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View Full Version : Original System (D20 System) Balancing firearms and rayguns



Roxxy
2016-02-25, 08:20 PM
My game is built on a modified Pathfinder chassis, with firearms rules largely based on the pre-Savage Worlds Weird War D20. So, this is a class based D20 game. The technology level is a mix of 1960s and retrofuturism, and magic is widely understood to exist, though mostly exists as a low powered force.

Now, your average combat rifle is capable of 1d10 or 1d12 damage. Rapid fire is resolved by firing 3 shots per attack, with an additional round hitting every 5 points above the targetís Defense (Armor Class) the attacker rolls, but imposes a -1 to -5 penalty to the attack roll, depending on the weapon. Automatic fire is 5 shots, with an additional round hitting every 4 points above the targetís defense, and also imposes a penalty depending on the weapon. A basic rifle like a 5.56mm NATO assault rifle has 1d10 dmg, 19-20/x2 crit, and -1 penalty for rapid fire or -2 for autofire, while a 7.62mm NATO is 1d10 dmg, 19-20/x3 crit with a -2 or -3 penalty. A 9m handgun is 1d8 and -2. This system has a flat two attack actions allowed per round, with both at full BAB. The second attack can be sacrificed to make an aimed shot, which adds a damage die to the attack, which is multiplied on a critical hit.

Being somewhat retrofuturist, we have also rayguns. However, I donít want them to edge out or replace firearms. In fact, I want firearms to remain more common, while rayguns are for when you need specific attributes. Rayguns do operate on a mix of magical and technological principles, and deal all damage as elemental damage (one element is chosen at the time the weapon is manufactured). Rayguns donít have recoil and are relatively quiet, but arenít quite as lethal as firearms and project a visible ray that reveals the shooterís position, and arenít cheap. Limited power cells means that they do need to be reloaded. Creatures with damage reduction that is only bypassed by a specific element or with vulnerabilities to a specific element are quite common (whereas DR/Magic isnít used and DR/Specific Metal is used by only a few creatures), and there arenít any elemental weapon or bullet enchantments, unlike Pathfinder. This is intended to be one area where rayguns are pretty useful. Another is space combat, where the lack of recoil or moving parts is a great boon.

Now, I need to translate those advantages into game mechanics, and here is where I run into a wall. I want rayguns to be fun to use when the situation dictates, but not better than firearms (they can be equal, I just donít want them to be something youíd always or usually choose over lead).

Looking at the basic firearms rules above, Iím considering a couple approaches:

Rayguns deal 1 die less damage than equivalent firearms (1d8 rifle, 1d6 pistol), but have no penalty to rapid fire do to not having recoil. They cannot fire fast enough to be automatic. Characters in concealment reveal themselves upon firing. Thick walls and the like block the weapon report.

Rayguns deal on par damage with firearms, deal poor crits (20/x2), have no penalty to rapid fire. Cannot fire fast enough for automatic. Characters in concealment reveal themselves upon firing. Thick walls and the like block the weapon report.

Rayguns deal 1 die less damage and poor crits, but have no penalty to rapid fire or automatic fire, can actually fire crazy fast at 8 rounds per attack, and have large power cell capacities. Characters in concealment reveal themselves upon firing. Thick walls and the like block the weapon report.

I canít really decide which approach works best, if any of these. What do you guys think? What makes rayguns fun, while still leaving firearms the default option, or an equivalent option?

wkwkwkwk1
2016-04-12, 12:14 PM
Rayguns deal 1 die less damage than equivalent firearms (1d8 rifle, 1d6 pistol), but have no penalty to rapid fire do to not having recoil. They cannot fire fast enough to be automatic. Characters in concealment reveal themselves upon firing. Thick walls and the like block the weapon report.

Rayguns deal on par damage with firearms, deal poor crits (20/x2), have no penalty to rapid fire. Cannot fire fast enough for automatic. Characters in concealment reveal themselves upon firing. Thick walls and the like block the weapon report.

Rayguns deal 1 die less damage and poor crits, but have no penalty to rapid fire or automatic fire, can actually fire crazy fast at 8 rounds per attack, and have large power cell capacities. Characters in concealment reveal themselves upon firing. Thick walls and the like block the weapon report.


I'd go with the first, I'd say it's the most balanced. However, the second makes rayguns feel more like a specialty weapon. Not good weapons overall, but good enough when you need them. The third is just plain unbalanced and is gonna break something.

EpicFetus
2016-05-13, 03:42 PM
You may want to check out the old d20 Modern/d20 Future supplements. It makes firearms a bit more deadly -2d4 for small caliber pistols, 2d6 for 9mm/.45s, assault rifles up at 2d8 (AK-47s/Ar-15s) and sniper rifles at 2d10 or 2d12 (for the "I'm spooning a barret light 50, I can kill a building with this"). But it did "balance" that with futuristic technology (and feats that allow for firearm shenanigans, like double-tapping and burst-fire). Not sure how it handled Ray Guns (or what itr called them, likely has lasers/grav weapons instead but hey, what's in a name). Since it was 3.0/3.5, it should work with Pathfinder okay.

Calen
2016-05-13, 04:41 PM
Posting this suggestion with the caveat that I have not played Pathfinder so I may be missing some of the elements in play here.

Rayguns do little extra damage on a crit. (Or maybe no extra damage but a bonus effect based on the damage type)
They are easier to shoot with so you get a small bonus to hit. (2 or 3)
There is no rapid fire with these weapons they have 1 attack per shot.
Damage would be the same as an equivalent weapon.