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  • Why do pistols have to be so bad?

    So last night I was playing in a session on Foundry where the group is going to be based in the New West. My character started with a pair of Wilk's 327 Backup Pistols which I think are about the best laser pistol available. However, to kick things off we had a shootout with some Broodkil and a few hummies. First, the combat wasn't that big and lasted all of two rounds but I felt pretty impotent. I didn't have any problem hitting anything and I had 2 actions without MAP so I was getting attacks in but I needed really good rolls just to have an impact. I did roll really well on a hit on a Brodkil leader and got one wound but he just soaked it.

    Now I don't see an issue with the scenario I thought it was well done. The bad guys had cover and they were deployed intelligently. The rest of the party did have somewhat heavier firepower than I did though there aren't any Power Armor, Vehicles or Robots in the group so no really heavy hitters. One guy had the NG-45LP Particle Pistol and he got a really good roll on damage with one shot but even that pistol needs an above average roll just to shake a Brokil.

    Note that this really has nothing to do with MD vs. not MD since no one in the combat had MDC armor that I was aware of. I don't think that retuning pistol damage is a viable answer for what I see as an issue. However, there are some MARS classes where the expectation is using handguns and that really limits their utility. I do play a gunslinger in another game and he uses a IP-10 Ion Blaster and a (currently) a Bigbore Pistol and it works well enough though the opposition mostly consist of gangers of various stripes and he does go for the headshot often as not but anything tougher and he's in the same boat as my New West character.

    My only thought so far is possibly if there were some iconic edges for gunslingers, cowboys and other IF/MARS that would traditionally rely on handguns to get a damage boost. Right now, however, my current plan is to work towards the Trickshooter edge in order to wield a rifle one handed and treat it as a oversized handgun. Unfortunately, Trickshooter is not the easiest edge to get given the pre-requisites and you need a decent strength (or Brawny, Soldier) to pull it off.

    There is also the fact that the default starting weapon is basically useless against anything other than the softest targets which has had me considering some house rules in my next game to allow more flexibility in selecting their starting weapons and/or armor. Not that I think they should have the option to get the best stuff. You want the best of the best you still going to need that F&G roll, HJ roll or burn an Advance on Rich/Filthy Rich to get them. But the starting laser pistols are basically pathetic unless you are shooting at naked humans or something along those lines. I suppose you could shoot an aquatic lemur or something but that's just mean.

    I will say the one MARS I tried that I thought was adequate with a handgun is the Psi-Slinger. The extra die gets you to basic pistol damage but with smite mods you get extra AP and combine it with Ramjet ammo and you have a pretty nice handgun. Even without mega mods you can get a Peacemaker up to 3d8+4 AP 10 MD.

    Note: In the other scenarios smite wasn't an option so that's why I didn't mention it.

    So has anyone else had some experiences and/or thoughts on using pistols?

  • #2
    Every time I make a character, I end up treating their starting pistol as an accessory. If I'm making a shooter, I get a real weapon (via one of the options you mention) and then use the starter as a way of using my Shooting skill in Tests. If I'm making a non-Shooter, then the gun is used specifically for intimidate attempts, if ever.

    If you're explicitly making a pistol-based character, you need one (or, presumably, 2) of the following:
    NG-57 Heavy Ion (lousy at longer ranges, but up close the Shotgun Rules let it bypass half the penalty for a Called Shot to the head/vitals.
    The heaviest Plasma Ejector you can manage (you'll need at least one die-bumpt in Strength for this one beyond the base d6)
    A Particle Beam pistol; this will work at longer ranges, but is actually inferior to the NG-57 at short ranges
    TX-5 Pump Pistol w/Ramjet Rounds; I only recommend this approach if you've got serious financial backing, or at least an "expenses" clause in your merc contracts.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Freemage View Post
      Every time I make a character, I end up treating their starting pistol as an accessory. If I'm making a shooter, I get a real weapon (via one of the options you mention) and then use the starter as a way of using my Shooting skill in Tests. If I'm making a non-Shooter, then the gun is used specifically for intimidate attempts, if ever.

