Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Abstracting Ammo in Mutant Future

One of the tedious elements of any RPG, is the accounting for ammunition. It invariably will slow down the game, as the players start to focus on bean-counting their shots, and holding back, when they think they're running low on rounds.

BUT - having ammo as a resource, is a staple of the genre, particularly in Post Apocalyptic settings, where Bullets and Batteries are in scarce supply.

For instance (from the MF ruleset):
"A typical automatic pistol can fire ten times before reloading. Reloading takes one round."

As listed, a player would need to hash mark each and every round, next to the weapon, and depending on whether the weapon is fired on full auto, with 1 to 3 marks. Supposing that a magazine held 15 rounds, the player would be shooting roughly 5-10 times to empty a magazine.

In a stressful firefight, this might involve only 5 rolls of (multiple) dice to hit, but involve up to three times as much Game Focus on tracking the ammo. It's both a drag on the game, and a desired dramatic element.

How to simulate this, without resorting to Hash Marks?

Every weapon that uses ammunition, whether it be arrows, bullets, or energy cells will have TWO ratings, one static, and one variable.

.45 Revolver (Six Shooter)
Pistol, revolver 1d10 Normal 300 ft./600 ft. 3 lb. [3D]

That final [3D] stat, serves as an abstract status of the weapons capacity(3), and supply(D).
These two variables, range from 1 to 6, inclusive, with the 1 and A being the best.

If the weapon rolls the NUMBER or less, when the players makes a roll to hit, then decrease the LETTER value down by one step, simulating the need to reload. Since a 3 will be rolled roughly 1 out of 7 rolls, this should sufficiently simulate a Six Shooter.

An Automatic Rifle, could be listed as such:

Rifle, automatic 1d12 Automatic 450 ft./900 ft. 12 lb. [2E]

This particular weapon, would only need to reload on a roll of 2, or less. And the E letter, would serve to track a more limited supply of spare ammunition. If a weapon rolls its capacity, or less AND has a current supply letter of F, then it is completely dry. No rounds in the weapon, or on the player.

This would give a wide variety of weapon stats, simulating many different types, while adding minimal effort and record keeping, with which to track.

Here's some samples, and notes:

Carbine 1d10 Normal 500 ft./1,000 ft. 8 lb. [1A]
(As listed, carbines can fire 20 times before needing to reload, therefore its capacity is listed as a "1".  This number is static, and may vary with a weapon brand. Some may have a 2 (10 rounds), or less. The supply rating of "A", means that the character has enough ammunition available, to reload the weapon, roughly 6 times, simulating a bullet supply of a little over 100 rounds. This would be the best case scenario, and yet still only need to be accounted for, once or twice a battle, allowing the player to concentrate on their play, and not the accounting for it.)

Energy Baton 2d6+15 1 - 5 lbs. Beltpack or Backpack [1F/1E]
In this situation, the characters have recovered a battery powered melee weapon, If powered by a beltpack, it will be drained on a roll of a "1". If powered by a backpack, it will be depleted on the first roll of "1", and completely drained on the second such roll.

So much LESS record keeping, same overall effect, and the added drama of not really knowing when and where you're going to run out of ammo.

Because let's face it - 200 year old rounds, and hand-filled brass reloads, tend to sputter.

I'll let you know if my players Love or Hate it.