Peking Space Opera Blues: Equipment

Personal Weapons

The tables below provide the following information about various weapons. Although there are many other attributes of intense interest to enthusiasts, only the parameters in the tables have any game effect.

This is the name of the generic weapon class, the manufacturers and models being far too numerous to enumerate. Advertising claims not withstanding, most examples of any given type have fairly similar performance. Very high-quality models might have one point more of damage; very cheap ones one point less. Long-barrelled variants are usually available that have +1 Range.
The damage rating of a weapon indicates how effective it is at maiming and killing. For an explanation of how this number is used during play, refer to the combat section. A weapon with two damage ratings listed has a high power and low power setting which the user can choose between at will.

A damage rating with a plus sign means that the damage is added to the user's Base Damage attribute to determine the actual damage.
Rate of Fire (RoF)
There are five rates of fire: slow, single shot, burst, autofire, and beam. Weapons with RoF of "slow" or "single shot" fire one shot each time the trigger is pulled. Burst weapons fire several shots each time the trigger is pulled. Autofire weapons fire a continual series of shots as long as the trigger is held down, and beam weapons fire a continuous beam as long as the trigger is held down. Slow weapons can only be used to attack once per round; all others can be used to attack once per action. In addition, burst, autofire, and beam weapons can be used to attack multiple targets: refer to the combat section for details.

Some weapons have multiple entries with different rates of fire and different damages, indicating that some models of that weapon can operate in various modes. Generally, all weapons will be able use the first mode listed, but only military weapons will have the second or third.

A weapon with only one entry but a listed RoF of auto or burst will also be able to fire single-shot; a weapon with only a beam entry will also be able to fire in burst mode.
Any bonus listed in the Range column can be applied against the AV penalties for long range. The penalty for range can never be reduced to less than -0. A weapon with a Range modifier of -1 takes a -1 AV at any range beyond hand-to-hand, in addition to the normal penalties.
Most weapons are powered by fusion cells which last for thousands or tens of thousands of shots, and therefore do not need to worry about running out of power during any reasonable usage. Some archaic weapons use projectiles, however, which they have only a limited store of. A burst fire attack should be considered 5 rounds, an autofire attack 15, and a beam attack 50.

Hand-to-hand manual weapons of course require no ammo; for ranged manual weapons, the user has as many shuriken, knives, or arrows as she thought to pack.

Blasters fire tiny specks of fusing hydrogen wrapped in self-sustaining magnetic envelopes. When the blot hits something, the envelope ruptures and the energy escapes along the rupture line in a coherent star-hot direct pulse that can burn through steel or turn flesh to radioactive charcoal.

Blasters are preferred because they provide the best ratio of damage to weapon size, but they are not without flaws. For one thing, the blinding blue-white bolt and explosive crack of a blaster is far from subtle. Although the blaster bolt itself is of neglible momentum, the heated air expelled from the barrel produces noticeable recoil. Finally, blasters have to dissipate a lot of heat, which limits their rate of fire.

Holdout blaster5slow-1fusion
Light blaster pistol5sing+0fusion
Medium blaster pistol6sing+0fusion
Heavy blaster pistol7sing+1fusion
Blaster carbine8sing+2fusion
Blaster rifle9sing+3fusion

Lasers generate beams of coherent light hot enough to vaporize whatever they hit. A laser beam will burn neatly through dry targets or armor; anything containing water, such as flesh, will be ripped messily asunder by a steam explosion. Laser weapons operate in the near ultraviolet, for better range performance; the dramatic blue and red beams of the talkingbooks are just fiction. In atmosphere, lasers produce trails of sparks along the beam, and a zap (or hiss, for continuous beams) which is still much less conspicuous than a blaster bolt.

The primary advantage of a laser is that it can produce a continuous beam, making it easier to hit one or many targets. It is important to remember that the more targets the beam's energy is distributed across, the less damage each target receives.

Holdout Laser4slow-1fusion
Light laser pistol4beamfusion
Medium laser pistol5beam+1fusion
Heavy laser pistol6sing+2fusion
Laser carbine7sing+3fusion
Laser rifle8sing+4fusion

Sporting weapons are mostly gauss guns, which use strong magnetic fields to launch metal bullets, rather like electric motors laid out straight. Although they use fusion cells for power, gauss guns have magazines containing limited numbers of bullets, and need to be reloaded inconveniently often. Sportsmen use them because they make neat, easily scorable holes in targets, are considered 'fair' for hunting, and offer endless grounds for arguments about bullet design and ballistics.

Dueling pistol0/7sing+11
Sporting pistol3sing+250
Hunting rifle7sing+450

Antique weapons such as gauss guns and even firearms are still in use on some exceptionally benighted worlds of the Marches, but are otherwise found only in the collections of antiquarians and recreationists.

Firearm pistol3sing+025
Firearm rifle5auto+250
Gauss pistol4sing+0150
Gauss rifle6auto+3500
VRF gauss carbine5beam+2500

Manual weapons, those powered by the user's muscles, are no longer cutting-edge anywhere the Empire knows of, but are traditional to many martial arts styles, and retain their age-old advantages of silence and freedom from ammunition supplies (although the latter is less impressive in these days of fusion power cells). Powered variants of some manual weapons (vibroblades, zapsticks) are popular in certain circles as well.

Thrown Rock-1brst-1
Throwing Knife+1brst+0
Throwing Axe+2sing+0


Heavy Weapons




Most other items do not need to be enumerated or given game statistics. If the characters want something sensible, like climbing rope, night vision goggles, or a coffee grinder, they buy, it performs its function, and eventually it gets lost, stolen, or blown up, just like any of the above equipment only with less fuss. If the characters want something like ridiculous, like a teleporter, an AI battleship, or cheesecake pictures of the Empress, too bad.

Peking Space Opera Blues is copyright 1997 by Trevor Placker. All rights reserved.

This file was last modified at 1635 on 22Jun99 by