Freedom Amongst The Countless Stars
Weapon Module Descriptions
The core of adventure is conﬂict, and conﬂict among the stars means space combat. Nearly every ship the players’ characters encounter in a science-ﬁction universe has ship-to-ship weapons on board. Indeed, most space-faring vessels of any significant tonnage at all have at least one weapon built in — and usually more.
One station can control all weapons, but a person may only ﬁre one weapon per action. This is one reason that large ships often have multiple weapon stations.
Starship weapons fall into two categories: energy and projectiles. Energy weapons inﬂict damage through the application of some form of electromagnetic radiation, and projectile weapons launch solid objects.
The “Weapon Modules” chart provides a list of the most common varieties and their game characteristics, including their required area units, energy cost, mass, range, and damage. Use the chart as a starting point for developing new weapons. The weapon descriptions don’t specify exact appearance; this is left up to the designer. As one example, blaster and laser cannons might look like one large weapon or several smaller ones that ﬁre at the same time (but that can’t be ﬁred individually).
For each weapon, a ﬁring arc needs to be designated. Weapons can ﬁre port side, starboard side, rear, or perpendicular (and away from the vessel). Of course, not all arcs are appropriate for all weapon placements. Swivel mounting the weapon in a turret to get additional arcs costs an extra 200 credits and one additional energy unit per additional ﬁre arc.
Example: To ﬁre in four directions costs 600 credits — three extra arcs — and another three energy units. A ship’s computer can aid with ﬁring a weapon. See the Module Upgrades section for details on improving the ship’s computer.
Most weapons can’t lock on anything less than one space unit from them, with the exception of point-defense guns, which are designed for this purpose.
Cannons, point-defense guns, and tractor beam projectors may ﬁre from one or more barrels closely grouped together. Unless individual guns are ﬁre linked, the gunner may not ﬁre individual barrels of a multi-barrel gun. Each launcher has only one tube from which its projectile is expelled.
For those ships that can ﬂy near planetary surfaces, multiple each range value by 100 kilometers to get the atmospheric range for each weapon. Any range limitations in space apply in the atmosphere as well.
|Type||Area||Mass||Energy||Cost||Ammo||Range (space units)†||Damage|
|Ammo bay (holds 1 unit)||1||2||0.4||100||—||—||—|
|Blaster damage upgrade||+1||+1||+2||+2,000||—||—||+1D|
|Blaster range upgrade||0||0||+1||+1,000||—||5/+7||—|
|Laser damage upgrade||+1||+1||+2||+2,000||—||—||+1D|
|Laser range upgrade||0||0||+3||+3,000||—||4/+8||—|
|Machine cannon replacement ammo††||—||—||—||500||600||—||—|
|Mine launcher||2||3||2||3,000||1||3/7/14||per mine|
|Missile launcher||2||3||2||3,000||1||2/3/7||per missile|
|Launcher range upgrade||+1||+1||+1||+2,000||—||1/+1||—|
|Missile Warheads, Passive Homing††||—||—||—||500||—||—||6D|
|Missile Warheads, Active Homing††||—||—||—||800||—||—||5D|
|Cluster†††||—||—||—||2,000||—||—||4D per warhead|
|Sensor probe launcher||2||3||2||10,000||1||2/16/14||—|
|Tractor beam projector||7||15||10||8,000||—||5/15/30||2D|
|Tractor beam upgrade||+7||+15||+10||+4,000||—||—||+1D|
†Except for point-defense guns and machine cannons, weapons cannot lock on anything less than one space unit from their muzzle tip. The Short range for a point-defense gun or machine cannon begins at zero. To get atmosphere ranges, multiply by 100.
††The size and mass of this unit is already ﬁgured into the launcher or ammo bay.
†††See text for details.
Obviously not a weapon, this small compartment is needed to store spare missiles, mines, torpedoes, or probes. It holds one of these, and it must be placed near its associated launcher.
