Gear: Warheads

Many weapons are designed to fling payloads at their target. These effects of the warheads are the primary intent, rather than any incidental kinetic byproduct damage. In fact, for many less-lethal packages, the kinetic impact should be minimized.

A launched warhead normally detonates on impact. However, a warhead can be set to detonate a preset distance after impact (assuming it penetrates, otherwise it detonates where it stops), detonate at a preset distance, or proximity detonation (treat the effective Size of the target as target's actual Size ⊕ range score of the proximity distance, but distance from the target to the point of detonation is given by the proximity distance). Multiple projectile loads can also be set to burst upon exiting the muzzle. Changing any of these settings takes an action.

Warheads cost more than basic dumb kinetic bullets. The warhead tables give their price, which is per warhead. Multiply by the number of shots in a weapon's magazine to get the price for a full load.

Warhead Guidance

  • Unguided: This is the most basic kind of warhead. It is shot on an unguided trajectory, so that all the usual ranged attack rules apply.
  • Inertial Guidance: A direct fire inertially guided warhead will fly straight, ignoring all effects of Spread and any hit penalties due to Speed. Targets still get any bonus due to Speed to defend. Indirect inertially guided munitions will fly themselves to pre-set coordinates and detonate there.
  • Homing: A homing warhead uses on-board sensors to detect and fly toward a designated target. It will be able to use on-board cameras in the visual, near infrared, and thermographic spectral range along with image recognition algorithms to passively follow a target; but they can also home in on radar, laser, or lidar designated targets or the active scanning emissions of a target. Homing rounds come with inertial guidance, so that they can be fired at a set of coordinates from which they can pick up a target designation from an ally if a coordinating computer has communication with both the ally and the round. To designate a target, the gunner must take an action to attempt to lock on to an object within line of sight of the round. This is a task of Smarts + Use Gear (weapons systems), with a bonus of the Lock-On score of the guidance system or the Perception score of any synched computer if that is greater. The DC is the defense roll of the target. Once locked on, any number of available shots may be fired which will be locked on to the same target as long as no recoil penalty is accrued. A fired round will fly itself toward the target. It will attempt to evade any incoming attacks directed against it with a bonus of its Evade score. Once it reaches the target, will make an attack with a bonus of its Guidance score to see if it hits. If the homing round looses line of sight to its target, it will automatically miss. Homing rounds often come with different aerodynamic abilities, from cheaper models to attack slow-moving undefended targets to top-of-the-line packages for chasing down agile targets and evading point defense.
  • Seeker: A seeker warhead acts like a homing warhead, but it is able to autonomously select targets to attack. It has a more powerful on-board computer, running advanced image recognition and tactical decision making software. The parameters of the target can be set over a fairly broad range, from a specific object to a class of objects to any enemy. If given a choice of targets, it will choose the highest value target that it predicts it has a reasonable chance of successfully reaching, making a decision of target value versus likelihood of a successful attack. In game terms, use its Lock-On score for Awareness and Smarts based tasks relating to acquiring and choosing targets. If locked on to a target, it can re-acquire that target if it looses and then regains line of sight. A seeker package can be added to any homing frame, allowing high-agility options for dodging point defense.
  • Sneaker-Seeker: Sneaker-seekers are seeker heads optimized for stealth, allowing them to avoid point defense by approaching undetected. It will have a gliding shape (often obtained by pop-out wings for tube or barrel launched warheads); extensive stealth coatings against radar, thermographic, and visual detection; and software for low-observability approach planning and mapping. Larger warheads may even include a ducted whisper turbofan for quiet thrust, allowing long range stealth approaches. A sneaker-seeker is usually fired at a point some distance away from the actual target. Upon nearing ground, it deploys its wings to transition from a ballistic to a self-powered trajectory and begins to fly toward its pre-set destination coordinates. As it approaches, it utilizes terrain to provide cover while scanning for its programmed target. The sneaker-seeker will approach as close as it can using stealth and cover, then make a final terminal dash to attempt to collide with its quarry and detonate its warhead. In game terms, the sneaker-seeker has a Sneak score than acts as the combined Awareness + Sneak skill bonus for remaining undetected.

