Called Shots

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Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:23 am

This is my own system of called shots that I created for one of my games. They are not perfect, and they were intended for a grim gritty Call of Cthulhu inspired 1930s horror game. So to put bluntly most of these called shots are FAR too lethal for your average game, so please don't criticize the rules for that, although I realize that because of that fact these rules are not suitable for the majority of games. However I think that I am on the right track and with some tweaking we could come up with a viable and optional called shot system.

Unlike previous systems of called shots my system offers three separate degrees of protection to the defender to help balance out the lethality of called shots.

The 1st degree: As always the attacker takes a penalty to his attack for declaring a called shot. The amount of the penalty varies depending on the target being struck.

The 2nd degree: The big change with my system over previous systems is that called shots only take effect if the attacker deals enough damage to equal or exceed the defender's damage threshold. It's a little bit sticky how this this would relate to a special ability that could reduce a defender down -1 tier on the condition track regardless of damage. A perfect example of this would be the scoundrel's dastardly strike ability in SWSE. Generally speaking called shots are in addition to the normal physical impairments one receives from being wounded.

The 3rd degree: I re-instituted the classic saving throws of earlier d20 games. In my system saving throws are used in addition the standard defense scores. Of course saving throws are probably not as advantageous for the defender so I avoid it's use as often as possible. The only times I use it are in situations that I feel should be more random lethal for the defenders. The is probably a much better way of doing this but I can't think of it.

All that being said here is my called shot system in it's entirety. I have not tinkered with it yet to make it more appropriate for the typical campaign, but I think as it stands gut shots, arm shots, and leg shots are more or less okay. Headshots can probably be adjusted so that if you fail the save (or whatever mechanic we use) you drop an additional tier on the condition track, and maybe get stunned if you fail the check badly enough. Heart Shots are mostly useless (as it really isn't that much different than a normal that is aimed at the center of mass for the defender) but my campaign had vampires which is the reason why it's in there. Throat shots in my system caused the defender to lose 1 HP per round in bleeding damage.

Called Shots
Unless otherwise noted called shots are heavily dependent on the defender's damage threshold. With the exception gut shots, a called shot has to deal damage at least equal to the defender's damage threshold to have any additional effect.

Numb / Useless
In some cases a called shot can either numb limb or render it useless. The only difference between a numbed limb, and a useless limb is that a character will regain use of a numbed limb with one round, a useless limb will remain useless until it is properly treated.

Examples of Called Shots

Gut Shots
The attacker aims for the defender's lower abdomen (-4 attack penalty) in a attempt to wound the defender rather than kill him. The damage of the attack is halved, but the GM will count the damage as full damage for the purposes of the condition track.
Tactical Implications -
This is the rough equivalent of pulling a blow for a firearm. The results of this attack can still be deadly largely due to bleeding damage. Of all the called shots this is the only one not dependent on the defender's damage threshold.

Arm Shots
The attacker aims for the defender's arm (-8 attack penalty). If the damage equals or exceeds the defender's damage threshold the defender rolls a fortitude save (DC 10 + the damage dealt) if the defender succeeds his saving throw his arm is numbed, if he fails his save the arm is rendered useless. Numbed or useless arms can not hold objects, and any held object in that hand will be immediately dropped. Two handed weapons would need to be wielded one handedly.
Tactical implications -
This is in effect a ranged disarm. While the tactical benefits may not as great as a leg shot, but the save DC is harder for the defender and typically speaking the intended effect of this attack happens even if the defender only manages to numb the defender's arm.

Leg Shot
The attacker aims for the defender's leg (-6 penalty). If the damage equals or exceeds the defender's damage threshold the defender rolls a fortitude save (DC 5 + the damage dealt) if the defender success his saving throw the leg is numbed, if he fails the leg is rendered useless. A numbed or a useless leg causes the defender to fall prone. The defender needs to make a balance check to remain standing, and can only hobble at half his movement, or crawl at one third his movement rate.
Tactical implications -
This attack will temporary cripple the defender. The tactical benefits may be greater, but the save is easier for the defender to pass, and numbed legs aren't that much of a hindrance for the defender. After one round the defender would regain full use of his leg, and would not have any other physical penalties other than the ones he previously suffered from the condition track.

Stun Points
The attacker strikes the defender in an appropriate stun point such as the solar plexus (-4 attack penalty) with an appropriate weapon such as a closed fist, and if the attackers damage equals or exceeds the defender's damage threshold the attacker also stuns the defender for a round.

Throat Shot
The attacker strikes the defender in the throat with a bladed weapon (-8 penalty) and if the damage equals or exceeds the defender's damage threshold the attacker also inflicts severe blood loss.

Impalement
The attacker attempts the impale the defender (-10 penalty) with an appropriate weapon (such as a rapier) and if the the damage equals or exceeds the defender's damage threshold the attacker may make a grapple check to twist the weapon as he withdraws it. If attacker's grapple check succeeds he is able to damage the defender with the weapon again (minus the attacker's strength bonus) and also causes the defender to move down an additional tier on the condition track.

Head Shot
The attacker aims for the defender's head (-12 penalty) if the damage equals or exceeds the defender's damage threshold the defender rolls a saving throw (DC 0 + the damage dealt). If the defender passes his save he moves down an additional tier on the condition track, if the defender fails his save he is rendered unconscious, if the defender fails his save by 5 or more he dies immediately.

Heart Shot
The attacker aims for the defender's heart (-10 penalty). This attack isn't any different than a normal center of mass shot, except that it can have additional effects on certain monsters. Such monsters are normally disabled if the attacker equals or exceeds their damage threshold.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby fodigg » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:54 am

I like to categorize called shots by effect and not by what you're actually targeting. So a called shot wouldn't be "I attack his eyes", it would be "I'm going to try to blind him". So you would have a list of possible called shots and penalties by effect. For example:
  • Trip
  • Blind
  • Stun
  • Cripple (slow movement)
  • Disarm
  • etc
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:11 pm

Fodigg's idea would work but it seems to me that many of of those effects can be accomplished by feats or class abilities. Called Shots seem to cater mostly to the more grim and gritty audience, and for the lovers of grim and gritty violence that might be just a little clean. Called shots are different different from talents and feats because of three reasons these are multiple effects, duration, and severity.

