Thursday, January 17, 2013

Muskets in RQ6 - crunching the numbers

The guys at The Design Machanism have released a pdf on introducing firearms into RuneQuest 6th Edition. I don't care much for modern or high-tech weapons in a quasi-medieval setting, but I like black powder weapons, so this free rules supplement is of interest to me. In it, they include a suggestion on how to make black powder firearms attractive to players, give them armour penetration. Interestingly, however, they don't indicate how much penetration is appropriate for each type of firearm. I don't know if this was an oversight or intentional, but if it's the latter, it's a brilliant idea because it allows DMs to decide for themselves how powerful guns are in their games. So, I took it upon myself to crunch the numbers. I wanted to compare a flintlock musket, a longbow and a heavy crossbow with the goal of making each one ideal under certain conditions. Now assuming a typical character with two actions per round, a musketeer will get off a single shot in 9 actions (four rounds of loading and one more action to fire). During that same time, a heavy crossbowman will get two shots and a longbowman will get three. A flintlock musket does 1D10 points of damage as does a heavy crossbow, while a longbow does 1D8 points. So assuming no armour penetration, the crossbow will always be superior to the musket and the longbow will be superior to both except against very heavily-armoured opponents.

I then compared each weapon assuming the musket had penetration of 1, 2 and 3 points. In all three cases, the longbow was still superior for lightly armoured opponents (AP 3 or less). That is good, it means the longbow is not rendered obsolete by the other weapons and it allowed me to concentrate on the musket vs. the crossbow.

Assuming one point of penetration, the average damage of the musket was 5.5/3.6/1.5/0.6 against opponents with AP of 0/3/6/8 respectively. At twice the rate of fire, the crossbow rendered 11/5.6/2/0.6 points of damage across the same range of APs. The crossbow is equal to or, in most cases, superior to the musket across the entire range, so obviously more penetration is called for. For two points of penetration, the following damage results were calculated:
musket - 5.5/4.5/2.1/1
and for three points of penetration, it was:
musket - 5.5/5.5/2.5/1.5

Comparing these results to those of the crossbow, which of course, are unchanged, we can see that in the latter case, the musket is equal to or better than the crossbow at most APs except for the most lightly-armoured and that is the range where the longbow is superior to both. However, for a penetration of two, we see a nice balance. The longbow is best for the low APs, the crossbow is a bit better than the musket in the middle range and the musket is best for the walking tanks.


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