Ranged combat may or may not be an Opposed action.
If the target is unaware of the assault, the attacker makes an Unopposed action roll to see if he hits his target. The GM sets the Difficulty Level based on distance, lighting, cover, etc. Do not modify the attacker’s skill for range, partial cover, or other circumstances that’s included in the Difficulty Level. Equipment such as a laser sighting scope can modify the attacker’s skill, though.
If the defender is aware of the attack it is an Opposed action: the attacker’s ranged weapon skill against the defender’s defensive trait. (A Difficulty Level for range, lighting, etc., is still set by the GM, and is the minimum rolled degree needed to hit.) A defensive roll should be made against a Dodge skill, or Agility attribute, or something similar.
If the ranged weapon is thrown, there is no modifier to the defense roll. However, a propelled weapon, such as a bow, gun, or beam weapon, is much harder to avoid.
In this case, reduce the defender’s trait by -2 or -3. Obviously, the defender isn’t trying to dodge a bullet, but dodging the presumed path of a bullet when an attacker points a gun at him.
Of course, the defender may decline to dodge, but shoot back instead. In this case, the action is Unopposed making the Difficulty Level is all that is needed to hit.
The GM may make such actions simultaneous (see Simultaneous Combat).
Example: Nevada Slim and the El Paso Hombre are facing off in a showdown. Both are in the open, in the sunlight, so there’s no lighting or cover difficulty. The range is obviously the same for both the GM rules it’s a Fair task to hit each other. Slim rolls a Poor result, and the Hombre a Mediocre result. The Hombre’s bullet came closer to Nevada Slim than vice versa, but both missed since neither made the Difficulty Level.
Another Example: Will Scarlet is shooting a longbow from the greenwood at Dicken, the Sheriff’s man, who has a crossbow. Dicken knows Will is there, because the man next to him just keeled over with an arrow through his chest. Dicken is in the open, in good light, so only range is of any concern to Will Scarlet: the GM says even a Mediocre shot will hit since they are fairly close. The range for Dicken to hit Will is of course the same, but Will is partially hidden behind a log (cover), and just inside the foliage, so the lighting makes it hard to see him clearly.
The GM decrees Dicken needs a Good roll to hit Will. Dicken rolls a Fair result, missing Will. Will rolls a Mediocre result, which hits Dicken, even though it wasn’t as good a shot as Dicken’s.
In both examples, the fighters forfeited their Dodges in order to shoot simultaneously. Each combatant needed to make the appropriate Difficulty Level to hit. Under these conditions, it’s possible for both combatants to succeed in the same combat round. Had Dicken’s shot hit, Will and Dicken would have skewered each other.
Guns and similar weapons that do not rely on muscle power should be rated for damage at the beginning of the game. No detailed list is provided, but as a rough guideline: The average small hand gun might be of +2 to +3 Strength, while a derringer might be +1 or even +0.
Powerful two-handed projectile weapons are at +5 and higher, while bazookas and other anti-tank weapons are at +10 and higher. Science fiction small weapons may do as much damage as a modern bazooka but some are designed to capture people without injuring them.
Automatic weapons can be simulated roughly by allowing more bullets to hit with higher relative degrees. That is, blasting away with a weapon that fires 20 bullets in a combat round and hitting with relative degree +1 a graze means only one or two hit the target. If a relative degree +8 represents maximum amount of ammunition on target (whatever that may be for a given weapon), then hitting with a +4 means about half maximum hit the target, while +2 means only one quarter.
If there is no effective armor, simply add a big damage number if lots of bullets hit: this is going to Incapacitate anyone, at the very least. If armor is at all likely to slow down a bullet, you can’t just add a bigger and bigger damage number if more bullets hit: the armor has a chance to slow down each bullet. In this case, rather than roll damage for each bullet, or have them all stopped, the GM needs to fudge some medium result: give a slight damage bonus if more projectiles hit the target.