid's picture
Shotguns

A player in our campaign asked me to write up shotgun rules after noticing that the ones he was using had an average DV higher than sniper rifles. The rules I made got complicated really fast, but I enjoy complicated so they stand.

Warning: strong language

You can get the rules off Google Drive.

Let me know if you use them and how they work. I'm really interested to know how AV stacks up in your games--why wear light combat armor when there's a risk of depressurization literally everywhere--but feel free to adjust the curves as you see fit. Also, I think I've caught most of the logical and grammatical errors, but if you spot any feel free to point them out. Additionally if one of your players finds a great way to break things, post it here. I've included my design methodology in the second half of the doc.

Mucho gracias to Posthuman for creating such a fantastic setting, and a big shoutout to XCOM and the Long War team for inspiration (and blatantly stolen ideas).

puke puke's picture
mmm, crunchy.

I really enjoyed the tactical shotgun course I took. That said, I'm in no way an expert on this topic.

What you have here has a satisfying level of crunch, slightly more than the default rules but not over the top. Seems good on paper. And your basic assumptions on range, accuracy, and effectiveness seem about right to me. Though, as above, I'm not an expert.

I have a few critiques though:

- Smart bore. I'm not sure why this wouldn't be the default on all weapons. Firearms in EP are described as being made entirely out of smart materials that absorb and transform recoil -- so having adaptive rifling that changes based on your range to target and shot power seems like it would just be factored into the default range and accuracy of all weapons.

- on range and accuracy: Slugs may have a shorter effective range than a 9mm, but they have a much better "accurate range". This has a little to do with the size and inertia of the projectile, but it mostly has to do with ergonomics, the presence of a stock, and the longer distance between the front and rear sights. In the future when everything is smart and you dont use the sights? Who knows that this means.

The real value of a shotgun in my mind is the versatility and ability to select different cartridges for each shot. But in EP weapons can just have smart magazines so....

As an aside, what I always felt what was missing from the game was some sort of multi-launcher that could fire slugs, seekers, dumb grenades (higher yield, no guidance), shot... sort of a generic smooth-bore launcher that could be seeker or shredder or grenade launcher or even a light cannon.

disasteroid disasteroid's picture
TL;DR: Smart bores aren't

TL;DR: Smart bores aren't free because other things aren't free. Range & accuracy is arbitrary and really doesn't affect anything except the flavor of the gun. Versatile launchers are OP.

@smart bores -- There's really no reason for them to not be free except parity with other mods and requiring an entry cost to use slugs. The main argument I have against including a free smart bore--which isn't really the range, as below--is that from my perspective I could apply the same argument to the smartlink. Every weapon also wants a smartlink and since we don't get those for free on any other kinetic weapon I've kept smart bores as an option. Plus, cost: smart materials seem to range between [Low] and [Moderate], so doubling or quintupling the value of the shotgun while sticking to the [Low] category didn't feel right--giving free stuff away, etc. In-universe maybe it could be explained by the fact that 9 pellets of #00 buckshot would weigh 31.5 g according to Wikipedia, and after accelerating those up to Mach 6 in a railgun they'd have a collective kinetic energy around 65 kJ. So, since the smart bore is included as part of the railgun cost, maybe the specs on the blueprint simply call for a hardier smart material than would be included on a standard weapon. I also struggled with how to make it useful without requiring a smartlink, like you've said yourself it ought to take in range, spread, etc. and modulate it from there, but without a smartlink processor how would that data be processed by weapon? I couldn't come up with a clever answer so it gets hand-waved as "magical extra range."

@Range & accuracy: This one was really just a arbitrary call to make the shotgun "more different" than an SMG. It's probably one of the most flexible parts, and I think your rationale for extending ranges wouldn't be difficult for a GM to implement nor become unbalanced--after all, the weapon gets knackered on AV, so competing at the same range as another weapon isn't much of an issue.

