Role Playing Games....Gun Related


April 24, 2003, 05:06 PM
I am in the process of possibly getting a small role playing group together.

Anyway I have done this kind of thing off and on for years and even done some writing in the industry.

Anyway anybody who has role played and understands what I am talking about, I have a question or two.

When using firearms during Role Playing Game combat I try to add certain realism additions. Things such as malfunction probabilities and drills and most recently a concealability number.

I have always wrestled with a good way to handle bursts and full auto damages and targets hit. I know there were a couple of RPG geeks on TFL and I think there are a couple of us here. So anyway anybody got any ideas on burst / full auto rules.

For the record I am using a D20 based system.

If this is too far off topic, then please feel free to close this topic. I just figured the best place to bounce firearm rules in a game ideas would be off of gun nuts and those of us who actually fire the real thing from time to time.:D

Anyway thanks

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April 24, 2003, 05:11 PM
i think tamaras a RPGer....wasnt there some books on her shelf in the pic of a rifle?

April 24, 2003, 05:52 PM
Heh. A friend and I recently took it on ourselves to develop a realistic firearms-based RPG, and it wasn't easy. We started with West End Games' old D6-based Star Wars RPG, stripped out all the sci-fi, and added modern weapons. The toughest part was coming up with a realistic, but easy to use, rule for automatic weapons fire. I ended up with a really complicated formula that took into account skill, weapon type, recoil, and a bunch of other factors. The formula was insanely long. Needless to say, the game never took off. :)

You can either have it super-realistic, or easy and fun. I'd suggest easy and fun.

Andrew Wyatt
April 24, 2003, 05:59 PM
well, most of the stuff i did on FA/burst was with Shadowrun (a d6 system).

not too familiar with the d20 systems out there, so i can't really be of too much help there.

GURPS is a good system to look into if you want realism, and most of the stuff is written by gun people.

April 24, 2003, 06:10 PM
Get a copy of Phoenix Command. or its deriativies Living Steel & Aliens (based on the movie) you will have to look it been out of print a while.

But be forwarned it is DETAILED

Good Luck

Try the these web pages

April 24, 2003, 06:58 PM
There was an RPG system that dealt with modern firearms and weapons back in my college days. This was back in 1987.

It had full-auto, burst mode, knives, and stuff.

Game time was really short, and damage tables were very detailed. Depending on the range, skill, time taken to aim, time used to move, ammo type, the player could be rewarded with an instant kill, to being killed by the return fire of the character who was killed but didn't know it yet.

I forgot the name of it though. Everything was percentile based, either 2 10-sided dice, or a 100-sized one.

Hmm... sounds like it was Phoenix Command... date matches too.

April 24, 2003, 07:26 PM
i havent played any games in a few months. used to be id go to a friends house on the other side of the lake on the boarder of antioch and hermitage(down bell road/stewarts ferry pk) and we would play all sorts of RPG"s. Most the time we played Mechwarrior. But he had a few board/miniture based amry/militar/gun games. I really need to get back over there sometime.

But he had worked up all sorts of plans for something like you are talking about. What Id probaly do is take the mechwarrior system and modify it a bit. its a D10 based system usualy 2 of them. Rolling for location hits, modifers for aimed shots and stuff like that. If I were going to do it Id really look at useing the Mechwarior basis and change it up to fit your needs. Id also go with alot of sniper type stuff, be it a sniper game maybe.

Lord Soth
April 24, 2003, 07:26 PM
Speaking of role playing games, has anyone seen the firearms list here: Any comments? Just how bad (as in off) are the balistics of the guns listed?

George Hill
April 24, 2003, 08:18 PM
How many dice do you need to realistically predict a 1 in 6,000 failure rate... and all the intricacies of hitting the target... where the bullet hits the target... and the angle of penetration into the target?


April 24, 2003, 08:29 PM
Generally, I like to portray a full-auto burst as doing a set amount of damage, based upon how much damage that weapon would do normally, and using a set percentage of the magazine up. I don't know how you're figuring damage (I'm not very good at D20 based systems, I occasionally play 3rd Ed. D&D, but I mostly play in LARPs, I just got finished adapting Deadlands rules for a LARP setting for a Deadlands LARP we're starting up in Atlanta).

I like how White Wolf's damage system handles fully automatic fire. All damage (and everything else in WW's gaming system) uses D10's, and a fully automatic burst does 10D10 damage, and uses 1/3 of the magazine of the weapon. You roll your D10's, count up your successes (7 or higher), and that is the total number of Health levels of damage you have done. You can then assign these Health levels of damage to whomever is likely to have gotten hit by the burst (if you're sweeping a room, for instance, you'd distribute them equally to whomever was in the room and in the path of the burst, if you're going full auto on one person, you'd assign all of the Health levels of damage to that one person). If you roll more 1's than successes, you botch, and the weapon jams.

April 24, 2003, 09:12 PM
Just buy yourself a nice xbox and the game Hunter the Reckoning.