Auto-loaders within feed the ammunition to the proper weapon in one round. The size and mass of each ordinance are included in the size and mass of the ammo bay.
A blaster cannon is an energy weapon that ﬁres a pulse of coherent radiation toward the target. This pulse maintains cohesion over very long distances, and so as a result, blaster cannons are favored long-range weapons. The energy required to hold the pulse together, however, results in the weapon doing less damage than other similarly priced energy weapons once it actually strikes the target.
Laser cannons are energy weapons that ﬁre a beam of charged particles toward a target. Any beam weapon falls under this category, whether or not it actually is a true “laser” as it’s technically deﬁned. Laser weapons are not eﬀective at extreme distances, but they make up for their shorter ranger by packing more of a punch than blaster cannons. More of the energy directly carries through to the target upon a successful strike.
Machine cannons ﬁre solid projectiles. They’re cheap for the damage, but they are limited to about 20 rounds of constant use before running out of ammunition. They are capable of burst or automatic ﬁre, but they can’t ﬁre single shot.
The “Ammo” column indicates how much ammunition can be stored in the ammo bay. The ammunition must be purchased separately; it’s not included in the weapon price.
Mines are missile warheads with command, impact, and proximity detonators set adrift in space to damage passing ships. The detonators are activated when the pod is launched. Any ship or large, metal body within one space unit of the mine attracts and detonate it. (Anything, regardless of the composition, running into it also detonates it.) They have battery-operated jets that hold them in position for up to a week. After that, the relatively tiny mines drift where gravity pulls them.
Mines are dangerous weapons. They’re tiny, they emit very little power, and they have radar-reﬂective paint and surfaces. This is a combination which makes them extremely diﬃcult to detect. Their stealth rating is 24. The diﬃculty drops to 12 if the mine has locked on.
All this makes mines bad for enemy ships, but the real danger stems from the sheer number of mines deployed in previous conﬂicts and the fact that they don’t always disappear when they ﬂoat away. Some burn up in planetary atmospheres while others are hit by asteroids, but most of them simply ﬂoat around until they encounter an unsuspecting ship and explode.
The detonators can remain active for years. Fighting ships have deployed mines of one sort or another in every protracted conﬂict since beings ﬁrst traveled to the stars, and any piloting misfortune at the end of an interstellar trip could easily indicate an unexpected encounter with a forgotten mine. For this reason if for no other, smart skippers emerge from a jump with their shields up.
A missile launcher is a weapons rack that holds one independently targeted, self-propelled rocket. Additional missiles are stored in nearby ammo bays, which automatically load the next missile into the launcher. The range and damage of the weapon varies, depending upon the warhead carried by the individual missile.
A missile launcher does not come with a missile; this must be added separately. Additional missiles may be purchased, one for each ammo bay connected to the missile launcher.
Passive Homing: This missile homes in on a target using the ﬁring ship’s sensors for targeting. If the ﬁring ship’s sensors are deactivated or destroyed, or the communications link between the missile and the ﬁring ship is severed in some way, the missile self-destructs.
Active Homing: This missile has its own sensor suite on board, and therefore it doesn’t rely on a communications relay with the ﬁring ship. It uses its own sensors to home in on its target, but those sensors are rudimentary, and can be fooled by noisemakers.
Cluster: This missile carries three independent warheads. Within one space unit of the target, the missile splits into three separate payloads, each of which is capable of delivering a 4D strike against the target. Point-defense systems must destroy each incoming warhead to avoid damage. Cluster missiles are considered active homing for the purposes of noisemakers.
Noisemaker: This missile can be directed to travel to anywhere up to 10 space units distant from the launching vessel. It matches the speed of the launching vessel (at the time of launch; no speed corrections are possible after launch), and it releases an electronic scream of white noise for up to 10 rounds. (It can be turned oﬀ by the launching ship.) The noisemaker confuses the sensors of other missiles, increasing the difficulty of attack rolls by 18) for active-homing missiles. Noisemakers can also make enemy sensor operations diﬃcult (+1D or +3 difficulty modifier). This includes attempts to locate or target the launching vessel with energy weapons or passive-homing missiles.
