Ambush / Sniper

I got a question regarding sniper action.
I know that the players, or npc´s, can make a vigilacne check to roll for initiative if unaware.
What about a sniper lying on a rooftop 500 yards away.
I would allow a difficult or very difficult vigilance or perception check or maybe vs. the snipers stealth or cool. And if nobody generates a success would allow the sniper a free shot.
How would you handle a far away sniper?


If it’s before a combat encounter begins, the sniper would be rolling Cool on initiative while the target(s) roll Vigilance. Both of these checks are simple. Logically, any dedicated sniper-type character is going to have a very good Cool skill, probably along with Rapid Reaction.

Where I would modify this as a GM would be adding boost and/or setback dice to the results based on other environmental factors.

There is an Attachment that adds/removes boost/setback dice for sniping - I spotted in G&G but can’t remember the actual page - it’s along the lines (obviously) of a silencer… tbh even 1 success can stuff up a sniper shot…tbh I’ve house ruled surprise attacks. Any success rolled by the target removes damage, back to the base damage as the attacker hits and the target dodges…or somesuch…there are a few rifles out there that can cause stun damage at long range… also there’s the Dodge Talent. I fail to see how a PC could spot a sniper, under cover of foliage, covered in camo clothing, using a silenced rifle…

Fun over rules… my players seemed OK when I suddenly tabled the surprise attack idea. A melee attack in films/tv always get a dodge for plot and other times the protagonist gets clocked over the head for plot… same with ranged shots, sometimes the sniper will get spotted for plot, other times they miss for plot, can get a shot in for plot or successfully hit for plot… you can always upgrade the diffiiculty to a Despair…

or use the difficulty based off the range attack difficulty - hard, daunting etc

also i know dice rolls are supposed to be out in the open at all times but when you ask players to make a roll and they fail they know something’s up. I’ve had players state ‘I’ll move along the building more’ I’m always vigilant (take strain then from stress :smiley: ) etc etc then I say stop metagaming…

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Yes, me too, therefore my question.
Thanks for your input.

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Well, it’s a game. Thus, in my opinion, it’s better to follow, “movie rules”. So, make that difficulty as much as you want. Make it an Impossible task perhaps (5D and you need to flip a destiny point just to try). Then, if the PC somehow still succeeds, explain it like a movie would - “You notice a shiny glint off in the trees on that hill”, without saying what actually caused it. The PCs don’t dive for cover? That’s on them.


I’d still roll initiative, but I’d definitely add difficulty to the check.
Extreme range? Daunting Vigilance.
Unaware target? +1 Difficulty.
In a blind? +3 Setback.

At closer ranges, it gets more possible for the target(s) to succeed.

Alternatively, have a “surprise round.” Have the target(s) make a [difficulty] Group Vigilance check (highest Characteristic, highest skill, +1 Boost if same character has both). If they succeed, go straight to initiative. If they fail, the sniper gets a “free shot.” Then go straight to initiative.
That’s probably what I’d do.


I would let them roll a vigilance check to see if they notice the sniper. It would be Vigilance versus the Sniper’s stealth, for the base roll. But then you can start stock piling on the black dice for all of the advantages the sniper has. Distance 2 or 3 dice, under Coverings or in a window 1 or 2 more, if it is dark then add more.
If they succeed the the roll then they spot the shooter before they take their shot, And jump to initiative or play it out narratively if you feel they could move out before the shot happens.
If they fail the roll then allow the sniper to get a shot before entering combat. Immediately after the 1st shot then roll initiative, Cool for the sniper and Vigilance for the players.
If they didn’t notice previously you can let them spend their action to make a perception check to spot them, again give setback dice as needed.

That is how I have done it in the past.

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It isn’t because you wear a camo suit that you know how to use it properly. If you aren’t trained to use it there’s a good chance you’ll make some mistakes that will make you easier to spot by your target.

Yes but my original presumtion was that it is a trained and skilled sniper and therefore the chances to spot him before the first shot should be ridiculusly small.

Yes, I agree. At any range, with enough bonuses, you can quickly reach Impossible difficulty, at which point I would just skip the check.
With my earlier example, you could easily argue that if unaware, the target should increase the difficulty twice. That already makes it Impossible. Then if you take a ghillie suit to increase the difficulty again, he could be at Medium range and it’d be Formidable with multiple Setback, which is pretty much beyond what anyone could pass without ridiculous luck and a bunch of Threat (unless they’ve gone really hard into Vigilance/Willpower).

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Thanks for all the great input - helped me a lot.