April 24, 2003, 11:25 PM
I'm a major RPG geek.

So, my 1st question would be are you using D20 modern, or D&D D20 adapted to firearms etc.?

In my experience D20, as written, sucks at gunplay. gun damage too low, ranges are totally nonsense, and everything has WAY too many hitpoints (You get hit with 5 .45 slugs for... 32 points of damage! That's ok, I have 100 hit points...)


White Wolf system handles damage pretty well, but it's a clunky system overall and doesn't really make for good combat (I'm currently running a White Wolf "Sorcerer" chronicle, and have had to minimize combat to keep myself and the players sane - and the characters alive!) It also has built in rules for jams etc - if a character 'botches' a firearms roll his weapon jams, and he has to make a seperate roll the next round to clear it.

GURPs is probably your best bet for realistic combat options. The modern settings rules include rules for burst fire, full auto, etc. I don't remember GURPs including rules for malfs/jams etc

Feel free to send me a PM if you want more info. I've been gaming regularly (usually as DM/Storyteller/whatever) for about ten years.

April 25, 2003, 01:37 AM
I have a copy of Phoenix Command and let me say that this is the system to use! It is very, very detailed with the players needed an advanced Calculus degree to figure to hit and damage. :p It is truly a close representation of actual firearms effects in a game system imho. It is out of print though. :(

Roadkill Coyote
April 25, 2003, 03:07 AM
Role playing games are by their nature unrealistic, and the central issue in game mechanics is always how much control you, the GM, want to have over the story. Which is to say, I've seen plenty of games destroyed by putting realism ahead of the plot. Do guys flying through the, air after having been shot, ruin John Woo's movies? I'm fairly certain Mr. Woo has plenty of technical advisers about that sort of thing, so I'm forced to suspect that he does it because it makes a cool scene in the story he's trying to tell. Leave yourself plenty of room to steer:evil:

Just my three point five cents worth

April 25, 2003, 07:41 AM
Try to find a copy of TWILIGHT: 2000 in this game system its easy to die,and hard to live ofter being shot. ;)

April 25, 2003, 08:57 AM
Thanks everybody. I am surprised I got so many responses.

Anyway I am really not concerened with out and out realism of damage etc. The characters are supposed to be heros and the like. I run my games very movie like.

I just want to find a better way to represent burst fire that isn't time consuming or too unrealistic.

I have most of the books mentioned and have worked with my own rules quite a bit but I just can't seem to get to where I like it.

ChrisFeel free to send me a PM if you want more info. I've been gaming regularly (usually as DM/Storyteller/whatever) for about ten years.

Noob!!! 10 years, psssha.:D :rolleyes: I have been playing some form or another since around 4th grade, so that puts me at around 20 or so years. Wow I'm getting old. Thanks for all the suggestions.


April 25, 2003, 09:33 AM
I second the Twilight 2000 suggestion, but its been a long time since I've played it. Later versions of the system went from percentiles to a 1d20 based skill system (as opposed to WotC d20).

I haven't had to do much with burst or auto fire (I play mostly fantasy). Most systems just treat full auto like a really long burst anyway. The common metric I have seen is something along the lines of: Roll to hit (and defense if the system has it), for each N numbers you beat your roll by another bullet hits and does damage. N is determined by the number of bullets in the burst.

The problem is that is you can't fire a burst at a group this way, only at an individual. So you have to figure out a way to do suppressive fire properly.

April 25, 2003, 10:34 AM
My friends and I used to play alot of Twilight 2000 when we could be pulled away from our AD&D campaigns. Easy enough to add a catastrophic failure rule. A roll of 1 always meant a malfunction, then a roll of d20 to determine just how bad, everything from a dud round to an exploded reciever. It didn't slow down the game too much.

April 25, 2003, 10:59 AM
"My friends and I used to play alot of Twilight 2000 when we could be pulled away from our AD&D campaigns. Easy enough to add a catastrophic failure rule. A roll of 1 always meant a malfunction, then a roll of d20 to determine just how bad, everything from a dud round to an exploded reciever. It didn't slow down the game too much."

We always went with the natural 1 is a malfunction but I like the idea of a D20 to determine extent of the malfunction. We always just called it a FTF, FTE or in the case of energy weapons a dead battery/magazine/whatever you wish to call the ammo container.

We also used numbers higher then one to simulate various levels of quality or abuse.

Cool thanks.


April 25, 2003, 11:01 AM
The Palladium system is the best I have every tried, and I have tried many.

Burst damage is best calculated as the single round damage times three/four/six/whatever.

April 25, 2003, 01:15 PM

I've never been called a N00b before at anything.

I think I need a hug...

but, seriously.

Another thing you could try for failures/jams would be to have a range of possible failures depending on the quality / maintenance of the gun.

A cheap pot-metal Lorcin would be more likely to have a KB or frame-crack on a failure, whereas (not to spark and debates) a Glock or a hi-power would be more likely to merely jam, maybe at the very worst have a broken extractor or whatever.

