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Starfarer Player's Guide Version 0.2OL: Online version. This document is copyright 1998 by Alan D. Kohler. Permission granted to copy and distribute this document in its original, unaltered form for personal use only.

Email comments and questions to: adkohler@ieee.org

Chapter 5:

Tools of War: weapons and armor

One of the primary modes of conflict in many SF settings is combat. In the future, technology is one of the most telling trappings of the 20th century and will continue to be so some time into the future.

As technology advances, improvements in offensive technology force advancements in defensive technology, and vice versa. No character who expects to find himself on the field of battle should do so unless properly equipped.
 

5.1 Man Portable Weapons

The following weapons are man-portable weapons are developed using the realistic weapon guidelines in the GM's guide.
 

5.11 Realistic Weapon Types

Although the SAGE can model a wide variety of bizarre weapons that may appear in science fiction literature, the author can hardly guess what particular weapons various GMs will devise. Accordingly, I have chosen to focus to those weapons I will label "realistic." These weapons either currently exist or are being theorized in some fashion, and appear in a wide variety of science fiction literature and games.

The four major types of weapons are: chemically propelled round weapons (or CPR weapons), laser weapon, particle beam weapons, and railguns.

CPR weapons describe conventional "guns" that exist today. They typically use a propellant that is ignited, expanding to accelerate a metal slug at the target. This category includes modern pistols, rifles, shotguns, and rockets.

Advanced CPR weapons might include caseless ammunition weapons, gyrojets, electrochemical weapons, or liquid propellant weapons.

Caseless ammunition weapons do not use a metallic case to contain the propellant; the propellant is in the form of a solid brick that the slug in embedded into. The case makes the ammunition lighter, allowing a soldier to carry larger amounts of it.

Gyrogets are miniature rockets that are designed to be launched for man-portable weapons. This reduces the recoil that the user experiences, and may allow a soldier to fire a higher energy round than is available with conventional firearms.

Electrochemical weapons utilize electrical current to ignite, heat, or control the burn rate of a round's propellant. This adds to a weapon's muzzle energy and allows more efficient use of the weapon's structural material, thus the same weapon to fire more powerful rounds.

Liquid propellant weapons use a liquid propellant instead of a solid one. This allows the user to vary the amount of propellant used according to the current need.

The second major category of weapons is laser weapons. These weapons use a beam of coherent light to transfer thermal energy to the target.

Similar to laser weapons are particle beam weapons, variously known as particle accelerators, particle cannons, or "blasters." Usually protons are used, accelerated to relativistic speeds, and burn a hole into a target similar to laser weapons. Additionally, particle weapons inflict significant radiation damage to the target.

The final major category of hypothetically plausible futuristic weapons are railguns. Railguns use electric and magnetic fields to accelerate a magnetized slug at a target. Railguns are also variously known as mass drivers, magnetic linear accelerators, or gauss weapons.
 

5.12 Advantages and Disadvantages of Weapons:
 

CPR weapons:

Advantages:

Disadvantages: Laser Weapons:

Advantages:

Disadvantages Railguns:

Advantages:

Disadvantages: Particle Beams:

Advantages:

Disadvantages: 5.13 Weapon Benchmarks
 

Starfarer is intended as a broad system capable of covering a variety of different weapon types. The GM's Guide contains rigorous rules for making realistic weapons and armor.

Though these rules are considered to be the standard for weapons in the Starfarer system, many GMs will make a less "hard" setting than warrants use the strict guidelines of the Starfarer weapon construction system. Others may simply prefer to avoid its attendant complexity in favor of an ad hoc approach.

The following is a listing of the PR and DR of a variety of real-world and extrapolated weapons. This should provide GMs with a measuring stick by which to make their own weapons, or compare with weapons made using the weapon construction system.
 

