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A high action, modern cyberpunk tabletop roleplaying game set in a dystopian San Francisco
A high action, modern cyberpunk tabletop roleplaying game set in a dystopian San Francisco
3,194 backers pledged £143,738 to help bring this project to life.

How do guns work?

Posted by Dragon Turtle Games (Creator)

We just hit our £50000 stretch goal yesterday to unlock The Neon City | Tokyo 2185 City Sourcebook, and we're already over £55000! Seriously guys, you're all amazing! Keep on sharing and supporting the campaign and we'll arrive at Manhattan in no time at all!

Every day we've been getting messages, emails, and comments from people just as hyped as we are about Carbon 2185! A lot of you cyberpunks are very curious about one topic in particular: 


Gun combat in Carbon 2185 follows our mantra that we use throughout the entire system. These are: Ease of use, Simple & Streamlined, Familiarity, and finally Cinematic Feel.

Unlike many other cyberpunk games, we haven't attempted to be a realistic gun combat simulator anymore than Dungeons & Dragons is a realistic medieval combat simulator. There's no need for that because there are already many other cyberpunk systems that do a great job of offering a complicated in depth, and realistic combat simulation!

We've aimed for a system like that in Dungeons & Dragons, in Pathfinder, and in Starfinder. It's intuitive, simple, and very familiar to people who have played those games.

A modified, and a standard KHMA Heavy Pistol by Khan-Maezawa Industries
A modified, and a standard KHMA Heavy Pistol by Khan-Maezawa Industries

Combat Walkthrough

Let's walk through a simple combat encounter between one player character; a cyberpunk looking for the street rat who killed his father, and one enemy; the aforementioned homicidal street rat. Both armed with unmodified or upgraded Heavy Pistols.

Both characters roll Initiative, and add any relevant modifiers, to determine who acts first.

In this case, the street rat has rolled higher (including modifiers) than the cyberpunk, so he acts first.

The Street Rat's turn.

The street rat recognises the cyberpunk and uses his movement to dive behind a dumpster, granting himself full cover. He then uses his standard action to make an attack. In this case, he decides to blindfire towards the cyberpunk. Which means that he shoots over, or around his source of cover, without looking.

To make this attack, he rolls 1d20 and adds any relevant modifiers, such as Proficiency and his Dexterity modifier.

Because he is blindfiring he has disadvantage on the attack, so he does the above step twice, and takes the lower of the two results.

The result of the attack roll is compared to the armor class of the cyberpunk. This time the result is lower than the target's armor class (AC) so the attack misses.

The Cyberpunk's turn.

Angry at his father's killer, the cyberpunk uses his movement to sprint up past the street rat's cover, leaving the street rat fully exposed. 

The cyberpunk then takes a shot at the street rat, who is no longer in cover.

To do this, the cyberpunk rolls 1d20 and adds any relevant modifiers.

The result of the attack roll plus modifiers is higher than the street rat's armor class so the attack hits the target.

A standard issue Heavy Pistol deals 2d6 points of ballistic damage on a hit, so the cyberpunk rolls 2d6 and combines the results of both dice. This time the shot deals 9 points of ballistic damage.

The Street Rat is wearing armor that has a damage reduction of 2 points against any ballistic damage, so he takes 7 points of damage, which is taken from his current hit points. In this case, this reduces the street rat to 0 hit points, which means he is killed outright, and the cyberpunk has avenged his father. Time to flee the scene.

Automatic Weapons

Automatic Weapons such as SMGs and Assault Rifles have two firing styles. The standard firing style, which focuses the entire attack on one target, and works the same way as above, and a second Spray firing style in which the attacker sprays a cone of bullets. 

When using the Spray style, the attack can hit multiple targets within the cone (the size of which is determined by the gun). This attack works a little differently. Instead of the attacker rolling against the target's AC, each target within the cone has to make a successful reflex saving throw to avoid being hitby the spray of bullets. This attack style deals less damage to each target than the standard firing style as the target is not hit by the entire burst of bullets, but rather by a fraction of the burst.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Brian Tait on

      Heres my take on aimed shot: Using a bonus action you may gain the benefit of one sighting device. You may not move more than half your movement.

      Some sample sighting devices:
      Standard Ranged Scope: Shots from long range are not at disadvantage.