(system: on an attack roll of a "1", a malfunction occurs. Roll 1d20 again to confirm - a roll of 1-15 indicates a failure to feed/failure to extract, a roll of 16-19 means a component broke, a roll of 20 means a KB. you could adjust these values based upon the sort of gun, or even make it fail on a 1 and 2, or a 1-3, depending upon the quality and level of maintenance)

easy way to adjucate burst fire is to have the character make a single attack roll at a penalty to hit, and roll increased damage

(for example, if I fire my MP5 in burst mode at a goblin, I would take maybe a -2 to hit, to deal double damage (2xd6 instead of xd6) on a successful hit.)

Full-auto is a little trickier - one way is to adjucate it as an area effect (like a fireball) and have everyone in the area who is not flat-footed roll reflex saves at X difficulty for 1/2 or no damage. damage would be equal to standard gun damage, unless you were shooting at point blank (or you could even set up a simple aspect formula, where maybe you could do double dmg in an area of X, or single damage in a larger area Y, or 1/2 damage in an even larger area Z)

April 25, 2003, 01:21 PM
I was just joking hope no offense was taken.

I have tried a lot of different burst rules and many of the ideas presented I just haven't found one I really like.

I don't care for Palladiums burst rule but they work well. I agree that the palladium system is the best to tweak into what you want. It is a little rough out of the box but a good game master can do alot with it. I have used it pretty exclusively for many years.


Andrew Wyatt
April 25, 2003, 01:35 PM
I'm not all that fond of palladium, because of some issues it has, like the SDC/MDC armor and things like that.

GURPS has a MALF stat for each weapon, which determines its reliability (a 1911, for example requires a crit (16) to malfunction, but a luger only requires a 14)

there's a table in the back of the book that has various types of malfunctions.

April 25, 2003, 02:27 PM
Chris - think nothing of it

I assumed you were kidding

Text is notoriously poor at conveying nuance, so I always try to give the benefit of the doubt.

All things considered, GURPs is probably your best bet. If none of your players ahve used it before, though, it may be kinda hard to get in to

April 25, 2003, 03:21 PM
check out "Call of Cathulu" and "Shadowrun"

April 25, 2003, 04:25 PM
... Cyberpunk? Although it's been a LOONG while since I last played, I seem to remember the burst fire being fairly realistic, without being cumbersome...

Tommy Gunn
April 26, 2003, 03:14 PM
Anyone here play DEADLANDS?

April 26, 2003, 04:50 PM
Yep, I play Deadlands. I'm actually starting up a Deadlands Live Action Role Playing game in Atlanta. Any who are interested, check out our webpage at . THR'ers are definitely welcome to come and play with us if you'd like.

April 26, 2003, 06:39 PM

If you're interested in using Twilight 2000, but can't get ahold of the manuals, let me know. I also live here in Nashville, and I have virtually all of the T-2000 stuff in storage.


April 27, 2003, 01:47 AM
I still have my Twilight 2000 and Phoenix Command materials. If you have questions or need stuff scanned, drop me an e-mail.

A friend of mine was working on his own gaming system for a while and we did a mission in Vietnam for playtesting. Got waaaay to detailed, such as rolling for every round out of a blast from an M60. Took several hours to play only a couple minutes of combat in game-time.

April 27, 2003, 07:13 AM
Playing, refereeing for nearly 15 years... We use a heavily modified CP2020 system for everything gun related. Simple, flexible, deadly, no stupid damage charts, minimal dice tossing.

April 27, 2003, 10:46 AM
Well, Cslinger, I use Fuzion with Atomik War 3.0 (used to be available for free, now they made a commercial copy). The commercial copy is available at

Check out the gun stuff on my own Fuzion site - (

April 28, 2003, 04:19 PM
The BEST firearms system for D&D I've ever used was the firearms rules in the first edition of the old "Gamma World" game. The Gamma World system was close enough to 1st Ed AD&D that the rules translated over directly without the need for any additional tweaking.

The reason I liked them is that they were detailed enough to show the difference between the various types of weapons (handguns, rifles, shotguns, full auto), but were quick to resolve without slowing down the game.

If you could get a copy of those old Gamma World rules, you could probalby adapt them to D20 very easily. It sounds like the balance of level of detail vs. ease of play is about what you are looking for.

I like the Twilight 2000 system also, but wouldn't reccomend it for a "cinematic" game as the effects of gunshoots are too realistic for characters to have any chance to survive. It's also more complicated to resolve a firefight as well.

One quick trick you can use to show how different operator skill levels affect is to allow more experienced/trained characters or NPC's to get more bursts from a magazine than less experienced characters. Each burst has the same damage potentional, but the more experienced characters are able to control the gun better and use less ammo to get the same result. If, for example, a single 5.56 round does 1d10 dm, allow experienced characters to fire a three-round burst for 3d10 dm. Less skilled characters would still do 3d10 dm per burst, but would expend five rounds to get that result.

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