Shooting from a long distance isn’t easy, even with a mounted scope. If the barrel wavers by mere millimeters, the shot can go wide by many yards. Long-range shooters such as big-game hunters or snipers tend to fit their weapons with bipods. Most bipods actually bolt to the bottoms of rifles, and fold up beneath the front of the stocks. When the shooter is about to take his shot, he opens up the bipod and rests the weapon on a flat surface. This gives him a greater stability when lining up his shot. When used, a bipod reduces the penalty for firing at both medium and long range by one. A telescopic scope may further reduce these penalties accordingly. A bipod also grants the shooter stability when using autofire. Assume that the bipod can reduce a penalty by one when firing a burst from an automatic weapon. A shooter might also use a tripod on his weapon, though a tripod offers no appreciable difference from a bipod. Some rifles will not operate properly unless the bipods are deployed. The bipods still grant these weapons the appropriate bonuses to shoot.
Ear Protection Edit
Earmuffs or earplugs help to keep a character from going temporarily deaf from discharging a firearm. Characters using ear protection (which may come as earmuffs or earplugs) do not suffer from the penalties that a Storyteller may incur as a result of firing loud weapons. While a character is actually wearing the ear protection, however, she suffers a –2 penalty to all listening-related Wits + Composure rolls.
Gunsmithing Kit Edit
Guns get dirty. Pistols jam. Rifles need new stocks, sights and scopes. A character can use normal tools to handle these needs, but not easily. A gunsmithing kit (bore cleaners, Allen wrenches, calipers and so on) will allow a character to handle most weapon maintenance and modification with little issue. Cleaning, fixing or modifying any firearm requires an extended Dexterity + Crafts roll, with each roll equaling 15 minutes. The number of successes should be determined by the complexity of the task. Cleaning a barrel or replacing a revolver’s grip is easy and likely requires five successes. Replacing a whole barrel, or any other critical part of the weapon, might require 15 successes. Having a gunsmithing kit adds 2 bonus dice to the appropriate Crafts rolls. Without the kit, working on a gun may be more difficult, and the Storyteller may incur a –1 penalty.
Light Mount Edit
Also called a “tactical illuminator,” this device is essentially a flashlight made to be strapped or bolted onto a firearm. Light mounts are manufactured for just about every type of gun in existence. Most illuminators hang from beneath the weapon’s barrel, somewhat similar to a bayonet. Using a flashlight attached to a firearm doesn’t offer bonuses to the attack roll, but instead allows a character to ignore the “Fighting Blind” rules (see p.166, the World of Darkness Rulebook). Instead of literally firing into the dark unknown, a character can see a target with the mounted flashlight and take a shot. Attack rolls performed in this manner suffer a –3 penalty. Higher intensity lights (halogen or LED) are incredibly bright and reduce the penalty to –2. This advantage is not without a higher price, however (Cost ••). Using a mounted light in this manner announces the shooter’s location. Any witnesses nearby are likely to see the beam of light. Therefore, attacks made against the shooter can now ignore the “Fighting Blind” complication, and are made at a –4 penalty.
Reloading Bench Edit
A character can learn to reload his own bullets, shells, even his own black powder loads if he’s shooting some antiquated muzzle-loader. On the surface, there would appear to be little reason for doing so. Bullets are cheaper when purchased at local gun stores (or the ubiquitous Wal-Mart), and it takes less time to walk up to a counter than to load each bullet by hand. However, some characters might have good reason to load their own bullets. For one, it might be a hobby. People don’t need to hunt or fish for meat, but they do it anyway. Also, some people feel that they can get better accuracy and speed out of home-pressed bullets; this being the World of Darkness, however, characters might have other reasons. Conspiracy-minded characters (or those who have very real criminal records) don’t want to be caught buying bullets from Wal-Mart or anywhere, just in case the police (or the “monsters”) find out. Also, char-acters might be interested in making the kinds of bullets not for sale at gun stores. Loading bullets at home requires a number of items, all generally found upon a single workbench: gunpowder, primers, precision scales, empty shell casings, brass polisher, a bullet press. Shotgun shells also require measured shot, crimping tools, empty plastic shells and wads.