Warhead Types

Only one kind of warhead can be used per projectile.
  • Kinetic: The warhead consists of a booster rocket wrapped around a tungsten penetrator dart. When the warhead is triggered, the rocket lights off and accelerates the dart to hypersonic speeds for optimal penetration. The Boost value gives the distance the penetrator dart needs to get up to full speed. An unguided kinetic can either fire off immediately for normal direct fire operation, or use a proximity fuse to launch the dart just outside of the Boost range of anything directly in its way. Inertial guided kinetics also have the option of lauching the dart at pre-set coordinates. Homing and seeker warheads will launch the dart once they are close enough to their target to have a likely hit, orienting themselves to point at the target and then shooting. This is handled as a normal ranged attack from the missile's position at the time of launch to the target, using the guidance system's Homing score for its attack skill and the Aim for the kinetic rocket as the Aim for the attack. This Aim is only used for guided attacks. Kinetic darts are usually going so fast that they, and the stuff they impact with, literally explode from the energy of the impact. For larger darts, this can cuse considerable damage with the blast effect.

  • Explosive: The warhead contains a SMES charge, that causes damage via explosion. The explosion has a more predictable area of effect compared to fragmentation, and falls off to harmlessness more rapidly once the casualty radius is exceeded. This makes blast warheads safer to use near friendly forces, or where collateral damage or civilian casualties are a concern. In addition, blast warheads are among the more effective methods for projectile weapons to batter down deflector screens. A pure explosive charge is less dense than other warheads – it will have the same mass but will be significantly larger (for fixed diameter warheads, this usually means it is longer and sausage-shaped). Give a +1 to the Size and glide signature (but not any boost, thrust, or firing signature) to pure explosive charges.

  • Shaped Charge: An explosive SMES charge is put inside a radiation case, to direct the plasma from the blast in the forward direction in a narrow jet. This allows the munition to better punch through armor. There is also still a considerable omni-directional blast from the explosion. Usually, the tungsten radiation case will cause fragmentation, allowing the shaped charge to serve a dual-purpose anti-armor and anti-personnel role. Any listed shaped charge warhead can be purchased which has been designed for reduced fragmentation, so that the detonation does not produce casing fragment damage.

  • Cluster Bomb: Instead of one single explosive charge, this warhead separates into a large number of individual bomblets that burst simultaneously, saturating an area. The base listed damage is the cumulative effect of the blast damage of all of the bomblets – anyone within the BBRS area of effect takes the listed Pen.

  • Fragmentation: An explosive charge acts to burst a container of shot pellets, spraying high velocity shot over an area. While it has a similar 100% casualty radius to a blast warhead, the fragments can scatter across a much wider area to cause stochastic enemy casualties over a broad swath when indiscriminate carnage is not an issue.

  • Microfragmentation: This is much like a fragmentation munition, but instead of larger gold-silver alloy shot, it uses much smaller tungsten pellets. This allows for a more controllable effect, lowering the risk of long-range civilian or friendly casualties and collateral damage. Microfragmenting warheads are relatively more effective for the smaller warheads, while standard fragmentation is more effective for larger warheads.

  • Wormhole Weapons: Wormholes can be weaponized, to cause devastating radiant pulses or explosions. There are two main types:

    • Causality: A forced wormhole causality loop produces large amounts of radiation, producing an intense flash of light and damaging thermal pulse. The detonation can be very powerful, equivalent to a collapse warhead. Causality warheads are descended from Antecessor technology, and are primarily used by Mants, Squirm, Gummis, and their entrainments.

    • Collapse: A wormhole collapse triggered fusion reaction produces an intense blast and thermal flash, causing devastation over a city block (for the smallest sizes) up to a small township. This is the Human-tech equivalent of a causality warhead. They are usually extremely tightly regulated if not outright illegal.

    Despite their different methods of operation, both kinds of wormhole weapons have certain commonalities. Wormhole explosives can be detected if both ends are within a causality-controlled space. An unauthorized wormhole is likely to be collapsed in a causality attack, or serve as a locator for police or enemy forces to converge upon. Wormhole warheads are usually stored in a fail-safe manner until armed, so that an enemy-induced collapse will not endanger nearby friendly troops.

