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In lieu of a question on incendiary and explosive rounds effects on vampires, I began to wonder how tracer rounds would affect a vampire. Tracer ammunition boasts "pyrotechnic flare material" in the bullet and I have witnessed these rounds igniting dry grass.

Since Vampires are quite vulnerable to fire, it would be reasonable that these rounds would have more effect than the normal bashing damage delivered by normal ammunition. I recently read from a thread, that these rounds would deliver an additional level of aggravated damage. A rules-as-written answer would be great, but house-rules are also appreciated.

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Thankfully, this specific silliness is not directly covered in either V20 or Revised edition.

Rules as Written, Kindred take bashing damage from firearms. Full stop.

The system has never, and never will, provide enough flexibility to handle different ammo loads or types. It just cannot do it. There is not enough granularity in the damage system to allow for tweaks in a weapons ammo to mean anything. A .32 S&W is treated exactly the same as .45 ACP, both for the attacker and defender. The system does not even track used ammo, let alone what kind of ammo you are using.

At most, you can roleplay that maybe the kindred felt the wound sting a little more than normal.

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Most likely, the same bashing damage as normal bullets do

As @Tritium21 mentioned, Rules-As-Written, firearms cause bashing damage to vampires, or lethal if you hit in the head.

Doing it otherwise will break the immersion

RAI, you fight cool guys (the vampires, the Jedi, etc.) in melee or with supernatural powers, firearms are for weak enemies -- it is a very common trope. If such an easy way to fight vampires existed, every vampire hunter (or at least most of them) would abuse it, just like almost all of lupine hunters have silver bullets in their arsenal -- keeping in mind that to get incendiary ammo you need the right contacts, while silver bullets would need to be crafted for one single purpose.

However, obtaining any of them during the game would require a lot of effort unless your character has very specific contacts, or a very good explanation.


Incendiary ammo doesn't really have any special effect on humans

...so it shouldn't on vampires, because fire burns them same as it does burn mortals.

A quote from a russian book by Kubitsky says that no differences were found between normal bullets and incendiary when firing from distances of 150 meteres and less (they didn't try for bigger distances). Incendiary ammunition is designed to pierce armour (like 10 cm of it) and then burn: rounds simply don't have enough time in the body to ignite properly, even pistol rounds.

After shooting the same targets obscured by a hard barrier, they managed to make the bullet ignite... And got simple signs typical for a point-blank wound. The edges were burnt a bit. As vampiric flesh is very resilient, it could happen that the round shatters on impact, for example, if the whole bullet damage is successfully soaked.

However, speaking about phosphorous bullets specifically, it mentions 3d to 4th degree burns. Phosphorous is not something to be joked about. They even say that smoke can go out of the wound for several days. RAW, difficulty to soak the fire is 9 (chemical fire), the amount of damage is most likely one per turn of burning (part of body exposed).


However, that's about incendiary ammo. What about tracers?

It's a bullet with something that burns brightly when ignited, not something that burns hot. They can ignite something that is easily ignited, read this, for example: a huge fire was started by tracers. But they are not designed for this. The heat is pretty much like that of a candle.

Contrary to incendiary ammunition, which also tends to have some armour-piercing capabilities, tracer rounds shatter on impact with pretty much everything. I have read one WW2 veteran's book, or story, where he remembers to be hit by an MG-42 tracer in his helmet. He didn't take any damage. Some book on forensic pathology, however, claims that damage done to humans by tracers at close range doesn't differ from damage of a normal bullet. The book (by Gromov) comes from 1970, so it probably describes the effect of WW2 tracers -- you may keep it in mind if your chronicle takes place during that time. Nowadays tracers will probably follow this rule. The author of the article also notes that the wound gets soot-like edging, but it happens due to chemicals involved, and only takes place like a day after the trauma.

However, if speaking about incendiary ammo, the same book says that if it meets a bone on it's path, it shatters and can burn tissue. As vampire flesh is generally a lot more resilient, it may shatter on impact with his body, burning his outside (a bit), especially if the didn't penetrate (deal any significant damage). In this case it is like 1 level (or even die) of fire damage (a part of body exposed) and the difficulty to soak would not be very high.


What would probably happen is Rotschreck

When a tracer impacts and shatters, especially if it catches something flammable, or happens right near the vampire, it may look scary for him.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude I changed the question a bit, but I probably didn't understand what exactly is wrong. Do you dislike the fact that I try to base my answer on a book about real-life combat? \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Feb 6 '17 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Overall, I think this is a detailed and accurate answer. I would point out that incendiary ammunition would be hard to get. It was not only originally meant for military, but anti-equipment (as opposed to anti-personnel) usage. Getting it should require some effort in game. I also think the part about Rotschreck is a bit overblown. Having seen tracers, I would not describe them as a huge flame, and they go out very quickly. Unless they hit something flammable... \$\endgroup\$ – TimothyAWiseman Feb 6 '17 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude I would really like to understand what exactly do you find disturbing. \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Feb 6 '17 at 15:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy The part I removed in my last edit. Not sure if there's some cultural disconnect here or something, but I think most people would find the description you provided from the book quite disturbing. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Feb 6 '17 at 16:04
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I think tracer round producing extra damage in the gaming sense doesn't make very much sense. The advantage conferred by being able to see the bullets path is enough of an advantage.

Adjusting the damage even a little I think would have unintended overpowering of the weapon.

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