View Full Version : At gunpoint

2007-03-10, 01:39 PM
As much as i know D&D is not the system for this, I am running an urban campaign and I feel that this may need to come up.

There is no way to hold people (adventurers) at crossbow-point/gun-point etc.

For example, a NPC rogue couldnt go up to the 6th level PC from behind, press a loaded hand-crossbow against the PC's neck and hold him hostage or demand something.

If the rogue fired that crossbow, even if i made it count as a coup de gras, chances are the PC would survive a bolt through the neck/temple, etc. And then just turn around and kill their attacker.

I feel like there should be some way for this sort of thing, or different variations on this, to be done.

My issue is that If i create rules for doing it, my players will instantly abuse them.

Any ideas on how to make this work? Opposed Grapple check type things? Only against flatfooted opponents not in combat?


2007-03-10, 01:45 PM
My last DM ruled that gunpoint is a Coup de Grace and the attack deals max damge if the defender is helpless. Most high HP characters would luckily get a last second "hero dodge" if not helpless.

2007-03-10, 01:47 PM
I'd say just set them, rules-wise, to have the mugger approach the PC, pull a weapon, and ready an action to fire if a PC draws a weapon.

Since they've initially got them from behind by surprise (as you said, against a flat-footed opponent not in combat), if you have it count as a coup-de-grace, your average damage is 14, for a Fort save of 24. That's a DC 24 save, which is not out of the question, but won't be easy for a 6th level character by any means.

2007-03-10, 01:51 PM
This is how I translate, "Move and I'll kill you!" into DnD terms. The attacker is readying an action to attack the hostage if he does anything except declare himself helpless and delay indefinitely. If the hostage resists, the attack goes off, with huge penalty to AC, potential SA, and if you have Swift Executioner, with a Coup de Grace, which occur before the hostage stops being helpless.

This hinges on the creature willingly being helpless in the first place. This can either be done by readying the action while the hostage is helpless (putting the gun to their head before waking them up) or offering the choice when the hostage doesn't want to risk getting hit at all. Heroes don't normally do this- NPCs and noncombatants are less sure about surviving. Getting caught flat-footed, dazed, cowering, held, or stunned are situations where a reasonable person would realize they are already screwed, and might leap at the chance to delay their horrific wounding. PCs are the type of people that would say, "Shoot me, but you better use enough bullets to make damn sure!", but let them know there is risk from SA (you don't know how many rogue levels anyone has). But yeah, getting PCs to play a nice hostage is about as easy as getting them to surrender- very tricky.

Incidentally, since I allow creatures to share spaces with helpless creatures (like standing over unconscious enemies despite the fact that aren't objects until they are totally dead), this would allow the attacker to stand right behind the hostage without grappling.

A little rule knowledge gets you into trouble, because DnD makes some situations less dangerous/effective than they would be in real life. A little more rule knowledge and innovation like this gets you out of it.

2007-03-10, 01:58 PM
Yeah, this is one of those things that will come up, because it makes a really great dramatic scene. Or at least it would, if the PCs didn't just say "hah, okay, shoot me with that crossbow! I have 150 HP!

Letting it count as a Coup de Grace would probably be enough, really. At least, it would if the NPC is in fact a rogue, with sneak attack dice. With a crossbow, the save will be 10+2d8+howevermany d6. Vs death. Sure, the NPC might roll nothing but ones and the save'll only be DC 15...but he might also NOT. That puts the threat in the range of things the PCs can't comfortably ignore.

Edit: multisimued, of course. @ClementX: that seems like a lot of "ifs," possibly too many for this to be a tactic that would ever be used. I think the idea is that, realistically, if the bad guy sneaks up behind you and suddenly you have a gun/crossbow to your head, he shouldn't have to have 8 levels in rogue and a specialized feat to be seriously threatening to you.

I'd say the best choice is to relegate this tactic to "used-vs-NPCs-only." Allowing the heroes to be held hostage takes some control out of their hands and would be frustrating, because they are almost inevitably going to think metagame and "heroically" ignore the danger.

On the other hand, if the evil NPC puts a sword to the young prince's throat (level 1 aristocrat) he COULD reliably kill him. So the PCs have to pay attention, and since the prince is under your control, he won't be stupidly heroic.

2007-03-10, 02:02 PM
As Halcyon Dax said in his original post, DnD is not very realistic and situations like this do not translate well. The best solution, however, is to use the Vitality Points system:


Gunpoint = automatic coup the grace. More deadly than in normal DnD. Of course, the character still can survive being headshotted, but... did I mention DnD isn't very realistic? *checks* Yup, I did. Okay.

2007-03-10, 02:05 PM
Well, that's a tricky one.

On one hand, giving the characters a crunchy reason to give up encourages acting with reason. (As opposed to counting hp.) On the other hand, it's not very cool to have big, nasty foes die in couple of rounds when the players've figured out the system. (Or vica versa.)

How about this the following?
"At a dramatically appropriate moment (as determined by the DM), a character may count a flat-footed or pinned creature helpless for the purposes of performing a coup de grace."

Encourages roleplay, makes pinning a bit more desirable than I see it as, and is abuse-proof.