    Usually only one end of a causality munition wormhole is put in a warhead. The other is kept in a much larger "anchor," that includes the machinery for maintaining the wormhole. When the warhead explodes, the anchor will be undamaged. It can be re-used, if recharged with another wormhole and the opposite wormhole mouth fitted into an appropriate delivery package. This recharge is 1100th the cost of an entire system including the anchor.

    Large enough warheads can put both ends of the same wormhole into the munition. This close proximity of the two wormhole mouths largely shields the wormhole from causality attacks allowing wormhole warheads to be delivered to the enemy when the enemy has causal superiority. However, the resulting blast will be significantly reduced due to the need to carry the anchor's weight as well as the exploding end.

    The radiant pulse of wormhole-based weapons can pass through deflector screens without interaction.

  • EMP: This is a counter-electronics weapon than emits a brief, very powerful high powered microwave pulse that can burn out electronics. The microwaves are emitted using the Pulse rules, with the Dose falling off as -2 × the Range Score. Exposure of electronics to the EMP follows the rules for neural stun, with the following exceptions: Electronics cannot lose any Breath points – they have no Breath to lose. On a failed stun roll by 3 or more, the electronics are deactivated. It takes a minute and a DC 4 Build and Repair skill check to restart the electronics. Finally, if the Fatigue from the pulse matches or exceeds the Mild Shock level, the electronics are burnt out and will require major repairs before they work again. This requires a diurnal (day) of work and a DC 9 build and repair roll. Failure allows another try on the next day, failure by four or more means the electronics will never work again.

    The microwaves in the pulse can go right through walls and other non-conductive materials, penetrating up to 10 to 100 cm of rock and soil (depending on the moisture content). Metal and other good conductors completely block the microwaves, even a thin layer of foil is enough. Metal suits, armors, or barriers that are not specifically designed to stop microwaves are not a perfect defense, however - microwaves will leak through openings and the interior is likely to act as a resonant cavity or waveguide that can actually increase the intensity of some frequencies. Further, antennas or metal cords leading to the outside can pick up the microwaves and funnel them inside the suit. Any electronic equipment shielded by a full-coverage metal enclosure has its Dose reduced by 7, unless it has a power cord leading outside the metal shield, a conductive communications cord leading outside the shield (such as coax cables, telephone cords, or Ethernet cables, but not fiber optic cables), or an antenna that can pick up or transmit to outside the shield (including anything that can receive or transmit radio signals, scan with radar, or detect radar). Partial metal shielding is still good for a -2 to Dose. A well engineered Faraday cage (conductive shielding without any gaps to let the microwaves through) completely blocks the EMP.

    EMP has no effect on biological organisms, except insofar as they might be harmed by their malfunctioning electronics.

  • Flare: A flare will emit bright light. It is highly visible and useful for signalling, and can also illuminate the area around it. At a pre-determined height it will deploy a rotary wing and begin auto-rotating down at a rate of 1 meter every second. Large flares may split up into large numbers of smaller rotating flares as it deploys, to spread the illumination around and prevent it from descending too fast. If launched directly up, it can reach a maximum height of 100 meters on a low-V setting, or Speed² at high speed. If a deployment height is not pre-set, it will default to deploying once the flare has reached maximum altitude. (This assumes more-or-less Earth-like conditions. Height will be inversely proportional to the local gravity in g's, and descent rate proportional to the gravity and inversely proportional to the atmospheric pressure in standard atmospheres.)

  • Gas: The warhead releases a cloud of gas. The gas cloud drifts with windspeed. The referee sets the wind speed and direction for any scene, and it remains the same for the duration of the encounter unless an event occurs that would change it (turning on a jet engine, going inside, etc.). Indoor air can usually be approximated as unmoving, or calm (1 m/s) if there are fans providing ventillation.

