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hotrodlincoln
2016-06-20, 12:33 PM
So, I've been working on a little homebrew setting that is, in broad strokes, based on early colonial America. A setting where heavy armor and big two handed swords very much take a back seat to men in clothing or light leathers, and most combat takes place at some form of distance, be it with a bow or blackpowder gun. Melee is still there, with guns being used as clubs, bayonettes, knives, hatchets, tomahawks, and bare knuckle boxing.

The issue I run into is that typical DnD is not really equipped for this sort of a game, at least, not right out of the box. Do the fine folk here at GiantITP have any suggestions to help me with this? Something to make ranged combat a bit more interesting, and chiefly, more dangerous than the current mode where a typical archer needs 4-5 shots simply to bring down a mook.

BearonVonMu
2016-06-20, 12:46 PM
Assuming you don't want to change gaming systems, you would need to get creative.
D20 Modern has an assortment of ranged weapon feats.
You could grab some material from the Path of War. Here is a mini-guide for maneuvers that would be useful for that:
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?373397-Path-of-War-Ranged-Maneuver-List

After that, it gets homebrew-y.
Maybe start modifying melee combat options to also be viable for ranged combat.

Joe the Rat
2016-06-21, 08:29 AM
Define "typical D&D" - 1, 3, 4, and 5 have different solutions.

The simplest thing is to add "ranged attack stat" to ranged damage rolls as the default. That raises the floor and ceiling. it also keeps bows relevant.

2nd Ed had exploding Arquebus damage: d10 damage, when you rolled a 10, roll again and add it to the total. If you have guns use multiple, smaller die (2d4 vs 1d8), that increases the explosion potential.

Power Shot - Power Attack for ranged weapons.

Cannon fire is a saving throw, not an attack roll.

Use cover rules, and stick to it: If you boost the danger, give people means to avoid getting hit. This makes positioning and terrain more important.

CharonsHelper
2016-06-21, 08:52 AM
Several points of note for this if you're going for a feel that fits the setting -

1. Armor was still somewhat effective at this point of history, it mostly just wasn't worth the cost. PCs could still benefit from it, especially against melee and bows.

2. Make muskets take 15-20 sec to reload (if trained) and have crappy accuracy, but single shots nasty. Bows (especially using stone-age tech) shoot every 5-6 sec in volley and slower when aimed (both if trained) have better accuracy but crap vs armor. (Armor more than guns helped The Conquistadors beat the Aztecs/Incas. Plus horses/dogs.)

3. Multiple pistols should be effective. Blackbeard was known to go into battle with 6 loaded pistols strapped to his chest.

4. It sounds like you don't want the high HP D&D style system at all. I'd look at systems with lower HP generally and/or where mooks don't gain HP. (Not recommending this system directly for colonial America - but since you know d20: Star Wars Saga Edition had mooks which got more accuracy/defenses without gaining HP. The inherent defenses might also be a better fit for your game as opposed to needing WBL magic gear to work.)

Berenger
2016-06-21, 09:36 AM
You'll want to find a decent compromise between "realism" and playability when designing the weaknesses of your firearms. d20 Past, which is the supplement for d20 Modern covering your chosen time period, has absolutely horrible rules when comparing early firearms to other ranged weapons.

For example:




16th Cent. Wheel Lock Musket

Heavy Crossbow



Damage

2d8 (~9)
1d12 (~6.5)


Critical

20
19-20


Range Inc.

40 feet
60 feet


Price

PC 23 (thirty times more)
PC 11 (thirty times less)


Magazine

1, internal
1, internal


Size

large
large


Weight

8 lbs.
8 lbs.


Reload

2 full round actions
1 full round actions


Misc. Rules

can't apply DEX mod. to hit
can apply DEX mod.



Misc. Rules

misfires at 1 (1-3 in rain),
has to be cleaned for 10 minutes
can't misfire at all


Feat

Personal Firearms
Simple Weapons (free
for everybody)





Well, great, they did their research and implemented all the weaknesses of early firearms! Too bad they couldn't find any benefits for them (or any weaknesses for the earlier ranged weapons), so god grace the soul of every conquistador or redcoat entering the americas with a useless, puny thunder-stick in his hands. Even the slightly higher average damage output is completely outclassed when factoring in crit chance and rate of fire.

[/rant]

FocusWolf413
2016-06-21, 10:25 AM
3. Multiple pistols should be effective. Blackbeard was known to go into battle with 6 loaded pistols strapped to his chest.


There's also no evidence whatsoever that Blackbeard personally killed anyone. There are no sources that claim he killed a single person. He was just scary and his crew was pretty vicious.

CharonsHelper
2016-06-21, 10:39 AM
Besides - why did they have the heavy crossbow reload faster than a musket? An arbalest was lucky to get 2 shots a minute while a musket could get 3-4.

