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In Moot Member Blogs [SBRD] Equipment/Weapons and Related Rules Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #10 New July 28th, 2013 03:33 PM
[SBRD] Equipment/Weapons and Related Rules

Notes, House Rules, and GM Interpretations related to Equipment (including Weapons)

Personal Electronics: The standard Traveller personal communicators, hand computers, and other personal electronics seem a bit large, heavy, expensive, and generally clunky compared to what we are familiar with today in 2013 at TL 7/8. To add to the verisimilitude (appearance of truth or believability) of the setting, I prefer to allow smaller, lighter, and cheaper models with some combined functions.

Unfortunately, I don't have a nice list ready at this time, and it seems to me more important that I spend my time now getting the setting ready and helping players get their characters ready. Here is what can work as a rule of thumb: combine whatever functions seem reasonable into one unit (for example, combined communicator with hand computer), adding up the size, weight, and price; then reduce size, weight, and price by TL advance rule to TL 10 (or TL 11 tops for advanced items). If that doesn't get you something reasonable, PM me about it.

OK, a few more notes on the most common personal electronics, which I see as the personal short-range communicator and the hand computer. First, some TL notes on availability and price. Then a few comments about choices of form factor, which include mass/weight. (It is my understanding that we in the USA in 2013 are currently still at TL 7 in most respects, but advancing into TL 8 in electronics, so that is the view I am taking w TL divisions here.)

Personal Short-Range Communicator: TL 6 had the Walkie-Talkie. TL 7 introduces the Portable Phone (car-phone), the size of a lunchbox and fairly heavy. TL 8 brings the cell phone. TL 9+ introduce mostly interface improvements.

Hand Computer: TL 8 brings the first tablets and smartphones; both of these include a Short-Range Communicator as part of their wireless connections (where networks are available). TL 9+ bring more options for interface and form factor.

Interface: Voice interface is available for both devices at TL 8, but may have problems interpreting some words, dealing w ambient noise, etc (generally -1 on usage compared to manual key methods). Voice interface becomes reliable at TL 9, but some still prefer manual options. Holo display becomes available at TL 9. At TL 10, remote sensing enables use of holo for input as well as display; the device senses hand movements or other triggers, allowing use of a holo-keyboard projection (or manipulation like Tony Stark's Jarvis system allows in the Iron Man movies).

Interface Assistants: This applies not only to personal electronics, but also to regular computers and any other equipment that is smart enough and is designed for it. There is no Artificial Intelligence in this setting until TL 16, which is not available in this setting. However, this are IAs, Interface Assistants. At TL 8 these are just a simulated personality for your voice interface, like iPhone's Siri (and remember the voice interface problems at that TL). At TL 9 they become much more useful and can include expert systems that can be taught to screen calls, etc. At TL 10 they get even smarter and can simulate an actual personality quite well, although they still only do what they are programmed to do, and are not actually sapient.

Form Factors:
Heavy Lunchbox: communicator at TL 7
Cell-Phone size/shape: communicator or computer at TL 8+
Tablet size/shape: communicator or computer at TL 8+
"Tracy" wristwatch-sized: communicator at TL 8+; computer at TL 9+
Tiny sizes (jewelry, ear-clips, etc): either at TL 9+
(Note difficulties of computer input w smaller devices until holo-input becomes available at TL 10.)

Ugh, that's kind of a mess and I still need prices, but should give you a better idea of what I have in mind. I will clean up later.

Gauss Weapons: Gauss weapons (also known as electromagnetic, electromag, coilguns, or simply Mag weapons) become available at TL 10 rather than TL 12. I have always thought that the TL for gauss weapons in Traveller is set too high. We already have some theories of how these should work, and some primitive proof-of-concept prototypes, now at TL 7. It seems to me that the design issues to make functional weapons should be worked out by TL 10 at latest (rather than TL 12 as in Traveller). Heck, Traveller has man-portable LASER weapons at TL 9!!!

