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Old May 30, 2012, 05:54   #1
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 112
saarn is on a distinguished road
proposal for missile mechanics

I was thinking about why missile weapons are not so great in v4 and a few things came to mind:
1) finesse bonus for melee manifests as multiple blows. This doesn't make sense for missile combat
2) bonuses for v4 are largely based on critical hits. This makes missile damage very uneven (4 rounds of barely scratching a monster followed by great hit and it loses half its HP)

I started thinking about what my ideal missile combat system would have as properties and came up with a few:
1) handle both missile weapons and throwing
2) distinction in "feel" between types of launchers to reflect the difference in mechanism (and indeed use historically). For example, the long bow required considerably more training than the crossbow to use effectively, but was a superior weapon given the right training.
3) bonus to prowess on the weapon or ammo makes it noticeably better
4) hitting enemies further away takes greater skill
5) point blank shooting has a high chance of failure (pet peeve)

What I'd like to suggest is this:
Make damage a function of kinetic energy, accuracy of blow, and missile type. Kinetic energy is mass * velocity^2, so we need some way of determining velocity. For a thrown item, the only factors should be the character's prowess, their throwing skill, and the mass of the item.

For a launcher, you need some sort of representation of the mechanical advantage the launcher gives. This would be some kind of simple piecewise function where below a certain input power the launcher misfires, and past a certain input power there's no further gain. A crossbow for example, should look like a step function. They typically have a ratcheting mechanism, so you either succeed in cocking the weapon or fail-- you can't make it go any harder by being beefy. A bow would look like a ramp that flattens out-- if you pull hard enough to bend the weapon, you can shoot, but there's a limit to how far you can draw the bow since you don't want to snap it. A sling can shoot as hard as you like, but doesn't offer nearly the mechanical advantage of either.

I'm envisioning that the input power in all these cases would be a randomized function of your character's prowess excluding the bonuses on the launcher and missile and shooting ability (based on race/class).

Assuming the minimum energy was reached to avoid a misfire, any bonuses from the launcher or ammo to prowess would be added to the output energy (this would make a +prowess crossbow have higher output damage than a regular one, rather than a higher chance of success).

There would then be a curve for damage as a function of accuracy (past some amount of error left-right you miss, in between maybe have a triangle function where no error is max damage). Both the player and the weapon would have error generated from a normal distribution. The player's SD would be governed by finesse and bow skill, while the weapon's would be governed by type (so crossbow might have higher error than longbow, and heavy crossbow most error). Error terms should be signed so that weapon inaccuracy can sometimes counteract player inaccuracy. Error should be increased as a function of distance, monster evasion, and shot speed (higher speed projectiles should be less affected by distance and evasion). Ideally, it would be possible to aim for one monster and hit something to the left or right if your aim was bad enough, but I suspect that's a much trickier refinement.

I think this would meet my list of goals, and the necessary parameters would be easy to encapsulate in the weapons file as there'd be only four per launcher (min input power, max output power, advantage, accuracy). But as described, it doesn't feel like a D&D rooted solution (not really big on dice, sort of complicated logic) and doesn't seem like it would lend itself to simple assessment of damage/power. I'm sure there would be a lot of tuning needed, and there are probably wrinkles I haven't thought of, but I also haven't seen any concrete proposals for how missile damage should be reworked either.

What do you all think?
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