Developer's Blog #27: Tanks a Lot

Discussion on the 1879 roleplaying game.
TarlimanJoppos
Posts: 335
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:17 pm

Developer's Blog #27: Tanks a Lot

Postby TarlimanJoppos » Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:53 pm

Originally posted at http://www.fasagames.com/blog/?post_id= ... anks-a-lot

Let's have a look at the vehicle mechanics (no pun intended) for 1879. We'll start with the base statistics for vehicles, then bring out a tank for demonstration purposes. If this was a live fire exercise, you would have been notified previously to have your next of kin forms on file. Not all statistics will apply to all vehicles. For example, Draft only applies to boats and ships. The term “vehicle” is used here to mean any conveyance, whether an airship, a seagoing vessel, or a land vehicle.
Cost: The price of the vehicle in pounds sterling (£).
Fuel Charge: The cost per mile for fuel in pounds sterling. This is based on an average coal price of twelve shillings per ton, a fairly high value for the period and assuming considerable transport costs from the mine to the fueling site. The Gamemaster is free to adjust this for the player characters' current location.
Availability: How easy it is to locate one for purchase.
Speed: A Step number that reflects optimal cruising speed under normal conditions. See the Vehicle Speed Step Table, below, for corresponding values in yards per combat round and miles per hour. Situations that affect the Speed of the vehicle will cause a Step adjustment. Exceeding the Speed Step, up to double the vehicle's cruising speed, is possible, but requires Pilot Tests against the vehicle's Maneuverability plus its increased Speed to maintain control, and Crew Tests against the vehicle's Disabled Rating plus its increased Speed to avoid damaging the vehicle with the strain. These Tests are made each round during combat, or every ten minutes during non-combat scenes.
Maneuverability: How easy it is to control the vehicle, and how agile the vehicle itself is. Make a Pilot Test against the Maneuverability to attempt anything beyond normal maneuvers. For example, a Pilot Test is not required to go round a street corner at low speed, but a Pilot Test is required to guide the vehicle around a hairpin turn on a mountain road, especially if traveling at the vehicle's Speed Step or faster.
Draft: The distance the boat or ship extends below the surface. This determines what waterways the vessel will find navigable.
Armor: The physical armor of the vehicle's chassis, if any. This reduces damage done to the vehicle in the same way as personal armor.
Armament: Vehicle-mounted weaponry, if any. This ranges from pintle mounts, essentially large metal pins that weapons can be dropped onto for stability, to fixed mounts, weapons engineered into the design of the vehicle, to turrets, armored weapons emplacements capable of fire in any direction from atop the vehicle.
Ramming: The Damage Step done when a vehicle is driven into another vehicle at speed. Use the pilot's Pilot Airship/Ship/Vehicle Skill for the Attack Test. Civilian vehicles are not normally outfitted for Ramming, and will take the Ramming Damage Step themselves as well as doing damage to their target (separate rolls). The vehicle description will note this. Military vehicles equipped for Ramming do not take damage themselves when making a Ramming attack. When a vehicle rams a non-vehicle, such as a creature or an infantry formation, it does double its Ramming in damage. Vehicle impacts ignore personal armor. In the case of a vehicle driven into a crowd, swarm, or other group, damage is applied to one individual at a time, with any surplus carrying over to the next individual until all damage is applied. Thus, a tank driven into a swarm of insectoids with a Death Rating of 46, doing 106 points of Damage, would kill two of the creatures and leave a third injured. Ramming a vehicle stops the attacking vehicle. Ramming a non-vehicle slows the vehicle by the Damage done in yards per round. In the case of our tank, with its Speed Step of 12, the impact would slow it from 107 yards per round to 1 yard per round. The vehicle pilot of course can spend their next action to bring the vehicle back up to speed.
Passengers: The number of human-sized people that can comfortably be carried by the vehicle. Trolls effectively count as two people for purposes of this statistic.
Cargo: The number of pounds and cubic feet of freight the vehicle can carry, in addition to its passenger complement (if any). For using passenger space as cargo space, assume 250 pounds and five cubic feet per person. This may be expressed as towing capacity in tonnage, for example in the case of locomotives, which are not outfitted with cargo space themselves.
Crew: The number of people required with the Crew Skill in order to operate the vehicle.
Damage: Vehicles have two Damage Ratings, Disabled and Destroyed, corresponding to the Unconsciousness and Death Ratings of people. Vehicles also have a Critical Threshold, corresponding to the Wound Threshold. When a vehicle reaches its Disabled Rating in damage taken, it can no longer move. When it reaches its Destroyed Rating, it can no longer be repaired, and is only useful as spare parts and scrap. Each Critical Hit done to a vehicle reduces its Speed, Maneuverability, and Armor by one point each, and inflicts the Damage taken to one of the Crew as an armor-defeating hit. If Speed is reduced to zero, the vehicle halts. If Maneuverability is reduced to zero, the vehicle cannot change course. If the Crew are all killed, the vehicle is effectively Disabled.
Now, we've had to make a few decisions. One of those was to go ahead and use the word "tank" to describe an armored vehicle carrying weaponry into battle. The word originally came from the cover story, that these vehicles were carrying water to the troops, and thus were "tanks", or mobile water storage units. While they do carry water, it's for the engine, not for distribution. Let's hear from an in-game source about armored vehicles in general, and tanks in specific.
A far cry from the first armored tractor, today's modern steam tanks carry substantial firepower, protect their crew while allowing rapid egress in case of structural or mechanical failure, and provide considerable maneuverability and towing capacity. The related assault carriers allow rapid insertion of shock troops into hostile environments, with armor to keep the troops safe until deployment and machine guns to keep enemy forces at bay. The British Army has also fielded armored cargo vehicles, for delivery of supplies into active battle zones, and command carriers, so that senior officers can direct the flow of battle from close quarters without being an easy target for the enemy. All of these as a rule feature independently driven treads, armor plating across the underside as well as around the sides and over the top, and some form of defensive weaponry to keep infantry from getting close enough to toss a Molotov or a grenade.
And now for some game statistics.