Primary Military Rifles by Tech Level
Thinking about the gauss weapons, I decided to do a little adjusting of TL availability of primary military weapons - not changing stats, just initial TL availability.

Assault Rifle - TL 7
Experimental Laser Rifle - TL 8
Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) - TL 9
Gauss Rifle w backpack - TL 9
Laser Rifle w backpack - TL 9
Gauss Combat Rifle - TL 10
Laser Rifle w internal energy cell - TL 12
PGMP-12 - TL 12 (duh!)

Gauss pistol is TL 10, Laser pistol TL 12.

Ammo for weapons can sometimes be manufactured at lower TL than the weapon itself, if appropriate specs or samples are available for copying. Assault rifle ammo can be made at TL 5+; ACR ammo at TL 7+; Gauss ammo at TL 8+.

VaccSuits: I guess someone wanted to make minor advances at every TL, so they wrote the equipment tables that way, but... seriously? Other equipment advances by quantum leaps from one TL to the next, and VaccSuits only get a little bit lighter and w longer-duration PLSS? And we need TL 14 before we get Tailored VaccSuits suitable for everyday wear as shipboard uniforms? Not IMTU! Here are substitute examples of VaccSuit equipment:

Standard Vaccsuit - versions at TL 6, 7, 8, 10.
Skinsuit - versions at TL 8 and 10
Tailored Vaccsuit (wearable as clothing) - TL 11

Shipboard Weapons: Spacers tend to be very careful about escalating violence aboard their own ships, using the minimum level of force necessary to keep the ship and crew safe, and bringing out serious weapons only when required as in a life-or-death fight against armored opponents. The reasons for this are obvious: standard and armor-piercing slugs and energy weapons all impose dangers of penetrating through partitions and access panels to injure crewmates or damage crucial systems or equipment, and slugs can ricochet off of bulkheads, floors, and ceilings with unpredictable results.

Due to these concerns, primary shipboard weapons tend to be: (1) non-lethal; (2) low-penetration; and (3) if possible, able to escalate as necessary by changing ammunition rather than having to find a different weapon.

Snub Pistols are large bore weapons designed for low-velocity rounds including Tranq, Gas, Rubber, HE, and HEAP. Snub Pistols are available in revolver or semi-automatic models; the Auto-Snub can use magazines holding either 10 or 20 rounds (extended length).

Snub SMGs (aka Snubmachineguns) are capable of semi, full, or burst automatic fire, made possible by an electric-driven reload-fire-eject cycle as many kinds of snub ammo lack the recoil to power a standard SMG action. Snub SMGs may appear similar to standard SMGs or to the Auto-Snub Pistol.

Shotguns are also useful for firing ammo similar but not interchangeable with that used by Snub weapons, although shotguns will usually fire "beanbag" rounds rather than Rubber slugs.

Tranq rounds are tranquilizers, meant to stun an enemy or render him unconscious. Dosing problems are solved by TL 8 to minimize problems of overdoses accidentally killing targets.

Gas rounds include a variety of available chemicals, including smoke or various chemical poisons to induce tears, blindness, nausea, disorientation or unconsciousness. Some work by skin contact, others require inhalation.

Rubber Slugs are made of a hard rubber that will do impact damage but not penetrate flesh. The effect is the same as normal damage for the weapon, but is not permanent and will heal quickly. (Shotgun beanbags are treated the same.)

HE (High Explosive) rounds will explode or fragment on impact, so they are deadly to unarmored targets but will not penetrate partitions or equipment panels (or most armor). For game purposes, these include not only slugs with actual explosive, but also slugs w similar effect such as the Glaser Safety Slug - heavy damage to unprotected flesh, minimal penetration of hard surfaces.

HEAP (High Explosive Armor Piercing) rounds are made to penetrate armor and then explode, or to explode against the armor with a shaped charge to penetrate and do damage. These are used only when absolutely necessary on shipboard, as they are likely to do extreme damage to the ship's systems and equipment.