      If you're explicitly making a pistol-based character, you need one (or, presumably, 2) of the following:
      NG-57 Heavy Ion (lousy at longer ranges, but up close the Shotgun Rules let it bypass half the penalty for a Called Shot to the head/vitals.
      Yeah, I'm seriously considering making a request to change the starting weapons for this character to NG-57's. Not really cowboy based but I'll do Han if I have to. I am a fan of ion blasters.

      The heaviest Plasma Ejector you can manage (you'll need at least one die-bump in Strength for this one beyond the base d6)
      This is a long range goal as with Trickshooter you can wield them one handed at no penalty but the min strength goes up one. Unfortunately Trickshooter is a Veteran edge with an impressive number of pre-requisite edges. To use as a backup weapon I can see this and I do like the Plasma Ejector but not always an option if you can't swing the Rich edge. Last night was one of those instances.

      A Particle Beam pistol; this will work at longer ranges, but is actually inferior to the NG-57 at short ranges
      Props to the P-Beam Pistol but it's so cliche. I don't hate it but I would rather find another option if I can.

      TX-5 Pump Pistol w/Ramjet Rounds; I only recommend this approach if you've got serious financial backing, or at least an "expenses" clause in your merc contracts.
      I like this idea and I've used ramjet ammo with a Psi-Slinger pretty regularly and while the ammo is expensive I don't find the burden onerous. Of course gunslinger types aren't all that high maintenance in general so diverting funds for ammo isn't as big a deal as for some other frameworks.

      Edit: I think I see what you're talking about with regards to this being expensive. I only used a Pump weapon once in SWD so I didn't realize how expensive the base ammo is. 2,000 per Ramjet Pump Pistol cartridge is a little spendy.

      Edit: I had to fix the above statement. In a reading comprehension fail I thought the pump cartridges were 2,200 credits rather than Reload 2; 200 credits per cartridge. So while 2k per Ramjet Round is still pricey it's not nearly as bad I originally thought. Still don't think Ramjet rounds are RAW available for the Pump Pistol/Rifle but it is a nice thought.

      The bigger issue is, however, that as far as I know it's not legal by RAW. Ramjet rounds are limited to modern firearms found in SWADE (well, and the firearms from Viggo's Custom Firearms which are pretty much the same thing) so generally would not be allowed for use in a Pump Pistol unless the GM were to allow it as a house rule. I do like the thought of it though.
      Last edited by Radecliffe; 10-15-2021, 03:37 PM.

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      • #4
        The TW pistols are good but the fact that you’d likely have to go psi-slinger to use them just puts an even finer point on the problem. Even with packing in Assassin and Double-Tap, i’m not sure you could bump damage that high. Maybe with the Gladiator edge in the new Atlantis book.

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        • #5
          The usefulness of pistols for most characters is somewhat dependent on the GM. They're pretty poor in a field battle, but you can bring them into town most of the time. If you need to be lightweight for infiltration, or you need to conceal carry, you can bring a pistol. Just don't go shooting at heavily armored opponents, as they're unlikely to do much.

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          • #6
            Pistols are self-defense weapons, something you can carry under a jacket so if you're jumped in town you have a weapon. Rifles are weapons for the battlefield, more capable of hurting serious threats and (depending on the gun) doing Mega Damage. This is as true in Rifts Earth as it is today.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by pkitty View Post
              Pistols are self-defense weapons, something you can carry under a jacket so if you're jumped in town you have a weapon. Rifles are weapons for the battlefield, more capable of hurting serious threats and (depending on the gun) doing Mega Damage. This is as true in Rifts Earth as it is today.
              Well this is such a helpful statement. There are actual MARS packages built around using pistols and your advice is evidently they should just suck and you shouldn't use them. Thank you for your assistance. I appreciate it.

