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Icosahedron January 22nd, 2007 11:45 AM

After reading another thread linking Traveller and Cthulu, I downloaded some equipment lists and found Piezoelectric bullets that deform on impact to send a tazer-like pulse into the target. A light went on in my head. Great idea, I thought.

Question - would it work in real life?

tjoneslo January 22nd, 2007 01:09 PM

Magic 8-ball says: Answer Hazy.

Most piesoelectric chips can't produce enough power to do any more than provide a mild shock, particluarly if they are the size of a bullet.

In order for the chip to discharge it needs to be bent (or compressed) in a particular direction. However, bullets tumble in flight, some more than others. But it wouldn't take much of a change of attitude to make the pieozo not discharge on impact.

Also, most Piezo material is much ligher (less dense) than the lead used for most bullets, meaning the bullet has much less penetrating power than a normal bullet. So a light body armor would stop the shell.

Now it may be possible to build something which is fired from a gun which has the characteristics you are looking for. It would probably be large (20mm+), slow moving, and with a set of needls to penetrate clothing and light armor and still affect the target. So you have someing that looks like a "rubber bullet" used for crowd control or a grenade laucher, firing what looked like spine covered balls. The firing would generate one set of charge for an internal capaciter, while the impact would generate a second one.

I'm still not sure why you would want the piezo material, a battery with a switch activated by the firing would be much more reliable.

Anthony January 22nd, 2007 01:44 PM

Well, it's probably a response to this:

Now, it may be that the designers are talking through their hats, but the basic concept is there.

Icosahedron January 23rd, 2007 04:25 AM

Hmm, so they do exist, or at least are under development.

You hit the crux of my query, tjoneslo, ASSUMING tazer bullets exist, is there less handwavium associated with PE systems or battery/capacitor systems?

tjoneslo January 24th, 2007 04:26 PM

The article Anthony linked to does not address my main objection to the PE tazer rounds, which is bullets tumble, and the PE material discharges based upon flexing in specific directions.

In order to get a battery/capactitor system to work, you will need to get somewhat better batteries than currently exist. This may not be a real problem:

Here is new capacitor/battery storage system which pushes the limits known today.

Basted upon the physics of the situation, I'm more likely to believe the battery/capaciter than the PE, but of you add a TL or two to the PE system I might not dismiss it out of hand as fantasy either.

One thing to add to this discussion. It has been discovered that a simple shock will incapacitate a person, it if it strong enough. But you can also incapciate them with a much weaker shock, it you use a longer duration with a specific frequency. The pulse disrupts the nervous system.

So for travller: Taser, either short ranged or hand weapon. TL 7, 500g one shot/30 seconds, Cr 50.

Taser bullets TL 9, does -1 damage, but END check to remain conscious.

Taser bullets TL 10, does normal damage, END check at -2 to remain conscious.

These are WAGs.

kaladorn January 25th, 2007 02:49 AM

I know it isn't a taser (exactly) or a PE round, but you are aware (I assume) of the new generation of laser tasers (or incapacitators or decapacitators or whatever buzzword we should use for them)?

I had a friend in 5 SFG who got to test some of these - they have two variants and a composite. Variant 1 works on dogs (for posties), Variant 2 on people. The composite hits both. It uses a strobing light to induce something akin to a seizure in people - nauseau, disorientation, etc. It renders them pretty much incapable of a) hitting anything or b) fighting back vs. HTH.

My buddy was down testing it because they were thinking of using it for takedowns - you grab the target after your doorkickers go in, then you say "hey!", get his attention, blammo - a shot of strobe laser and he's incapable of resisting being cuffed and dragged out. Should have some range, though I'm not sure about how much (say under 30'?) and I'm also not sure about collateral damage (aim at Tango, get a bunch of other bystanders who also drop... of course, this may be desirable!). Defenses seem to be hard shut eyes or polarized goggles (visors, sunglasses, etc).

But if you catch the unequipped or catch even the equipped when they're not expecting it, you can zap them with this and take the fight right out of them.

My pal said the guys from his unit took turns zapping one another and reeling around. He said they really do work, make you feel sick as a dog. Of course, there may be long term health issues, but given the sorts of folks they go after, I'm sure that isn't a big concern.

Still, such a weapon should appear at late TL-8 or early TL-9 in Traveller as well. Hand held, like a big flashlight. Assume higher TL will have built in defense in combat helmets and such, but unprotected individuals who aren't expecting it may well drop like flies when hit by it.

tjoneslo January 25th, 2007 09:43 AM

The Flasher has already been added to the Traveller Arsenal (ok, it's in the Emperor's arsenal for T4).

Icosahedron January 25th, 2007 03:11 PM

Hmm, I suppose something else to bear in mind is that the PE bullet applies the jolt for a matter of milliseconds - it either drops the target immediately or it doesn't. A battery version could apply a jolt for several seconds, perhaps, with a larger cumulative effect.
Am I right?

kaladorn January 25th, 2007 07:50 PM


Originally posted by tjoneslo:
The Flasher has already been added to the Traveller Arsenal (ok, it's in the Emperor's arsenal for T4).
Not sure you can just retconn the basic human nervous system/eye/brain connection, but what do I know? :0)

The current generation use lasers I think, since that lets them get light at one specific wavelength which is how this is triggered. The fact you can get one that works on dogs only suggests that you could get one that works on gaurd animals of various species (perhaps not all). This might be useful for postmen, animal trainers, and people who sneak into houses at nights... (aka Traveller adventurers...).

I can imagine genetic drift requiring some tweaking of frequency, but I can't imagine the effect just vanishing unless we undo 65 million years of hardwiring. And if we worry about drift, get a multi-frequency device (higher TL?) that can switch frequencies if it seems to be not having effect.

But thanks for the historical reference, even if it was from the version of Traveller I liked least...

Gadrin March 5th, 2007 02:52 PM

GURPS offers the Stingray gyroc round .50 cal that's available at TL8, which can knock a person out, depending on their HT roll. I don't think it's too outrageous for Traveller.

GURPS Robots offers a hypno-flash/strobe similar to the Flasher described above so both of those may be workable, depending on your group.

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