@Versatile launchers: As cool as it would be, there is no way to balance a weapon that could do even two of the things on that list. Just duct taping two together makes it amazing because the shotgun is so specialized versus low AV that a high AP weapon attached to it more than doubles it's value. For example, if there were perhaps an option for something like a seeker attachment that used the seeker skill and fired minimissiles and totally doesn't already exist on pg 340, you'd have the option of a rail shotgun using biters with 6d10D4+1d10+12 @ 2x-5 AP vs. for AV < 7 and HEAPs with 2d10+12 @ -8 AP for AV > 7. Up to about AV10 and average skills (50 & 50, which really is going to be much lower than the actual skill levels of someone using this combo I'd imagine) you'd probably be dropping a morph every time you got a turn.

the one way that would be great for this to work is by expanding the ammo selection. it would be pretty easy to lift the stuff from seekers, but novel effects would be great if you have any ideas.

Erulastant Erulastant's picture
disasteroid wrote:

disasteroid wrote:

The main argument I have against including a free smart bore--which isn't really the range, as below--is that from my perspective I could apply the same argument to the smartlink. Every weapon also wants a smartlink and since we don't get those for free on any other kinetic weapon I've kept smart bores as an option.
[\quote]

weeeeellllll...

CRB 335 wrote:

By default, modern kinetic weapons are ambidextrous but more
importantly feature safety and smartlink systems
(p. 343)that automatically connect to the wielder’s
mesh inserts for firing assistance, target recognition,
and tactical networking.[\quote]

I've always read this as "Kinetic weapons have a smartlink by default." I can see how it could be read differently, though.

You, too, were made by humans. The methods used were just cruder, imprecise. I guess that explains a lot.

disasteroid disasteroid's picture
herp de derp

Wow, I've never read that paragraph--I knew seekers came with smartlinks, and when I read the smartlink entry at the end of the weapons section I just assumed they were special since smartlinks cost [Moderate]. So I figured, why have a cost for something that is included with all weapons? Thanks for the heads-up, have been gipping myself out of that +10 bonus since I started playing EP.

I think I'll have the smart bore included for free as a flavor item and add in an extended barrel mod or something to increase range. Hmm.

puke puke's picture
taken to the ends of its logical limits...

On Smartbores: It is a tricky balance on what should be default in the setting and what should not. On the one hand, projectile weapons are made of rehological smart fluids and all devices are assumed to have a basic AI. On the other hand, you have to pay for a smartlink.

But one can't overthink this stuff too much. One will soon come to the conclusion that hand-aimed small arms are completely obsolete in the setting, and then what reasons do we have to play O.K. Corral in space?

The bottom line is that it has to be fun and have the feeling in play that you want to get out of it, with the right level of crunch.

On Range: yeah, a shotgun loaded with 00 is functionally very similar to an SMG. The primary differences are size, ammo capacity, and versatility of ammunition. The way you decided to cut the cake is as good as any.

On Versatile launchers: Really, smartlaunchers do 80% of what I'm thinking of already. Bring in the ideas from that Kinetic Projectile thread, and they're 95% of the way there. But yeah, it's more about game balance and fun, I suppose.

disasteroid disasteroid's picture
The versatile launcher

The versatile launcher question I think is one that really bumps against, as you say, the OK Corral in Space feeling. For example, by RAW, you can blow a hole in a habitat for 5000 credits: 1 liquid thermite to drop AV to zero (9d10+15 (64.5) AV damage over 9 seconds) and then a pile of 40 grenades (30d10+120 (285) x 4 = 120d10+480 (1140)). Why use a seeker rifle that is limited to firing grenades at 2 per turn when you could just duct tape those 10 (or 40!) grenades together and lob them at the enemy?

Or better yet, grab speed 4 + multitasking, duct tape some heavy pistols to a dozen saucer bots and shoot for 30d10+48 (246) DV every round at the low price of -10 to your gunnery. Or even better, load each of those saucers up with 10 grenades (15k credits is a lot less expensive than a new morph!) and have the potential to do 3,420 DV in one go. Actually, why fight at all when you could just hack your enemy's net or mesh beforehand, analyze their behavior and create AR illusions that have yon enemies do your bidding for you?

I think these examples are probably a good reason I shouldn't be worrying about balance!

puke puke's picture
When a minigrenade or

When a minigrenade or micromissile is roughly the size of a shotgun cartridge, why be limited to two a minute? You can have a fully automatic shotgun, why not -- and quoting Schlock Mercenary here -- "hook up the feeders and fire breacher rounds at full auto" ?

no in-fiction reason that you shouldn't. And honestly, it is something that is probably less than 20 years away with modern technology.