              In point of fact in IRL there are a number of handguns that are just as dangerous as any rifle. Less range and less ammo capacity but can equal or exceed many rifles in terms of raw damage. The same holds true in Palladium Rifts. There any number of pistols that do more damage than a rifle just at shorter ranges and with less ammo capacity.

              Perhaps this evening I can put together a list of all the pistols in Palladium Rifts that can do more damage than a rifle. Not all rifles mind you since the heaviest rifles are the biggest damage dealers. Having said that in PR there is no demarcation line between pistols and rifles. There are many rifles that don't have the damage output of various pistols. Yet in SR all pistols are substandard to rifles. The only exception I can think of is the Naruni plasma pistol. But Wilk's, Triax and NG all have pistols that can outperform at least some of the rifles in their inventory.


              Comment


              • pkitty
                pkitty commented
                Editing a comment
                Not sure why my post deserved such a sarcastic response. Not cool, man.

              • Radecliffe
                Radecliffe commented
                Editing a comment
                Well pkitty let me ask you this then. In what way did you think your post is advancing the conversation here? Attempting to assert that all pistols are inferior to all rifles just isn't an accurate statement both IRL and in Rifts Earth. Also, as I stated in the OP my concern here isn't about MD vs. non MD. The scenario I was referring to had no MDC armored combatants in it. It also had no "high level" enemies in it unless you consider a Brodkil leader a high level enemy and again even a baseline Brodkil can be difficult to wound even with the best laser pistol. I perceive this as a problem. If you disagree fine but at least make an attempt to be constructive about it. You see my response as sarcastic but I found your post as dismissive, rude and unhelpful in any way not to mention not factual. So I apologize for any sarcasm on my part.

            • #8
              Originally posted by Radecliffe View Post

              Well this is such a helpful statement. There are actual MARS packages built around using pistols and your advice is evidently they should just suck and you shouldn't use them. Thank you for your assistance. I appreciate it.

              In point of fact in IRL there are a number of handguns that are just as dangerous as any rifle. Less range and less ammo capacity but can equal or exceed many rifles in terms of raw damage. The same holds true in Palladium Rifts. There any number of pistols that do more damage than a rifle just at shorter ranges and with less ammo capacity.

              Perhaps this evening I can put together a list of all the pistols in Palladium Rifts that can do more damage than a rifle. Not all rifles mind you since the heaviest rifles are the biggest damage dealers. Having said that in PR there is no demarcation line between pistols and rifles. There are many rifles that don't have the damage output of various pistols. Yet in SR all pistols are substandard to rifles. The only exception I can think of is the Naruni plasma pistol. But Wilk's, Triax and NG all have pistols that can outperform at least some of the rifles in their inventory.

              The only one that is pistol-dependent is the Psi-Slinger, and that package gets bonuses that make it worthwhile. The Gunslinger MARS package doesn't do anything pistol-dependent, as all of their abilities apply to any gun.

              Comment


              • Radecliffe
                Radecliffe commented
                Editing a comment
                Your definition differs from the lore in Palladium Rifts. If you look at the OCC's in the New West book almost every one of them are explicit specialists in the use of revolvers and pistols of all kinds. Ironically the Gunfighter is about the only OCC I've looked at that is called out as being a more well rounded type of shooter that can specialize in both pistols and rifles and are considered something of a weapons master.
                Last edited by Radecliffe; 10-15-2021, 04:31 PM.

            • #9
              This was an issue that ValhallaGH and I discussed back during the SWADE Rifts playtest. The "Guns vs Armor" arms race that happened rendered 95% of the pistols and most damaging powers moot. You'd be better off in most cases trading out right away for a vibroknife or even a basic NG Laser Rifle.

              While it might be realistic for the setting (or even the real world in the rare cases body armor is deployed) it makes the game feel less... fun.