Sighting Tools Edit
A character has no guarantee that her gun is accurate. Any number of variants can screw up a firearm’s accuracy. The sights might be poorly adjusted, the scope might not be mounted to precision or the gun’s barrel might be off by a scant millimeter. A gun suffers bumps and nudges over time, and a series of small collisions can result in general inaccuracy. In fact, assume that most guns aren’t sighted inproperly and that their base stats reflect this. “Sighting in” a gun is a time-consuming procedure and requires any number of different items. Barrel accuracy can be measured with bore-sighter equipment. Sights and scopes can be adjusted with normal tools. The shooter must also fire her weapon at a target time and time again to see how tight the bullet groupings are. Anybody can attempt to sight in her weapon with an extended Wits + Firearms roll. Ten total successes are required, and each roll takes 10 minutes of time and consumes 10 rounds of ammunition. Using the appropriate sighting tools adds +2 to this roll. Successfully sighting in a firearm with the proper tools provides a +1 bonus to all medium- and long-range attacks. This effect lasts for a number of uses equal to twice the weapon’s Damage rating. (One “use” is considered to be a single bullet fired from the weapon.)
Fiber Optic Sights Edit
Sometimes called “glowsights” or “firesights,” most fiber optic sights are replacements for a firearm’s existing sights, both front and back. These illuminated sights are nothing more than beaded, colored lights (two in the back, one in the front) that allow a shooter to line up a more precise shot. Most sights tend to glow red in the daytime, and green or yellow at night. Under any conditions, such sights grant the user an additional +1 to all shooting rolls in which the shooter takes a turn to aim, though the normal penalties other conditions still apply. Characters can purchase these sights for any type of firearm (sidearm, rifle, shotgun, assault weapons). These sights are also available for bows and provide the same benefits.
Laser Sights Edit
Laser sights improve accuracy at short and medium range, but are ineffective at long range, as the laser dissipates and becomes useless. At short range, a shooter can add +1 to her attack roll. At medium range, she may halve the standard –2 modifier, making it –1 instead. At long range, the normal –4 penalty still applies. Laser sights do not work with medium burst or long burst autofire. However, laser sights do still provide benefit when using a short burst, as the sights still allow for easier initial target acquisition. The red dot from a laser sight is visible, however. The target of a surprise attack using a laser-sighted weapon gains a +1 bonus to his Wits + Composure roll to avoid surprise (see p. 151, the World of Darkness Rulebook). If conditions are foggy or dusty, the laser becomes even easier to see, because the airborne debris illuminates the entire beam of light (which is normally hidden). In such circumstances, the bonus to avoid surprise increases to +2. A variation (Cost •••) uses an infrared laser beam. The infrared dot can normally be seen only by using night vision sights or goggles. Characters using infrared laser sights and a night vision scope benefit from both.
Telescopic Sights Edit
The scope is a staple of firing a rifle or shotgun at medium or long range. A scope sits mounted on the top of the weapon, and allows the shooter to capture a target in a magnified view. Range penalties at medium range with a rifle or shotgun are ignored when using a scope. Range penalties for long range are halved. A scope offers no bonus when shooting at short range, but does not hamper the shot, either. Telescopic sights can be used on a handgun (revolver or pistol), but firing the weapon at short or medium range with a scope offers no aid. When attacking from long range, however, the penalty is once again halved (–4 becomes –2) as above.
Telescopic (Night Vision)Sights Edit
A night vision scope is the same as a normal scope, except that a night vision scope allows a character to shoot more accurately at night. Night vision is generally infrared — staring through the scope shows everything as varying shades of green. A night vision scope makes it far easier to shoot at night, but finding and maintaining a target is still difficult. Looking through that circle provides only a tiny green fraction of the world. Trying to assess a subject, moving or still, in such a limited frame requires patience. Using a night vision scope allows a user to ignore the Fighting Blind penalties, but it’s still more complicated than using a normal scope, and the normal scope benefits do not apply. At long range, night vision reduces the modifier to a –3 penalty. At medium range, night vision offers no bonus other than allowing the shooter to ignore the normal Fighting Blind penalties. However, with a night vision scope on his weapon, a character can also ignore the Fighting Blind complications at short range. Short-range shots with a night vision scope are performed at –1 penalty. (These rules apply to shots fired during times of darkness.) Note that if the scope’s lenses are exposed to harsh light, such as sunlight or halogen, the device shuts down to prevent damage to its sensitive optics, remaining useless until one turn after the end of exposure to the bright light. Characters can purchase day/night versions of these scopes that work normally in both sunlight and darkness, but such equipment comes at a greater price tag (Cost ••••).