So at the end of the day, its all about how you want the game to play.

Agreed: I woudn't balance it against the ease of causing collateral damage to a habitat, but rather against how you want firefights to be paced. How valuable should armor be, what kinds of opposition will the PCs be shooting at, and what should they be able to stand up to...

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Twenty years?

Twenty years?

Hell, we've had automatic grenade launchers for a fair while now. But grenades don't tend to have all that spectacular armor penetration.

For that, you want an autocannon, if you want to "hook up the feeders and fire breacher rounds full auto," Schlock-style.

Sadly, nobody has (yet) invented a weapon that can fire a projectile fast enough to have significant armor penetration, at full auto, and with sufficiently little recoil to not debilitate the guy firing it. Even for Eclipse Phase, every action must have an equal and opposite reaction, so if you're firing armor-penetrating projectiles the size of a minimissile at full auto, you're gonna need a lot of mass to not be flung around. A Daitya could do it, but until the advent of practical gravitic manipulation technology, something handheld won't be able to do so.

Which is not to say that such a weapon system couldn't be some form of deployed weapon that the user has to secure to the ground/hull/whatever before firing.

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Chrontius Chrontius's picture
More than one way to skin a cat

There's more ways to penetrate armor than metal and velocity. My favorite concept? The follow-through grenade.

Take a shaped charge, and have a second warhead slip into the hole the first one made, then detonate inside the target, or its armor. The effect is either critical damage, or armor cratering, and you could certainly shoot that out of a shotgun in AF10.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
Chrontius wrote:There's more

Chrontius wrote:
There's more ways to penetrate armor than metal and velocity. My favorite concept? The follow-through grenade.

Take a shaped charge, and have a second warhead slip into the hole the first one made, then detonate inside the target, or its armor. The effect is either critical damage, or armor cratering, and you could certainly shoot that out of a shotgun in AF10.

That's a nifty concept. It was back in 1988 when the Soviets first deployed it, too.

(Accuracy note: I cannot ascertain, owing to a surprising dearth of information, whether the PG-7VR was in fact the first tandem-charge warhead to be deployed.)

The thing about tandem charge warheads is that they're only effective as a specific countermeasure to explosive reactive armor. Against any other kind of armor, sure, they'll still put a hole in it, but you'd be better off with HEAP or something else.

Anyway, what you're talking about is... Well, basically being able to chamber and fire minigrenades from a shotgun barrel. That's not really that unrealistic, I'll admit, but the square-cube law is working against you when you're scaling down explosive warheads. Basically, you want a grenade launcher-shotgun combo that fires minigrenades and can load HEAP.

I don't really see a problem with that.

Anyway, if I were going to stat up good old-fashioned shotguns, as in, shot-shell, I'd make them quite high damage, probably starting at 3 dice with the usual benefits for burst and autofire, but apply a multiplicative positive modifier to the victim's armor, so the more armored you are, the more armored you will be against the shot. Something like x2.2, off the top of my head. Shotguns are the dog's bollocks when ripping through unarmored or paper-thin armored targets, but against anyone with basically any armor at all, a round, soft shell is not going to do much, if anything, even if you can accelerate it to railgun velocities.

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ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Ohhh, combat philosphy.

Nice ideas, if a tad complex for my tastes.
Also, my armor distributions would make your shotguns of extremely limited use - armor is common because Space Is Dangerous: A broken glass IRL is an annoyance whilst in 0g a broken glass is a rapidly expanding sphere of razors, and in Freefall the consequence of a slight misjudgement is shattered bones. Gravity wells are friendlier, but environmental hazards are still a significant factor.

Actually, it's worse than that. In space, decompression is (as mentioned in the OP) a constant hazard, so (almost) everyone will have a light/standard vacsuit to hand - so a base AV of 5/5 is going to be the minimum you could expect.
This is also why using charges for decompression isn't really a meaningful tactic.
As a corollary, similar arguments can be made against using AR-Illusions, Droneswarms and sachel charges - they can all be avoided or subverted, with a likelihood proportional to their frequency of use.
Personal Weaponry is the lowest common denominator, and simply works.

