Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Ultra-Tech Firepower: MAD about Disruptors


Slaps engine, "You can get so many war crimes per gallon with this!"



Microwave Weapons (TL 9)

If I would have to take a guess at what the most obscure weapon type in Ultra-Tech is, it would have to be the
ones that this post is about. Ultra-Tech came out around the time microwave area denial weapons (AKA MADs, now called Active Denial Systems in an attempt to be in denial about their bad public image) started to be tested in real world scenarios so it’s no mystery why they end up in it. Of course these days this kind of weapon and all the (justified) controversy is far outside of the public's goldfish like memory. So it makes sense that such a niche weapon is kinda looked over… well that and they’re only real useful against civilian targets so there's that..

Heck, the only reason I’m making this post is because my boi Enraged Eggplant dropped a video covering this weapon class and it made me remember that I had a write up for this that’s been collecting digital dust for almost 2 years. If I remember correctly, I got asked by someone on discord on how I would stat them up with the Blaster and Laser Design system. I then church some numbers, figured out a way to get close enough and sent a reply. I then figured I might as well make a blog post out of the work and theeennnn… ummm… I just kinda forgot about it. Probably just lost interest and something more fun to write about came about… or I fell into overtime hell. One of those two probably happened. I think… My memory is really hazy over this. 

But anywho, you're not here for my looming meta crisis over my failing memory. No! It's how to learn how to stat weird weapons for your pretend pew-pewing!

The rules for microwave weapons can be found starting on page 120 of Ultra-Tech with a good breakdown in the video I linked to above from Enraged Eggplant. There are two types of microwave weapons, MADs and microwave disruptors. 

MADs uses microwaves to trigger a pain response and are (in theory) a good way to break up crowds without causing actual injury. Microwaves disruptors generate a directional emp and are basically MAD for electronics. Both weapons use a HT based affliction and  project a very wide area beam which uses the rules for cones. For MAD, if the HT roll to resist is failed, the victim suffers from the Agony affliction (p. B413) for as long as they are in the beam's area and for one second after leaving. For disruptors, a failed roll means that the device is shutdown for an amount of minutes equal to its margin of failure. Ultra-Tech mentions the fact that a MAD heats the skin to about 130º F which triggers the pain response. In his video Eggplant wonders how this interacts with temperature tolerance which is a fair question. In all reality it wouldn't matter any more vs MAD then it would vs a laser beam. Natural DR vs burn damage however would work as normal. Remember that temperature tolerance protects about gradual heat changes, air and even water doesn't transmit the heat quick enough compared to an energy weapon, even a fairly non lethal one like a microwave beam.

Since neither weapon has any kind of armor divisor, both of them are only really good against civilian targets or low grade electronics as they are stopped easily by modest armor (so long as the whole body/device is covered as they use the large area injury rules). If you’re ok with a little super science I’d recommend adding at least a 2 (AD) to make them more effective against targets that aren’t defenseless civies or… angry rombas. 

Now lets get into how to stat these things. As with my other entrees into this, you are going to need a copy of Pyramid 3/37 and I'm only going to cover the parts of the system that needs to be adjusted. My numbers here are going to differ a little from RAW since there’s some oddness with how they’re stated compared to other weapons but that's kinda par the course. Most weapon stats were educated guess after all.

Tech Level 

Microwaves weapons are mature by TL 9. Technically they were both developed in late TL 8 but is gonna be a

Oh hey, it's the semi-portable MAD

bit less refined, quadruple weight. Half weight at TL 10 and half it again at TL 11+. 


Both types of weapons fire high powered breams of microwaves. MADs operate at around 100 
gigahertz and can penetrate up to 17mm into the skin of an average person. There it heats the water and fat which tricks the nerves into thinking you're being burned worse then you actually are causing severe levels of pain. Microwave disruptors pulse their frequency between 1 megahertz and a 100 gigahertz causing arching across conductive material shorting out electronics. They both cause HT based afflictions with no armor divisor. The only difference between them is MAD only effects living targets and distruptors only effect electronics. For more details, see Microwave Weapons in Ultra-Tech (p. 120 - 121)

Focal Array

Treat as normal, a larger or smaller emitter will increase or decrease range like a laser. 


Microwave weapons are always single shot. 

Empty Weight

D is the weapons HT modifier.

E is 1.1 for MAD (yeah… I know), 3 for Disrupters.

G is always 1. 

Since these weapons project a beam they add a new modifier called Bw.

Bw is the cube root of the cones maximum width in yards. 

Optionally to line things up better with Ultra-Techs stats, weapons with the pistol configuration multiply their weight by 1.25 while ones with a rifle configuration multiply their weight by 1.5.


These weapons weapon cause a HT based affliction with a minimum modifier of -1 and has no armor divisor. Treat the HT modifier as if there were dice of damage, -3 would be treated as 3 dice of damage for example.


Treat as if it were a laser. 


Max Range (yards) = 1/2D × 2.

Rb is 45. 


Here is where things get kinda weird for MADs. Somehow the Tactical MAD with a HT-4 affliction gets more shots then HT-3 portable one despite both being powered by a D cell… Never mind I have no idea what’s going on with the scaling between these weapons even if I were to assume there was any attempt  to do so on top of this. There just isn’t anything here for me to work with. 

Thankfully  disruptors make far more sense and have a scaling that actually follows close to lasers in the design system (a TL 9 disruptor with a TL 9 power cell will get as many shots as a TL 9 laser with a TL 10 power cell). Soooo we’re just gonna kinda cheat and  use the same numbers for both MADs and disruptors and save myself  a few headaches.   


Weapon TL8 Cell TL9 Cell TL10 Cell TL11 Cell TL12 Cell

TL8 MAD/Disruptor   112 450 1,800 7,200 28,800

TL9 MAD/Disruptor  225 900 3,600 14,400 57,600

T10+ MAD/Disruptor   900 1,800 7,200 28,800 115,200

 Note that TL 8 version are usually going to be externally powered as they are going generally going to be to massive to handle and the shots here assume a theoretical early generation power cell. TL 8 batteries are also going to be to under powered to be a practical power source.


And everything from here follows the normal rules. So here we are, one of the more obscure and really niche weapons (baring some bending of the rules) that, for MAD at least, have some real world baggage. But it never hurts to have more toys to play with and heck, they do make sense in a dystopian cyberpunk mega 15 minute cities police force. 


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks man. If you're video didn't reminded me I worked on this it would of still been collecting dust heh. Heck, I got two posts out of this just for looking and I'm working on a third unfinished post atm (though this one if a bit more complicated so it's not gonna be finished for a bit).