Houserules: Cover&Running Autohits + Skill Synergy

Just two (technically three) small tidbit rules this week. The first two has been in the planning for a while, while the synergy rule was born out of inspiration from tuesday’s first Black Hearts session and is unrelated to the other ones.

Rule: Cover translates to auto-hits after limits

Rather than gaining 2 or 4 dice, Cover would instead result in gaining autohits on your defense test, on top of your normal roll. So if you’re in Superior Cover, you’d gain 2 hits on top of your defense test, while in Good Cover you’d gain 1 hit. You’d still keep the “tie means through the barrier” rule though.

If you’re in Good Cover, you gain 2 extra dice right now. However, you actually get hit more easily because suddenly a tie is ALSO a hit. Granted it’s a hit that goes through the barrier, but that only means 1 damage less. So while yes, the hits all do a bit less average (due to 2/3 damage average less on a hit), you also get hit more often (1 dice difference in the advantage of the attacker), so is it really worth it? Superior Cover DOES grant an advantage of 1 die in the defender’s benefit, + at least 1 damage less on a hit average, however it’s rather expensive at a Simple Action.

Furthermore, there’s Limits. If the defender uses a Skill in their Defense, they suddenly face a Limit on their defense test. This means those 2 (or 4) extra dice might actually be wasted due to going beyond your limit.

By making Cover become autohits, Good Cover no longer ends up occasionally penalizing the person in Cover, and Superior Cover becomes much more powerful. This has as extra bonus that you can end up in far longer gunfights, which can greatly matter in games where a gunfight ends in mere seconds in-game.

Downside is you lose the flexibility that +2/+4 gives you, namely not working in multiples of 3.

Rule: Running translates to auto-hits after limits

This one is comparable to the previous rule. If you are Running, rather than losing 2 dice from your action-rolls you lose 1 hit (after the limit already has been applied) from your result instead. And if you’re targeting a Running character you also lose 1 hit.

The motivation here is significantly different though. With Cover the justifications are ‘Cover shouldn’t screw you over’ and ‘Defender’s Limit’, here it simply is the Attacker’s Limit. See, with Limits a character can end up in a scenario where they don’t mind dice penalties. Losing 3 dice might not actually result in an average of 1 hit lost, because of less odds that you lose hits to your limit.

A quick example: A character with a limit of 6 and 15 dice. With 15 dice he averages 4.67 hits (due to results above 6 hits being cut down to 6), with 12 dice he averages 3.91 instead. So the 3 dice less only cost 0.76 hit instead of 1.

Basically, the more restraining your limit becomes, the better off you are with penalties. This changes if you ALWAYS lose hits though. And by reducing the hits after the limit is applied, rather than beforehand, that is exactly what we get.

For example, let’s say someone fires a shotgun with 4 Accuracy at a running enemy. Normally he’d take a -2 for that, but if he hits 4+ hits he still is capped. If the defender rolls 3 hits the shot is a hit. If instead the attacker loses 1 hit AFTER the limit of 4 is applied, they’re left with 3 hits and suddenly they miss the defender. And if you’re running yourself while also attacking a running target…

The risk here is that low-Accuracy weapons end up less valuable against Running targets. On the other hand, by Running your enemies also take a penalty themselves. And your table might decide they indeed prefer low-Accuracy weapons to indeed have a hard time at running-like-hell targets.

Rule: Two skills can teamwork with each other

A teamwork test is normally when person A helps person B with the same skill. Person A rolls, and any hits are added to B’s roll. There is a limit, no matter how many helpers you have you can’t get more bonus dice than your skill rating. Each assistant does raise your limit unless they screw up.

Under this rule, a player can teamwork with themself, without the limit-bonus. Not on the same skill, of course, but on two related skills. For example, say your player has Parazoology but also Redmond Barrens as knowledge skills. Now they’re trying to identify the critter they’re tracking down based on these skills. Normally you’d just roll the best one, but both can contribute here. So instead the player would get to teamwork them, roll 1 and boost the other with the hits.

This isn’t totally new, there already are skills that work together in Core. There’s Impersonation that can boost Disguise, though that raises the threshold of the Disguise instead. You can also build a Disguise with a Disguise kit and gain a bonus on your Disguise Test from that. In SR4 there were programmable masks instead, where the programming test would give you bonus-dice on the disguise test.

SR5 already has the rule where a GM can go ‘okay, this skill is sorta related to the skill you’re missing and should roll, so you take a Default penalty of… let’s say 3 here… and can roll the skill you do have with that.’ This rule is simply an extra tool where they can go ‘y’know what, I’m not punishing you but rewarding you for having two skills that synergize here, so teamwork yourself with them’. And rather than having the GM ballpark a modifier, they can instead ballpark when this rule applies but with an actual mechanic to it.