Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cover, Concealment, and Locks

The list of actions available on pg. 10 is unchanged.  Combat lock is a different story.  First off, I'm not a fan of the term "combat lock" in general especially when paired with "active lock".  Perhaps a reader more knowledgeable in military terminology can enlighten me as to whether that term is used in modern technological warfare or not.  I'd prefer switching the terminology to the more familiar (if only to civilians!) active and passive nomenclature like with sonar and radar.  So, combat lock would now be passive lock while active lock keeps the same name.   Now on to the crunch...

Normally in Blitz, you must measure every piece of intervening terrain between the firing and target models, consult a table varying values of concealment, and then add up the various individual concealment values in order to compare with the detect value of the final model to determine if you have a combat lock.  If you're firing or interacting with an enemy model on a properly configured board with lots of terrain at most weapons suboptimal range, this frequently results in multiple different measurements (six is my personal max) and calculations that slow the game down.  The current system is more complicated that any scifi RPG's version that I've played over the past 5 years (Star Wars Saga, Shadowrun, Deathwatch, Ultramodern4 D20) and this is for a bigger than skirmish level wargame.  My preference/goal would be to get this process down to a single LOS check, a single measurement, and a single roll for the entire passive/active process.  I don't see a way for the traditional concealment mechanic to remain intact which I'm frankly fine with.  I've always been of the opinion that concealment and cover should be under the same mechanic and not two totally different (and confusing according to players I've demo'ed for) systems.  My solution would be to put a limit on the passive lock based on the electronics stat similar to how combat lock was limited by detect's interaction with terrain inches/concealment.

You automatically get a passive lock versus any model in less than full cover regardless of range.  If targeting models in full (but not solid) cover, you'd automatically get a passive lock within it's size in inches; you may not lock a target behind full solid cover.  

If you are outside of that distance, you can attempt an active lock as an action.  You can ignore (for the purposes of getting an active lock) a number of pieces of terrain or models giving the target cover equal to your modified EL stat (see the modifiers below).  If intervening terrain is considered "representational", count each 6" or portion thereof as a separate piece.  If you can ignore each piece/model contributing to the cover, you have an active lock.  If you cannot ignore them all, you may roll an unmodified EW check versus a TN of the remaining number of pieces to get an active lock.   You *MAY* fire either an indirect or direct weapon after obtaining an active lock (a change from the Field Manual).  

Modified EL: +LSP, -Stealth, -1 for Low Profile, +1 if target fired/moved/EL event last activation (cummulative)

 No discussion of the above would be considered complete without somewhat prematurely mentioning some of the other rules that are entwined with concealment and locks.  LSP would be a positive modifier to the EL stat just like the other concealment modifiers.  Stealth Perks would be divided by two and rounded up; this perk would then be a negative modifier to the EL of the model firing up on the stealthed model.  The Hiding Action allow you to consider your cover as one step better as long as the model stays stationary in some cover or better.  Models with the stealth perk can move at combat speed and still keep the benefit of hiding.

The cover rules are as written in the FM except with the following clarifications/exceptions.  If a model is sculpted in a pose other than standing, estimate the cover based on a similar standing model instead if you have an extra erring on the side of caution (and leaning towards partial cover).  If a model has an alternate movement mode that dramatically changes the profile like the Naga, estimate/use the height of the *current* mode the model is actually using as indicated by the Blitz die for the model.  Intervening area terrain increases the target model's true LOS cover by one step for each 6" or portion thereof of area terrain (so a model in true LOS "no cover" behind a 7" area terrain forest is counted as in partial cover).

That concludes this rather lengthy addition to my blog rules for today.  It's probably the biggest change I've got planned to the core Blitz system so I'm curious to see what people think.  As always, feel free to comment below or contact me on the DP9 forums.  Thanks for reading and have a happy Valentine's Day!  Remember to hug your nearest Jaeger/Hunter/Warrior as they get no love normally!  :)


  1. drat - Blogger ate my post. Trying again

    I'm being dim, i guess: whats LSP?

  2. LSP is the "Large Sensor Profile" trait. Basically, it reduces in normal Blitz any concealment you may have.

  3. Should the modifier for fired/moved/EL event last activation be negative?
    Also how do you define a piece of terrain? Is 6" of thick jungle the same a 3" of orchard (as an extreme example)?

  4. Terrain would be broken up into 6" chunks for area terrain but an individual piece counts as one for instance terrain (to use the FM terminology). I do agree that it isn't clear but instead just hinted at so I'll try to clarify it. In order to keep the system simple and relatively easy to calculate without multiple measurements in most cases, the 6" of thick jungle would be the same as 3" of orchard as long as both were area/representational terrain. The negative modifier is indeed a typo and thanks for catching that as I tweaked the wording/formatting a few months back and made a mistake. I've toyed around with getting rid of the "modified EL" terminology and just replacing it with the differently worded but same mechanics text as follows:

    "If the model is in full cover, count up the intervening pieces of terrain. Remove one from the total for each of the following that apply:

    LSP (remove # of pieces equal to the rating)
    Target moved, fired or used EL action since start of last activation (cummulative)

    Add one to the total number of terrain pieces for each of the following:

    Stealth (equal to rating)
    Low Profile

    If the final number of terrain pieces is less than or equal to the EL of the active model, you have an active lock."

    Out of curiosity, does that improve or worsen the explanation of the mechanic?

  5. I don't really like that explanation as I don't think it leads to a logical thought process e.g. I count less terrain because of X as opposed to the Gear is easier to detect because of X. It might help to give the original total a name that describes the difficulty of seeing it e.g.

    "If the model is in full cover, count up the intervening pieces of terrain, this is its Concealment value. Remove one from the total for each of the following that apply:"

    Also I haven't checked the rules but should Stealth be cumulative here or should it replace the terrain count?

  6. I have stealth as cummulative mainly because I wanted to incorporate cover and concealment to one system. Keeping the stealth rating as a replacement for the terrain count would work but I suspect that I'd have to test it out a bit more and possibly not halve the stealth rating as I currently have it set up. I initially wanted to combine stealth and cover which is why I mechanically combined the ratings as well instead of keeping the current "replacement" stealth mechanic. I'll have to crunch some numbers and try that out.