For an example of multiple effects just look at a leg shot. That cripple somebody, as well as trip them. The short term effects might trip, but in addition to being tripped it also involves long term mobility penalties.

For an example of duration we can look at the arm shot. Clearly the intent of striking this location is to disarm, but the effects of last longer than a disarm. This is because being shot in the arm can penalize the defenders attacks made with that same arm long after the initial disarm took place. This ties into multiple effects as well.

Severity is really just a combination of multiple effects and duration. I.e. the multiple effects and penalties lasting for a longer duration of penalties that may result from called shots, make called shots more severe than the effects of a feat such as trip or improved disarm. The flip side of the coin is that's substantially harder to successfully perform a called shot than it is to gain the benefit of a feat such as trip.
Last edited by Darthmoe on Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby astralcataclysm » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:32 pm

Perhaps, then, it would make the most sense for called shots to be later talents following basic combat maneuver talents? For example, you might start with a Trip talent, and then follow with a Leg Cripple talent, that in addition to knockdown makes it harder for them to stay standing, balance, jump, whatever, and slows them some. So instead of adding a new, (and often in my experience abusable) subsystem to the game, wrap it into the intended talent system, and perhaps have a "this can be used untrained with X penalty" clause wrapped into a bunch of the more basic combat maneuver talents.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:02 pm

astralcataclysm wrote:Perhaps, then, it would make the most sense for called shots to be later talents following basic combat maneuver talents? For example, you might start with a Trip talent, and then follow with a Leg Cripple talent, that in addition to knockdown makes it harder for them to stay standing, balance, jump, whatever, and slows them some. So instead of adding a new, (and often in my experience abusable) subsystem to the game, wrap it into the intended talent system, and perhaps have a "this can be used untrained with X penalty" clause wrapped into a bunch of the more basic combat maneuver talents.


That would be acceptable to me.

Trip can be a prereq to both throw, and the leg crippling attack.

Disarm would be prereq to the arm crippling attack.

A headshot might be added into the same tree as careful shot, and dead eye. It might have an effect on the condition track maybe causing them to move down one tier on the condition track.

The only problem with it is that it needs the can be used untrained with X Penalty clause, because with out that this system would doubtlessly burn a ton of skill points/feats/talents.

Another issue is that generally speaking disarm and trip are considered melee attack options. For it to replace called shot it's going to have to be open up to range attacks as well. Maybe not so much in the lower level feats because it doesn't exactly make sense to shoot somebody in the leg or foot, trip them, and at the same you cause no lasting impairments to them what so ever. It does however make sense to shoot somebody in the leg or foot, crippling their leg, and thus causeing them to trip.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby JaredGaume » Thu Feb 25, 2010 7:38 am

Lose the negative penalties to called shots and use some other penalty.

Maybe say that a called shot is something that takes time or you have to work at to pull off and while you are doing that it leaves you vulnerable. For example, a head shot may take you time to aim, meaning you are not actively defending yourself as much, until the start of your next turn you grant a +5 bonus to enemy attacks that target you.

Make it so that when you make a called shot you are trading off something in order to achieve the desired effect.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:55 am

JaredGaume wrote:Lose the negative penalties to called shots and use some other penalty.

Maybe say that a called shot is something that takes time or you have to work at to pull off and while you are doing that it leaves you vulnerable. For example, a head shot may take you time to aim, meaning you are not actively defending yourself as much, until the start of your next turn you grant a +5 bonus to enemy attacks that target you.

Make it so that when you make a called shot you are trading off something in order to achieve the desired effect.


I like it! In addition to giving the +5 defense penalty aiming should also provoke attacks of opportunity as well. Finally it goes with out saying with the whole not actively defending yourself bit, but you lose all dex (or whatever attribute you use for your defense) and dodge bonuses. Being successfully attacked should interrupt your as well and cause to lose the benefits of aiming.

Obviously the practice has fallen out of favor in more modern times. The aiming requirement should apply to all called shots with the exception of maybe gutshots, because gutshots are basically just pulling blows for firearm. All of my called shots came from my homebrewed game which takes place in the 1930s and I guess that some cops in the 30s were actually trained to shoot suspects in the guts so that they could keep them alive long enough to question.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby j0lt » Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:24 am

I've done a somewhat similar system, but with my system a called shot is a full-round action instead of a standard action.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Fri Feb 26, 2010 9:55 am

I was thinking along the same lines as well. SWSE aim mechanic requires two swift actions to aim the shot, that must be made immediately prior to the aimed shots being fired. That basically requires a full round action, but it's even a bit more restrictive I think. In any case you would not be able to make a full attack at least.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:16 am

Taking a nod from SWSE and the Severing Strike talent, how about this:

You make an aimed attack (called shot) against an enemy target. If you hit and the damage equals or exceeds both the target's damage threshold and current total hit points (i.e. enough damage to kill it), you can instead retroactively call the shot against a certain body part. The attack deals half damage, but disables an arm or leg. Called shots against the head or chest in this fashion are simply normal hits that kill (either blowing the target's head off or shooting them in a vital organ in the torso) or render unconscious (knock out blow to the head or knocking the wind out of the target) with nonlethal damage.

