Heavy Gear / Silhouette - Tactical combat too deadly?

edited July 2012 in Play Advice

I've recently started GMing a Heavy Gear (2e) campaign. I really like the Silhouette system, and the overall "grittiness" of Heavy Gear, but find that the tactical rules aren't designed for a real story campaign; wargaming treats all units as potentially expendable, whereas in a character-driven RPG, it's assumed that the PCs will *usually* be able to survive encounters.

I'm wondering if anyone else has come across this problem in their Heavy Gear/DP9/Silhouette campaigns and what they've done about it. I've been thinking about some basic mods and house rules that would make the tactical system less deadly, but any play-tested advice would be greatly appreciated.



  • One thing you could try is making it so that whenever a character would die, instead they just become "scarred" and you can apply either a small permanent or large temporary penalty (or both). You could even spin this into more story options if you were willing to get a bit more abstract with your "scars" (like, the character is taken out and his scar is that the battle causes collateral damage killing someone he loves, or whatever).
  • Who let this guy in here?
  • edited July 2012
    Are there any kind of 'luck points' or similar that allow for reduction of damage or rerolls? You could give the players more of those than they'd normally have.
    Or you could just plain not treat 'death' as a big deal, just tend to assume they survive unless everyone gets taken out.

    Wait a sec, I actually forgot I *have* a copy of Heavy Gear 2e, I may post later with some more ideas.

    Oh, and welcome to the forums. :D
  • edited July 2012
    I think the general idea is done really well with Ry's "E6" system for D&D. I'd link to the discussions here but am having a tough time with the internal search engine.

    Wiki Description

    There is a system called Conviction, and a thing called the "Death Flag". If the player doesn't think the battle is worth dying in, they don't have to raise their Death Flag. But, if they do, they're immediately rewarded but know that death is now on the line. It can't be immediately lowered, so it's not easily spammable, and can lead to some tragic deaths as well.
  • Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm intrigued by the "conviction" system, which really seems to give players their due agency. That said, it's a little early in the campaign to start introducing such a mechanic.

    I've got some mods in mind, and I'm going to play test them tonight with the group. I'll let you know how it goes.
  • Maybe the first big battle will tell you who the real PCs are, and then you can start with that system?

    That'd be cool, I think.
  • edited July 2012
    When I used to play Heavy Gear (many moons ago) we always treated players as having plot immunity to crew killing hits or overkill results. The Gear is rendered useless but the character while wounded lives, typically we used a pseudo attack to see how badly they were wounded from whatever penetrated the armor or exploding controls (I think we used a single die attack at half the weapon multiplier, treated as personnel scale, without a defensive roll - but it may have been something different). Then they can crawl out of their gear and need to be recovered or get captured, or trapped within the wreckage waiting for the winners to come cut them free. That turned any crew kill result into a mini story driven tactical objective where they needed to evac the wounded pilot or couldn't retreat without leaving a man behind to be captured. That produced serious enough injuries that it wasn't treated as if there was no threat but also gave us a consistent set of characters.

    An alternate approach would be to make them pay a karma(?) point to reduce a crew kill result to a heavy injury or two to reduce it to a light injury. That gives a moderately painful cost to getting your Gear blown apart with you in it since those are bought with xp and lets the wise who retreat advance a little faster.
  • I loved this game years ago when I played it. One thing we always did, since it is so heavily influenced by anime, was to treat "death" as they treat it in anime. So you are dead? That just means the camera thinks you are dead. There is always some cute farm girl that finds your broken body and nurses you back to health, creating drama and complications in the process. You of course come stumbling your way back in when everyone least expects it.
  • @Mark_Causey
    Wow... That Conviction system is really cool. And that stunt system is uber super cool.
    Thanks for the link!

    As to your last post... Are we talking about a gauntlet, meat-grinder as seen in DCC? If so, I think that is a fantastic idea, too. :)
  • In the silcore books (heavy gear 3) they had genre points which let you do things like reroll and get more dice. One thing they did was reduce the level of a hit you took. So death would be a heavy wound, heavy wound be a light wound etc.
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