General Weapons List:
 

CPR Rounds:
 

Modern Weapons:

Weapon: Penetration: Damage:

9mm short 5 5

.357 magnum 7 7

.32 ACP 5 4

.22 short 5 4

9mm para 7 6

7.62 NATO 11 9

.45 ACP 6 6

5.56 NATO 10 8

.50 cal 15 15
 

Advanced CPR rounds:

Weapon: Penetration: Damage:

2mm screamer 9 5

9mm DS 8 7

10 mm Auto 7 8

4 mm Police 8 7

5 mm Electric 9 8

5 mm Caseless 11 10

7 mm Assault 11 9

7 mm DS 12 8

15 mm Shaped 16 13

23 mm DS 16 20
 

Beam Weapons:
 

Lasers:

Weapon: Penetration: Damage:

500j 5mm 7 6

1 kj 5mm 9 7

2.5 kj 5mm 11 9

5 kj 5mm 13 11

10 kj 7mm 14 13

15 kj 8.5 mm 15 14

20 kj 9.5mm 16 16
 

Particle beam weapons:

Weapon: Penetration: Damage:

5 kj 5mm 13 11

10 kj 5mm 16 13

20 kj 5mm 19 16

30 kj 5mm 20 17

40 kj 5mm 22 19

50 kj 5mm 23 20
 

Mass driver weapons:

Weapon: Penetration: Damage:

2 kj 2mm 13 7

5 kj 2mm 16 9

5 kj 3 mm 15 9

10 kj 2mm 20 11

10 kj 3 mm 18 11

20 kj 2 mm 23 13

20 kj 3 mm 21 13

30 kj 2 mm 26 14

30 kj 3 mm 23 15

30 kj 6 mm 20 16

40 kj 2mm 28 15

40 kj 3 mm 25 16

40 kj 6 mm 21 17

50 kj 2 mm 29 16

50 kj 3 mm 26 17

50 kj 6 mm 22 18
 

All above specs are for 10:1 iron shells. 2mm shells have optimum RR of 3 (carbine use). 3mm shells have RR of 4 (rifle). 6 mm shells have RR of 5 (heavy weapons). Military weapons can have higher densities and thus better range characteristics.
 

5.14 Man-portable weapons list
 

The following weapons were made using realistic guidelines for the Hegemony / Guild Space setting. They are included here because they should be applicable to a variety of settings in the "hard SF" vein. See the Starfarer GM's guide for information on designing weapons.
 

The following notes describe the format of the tables:

PR/DR: Penetration and Damage Ratings of the weapon.

RC: Range Class of the weapon. An "E" indicates that the weapon can fire at extended range.

Recoil: Ratings for 2 hands / 1 hand. For each 2 points of recoil above STR, apply -1 DEX mod to the to hit task for the first shot, and -1 per point difference to subsequent shots unless the character accepts a similar initiative penalty before firing again. If recoil is higher than the character's resilience, they may also take damage. Note that energy weapons have NO recoil.

BR: If there is an entry here, it will indicate the weapon's autofire capability. The Burst Rating (BR) is the number of bursts the character can fire in an action. Each burst is resolved as a normal hit from the weapon with a +1 bonus to the task LOS. Bursts cannot benefit from the aiming task. Weapons firing bursts add one the recoil rating of the weapon per burst. The number in parenthesis is the ROF per second; this is used if you are using the sustained fire optional rule.

Accuracy Mod: Modifier to the character's skill when rolling to hit tasks using the weapon.

Initiative Mod: Modifier to the character's initiative rolls when using the weapon as a declared action.

Length: Length of the weapon in centimeters.

Mass: Mass of the weapon, followed by mass of a full ammo load (including the mass of the clip) in kilograms. If there is only one number here, it is an energy weapon with an internal clip.

Cost: Cost of the weapon, followed by cost of full ammo load (for projectile weapons only), followed by cost of an empty clip. Energy weapons will only list weapon cost and cost of external energy pack (if any.)

Shots: A full normal ammo load for a standard clip for the weapon.

