Beam Weapons

Weapon/Defence Archive: Weapons: Beams

[A3D Device] -[Cutter Beam] -[Enhanced Beam Batteries] -[Extended Needle Beams] -[Gatling Battery] -[Gatling Phaser] -[Graviton Beam] -[Heavy Beam Battery] -[Heavy Beam System] -[H.E.T. Laser] -[Laser Weapons] -[Meson Flechette] -[Meson Gun] -[Multi-Use Beams] -[Plasma Cannon] -[Twin Particle Array]


[Noam Izenberg] (GZG-L Nov-2001)

The A3D device tears the fabric of space at a distance determined only by the mass of the projector. The resulting interdimensional burst of energy can damage ships in the vicinity of the rip, although the affected area is quite small, and will affect only one ship.

The range of the A3D device is determined by its class, and it should be noted that this weapon has a minimum range as well as a maximum range.

Class I: 12-24 MU ring (all arc); Class II: 24-36 MU ring; Class III: 36-48 MU ring, etc.

A3D's does 2 Beam dice of damage within its effective range.

The A3D has no rear-arc firing restrictions, and can not be fired in a PDS role.

The MASS requirements for an A3D device are as follows:


A3D devices automatically get all-round (6 arc) fire, regardless of class.

Larger classes of A3D devices are possible, and the MASS required rises by 3 per additional class.

All A3D devices cost 4 points per MASS used.

ICONS (examples):    A³D I A³D Class I    A³D II A³D Class II     A³D III A³D Class III


[Noam] An A3D-I + 2 class 1 Beams directly compare with a Pulser M-6. Both cover 2 beam dice over the same area, but the Pulser is Mass/Cost 4/20 while the A³D/ Beam combo is 5/18. The Pulser is a single system with PDS capability and aft fire restrictions. The combo is 3 systems with PDS capability (from the C1 Beams) and reduced aft restrictions (from the A³D). That appears a pretty even match, perhaps the edge to the A³D combo because it could fire at both ranges (if targets and firecons permitted).
An A3D-II + A3D-I + 2 class 1 Beams directly compare with 2x Pulser L-6: 2 Beam dice over the same area. Pulsers cost 8/40, combo costs 11/42. Similar PDS capabilities, 4 systems vs. 1, rear arc advantages and multiple targeting for A3D combo. Here the Pulser has the edge, but it's pretty close.


[Brendan Robertson] (Brendan's website)

A highly focussed energy beam capable of cutting right through an enemy ship.

Treat this weapon as a Pulse Torpedo Launcher except damage is marked vertically from the topmost undamaged box of armour or hull. Any excess damage due to running out of damage rows causes an immediate Core System threshold check against 1 random system (1-2: Bridge, 3-4: Powercore, 5-6: Life Support) at the current threshold value, +1 per point of penetrating damage (i.e. the excess after destroying 1 column of armour and hull) (7 on first row, 6 on second row etc). If the last box of a row is destroyed, this has no additional effect unless ALL boxes in that row have been destroyed (similar to Sa'Vasku expending their own hull). Note that no row can be hit more than once due to the nature of damage distribution.

An alternate weapon system for use with Full Thrust, the Cutter Beam primarily kills Crew Factors early in the battle and starts taking out core systems later on as a secondary (but devastating) function.

The closest analogy to the desired effect I can see is the Primary Beams from Weber's "In Death's Ground" which punch a 2" hole through most ships (regardless of size). I see it more as firing once in the turn (like Pulse Torpedo Launchers) with extreme penetration than as a multiple pulse beam trying to "shotgun" the target area to increase hit potential (normal beams).

The Cutter Beam requires 6 MASS, plus an additional 2 MASS for each additional fire arc (to a maximum of 3). The cost is 3 points per MASS used.

ICONS (examples):     Cutter Beam  (1 arc)     3-arc Cutter Beam  (3 arc)


EXAMPLE 1: An unarmoured ship is hit by a Cutter Beam for 5 damage points.

Before:      After:
Example 1 before      Example 1 after

1 Crew Factor is killed and the ship takes 1 excess damage, resulting in a Core System Threshold Check with a roll of (6).

EXAMPLE 2: An armoured ship is hit by a Cutter Beam for 5 damage points.

Before:      After:
Example 2 before      Example 2 after

1 Crew Factor is killed, but the ship takes no excess damage.


[Oerjan] The closest analogue to the *desired* effect might be Weber's/Starfire's Primary Beams, but the closest analogue to the *actual* effect seem to be the B5 Heavy Beam weapons... The closest FT analogue to Weber's/Starfire's Primary Beams (and Needle Beams, and nowadays Precision Lasers as well) is the FB1 Needle Beam.

[Charles] I remember that other 'vertical damage weapons' have sparked quite a controversy on the mailing list in the past as well. I'm not sure about this one, most human ships have, at most, 4 rows of hull and 1 row of armour, (if they have less than 4 rows of hull, the effects of this weapon become indistinguishable from that of a pulse torpedo), so any hit has a 1 in 6 chance of causing a single core system threshold, which, if failed, is pretty bad for the ship. Larger Phalon ships, however, are quite resistant.


