How much damage is too much damage?

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 2, 2019 - 9:37am

How much damage is too much damage?

I ask that question of myself as I am progressing with the stories of “Things that go boom!” This is especially true when I am trying to design statistics for a blast suit that can protect demolition specialists when they go to disarm unexploded ordnance.

How much damage should large conventional bombs actually do? How would they compare to other, preexisting weapons in the game?

Joe Cabadas
Comments:

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 2, 2019 - 9:39am

Let’s look at what is available for Knight Hawks.

In an earlier story, thanks to feedback from Tom Stephens and others, it was decided that two Stamina Points equals 1 structure point and 250 structure points would equal 1 Knight Hawks hull point.

Or, looking at it the other way:

1 Hull Point = 250 Structure Points = 500 Stamina Points

At least with this type of formula, you actually have a chance to do some damage to a grounded spacecraft, like the Eleanor Moraes, with a weapon such as a heavy laser.

If a hull point was 500 Structure Points or 1,000 Structure Points, you could zap it with normal weapons for quite a long time before you did more than scratch it.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 2, 2019 - 11:32am

So, let’s look at the 15 kg and 30 kg bombs. These are based on preexisting weapons introduced into the game by Dragon Magazine. Originally the “light” bomb did 25d10 and the “heavy” bomb did 50d10. Not too bad for bombs that aren’t very large. But that’s a lot of die rolling.

I revised the damage for both bombs, along with providing more warheads. A 15 kg standard explosive warhead would do 10d10+50 points while a 30 kg standard explosive bomb would do 20d10+100 points.

Bombs normally have 30-40 percent of their weight taken up by the warhead… though this isn’t true with MOABs or gas bombs…

What happens with larger bombs?

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 2, 2019 - 11:51am

Let’s create a 100 kg explosive bomb with a 40 kg warhead. If each kilogram of explosive did just 15 points of damage, that would be 600 points, right? So let’s stay the 100 kg standard explosive bomb does 20d10 + 600 points.

OK, not too unreasonable… yet.

A 500 kg bomb… 20d10 + 3,000 points…. Hmm….

A 1,000 kg bomb… a 400 kg warhead… say 20d10 + 6,000?

The 10,000 kg Grand Slam, which is a World War II bomb, has 5,000 kg of cast iron casing so it can penetrate deep into the ground and a 5,000 kg warhead. So, damage-wise, would it do 20d10 + 75,000 points? While this is one of the largest conventional bombs ever used, and it does a lot of damage, it isn’t a nuclear warhead.

How does the Grand Slam, as presented so far, stack up to preexisting Star Frontiers weapons?

Let’s look at Knight Hawks.

The torpedo, which has a nuclear weapon, does 4d10 hull points of damage. That’s a range of 4-40 HP.

With 1 Hull Point = 500 STA points.

So a nuke, even if it is a tactical nuclear weapon, does 2,000-20,000 Stamina Points or 1,000-10,000 Structure Points.

The Fusion Bomb, which is presented in a Dragon Magazine article to expand the range of Knight Hawks weapons, does 5d10 HP. That is a range of 2,500-25,000 Stamina Points or 1,250-12,500 structure points.

The Grand Slam is not going to do more damage than a fusion bomb, even if it is a small fusion bomb.

It would seem, at some point, the more explosive material you have might just expand the blast area rather than increase the damage? Is that reasonable?

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 2, 2019 - 11:35am
A picture of the Grand Slam bomb.


Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 2, 2019 - 6:50pm
I decided to review the Twilight 2000 to see how it handles damage from large weapons. The GDW and SF systems are not the same -- Tw2K uses the d6 system -- but it offers some ideas!

Weapons with a damage multiplier instead of a base damage number inflict damage equal to 4D6 times their multiplier at close range, 3D6 times their multiplier at medium range, 2D6 times their multiplier at long range, and 1 D6 times their multiplier at extreme range.

