Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fictional Firepower: Blast Em'!

Don't you tell me how to pew pew!
 Finally got a chance to watch Rouge One a few days ago. While not perfect it did have some of the best wars scenes since The Empire Strikes Back.

Needless to say the movie got my mind turning, pondering if there's a way to capture Star Wars style blasters in all there glory in GURPS.... 

So you might be thinking this should be pretty easy, Star Wars blasters are pretty much just vanilla GURPS blasters and for the most part you would be right. In the movies blasters seem to be able to punch through armor like a hot knife through butter but only did damage on par with modern firearms to unprotected people which seems to line up with the (5) armor divisor that GURPS gives blasters as well as the damage range most small arm scale blasters do. Range and accuracy are hard to tell since most fights are done at close range and with what GURPS calls sighted shots at best but the  ranges used at the Battle of Hoth seem to imply that GURPS is in the right ball park and since the rebels even thought they could hit targets as great range would also imply pretty decent accuracy so the range and Accuracy stats seem to work as is. The weight of GURPS blasters also seem to line up too and the examples listed on pg. 123 of Ultra-Tech also seemed to be inspired by classic Star Wars weapons when stated up (the heavy blaster pistol is clearly Hans Solo's DL-44 and the blaster carbine seems to be the E-11 used by the Empire for example).

So, case closed right?

Well, no. There's a quite a few things that just don't gel with how Star Wars blasters are portrayed.

For one, they don't seem to have the surge modifier since otherwise there would be no need for ion weapons. The number of shots that a GURPS blaster holds is also quite low compared to a Star Wars blaster (for some reason they are treated as being less then 1% efficient in GURPS). While the exact number very from source to source the are generally show to be at lest a hundred shots for a pistol sized blaster. GURPS blasters are also really expensive while blaster in Star Wars are cheap enough that even petty criminals get potentially afford one. Lastly Star Wars blasters have felt recoil, they kick when fired!

So just using GURPS blasters as is doesn't quiet work.

Based on a unhealthy amount of watching Star Wars footage, I'd use the following adjustments to stat out more convincing Star Wars style blasters:

Star Wars blaster weapons area treated a GURPS blasters when stating up using the Blaster and Laser Design System from Pyramid 3/37 Tech and Toys II with the following Exceptions; TL is 11^,  damage is simply Tight beam burning damage without the surge modifier, under Empty Weight F is always 1, for Shots treat the blaster as a TL 10-12 Laser with a TL 11 Cell, Recoil is 2 and Bc under cost is $500.

Ion blasters can also be created this way, instead of doing direct damage an ion blaster only affects electrical systems and those with the Electrical Disadvantage. If hit, they must make a HT roll, reduced by a penalty based on how much damage the ion blaster does, with an armor divisor of (5) or be shut down (rendered unconscious for characters with the Electrical Disadvantage) for minutes equal to the margin of failure.

To stat up an ion blaster just treat the penalty to HT you want the weapon to give as dice of damage. For example, if you want the ion blaster to do HT-4 stat the weapon up as a normal Star Wars blaster that did 4 dice of damage.

Some Star Wars blasters have a stun mode as described under Omni-Blasters on pg. 124 of Ultra-Tech  but the listed cost modifier of +100% is a bit too much for the purposes of the setting. For this write up the cost modifier is reduced to +20%.

Some of my example blasters use a stock. This adds 0.5lbs and $100 to the weapons weight and cost. It takes a ready action to attach or detach a stock to weapons with a detachable stock plus another action to retrieve or store it. Adding or removing a stock to weapons normally only adds or subtracts 1 to  a weapons Acc but this is geared towards modern weapons which have a rather narrow Acc range. For blaster, both GURPS and Star Wars ones, should add or subtract 2.5 from a weapons Acc do to the weapons greater Acc range. In either case round the Acc up. Adding a stock to weapon reduces ST by 20% and removing a stock increases a weapons ST by 20%.

Hot shotted weapons should really boost a weapons range as well as its damage, recalculate a blasters range based on its new dice damage when fired in hot shot mode. Since blasters have recoil, hot shot rounds should increase Rcl by 1.