Disabling an arm prevents the target from wielding weapons or using tools in that hand and imposes a penalty on skill checks made with that arm. Disabling a leg knocks the target prone, reduces the target's speed by half, reduces its carrying capacity by half, and imposes penalties on skill checks made with that leg. If you want to get super crazy, you can even "break" or "destroy/sever" an arm or leg, requiring the target recieve medical attention or replacement before they can remove the penalties imposed by the called shot. Maybe some special talents can expand on what you can do with certain called shots (blind/mute with a disbaling of the head area without killing the target as an example). Either way it makes players happy because they can do crazy cool stuff to enemies and it makes GMs happy because it means players can't just keep calling shots at the BBEG's head and hoping to score a one-hit victory. GMs retroactively describe a PCs attack after damage is applied to "paint a picture" of the combat, so why shouldn't players have the option to use called shots in a similar way that is mechanically balanced?

Maybe the reason the Major is able to school that hacker punk on the roof by shooting out his ankle at the moment he lands isn't because she (and by proxie every player that want's there character to be as cool as her) is an ace shot all the time, but rather because she could have owned (killed) him at any time but did the called shot to slow him up and make him more... agreeable.

Just saying.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:17 pm

Called shot to the nuts!
Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Sun Mar 07, 2010 12:02 am

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:Called shot to the nuts!


Persistent nauseated condition until you can rest for 10 minutes in the fetal position?
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Jimmy Plamondon » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:15 am

Well if you combine the called shot to the nuts with Severing Strike...
Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:49 am

Jimmy Plamondon wrote:Well if you combine the called shot to the nuts with Severing Strike...


*sigh* I'll find the cybernetics book... but I don't think they have those kind of enhancements in there.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby jazzencat » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:28 am

How should one handle this situation: character is aiming for the bad guy's gun arm because we want to capture him, not kill him. Now the character rolls with the -8 penalty to attack for called shot, and takes a round to aim reducing this to -5 (just using numbers for an example). The target number to hit with the penalty is 26, normally would need an 18 (26-8). Character rolls a modified 22. What has always bugged me about called shot rules is that this would normally just be counted as a miss and no damage done. Even when I started playing it bugged me. What about missing the arm and hitting the neck instead, or the chest or some other body part. If you look at a person's silhouette roughly half of a circle centered on the right arm covers the body. This means that of all the vectors a missed shot can take about 50% would result in hitting the target somewhere else. I know people don't like tables and overlays because it adds stuff to the table and to check and so on, but could we develop something that can handle shots missing a called location but still end up doing damage? It would function similarly if I was aiming for center mass on a target but missed my target number by a little. The shot would stray and might hit an arm or leg instead of the chest. This wouldn't necessarily have to be part of the basic rule set, it could be put in a side-bar or in an advanced combat chapter. It should be possible to develop a simple formula for determining where the missed (called) shot goes. The simpler method, but adds piece of paper to the mix is a generic overlay for combat. Center the bull's eye on the location you want to hit, roll against your target number. If you make the TN you hit what you aimed for, if not, draw a playing card (Aces & Eights uses this) or roll dice to see where the shot strayed to. This would obviously be more applicable to combat using ranged weaponry than mêlée, though it could be adapted for mêlée as well, for those that like that level of detail in their fights. Thoughts?

Makes for some interesting options when combined with damage thresholds for called shot locations proposed in the OP.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:05 am

jazzencat wrote:How should one handle this situation: character is aiming for the bad guy's gun arm because we want to capture him, not kill him. Now the character rolls with the -8 penalty to attack for called shot, and takes a round to aim reducing this to -5 (just using numbers for an example). The target number to hit with the penalty is 26, normally would need an 18 (26-8). Character rolls a modified 22. What has always bugged me about called shot rules is that this would normally just be counted as a miss and no damage done. Even when I started playing it bugged me. What about missing the arm and hitting the neck instead, or the chest or some other body part. If you look at a person's silhouette roughly half of a circle centered on the right arm covers the body. This means that of all the vectors a missed shot can take about 50% would result in hitting the target somewhere else. I know people don't like tables and overlays because it adds stuff to the table and to check and so on, but could we develop something that can handle shots missing a called location but still end up doing damage? It would function similarly if I was aiming for center mass on a target but missed my target number by a little. The shot would stray and might hit an arm or leg instead of the chest. This wouldn't necessarily have to be part of the basic rule set, it could be put in a side-bar or in an advanced combat chapter. It should be possible to develop a simple formula for determining where the missed (called) shot goes. The simpler method, but adds piece of paper to the mix is a generic overlay for combat. Center the bull's eye on the location you want to hit, roll against your target number. If you make the TN you hit what you aimed for, if not, draw a playing card (Aces & Eights uses this) or roll dice to see where the shot strayed to. This would obviously be more applicable to combat using ranged weaponry than mêlée, though it could be adapted for mêlée as well, for those that like that level of detail in their fights. Thoughts?

Makes for some interesting options when combined with damage thresholds for called shot locations proposed in the OP.


One thought would be to treat it like shooting at a target engaged in melee with an ally. I couldn't find it in d20 modern, but my group always played with a rule where if you made a ranged attack at an enemy engaged in melee with an ally there was a chance you could accidently hit your ally instead. Normally, you would take a penalty on the attack roll (targeting the enemy) and if you miss with the new "higher" TN there is a chance you strike your ally instead (we used 20% chance). In the case of the called shot you are taking a penalty on the attack roll (targeting a smaller part of the enemy) and if you miss with the new "higher" TN there is a chance you strike the wrong spot on the enemy instead. In this case you could make it a 20% chance and use a d6 to determine the exact spot struck (head, left arm, right arm, torso, left leg, right leg), let the GM decide, or simply make it a normal hit.

Alternatively, you could take the penalty on the called shot and if you miss the new TN you miss the attack, but if your attack would normally have hit the target's TN defense you deal minimum damage (just a flesh wound). I still think called shots should be more based on reasonable awesomeness on behalf of the PC, rather then trying to make mechanics for calling out shots all the time. I just see it as a tough balancing act because if the penalty is not high enough, characters are going to call headshots all the time, but if the penalty is too high, characters are going to feel it is a relatively worthless mechanic. I figure if the enemy is weak enough to one-hit kill anyway, why not just make normal attacks and damage and have the GM describe the "head shot," or let the character call the shot they want after their ownage is assured (who knows, maybe they DONT want to kill everything... well... this is mostly a fantasy game...).
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:25 pm

Well the way I see is that it's perfectly logical and acceptable for a called shot to the head to just plane miss if you fail to hit your TN. Generally speaking if someone misses a head shot they tend to miss either high or to the side. At least that is what I have seen on the firing range in police firearms qualifications tests. There is of course a huge flaw in my logic, and that is a silhouette target reacts very differently than a real person but even then missed headshots seem to generally miss the target all together.