Some weapons with a damage multiplier have their multiplier followed by the letter “C”. These weapons Inflict constant damage. That is, the amount of damage they inflict does not decline with range. They will inflict 4D6 times their damage multiplier at all ranges.

For example, a 25mm armor piercing incendiary (API) round has a damage multiplier of x 5. At close range it would do 4D6 x 5 hits of damage. At medium range it would do 3D6 x 5 hits of damage. At long range it would do 2D6 x 5 hits of damage. At extreme range it would do 1 D6 x 5 hits of damage. The high explosive (HE) round for the same gun has a damage multiplier of x SC, and so does 4D6 x 5 hits of damage at all ranges.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 2, 2019 - 6:52pm
I think I can do something with a Tw2K conversion and not have boms that do a million points of damage. Of course, the rules I have don't cover aerial combat and dropped bombs.
Joe Cabadas

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 2, 2019 - 9:50pm
Also remember that bombs and nuclear explosions do more damage on the surface of a planet than in space due to the concussive shock wave that propogates out through the air.  That doesn't happen in space.  I don't remember what the multiplier is but IIRC it's greater than 5 so that same torpedo that did 1-10 thousand SP in space might do 5-50 thousand or even 10-100 thousand if detonated on the surface of a planet.

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jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 3, 2019 - 4:19am
Thing to remember is that at its core SF is a character game, yeah sure it has a war game element but at its core it is a character game. Thus anyting that annilates the character in a second and does not allow the player to respond is essentially, in my opinion, to much damage.

That said, you occassionally have players that do stupid things, who dont get the hint from the game master asking, "Are you sure?" and in those cases too much damage is actually a teaching tool.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 9:48am
jedion357 wrote:
Thing to remember is that at its core SF is a character game, yeah sure it has a war game element but at its core it is a character game. Thus anyting that annilates the character in a second and does not allow the player to respond is essentially, in my opinion, to much damage.

That said, you occassionally have players that do stupid things, who dont get the hint from the game master asking, "Are you sure?" and in those cases too much damage is actually a teaching tool.
 

Definitely.

The point of these stories is just to expand the variety of options that referee and players have to cause mayhenm or, perhaps, be there to pick up the pieces after the mayhem has been caused.

One of the responses to my inquiry on this topic was from Dan Harlan on the Facebook page:

"As for explosive damage, I'll just say that it should not be linear to ordinance mass. Physics doesn't generally work that way."

Harlan says he has experience with explosives and his statement is very close to what I've been reading about explosions.



Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 9:50am
So, just doubling the amount of explosive will not simply double the damage caused... Granted, this runs counter to the Zebs' missile warheads or the "small" and "large" bombs from "Tanks a lot!"

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 3:54pm
I'm going to throw out a few ideas here. It's mostly spitballing half-baked ideas so the sentences may not be fully coherent to someone else.

Damage from bombs...

It would depend on the size of the bomb and it's intended purpose.

The 15 kg frag bomb from :Tanks a lot!": the purpose seems to be anti-personnel, anti-standard robot, anti-light vehicle...

The 30 kg frag bomb: more anti-lightly armored vehicle, anti-robot, and for use against light buildings.

Both seem to be very, very small compared to current bomb standards. 

General purpose (GP) bombs between 100-1,000 kg. The 1,000 kg would be one of the largest in any military's arsenal.

Instead of damage in the 100s or 1,000s of points, these bombs are intended to be lethal over their various areas of effect... 

I would use this chart to help determine the damage the different size bombs cause...

Structural Damage Capacity Table

--------------Structure Points--------------

25+d10

50+2d10

100+d100

200+2d100

300+3d100 or more

Heavy Door

Fortified Door

Safe

Vault

Secure Vault

Sign Post

Freeway Divider

Billboard Tower

Freeway Bridge Support

Major Structural Support Column

Interior Wall

Exterior Wall

Reinforced Wall

Fortified Wall

Armored Wall

Light Flooring

Reinforced Flooring

Heavy-Duty Flooring

Avg. Building Foundation

Armored Foundation

 

 

Small Earthen Dam

Earthen Dike

Concrete Dam


Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 4:01pm
The 100 kg bomb... would be made to breach reinforced walls... maximum damage would be a little over 200 structure points... based on previous SF charts, instead of 2 STA = 1 SP, bombs do the same damage to structures as to people... so it would be 400 structure points and 400 STA.

