Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Vehicles in Cypher System, Part 1: A Matter of Scale.

In many genres vehicles are important characters themselves, especially in games inspired by Japanese Anime, but often in other stories certain vehicles take on a role almost as significant as the characters themselves (like the small freighter of a certain roguish blockade-running smuggler). 


The following rules provide more detail for vehicular operations. These scaling rules can also be applied to significantly out-of-scale creatures.


Links for Vehicles in Cypher System series: 
Part 1: A Matter of Scale
Part 2: Vehicles
Part 3: Vehicles and Special Abilities
Part 4: Vehicle Combat
   Related Posts:
Firearms in Cypher System
More Modern Weapon Distinctions

A Matter of Scale:

Why is this Part 1 of the Vehicles in Cypher System series? Because scaling effects for size is something of an elephant in the room when it comes to a broad-brush set of vehicle rules.

The basic assumption of these rules is that two giant piloted robots of the same size can be thought of as two human-sized combatants with similar game mechanics. These rules deal with modifiers for out-of-scale combats, such as between an infantryman and a giant piloted robot, or a giant piloted robot and a Tokyo-smashing super-monster. If two opponents of equal size go up against one-another then the modifiers cancel out.

Part 2 will get in to detailed vehicle abilities and vehicles piloted by PCs, but the short version is to treat them like any other NPC with a level based on the vehicle's quality, and hit-points equal to 6 x level with abilities determined by the GM. A typical vehicle should have a base armor of 1, tougher vehicles may have base armor ratings of 2 or 3, while high-performance vehicles should have a base armor of 0.

Classifying Size:

Humans are size-0 creatures. Vehicles and creatures of increased size are classified from 1 through 10. With increased size comes both greater ease to be targeted, as well as an increased resilience to damage.

Every 1 level of increased size equates to approximately 50% increase in the longest dimension from a creature or vehicle 1-size smaller. Range bands also increase 50% each iteration, though they may be rounded to a convenient approximate number.


Below is a table of longest dimensions and range bands for each size-class from 0 to 10.

Targeting Larger or Smaller Foes:

Large creatures are bigger targets and easier to hit, but their mass makes them significantly tougher and able to ignore many blows from smaller opponents.

Targeting larger (or smaller) creatures or vehicles is dependent on the relative size of both combatants. To determine the step difficulty of attacking a large creature or vehicle, subtract the creature's size modifier from the PC's and divide by 2. Round fractions off. (Optional, subtract 1 from the die roll if the remainder is positive 0.5 (half a step more difficult) or add one to the die roll of the remainder is a negative 0.5 (half a step easier).


Example (1): a PC on foot attacks a size 5 Mecha, the PC's size is 0, so the step modifier is ((0-5)/2), or -2.5 rounded to -2, so the attack difficulty is reduced by 2 steps. When the Mecha retaliates, the defense roll is easier by 2 steps as well.


Example (2): A PC piloting a Mecha (size 5) attacks a battlesuit infantryman (size 1) the step difficulty of the attack is ((5-1)/2) : (4/2) : + 2 step difficulty to both attacking the powered-armor suit and defending against it's attacks. (thus the importance of having Light weapons and their 1-step accuracy for anti-personnel targeting).

Damaging Large Creatures and Vehicles:

Larger creatures are significantly tougher than smaller ones, and so gain 1 point of armor for each increase in size, this is not necessarily actual armor, but represents a general overall toughness from it's own mass. (Remember that for each increase in linear dimension, mass is cubed!)

Weapons carried by vehicles add the vehicle's size modifier to the weapon's damage, and use the ranges in the Vehicle Size Chart (above).


For example: A typical Anime Mecha is a size 5 vehicle, so an over-sized greatsword (damage 6) would inflict 11 points of damage, A giant sized vibro-knife would be a light weapon inflicting 7 points of damage, and getting the one-step shift in accuracy. 


Used against another Size 5 Mecha the Greatsword's damage is dropped back to 6, the mecha-knife drops back to 2, so a fight between two mechanized titans ends up like a fight between two human combatants, except with a lot more collateral damage to the scenery.


Size/Mass for Armor rule above makes it so a character isn't going to damage a typical motorcycle (Base Armor of 1 with Size 1 adding 1 additional point of Armor) with a knife in combat without effort. A vehicle could certainly be tampered with, brake likes cut or something similar, but that is a different skill use (and presumably requiring an unattended vehicle) than attempting to hit it in combat.

Size Class Miscellany:

Vehicles that are pulled (or 'drawn') by other creatures require at least as much size in animals as the size of the vehicle. Each doubling of this minimum adds an asset to Speed rolls to cover distance quickly, but inflicts a 1-step penalty to maneuverability. Having less than that minimum imparts a 1-step penalty to speed and maneuverability.

Size classes over Level 10:

Vehicles larger than Size 10 (364') are of course possible, however they tend to be more 'scenery' than 'vehicle' and should be treated as such. In the case of combat between vehicles larger than size 10 the GM should extend the table above (multiplying the previous entry by 1.5 for each new level), then subtract the level of the smallest vehicle in the engagement.

Using a naval battle for example: An Aircraft carrier is a Size 13 vehicle (1,228 feet) and a Battleship is Size 12 (819 feet). The smallest aircraft launched from the carrier would be Size 5, so the aircraft should be treated as Size 0, escorting corvettes (normally Size 10) as size 5, the Battleship as Size 7 and the Aircraft Carrier as Size 8.