Some of my example blasters are modular in nature.

 For modular weapons that simply switch out barrels for one that simply have a different mod of operation but are otherwise identical (from a blaster to ion blaster mode for example) simply increase the weapons cost by 50% per extra barrel. The extra barrels weigh half the weapons weight. It takes two ready action to attach or remove a barrel plus and additional action to retrieve or store it.

For modular weapons that can be configured into larger, more powerful modes stat out the weapon in its most powerful mode first and then stat up its second most power form on down to its lest powerful mode.

Next we need to figure out how this weapon breaks down into into its modular parts. For this take half the weight of its weakest mode and treat this as the weapons base that the modular parts for its other modes attach to. You then take this base forms weight and subtract it from each of the other modes weights to get how much the components that make them up weigh.

To get the total weight of the complete weapons system just take the weight of its base plus the total weight of all its components.

For example lets say that we are designing a weapon with a pistol mode which weighs 1.3lbs, a rifle mode  that weighs 2.6lbs and sniper mode that weighs 3.9lbs. The base of the weapon would weigh half of its pistol mode weight or 0.65lbs. This means that the components that turn it into its pistol mode weigh 1.3-0.65 or 0.65lbs, the components that turn it into its rifle mode weigh 2.6-0.65 or 1.95lbs and the components that make up its sniper mode weigh 3.9-0.65 or 3.25lbs. The total weight of all its components is 0.65+0.65+1.95+3.25 or  5.85lbs.

To keep things simple, assume each mode is a simple barrel swap that takes two ready actions to attach or detach plus another ready action to remove or store. Though if you feel a given mode should be more complex to configure to then give it a base of two ready actions to attach or detach plus one extra ready action for every multiple of the weapons base weight the given mode makes the weapon  minus one. For example if our weapon has a base weight of 0.65lbs and is configured into a mode that weights 3.9lbs it should take (2+(3.9/0.65))-1 or 5 ready actions to assemble the weapons if you use this option.

The weapons final cost is the cost of the weapon in its most powerful mode plus half of the cost of its other modes.

Star Wars blasters also seem to cause some blast damage, sending out fragments when they strike something hard like rock or metal. As an optional rules blasters should case incidental fragments if they hit something hard.

Ok, now that I showed you how to stat up some Star Wars style blaster here's a couple of canon blaster pistols to get you started. Let me know if you guys want to see more Star Wars goodness from me.

Blaster Pistols

BlasTech Industries A180 Blaster Pistol (TL11^)

A modular medium blaster pistol, the A180s barrel can be swapped out  for a longer barrel and stock extension turning it into a blaster carbine or with an ion accelerator barrel making it an effective anti-droid firearm.

The total weight of  the loaded weapon and all of its components is  4.7lbs.

It takes six Ready Actions to switch out the A180's barrel with one of its optional ones and another two Ready Actions to attach the stock.

If the stock is attached to weapons while it is in base or ion mode, the A180s stats change to Acc 8, Weight to 2.1/6B, ST  6 and Bulk -3. The stock on its own weighs 0.5lbs.

In its carbine configuration the weapons stats become Damg 4d-1(5) burn, Acc 8, Rng 470/1,400, 3.4/6B, Shots 75, ST 7† and Bulk -4. If the stock is not attached Acc remains 5 and ST becomes 9. The carbine barrel weighs 1.6lbs.

In its ion pistol configuration the weapons damage becomes HT-3(5) Aff. In this mode the weapon only affects electrical systems and those with the Electrical Disadvantage. If hit, they must make a HT -3 roll or be shut down (rendered unconscious for characters with the Electrical Disadvantage) for minutes equal to the margin of failure. Add +3 to resit past the weapons Half Damage range. The ion barrel weighs 0.65lbs.

The weapons base blaster barrel weighs 0.65lbs.

While this weapon was originally marketed to law enforcement and the Imperial Military, large quantities of these weapons were seized by Rebel Alliance terrorists.

