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Zat Guns

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First, shots should be made in succession in order for the stun, death and disintegration effects to happen. So, if there's more than 1 round between shots, the chain is restarted.

Example:

Round 1: O'Neill fires a zat against a Serpent Guard. The jaffa fails the save and is stunned.

Round 2: A new Serpent Guard appears. O'Neill fires at the new target, who must save against stun.

Round 3: O'Neill shoots again at the first target. Because the first jaffa hasn't been shot in consecutive rounds, he must save against stun again, rather than death.

Round 4: O'Neill fires again at the first Serpent Guard. Now, he must save against death.

Round 5: Having killed the first jaffa, O'Neill shoots the second jaffa, who must save against stun because more than 1 round has passed since being shot for first time.

Regarding mechanics, a zat target should made Constitution saves with a DC 10+damage dealt (giving just an idea) when shot and damaged.

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I like the idea of resetting the effects after a number of rounds. 

We were thinking something similar on using conditions and having a constitution save.

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I like both ways of handling Zats mentioned by Bahamut. Constitution certainly makes sense as the star to base it off, and gives your heroes a chance of saving against, whilst also removing the guaranteed stun and kill, might work well for TV, but not so for TT!

i would potentially be inclined to make it a loud weapon, or at least, not silenced. It’s certainly not a subtle weapon in the series, though it’s effects help with stealth insertions.

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I agree with Bahamut_A6M5's great suggestion that successive shots be a requirement for the "stun-to-death" effect. I also agree that the save against any ZAT effect should be constitution based (appropriate save is TBD). I would also suggest that ZAT attacks bypass standard forms of armor and that "normal" armor saves do not apply. Since the time-frame of the RPG falls somewhere in Season Six, there may be technology (aka Kull Warrior Armor) that can be obtained in a mission and researched to eventually provide some PLAYER protection against ZAT attacks. 

IMHO, the ZAT has the potential to be a very "broken" weapon, and should be "nerfed" for the purposes of the RPG.

Here are my ideas on that:

It may seem a bit contrary to SG Cannon, but I would consider the idea that the the ZAT could be treated as "unwieldy" when used as a fully ranged weapon and suffers from the additional traits:  1. Attempts to use the ZAT beyond melee range do not benefit from "to-hit" modifiers.   2. Using a ZAT is a full round action.  For additional balancing of the "death shot", I would also add the requirement that, "for death to occur, the attempted shot must be made at point-blank range". A shot at a range beyond point-blank would result in an slight extension (+1-2 rounds) of the stun effect (or some variation of diminishing returns on successive ranged stuns here).  If a PLAYER is stunned by a ZAT and fails to save against a "death shot", then their HP is reduced to zero, which triggers the standard 5th edition "death saves".  

Some other traits of the ZAT:

1) It can be used to overload (disable) various "electricity-based" technologies.

2) Stun shots do not cause "damage" to characters. 

3) It can still disintegrate "dead" organics. However, (for balance but also contrary to SG Cannon) a single ZAT only has enough power to fully disintegrate up to two human-sized targets, and the disintegrate action can only be performed outside of combat (i.e. hiding the bodies). Note: In the TV Series, the disintegrate effect is only used in a small number of episodes in Season #1 and is relatively non-existent after that.

4) Replicator technology is immune to ZAT effects.

5) I agree with Valdore that the ZAT is a loud weapon with a very distinct and easily identifiable sound.

 

Thoughts anyone??

Bueller??...Bueller??...

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I don't see the zat as "unwieldly"; it's a sidearm no bigger than a handgun. I'd rather suggest zat being treated as a ranged weapon with a very short basic range, so it couldn't be fired at same distances as other weapons but still share standard to-hit modifiers for ranged attacks. Also, attacking with a zat should be just an action; it's not like you are using a sniper rifle.

Regarding zats overloading control pads, keyboards, or the like, it could also be handled giving it electric type damage so zats could be used as a standard weapon for breaking items.

For the disintegration effect, as target is already dead, it's just a matter of having available a body for "resurrecting" her (a goa'uld sarcophagus or other technologies). Thus, making the disintegrating shot more powerful makes no sense. Supposedly, zat effects are cumulative as target gets her atoms more excited with each successive shot. Also, this effect is just a plot device for not having actors lying around posing as corpses XD

Stun and death effects are the key elements here and they should be "handled with care".

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@Bahamut_A6M5

I truly appreciate your comments. 