Using the Tw2K damage multiplier idea...

Standard Explosive warhead: 8d10 x 5 = max damage about 400 points, average damage: about 200 points...

HE Explosive, which is anti-personnel: 10d10 x 5 = max damage about 500 points, average damage: about 250 points...
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 4:08pm
This one is based on a real bomb... as was the 100 kg...

200 Kg Bomb. This class of bombs has a 90 kilogram warhead. This bomb is capable of forming a crater that is 15 meters wide and 11 meters deep. It can penetrate up to 38 centimeters of metal or 3.4 meters of concrete, depending on the height from which it is dropped. It can cause lethal fragmentation out to a radius of 370 meters.


So it is made to penetrate a fortified wall to an armored wall... let's say at least 500 points of damage...

Standard explosive: 12d10 x 5 = max damage: 700... avg. dmg 350... 

High explosive: 15d10 x 5 = max damage: 750.Average damage: 375... 




Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 4:11pm
This is based on another real world bomb:

500 Kg Bomb. One of the most common bombs, it has 200 kilograms of explosive. The actual weight varies depending on the fuse options and fin configuration. The standard explosive bomb is capable of forming a crater that is 20 meters wide and 12 meters deep. Depending upon the height from which it is dropped, the bomb can penetrate up to 40 centimeters of metal or 4 meters of concrete. Despite being larger than the 200kg bomb, its blast area, where it causes lethal fragmentation damage, is very similar.

Standard explosive: 18d10 x 5

High Explosive: 20d10 x 5

Perhaps give them both a +25 or +50 for damage?

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 4:17pm

1,000 Kg Bomb. This is one of the largest bombs in the Landfleet’s arsenal. It has a 450 kilogram warhead, typically high explosive, HEAT, or an e-bomb.

5,400 Kg “Tallboy” Bomb. This weapon was developed on the human’s home planet during a conflict called World War II. It had 2,400 kilograms of explosive filling. Known as an “earthquake” or “bunker buster” bomb, it was used against massive and hardened structures that conventional bombs had proven ineffective at destroying.

At 6.4 meters in length, it was designed to be dropped from an altitude of 5,500 meters while the aircraft was traveling at 270 kilometers per hour. It struck after reaching speeds of approximately 1,200 kph and could penetrate about 5 meters of concrete. The bomb made a crater that was 24 meters deep and 30 meters across. The earthquake damage caused by these bombs often made it uneconomical to repair any buried bunkers.

6,800 Kg “DaisyCutter” Bomb. This bomb earned its nickname during the Vietnam war for being able to clear jungle areas, turning them into helicopter landing zones. It uses a proximity fuze to detonate a few meters above the ground. During theAfghanistan War, it was used as an anti-personnel weapon. Some 2.6 meters in length and 1.4 meters in diameter, it was filled with 5,700 kilograms of GSX Slurry (ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder and polystyrene). It’s blast radius has been reported to be between 100-300 meters.

10,000 Kg “Grand Slam” Bomb. This is another ancient weapon was used during World War II on Earth by the British RAF. Also nicknamed the “Ten Ton Tess,” about half of its weight from the cast iron casing. It was designed to penetrate up to 40 meters in the ground or into 20 meters of concrete before exploding.

Produced between 1944-45, some 99 Grand Slams were built and 42 were used against hardened targets such as submarine pens, railway bridges, costal batteries and viaducts that had survived previous attacks by Tallboy bombs. With 6.5 tons TNT equivalent, it caused mini earthquakes. The explosion could form a camouflet (cavern) while shifting ground that undermined a target’s foundation.

