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Pulse lasers vs Beam lasers


What, if any, difference is there between pulsers and beamers? The obvious intuitive advantage ought to be with pulsers, and the Handbook mentions that they're combat weapons while beamers are more defensive weapons.

I've also read here that gunners have to be really skilled to use pulsers, with the tacit point that beamers don't require as much skill; can anyone elaborate?

I like pulsers better myself, and they have a longer range, slightly more damage, and for some bizarre reason are cheaper than beamers. :confused:
USP9 ceiling vs USP7 (or 6?) ceiling.

Slightly higher USP means hitting more often, and for approximately the same damage.

TL13 triple turrets are USP3 vs USP4.
pulse +3 to hit, 3d10 damage (average 16.5)
beam +4 to hit, 4d8 damage (average 18)

TL12- triple turret
pulse +2 to hit, 2d10 damage (average 11)
beam +3 to hit, 3d8 damage (average 13.5)

Full array (10x triple turrets as single battery)
pulse +6 to hit, 6d10 damage (av 33)
beam +8 to hit, 8d8 damage (av 36)

The only advantage pulse lasers have is range, and it isn't like they have a significantly greater range.

So pulse lasers do slightly -LESS- damage, on top of hitting less often (and therefore criticaling less often as well). The only advantage is if you can dance around your opponent and maintain an exact range that can give you a slight edge. The cheap factor doesn't matter (as much) for military vessels, while it can be a killer in civilian applications (in which case load up on mining lasers).
To get a USP of 3 for beamers you need 3 beam lasers in a turret. To get a USP of 3 for pulsers you need 6 pulse lasers in a turret. Not to mention the lower USP ceiling for pulsers compared to beamers.

That's a big what-the-⌧ right there. Why the discrepancy?
That should be 6 pulse lasers in turrets.

Why the discrepancy? Because they're different weapons.

I think of it like this. Beam lasers have an intergral cooling system, and can fire for extended periods of time. Thus you can sweep the weapon onto target. You still have cool off periods, but they are between firing, rather then during.

Pulse lasers have a cycle, fire until overheated, lapse until cool enough, fire again. Coming out of the cooling cycle the laser may/will be on a slightly different alignment. Pulse lasers make up for this in each individual blast having a little more power behind them.

For a vessel with a single laser (such as a figher craft), then the pulse wins hands down. In groups, and for missile interception, then beam pulls strongly ahead.
So, another case of rules changing without anyone altering the colour text behind them

From CT, and now T20 we are told that generally Pulse Lasers are military and offensive while Beam Lasers are civilian and defensive.

This was quite true in CT where with a minor penalty to hit (-1) for the Pulse Laser the damage was twice (roll twice if hit) that of the Beam Laser. So on average Pulse Lasers would do just less than twice the damage of Beam Lasers. They were the laser weapon of choice for most cases. Especially since there was no difference in the to hit for the number of lasers as would come later.

With HG came USP values for to hit and penetrating defenses, which changed everything since it now depended on how many weapons you mounted as a battery. But Pulse Lasers were still a bit better because they had a damage table bonus that could allow more criticals and/or a chance against light armor even with the lower USP affecting the to hit and penetrate. So the Pulse Lasers were downgraded a bit but the idea was still there and justifiable. A tougher choice and one that depended more on the likely opposition to be faced but in general Pulse Lasers still ruled smaller ship conflicts.

Now we have T20 which tries to stay faithful to HG and CT but has apparently weakened Pulse Lasers even more. To the point where the idea is no longer supported but has been kept. In fact it looks like there's no real point in most cases for Pulse Lasers. Seems to me what is needed is a return to the HG balance at least. Maybe an armor piercing rating of +5(?) to represent the old +2 from HG? Or perhaps something as simple as saying that each Pulse Laser hit rolls twice for damage to mirror the older CT double damage roll?

Anyway, I have long figured it thusly, more or lessly...