I agree...the stun/death effects should be handled with care. My suggestion of eliminating "to hit" modifiers may have been a bit too harsh. I am open to the suggestion of treating the ZAT as a weapon with "very short basic range". 

My other suggestions were mainly in the spirit of balancing the ZAT to deter abuse.  My concern is if some deterrents or limitations to using the ZAT aren't implemented, the ZAT stun/death combo potentially could turn out to be a crutch for PLAYERS (and DMs) in combat situations. If it's too easy to finish off an NPC (or worse, a PLAYER) in two rounds, then there will be no incentive to use other weapons. The worse example I can think of on this subject is an abusive DM equipping an entire combat party of NPCs with ZATs and successfully killing off the PLAYERS in two rounds with only the stun/death combo. 

I am a big fan of the SG-1 series, and I want to see the RPG adhere to the series cannon as much as possible. The ZAT is an iconic staple weapon in the SG-1 universe, and I think it must be included in the RPG. However, as @Valdore states above, the ZAT (as it is represented in the TV Series) might not play well on TT in terms of balance. 

On disintegration:

I'm not too concerned on how this effect is handled, except that I think it should be limited as an action that can only be performed outside of combat. 

I welcome more of your (or anyone's) thoughts on this.   Thanks.

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Your feedback is also welcome, Sirwalkman.

I understand what you were trying to do but, from a design viewpoint, the job is making things accesible and/or easier to use rather than engaging in a wits battle trying to outsmart exploiters. With all this talk about zats, I remembered a stereotypical spell from D&D: Disintegrate. In 3.x, that spell was handled through a ranged touch attack, a save against a death effect if the attack roll was successful and, even in the case of saving, target still suffered damage. It was quite balanced, first requiring for a successful attack (subject to standard to-hit modifiers) to land on target, then having a resistible deadly effect and a possible damaging effect on passing the save.

With zats, we have a similar situation. A successful attack roll, subject to usual modifiers, is required first; the weapon has a resistible effect (stun/unconsciousness from the first shot) that could act as a requisite for the effect on a second shot, that should also be resistible. The issue here should be to determine how the effects may be delivered; if by damage which modifies the save DC or having a fixed DC for just being hit by the discharge or even modify the DC based on range (lesser DC the farther the target is to the shooter). Being stunned first by a zat discharge acting as a trigger for the death effect from second shots, how long that susceptibility state should last,... These kind of things.

Those situations you suggest are possibilities that might happen, regardless how you make a zat gun work. But we can't go into trying to solve such issues rules-side. Such happenings should be dealt by gaming groups as circunstances arise ("GM, we want to discuss something. We are getting bored from having our characters being killed by zat wielding parties").

Let's remember the "spirit" of a zat gun isn't being a battlefield-ready killing weapon. Jaffas already have Ma'Toks for that; zats are provided as sidearms and ways for jaffas to deal with people using non-lethal force. A full party of jaffas armed with zats should be viewed by players as an attempt on capturing their characters alive, not as some poor way of killing them through stun-death combos.

Still, zats utility could be controlled through the use of energy cells with limited amount of shots before running out. That way, players arming their characters with zats should manage the available number of shots; limited number of shots might deter a player from using too many "two shots to kill" attempts. Or even a third shot for disintegrating a corpse. Not to mention wasting a combat round on firing a "third" zat discharge to disintegrate a dead body isn't a very sound tactical decission 🙂

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That last point was something I was considering in my original response as well, having some sort of charge limit. Could be fairly easily explained away as not having the tech to charge them effectively, and making the acquisition of naquada capsules useful to give the zats more charges (or be used in base upgrades, giving it a trade off value).

Revisiting the idea of reduced to hit rolls, how about introducing the idea of proficiency, whereby rather than reducing the to hit, you improve your chances to use the weapon effectively if you’ve trained with it (by way of a feat, which could double up with staff weapon as well) give it to Jaffa characters for free, but with no projectile weapon feats as the downside.

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I think the zat shouldn't be so canony. I think it should do damage with a chance to stun and just leave out the disappearing act. but being able to disable some devices with it makes sense too.

Edited by ShadowLafay

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It's not like we are suggesting an exactly canon zat; I don't recall many people in the show resisting neither effect. Also, if you just go by giving the zat damage and a stun chance, then it isn't different than an intar.

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The Zat is a really tough challenge to balance while remaining simple and intuitive so it doesn't bog down combat. It is a core element of the universe so it will really effect the feel of the game.