The idea of using a sever talent like mechanic actually accomplishes almost nothing that a called shot would be intended to do. The really easy way to handle a called fired at a less lethal would be a pulling the blows mechanic Off the top of my head I would say taking a -4 penalty to your attack and if you hit with half damage (thus making it less likely to kill your enemy and more likely to simply knock them out). Finally if you miss by two or less you end up shooting him for full damage. Now that being said this is an easy mechanic meant for your standard RPG game, and it's probably something similar to this that should be the main default rules. That's all well and good for the average play group but it's also simply untrue that all GMs hate called shots. As I said before I want an optional called shot system to can appeal to the Grim and Gritty players and GMs. Those kinds of players probably want a mechanic where you can shoot somebody in the head and at least seriously disable him, if not out right kill them.

Also the Sever talent does almost nothing that a called shot mechanic is intended to do, and to be entirely honest I am not even sure why it requires a talent in the first place. In the old days of Star Wars when vitality points ruled the galaxy it used to be a very common and popular house rule that if your strike would have otherwise killed someone you could choose to slice off the limb of your choice instead of killing of them. It was as simple as that, and it worked just fine. In fact it was first introduced in a Jedi Counciling article, and not only did many people use it, I never heard anyone complain about it being broken either.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:51 pm

I brought this up with one of my players after a fun Ghost in the Shell campaign we started last night. He is very much a sniper when it comes to combat in game (one shot, one kill mindset) and he has what I would call a "working knowledge" of firearms and real-world combat mechanics. He leaves for the Navy in two short weeks to begin training in Search and Rescue, having declined Seals, so please keep Steven “Sven” Beard in your thoughts and/or prayers.

We discussed many of the points brought up on this thread back and forth, and ultimately he went with the idea of "if you call a shot and take a penalty to your attack and you miss... you miss. Too bad, nice try, get over it. You could say 'well there is a 33% chance of the shot going too low or too far to the right or left and so it might hit the guy,' but knock it off. You missed."

We decided a called shot would require an aimed action (two swift actions if we use SWSE or a full-round action if we use d20 modern's Dead Aim feat), and you would take a penalty on the attack roll depending on the size of the new target (typically -4 for a limb or -8 for the head). Since the idea of the called shot it to injure that specific area of the target, we went with the severing rules from SWSE (except less extreme since you aren't severing the limb) but only if the damage would have normally beat the damage threshold of the target (the target's threshold is 10, you rolled 12 damage so you injure their arm but only deal 6 points of damage). If you don’t beat the damage threshold, you still deal half damage with the attack. This reduction in damage is to illustrate the fact you are pulling your shot away from the center mass where your attack could theoretically do more damage to target a less vital area.

For headshots, we decided it would be an automatic critical threat (for d20 modern rules) or critical hit. It is going to pack a punch against bosses as well as lowbie enemies, but isn't necessarily going to automatically kill the BBEG. In the case of the lowbies, however, it will more than likely either kill them outright or force a massive damage roll. For higher level characters fighting large hordes of much lower level enemies (something that should only occasionally occur and is often a fun way to vent for the PCs), they can take a penalty to their attack roll (aiming to do headshots) and essentially deal double damage on a successful hit (which would more than likely be most of the time).
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Back to the Issues

Postby Darthmoe » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:46 pm

I'm just going to give a brief summary of all the issues that have been brought up in this thread so far and how I feel we should handle them underneath.

Aiming/b]
Multiple people have reasonably stated that you should have to take extra time to aim your called shot, and that aiming the shot requires you to focus in on the target.
[b]IMO -
I agree I think aiming should require two swift actions just as it does in Star Wars SAGA, and furthermore you should aren't actively defending yourself (-4 or -5 to defense). Should you sustain damage than you lose focus and lose the benefits of your aiming.

Attack Penalties
Traditionally the counter balance of called shots has been an attack penalties.
IMO - I think we should use them here as well even with aiming requirements included attack penalties have their place. It's damn hard to put a bullet in an arm or leg and this extreme level of difficulty should be realized. Not to mention that attack penalties are still one of the most effective ways to balance called shots, and you need to balance them carefully or else you end up with one of two scenarios. Scenario one you have a broken called shot system, or scenario two you have to nerf called shots to the point where they are nothing more than just cute gimmicks

Misplaced Shots
This issues stems from the whole attack penalty thing. The classic example aiming to shoot somebody in the arm, and accidentally shooting them in the heart. It's a perfectly valid argument and in fact it's one of the main reasons why police don't practice called shots on a regular basis. The main argument against this, is that it invalidates the attack penalties of a called shot. Example if you aim for the head and you miss you still get to shot them in the chest anyway. On the other hand the prospect of a misplaced shot striking somebody in the chest or the cent of mass is actually a kind of penalty if you are trying to take them alive.
IMO - Two things with this. The first is that clearly these called shots are still doing damage and that's not non-lethal damage we're talking about either. Even if your intention was not to kill you can still kill someone with a called shot to the arm. A simple way to explain this is to say that called shots that accidentally kill missed their intended mark and hit a vital area instead. Of course that answer will not be satisfactory to everyone after all a bullet to the arm or leg could sever a major artery and cause somebody to bleed out in just a matter of seconds. So here is a rule that begins to cover that scenario for GMs who just can't get past it. If a called shot would have hit it's intended target but for the attack penalty associated with the said called shot, than roll a d4. If you roll a 1 on the d4 than the miss placed shot strikes the defender in his center of mass. If you roll a 2, 3, 4 the shot is a complete miss.