    A gas warhead initially fills a volume up to its listed diameter on the initial round when it bursts. On the second round, the cloud will be elongated downwind with the same radius transverse to the wind but a diameter of the listed radius + windspeed in the direction of the wind. The RS between the smoke-dispersed cloud and the initial cloud reduces the effectiveness of the gas; call this the Dilution score. On the second round, the cloud increases it's base radius by ½ RS of the orginal cloud radius; it continues to expand in base radius at the same rate. The Dilution score is the um of the RS of changes to radius in height, width, and length. Drop fractions to the Dilution score when determining its effects. If the cloud reaches the limits of where it is able to expand, it no longer becomes increasingly diluted. If two clouds overlap, ⊕ together the negative of their individual dilution scores and take the negative of that to find the new dilution score.

    For example, consider a cloud of gas that initialy starts with a 3 meter radius. The windspeed is 7 m/round. On its first round, the gas extends to 3 m in all directions (6 m in diameter, but only 3 m high because the other 3 m is into the ground). On the second round, the gas is 3 m diameter trasnversely (meaning 6 m across and 3 m high) but 7 + 3 + 3 = 13 m long. 13 m is a +2 RS compared to the original 6 m, so the Dilution score is 6. On the second round, the base radius expands by ½ RS to 3.5 m, making it 14 m long, 7 m wide, and 3.5 m high. The length is still a +2 RS compared to the original value, but the width and height are both +½ RS compared to their original value, so the Dilution score is 2 + ½ + ½ = 3. It continues to expand its base radius by 0.5 m every round, so on the third round it is 15 m × 8 m × 4 m (Dilution score 4½, rounded down to 4); on the fourth round 16 m × 9 m × 4.5 m (Dilution score 5); on the fifth round 17 m × 10 m × 5 m (Dilution score 6); and so on.

    • Smoke: Smoke is opaque, blocking vision, thermographic sensors, and lasers. Radar can see through it. At full gas density, the smoke is completely opaque (-7 to vision and thermographic sensor rolls, lasers are completely blocked). Reduce the penalty by the Dilution score and use the usual DA rules for lasers (for example, with a Dilution score of 2, the vision penalty is -5 and lasers suffer a -5 RS to Pen). The vision penalty can never exceed -7.
    • Infra-smoke: Infra-smoke is a cloud of suspended nano-particles tuned to block near and short-wave infrared light. It lets visible light through, so it does not cause vision penalties (although Tweechi and Pirang will see the world oddly tinted). The default short-wave infrared beams of pulse lasers and phasers will be blocked, as will the default lidar scan beams, but since these can easily be tuned to different colors the effect will be at best temporary. The main use of infra-smoke is to block the natural communications channel of Squirm, while allowing other sapient races to communicate normally.
    • Tear Gas: Tear gas makes the eyes, nasal cavities, mouth, and airway very painful, while producing tears and mucous. A breathe mask with filters or SCBA gear provides full protection; partial protection (either eye protection or breathing protection but not both) only gives a -2 to Dose and will prevent all sense penalties for the protected sense (but increases penalties for the other sense by 1).
      • Dose: 4 for a single turn or partial turn of exposure, minus the Dilution score. Fatigue from this dose will never cause actual Fatigue penalties or effects, nor does it add to other Fatigue - it is merely for keeping track of symptoms.
      • Potency: 10.
      • Delay: none.
      • Period: immediate.
      • Cycles: 1.
      • Symptoms: Vision and smell penalties of 3 + Dose modified for Size and Potency check. Impairment with a DC equal to the sense penalties, and a penalty of (DC-1)/2. Stunning with a DC of the impairment DC + 2.
      • Healing: value of [7 - Vigor] minutes.
    • Sleep Gas: Sleep gas causes rapid unconsciousness if breathed. A breathe mask with filters or SCBA gear gvies full protection, as does holding your breath while in the cloud. Treat as a toxin:
      • Dose: 2 for a single turn or partial turn of exposure, minus the Dilution score.
      • Potency: 8.
      • Delay: 1 combat turn.
      • Period: immediate (first cycle), 1 minute (second cycle), 4 kiloseconds (hour, last cycle).
      • Cycles: 3.
      • Symptoms: -1 to Coordination, Smarts, Awareness, and Spirit, with an additional -1 penalty per Fatigue increment. Once the total penalty exceeds -5, the victim falls unconscious.
      • Healing: Value of [4-Vigor] kiloseconds (Value of [-Vigor] hours).
      For multiple exposures during the second or third cycle, just roll once at one minute or one hour after the initial exposure but apply the accumulated Dose for all exposures modified by a single Potency check.