5.14 TL 14 Weapons:

TL14 5mm caseless electric LIR (Light infantry rifle); AB/AT.
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
10/7 3 6/9 4 (21) +2* 0 77 2.7 / .1 4426 / 16.4 / 10 21
13/8 3 7/10 N/A +2* 0 (With 2500 J electric boost)
* Smart Weapon Capability
 

This weapon uses a 21 round detachable clip of caseless 5 mm ammo. It has electric capability, and can attach to a standard 10 or 20 shot 2500 j laser power pack. It cannot fire in AB or AT mode with electric boost active.
 
 

TL14 5mm colonial issue 2500J light laser rifle, SA.
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR AccuracyMod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
11/9 4 N/A N/A +3 +1 60 2.7 / 4.1* 1525 / 60* 21
* Ammo mass and cost are for a 10 shot 2500J SC pack. A 20 shot pack is available that weighs 8.1 KG and costs 70 cr. These are rechargable batteries, not SCs.
 

TL14 5mm heavy laser / stunner pistol, SA.
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Mod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
8/7 2E N/A N/A +2 +1 15 1.0 1370 40
7/6* 1E N/A N/A 0 0 (Stun Pulse)
* Stun pulse, lethality = 4.
 

TL14 10mm big game rifle, SA internal clip.
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Mod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
14/14 4 9 / 14 NA +2 -1 93 6.7 / .3 1870 / 9.8  10
 

TL14 3mm Gauss SMG (Railgun)
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Mod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
8 / 4 3 3 / 4 2 (10) +0 +1 22 1.1 / .4 1400 / 8 / 60 50
 

5.15 TL15 Weapons
 

CPR:

TL15 2mm "screamer" pistol, SA.
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Mod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
6/3 1 4 N/A 0 +2 15 .21 / .02 360 / 3 / 16 20
 

Laser Weapons:

TL15 5mm 2500J Military Laser Carbine
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Mod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
11/9 3 N/A 2 (10) +2 +1 39 2.1 4290 30
(Internal Power Pack)
 

TL15 5.5mm 6000J Military Laser Rifle
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Mod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
13/11 4 N/A 2 (10) +3 +1 60 2.3 / 1.6 4460 / 365 30
(Belt Power Pack)
 

Particle Beam Weapons
 

TL 15 5mm 20000J Squad Assault Accelerator, AB.
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Mod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
19/16 5 N/A 2 (10) +3 +1 90 4.6 / 6.9 23550 / 2020 40
The weapon is normally equipped to use a 40-shot power pack, but can also be connected to an external generator.

Radiation Damage Rating: 4 (6)
 

Railguns
 

TL15 3mm 4000j heavy infantry assault rifle, AB:
 
PR/DR RC: Recoil BR Accuracy Mod: Initiative Mod Length Mass Cost (W/A/C) Shots
16 / 8 4 5 / 7 5 (32) +2* 0 60 4.1 / .5 12000 / 7 / 430 50
* The shown cost is for the basic model. A smartgun w/link version with an additional +2 guidance bonus costs 43000 credits.

The clip cost shown is for a disposable detachable battery pack. A rechargeable beltpack is available weighing 2.2 kg and costing 850 cr. The mass shown for the clip is the battery pack; the ammo clip is near negligible at 25 grams. Armor piercing shells are available at x4 cost that have a PR / DR of 19/6.

5.2 body Armor

As the tide of technology makes it easier to kill, so does it provide countermeasures against weapons. Some of these measures are limited in effectiveness since it is, as an axiom, easier to destroy than protect. However any soldier who takes to the ultra-modern battlefield would be remiss in failing to don body armor.
 

5.21 Body Armor Technology.

While it is fairly straightforward to guess what types of weapons may dominate the battlefield once the energy storage technology becomes available, guessing what kinds of armor will be able to protect soldiers from such weapons is a little more "up in the air."

Accordingly, there are a number of assumptions have been made for the core Starfarer system. These may or may not be appropriate for the setting your GM intends to run.

The basic assumption is that material technology will advance, producing more effective armor than versions available at previous tech levels. However, within any tech level, there exists light, standard, heavy and extra heavy armor types. Lighter armors are lighter for a given protection level, but must be thicker to compensate.