BlasTech Industries DL-44 Heavy Blaster Pistol

One of the most powerful blaster pistols available on the civilian market, the DL-44 is one of BlasTech's best selling heavy pistols through out the Galactic Empire as well as the outer rim.

It has a built in 4× (+2 to Acc) optical scope. 

A unique quirk of the weapons makes it easy to modify so that it can fire so called hot rounds giving it +1 to Armory/TL11^ (Small Arms) to modify it. Firing hot rounds makes the DL-44 more unreliable giving it Malf. 14  and changes the weapons statics to Damg 5d(5) burn, Rng 800/2,400, Shots 57, and Rcl 3.

BlasTech Industries EC-17 Hold-Out Blaster  (TL11^)

A popular compacted blaster pistol favored in the outer rim territories for self defense as well as used by many Imperial law enforcement agents as concealed back-up piece and as the main side arm of Imperial Scout Troopers.

BlasTech Industries  DH-17 Blaster Pistol (TL11^)
A high powered military blaster pistol that borders on being a stockless blaster carbine. Comes with a built in 4× (+2 to Acc) optical scope, the DH-17 is heavily used by planetary defense forces across the galaxy including the highly respected Alderaanian Royal Guard. Large numbers have also fallen into use by the Rebel Alliance.

Do to the weapons weight and power it is seldom fired one handed and instead has to be properly braced with both hands! 

The DH-17 has an stun mode that temporarily scrambles the targets nervous system rendering them unconscious. In this mode the blaster does HT-4 Aff(3) rather then its normal tight beam burning damage. A target hit by the weapons in stun mode takes no damage but instead must make a HT roll with a penalty equal to the weapons Affliction modifier, if they fail they fall unconscious for minutes equal to their margin of failure. It takes a ready action to switch between modes.

Blaster Pistol Table
See pp. B268-271 for an explanation of the statistics.

BEAM WEAPONS (PISTOL) (DX-4, other Beam Weapons-4, or Guns (Pistol)-4)
TL  Weapon   Damage                Acc    Range          Weight     ROF   Shots    ST   Bulk    Rcl   Cost               LC     Notes
11^  A180      3d(5) burn             5        290/860        1.6/6B       3      160(3)    8    -2           2      $2,375/$18      2        [1]
11^  DL-44    4d(5) burn             5 +2  510/1,500      3.5/1C       3      112(3)    10    -2         2      $1,500/$10      3        [2]
11^  E-17       2d+2(5) burn         3       220/670        1.1/4B        3      156(3)    7    -1           2     $450/$12          2
11^  DH-17    4d+2(5) burn        5 +2  690/2,070     5.1/2C        3      144(3)    11   -3           2      $2,800/$20      2       [3]

[1]Can be turned into either a ion blaster or a blaster carbine. See weapons description above. 
[2]+1 to Armory/TL11^ (Smalls Arms) to modify into being able to fire Hot-Shots. See weapons description above.
[3] Has a stun mode that changes its damage to HT-4(3) Aff.

Rest in peace Carrie, you will always be royalty to me.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds. They both were taken from us way to soon and they will be deeply missed. I want to wish them both peace as they partake in their journeys into unknown as they both become one with the force.


  1. I read somewhere that she literally never missed a shot in Star Wars. I'd have to watch it again to see if it's true.

    1. I think she only missed one scout trooper on a speeder bike in ROJ but outside of that, I can't really recall her missing anyone. Hell I'm not even 100% sure I'm right on her missing the scout trooper.

      I do know they decided to carry that trait on with her mother in the prequels, Padama is a hell of a shot too.

  2. I'm several days late (curse the new Blogger Format leading to me forgetting to check my read list!), but good stuff! It reminds me I have other "blaster" related stuff on my Draft list for me to play with using that same Pyramid article (and another on your HEAT weapon article...)

    Speaking of StarWars and GURPS (maybe I should do a SW GURPS game...), are you familiar with the "Sourcebook" for GURPS StarWars?

    1. Better late then never heh, I've been pretty busy myself so no worries.

      As as for the source book, if it's the one I'm thinking of then yeah. Haven't looked over it in a while though.