One of the recurring themes amongst many milsim RPG players is an obsession over firearms. This can go from a simple enjoyment of playing an RPG with modern weaponry, to a truly fetishistic approach where the player(s) obsess over weapon stats, buy armaments magazines and books, and in extreme cases even have “character sheets” for their guns.
Here are, in my opinion, the top 5 RPGs for the firearms fetishist.
While the game lends itself to all sorts of games, it seems that most people play it much like Shadowrun – a game where the characters are black market / freelance hit teams / robbery squads. Paramilitary roleplaying in an NRA wonderland. And the game designers and fans acknowledge it with a huge selection of fancy high tech firearms. If the fact that almost every supplement for the game had new guns in it wasn’t enough, Solo of Fortune 2 included a whole pile of gunsmithing options to improve or modify a firearm in a hundred different ways to make it “unique” (read: better). But there’s more! A whole book was published just to compile the various guns from the various supplements and to add a SINGLE new gun to the mix. And the fans didn’t let it stop there. Just about every CyberPunk fan site has a pile of new guns for the game, often with pretty impressive illustrations (like the one at the top of this article). What amazes me is that all this obsession is over a game where the guns have pretty simple stats in the grand scheme of things.
Because, if there are games with simple gun rules, there will be games with detailed firearms. And Top Secret is definitely at this end of the spectrum. Every firearm has a Projectile Weapon Value ranging from the high teens to nearly 100, which is in turn added to your attack rolls before subtracting the range modifier for the range you are firing at. And of course each firearm has it’s own range modifiers, and shotguns even have different range modifiers (and damage modifiers) based on the choke the shotgun is set at (and for damage also modified by the size of the shot being used). Did I mention the one-second combat phases? Or the rules for reducing the to hit chance with every follow-up shot taken until the agent takes a second to stabilize the firearm in question? It’s all in the details.
If Top Secret had a rule for everything to make guns unique, Delta Force had a unique system of handling guns. To add a new gun to your Delta Force game, all you needed were the gun’s real world statistics. That’s what the game ran on. Clean, simple, and in reality incredibly detailed with an eye for the minutia that a real firearms fetishist loves.
Dark Heresy (Warhammer 40,000)
I don’t know how this happened, but somewhere along the way it seems that the authors of the various supplements for Dark Heresy realized they could quickly increase the word-count of every book by including a plethora of variants on the basic firearms introduced in the core rules. Why have an autogun when you could choose from a dozen different patterns of autoguns? Same for lasguns, stubbers and so on. Even with a game as young as Dark Heresy, you could make a few dozen characters today without worrying that any two of them would have remotely similar firearms. And to make it better you can specialize in skills that will “improve” your equipment (namely adorn it with Imperial logos and icons – with no game effect, but everyone in the Empire knows that a well-decorated gun has a valiant and skilled machine spirit within it that will make the gun better if used to righteous end).
Guns Guns Guns
Not actually a game, Guns Guns Guns is a firearms creation system written by Greg Porter of BTRC. It’s an impressive book of rules for designing a gun from the ground up – first starting with the actual cartridge to be fired, and then building up the gun around said cartridge. The rules are very detailed and work for guns from .22 caliber plinking pistols to battleship cannons. And of course there are conversion rules for using these guns with just about any system – from Fuzion to Action to CyberPunk to Twilight 2000 and onwards. The companion volume to the book (More Guns! – seriously, that’s the name) has a whole pile of firearms statted out using the system and then converted for every game that the conversion rules were included for – and it includes a few guns specific to each of the games being converted so you can see what your CyberPunk Minami 10 will be like in a GURPS game.
Special Mention goes out to Millenium’s End – the original techno-thriller RPG and the source of the original Ultramodern Firearms book. And an interesting footnote, based on that, is the d20 Modern RPG. The guns in that system are so simply statted that the vast majority of guns in a category have identical stats – which makes the Weapons Locker book from Wizards of the Coast vaguely amusing as it catalogs weapon after weapon with it’s own illustration and description, but with a statblock identical to the last four and the next four.
Do you have a game that scratches your firearm itch?