      Contrary to its name, it does not actually send its victims to sleep, but rather shuts down higher brain activity. Descriptive symptoms include a dry mouth and eyes, hot and dry skin, fever, racing heart, blushing, blurred vision, distraction, hallucinations, and increasing drowsiness and lack of awareness. Speech becomes slurred and increasingly senseless, ultimately degenerating to mumbling and confabulations. Victims may not retain memory of the time they were exposed.

      Note that while sleep gas can rapidly incapacitate, it will eventually kill its victims if it continues to be breathed. If possible, those who are incapacitated should be removed from the cloud and given medical attention.

    • Paralysis Gas: A Gummi technology, occasionally used to capture criminals and the dangerously insane in Gummi Space. As the name suggests, it causes rapid paralysis. The victim remains conscious and aware even as his body fails him. A breathe mask with filters or SCBA gear gives full protection.
      • Dose: 2 for a single turn or partial turn of exposure, minus the Dilution score.
      • Potency: 10.
      • Delay: 1 combat turn.
      • Period: immediate (first cycle), 1 minute (last cycle).
      • Cycles: 2.
      • Symptoms: -1 to Coordination, with an additional -1 penalty per Fatigue increment. Total paralysis at Mild Shock or worse. At the Severe Shock level, the body goes into a state of suspended animation – all Vigor checks to remain alive succeed automatically and, since breathing is stopped, no additional Dose is taken from exposure – although the victim will still be semi-conscious and aware.
      • Healing: Value of [4-Vigor] kiloseconds (Value of [-Vigor] hours).
      For multiple exposures during the second cycle, just roll once at one minute after the initial exposure but apply the accumulated Dose for all exposures modified by a single Potency check.

      Signs of exposure start with tingling and numbness of the face and extremities, progressing down the limbs to the body. Drooling, weakness, and loss of coordination and balance follow until the body is completely unresponsive. A deeply paralyzed individual no longer has obvious vital signs and may be mistaken for dead. To detect life in a paralysis gas victim in Severe Shock, roll a task of Heal with a DC of 9. A medscanner gives +6 to this task.

    • Nerve Gas: Humans, Gummis, Mants, and Squirm have all independently invented nerve gas. Humans no longer use it, considering it to be inhumane. Nerve gas can be absorbed through the skin, mucus membranes, and lungs. A breathe mask with filters or SCBA gear reduces the dose by -3, holding your breath reduces the dose by -2. Only a full biohazard suit with breathe mask and filters/SCBA can provide complete protection against nerve gas.
      • Dose: 0 for a single turn or partial turn of exposure, minus the Dilution score.
      • Potency: 10.
      • Delay: 1 combat turn.
      • Period: immediate(first cycle), 1 minute (subsequent cycles).
      • Cycles: 10.
      • Symptoms: -1 to Coordination, with an additional -1 penalty to Coordination per Fatigue increment. Total paralysis at Mild Shock or worse. Death, if indicated, occurs by paralysis of the muscles used to breathe and subsequent asphyxiation. If given artificial respiration, the victim will survive.
      • Healing: Value of [4-Vigor] kiloseconds (Value of [-Vigor] hours).

      Nerve agents have a rapid and debilitating effect on the central nervous system, quickly incapacitating and eventually killing those who are exposed. Symptoms include: running nose, tightness of the chest, pinpoint pupils, shortness of breath, excessive salivation and sweating, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, involuntary defecation and urination, muscle twitching, confusion, seizures, paralysis, coma, respiratory paralysis, and death.

