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Heavy Weapons and Shooting Large Living Things

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  • Heavy Weapons and Shooting Large Living Things

    Greetings and Salutations Hive Mind!

    I posted this in the Official Forum but I do want the rest of the communities input so I am posting here as well.
    I have lots of questions but I want to start with something that came up in my first came session as a GM running a steampunkish set in the 1880's and pulls elements from a wide range of settings, games, and books I like. What is the best way to resolve damage from heavy weapons vs a large creature in the air? Case in point, the pc's were shooting a hotchkiss cannon and gatling gun at a wyvern like creature that was attacking their airship. The creature did not require heavy weapons to hit and it was flying so the burst template couldn't really be applied. That meant that the gatling at 2d8 and the Hotchkiss 37mm at 3d6 were delivering very similar damage even though they are very different weapons. Whats more the gatling had a rate of fire of 3 so it had the potential to cause more wounds per attack than the hotchkiss. I decided to give the Hotchkiss +4 to damage as the sm burst template is 4 squares. But is that enough? Should its damage be considerably more since its power which is designed to be delivered to a large area is being concentrated into a single point? Would something like 3d6x4 be way to over powering? Could that be offset by a negative to hit modifier a target that didn't require heavy weapons? Would it make sense to say that using a heavy weapon against a large target that didnt require heavy weapons causes an extra wound with a successful damage roll? I am interested in what you all might think.

  • #2
    You are overthinking things quite a bit. Run the game using the standard rules and see how it works for you before you start inventing new issues and re-interpreting the system based on other games.

    There is no extra damage from hitting a creature with a Heavy Weapon, even if they don't have Heavy Armor. There is no extra damage for hitting a large creature with an AoE because they're in multiple squares.

    If the weapons used deal 2d8 and 3d6 damage, they'll be pretty similar in how much damage they do. And that's fine. A RoF 3 gun will get 3 Shooting dice (and one Wild Die, if appropriate) on the attack roll, with a -2 penalty to each die. The point of an AoE vs a high RoF weapon is that an AoE will hit multiple opponents; the RoF gun can hit the same target multiple times. That's it.

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    • #3
      Welcome to the forum!
      Originally posted by Savage_Steam View Post
      I have lots of questions but I want to start with something that came up in my first came session as a GM running a steampunkish set in the 1880's and pulls elements from a wide range of settings, games, and books I like. What is the best way to resolve damage from heavy weapons vs a large creature in the air?
      Usually, the same way you'd resolve any damage.
      Originally posted by Savage_Steam View Post
      Case in point, the pc's were shooting a hotchkiss cannon and gatling gun at a wyvern like creature that was attacking their airship. ... That meant that the gatling at 2d8 and the Hotchkiss 37mm at 3d6 were delivering very similar damage even though they are very different weapons.
      That's expected.
      2d8 Acing damage averages 10.2 damage. (5.1 per die)
      3d6 Acing damage averages 12.6 damage. (4.2 per die)
      Originally posted by Savage_Steam View Post
      I decided to give the Hotchkiss +4 to damage as the sm burst template is 4 squares. But is that enough?
      +4 is enough to declare "flying critters have a Weakness to explosives", the same way zombies have a Weakness to head shots.
      Generally, the advantage of explosives (Template weapons) versus automatics is that it is easier to hit the target with an explosion. Savage Worlds reflects this by having templates roll against the base TN 4, while machine guns have to actually roll well enough on the Shooting roll to hit the target (including Cover, lighting, Dodge, Size, Recoil, and Unsteady Platform). As long as you remember to apply all of that then the weapons should naturally showcase their advantages and disadvantages.

      Originally posted by Savage_Steam View Post
      Should its damage be considerably more since its power which is designed to be delivered to a large area is being concentrated into a single point?
      If it should then it would just deal more damage to everything. But the explosion isn't being concentrated - there's only one thing in the area to be hurt by it, you're not swapping over to HEAT rounds.
      Originally posted by Savage_Steam View Post
      Would something like 3d6x4 be way to over powering?
      That approach would make large monsters too vulnerable to explosives. Dealing an average of 50.4 damage per hit is ... obscene. No gigantic creature is going to survive that - heck, other aircraft will be utterly destroyed by such damage.
      Originally posted by Savage_Steam View Post
      Could that be offset by a negative to hit modifier a target that didn't require heavy weapons? Would it make sense to say that using a heavy weapon against a large target that didnt require heavy weapons causes an extra wound with a successful damage roll? I am interested in what you all might think.
      The only thing Heavy Weapons do, the only thing, is get to actually roll damage against targets that have Heavy Armor.
      That's what those two properties do. Heavy Armor makes the target immune to all weapon damage. Heavy Weapon allows a weapon to hurt a target that has Heavy Armor.
      Note that some sources of damage (notably Collision and Falling) aren't weapons and get to bypass Heavy Armor. This is situational but important.

      You may have already understood all that. In which case I apologize for the redundancy. But it wasn't clear, from your question, if you did understand, so I err on the side of too much explanation. Because I'm a pedantic jerk.

      I hope that helps.
      Last edited by ValhallaGH; 10-22-2018, 11:21 PM.
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Savage_Steam View Post
        Greetings and Salutations Hive Mind!
        Well, let me be the second one to say, Welcome to the Forums!


