Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

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Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

I just want to make sure I got this right.

Beam weapons in EP are really less-lethal weapons, and the particle bolter and plasma rifle are just there to give some expensive but weak lethal options for people without the Kinetic Weapons skill.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

Smokeskin wrote:
I just want to make sure I got this right.

Beam weapons in EP are really less-lethal weapons, and the particle bolter and plasma rifle are just there to give some expensive but weak lethal options for people without the Kinetic Weapons skill.

Not really. Beam weapons have the potential to be lethal, but high energy requirements are a real problem. Smaller laser weapons have a tendency to have zero armor-piercing value. They tend to be less versatile than kinetic weapons, and you can't purchase specialized munitions... every cybernetic hand laser functions essentially the same. However, on lower settings, they are more economical and have the benefit of disabling a target without necessarily risking injury. Microwave agonizers essentially drop their targetto the ground so long as the beam is kept on them, leaving them in complete agony so long as they are capable of feeling pain.

On the other hand, the highest output beam weapons are just as lethal as any kinetic weapon, if not moreso. The plasma rifle has the highest damage output of any weapon in the book, but the consequence is that it only carries 10 shots a battery and overheats after 2 shots. There is also far less variety in beam weapons. The worst issue is that beam weapons tend to have far inferior ranges to any kinetic weapon. No beam weapon operates past 300 meters in atmosphere, whereas you can get kinetic weapons that operate as far as 3½ kilometers (sniper railgun) and moreso in environments with lower gravity than Earth (which is almost every habitat there is).

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

Decivre wrote:

On the other hand, the highest output beam weapons are just as lethal as any kinetic weapon, if not moreso. The plasma rifle has the highest damage output of any weapon in the book

Here's how I read the rules.

Let's take a railgun automatic rifle with armor piercing ammo. That's AP -14, DV 2d10+6. A full auto burst is AP -14, DV 3d10+16.

By comparison, the plasma rifle does -8 AP, DV 3d10+12.

That's 6 better AP and 4 better damage.

A kinetic AR with homing reactive ammo, and the full auto burst does AP -8, 3d10 + 18. That's 6 better damage and +10 to hit better than the plasma rifle.

On top of that, with the ARs you have lots more options, burst fire, multiple targets hit, suppressive fire, three times the range, no cooldown problem.

What is so great about the plasma rifle? From a mechanics standpoint, it doesn't have much going for it.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

Smokeskin wrote:
Here's how I read the rules.

Let's take a railgun automatic rifle with armor piercing ammo. That's AP -14, DV 2d10+6. A full auto burst is AP -14, DV 3d10+16.

By comparison, the plasma rifle does -8 AP, DV 3d10+12.

That's 6 better AP and 4 better damage.

A kinetic AR with homing reactive ammo, and the full auto burst does AP -8, 3d10 + 18. That's 6 better damage and +10 to hit better than the plasma rifle.

On top of that, with the ARs you have lots more options, burst fire, multiple targets hit, suppressive fire, three times the range, no cooldown problem.

What is so great about the plasma rifle? From a mechanics standpoint, it doesn't have much going for it.

To be fair, you're comparing a single laser burst to 10 rounds of bullet fire. That would be like saying "your chainsaw is weak, as I do way more damage stabbing you with my pocket knife ten times than you do hitting me once!". Each individual blast of a plasma rifle has significantly better potency than each individual shot from another weapon. Also, I think it fair to note that I did state that specialized ammunition is a core advantage that kinetic weapons have.

As for other options, some aren't as significant as you claim. Beam weapons likely deal far less sound than even the most heavily suppressed kinetic weapons. A good majority of them fire in the infrared or ultraviolet spectrum, rendering any attempts to see where the shot is coming from moot unless you have special vision modes. Lastly, beam weapons are completely immune to the effects of gravity for purposes of determining range. Only the presence of atmosphere has any effect (and any situation in which that is removed infinitely expands its range).

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

Decivre wrote:

To be fair, you're comparing a single laser burst to 10 rounds of bullet fire. That would be like saying "your chainsaw is weak, as I do way more damage stabbing you with my pocket knife ten times than you do hitting me once!". Each individual blast of a plasma rifle has significantly better potency than each individual shot from another weapon. Also, I think it fair to note that I did state that specialized ammunition is a core advantage that kinetic weapons have.

Of course I'm comparing a single plasma shot to 10 rounds of bullet fire - plasma rifles are SS weapons and ARs are full auto.

I guess what you're saying is "yeah, kinetic weapons are much better than beam weapons".

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

Smokeskin wrote:
Of course I'm comparing a single plasma shot to 10 rounds of bullet fire - plasma rifles are SS weapons and ARs are full auto.

I guess what you're saying is "yeah, kinetic weapons are much better than beam weapons".

If you have access to unlimited quantities of ammunition that weigh nothing to transport and your clip never ends, then perhaps. Automatic weapons are constrained by the weight limitations of ammunition. In stark contrast, battery packs for beam weapons are far lighter than a cluster of clips. Lastly, the speed of light means that laser weaponry in vacuum amounts to an excellent weapon good for vast ranges... bullets are not, and hitting a target at the distance that lasers are good for is all but impossible.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

mds mds's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

Judging by this post on RPG.NET, they've acknowledged that the plasma rifle is underpowered, and are considering ways to make it more lethal.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

mds wrote:
Judging by this post on RPG.NET, they've acknowledged that the plasma rifle is underpowered, and are considering ways to make it more lethal.

Awesome-sauce. I hope they maintain the beam weapon weakness of being bad against armor, by making it sheer damage and removing the armor pierce. I think that beam weapons shouldn't have armor pierce to begin with, and should get through armor by raw energy.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

GJD GJD's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

I'm taking my cues for energy weapon from District 9. ZAP-splat!

G.

Octomorph Octomorph's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

Smoke, keep in mind that Railguns can't use smart ammo, so your calcs aren't quite right, but I think your general point is right, with the difference in range being a key determinant.

On the other hand, I have a hard time accepting that firing any weapon at full auto will not have recoil effects. Even if you accept that SS or SA fire can easily be accounted for with recoil suppression mechanics, I'm inclined to put some penalties for Burst and FA fire in my game, particularly in micro or zero gravity.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Beam weapons - EP's version of tasers?

Octomorph wrote:
Smoke, keep in mind that Railguns can't use smart ammo, so your calcs aren't quite right, but I think your general point is right, with the difference in range being a key determinant.

On the other hand, I have a hard time accepting that firing any weapon at full auto will not have recoil effects. Even if you accept that SS or SA fire can easily be accounted for with recoil suppression mechanics, I'm inclined to put some penalties for Burst and FA fire in my game, particularly in micro or zero gravity.

Still, a person properly braced for firing, whether holding onto something or wearing micrograv shoes and standing on any heavy surface, would likely not have an issue in utilizing a kinetic weapon. Synthmorphs may also have less issues, as they are probably far heavier than biomorphs and therefore far less affected by recoil. Besides, I think it less likely to affect their aim, and more likely to affect them directly. Combatants might need to make freefall rolls to avoid slamming into walls mid-combat, which can be a major nuisance in combat (and it might grant you penalties then, since you have to pay attention to maintaining stability with your freefall skills and keeping aim on your target... and that should count as a distraction).

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.