To be honest, I've come to the conclusion that the Seeker Launcher is the EP shotgun, or at least what the shotgun eventually became.
I'll also quickly mention that I'm not sure full-auto in a seeker is desirable assuming explosive ammo - unless I'm mistaken, the detonation of the first Seeker to hit would set off the second immediately behind it, which would set off the third, and so on - only the first couple would be effective, and at low range there's a distinct possibility that the chain of explosions would reach the person firing.

Getting back on topic: regarding Ranges - have you considered using a non-linear range progression? For example [0-30, 31-40, 41-45, 46-50]. At it's most extreme, how about having only a short range?

Edit --- Forgot to mention this, but Versatile/Multi-weapons are available in the RAW.
From p336 "Brand Name Weapons and Combined Arms":-
"...Similarly, many of the weapons listed here are available as combined arms weapons systems. A police-issue assault rifle may also feature a stunner—all built into the same weapon. For combined arms, simply add together the individual weapon component costs."

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

puke puke's picture
explodies

nah, explosives would be advanced enough that chain reactions shouldn't be an issue.

They'd be shaped charges, HEAT or HEAP or HESH or something similar and there would be no appreciable area of effect.

OR, they'd be area effect but would have fancy electronic detonators such that the explosion from the first would not set off the others.

OR, they'd have some sort of crazy harmonic timing mechanism so that you fire a very rapid burst and they all are in flight at the same time and detonate close to simultaneously around the target.

And really man, why do you want to be the guy in the room who is thinking of reasons for things to not excessively go boom? ;) I kid.

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
The gun I want the most is

The gun I want the most is the Contact Beam from Dead Space.

Why fuck around with explosives and shells and shit when you can just get a gun that shoots explosions?

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ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
AOE-less Full-Auto Seeker = Kinetic Rifle with Smart Ammo.

puke wrote:
And really man, why do you want to be the guy in the room who is thinking of reasons for things to not excessively go boom? ;) I kid.

It is my gift... and my curse.
Honestly, I never said I wouldn't allow full-auto seekers (aka: Cluster Launchers) if a player wants them - I just want some thought put into how they work, and what that entails :)

ShadowDragon8685 wrote:
The gun I want the most is the Contact Beam from Dead Space.

Why fuck around with explosives and shells and shit when you can just get a gun that shoots explosions?

Sooo... you want a Particle Beam Bolter?

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

ShadowDragon8685 ShadowDragon8685's picture
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:
ShadowDragon8685 wrote:
The gun I want the most is the Contact Beam from Dead Space.

Why fuck around with explosives and shells and shit when you can just get a gun that shoots explosions?

Sooo... you want a Particle Beam Bolter?

Does this look like 2d10+4 damage, AP -2, to you?

That doesn't look like 2d10+4 damage to me. It looks more like 6d10+20, AP - 10, with a 2m uniform blast to me.

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puke puke's picture
i dunno...

lots of flash and bang, indirect hits (eg: leg) were only crippling and the near misses were not having an appreciable effect at all.

Of course, video game guns are always famously underpowered, otherwise you wouldnt be able to shoot things (and be shot) nearly as much. That in mind, assuming the effects in the video were translated directly to the game, I'd probably call it a PBB.

It certainly is no plasma gun, even though it does need a cooling cycle. There is no vaporizing hull-metal and ruptured bulkheads where it hits. The targets are not torn asunder from the explosive expansion of their own vaporizing corpus, as said corpus produces secondary fission effects from all of the energy deposited into it.. so the 2D10+4 seems about right, maybe it should even be AP+2

The targets may be rendered limb from limb, but I take that more as being from pressure and shockwave inside the unarmored target rather than from an absurd transfer of energy and resulting phase shift.

2D10+4 is actually pretty boss. The numbers for a Plasma Rifle are 3D10+10 AP-8, and that IS supposed to deposit fusing plasma onto a target and render it asunder from secondary effects.

And that is before you scale up damage for quality of success or concentrated beam fire.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
The SA fire rate is deceptive.

The first thing to note is the description of the PPB:
"This weapon shoots a bolt of accelerated particles at near light speed that transfer massive amounts of kinetic energy to the target, superheating and creating an explosion when striking".
The second thing is that, using concentrated fire, the PPB's DV is 4d10+8, only dropping to 2d10+4 on a glancing hit.

Put it together, and the PPB creates an explosion comparable to a HE or HEAP grenade, but with a very small effective area - which imo fits the video pretty perfectly.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?