I think Bahamut is on to something with the Disintegrate mechanics and limiting ammunition.

I would chip in that since the Zat is a single shot per round weapon, it presumably wouldn't benefit from any bonuses from making burst or automatic attacks. I don't know how you would deal with classes that pick up multi-attack. 

I don't know how granular the Devs are planning to get with normal projectile weapons, but I would suggest that Zats would not be able to benefit from any bonuses you might get from equipment like sights, lasers etc. 

Think that's all for now

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I think it's important to remember that players will likely be fighting large waves of capable mooks in shorter encounters rather than smaller elite squads like themselves, which is what you see in some other RPGs when fighting humanoid enemies with militaristic backgrounds. Having a potential "insta-kill" mechanic shouldn't be nearly as game-breaking with this as it potentially is in other systems. And most properly designed bosses would have some way to ignore the effects of the ZAT unless the players have gone out of their way to shut down their force field generator or disable their power armor.

Additionally even if it was too powerful, low effective range and the fact that hitting a prone target from any range is more difficult, assuming the target doesn't fall prone behind cover making the shot impossible, getting that second hit off would either have to be really lucky or treated as an out of combat coup de grace. And in the case of the latter it would force players to waste precious ammo. I think these facts alone balance what's been developed here pretty well. 

Adding "ZAT resistant" armor and item effects would be required for "boss" type enemies and high level minions. And gaining access to those effects via research or theft would provide the players with a steady growth curve to handle these challenges when the NPCs throw them back.

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I second or third or whatever the successive round thing. Hits, fails a con save, gets stunned. If they can manage to hit the same character in the next round (which is going to be difficult with a range weapon while printed, as other have pointed out) then you can kill, if you hit again, and if they fail another con save.

But ultimately it's going to boil down to the GM/encounter as to whether the weapon is accessable in the first place.

And, of course, we also have to remember the things like a Sarcophagus could exist too. Instakill in that sort of world may not be so bad.

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I concur with the successive rounding rules described above. I'll throw my two cents out there and suggest maybe making zatgun attacks require a contested dexterity save on the part of the target. This is in line with the effect of the weapon: no real way to defend except for special armor or more practically to dodge/roll out the way. In much the same way that some spells have DC's in 5e I would think that energy weapons could benefit from having a similar mechanic (energy weapons are really just scifi spells no?) that could be penalized at certain ranges. For example, the default DC of zatgun could be 8 + dex modifier + any proficiencies - some penalty for being at far range. 

 

Furthermore, requiring a constitution check or save every round by the stunned target could be a good way to determine the duration of the stun effect. Perhaps the default behavior is: On a failed dexterity save the target is stunned for a maximum of 1 minute (10 rounds). At the start of a stunned targets turn they make a constitution save. On a success the target is no longer stunned. Insert above mentioned successive round rules here. If a stunned target is stunned by a zatgun again (not consecutively) it counts as a failed constitution save for their next turn. (i.e. a player can spend their action to keep they enemy stunned but in doing so may not be able to do anything else. This could keep zatgun spamming to a minimum...)

I also agree with idea that death by zat should really just drop the pc to zero hp and trigger standard death saves.

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I definitely agree with the successive shots to actually kill.  Perhaps it should actually get harder to hit for the successive shots too. There should be a default maximum amount for the stun/1st shot effect to actually last too. As phantomSig suggests above, a roll or check of some form to recover earlier would be good too. I'm not sure I'd want to drop the killing though. It's too entrenched in the canon. Unless they're a variant that only stuns? 

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Dex check makes a lot of sense as the resistance roll.

Constitution check makes a lot of sense as a recovery roll. 

I think a second shot reducing the target to zero hp could be problematic. If you have a high level character with a bunch of health is that not going to feel really overpowered? Very much depends how the health levelling works. A ranged attack like this would normally need to meet or beat the targets armour class and then roll the damage as dice. Spells usually bypass AC and impose a Save. Success means you take half damage, which is also rolled up. 

What the Zat is sort of a combined ranged attack and spell attack. 

To attack, roll d20 + attack mod + proficiency (if proficient) to meet/beat AC. Target makes a Constitution save against the attack roll, if successful, target is stunned for d10 rounds halved. If a failure, then the target is stunned for d10 rounds. Target makes a Con check at the start of their turn each round with the DC set by the initial attack. Target falls prone while stunned.

