Lesser Silliness on Dodging Lasers: The Rebuttal

+Hans-Christian Vortisch dropped me a note on another forum he and I share, which basically (my words, not his) said “um, you were lead playtester on Tactical Shooting, lasers aren’t that different from guns, and your long-winded post is why I wrote Tactical Dodging in the first place.”

He’s right, and it’s a valuable addition to the conversation.

Tactical Dodging: from GURPS: Tactical Shooting, p. 17

The key bit here is that the GURPS Attack maneuver, the one that allows a real defense, may not be combined with certain things – notably Aim. If you want to use the sights, or go beyond that and even Aim, you must do All-Out Attack (Determined), which fixes the problem right there by disallowing a dodge.

The Tactical Dodging heading has a section Restricted Dodge Against Firearms that has very explicit rules about what maneuver choices will enable a follow-on dodge, and ties in to perception and situational awareness – you have to be “watching” your attacker in order to Dodge.

There are some neat rules here that +Peter V. Dell’Orto would describe as “roll-heavy” (correctly) that I can think of for how many targets you can be aware of.

5 thoughts on “Lesser Silliness on Dodging Lasers: The Rebuttal

  1. I do not own tactical shooting. The way that I understood your post was that dodging isn't going to happen if the missile's flight time approaches a single reaction time. For Laser, it is pretty much any range, for bullets, well it is a matter of perception at the shooter. I would be tempted that there comes a range where even crossbows and bows fall under this rule.

    The "key bit" that you mention must be a tactical shooting thing because is is stated in B364 that an aim action can be followed by an attack or and all-out attack.

    1. Well, not owning Tactical Shooting is clearly something you should rectify!

      More seriously, Hans posits, and as a shooter I agree, that sighted and aimed shooting are All-Out Attacks. The act of lining up the sights on a gun precludes the kind of situational awareness required to track, and therefore avoid, the movement of a shooter tracking you.

      Also, he limits the responses allowed for GMs who find dodging lasers and firearms a bit, well, dodgy.

      My overall point isn't really about time of flight. It's about the order in which things happen. It just felt wrong to be rolling for Dodge AFTER the hit roll with the lasers. I think that the disconnect between guns and lasers is overblown, but the perception is that, well, lasers are death rays.

      In reality, the mechanics of tracking a target with a bullet at normal engagement ranges vs. that of a laser are probably not THAT different. First shot recoil doesn't really enter into either situation, though follow-on shots will differ.

  2. I think that DECIDE plus the Tactical Shooting rules makes for a REALLY interesting set of ranged combat rules. If you don't go first, you have to DECIDE whether to dodge, and if you do so, then you limit your Maneuvers (actually, there's a question: if I have Basic Speed 5.5 and my opponent has BS 5.75 and he shoots first, I dodge, can I still take an AOA (Determined) maneuver as my action?).

    If you do go first, it's fairly obvious–you give up the right to Dodge in exchange for using the sights. And since Aiming ALWAYS requires an AOA (Determined) under TS rules, well, that just makes things more interesting now, doesn't it??

    1. I think the answer to your question in the first paragraph is simply "yes." When you have not yet had a chance to choose your maneuver as combat begin, you are assumed to have chosen "Do Nothing." That does allow a defense if you're attacked.

      Now, you needed to have seen the person attacking you, per the suggestion in Tactical Shooting. I'd probably allow a Per roll, with a bonus for Combat Reflexes, to successfully have noted the movement that leads to the shot.

      When your turn rolls around, you get to choose whatever maneuver you like, including AoA(Determined) for sighted shooting.

  3. Okay, let's try this again (without hitting the wrong button and losing everything I wrote).

    After reading the latest issue of Pyramid, Issue 3/55 Military Sci-Fi, my mind has come back to this issue and now have a better idea of what I would do in an Ultra-Tech game if I was to run it again.

    1) Enforce the idea that if you can't see/hear your opponent, they can't dodge. Simple enough, but should have been applied in the original issue that started this discussion. I think using the Situational Awareness rules from Tactical Shooting should be used in all but Dungeon Fantasy or Action campaigns. It just makes sense that your character won't know the entire battlefield, even if you as a player do. I applied this subconsciously in the first of my ill-fated Space campaign when I didn't allow some attacks just because the players knew the opponents existed.

    2) Have to use the Restricted Dodge Against Firearms from Tactical Shooting. Would apply to all guns TL9 and TL10 guns, but absolutely necessary against lasers. Basically if you want to be able to pay enough attention to an opponent to be able to dodge, you need to be penalized for it. Because as Tactical Shooting says, you aren't dodging the bullet (or laser), but the shooter.

    3) Add some form of penalty specifically against dodging or blocking lasers, possibly allowing a technique buy off the penalty. As Hans points out in his Pyramid article, lasers impact instantly, making them especially difficult to dodge. Two options I'm considering are penalties to your Active Defenses based on the Range Table (Doug's favorite table of all time). A technique to offset this penalty makes a lot of sense. Especially if I ever decide to have a culture with lightsabers. The other option is to give a penalty to Dodge based on the margin of success of the attack. -1 per 5 pts of success makes sense to me. This latter option would have solved the original issue at hand because the player had a fantastic success because of aiming, but still "missed." The opponents dodge was just too high of a value to make sense against it. Plus the player obviously didn't have fun and it was just a mook after all.

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