Target Areas
By and large everyone is agreeing on three main target areas including the arms, legs, and head. The arms are to disarm and cause attack penalties to future attacks made with that arm. The legs are to trip people, and also to disable that same leg cripple the defender (making them move at half speed basically). Headshots are intended to kill (there are many ways that could be done including auto criticals, increased damage, an automatic move down one tier on the condition track, or some sort of instant death attack).
IMO - The list of target areas should be kept simple because there is a great tendency to get overly complicated and have redundant target areas. Example you get the same basic effect rather you shoot somebody in the hand, forearm, upper arm, or shoulder. They are all just part of the arm. Maybe shooting the weapon out of the targets hand might be different, as long as you hit it would probably have a better chance of succeeding, and you wouldn't actually injure the defender.

Damage Requirements
One of the main criticisms of called shots is that as long as you hit the mark you aim at the special effect always take effect. That means even with a crummy damage roll you still get an awesome effect with a called shot/
IMO - I think it should be possible for a bullet to graze an arm and cause no lasting effects for the defender. At the same time I think it should be possible for a bullet to graze an arm and trigger just right nerves to cause the the defender to drop his gun, or even tear up the defenders biceps and prevent him from using his arm with out penalty. One of the best called systems I have seen to this date was in the AD&D 2nd Edition Fighter's Guide, and it had a numb / useless system. If you did damage equal to 25% of the defender's total HP in a single attack you could numb his arm for a round, and if you did 50% or more you rendered his limb useless until it was properly healed. We should have something like that, but that system had a glitch. It worked overly well at low levels, and very poorly at high levels. Instead of basing it off of hit points we should use a damage threshold. If you deal damage equal to 50% or more of the defender's damage threshold you numb the limb for a single round, and if you deal damage equal to a 100% or more of the defender's damage threshold you render the limb useless until it is healed with a medicine check, or magic, or the force, or super advanced healing technology, or whatever.
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Re: Back to the Issues

Postby Imagist » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:07 pm

Darthmoe wrote:I'm just going to give a brief summary of all the issues that have been brought up in this thread so far and how I feel we should handle them underneath.

Aiming
Multiple people have reasonably stated that you should have to take extra time to aim your called shot, and that aiming the shot requires you to focus in on the target.
IMO - I agree I think aiming should require two swift actions just as it does in Star Wars SAGA, and furthermore you should aren't actively defending yourself (-4 or -5 to defense). Should you sustain damage than you lose focus and lose the benefits of your aiming.

Attack Penalties
Traditionally the counter balance of called shots has been an attack penalties.
IMO - I think we should use them here as well even with aiming requirements included attack penalties have their place. It's damn hard to put a bullet in an arm or leg and this extreme level of difficulty should be realized. Not to mention that attack penalties are still one of the most effective ways to balance called shots, and you need to balance them carefully or else you end up with one of two scenarios. Scenario one you have a broken called shot system, or scenario two you have to nerf called shots to the point where they are nothing more than just cute gimmicks

Misplaced Shots
This issues stems from the whole attack penalty thing. The classic example aiming to shoot somebody in the arm, and accidentally shooting them in the heart. It's a perfectly valid argument and in fact it's one of the main reasons why police don't practice called shots on a regular basis. The main argument against this, is that it invalidates the attack penalties of a called shot. Example if you aim for the head and you miss you still get to shot them in the chest anyway. On the other hand the prospect of a misplaced shot striking somebody in the chest or the cent of mass is actually a kind of penalty if you are trying to take them alive.
IMO - Two things with this. The first is that clearly these called shots are still doing damage and that's not non-lethal damage we're talking about either. Even if your intention was not to kill you can still kill someone with a called shot to the arm. A simple way to explain this is to say that called shots that accidentally kill missed their intended mark and hit a vital area instead. Of course that answer will not be satisfactory to everyone after all a bullet to the arm or leg could sever a major artery and cause somebody to bleed out in just a matter of seconds. So here is a rule that begins to cover that scenario for GMs who just can't get past it. If a called shot would have hit it's intended target but for the attack penalty associated with the said called shot, than roll a d4. If you roll a 1 on the d4 than the miss placed shot strikes the defender in his center of mass. If you roll a 2, 3, 4 the shot is a complete miss.

Target Areas
By and large everyone is agreeing on three main target areas including the arms, legs, and head. The arms are to disarm and cause attack penalties to future attacks made with that arm. The legs are to trip people, and also to disable that same leg cripple the defender (making them move at half speed basically). Headshots are intended to kill (there are many ways that could be done including auto criticals, increased damage, an automatic move down one tier on the condition track, or some sort of instant death attack).
IMO - The list of target areas should be kept simple because there is a great tendency to get overly complicated and have redundant target areas. Example you get the same basic effect rather you shoot somebody in the hand, forearm, upper arm, or shoulder. They are all just part of the arm. Maybe shooting the weapon out of the targets hand might be different, as long as you hit it would probably have a better chance of succeeding, and you wouldn't actually injure the defender.

Damage Requirements
One of the main criticisms of called shots is that as long as you hit the mark you aim at the special effect always take effect. That means even with a crummy damage roll you still get an awesome effect with a called shot/
IMO - I think it should be possible for a bullet to graze an arm and cause no lasting effects for the defender. At the same time I think it should be possible for a bullet to graze an arm and trigger just right nerves to cause the the defender to drop his gun, or even tear up the defenders biceps and prevent him from using his arm with out penalty. One of the best called systems I have seen to this date was in the AD&D 2nd Edition Fighter's Guide, and it had a numb / useless system. If you did damage equal to 25% of the defender's total HP in a single attack you could numb his arm for a round, and if you did 50% or more you rendered his limb useless until it was properly healed. We should have something like that, but that system had a glitch. It worked overly well at low levels, and very poorly at high levels. Instead of basing it off of hit points we should use a damage threshold. If you deal damage equal to 50% or more of the defender's damage threshold you numb the limb for a single round, and if you deal damage equal to a 100% or more of the defender's damage threshold you render the limb useless until it is healed with a medicine check, or magic, or the force, or super advanced healing technology, or whatever.


