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Fast autofire rules for tabletop play

I really was going to post something about Thanksgiving this week, but I confess I wasn’t up to the challenge. It’s hard to connect our American holiday with roleplaying. A map of Plymouth? A mutant turkey for your campaign? Stats for Squanto?

When I couldn’t think of anything clever, I remembered that people used to shoot turkeys, and that hunting season is right around the corner for many states in the north-east. So why not something about autofire rules in Chimera?

What is Autofire?

Automatic fire is produced by any firearm capable of shooting multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger—machine guns, automatic rifles, submachine guns, et al. In Chimera terms, this is represented by Rate of Fire (RoF). Though we take a little creative liberty, a weapon’s RoF indicates the number of targets you can hit with a single attack. By extension, autofire weapons must have an RoF 2 or more.

There are a lot of different ways to handle autofire in RPG combat; many of them tend to bog down play unless the players are sufficiently familiar with the rules. There are variants that are easier to play, but they tend to dilute the perceived bad-assness of an automatic weapon. Let’s hope Chimera gets a little closer to the mark.

Autofire Rules

When making an autofire attack, follow these steps:

  1. Choose your targets (not to exceed your weapon’s RoF)
  2. Make a separate Shoot roll against each target
  3. Roll damage for each successful hit (damage dice equals the weapon’s RoF divided by the total targets selected; round fractions down)
  4. Apply each target’s DR normally to determine actual damage

This preserves a healthy respect for the danger an automatic weapon can pose, while giving the shooter considerable control over how he allots his fire.

Let’s take an extreme example: the WWII-era German MG42. Given its staggering cyclic rate of 1,200 rounds per minute, I’ll assign RoF 12, and based on calibre (7.92mm), let’s say Damage is 1d6. Depending on the number of targets chosen, here’s how the autofire rules would play out:

  • 12 targets: 12 Shoot rolls, Dmg 1d6 for each successful hit
  • 6 targets: 6 Shoot rolls, Dmg 2d6 for each successful hit
  • 4 targets: 4 Shoot rolls, Dmg 3d6 for each successful hit
  • 3 targets: 3 Shoot rolls, Dmg 4d6 for each successful hit
  • 2 targets: 2 Shoot rolls, Dmg 6d6 for each successful hit
  • 1 target: 1 Shoot roll, Dmg 12d6 for a successful hit

When the weapon’s RoF isn’t evenly divisible by the number of targets, use the closest, even result, but increase the damage by the difference between the RoF and the number of targets. For example:

  • 10 targets: 10 Shoot rolls, Dmg 1d6+2 for each successful hit
  • 8 targets: 8 Shoot rolls, Dmg 1d6+4 for each successful hit
  • 5 targets: 5 Shoot rolls, Dmg 2d6+1 for each successful hit

Recoil

The nemesis of autofire is recoil, which is the motion transferred to the shooter when the weapon is fired. More generally known as “kick,” recoil reduces the accuracy of sustained automatic fire. When making autofire attacks, adjust the DL of each Shoot roll as follows:

  • Single target: DL +1
  • Multiple targets: DL +2

The use of a bipod, tripod, or pintle mount reduces autofire recoil by DL –1. The Sustained Fire trait also offsets the recoil penalty.

Other Firing Modes

You can fire some automatic weapons in single shot or burst mode. These modes prevent recoil, but are effective against only one target (regardless of the weapon’s actual RoF).

A successful single shot or burst mode attack inflicts one die of damage; bursts inflict +1 point of damage per shot in the burst (usually 3, but this varies by weapon). Single shots may take advantage of Careful Aim; Ammo Checks for either mode are made as if the weapon was RoF 1.

Semi-automatic weapons (i.e., guns that fire and rechamber a single round when the trigger is pulled) use Chimera’s Double Tap rules, which are entirely different. Semi-auto weapons have RoF 1, though you can rapid-fire up to six rounds at a single target by “double-tapping.” Make separate Shoot rolls at DL +1 for each shot; if more than two shots are fired, you must make an Ammo Check at the end of the round.

Final Words

Right. Maybe not the best piece to write about for Thanksgiving. But in fairness, autofire is now one less thing you need to worry about in your game.

Best wishes to your and yours this Thanksgiving!

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