Armor that will protect against futuristic weapons is fairly massive. Generally, only light armor material is used in the construction of body armor.
 

Standard armor is of limited effectiveness against energy weapons. Accordingly, there are a number of developments that allow armor to deal with such attack modes.
 

The first is reflective armor. This consists of armor with a highly polished reflective surface and heat resistance. This is effective against lasers but nearly useless against other attack modes, including particle beam weapons.

Reflective armor is effective against all visual laser fire at TL 14+, UV laser fire at TL 16+, and x-ray lasers at TL 18+.
 

The next type of special armor is ablative. Like reflective armor, this is available at TL 12+. This is designed to stop energy weapon fire, but unlike reflective armor, will also stop particle beam fire. However, it does so by vaporizing, carrying energy away from the target. As ablative armor absorbs energy weapon fire, its effectiveness is reduced.

The final development of anti-energy weapon armor is called thermal dispersing, or simply thermal. Available at TL 15+, thermal armor is effective against all energy weapon fire by rapidly dispersing energy from the attack.

Also available at TL15+ is Reflex armor. Reflex armor allows fairly thin armors to become rigid and deflect kinetic attacks by changing properties at the moment of impact.

Bioflex armor becomes available at TL16+. Bioflex armor has the same property that Reflex armor has, but is also effective against energy weapons. Also, Bioflex armor is literally alive, can repair damage to itself, and conforms better to the user, acting like a sort of powered armor, reducing associated armor penalties.
 

5.22 Armor Table Conventions

The following tables list the armor values (AV) of various armor thickness at given tech levels. The thickness is listed in centimeters. All of these armors are light armor materials.

Special armor types are listed under the type of armor that has the given additional thickness of the special armor type. For example, "2mm / .5mm reflective" armor consists of 2mm of light armor plus .5mm of light reflective coating, for an actual total thickness of 2.5 mm. Where no second number is listed, assume that the armor add on is a the maximum level - 50% for thermal or ablative, 25% for reflective.

These tables include only personal armor and light combat armor. See the campaign guide for powered armor.

5.23 TL13 Armor
 
Armor 

Type

Location

Armor Value by Attack Type
Enc.

Rating

Mass

Cost

Sharp Blunt Pierce Energy
1mm light armorcloth 2-10 4 3 2 2 7 4.2 220
2mm aromorcloth 2-10 8 5 4 4 10 8.4 440
2mm/.5mm reflective armorcloth 2-10 8 6 5 4(6) 11 4.2 780
4mm Light Personal Vest 2-6 15 11 9 8 8 5.6 190
4mm Light Personal Armor 2-10 15 11 9 8 13 4.2 220
4mm/1mm reflective light personal vest 2-6 17 12 10 8(11) 9 7.0 330
4mm/1mm reflective light personal armor 2-10 17 12 10 8(11) 14 21.0 770
4mm / 2mm ablative personal vest 2-6 17 13 11 15 10 8.4 260
6mm heavy personal vest 2-6 21 16 13 11 10 8.4 280
6mm / 1.5mm reflective personal vest 2-6 21 18 15 13(17) 11 10.5 500
3mm standard sleeves & leggings 7-10 11 8 7 6 10 8.4 190
3mm reflective sleeves & leggings 7-10 13 9 7 6(8) 11 10.5 330
4mm standard sleeves & leggings 7-10 15 11 9 8 11 11.2 250
4mm reflective sleeves & leggings 7-10 17 12 10 8(11) 12 14.0 440
6mm standard helmet 1 21 16 13 11 5 2.8 30
6mm reflective helmet 1 21 18 15 13(18) 6 3.5 50
7mm reflective helmet 1 22 21 17 15(19) 7 4.1 60
8mm standard helmet 1 24 21 17 15 6 3.7 40

5.24 TL14 Armor
 
Armor 

Type

Location

Armor Value by Attack Type
Enc.