              Comment


              • operations
                operations commented
                Editing a comment
                And yes, if the party is all pistols and small weapons, the GM can adjust, but a great much of things in RIFTS© is things that are big and scary, which then limits GM options. Pistols should be no where near rifles or heavy weapons in power, of course, but also not so weak that it's less for defense and more to kill yourself quickly when faced with the horrors of the world...

            • #10
              I think one of the misunderstandings going on here is the weapon type balance of stock Rifts vs Savage. Sure, there were a few pistols in PB Rifts that could melt a mech (not just a TW or Naruni product). But Savage changed things around. Melee characters without flight or superspeed are actually viable (only time I had a melee character in Rifts was a cosmo knight, even my cyberknights treated the psi-sword as a backup). Pistols are lighter than they were. Long guns of various types are the anti-armor weapons.

              That said, there are always exceptions. If you don't mind not having much AP, plasma pistols (if you have the strength, a Naruni plasma cartridge pistol) are nice. Consider a Triax pump pistol, too, and maybe have a gadgeteer type character or NPC design some special rounds (like anti-vampire or whatever).

              If I'm reading the Gunslinger MARS option right, they're all about precision shots, whether a sniper or a pistol specialist (or both, as the Shooting skill doesn't differentiate). So it looks like the character would be focused on called shots. You're not aiming center mass on a mech trying for a kill shot, you're shooting its sensors and weapons to disable it. So more a debuffer than a damage dealer. Maybe.

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              • #11
                Originally posted by Radecliffe View Post


                This is a long range goal as with Trickshooter you can wield them one handed at no penalty but the min strength goes up one. Unfortunately Trickshooter is a Veteran edge with an impressive number of pre-requisite edges. To use as a backup weapon I can see this and I do like the Plasma Ejector but not always an option if you can't swing the Rich edge. Last night was one of those instances.
                I'm not saying you're wrong (I occasionally miss a rule), but I can't find "Two-Handed" as a descriptor on any of the Plasma Ejectors. They have Snapfire, but that only hinders movement + shooting, not one-handed use.



                I like this idea and I've used ramjet ammo with a Psi-Slinger pretty regularly and while the ammo is expensive I don't find the burden onerous. Of course gunslinger types aren't all that high maintenance in general so diverting funds for ammo isn't as big a deal as for some other frameworks.

                Edit: I think I see what you're talking about with regards to this being expensive. I only used a Pump weapon once in SWD so I didn't realize how expensive the base ammo is. 2,000 per Ramjet Pump Pistol cartridge is a little spendy.

                Edit: I had to fix the above statement. In a reading comprehension fail I thought the pump cartridges were 2,200 credits rather than Reload 2; 200 credits per cartridge. So while 2k per Ramjet Round is still pricey it's not nearly as bad I originally thought. Still don't think Ramjet rounds are RAW available for the Pump Pistol/Rifle but it is a nice thought.

                The bigger issue is, however, that as far as I know it's not legal by RAW. Ramjet rounds are limited to modern firearms found in SWADE (well, and the firearms from Viggo's Custom Firearms which are pretty much the same thing) so generally would not be allowed for use in a Pump Pistol unless the GM were to allow it as a house rule. I do like the thought of it though.
                Similarly, my copy of EoH simply says that Ramjet rounds are for 'mundane' firearms; I take that to mean, "Not TW", not "Modern Firearms from SWADE".

                Again, if I'm wrong on either of these points, I'll gladly be educated.

                Comment


                • Radecliffe
                  Radecliffe commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I'll admit it is an assumption on my part that the Plasma Ejectors are two handed based on their weight if nothing else. The art from Palladium does suggest the possibility of using at least an E-4 one handed if you had the strength to do it. It does look like an oversized pistol with a folding stock. It's certainly an argument worth making to the GM.

              • #12
                Originally posted by Freemage View Post

                Similarly, my copy of EoH simply says that Ramjet rounds are for 'mundane' firearms; I take that to mean, "Not TW", not "Modern Firearms from SWADE".
                TK Revolvers explicitly can fire conventional rounds.

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