Two more defensive weapon systems are rarely carried, but may be available at ship entryways and other important defensive points. These are Tanglers and Banana Goo.

Tanglers are grenade-sized gel blobs that explode on contact and wrap the target and nearby surfaces with strands that are at first sticky, then harden within seconds into a rubbery material that is difficult to break or cut. The effect is to limit the target's movement and possibly anchor him to nearby objects. Tanglers are available in the form of hand-grenades or shells to be fired from a grenade-launcher.

Banana Goo is named both for its function (extreme slipperiness) and for an early marketing decision to make it the color and smell of bananas (this was found to be more popular with users than the default mucus-like appearance). Banana Goo is sprayed from dispensers resembling either fire-extinguishers or flamethrowers, or from hoses attached to supply tanks in fixed installations. One variation of Banana Goo will be slippery for about five seconds, then become sticky and harden for a Tangler effect.

Defensive stations armed with Tanglers or Banana Goo will almost always be equipped with spraycans of solvent that will cause the stuff to disintegrate into harmless gasses.

[Additional rules on this subject will be added here.]

Go to [SBRD] Reavers' Deep - Table of Contents
Views: 981 | Comments: 22

RSS Feed 22 Responses to "[SBRD] Equipment/Weapons and Related Rules"
#22 August 11th, 2013 12:34 AM
SpaceBadger Says:
Re-reading Sam's comment, yeah, I forgot the energy storage for gauss weapons. Maybe specialty weapon at TL 9, good for combat at TL 10?
#21 August 11th, 2013 12:31 AM
SpaceBadger Says:
Umm, I just looked up ACR in MT and it shows TL 10!?! Weren't they TL8 in LBB4? I cannot see what is so magical about an ACR to make it TL 10, anymore than making gauss TL 12. I think assault rifle should be TL 6 or 7, ACR should be TL 8, Gauss at TL 9.
#20 August 11th, 2013 12:29 AM
SpaceBadger Says:
I figured the main advantage keeping ACRs in use in some places is that they are only TL 8 so you can get ammo on TL 8 (maybe even TL 7) worlds, whereas gauss ammo might be harder to come by out in the boonies as I think it requires precision shape and balancing - plus advanced metallurgy if you want the high density penetrators. BTW, IMTU there are also the equivalent of Glaser rounds for gauss guns - someone suggested pre-scored needles to fragment on impact - effect like HE. So you don't need a different gun for shipboard.
#19 August 11th, 2013 12:06 AM
samuelvss Says:
I have rather a thing for Gauss Rifles, and I am certain they are around by TL9, but the question is do they become more effective than ACR's by then? I always wondered at anyone's preference for an ACR over a Gauss Rifle: better ballistics and I can recharge the mags? Anyway, I'm interested in if Gauss Rifles are anything worth while by TLA or so. I always assumed that battery technology was the limiting factor.
#18 August 3rd, 2013 12:54 AM
Fritz_Brown Says:
Thanks for straightening that out, Samuel. I remember there was a LOT of confusion in the media (and among anti-gun folks) about what could do what and what could not. Ignorance is not bliss.
#17 August 2nd, 2013 10:56 PM
samuelvss Says:
Glasers would act similar to HE. They have never been able to penetrate any armor. In fact, heavy clothing can even be an issue, because of the rapid expansion. If their first contact is with flesh, though, they have the same lethality (with my diminutive 9mm) as a 44 mag hollowpoint. If it misses, and hits the drywall, it will essentially not penetrate the second layer of drywall. The "cop killer" bullets were a solid, hardened core (armor piercing) that had a teflon jacket. (The shot in the Glasers was suspended in a teflon medium). Both using teflon, but for two completely different -indeed diametrically opposed- reasons.
#16 August 2nd, 2013 09:57 PM
SpaceBadger Says:
I don't think you want to be out in that kind of radiation, from a solar flare or something, even in a standard vaccsuit. I don't think they have a lot of rad protection. I'm just going from Pournelle's description on the skinsuit, as he is usually pretty good on hard SF stuff. He had the skinsuit to protect your body from decompression effects like bruising, etc, while your helmet and PLSS kept you breathing, and gloves and boots protected against heat loss from contact w cold surfaces. A non-sealed protective coverall could go over the skinsuit to protect against scuffs or rips while working. I think any kind of radiation more intense that UV sunlight was avoided rather than relying on your suit to protect.
#15 August 2nd, 2013 08:04 PM
Fritz_Brown Says:
Your protective coverall better be pretty impressive (Dickeys better step up a dozen orders of magnitude!) if you're just going to wear it over your skinsuit when outside - radiation will cook you in no time. I have a hard time with the idea of wearing a full vacc suit all the time - I just don't think you can do everything a vacc suit needs to do (for long and direct exposure) without some rigid pieces and bits that would just be unwieldy in a regular environment unless you absolutely needed it. (But, you're the ref )
#14 August 2nd, 2013 04:56 PM
SpaceBadger Says:
I pretty much agree w all you said about skinsuits - another option is to wear a protective coverall over the skinsuit when "outside" - I don't think skinsuit gives much protective value because it is just tight elastic garment w heating/cooling elements woven in - following detailed descriptions in Jerry Pournelle's "Exiles to Glory". Better alternative at high enough TL (maybe 10+?) is tailored vaccsuit, which can be worn as a work uniform but is also fully functional vaccssuit. (Although if you are in your "nice" uniform and don't have time to change to equivalent of fatigues for work outside, might want to put on coverall anyway to keep it clean.) Common wear for spacers at high enough TL who can afford them - or issued by Space Navies who can afford them.
#13 August 2nd, 2013 04:32 PM
Fritz_Brown Says:
If you go outside, you can wear your skinsuit under your vacc suit, as it provides some of the functions. The idea is that you can work in a holed compartment in your skin suit for a short duration without having to get into a full vacc suit, and you can get into a vacc suit more quickly because you don't have to put on the vacc suit "undies". ( Some skinsuits might also have some ballistic resistance.
#12 August 2nd, 2013 04:23 PM
Fritz_Brown Says:
On vacc suits: One distinction I make is the difference between skin suits and vacc suits - skin suits are for emergency use only. You don't wear just your skin suit outside to work on an antenna - you wear a vacc suit. The skin suit is minimally radiation shielded/temperature shielded. It does have a "helmet" that can be pulled on over the head in half a second or so. It is worn under ship's coveralls (except for some navies IMTU).
#11 August 2nd, 2013 02:44 AM
SpaceBadger Says:
That is certainly one way to look at it; the other would be that we are TL 7 verging on TL 8 for most stuff, slightly ahead of that in electronics/computers. Somehow cheap fusion power and flying cars are always at least 20 years away...
#10 August 2nd, 2013 12:39 AM
Fritz_Brown Says:
Personally, I think we're at TL9 for computers and might even be at TL10 for comms in RL. It's just that danged fusion and gravitics that's keeping us down!
#9 July 31st, 2013 10:14 PM
SpaceBadger Says:
Bone conduction mike and speaker sound like MT comm-dots - forgot to list those in available forms - I don't remember TL of those, but intro at TL 8 and reliable at TL 9 sound right to me. I'll have to look at those holo-input links; still sounds like SF to me!
#8 July 31st, 2013 10:12 PM
SpaceBadger Says:
Got the silent "tube" needles from someone on another discussion thread. I'll go back and check; pretty sure he cited sources for the ability of properly shaped tube to keep the sonic shockwave inside the tube and therefore silent. Ah, found it. ATPollard was citing this:'s_Biplane - the problem with this design for wings is that it generates no lift, but for a projectile intended to shoot straight, that is not a bug, it's a feature.

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