Rating

Mass

Cost

Sharp Blunt Pierce Energy
2mm aromorcloth 2-10 8 6 5 4 10 8.4 440
2mm/.5mm reflective armorcloth 2-10 9 6 5 5(6) 11 4.2 780
4mm/1mm reflective light personal vest 2-6 17 12 10 8(11) 9 7.0 330
4mm/1mm reflective light personal armor 2-10 18 13 11 9(12) 14 21.0 770
4mm / 2mm ablative personal vest 2-6 19 14 12 16 10 8.4 260
3mm/3mm organic light antishock vest 2-6 18 14 11 10 8 5.5 150
6mm heavy personal vest 2-6 22 17 14 12 10 8.4 280
6mm / 1.5mm reflective personal vest 2-6 22 19 16 14(18) 11 10.5 500
4mm / 4mm organic antishock vest 2-6 21 18 15 13 9 7.2 200
4mm / 4mm / 2mm organic antishock reflective vest 2-6 21 21 17 15(21) 11 10.1 490
3mm standard sleeves & leggings 7-10 12 9 7 6 10 8.4 190
3mm reflective sleeves & leggings 7-10 14 10 8 7(9) 11 10.5 330
4mm standard sleeves & leggings 7-10 16 11 9 8 11 11.2 250
4mm reflective sleeves & leggings 7-10 18 13 11 9(12) 12 14.0 440
3mm / 2mm antishock sleeves & leggings 7-10 17 12 10 9 11 10.1 200
3mm / 2mm / 1mm antishock reflective sleeves & leggings 7-10 17 13 11 10(13) 12.9 12 390
6mm standard helmet 1 22 17 14 12 5 2.8 30
6mm reflective helmet 1 22 19 16 14(18) 6 3.5 50
7mm reflective helmet 1 24 23 18 16(21) 7 4.1 60
8mm standard helmet 1 26 23 19 16 6 3.7 40
4mm / 4mm / 2mm antishock reflective helmet 1 21 21 17 15(21) 6 3.4 50
5mm / 5mm antishock helmet 1 23 23 19 16 5 3.0 30

5.25 TL15 Armor
 
Armor 

Type

Location

Armor Value by Attack Type
Enc.

Rating

Mass

Cost

Sharp Blunt Pierce Energy
1mm reflex armorcloth 2-10 10 4 3 2 7 4.2 440
2mm reflex aromorcloth 2-10 14 9 6 4 10 8.4 880
2mm/.5mm reflective armorcloth 2-10 14 10 7 5(6) 11 10.5 1550
3mm reflex armorcloth 2-10 17 13 9 6 11 12.6 1330
4mm/1mm reflective light personal reflex vest 2-6 20 20 14 10(13) 9 7.0 660
4mm/1mm reflective light personal armor 2-10 20 20 14 10(13) 14 21.0 1550
4mm / 2mm thermal reflex personal vest 2-6 20 20 15 15 10 8.4 260
3mm/3mm organic light antishock reflex vest 2-6 19 19 15 10 8 5.5 310
6mm personal reflex vest 2-6 24 24 18 13 10 8.4 570
5mm / 2.5mm thermal reflex personal vest 2-6 22 22 19 19 11 10.5 1180
3mm reflex sleeves & leggings 7-10 17 13 9 6 10 8.4 380
3mm thermal reflex sleeves & leggings 7-10 17 16 12 11 11 12.6 950
4mm reflex sleeves & leggings 7-10 19 17 12 9 11 11.2 510
4mm thermal reflex sleeves & leggings 7-10 20 20 15 15 13 16.8 1260
6mm reflex helmet 1 24 24 18 13 5 2.8 60
6mm reflex thermal helmet 1 24 24 23 23 7 4.2 150
5mm thermal reflex body armor 1-10 22 22 19 19 16 35.0 2890
6mm thermal reflex LCA 1-10 24 24 23 23 17 41.9 3470
7mm / 3mm thermal reflex LCA 1-10 26 26 26 25 17 46.6 3700