More notes on Alien Menace session 2

+Peter V. Dell’Orto  makes some good comments about the
campaign over at Dungeon Fantastic. Some are worth dwelling on in particular.
Group Movement

The reason I picked six squad members, and in
this case it was two NPCs and four PCs, was to give three pairs of two. The
team moved either solo or as a full group, as Peter noted, but it would be
trivial to assign a buddy and move in fire teams. The group movement and
Teamwork perk (likely the first thing that each team member will buy on return
to claim character points) will allow moving in pairs well, providing mutual
Limb Armor

He notes, correctly, that anything other than a
torso hit is a near-instant cripple. I’m firing blasters at them, for 3d (5)
tight-beam burning. At that level, the wounds are no different than
a heavy pistol even on unarmored sections. Getting shot at all when a limb
crippling threshold is something like 6-9 HP of injury is going to suck no
matter what, though I need to reread the section on crippling thresholds for limbs.

The Armor Divisor does make protection rather
pointless for this fight, it would seem, but Armor as Dice is always all-or nothing, and it’s not an accident I chose 3d (5) vs 10d armor . . . but I did forget about limbs.

Smoke and Cover

This is a bigger deal in Real Life than it has
been in Alien Menace so far, and I need to change that. The soldiers in
my game (real life) tell me that finding natural cover is a lot easier than one
would think. I know it’s dealt with a bit in Tactical Shooting, and so I’ll
have to look it up.

Part of this is sheer laziness. I forgot to put down rocks and stuff on the map, or make the walls sufficiently tortuous to hide behind.

Group Movement Again

The reason for the turn-based thing is really to
make movement at reasonable speeds take longer in in-game time. A combat walk
at basically Move/3, plus a second or two to do other things, including the famous XCOM “Overwatch.”

In one moment of
fast awesome, Ianali, +Christopher R. Rice‘s medic, did a move and “Instant Action,”
taking -10 to instantly apply a field dressing to the downed Ethan and bring
him to 1 HP from negative. He covered 5 yards and applied the dressing in one second. He paid the points for it
and we’re playing an Action-based game, so good. But in most cases, such moves
like that fit better into a five second time span than into one second.

Character Sheet Nonsense and VTT Foibles

I clearly need to re-export Peter’s character.
All the HT-based crap is, in fact, irritating.

I’m with him on screen real estate. I
have two 24” monitors, and feel it’s
not enough! Fantasy Grounds stubbornly refuses to relocate full-screen to the
second monitor, so my video feed always has me looking not-at-the-camera, which
I find rude to my players (whom I’m sure don’t care).
GURPS firearms combat has so many usual modifiers
(AoA, Braced, Aim, Range, Size, Cover, etc) that what I’d really like is a
table with checkboxes on it. The variable Aim rules we’re using would make this
trickier, but with several checkboxes that might be persistent, and the right
links to your Guns skills, you could just drag from that little helper into the
chat window. That’s much easier than the hotkeys on the bottom, or the small
dots you can add to the Modifier box in the bottom left of the screen.
It might already exist, but something that
allowed you to say:
/die 3d6 vs 15 MoS 3 would be a handy
mini-script. Roll 3d6 vs a target number that’s all-in value of 15, with an
extra “success” granted every 3. The default value of MoS if it’s not entered
would be infinity – you either succeed or not.

Parting Shot

I don’t disagree
with any of Peter’s points. The interface uses an intensively click-driven
system that requires a lot of assimilation, and doesn’t yet provide enough GM simplification
tools for speed of play increase. To me, that
is where a VTT would shine . . . but the “you can’t code GURPS IP directly into
the program” bites you there. Hard.
What would be
the intermediate step, perhaps, would be some sort of user-configurable
persistent modifiers box as I suggest above that allows multiple clicking. The
format of it would be similar to the encounter creation tab that the program
already uses. You could click the flag for “Ranged Firearm Attack,” and a list
of “the usual suspects” would show up. Click the ones that usually apply: AoA,
Brace, Reflex Sight. Type in the SM of your target, the penalty due to range
(and if Targeting were enabled, this would be a great auto-populate option for
both range and size!), Aim bonus (this could autopopulate from the weapon, but
my system uses a die roll, so that would break for me), etc. Add weapons that
use this by dragging them from your sheet by the usually ubiquitous grey box,
and then you can use that to make the process quite simple.

2 thoughts on “More notes on Alien Menace session 2

  1. From a Fantasy Grounds veteran:
    There is a (in our group) little-used "Modifiers" button, where you can put mods in for regular use—can't recall if it's GM-only and shared to the players, or free-for-all. You can set it up with whatever mods you want, and I think it does categories. I'm having trouble remembering how exactly it works because we never use it—not sure why.

  2. Yes, I've used that modifiers tool. I have a lot of the ranged combat mods written out as individual mods that I just drag over to the chat and it adds it to the die roll mod box. It takes some setup time to do, but it's worth it.You can even create different tabs for different types of modifiers. I don't know if that would breaking SJ games rules to share that with others, but it's certainly something you could do in an hour or two.

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