This is an attempt to bring the risk-management decisions of my Dark Souls inspired combat to a more contemporary form of fisticuffs. Be it for Old West, modern-day, cyberpunk, or sci-fi type adventures, I hope these rules give you some bang for your buck (it helps that it’s free!)
Image: Oscillator by Kevin Moran
What These Rules Try To Do
- Give the player some ‘levers’ to manipulate (weapon choice, positioning, type of attack) on top of their normal luck-based rolls.
- Have these levers be both fun (distinctive, a way of defining your character, making a fitting loadout) and meaningful (it should play differently and give a sense of impact).
- Reward the ‘right’ tactical choices with a mechanical advantage, while still relying on the core dice rolls and lethality.
- Keep everything easy to track – depth without too much bookkeeping.
- Be modular: you can choose to use certain parts and ignore others (ranges can be kept in or left out). The three building blocks here are ranges, basic firefight actions and advanced firefight actions.
Tools of the Trade
Let’s start with weaponry. These are slight variations/expansions of the weapons found in the amazing Agents of the O.D.D. by Jason Tocci.
- Pistol (d6). Range: +/+/-/x.
- Rifle* (d8). Range: x/-/+/-.
- Shotgun* (d8). Range: x/+/-/x.
- SMG (d6). Blast d4. Range: -/+/-/x.
- Assault Rifle* (d8). Blast d6. Range: x/+/+/-.
- Sniper Rifle* (d8). d12 when attacking from stealth. Range: x/-/+/+.
- Machine Gun* (d10). Blast d8. Range: x/+/+/-.
An asterisk (*) marks a weapon as Bulky.
Blast affects all targets in the appropriate area, rolling separately for each target (as per Electric Bastionland).
The ranges are abstract, and as follows:
- Close (in your face)
- Near (Same room)
- Far (City block)
- Distant (Barely visible)
Each weapon has its ranges noted. The symbols mean:
- +: Normal effectiveness.
- –: Lower the damage die by one tier.
- x: Not viable, no damage done.
Firing a Pistol at an enemy nearby means rolling a d6. Firing that same pistol at an enemy far away means rolling a d4.
Basic Actions in a Firefight
On your turn, you can move and take an action, as usual. There are a few new variations and options:
Move one range bracket closer or further from a target. Can be done twice during a turn. Can be done a second time as an Action.
Can be done instead of moving. Carefully take aim at an opponent, allowing you to roll second damage die (pick the highest) when you shoot. Aiming only works in the turn in which it is used, as enemies will throw off your aim during their turn.
Can be done both instead of moving as well as an Action. Not having your weapon drawn might be less threatening to others, but requires you to draw when combat starts. Switching a weapon once combat has started does not take an action (allowing you to switch to a backup weapon when empty).
As an Action, dive behind available cover, impairing ranged attacks against you.
Fire your weapon at an enemy.
Rolling max damage on an attack (say, an 8 on a d8) means your weapon is empty. It cannot be fired again until you take an action to reload. Your weapon can also be empty as a result of Suppressive Fire or Covering Fire.
Advanced Actions in a Firefight
To expand more on the basics of gunplay, you can integrate these advanced maneuvers:
Suppressive Fire is a special action that can be taken with firearms. You target a single enemy in cover and within range of your weapon. You do not deal damage unless they move or attack on their turn. If they do, you deal damage as if aiming (roll an extra damage dice). Using suppressive fire causes your weapon to be empty at the start of your next turn, regardless of whether the target provoked an attack or not.
Covering Fire is a special action that can be taken with firearms. It requires a weapon with the Blast property. You can target multiple enemies that are within Blast range of your weapon, wildly spraying bullets at them. Each enemy must make a WIL Save to be able to act on their turn. This action does not deal damage. Using covering fire causes your weapon to be empty at the start of your next turn.
Diving Into Cover
Caught out in the open? When targeted by gunfire and currently not in cover, you can make a DEX Save after the attacks are declared but before damage is rolled.
For this DEX Save, roll equal to or under your DEX score, but above the number of meters to the nearest cover. If you are already behind cover, count it as 1 meter.
- On a success, the incoming attack becomes Impaired.
- On a failure, you take damage as usual.
- Regardless of the outcome, you forego your next turn, as you make a dramatic dive into cover and need to catch your breath.