[Roger Burton West]

This weapon is found in the Spinal Mount weapons section.


[Noam Izenberg] (NIFT- Midbar Ghostworks) and [GZG-L] (GZG-L) WotW #3

This is a combination of two related systems from former versions of the archive, the Heavy Needle Beam originally proposed by Noam, and the Multi-Arc Needle Beam,that, I believe, was proposed during the discussion of the Heavy Needle Beam.The Multi-Arc Needle Beam is simply an extension to the original Needle Beam as described in Fleet Book 1, allowing it to have more than one arc of fire.


A Needle Beam with more than one arc requires a MASS of 2, plus an extra +1 MASS for each additional fire arc, to a maximum of 3 arcs. The cost is 3 points per MASS.

ICONS (example):    3-arc Needle Beam  (3 arc)


This is a longer-ranged, more powerful version of the standard needle beam described in Fleet Book 1.

At a range of 0-12mu a Heavy Needle Beam acts as two normal Needle beams that are targeting the same system on the same ship. If two sixes are rolled vs the Main drive (or any other two-hit system), it is totally destroyed. Two sixes vs. other systems destroy the target, cause 1 point of hull damage, and then reroll as per normal beams (skipping armour). Heavy Needle Beams can fire a single normal needle beam die at a target between 12mu and 24mu. The Heavy Needle Beam has a single arc of fire

The Heavy Needle Beam requires 5 MASS. The cost is 15 points.

ICON:    Heavy Needle Beam

If the Multi-Arc Needle Beams are in use, then a Multi-Arc Heavy Needle Beam should be considered, with each extra arc increasing the MASS by 3, and the cost by 9 points, to a maximum of 3 arcs.


[Paul Wellman] (Sam Penn's Website)WotW #8

A powerful short-range beam battery with good point-defence capabilities.

The mailing list WOTW discussion came to the consensus that this should be treated as equivalent to a Phalon Pulser that is permanently configured in Close range mode, and cannot be reconfigured.
Thus its MASS is the same as a Pulser with the same number of fire arcs, while its cost is possibly 1 point less per MASS (see Fleet Book 2 for a description of the Phalon Pulser).

ICONS:    1-arc Gatling Battery  (1 arc)     3-arc Gatling Battery  (3 arc)     6-arc Gatling Battery   (6 arc)

Paul's Original:

The Gatling battery is a high rate of fire class 1 battery, with an effective range of 9mu and attacks target ships with 4 dice. Alternatively, the Gatling Battery can attack incoming fighters and missiles as 2 standard PDS.

The MASS of a Gatling Battery is 3, and the cost is 9 points.

[Oerjan] Mass and cost is for FT2, not FB. Superseded by the Pulser-C.


[Star Fleet Battles Conversions by Alan Brain] (Alan's page)WotW #8

This weapon is found in the Genre: Star Trek section.


[Noam Izenberg & Dean Gundberg] (NIFT-Midbar Ghostworks)

The Graviton Beam fires a stream of graviton particles that damages the whole ship by gravitationally induced molecular shear.

Each mount fires 1d6 of damage (like an Earthforce Sourcebook Heavy Beam Weapon) with a -1 modifier per each portion of 8mu range (0-8mu -1, 8-16mu -2, 16-24mu -3, 24-32mu -4, 32-40mu -5), rolls of 6 get a re-roll. Each level of screens on the target ship is a -1 modifier on the damage roll (no modifier for screens on re-rolls). The Graviton Beam penetrates armour after one armour box is hit (like Kra'Vak K-guns).

The Graviton Beam requires 4 MASS, plus an additional +1 MASS for each additional fire arc (to a maximum of 3). The cost is 3 points per MASS used.

ICONS (example):     1-arc Graviton Beam  (1 arc)     2-arc Graviton Beam  (2 arc)     3-arc Graviton Beam  (3 arc)

(Alternative Design):     1-arc Graviton Beam  (1 arc)     2-arc Graviton Beam   (2 arc)    3-arc Graviton Beam   (3 arc)


[Charles] I'm a bit uncertain about this, it has the same MASS and cost as a class 3 beam battery or a pulse torpedo, but it out ranges the pulse torpedo by 10mu, and does rather more damage than the class 3 beam (and out ranges it a bit as well!) Doing a quick comparison of the damage this can do with the other weapons, I suspect that the MASS and/or the cost is too low, I think either increase the MASS to 11, plus 3 per extra arc, with a cost of 3 per MASS, or increase the cost to 12 per MASS (or somewhere in between).


[Alan Brain] (GZG-L, 9 March 2001)

These heavier beam batteries fire far fewer bursts, so have a smaller chance of hitting, and thus have a lesser effective range than standard beam batteries. However, they have much larger capacitors, so when they hit, they really hit. They are no more effective than normal beams vs screened ships, less so vs heavily screened ones, but against unscreened ships they are rather more deadly.

