Thursday, September 23, 2010

[Future Perfect] Starship Weapons

I decided to post a segment from the Ship Modification Manual for FUTURE PERFECT which provides a brief introduction and explanation of various weapon types.

Though it is mostly just flavor text, I'm offering it up for those of you following the space ships designs (don't worry, there are a ton more I've yet to post) and wondering about some of the weapon systems.

[Weapon Types]

For our purposes, weapon systems can be categorized under three broad classes, each of which can be further subdivided into more specific types. Weapon classes determine if a weapon can be part of an array, how it may be mounted, and generally describes how the weapon is deployed.


Cannons are probably the most common class of weapon encountered, including several types and subtypes. Cannons are essentially just mounted guns, with all fire control and energy for projecting the weapon extending from the point of origin. Cannons are the only weapon class capable of being included in a Weapon Array, and there are no limitations on how (or where) cannons may be mounted. This versatility coupled with far less reliance on ammunition stores makes cannons an ever popular choice. All Cannons take a half day per Space to install under normal conditions.

Blasters, Slugthrowers, Scatterguns, and Kinetic Reflex weapons are all types of Cannons.

Blasters are pure energy weapons. They do moderate damage singly, but can be devastating in arrays. Blasters tend to have low Space and moderate to high Power requirements. Furthermore, only blaster type weapons can be “overcharged” to have a higher energy output, though doing so runs the risk of damaging the weapon itself.

  • Beams are energy projections with a longer wave frequency, essentially emitted as a long, single stream of energy coursing out from the weapon. Beam weapons are the only weapons with which a skilled user may use the “Ranged Sweep” maneuver.
  • Charged Particle Blasters, also known as Particle Projection Weapons, project a single burst of stored energy capable of inflicting massive damage. They are very similar to energy based scatterguns, except that Charged Particle weapons maintain a much tighter field of integrity instead of dispersing into an area of impact, earning them a fairly high capability for Armor Penetration.
  • Pulse blasters fire pulses of energy in shorter wave frequencies, and are often capable of emitting several in very rapid succession. Singly, these pulses do less damage than other blaster emissions; however, their capacity for rapid fire attacks means that they have expanded versatility. Like other auto fire capable weapons, Pulse blasters can cover a battlefield with suppressive fire or keep to controlled burst fire. When using full rapid fire attacks, Pulse weapons tend toward the higher end of Power requirements. Assault Cannons are a type of Pulse blaster implementing multiple nested cannon arrays in an individual gun – meaning that the weapon is capable of massive damage by expending significant amounts of energy projected simultaneously at a single focal point.

Slugthrowers fire physical projectiles (“slugs”) at a target, and therefore require a means of storing, collecting, or generating ammunition. This class of weapon tends toward moderate space requirements and medium to low power costs.

  • Mass Drivers involve catapulting a “slug” of high mass toward a target. Mass Driver technology has evolved significantly over the years. The modern Mass Driver collects what it needs as it flies, fashioning ammunition that consists of compressed, super dense matter that it stores until it needs to launch. Most modern Mass Drivers are single fire weapons, though much older designs that require pre-loaded and stored ammunition have differed. A subset of Mass Driver called the Rapid Mass Accelerator achieves Rapid Fire capability by projecting staged batches of slugs but lacks the effective range of conventional single shot Mass Drivers.
  • Railguns sling tiny projectiles of generally lower mass than Mass Drivers at significantly higher velocities. Railgun type slugthrowers are accurate at extreme distances, and inflict moderate damage with fairly high values for Armor Penetration. Railguns are always single fire. Ammunition usually is pre-loaded and stored; the Space requirements for this type of weapon assumes that several hundred “slugs” are held and ready to be fired (so there is no need to track ammo, except in a seriously extended encounter).

Scatterguns emit charged energy much like a Charged Particle blaster, however, scattergun charges are unstable, bombarding an area with an energy field that at once attracts and then disrupts the physical structure of a target. Scatterguns, like Mass Drivers, have evolved significantly over the years – indeed, ancient Scatterguns have been found that are a type of slugthrower capable of bombarding a target with a blanket of projectiles.

