Thursday, February 2, 2023

Long Range Tactical Combat In Gurps

Art Assets for Mooks!
In my current game, we're seeing a lot of combat at anywhere from 100 yards to 2000 yards, with TL7 and TL8 gear. This is fun play, but its also not a combat paradigm I've played in before. Its been fun, but its required a few adjustments to get right. 

Google Drawings as a VTT

While it seems that combat at 500 yards wouldn't need a map, this has not turned out to be the case. Each shot takes several turns to line up, and modern vehicles move quickly: the players mostly drive around in a hovercraft, and because we're using post-apocalyptic versions of real places, we can see features we want to use. So we wanted a battle map. Unfortunately, I haven't found a VTT that's not utterly overwhelmed by the distances involved. One of the core features of the VTT's I've looked at is grids, and grids really just get overwhelmed in a fight about dodging through city streets at 40 mph for a mile trying to close the distance with your target, who is shooting from the top of football stadium bleachers. 

I ended up using Google Drawings. It lets all the players move the tokens around and even scribble on the map to indicate where they are talking about. Its fairly simple to add a new map, just insert the new image (usually a snippit from google maps). Its worked pretty well. It does take some discipline to not move the map (Google Drawings lacks layers), but its been useful for what we wanted.

Brushing up on the Scope Rules

The key to fights at this distance is scopes. We had to go over the rules for scopes a few times before we got it down. There are two paragraphs in the Basic Set, on page 412. Essentially, you have to aim for seconds equal to your scope's bonus, and with a variable scope, you get a +1 each second you aim. 

Of course bonus is on top of the bonus from your weapon's acc, which you get the first time you aim, and the +1 bonus you get for aiming the second and third maneuvers. So with a +5 acc riffle with a +5 scope, you get +6 the first round you aim, + 8 the second round you aim, +10 the third round you aim, and after five seconds you max out at +12. It takes a little getting used to, but once you start paying attention, it clicks.

Using Computers for the Numbers

The other problem we've had is with the math. We can handle a little math. The thing is, at long ranges you need to squeeze out every bonus you can get, and keeping track of the exact modifier for 300 yards, The bonus for acc, extra time aiming, and the neutralized portion of the lighting penalty can be a little error prone. So we've leaned on computers to do the heavy lifting for us. 

The simplest solution is an excel sheet. Not a fancy one, just one where you can write down all the modifiers and sum them up and check what you wrote down. We actually built a small tool that tracks all the modifiers. 

If this sounds math heavy, it really isn't. Its just enough math that you should be writing it down. One of the big decisions in combat is to shoot, or to keep aiming, and that's been a fun choice.

Spotting is Half the Battle

The other thing that we've found is that spotting your enemy first is just as important as being a better shot. We've added +10 for spotting groups not actively hiding, based on "in plain sight" rules found elsewhere, and that keeps the range at which parties become aware of each other just about right. We have one PC who took acute vision 1, plus a pretty high perception, and that advantage has done a lot of work.

Take Aways

One of the great things about Gurps is how many different game-play paradigms it has, and especially how many combat paradigms it has. I've had fun exploring this paradigm of combat at the edge of what scopes can hit, and these are my suggestions on how to get the most out of it. Have fun with your long shots!

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