While pulse lasers pack more power into each potential shot there are fewer chances to actually hit. This means you require better gunners and computers to offset the handicap. So they are typically military issue since they have the better trained crew and bigger budget for computers. They are typically used in an offensive role because that is their strength. The pulse laser is cheaper because it is a more bare bones system reliant on the trained crew and computers. Still, some non-military ships will mount them for the extra punch even with the handicap and some military ships will employ them defensively as an option.

On the other hand for those who can't afford highly trained crew and top computers, typically civilian or commercial ships, there are the beam lasers which have more built into the system at a higher cost. Part of the difference is due to a higher rate of fire at less power per shot than the pulse version. That means a better chance to hit but with less damage as the trade off (as represented by the rules). This makes them about equally good for light offense and defense, but since most of those using them are more worried about taking damage they are typically defensive. Many military ships will mount beam lasers as purely defensive systems.

In both cases I see the laser being pulsed, just at different rates, one slow to build a bigger charge for a more powerful beam (the "Pulse" laser) and one rapid to throw more shots for a better chance for a beam to hit (the "Beam" laser). The "Beam" laser isn't a continuous beam in MTU.

"Pulse" laser hits tend to be deep penetrating holes or short rips, while "Beams" do a more superficial scoring line type of damage. Just for colour purposes when describing it.
I take almost the opposite view for T20 IMTU. Pulse Lasers fire pulses (charge and fire), and can fire more than once per round. Beam Lasers are a continuous beam, and can only fire once (on a lower overall power). I'd agree with the Far-Trader's colouring for describing damage. Pulses punch holes, beams cut.

I rule that Pulse Lasers can fire more shots by degrading overall chances for each to hit (using autofire rules). In addition, they can be set to a point defense mode, firing rapidly on a low power setting to knock out incomming missiles. IMTU Pulse Lasers are the defensive weapon, and Beam Lasers are more offensive.

Both of these modes requires that the ship has the software.

In CT it's nice and simple. Beam Lasers hit more often, Pulse Lasers do more damage.
After checking documentation pulse lasers do a lot more damage.

Pulse lasers critical more often, and do more damage when they critical. Pulse lasers have a (minor) bonus on the ship damage charts, along with nuclear weaponry and spinal weapons.

Ignoring those factors and pulse lasers do more damage. Over all time the pulse lasers do quite a number.
Ah, good to hear veltyen

I had thought T20 was alright on this but didn't trust my memory when you put up the numbers and my book is out of reach at the moment.
Checking the documentation myself, I discovered that pulse lasers have a crit range of 19/x2, while beam lasers are 20/x1. Now, that x1 thing doesn't make sense, because it seems as though they don't increase the damage at all. (x2 means the damage gets doubled or you add another dice roll, but x1 seems to me that nothing happens. x1 die roll isn't a bonus at all)

Yet again I have to ask if I'm reading this right.

EDIT: Y'know, before I checked the Handbook, I just assumed that beamers would have 20/x2 and pulsers would be 19/x3. But I guess not.
The ship weapons and combat rules in T20 really need to be revised and corrected.
Some people have have argued that 20/x1 means an extra normal damage roll, trouble is the D&D rules say something a little different. Using this interpretation then a pulse laser critical would get three damage rolls, one for the normal hit and then x2 on top of that.
A x1 multiplier indicates that there is no extra damage (Though in my own games, it means the single damage roll is automatically maxed), but it is still nasty. Keep in mind that a vehicle or ship critical is automatically applied to the internal hit location tables. A single critical, even without a damage multiplier, can frequently disable a ship or vehicle.
Critical Damage: The extra damage inflicted by a critical hit with this weapon.
TTH, Page 270.

So x1 critical damage is an additional x1 damage roll, or it could be interpreted as double rolled damage.

x2 critical damage is two additional damage rolls, or triple rolled damage, etc. ;)
Originally posted by Archhealer:
Keep in mind that a vehicle or ship critical is automatically applied to the internal hit location tables. A single critical, even without a damage multiplier, can frequently disable a ship or vehicle.
Hmm... you seem to be suggesting that rolling a critical allows you to roll on the internal hit location tables, when in fact a single point of SI damage allows you to roll a internal hit.