Also, the musket could be pretty accurate out 30-40yrds or so. (It's just that due to the reload time, you're only going to get one accurate shot before they charge you.) Frankly, I think that we tend to underestimate muskets in hindsight and overestimate how random they were. Plus, unlike Napoleonic battles, most RPG combat is entirely fought well within that range anyway.

CharonsHelper
2016-06-21, 10:45 AM
There's also no evidence whatsoever that Blackbeard personally killed anyone. There are no sources that claim he killed a single person. He was just scary and his crew was pretty vicious.

I thought that was just that he didn't murder his captives, not that he didn't kill anyone at all.

Joe the Rat
2016-06-21, 10:47 AM
The "piratey" braces of pistols had more to do with the impracticality of reloading single-shot weapons in shipboard combat. If you kept to "realistic" reloading, then the multiple pistols give you a higher rate of fire.

If you want to keep things "plausible," an E6 style game might be a good format.

Flickerdart
2016-06-21, 10:58 AM
There are two questions in your question: how to make ranged combat more dangerous, and how to make ranged combat more interesting.

Dangerous
A typical person has 2 hit points, and a single arrow or bullet kills 'em dead. If you want to maintain the feel of the real world, you're going to have to give up on the superhero-style toughness that comes with high levels. Play your game as E6 (http://www.myth-weavers.com/wiki/index.php/Epic_6) and you'll ensure that death comes swiftly to the foolish.

If you wanted to really tighten the screws without too much of a mechanical alteration, make bleeding wounds a thing. When you get hit, you get a counter, and every minute, you lose 1 HP for every counter you have (until you drop to 0, at which point there are already bleeding rules). As a full-round action, you can dress a wound with a Heal check (something simple like DC 10 is fine) and remove a counter.

Interesting
The largest factor here is going to be terrain - overgrown forests, ditches, boulders, and other kinds of cover will be extremely valuable, as will higher ground. Rain and moisture will require that your powder be safely stored away and your bows are unstrung. You can also make it difficult to acquire ammunition - how many frontiersmen went into the forest with an 80-arrow quiver?

When it comes to actually shooting, there are more than enough options in the system to make it interesting. Just scrub "bow or crossbow" off of them to open them up to guns, and you're golden.

SilverLeaf167
2016-06-21, 11:13 AM
Interesting
The largest factor here is going to be terrain - overgrown forests, ditches, boulders, and other kinds of cover will be extremely valuable, as will higher ground. Rain and moisture will require that your powder be safely stored away and your bows are unstrung. You can also make it difficult to acquire ammunition - how many frontiersmen went into the forest with an 80-arrow quiver?

When it comes to actually shooting, there are more than enough options in the system to make it interesting. Just scrub "bow or crossbow" off of them to open them up to guns, and you're golden.

Seconded, one of the biggest reasons ranged combat can get boring (even when the numbers are buffed) is the lack of movement and variety, compared to melee. Creative and extensive use of terrain is a good way to make people change cover, perform flanking maneuvers and such.

It's mostly up to the group and not really the system, but I think that in a game like this it's especially important for the party to have many possible approaches to most situations. If the firefight becomes a stalemate with both sides stuck in their positions, both the DM and the players should be open to other solutions, like going around altogether or pulling some interesting stunt to turn the tables.

Flickerdart
2016-06-21, 01:25 PM
Oh, one more thing - one legitimate advantage that d20 ranged combat has is that you can roll out with a whole bunch of pre-poisoned arrows, special material arrows, and arrows with all kinds of delightful enchantments that would break the bank if adding it to your primary sword. Even if your game doesn't have magic, you can do the poisons thing, along with masterwork powder and bullets to be used in an emergency, but providing that extra bit of oomph.

Mark Hall
2016-06-21, 01:32 PM
While Kenzerco has a cowboy Western game in Aces and Eights, you might include some rules from that or Hackmaster Basic (which is free to download) to make ranged combat a bit nastier.

1) Penetrating dice. Roll max, roll again and add. One version of AD&D had this happen with firearms on a 4, 8, or 12, no matter the size of the die... so rolling a d8 gave you two chances for your die to explode.

2) Trauma Save/Threshhold of Pain. Take X number damage in a single hit, and you have to roll under half your Con or collapse from the pain for several seconds. Even with high HP characters, ToP will drop them faster than anything, and a thief to do a quick CDG, following behind your high-damage fighter is called "the ol' ToP and chop."

Vitruviansquid
2016-06-21, 02:58 PM
The HP system makes it so characters are either alive and fully-functioning or eliminated from the combat. This is unfit for a setting where you want ranged combat to be the primary means of combat, so you need to modify the way damage works.

And since you're going to be modifying the way damage works, it's probably a hundred times easier and more effective if you go out and find a system that already has this, rather than try to bash it into D&D, which is a system not originally designed for it.