“Gordon” Class Light Tank
Cost: £classified
Fuel Charge: 7d
Availability: Very Rare
Speed: 13
Maneuverability: 6
Armor: 14
Armament: LMG fixed mounts port/starboard, ammunition lockers for each with 1000 round capacity. Single 7pdr cannon in turret mount, breech loading with 30 rounds each ball and canister. Optional flamethrower can be paired with 7pdr, but fuel supply line from aft tank has a high chance of leakage and subsequent loss of vehicle and crew.
Ramming: 16
Passengers: None
Cargo: 2 tons (towing capacity)
Crew: 5 (Driver, commander/turret gunner, mechanic/stoker, 2 LMG gunners)
Damage:
Disabled: 106
Destroyed: 125
Critical Threshold: 29
The Gordie was designed to serve as a primary front-line unit, ideally traveling in pairs or threes with screening infantry, able to engage the enemy with heavy firepower and relative impunity. Thus far, it has seen only light service as such, with most generals treating it as a self-powered and highly mobile cannon. Kept to the rear with the artillery, the Gordie has not been given a chance to prove itself in a decisive engagement. The tanks deployed to the Gruv were hastily outfitted with flamethrowers in an attempt to bring a more effective weapon to bear against the Samsut undead. Poor design in the retrofit has led to leakage in the fuel line running from the supply tank in the aft compartment of the vehicle to the weapon barrel in the turret, and in a few occasions, severing of the fuel line when the turret was rotated. In the latter instances, the spray of fuel into the interior of the vehicle led to the immolation of the crew and the loss of the tank when the ammunition lockers exploded. A better design is supposedly under development. In the meantime, barring direct orders from the high command to deploy the Gordie to the front, it remains in a support capacity instead of directly contacting the enemy.
So our tank moves pretty well for something that large and heavy, with a speed of 121 yards per round or 41.3 miles per hour. It's not exactly cheap to operate, comparatively, but coke is still cheap fuel at this point in the game world, so the Brits can afford to go through a lot of it. With a Maneuverability of 6, it's fairly agile, the reversible and independently powered treads giving it a tight turning radius for something its size. Its Armor is pretty good, although heavier tanks carry more, and its superstructure can take a lot of punishment before it breaks. Now if they could just fix that problem with the flamethrower, and convince the field generals that this is a front line unit, not self-propelled artillery to be kept to the rear.
Andrew Ragland
Line Developer, 1879

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