  • Normal Scatterguns have short to average accuracy at range, low Armor Penetration value, and average damage capability. However, they affect a wide target area and may hit several targets at once as a result.
  • HEX Cannons, or High EXplosive Cannons, are Ragnarok Arms’ new generation of Scattergun technology, improving Range, Damage, Armor Penetration, and the weapon’s overall efficiency. HEX-type Scatterguns disrupt the polarity of a target’s atomic structure, effectively “exploding” a target area as bonds break and charges shift to repel atoms away from one another. HEX technology arose from Ragnarok Arms’ attempt to adapt Kokoran KiRG technology.

Kinetic Reflex Waves cause a localized wave of pure kinetic force to expand from the point of impact, essentially “stretching” space along the wave at a subatomic level. The results can be devastating as the target is literally torn apart. The Kokorans use this technology often at very small scale – namely, personal – combat in the form of the Kinetic Reflex Gauntlet, or KiRG. However, KiRG weaponry is rarely used at the scale of starship combat, due to several inherent dangers and a massive power requirement. Instead, most Kokoran vessels have adapted some of the KiRG energy principles to improve the damage output of conventional blaster technologies.


Missiles are small, explosive devices that generally detonate upon impact with a target. Missiles may be Direct or Indirect fire, meaning that they may be used to fire directly at a target (Direct Fire) or simply be used to blanket an area, possibly hitting anyone within the area being targeted indirectly (Indirect Fire). Indirect Fire Missiles usually may be avoided by making a successful Piloting skill roll to maneuver outside the Missile’s damage zone (see the Direct and Indirect Fire rules). Missiles are greatly advantaged by the addition of a Guidance System on a ship, which helps a missile Aim and Lock on to a target.

Missiles all require ammunition which must be preloaded onto the vessel. It takes six hours to install a missile pack onto an existing mount, regardless of the Size or type of missile system. Preparing Space(s) as a repository for additional ammunition takes six hours per space being so converted. Ammunition may be changed or reloaded quickly into an already prepared repository; it takes about an hour per Space.

  • Missile Racks (or “Normal” Missiles) are actual racks of several missiles that fire at once, converging directly on and about their target. They are considered direct fire missiles by default, though a skilled Gunner may be able to fire them indirectly (at -2 to the roll), and have excellent accuracy at range especially when paired with a Guidance System (there are types of replacement racks that will allow additional customizability). An individual Missile Rack is broken down into four segments, and any one or more of them may be fired when triggered.
  • Missile Packs (Micro-Missiles) are similar to Rack missiles, except that they fire shorter range canister projectiles that explode and break apart into swarms of hundreds of tiny explosive warheads. Missile Packs are capable of both Direct and Indirect Fire, and are the only Missile type capable of being used for Suppressive Fire (within its normal Burst area).
  • Missile Cannons (Kokoran Missiles) are akin to mobile artillery devices capable of launching direct fire missiles at distant targets with decent accuracy. A sort of halfway point between missiles and Torpedo’s, Missile Cannons may launch anywhere from one to three individual projectiles that can inflict significant damage to lighter craft.

Torpedoes are essentially giant, explosive missiles that have independent propulsion systems capable of propelling them vast distances toward a target. Unlike missiles, Torpedoes are always considered to be Direct Fire, and have varying capacities for discriminatory programming – e.g. to be made into Smart weapons. Torpedoes really are distinguished by how they function after being launched – do they head where they are pointed or can they wander around the battlefield?

Torpedoes can be launched only from a Fixed Mount point, and because they are for the most part independently powered, require very little ship Power to use. Ammunition, in the form of actual torpedoes, must be used when attempting to fire one. Installing a torpedo delivery system takes 12 hours per Space. Ammunition storage is much simpler than for missile systems, and takes only an additional two hours per Space being used as a repository. Reloading Ammunition takes about 10 minutes per torpedo.

  • Fire and Forget (FF) Torpedoes are the simplest torpedo design. They hit hard and while they can be launched from a great distance, they are most effective when being used up close. They fly in a straight line (or relatively so) and deliver a huge payload to the target.
  • Tracker Torpedoes are more complicated, and have to be locked onto a target or programmed to home in on certain detectable criteria. Tracker Torpedoes tend to do slightly less damage than FF Torpedoes, but have greater range and the capability of following its prey around the battlefield. A subtype of Tracker Torpedo, called a Drone Torpedo, can be controlled by a remote Gunner and “piloted” toward a target for maximum effectiveness.

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