Monday, December 22, 2014

Some hands on research

Had a great time yesterday doing some hands on research for Saints & Sinners at the shooting range. Boy has this given me food for though and a lot of ideas particularly related to character generation and skills.

I've to to give thanks to +Robert Brumbelow and +Jonathan Henry for making this possible and of course to all those who've also contributed by paying for a copy of Saints and Sinners, rest assured the money has been well spent and I hope this leads to an even better second edition.

I had the opportunity to test a broad set of weapons at the range and get of feeling of some of the stuff that's not on the weapon's description and some of the stuff we don't like to hear in the game, things like jams and misfires (of which I was fortunate to get a few). The weapons I tried out were the AK-47, M4 (suppressed), FN SCAR, SIG226, Desert Eagle, CZ75, Glock 17 and a pump action 12 gauge shotgun (let's not forget the zombies!!!).

The experience gave me insight into many aspects that differentiate one weapon from another even when the caliber is the same and also a lot of insight into issues that get overlooked which lead to easy min-maxing. Without these elements at play the easy choice is to gear up my character with the Desert Eagle and the FN SCAR because they've got the biggest most bad ass high damage rounds. Instead, my choice is the M4 and the SIG226. Why? They just felt better and I did better with them. No point in having the most damaging weapon if you can't hit shit.

Now I'm no expert in firearms, not by a long shot; before this I had only fired a handful of rounds and this day probably increased my total twenty-fold at least. I'm also quite aware that practice makes perfect; so a lot of the issues I'll be rising can be overcome by training. Yet role playing games isn't always about playing the super expert character or having the weapon of choice at hand.

My goal in the upcoming series of posts is to narrate my experiences, what I learned from them and in what way they can help make a better game in which character and weapon have more depth than just character attributes and weapon stats. To put a term to it I'd call it weapon personality. When character personality and weapon personality match you get something that is more than the sum of the individual parts. I also want to take a second look at initiative, because, guess what, paper targets don't shoot back! Initiative is usually the underdog of rules and mechanics. A simple system that lacks a means to portray skill and character determination and also lacks a means to relate to aim and hit rolls.

What do you think? Are there guns that just feel right and which your character would prefer over meaner looking more powerful ones? What makes them feel "right"? What advantage (if any) does this provide in the games you play and what advantages do you think it should provide?

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