    • Squirmicide: A persistent, fast-acting, aerosolized neurotoxin that only affects Squirm. The mist can be absorbed through a Squirm's skin and mucus membranes. The aerosol coats anything it contacts with a layer of toxin that can remain for 1 to 10 megaseconds, depending on environmental conditions. Defense against squirmicide is the same as for nerve gas.
      • Dose: 0 for a single turn or partial turn of exposure, minus the Dilution score.
      • Potency: 10.
      • Delay: 1 combat turn.
      • Period: one combat turn (first two cycles), 1 minute (third cycle), 4 kiloseconds (hour, fourth cycle), 100 kiloseconds (day, last two cycles).
      • Cycles: 6.
      • Symptoms: -1 to Coordination, with an additional -1 penalty to Coordination per Fatigue increment. Total paralysis at Mild Shock or worse. Death, if indicated, occurs by paralysis of the muscles used to breathe and subsequent asphyxiation. It is supposed that if given artificial respiration the victim will survive, but no one would want to perform artificial respiration on a Squirm and no one is really sure how to in any event.
      • Healing: Value of [2-Vigor] diurnals (days).

      Affected Squirm appear to show excessive production of mucus, weakness, lack of coordination and balance, twitching, and finally full paralysis followed by death.

      Squirm have evidenced rapid adaptation to squirmicide. Variants that worked on previous Squirm infestations are unlikely to have much effect on Squirm strains from later invasions. Any new infestation generally results in a significant research effort to develop new versions of squirmicide that are effective against the new strain.

    • Flour: Disperses a very fine aerosol of white powder with a strong affinity for electrostatically sticking to things. The flour clings to the surface of anything in or that passes through the cloud, coating it with a fine white dust. It is used to counter stealth surfaces, rendering holo suits and coverings ineffective. At full gas density, all visual stealth and camouflage is negated. As the gas is dispersed, the vision penalty for coated objects can be no more than the Dilution score at the time that the object is coated. For holo suits, if the camouflage effect is at all degraded, it loses its ability to hide its wearer in plain sight. Regardless of the dilution score, at most flour can negate the penalty to vision, it won't make things easier to see than if they didn't have camouflage.

  • Tangler: A tangler round consists of many strands of tightly wound spring-plastic held under torsion. An individual strand looks much like monofilament fishing wire, but it can be much more lively. When the cartridge bursts, the spring wire explosively uncoils, with flying ends that lash out and around. The strands coil about anything they encounter, and twine around other threads (or themselves) when they encounter each other. In their final stages of the reaction, they kink up in a series of tight coils to cinch down and keep up the tension. All of this takes less than a second. Anyone in the whip radius is likely to be caught and bound up in the twisting, coiling strands.

    The tanger burst is treated as a grapple, with an effective Strength of the tangler's Brawn plus twice the smaller of the Size of the victim or the tangle. Anyone directly struck or in the area of effect automatically takes the usual Control for the tangle's Strength – there is no initial roll to establish the grapple, but degrees of success cannot be spent to further increase the Control. Once set, victims can attempt to escape in the normal fashion for grapples, against a flat DC of the tangle's effective Strength. If the tangle's Size is at least that of its victim, every part of the victim's body is considered to be grappled, so using limbs for anything (inlcuding movement) requires winning a contest against the tangle's effective Strength. The strands can be cut by anyone who has a free hand and a cutting instrument. The strands are strong and resistant to damage – treat them as Armor Score Mech +0, Burn +0 – but they will not attempt to defend in any way from damage done to them. Only slashing and burning type damage will harm the tangle (and burning type damage is likely to harm the tangled victim as well). As damage is caused, the grapple will be lessened and eventually the entangled victim will be able to get free – find the Injury Susceptibility for the tangle's Strength and the lower of the Sizes of the tangle and the victim. Every +5 injury to the tangle removes one Control point from the victim, enough injury to break the tangle will, in addition, lower the DC to escape by the breaking penalty (or, at Injury Score +16 or beyond, allow an automatic escape).

    Users should be warned that Gummis are flexible enough to escape from most tangler bindings. Tangles against Gummis should thus be regarded as temporary, as they can ooze between the strands and escape within a minute or so.

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