“You add your Damage Rating to your Skill to Attack. Doesn’t this mean a really big Damage Rating helps people hit more often?”
It’s a really good question, with a really simple answer that operates in two dimensions, the theoretical and the practical: No. No, it doesn’t.
Theoretical: No, because you’re not hitting more often, you’re doing better on an attack.
When you thrust with a sword, loose an arrow, or squeeze the trigger of a sniper rifle, there’s no “to-hit” or “damage”. There’s just the attack.
You do well, you do more damage. You screw the pooch, you don’t. Either way, there’s just the attack.
And more powerful weapons make for more effective attacks. By definition.
There are four elements in each Combat Challenge: weapon Damage, attacker Skill, Toughness, and defender Skill. The role of each must be comparable to the rest: no one element can predominate. To see if weapon Damage does, I ran the numbers.
I took all sorts of characters, from the most pathetic specimens of humanity imaginable to experienced PC’s, and gave them all sorts of weapons, from large caliber assault rifles to plasma weapons designed to burn holes in the side of tanks. I then faced the characters off against each other, and recorded the results.
At every level, bigger guns meant more damage. (Obviously.) But the damage was never disproportionate to the (very favorable) shooting conditions: the target was 4 meters (12 feet) away, in the open, standing still, not wearing any armor. (This maximized the damage done, to make the rule look as bad as possible.)
Even in such overwhelmingly favorable conditions, against an assault rifle, wholly incompetent attackers didn’t enjoy walk-away victories. They killed equally statted people, but average people were only hurt, not killed (assuming a roll of 0). As for the experienced characters… sometimes not even that.
In other words, the outcomes made sense. Which is fairly high praise for a game mechanic.
In other, other words, no — a high damage weapon doesn’t make bumbling jackasses into supa ninjas. It does, however, allow them to do better on an attack.
Now, playtesting is very different from number crunching. And it can reveal flaws that have previously gone overlooked.
If playtesting indicates weapon Damage is still too high, I’ve already prototyped two different solutions. So I’m not real worried about this.
On the other hand, it is a very good question and exactly the sort of thing I need to pay attention to. Thanks to the two commenters who brought it up: Dominick Reisland (back in 2012, I believe) and Phil Dack.
I’ll start covering the effects of damage — Wounds and Shock — tomorrow.