I had a few real-world-to-gaming thoughts that I wanted to share today.
These came to me around 6 a.m. this morning after I ran out the front door, barefoot, into the snow, and started shooting my air pistol at the raccoon on my roof who was trying to break into my attic.
Welcome to Ohio.
After I’d calmed down and warmed my feet back up, in an effort to not curse like a sailor and wake up my kids, I started thinking about the encounter in gaming terms. I was figuring up my bonuses and penalties. On the plus side I have a reasonable base skill with a pistol, the target was at short range, and I had surprise.
However the light was poor, the target was small, I had taken a move action, the air gun has no accuracy bonus, I sure as hell didn’t take a round to aim, and it was the very definition of a snap shot.
My Rate of Fire was two shots before the raccoon took its own move action to run over the peak of the roof and broke line-of-sight. I know I came close, I heard one BB ricochet off the gutter the thing was next to, but I don’t think I actually hit the furry raider.
My conclusion, which will come as no surprise to anyone who has gone hunting, is that penalties stack up fast. I’m a passably good shot at the range. If I have daylight, a stationary target, and a chance to aim I can reliably hit something smaller than a raccoon at several times the distance we were at this morning. But change a few factors and it all goes through the floor.
I might be a little more understanding the next time I’m playing GURPS and I can’t hit anything during a running gun battle.
The other thing I realized is that, as gamers, we take it for granted that we will know the results of an attack. The players roll the dice, the GM tells us if we hit or not, then the players roll the damage and know how hard they hit the target.
Reality isn’t like that. I know I missed once, but I have no idea if the other shot hit or not and if it did hit I don’t know where. I’ve read similar things in accounts from combat zones. If a soldier has a clear view of his or her target, chances are they know what happens after they pull the trigger. But if the soldier is under fire, the target has cover, or it is night, there is a good chance the soldier will not know if they hit or not, let alone how injured their target is.
This is one of those areas where we defer to ease of play over semblance of realism. As a GM I have enough to handle. I don’t want to be rolling for my players too. As a player I want to be making the rolls. I want the illusion that my hand guiding the random number generator makes a difference.
But maybe, just once, it would be fun to try a game where the GM handles all the combat. The GM rolls the players’ To Hit rolls and their damage. If there are any mitigating circumstances the players would have to roll perception checks to figure out if they hit their target and how much damage they did.
The novelty would wear off fast, but for one game session it might add an interesting element of tension.
In the meantime, I have plans to make for my fuzzy adversary. I think I’ll prepare a little surprise for him, maybe something out of Grimtooth’s guides.
I better stop him soon, before he has a chance to call in Groot.