      Night Vision Scope: may fire in darkness without disadvantage

      Movement Detection: Enemy target cannot use the hide action against you, unless they have total cover. one concern is the standard 5e phb/dmg rules work well for a one off they have enough interest for a full time campaign...ot seems like even fighter melee may be more interesting than firearm combat.

    2. Netobvious

      @LucasBuergi, the very first 2d20 game, Mutant Chronicles, uses that same reloads expenditure mechanic. It was designed by Jay Little, who also designed the Star Wars Edge of the Empire game system.

    3. Lukas Buergi

      Infinity's rule is as follows: Some weapons have special rules which mean that every shot will use up one of the reloads carried. But for most weapons, you never actually need to reload. They do however have another attribute called Burst. Using burst mode allows you to spend reloads up to the burst attribute (usually that will be 1 or 2). Each reload you use that way gives you an extra die on your hit check and increases base damage by one.
      The "no running out of ammo unless you crit" is a rule used in Edge of the Empire, for example. Though the GM may decide to use any despair or the respective amount of threat rolls on the dice for other things instead.

      As for autofire and amount of bullets used: As I mentioned prior, if it's supposed to cover an area of any size clearly bigger than a human body, you'll pretty much need a full magazin (and it's magazin, not clip, no matter what the SR rules say ;) ) to reasonably do so.

    4. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      @matthew I player a ranger for several years so I am ready to count ammo. The problem could be in autofire mode but if you are clear about how many times you can use autofire per clip(or belt) everything is ok.

    5. Missing avatar

      Matthew Jorgenson on

      @Miguel kind of. I was thinking more about other games approaches to firearm ammunition. Some use a simple “crit fail means gun’s out of ammo and you have to reload.” IIRC Infinity RPG uses a “reload” mechanic in that you carry some # of reloads (clips) and you use those to power certain functions or boosted capabilities. Or was that Eaper Genesis’s rule...??? 🤔

    6. Missing avatar

      daquack on

      I fully expect to see mono Blade options for the stealth ninja of death as a playable option although in all of the shadowrun games I’ve run or played in since I started in the 90’s I’ve never once had a blade oriented player in the group.

      Sure they might carry knives or swords but to often defaulted to using silenced weapons instead.

    7. Dragon Turtle Games 6-time creator on

      We use very much the same melee rules as 5e with some minor changes. We'll reveal a list of melee weapons during the campaign.
      Some subclasses are melee focused such as the Enforcer Blademaster

    8. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      I guess that @Mathew is referring to the consumable's dice mechanics in some OSR games.

    9. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      And we are skipping melee. I guess that it is 5e plug and play.

    10. Dragon Turtle Games 6-time creator on

      Phergus summed up the thinking behind the damage output, and the reason they're refereed to as styles in this update. Please be aware that certain terminology may change during production as we are still to go through several editorial revisions. There will be a maximum number of targets in each cone.
      We are planning on some auto only guns, don't worry about that.
      @Matthew yeah we track bullets, and not all bullets fit all guns. Money management plays a large part in the game RAW
      @Lukas People are super passionate about Carbon, and we love that! We're even more excited than you guys!

    11. Missing avatar

      Matthew Jorgenson on

      Will the game be counting bullets or is amount of ammo tracked by a more streamlined nebulous mechanic?

    12. Lukas Buergi

      I would agree with Miguel there about the firing modes. Though I could see there being an SMG with only auto mode, even if it is by modification.

      And I can guess we can safely say that people are passionate about their guns. But then truth be told, they are usually just passionate in general about the armament of their characters. ;)

    13. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      Automatic Rifles and SMG should have selectable fire modes indeed. HMG and LMG auto only.

    14. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      @Creator You got PM somewhere with the details. I renamed the HB subclass and detailed the features of the archetype as we are using it. In total disclosure I am running a lvl 10 character. Aimed Shot is explained. Hope it helps.

    15. Lukas Buergi

      My thoughts about aiming would be to allow none or only very slight movement and only doing it on single attacks. Then giving an advantage on the hit roll. It seems enough to me.
      Using a scope would enable you to make attacks at long range without disadvantage. But give you a disadvantage on very short range (since there's no point-blank range in 5e anymore, I'm not sure how to handle this). I've tried using a scope at only a few metres and it becomes a lot slower than with classic sights on that short a distance.
      Definitely in favour of "firing mode" instead of "firing style"! Also I would propose for at least some automatic weapons, especially rifles, having a single fire mode as well.