First of all, thanks for condensing the thread a bit and clarifying what has already been posted. Sometimes a reset helps.

Using the above suggestions and reasoning, and using the Aim mechanic from SWSE as an example, we get something like this:

Aim
2 Swift Actions

You can take two consecutive swift actions in the same round to move carefully line up a ranged attack. When you do so, you ignore all cover bonuses to your target’s Reflex Defense on your next attack. You still must have line of sight to the target, however. You lose the benefits of aiming if you lose line of sight to your target or if you take any other action before making your attack.

Careful Shot: If you have the Careful Shot feat (possible feat), you gain a +1 bonus on your ranged attack roll when you take the time to aim first.
Deadeye: If you have the Deadeye feat (possible feat), you deal extra damage when you take the time to aim first.

Called Shot
2 Swift Actions

You can take two consecutive swift actions in the same round to more carefully line up a ranged attack to target a specific part of a target's body. When you do so, you call out that you are targeting an arm, leg, or the head. This imposes a -10 penalty on your attack roll against your target due to the extremity’s smaller size and mobility. While lining up your called shot, you are less able to defend yourself from attack and are considered flat-footed. You still must have line of sight to the target area, however. You lose the benefits of a called shot if you lose line of sight to your target area or if you take any other action before making your attack. A called shot made against an area not covered by a target’s armor (exposed arms, legs, or head) ignores all armor bonuses (except natural armor bonuses) to the target’s Reflex defense.

Arm: If you successfully hit a target’s arm, you deal half damage to the target. If the damage is equal or greater than one-half the target’s massive damage threshold, you disable their arm until the start of your next turn. If the damage is equal or greater than the target’s massive damage threshold, you disable their arm until it can be healed (typically through a DC 15 Medicine check). A disabled arm prevents the target from wielding weapons or using tools in that hand and imposes a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Strength and Dexterity.

Leg: If you successfully hit a target’s leg, you deal half damage to the target. If the damage is equal or greater than one-half the target’s massive damage threshold, you disable their leg until the start of your next turn. If the damage is equal or greater than the target’s massive damage threshold, you disable their leg until it can be healed (typically through a DC 15 Medicine check). A disabled leg knocks the target prone, reduces the target’s speed by half, reduces its carrying capacity by half, and imposes a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Strength and Dexterity.

Head: If you successfully hit a target’s head, you automatically score a critical hit against the target. If the damage is equal or greater than the target’s massive damage threshold, but not enough to reduce its hit points to 0 (killing it) it suffers a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma until the start of your next turn.

Careful Shot: If you have the Careful Shot feat (possible feat), you gain a +1 bonus on your ranged attack roll when you make a called shot.
Deadeye: If you have the Deadeye feat (possible feat), you deal extra damage when you take the time to make a called shot.
Steady Shot: If you have the Steady Shot feat (possible feat), you reduce the penalty of your attack to a -5 penalty (instead of a -10 penalty) when you take the time to make a called shot.

Hows that look?

If we stack the penalties, it is possible to disable both arms and both legs, making them unable to use weapons or tools, unable to move (flat-footed), unable to carry any items, rendered prone, and impose a -20 penalty to skill checks and ability checks keyed to Strength and Dexterity. A little harsh?
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:55 pm

Looking at that I think it is definitely one of the best called shot systems I have ever seen if not the best, and it's still just a rough draft. The stacking penalties, but it's not as bad as it seems. If it's a SAGA like damage threshold complete with condition track than that character is going to be pretty damn near knocked out by then anyway. If it's more of a d20 modern like damage threshold than that's a considerable amount of damage that the defender would have suffered by then, and only high level characters could take that level of punishment and not get disabled or killed anyway.

As for shots to the head how about if the damage equals or exceeds the defender's damage threshold the defender moves down 1 additional injury point (that's one more than you would have received from the critical hit beating your MDT).
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:43 pm

Here's a most shameful bump on my part, but it's been almost a week, and I wanted to put this on record here before I forgot. In various other threads people have been discussing the prospect of folding disarm into grappling, but one hang up with that is that not all disarms really use grappling. The best example I can think of that is in the movie First Knight when Lancelot repeatedly knocked the swords out of his enemies hands. However, if we moved disarming into a grappling option than one easy solution for doing the Lancelot sword trick is to move knocking the weapons out of hands into a called shot system. Although similar to striking the arm it would be different. Of the top of my head I think a weapon would be harder to hit, but you would have a better chance of disarming your opponent of his weapon if you did hit (the downsides being of course you don't deal damage to him, and you can't disable his arm).
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:11 am

Darthmoe wrote:Here's a most shameful bump on my part, but it's been almost a week, and I wanted to put this on record here before I forgot. In various other threads people have been discussing the prospect of folding disarm into grappling, but one hang up with that is that not all disarms really use grappling. The best example I can think of that is in the movie First Knight when Lancelot repeatedly knocked the swords out of his enemies hands. However, if we moved disarming into a grappling option than one easy solution for doing the Lancelot sword trick is to move knocking the weapons out of hands into a called shot system. Although similar to striking the arm it would be different. Of the top of my head I think a weapon would be harder to hit, but you would have a better chance of disarming your opponent of his weapon if you did hit (the downsides being of course you don't deal damage to him, and you can't disable his arm).