The underground explosion could shake and weaken concrete structures up to 50 meters away. One of the unused Grand Slams was put on display at the RAF Scrampton until 1958 when it was discovered to contain live explosive. It was taken elsewhere to be detonated safely,

“Some safety distance calculations were done, however, about the effect of a Grand Slam detonating at ground level in the open. Apart from the entire RAF Station, most of the northern part of the City of Lincoln (nearly 9 kilometers away), including Lincoln Cathedral, which dates back to 1250, would have been flattened,” noted a story from a World War II website called PeoplesMosquito.org.

Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) Bomb. One of the largest conventional bombs ever made, the GBU-43 weighs about 10 metric tons and contains 8,164 kilograms of explosives. This bomb does not penetrate into the ground. When used, its explosive air blast is the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT. It has a blast radius of a mile wide.  So massive – it is 9 meters long and 103 centimeters in diameter – it had to be pushed out of the back of a C-130 cargo plane rather than delivered by a bomber. The reported cost of the weapon in the mid-2000s was $170,000.

Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 4:21pm
1000 kb bomb: (20d10 x 5) + 100

Tallboy bomb: (20d10 x 5) + 250

Daisy Cutter: 16d10 x 5... this has a wide primary blast area! It is meant to mow down trees and shrubs, animals, people, light buildings, etc. but not for hardened targets.

Grand Slam: (20d10 x 5) + 400 (or 500)... a bunker buster. Smaller underground radius than if one was set off at the surface.

MOAB: (20d10 x 5) + 250... large airblast bomb, covers a wide area with its damage potential.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 4:23pm
Bombs and numbers of dice...

When it comes to vehicle combat, Star Frontiers usually relies on the number of dice to determine what happens when you roll on the vehicle damage tables. 

With some of the larger bombs, when you bypass straight rolling, it would impact rolls on the vehicle damage chart... I will need to provide a "dice rating" for that purpose.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 3, 2019 - 4:25pm
OK. I think I have some ideas I can put into action. This should allow me to design a proper blast suit. It probably wouldn't do much good against the real huge bombs, but would be more geared toward protecting a demolition specialist from the 1000 kg and less bombs.
Joe Cabadas

KRingway's picture
KRingway
October 3, 2019 - 11:48pm
The T:2K system is a good one. I ran games of T:2K as well as SF for many years and ended up incorporating bits from both in a homebrew system (a vehicle combat game with role-playing aspects). But (dice amount) + large number also works.

I still get a little perplexed about the whole dice rolling thing - me and my players always like rolling a lot of dice. The more the merrier! But I have read elsewhere about players who don't really like rolling dice at all, so maybe there's a halfway point to satisfy both sides. The multiplier in T:2K is a good way to go. An option we used in the aforementioned hombrew game was to multiply one damage dice by another, i.e. 2d10 x 1d4, but that might also not appeal to the 'minimal dice rolling' players.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 4, 2019 - 3:15am
KRingway wrote:
The T:2K system is a good one. I ran games of T:2K as well as SF for many years and ended up incorporating bits from both in a homebrew system (a vehicle combat game with role-playing aspects). But (dice amount) + large number also works.

I still get a little perplexed about the whole dice rolling thing - me and my players always like rolling a lot of dice. The more the merrier! But I have read elsewhere about players who don't really like rolling dice at all, so maybe there's a halfway point to satisfy both sides. The multiplier in T:2K is a good way to go. An option we used in the aforementioned hombrew game was to multiply one damage dice by another, i.e. 2d10 x 1d4, but that might also not appeal to the 'minimal dice rolling' players.
 

Yes, I like rolling dice too. But how many 10-sided dice can one really have on hand? If it was a d6 it would be much easier.

The variable multiplier you mention -- "i.e. 2d10 x 1d4" -- might be good for some types of weapons too!

