As sometimes happens, a comment is too good to pass up and reply to in the comments section. Kallatari, who I believe knows of what he speaks, wrote in. His comments are in quote-blocks, and my responses or notes follow.
First, just wanted to say that what you’ve described is pretty much exactly how I’ve been gaming suppression fire in my games. The one exception is that I only did one attack to someone who entered the cone of fire, and not once per hex. I’ll be implementing that immediately.
That was a bit to keep things moving, keep the math to a minimum, and make each hex scary enough that it features as a deterrent in the player’s mind, since most times they’re not nearly as risk averse with their little paper men as they should be. Another way to go would simply be to figure out the transgressor’s “bullet exposure” and base RoF on that. But I really do like the per-hex method, because scary.
One thing I’ve wondered about, but never worried too much because it’s never really come up in my game, is what happens when the RoF divided by width gives an effective RoF that’s less than 1. It’s unlikely to occur when the target zone is centered on opponents at range. But, in a hypothetical situation, what if he made his cone 3 hexes wide 1 hex away (really desperate against that horde of zombies that just closed into melee range)? He’s basically covering a 180-degree cone, and the bullets that don’t hit would likely keep travelling quite a bit further away. So at 10 hexes away in this situation, the RoF is effectively a small fraction. Do we apply penalties to the effective skill of 6 (at which point, may as well declare an automatic miss). But what about the fright checks? I’ve now suppressed a 180-degree angle. Should there be a bonus based on the fraction (RoF of 1/2 = +2, RoF of 1/5 = +5?).
This seems as a good a judgement as any, and the two or three bullets per hex which norms to zero isn’t bad. I think that the usual cut-off for suppression fire is RoF 5 per hex, and since that gets a +1 for RoF in the usual rules and my alternate, using a lower RoF and having the shots be vs the minimum 5 or less wouldn’t be horrible. On the other hand . . .
Additionally, I’ve been starting to question why suppression fire is treated differently than any normal gunshots.
There is this. Technically, with the rules in Tactical Shooting how any near miss can induce a fright check, they’re not. At least for fear.
If I pick a single target and fire at his hex with Suppression Fire, I attack him with a maximum effective skill of (6 + 3 =) 9, even if my skill, say, 25. Even if I miss, he needs to make a Fright Check roll to not take cover. Finally, if any bullets miss, then I get to roll to hit anyone else who enters into the line of fire until my next turn.
On the other hand, if I pick that same target and fire 15 rounds directly at him then I get to attack with my skill of 25 + 3 = 28 (minus range penalty, etc.), which means a better chance to hit. But if I miss, he doesn’t have to make any Fright Check or bother to take cover. And if any bullets miss, I don’t get to attack anyone else who crosses the line of fire before my next turn.
I think there’s a case to be made for a few things here
(a) It’s important to hit the fear check for any missed shots. You might even say that the fear-check zone extends RoF bonus more hexes to the left and right of the area being fired into
(b) ANY use of RoF 5 or more creates a suppression line. For a direct-fire attack, that line is only one yard wide – a line, actually – but you get attacked as stray fire if you’re in the line when the bullets are fired, or with suppression fire if you cross that line later.
These are basically almost two identical scenarios with widely different game effects. I’ve therefore been contemplating – but haven’t yet implement – a rule where anyone in the line of fire of any gun shot (or laser beams, or lightning bolt spells, etc.) has to make a fright roll to not take cover, and that, if a bullet hasn’t hit a specified target, than there’s a “live fire” line of attack that anyone who crosses becomes a potential target. To me, All-Out Attack (Suppression Fire) just allows you to divide your shots over a wider area, reducing your chances of hitting in exchange for possibly affecting more people with fright checks.
Or what he just said. Yeah, this is fair if you can remember it . . .
My one hesitation is that it would possibly slow combat down in order to track all the lines/arcs of fire. But since I use MapTools for my combat, I don’t think it would be that complicated.
. . . and VTTs make it really easy. In fact, in Roll20 in the game described, that’s exactly what we did. Drew the cone of fire. We still had one guy run across it, but that was OK. It also makes the Teamwork or Standard Operating Procedure perks that much more useful, as I think one or both lets you cross suppression fire zones of your own team with relative impunity.