I believe "disarm" should be an action that all weapon skills can ultimately acquire, so long as the proper prerequisites are met. I believe Unarmed combat has been talked alot about in regards to disarm, grapple, and trip in that it is the most basic example of the skill. I would say such weapon "tricks" could be learned very early on, while some more difficult tricks... such as ranged disarm... would require some extra effort to learn.
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Re: Back to the Issues

Postby Imagist » Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:41 am

Imagist wrote:Called Shot
2 Swift Actions

You can take two consecutive swift actions in the same round to more carefully line up a ranged attack to target a specific part of a target's body. When you do so, you call out that you are targeting an arm, leg, or the head. This imposes a -10 penalty on your attack roll against your target due to the extremity’s smaller size and mobility. While lining up your called shot, you are less able to defend yourself from attack and are considered flat-footed. You still must have line of sight to the target area, however. You lose the benefits of a called shot if you lose line of sight to your target area or if you take any other action before making your attack. A called shot made against an area not covered by a target’s armor (exposed arms, legs, or head) ignores all armor bonuses (except natural armor bonuses) to the target’s Reflex defense.

Arm: If you successfully hit a target’s arm, you deal half damage to the target. If the damage is equal or greater than one-half the target’s massive damage threshold, you disable their arm until the start of your next turn. If the damage is equal or greater than the target’s massive damage threshold, you disable their arm until it can be healed (typically through a DC 15 Medicine check). A disabled arm prevents the target from wielding weapons or using tools in that hand and imposes a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Strength and Dexterity.

Leg: If you successfully hit a target’s leg, you deal half damage to the target. If the damage is equal or greater than one-half the target’s massive damage threshold, you disable their leg until the start of your next turn. If the damage is equal or greater than the target’s massive damage threshold, you disable their leg until it can be healed (typically through a DC 15 Medicine check). A disabled leg knocks the target prone, reduces the target’s speed by half, reduces its carrying capacity by half, and imposes a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Strength and Dexterity.

Head: If you successfully hit a target’s head, you automatically score a critical hit against the target. If the damage is equal or greater than the target’s massive damage threshold, but not enough to reduce its hit points to 0 (killing it) it suffers a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma until the start of your next turn.

Careful Shot: If you have the Careful Shot feat (possible feat), you gain a +1 bonus on your ranged attack roll when you make a called shot.
Deadeye: If you have the Deadeye feat (possible feat), you deal extra damage when you take the time to make a called shot.
Steady Shot: If you have the Steady Shot feat (possible feat), you reduce the penalty of your attack to a -5 penalty (instead of a -10 penalty) when you take the time to make a called shot.

Hows that look?

If we stack the penalties, it is possible to disable both arms and both legs, making them unable to use weapons or tools, unable to move (flat-footed), unable to carry any items, rendered prone, and impose a -20 penalty to skill checks and ability checks keyed to Strength and Dexterity. A little harsh?


I would even go as far as to say if you hit the extremity, you automatically impose the penalty until the start of your next turn (instead of if the reduced damage equals or exceeds 1/2 the targets damage threshold) and if you equal or exceed the targets damage threshold with the reduced damage it becomes a persistent penalty. This minimizes number tracking (figuring out half damage threshold) and rewards a player for making a successful called shot automatically instead of conditionally (reducing damage by half for a potential benefit seems kind of cruel when you are already taking penalties on the attack roll to begin with).
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:19 pm

I could see the value in that. I know many gamers are not fans of called shots but I'm kind of found of the system we have so far. What about a minimal static damage cap of say 10 damage is needed to numb a limb. Below 10 damage has no effect, and if your damage is equal to or greater than the defender's damage threshold you can render it useless. Although I am not sure what the damage threshold will be let I am fairly certain that it will almost always be higher than 10 damage.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby JaredGaume » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:10 pm

I think called shots work best first as something that applies a condition. You are using a called shot to accomplish an effect. As a side benefit, your called shot may also cause damage.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Superkid » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:14 pm

I totally agree with the non-damaging condition idea. It represents doing something special, besides just damage.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:26 pm

Superkid wrote:I totally agree with the non-damaging condition idea. It represents doing something special, besides just damage.


Except sometimes the effect you are hoping to cause is damage (example a headshot) and also you are literally (at least in most cases) trying to cause the effect through damage. Example if you shot somebody in the arm you are hoping to cause enough damage to that arm to make them drop the said object in the first place. No damage called shot effects make no sense. T

Imagist how's this for an idea? If we make numbing the limb for one round automatic on a successful hit, you reduce the damage by half and then apply that against the defender's massive damage threshold. It would make rendering a limb a lot harder to do
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:42 pm

Darthmoe wrote:
Superkid wrote:I totally agree with the non-damaging condition idea. It represents doing something special, besides just damage.


Except sometimes the effect you are hoping to cause is damage (example a headshot) and also you are literally (at least in most cases) trying to cause the effect through damage. Example if you shot somebody in the arm you are hoping to cause enough damage to that arm to make them drop the said object in the first place. No damage called shot effects make no sense. T

Imagist how's this for an idea? If we make numbing the limb for one round automatic on a successful hit, you reduce the damage by half and then apply that against the defender's massive damage threshold. It would make rendering a limb a lot harder to do


Yeah, I added that after the original post. I was thinking since you already took the penalties and are already reducing the damage, you automatically apply the effect, but only until the start of your next turn. If it beats the MDT of the target with the reduced damage it becomes a persistant effect.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Darthmoe » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:03 pm

I like our proposed called shot system a lot, and in fact I only see one potential flaw with it melee combat, the system will not work well for melee combatants because of the aiming requirements. Then again maybe this may not a bad thing after all. In range combat you have the luxury of distance and cover that could award a precious few seconds to line up your shot. It shouldn't be the case but often time melee wins out over ranged combat in d20. I could see melee being more effective in the days of the sword and bow, and maybe even in the era of single shot muskets, but in the era of repeating firearms things need to change.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Nine_Hands » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:47 am

JaredGaume wrote:Lose the negative penalties to called shots and use some other penalty.

Maybe say that a called shot is something that takes time or you have to work at to pull off and while you are doing that it leaves you vulnerable. For example, a head shot may take you time to aim, meaning you are not actively defending yourself as much, until the start of your next turn you grant a +5 bonus to enemy attacks that target you.