Thanks.
Joe Cabadas

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 4, 2019 - 9:48am
JCab747 wrote:
How much damage should large conventional bombs actually do? How would they compare to other, preexisting weapons in the game?

If it's in league with other canon weaponry, it should barely leave a scratch. The simple fact that the average unarmored being (STA:45) can survive a point blank 10 round full auto burst (5d10) from an automatic rifle is testament to this...
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

KRingway's picture
KRingway
October 4, 2019 - 10:07am
JCab747 wrote:
Yes, I like rolling dice too. But how many 10-sided dice can one really have on hand? If it was a d6 it would be much easier.

Given the proclivity of your average rpger for acquiring dice, I wouldn't say that's a problem. My old SF group must've had at least 50 d10s Laughing

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 4, 2019 - 11:30am
KRingway wrote:
JCab747 wrote:
Yes, I like rolling dice too. But how many 10-sided dice can one really have on hand? If it was a d6 it would be much easier.

Given the proclivity of your average rpger for acquiring dice, I wouldn't say that's a problem. My old SF group must've had at least 50 d10s Laughing
 

OK.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
October 4, 2019 - 11:35am
Shadow Shack wrote:
JCab747 wrote:
How much damage should large conventional bombs actually do? How would they compare to other, preexisting weapons in the game?

If it's in league with other canon weaponry, it should barely leave a scratch. The simple fact that the average unarmored being (STA:45) can survive a point blank 10 round full auto burst (5d10) from an automatic rifle is testament to this...
 

Foot in mouth

Ah, not the "Tanks a lot!" bombs...

Only two bombs are mentioned in the “Tanks a lot!” story and a follow-up story – “Tanks again!” – that appeared in the November 1985 issue of Dragon. They are the “light bomb” andthe “heavy bomb.” Both cause fragmentation explosive damage. The small bomb weighs in at 15 kilograms. Costing 500 Credits, it does 25d10 points of damage. The medium bomb weighs 30 kilograms and costs 1,000 Credits. It does 50d10 points of damage.

The original chart in "Tanks a lot!" listed the light bomb as costing 50 Credits and the heavy bomb was 100 Credits. The follow-up article corrected the prices for these weapons.

No blast radius is provided for either bomb. They both need to be mounted on bomb racks and have the same range brackets: PB 10, S 30, M 60, L 120, E 121+. The light bomb takes up one “space” – called a hardpoint (HP) here, for purposes of determining how many weapons a vehicle can carry – while the heavy bomb uses up 2 hardpoints.

It wasn’t until the April 1987 issue of Dragon magazine when TSR addressed some of the shortcomings of bombs. Bandy looked at them in his “Here Comes the Cavalry!” article.

“Bombs do damage of varying severity according to the distance an object is from them when they explode,” Bandy wrote. “The chance of a bomb hitting its target is equal to one-half of the bomber’s dexterity score, modified. In the event of a miss, use the Grenade Bounce Diagrams… The asterisk represents the target and the arrow represents the direction the bomber is travelling. The distance by which the bomb misses its target is dependent upon the altitude of the bomber…”

Bandy further noted that bombs explode “one turn after being dropped, giving the bomber that amount of time to vacate the blast radius. Failure to vacate the blast area results in damage to the bomber.”

In the “Cavalry” story, the light bomb has five different blast damage rings – extending out to 300 meters!While the heavy bomb has six blast rings, out to 400 meters.

Original Bomb Blast Radius and Damage Table

Distance from bomb in meters

Damage from Light Bomb

Damage from Heavy Bomb

0-20

25d10

50d10

21-50

20d10

40d10

51-100

15d10

30d10

101-200

10d10

20d10

201-300

5d10

10d10

301-400

--

5d10

400+

--

--


Joe Cabadas

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 4, 2019 - 1:41pm
I was speaking on behalf of the published rule books. While Dragon may have articles penned by TSR staff, I don't consider it canon...more like house rules by the authors if anything.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website