Sensor Decoy: Sensor decoys send out signals to fool other ships’ sensors. They are ejected with a pre-programmed course and have a space Move of 5. Their power plants last for about an hour before burning out. The base sensors difficulty of determining which is the real ship and which is the decoy is Moderate. They have a Toughness of 4D and beating it by 12 points of damage results in its destruction.
Point-defensive systems are specialized, rapid-ﬁre energy weapons designed specifically to target small objects close to the vessel. They are most commonly used to target incoming missile weapons. The weapons controller does this by rolling gunnery as a parry attempt against missile and torpedo attacks. One roll works for all attacks that happen after the gunner makes the “parry” attempt. Instead of using the combat difficulty number to hit, the missile ﬁrer makes the attempt against the gunnery roll. Use the same rules as for a character’s parry, including full and partial parry actions.
Projectiles that miss the gunnery difficulty explode at two space units from the defending ship. If the projectiles get through anyway, the damage is ﬁgured as normal against the vessel’s shields, armor, and hull.
Gunners can use point-defense guns against ﬁghters attacking the vessel, though this counts as a separate action from destroying missiles. The “Weapon Modules” chart lists the ranges for a point-defense gun used in this way.
A torpedo launcher ﬁres an active-homing warhead that’s larger than the average missile. It features a sophisticated sensor package that can’t be decoyed by noisemaker missiles. The warhead is usually some form of massive energy-release weapon, such as a mass-to-energy converter or an antimatter charge. Its large payload results in a shorter eﬀective range than other missile weapons.
The launcher comes with one torpedo. Additional torpedoes may be purchased, one for each ammo bay connected to the launcher.
Sensor probes extend a ship’s scanning capabilities and reduce the risk to vessels in unknown space. Their main attraction is a compact, battery-powered, forward-facing energy sensor with a transmitter relay. The ship receives the data transmitted from the pod and the software interprets it as if the ship had collected it with its own sensors.
The pod is self-propelled, like a missile. It only moves at two space units per round, but its drive has enough power to run for ﬁve minutes. The probe transmits data for ﬁve days. It’s intended for launch from a ship moving no faster than cautious speed. If the ship is moving faster, then the pod’s launch velocity increases accordingly. Doing this confuses the pod’s scanner, distorting its data and resulting in a steady supply of misinformation.
The transmitter has a range of 200 space units. The launching ship can control the pod, telling it where to go and when to stop, with a sensors roll. The diﬃculty starts at Easy for a probe up to 25 space units away and increases by +1 for every additional 25 space units that the probe travels from the ship.
Probe pods have scale of 1 and a Toughness of 4D. Beating the Toughness by 12 or more will destroy one, but they’re hard to spot (stealth 20). They’re expensive, given their disposable nature, but scouts love them because losing a pod is far cheaper than losing the whole ship.
A tractor beam allows one ship to pull another one closer to it. (A small ship can pull itself closer to a large one, while a large one can pull a smaller one in.) The base unit oﬀers a tractor beam “damage” of 2D. For each additional +1D to the beam, add 4,000 credits, another seven area units, 15 tons, and 10 energy units.
In addition to a swivel mount (see the beginning of the “Weapons” section for details), ordinance can have improved ﬁring control or be ﬁre-linked.
For improved ﬁring control, the weapon needs a bridge or duty station that has a gunnery skill bonus module upgrade. (See the Module Upgrades section earlier in this chapter for details.)
Several weapons can be linked to ﬁre at the same target simultaneously at a cost of 100 credits for each additional weapon. The limit of the number of ﬁre-linked weapons to four. The weapons must be identical in type, range, and damage. Fire-linking provides a die total bonus to the damage of one weapon equal to 1 for every 2D in the total of amount of damage for the set of ﬁre-linked weapons. (Round down fractions.)