        What is the best way to resolve damage from heavy weapons vs a large creature in the air? Case in point, the pc's were shooting a hotchkiss cannon and gatling gun at a wyvern like creature that was attacking their airship. The creature did not require heavy weapons to hit and it was flying so the burst template couldn't really be applied.
        By RAW, Heavy Weapons have no special function besides being able to penetrate Heavy Armor. However, most Heavy Weapons also have AP values high enough to shoot through all but the toughest of mundane armors.

        As for explosive Burst Templates... also, by RAW, no special rules for large targets that fall under more of the burst template. It's worth noting, however, that burst templates target the least armored location, so it may be important to throw that template down to see whether or not it hits such an exposed area (the infamous "missing scale").

        ... I decided to give the Hotchkiss +4 to damage as the sm burst template is 4 squares. But is that enough? Should its damage be considerably more since its power which is designed to be delivered to a large area is being concentrated into a single point?
        I wouldn't say the damage is being concentrated on a point... the burst simply affects whatever it washes over. A large or huge creature takes up more squares, and so it surely falls under more of the template's Area of Effect, but it's not necessarily being affected more by the blast. In fact, compared to a smaller creature (who would be entirely engulfed by the explosion) the larger creature is actually being affected less by the explosion.

        In this case, simply stacking damage might not be appropriate. However, you could rule that other situational conditions would take effect. For example, since the wyvern is a flying creature, you could rule that the explosive blast alters air currents, forcing the creature to make an Agility roll (at -2 if the attack scored a raise) or half its Pace on its next turn. Or perhaps the explosion creates a cloud of thick smoke, forcing the wyvern to make a Vigor roll or lose an action as a coughs and heaves... or maybe be blinded for one turn.

        The point is, damage is not the be-all-end-all it tends to be in other game systems. Savage Worlds does a great job of allowing situational effects to have just as much impact on a fight than someone that can hit hard. Causing a creature to become vulnerable so that "mediocre" damage then has more of an effect is more memorable and entertaining than stacking bonuses to deliver "superb" damage.

        Would something like 3d6x4 be way to over powering?
        Yes! That's an insane amount of damage.

        Could that be offset by a negative to hit modifier a target that didn't require heavy weapons? Would it make sense to say that using a heavy weapon against a large target that didnt require heavy weapons causes an extra wound with a successful damage roll? I am interested in what you all might think.
        Although it's a staple in many game systems, taking a penalty to hit in order to deal extra damage just isn't all that interesting. This may be my personal biases showing through, but I tend to find Hack-&-Slash games boring. Combat generally devolves into an "every-man-for-himself" brawl, with little to no cooperative play. But hey, if that's your jam, who am I to ruin your fun?

        As for allowing Heavy Weapons to arbitrarily cause an extra Wound, I'd be careful there. Heavy Weapons aren't exactly rare to acquire, and by implementing such a rule you are telling your players "always use Heavy Weapons." Causing an extra wound is also a pretty big deal. Because of how Toughness and raises scale, this would have much more of an effect against tougher opponents than weaker ones. It can have a disasterous effect on your game when your Big Bad End Game villian falls in the first round of combat to a well placed shot.

        Like my suggestions earlier hinted at, I would look for ways to alter the course of a battle without trying to maximize damage output.
        Last edited by Deskepticon; 10-23-2018, 07:22 AM. Reason: My OC kicked in...

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        • #5
          In a situation like this, which seems like a fairly epic setpiece battle to me, I'd get a little outside the box. Playing on ValhallaGHs mentioning of missing scales, I'd allow the gatling crew to use their weapon to shear off some of the dragon's scales so that called shots can be more easily made to less armored areas, and the Hotchkiss naturally rolls damage against a lower Toughness. I might also only allow them to do this when the wyvern-alike is making an in-close strafing run with its breath weapon. While none of this stuff is explicitly in any rules, it's the kind of thing that I personally like to get up to when setting up encounters for my group.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Savage_Steam View Post
            hotchkiss cannon and gatling gun
            What are the stat lines of the hotchkiss cannon and gatling gun?

            Are you using the gatling gun from SWD or a different book? Same for the Hotchkiss cannon. There is a generic cannon in SWD, but I don't know if you are using that stat-line or one from a different book, such as Deadlands or Space 1889.

            The creature did not require heavy weapons to hit and it was flying so the burst template couldn't really be applied.
            Why didn't the burst template apply? AA Flak guns are area-of-effect weapons that hit air targets by exploding near them.

            Should its damage be considerably more since its power which is designed to be delivered to a large area is being concentrated into a single point?
            Unless it was a shaped charge, no. AoE weapons are designed to spread their energy in multiple directions. A non-shape charged AoE weapon actually hitting a target would only deliver ~1/8 of its energy to that target. The rest of the energy would be expended away (or parallel) to the target.

            BTW, the historical Hotchkiss cannon would fire shrapnel for its AoE round. Shrapnel does not typically have the Heavy Weapon trait. It is easy to misread the weapon table in SWD for Cannon. Only "shot" has the Heavy Weapon trait for cannons. Canister and Shrapnel ammo does not.

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