Telescopic Thermal Sights Edit
Used extensively by Special Forces and SWAT, a thermal scope picks up a target’s body heat and illustrates the target more clearly. Everything else is blue, but the target shows in bright white. These heat vision scopes work equally well in both daylight and darkness. Night vision requires some ambient light (from the moon or a distant streetlight) to be present, but a thermal scope asks only that the subject has a heat signature above the ambient temperature. At long range, a thermal scope minimizes the penalty from –4 to a –1 modifier. At medium and short ranges, a character using a heat vision scope on a weapon suffers no range penalties. In darkness, the same penalties apply but the “Fighting Blind” rules do not. An important consideration, however, is that a thermal scope provides benefit only when shooting warm (meaning living) targets. Animals, humans and other warm-blooded creatures show up perfectly in thermal vision. Vampires show up only minimally. Targeting a vampire with heat vision offers the shooter no more benefit than a normal scope (see above under “Sights, Telescopic”), as the vampire is hardly warm enough to stand out more than a little. Thermal scopes usually offer no bonuses to seeing ghosts or spirits. However, if a spirit can in any way affect temperature (writing a Ghost Sign on a steamy shower door, using Magnetic Disruption, raising or lowering the temperature in the room), the spirit may show through the scope for the second in which the spirit invokes its Numen.
Most pistols and some rifles can be easily reloaded in the field by keeping extra magazines, but revolvers and internal magazine or action-fed weapons (like autoloader shotguns and some rifles) require that the bullets be placed into the weapon one by one. A speedloader, however, changes all that. Speedloaders exist for a number of weapons, and allow for a character to quickly slam ammunition back into the weapon without foregoing her Defense. Revolver speedloaders are six to eight bullets (depending on the gun’s capacity) loaded into a carousel. A character opens the cylinder and slams the bullets in all at once. Characters can speed-load other internal magazine-fed weapons such as some shotguns and rifles, dropping in ammunition four at a time.
Collapsible Stock Edit
A folding or telescoping stock is a modification to the butt end of a firearm, and allows the wielder to make the firearm more compact. This allows some weapons to become concealable. A collapsible stock reduces the weapon’s Size by one, though a weapon’s Size cannot be reduced below 2. (Or, in regard to the “Alternate Size” rules, Size 3 and 2/N weapons become 2/L.) Refitting a gun with a collapsible stock requires six successes on an extended Dexterity + Crafts roll. Each roll takes 15 minutes. Without a Gunsmithing Kit (see above), the character suffers a –1 penalty to the Crafts roll.
Discreet killers wishing for total silence when using a suppressor might be surprised at how much noise is still present when firing. A suppressor works by dissipating some of the builtup pressure that comes from discharging a bullet down a slim barrel. The suppressor allows some of the gas to escape before the bullet exits the barrel, thus dampening the noise. Unfortunately, most bullets still travel 1,100 feet per second or more, and they still break the sound barrier with a sonic pop. While a suppressor muffles the sound of the bullet leaving the barrel, a suppressor can’t silence sonic booms. The trick is to use subsonic ammunition. Smaller caliber rounds or specially made bullets can be subsonic: they travel just under the speed of sound, and while they have less power, they also make next to zero noise. (Though the bullet still makes a faint sound on impact.) All guns make noise, no matter what kind of suppressor or ammunition is being used. However, bystanders nearby (within 50 yards) have a –4 penalty to their Wits + Composure roll when attempting to notice the sound from a suppressed subsonic bullet. Bystanders have an easier time hearing a suppressed supersonic bullet, however. Witnesses within 100 yards may hear the shot, suffering only a –2 penalty to their Perception roll. Note that suppressors also diminish muzzle flash. Characters attempting to pinpoint where a bullet came from do so at a –3 penalty if the shooter uses a suppressor. Contrary to popular belief, suppressors can be made for all firearms, including shotguns and revolvers. However, revolvers are difficult to silence effectively, and bystanders have only a –2 penalty to their roll.