Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Combat in a Matrix

I have posted before that the Classic Traveller personal combat system is quite sophisticated for all its apparent simplicity. I like the idea of weapon penetration being factored into hit probability as opposed to armor reducing damage. No system is perfect. The true test of any system is how well it hangs together and plays. It's game oriented. While it isn't a strict simulation you are given options that generate tactics and moves as you try to optimize your fighting under the game system. The tactics you use are similar to reality I suppose. My experience with guns is shooting a carbine and a automatic pistol at perfectly passive targets (unless you count Gun Building 3.)

Where the system is kludgy is in introducing new or variant weapons as there is little inkling of the underlying system. How exactly does armor penetration relate to hit mods for armor? I started out using 'Guns, Guns, Guns by Greg Porter (BTRC.) I stopped that right away because Traveller is not a faithful simulation of reality but game oriented as I mentioned. I snipped out a section of the combat matrix as follows:

N    J   M   C    R   A   B
0     0   -2   -4   -4   -2   -7    Body Pistol
+1 +1  -1    -3  +1   -1   -5   Auto Pistol
+1 +1  -1    -3  +1   -1   -5    Revolver
+2 +2   0    -3  +2   -1   -5    Carbine
+3 +3   0    -3  +2  +1   -5    Rifle
+5 +5   0    -3  +5  +2   -4    SMG
+6 +6 +2    -1  +6  +3   -3    Auto Rifle

I looked at the matrix for any significant gaps to fill in. What I saw was the huge performance gap between the body pistol and revolvers and auto pistols. No surprise since the former use .32 caliber rounds and the latter use .357 or similar rounds. What happened to the 9 mil and .45 caliber guns that are pretty common? 

The submachine gun does fire 9mm rounds from its description but in a burst of four which affects hit probability. Mercenary is obliging enough to give you modifiers for weapons fired on semi and automatic modes. Book 1 isn't. It does say that firing an automatic rifle on semi uses the rifle modifiers for armor. Subtracting the rifle mods from the automatic rifle mods I got the following:

+3 +3   0    -3  +2  +1   -5    Rifle
+5 +5   0    -3  +5  +2   -4    SMG
+6 +6 +2    -1  +6  +3   -3    Auto R.

+3 +3 +2   +2  +4  +2   +2   Auto Bonus 

Okay it's not as simple as one mod. I subtracted these modifiers from the SMG's armor mods to get an idea what a single 9mm could do in the game

N    J   M    C   R   A    B
+5 +5   0    -3  +5  +2   -4    SMG

+3 +3 +2   +2  +4  +2   +2   Auto Bonus (Automatic Rifle)
+2 +2 -2    -3  +1    0    -2    9 mm pistol

I then constrained the results. the 9mm round could not be worse than a body pistol or better than the .357 figuring the longer barrel of the SMG and its optimizing as a full automatic weapon must have counted for a higher auto fire bonus than the rifle.

N    J   M   C    R    A    B

0     0   -2   -4   -4   -2   -7    Body Pistol
+2 +2  -2    -3  +1    0   -2    9 mm pistol version one

+1 +1  -2    -3  +1   -1   -6    Heavy Body Pistol (constrained results)

+1 +1  -1    -3  +1   -1   -5    Auto Pistol

There, a 9mm or .45 pistol for you.Not as powerful as the standard auto pistol or revolver but a bit easier to hide and maybe quicker to draw. I'd set the damage at 3d since most firearms do that.

While we're at it what about a small machine pistol fire .32 caliber bullets? the automatic fire bonus for the SMG actually worked out to :

N    J   M   C    R    A    B

+4 +4  +1    0  +4   +3  +1   SMG Bonus

 Add those to the Body Pistol's armor mods and you get:

N    J   M   C    R    A    B
0     0   -2   -4   -4   -2   -7   Body Pistol
+4 +4  +1    0  +4   +3  +1   SMG Bonus
+4 +4   -1   -4   0   +1   -6   Machine Pistol

There's something a little more concealable than an SMG but with a bit more kick than an Auto Pistol or revolver.

In going over the weapons matrix I noted the following when I looked at the carbine and then the
assault rifle in Mercenary:

N    J   M   C    R   A   B
+2 +2   0   -3   +2   -1   -5   Carbine
+2 +2  -1   -3   +2    0   -5   Assault rifle

It seems weird to me that the matrix by and large gives better modifiers across the board to account for better penetration but the Carbine and Assault Rifles differ and have the same caliber. Worse they are better at punching through different armor types. The Carbine cuts through Ablative and the Assault Rifle through Mesh. I suggest that both weapons use these modifiers:

N    J   M   C    R   A   B
+2 +2  -1   -3   +2    0   -5   Carbine/Assault Rifle

I'd also like to note that reflec is way better than your bare skin or even jack against Body Pistols. If you're doing undercover work wearing a reflec suit under your tuxedo (or robes of nobility) might be the way to go. 

The real world equivalents for the Revolver and Auto Pistol are described as the S&W M66 .357 Magnum and S&W Model 59 9mm or Auto-Mag .44 Magnum at the end of the combat section of Book 1. In the description for each weapon they are both described as firing 9mm bullets. In fact SMG rounds are described as interchangeable with Auto Pistol rounds. But there's a difference from all that I read and heard between a 9mm round and a .44 Magnum round.

So if you want to use my little jottings just assume the SMG uses Heavy Body Pistol ammunition instead of Auto Pistol ammunition.