    16. Phergus on

      So, if I understand correctly, the two "styles" would both use the same amount of ammunition it's just that in standard firing style all rounds would hit (or not) the target and in spray style any target in the cone might get hit by 1 of the rounds. Would there be a max number of targets that could be hit in spray style?

      And please don't use "style" in the rules. It conjures up images of idiots holding pistols sideways. Perhaps use "mode" instead?

    17. Missing avatar

      daquack on

      Other option could be aim allows double proficiency bonus. But advantage is easier

    18. Missing avatar

      daquack on

      I would say give up movement to aim. Single fire only gain advantage. Use a scope removes disadvantage for long ranges

      Sure it makes guns more dangerous. But it also makes the characters think more. The great thing about 5th ed is its simplicity. Things like adding dr and stuff just slow the game down.

      Want to lower damage potential? Allow dodge rolls against shots as long as player isn’t surprised.

    19. TaisonMor

      Would an aimed shot skill work by just giving advantage? Perhaps at the cost of giving advantage to anyone attacking you since you are taking the time to hold still and focus your shot?

    20. Netobvious

      Very nice and follows the style of Starfinder combat. However, the run by the Cyberpunk against the Street Rat would to me provoke an attack of opportunity during that run into the open ground. Fortunately, the Street Rat already took a shooting action, so this could be him reloading, so unable to take that attack of opportunity.
      Still a nice combat system so far. :-)

    21. Missing avatar

      daquack on

      Or chunky salsa

    22. Missing avatar

      daquack on

      Time to stock on armor piercing ammo then

      Interesting that ya doing think being easier to hit is penalty enough. Will have to wait to play a few combat scenes to figure it out

      How are the stealth mechanics? Most of the shadowrun I’ve run has been more about planning and sneaking and breaking into things than pure combat. Mostly because in shadowrun grenades indoors leads to red paste scenarios

    23. Dragon Turtle Games 6-time creator on

      @daquack You're right, armor serves two very important purposes!
      Not everyone has armor, and those that don't, die very quickly when they're shot!
      From a purely mechanical standpoint, the AC is so that all our maths and the chances of being hit are nice and balanced, and the damage reduction is to allow us to make guns more lethal to regular, unarmored people without killing player characters or enemies in one hit.

    24. Missing avatar

      daquack on

      Finding a *c h I n k* or gap in the armor. No insult intended

    25. Missing avatar

      daquack on

      Re reading this armor has two benefits. The first is armor class boost means your harder to hit. Then a dr reduction or damage soak as well.

      Is that really needed as overcoming the armor class is the equivalent of finding a chink in the armor and overcoming the dex based dodging.

      Unless you include hit locations and determine if the armor covers that location or not it seems to be a bit off

    26. Dragon Turtle Games 6-time creator on

      @Miguel Send us a message with all the details and we'll test it out as an Enforcer Subclass feature!

    27. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      And you can have an aimshot with a shotgun with slugs but range is limited.

    28. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      Aim shot is not compatible with autofire, sprays since recoil with mess it up.

    29. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      @Creator I commented about aimshot in the general comment area. Is more bias to the to hit side than the damage side. You could restrict it to a specific class like the ranger or fighter equivalent. I use it with an HB archetype and is not OP as I explained you sacrifice your movement too. Give it a try.

    30. Dragon Turtle Games 6-time creator on

      @Miguel We tested several versions of an aimed shot, and we just couldn't find a way to make it work with bounded accuracy without making firearms too deadly and unbalanced. We're very happy with the way gun combat flows at the moment, but it is something we are still considering. There is still some time before we enter our final playtest, so it could still potentially make it into the final game

    31. Miguel Warlock Patreon

      @Webmaster (Creator) Spray attack is more in line with your description of a blind attack with cover an burst or full auto attack is more in line to your Spray attack area of effect.

      Is there any aim shot or sniper like attack?

    32. Missing avatar

      daquack on

      So close to they way we adapted our game but slightly less crunchy

    33. Dragon Turtle Games 6-time creator on

      We had intended to also cover Hit Points in this update, but it got too long! They will come tomorrow!