 

 

 

 

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The series was never consistent in its handling of Zat depiction. Like the disintegration act was really only seen if they needed in the episode to disappear bodies and that from the first episode you saw them be used afterwards it barely mentioned. The kill shot is barely used, they are used primarily for their stun effect but it never established is getting hit a second time while stunned is what kills you.

Or is there a duration effect, so after 5 minutes, another shot  just stuns the person in question? 

But that is based on the show.

How do you translate that into a game.

To make it fair even those things could fire off shots like mad. One shot per turn. I think it should be a roll to see if you hit. Cause in D&D armour class takes into account  weather the opponent is potentially dodging the blow or can twist in such a way the blow doesn't land true. 

I think after being hit. It should be a con save to see if you can recover from the effects of the shot, unless there a tech or race immunity. 

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2 hours ago, GreatLordD said:

The series was never consistent in its handling of Zat depiction. Like the disintegration act was really only seen if they needed in the episode to disappear bodies and that from the first episode you saw them be used afterwards it barely mentioned. The kill shot is barely used, they are used primarily for their stun effect but it never established is getting hit a second time while stunned is what kills you.

Or is there a duration effect, so after 5 minutes, another shot  just stuns the person in question? 

But that is based on the show.

How do you translate that into a game.

To make it fair even those things could fire off shots like mad. One shot per turn. I think it should be a roll to see if you hit. Cause in D&D armour class takes into account  weather the opponent is potentially dodging the blow or can twist in such a way the blow doesn't land true. 

I think after being hit. It should be a con save to see if you can recover from the effects of the shot, unless there a tech or race immunity. 

The Zat was pretty consistent throughout the show. They eventually just dropped the "third shot disintegrates" feature because they felt it was too cheesy and/or OP. But it has been used very frequently to kill, it's just that it wasn't ever necessary to actually show that the people shot by it were actually dead, the story just moved on. Later in the show, most action shots happen very quickly, but you can hear Zats firing twice in rapid succession on many occasions.

I always imagined that Zats work like tasers. When shot, they, at the very least, electrocute the target, which could have a stun effect and obviously be quite painful. When shot they leave a kind of residual energy (marked by the electrical discharge you see when someone or something is shot). That energy dissipates over a relatively short period of time. As long as that residual energy is present, a second shot could "overload" the target's nervous system and brain, and kill them instantly. With the "third shot" it could potentially be that the energy discharges so that the target's molecules, or rather atoms, are pulled apart, which disintegrates the target completely (like a Star Trek phaser at full power). If too much time passes, the energy dissipates and a shot would just "tase" the target again.

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In the context of the D&D 5e rule system which this will be based on, Zats should inflict Exhaustion levels only and the exhaustion lasts for X time (2 rounds maybe?) unless zatted again which resets the counter and inflicts another level of exhaustion. Also they should inflict the Stunned condition on a failed CON save. You recover a level of exhaustion each turn after you wait out the two round timer.

Example - Jack gets hit by a Zat.  Jack takes a level of exhaustion and makes a CON save which he passes.  Jack is not stunned however the effect of the Zat has made him weaker. Jack is Zatted again the next round inflicting another level of exhaustion and this time he fails his save and is stunned for that turn.  Jack is not zatted for the next two turns and recovers a exhaustion level.

 

Thoughts?

 

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I like the idea of incorporating exhaustion.

How about this as a general idea. A con save with a DC that increases every time the target is shot with a (or perhaps the same) ZAT in a minute. And having the degree of failure indicate the level of effect?

That would allow an over time debilitating to hardier beings like the Wrath or times we've seen some lofe form being slowed down then KO'd or killed.

"Mooks" with their low saves would be affected more and players would then still need to be aware of ZATs on the field but not be afraid of instant death outside of multiple hits or unfortunate rools.

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Jack was hit so many times with zats that there's an episode where he shows enough resistance to remain semi-conscious after being taken down. That might actually be worthy of a feat.

With regard to Zats dealing electrical (lightning) damage*: in the series we see the discharge is conductive via metal railings and puddles of water, essentially rendering it an AOE attack so there should be some mention of this in the item description.

You might also consider say that a shot  loses a level of effectiveness every 10 metres as a way of further toning down the power curve on the weapon. And given the declaration that damage tends to be non-lethal, you could replace the death effect with being reduced to 0 hp and auto-stabilising (maybe at the cost of a DP)

---

*: the damage types list lightning only, while the gear description specifies electrical.

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