Make it so that when you make a called shot you are trading off something in order to achieve the desired effect.


One of the things I use in my games is called shots require a certain Margin of Success, therefore you do not get the called shot penalty, which causes you to miss. Instead, you call an effect, such as extra damage, reducing speed, etc. How this plays out in the game is up to you and the GM, but each type of attack requires that you beat your opponent by a certain amount. The idea is that you call for an effect, roll the dice, and if you don't beat your target by the required amount, you just inflict normal damage. I also require you to spend an extra action to do such things as well, to keep people from calling EVERY SINGLE SHOT :)

This way is faster at the table, since comparing numbers is generally quicker than subtraction and you still hit if you don't roll high enough.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby JaredGaume » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:58 am

So you attack like normal, but say if you beat target defence by 5 points you get the result of your called shot, like say shoot the guy in the arm and cause him to drop his weapon. Otherwise the attack works as normal.

I like it.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby jigsawjones » Wed Mar 17, 2010 12:25 pm

…and it's easy to modify this rule depending on characters' abilities. Character is an expert at firearms, the Margin of Success goes down. Character has never used a gun before, Margin of Success is high.

Intuitive, simple, adaptable. Somebody get Nine Hands a cupcake.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:30 pm

jigsawjones wrote:…and it's easy to modify this rule depending on characters' abilities. Character is an expert at firearms, the Margin of Success goes down. Character has never used a gun before, Margin of Success is high.

Intuitive, simple, adaptable. Somebody get Nine Hands a cupcake.


*cupcake*

Called Shot
2 Swift Actions
You can take two consecutive swift actions in the same round to more carefully line up a ranged attack to target a specific part of a target's body. When you do so, you call out that you are targeting an arm, leg, or the head. While lining up your called shot, you are less able to defend yourself from attack and are considered flat-footed. You still must have line of sight to the target area, however. You lose the benefits of a called shot if you lose line of sight to your target area or if you take any other action before making your attack. A called shot made against an area not covered by a target’s armor (exposed arms, legs, or head) ignores all armor bonuses (except natural armor bonuses) to the target’s Primary defense.

Arm: If you successfully hit a target’s arm, you deal half damage to the target. If you beat the target DC by 10 or more, you diable the target's arm until the start of your next turn. If the damage is also equal to or greater than the target’s massive damage threshold, the disabled condition persists until it can be healed (typically through a DC 15 Medicine check). A disabled arm prevents the target from wielding weapons or using tools in that hand and imposes a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Strength and Dexterity.

Leg: If you successfully hit a target’s leg, you deal half damage to the target. If you beat the target DC by 10 or more, you disable the target's leg until the start of your next turn. If the damage is also equal to or greater than the target's massive damage threshold, the disabled condition persists until it can be healed (typically through a DC 15 Medicine check). A disabled leg knocks the target prone, reduces the target’s speed by half, reduces its carrying capacity by half, and imposes a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Strength and Dexterity.

Head: If you successfully hit a target’s head, you deal half damage to the target. If you beat the target DC by 10 or more, you instead automatically score a critical hit against the target. If the damage is equal or greater than the target’s massive damage threshold, but not enough to reduce its hit points to 0 (killing it) it suffers a -5 penalty on skill checks and ability checks keyed to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma until the start of your next turn.

Careful Shot: If you have the Careful Shot feat (possible feat), you gain a +1 bonus on your ranged attack roll when you make a called shot.
Deadeye: If you have the Deadeye feat (possible feat), you deal extra damage when you take the time to make a called shot.
Steady Shot: If you have the Steady Shot feat (possible feat), you only need to beat the target DC by 5 or more in order to disable a limb or automatically score a critical hit on a head shot when you take the time to make a called shot.

Look better? For headshots I put in the half damage on a successful hit or a critical hit on a successful called shot to mirror grazing and actual headshot since there is very little inbetween. What do people think of the mechanics for this?
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Re: Called Shots

Postby bone_naga » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:04 pm

JaredGaume wrote:I think called shots work best first as something that applies a condition. You are using a called shot to accomplish an effect. As a side benefit, your called shot may also cause damage.

I like this. Called shots should be something the character uses to accomplish something special. If you're just trying to do damage, well aren't you usually trying to kill your enemy with every standard attack?
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Seriously? » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:31 pm

Another idea I'd like to toss in here:

Require 2 Swifts and a Standard to use any Standard attack the character has, and, if it hits, make a secondary attack roll vs. another defense, probably Fortitude, with a successful hit producing a special effect, i.e., disarm, stun/daze, knock prone, etc.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby Imagist » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:21 am

Seriously? wrote:Another idea I'd like to toss in here:

Require 2 Swifts and a Standard to use any Standard attack the character has, and, if it hits, make a secondary attack roll vs. another defense, probably Fortitude, with a successful hit producing a special effect, i.e., disarm, stun/daze, knock prone, etc.


I don't really like the idea of making a secondary attack roll after you make a first attack to see if you hit to see if you do something special. Seems like of messy. I do like the idea of being able to call a shot on both melee and ranged attacks. Who is to say the swordsman isn't going to try and take out a guy's legs to keep him from running. Still say disarm, trip, bull rush, all those special combat things need their own stuff worked out and I don't think it would be fair to them to try and lump them into the called shot mechanic... especially when called shots are more than likely going to be a sidebar... if they go into the core book at all.
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Re: Called Shots

Postby JaredGaume » Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:01 pm

As an exercise I was trying to work out some abstract Talent Trees. It might be my thick head, but a number of combat talents I was coming up with tended to incorporate some kind of called shot feature. So I am beginning to wonder if some rules are going to start running into and becoming redunant with others. It also struck me how a number of enhancements might also fit the same niche.

Still, I think the called shots discussion is good in that it lets us examine a game mechanics knob.
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JaredGaume
 
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