Usually Heavy beams are found as limited-arc "Spinal Mounts". Those mounted on UN vessels came as a nasty surprise to the KraVak during the Siege of Earth, matching the firepower of the larger K-guns.

A Heavy Beam Battery rolls 1 less die than a normal beam at every range. So a class 3 Heavy Beam Battery rolls 2 dice at 12 mu, and 1 die at up to 24 mu.

Hits by a heavy beam do 4,3,2,1,0,0 points of damage (i.e., a roll of a 6 does 4 pts, and a re-roll, a roll of 5 does 3 points, and so on). Re-rolls also do 4,3,2,1,0,0 points, not counting screens, with scores of 6 causing further re-rolls as do normal beams.

Screens are particularly effective vs Heavy Beam Batteries. Subtract the screen rating from the damage of each die. So a Heavy Beam Battery that scored a 4, which would normally be 2 hits, would only do 1 against a target with screen 1, and would do no damage against a target with screen 2.

An alternative way of handing the beam damage is that each die does 1d6-2 points of damage, minus the screen level of the target, with a minimum of zero damage.

Heavy Beam Batteries require the same MASS and cost the same number of points as a normal Beam Battery of the same class.

ICONS (examples):     1-arc Class-3 Heavy Beam Battery  (Class 3, 1 arc)     2-arc Class-4 Heavy Beam Battery   (Class 4, 2 arc)     3-arc Class-4 Heavy Beam Battery  (Class 4, 3 arc)


[Alan Brain]The most cost-effective Heavy Beam Batteries are those of Class 4 and above, though some Class 3s are sometimes found. Class 2s are even rarer, and Class 1s cannot be constructed.

This is a solution to the following problems/requirements:

[Charles] My only real comment (and a largely aesthetic one at that) is that, as written, you have to remember to roll 1 less dice than you would if firing a conventional beam battery of the same class at a target with the same range. An alternative way of describing it would be that the Heavy Beam Battery rolls the same number of dice as a conventional beam battery, but has the MASS and cost of a conventional beam battery of 1 class higher. I guess Oerjan's comments about 'another way to read a damage dice' for the H.E.T. Laser applies here as well.


[Many People] (Many Places)

The Heavy Beam Weapon (HBW) was originally designed by Jon Tuffley as part of The Babylon Project space combat system introduced in the Earthforce Sourcebook (EFSB). However, that version did not have either a MASS or a points cost listed. The versions given here are designed for use in more 'mainstream' Full Thrust games.

The HBW has been hashed in the Full Thrust/GZG mailing list several times. There is occasionally some form of consensus, but I don't know what the current version of that is. Here are some of the opinions:

Brendan Robertson's Suggestion:

The Heavy Beam Weapon still consists of two sub- systems; a Capacitor to store the power needed for the weapon, and one or more Projectors to project this power as a beam weapon.

The Capacitor has a rating which is the amount of power that it can hold, it recharges at a rate equal to half of its undamaged rating (rounded down) each turn, until it holds a number of points of charge equal to its rating. Should the Capacitor fail a threshold check (or be hit by a successful Needle Beam attack), its rating is halved, a further failed threshold check will knock it out completely (rating reduced to zero). Additionally, each time the Capacitor fails a threshold check, roll 1D6, should the roll be less than or equal to the current Capacitor rating, the ship takes internal damage equal to the die roll (i.e. damage applied directly to the hull, ignoring any armour, screens, etc.) Note that failing threshold checks caused by EMP weapons will never cause internal damage.

Each Projector is a 1-arc weapon that must be connected to one (and only one) Capacitor (however, one Capacitor can feed multiple Projectors). Each Projector can use up to 6 points of charge. When fired, the Projector generates a beam that uses the same 'To Hit' mechanism as a Pulse Torpedo (or K–Gun). Roll 1 'to hit' dice per point of charge used, and for each die that hits, 1D6 damage points are inflicted upon the target vessel. This damage penetrates like that of a K–Gun or Lance Pod (see Fleet Book 2), i.e. only the first damage point (per die) is applied to armour, while the rest penetrates.

Damaged Capacitors or Projectors can be repaired by Damage Control Parties, as usual (unless damaged by needle fire).

The Capacitor requires a MASS equal to 3× its Rating, and have no upper limit on size (hull capacity permitting). It costs 3 points per MASS. The Projector(s) require a MASS of 2 and cost 6 points each.

This gives a Class-2 Capacitor & 1 Projector roughly equivalent firepower to 2 x Pulse Torpedo Launchers once you take into account the armour penetration characteristics & recharge times.
The Class-4 Capacitor & 1 Projector is slightly more efficient than 4 x Pulse Torpedo Launchers, but has the drawback of no redundancy. As the tech levels improve, this can be upgraded to the EFSB HBW rules.

Stray Cat/Fulton/Schoonmaker:
{Many thanks to Beth Fulton and Sean Schoonmaker as these rules are their conversions with only a sprinkling of my ideas.}

Heavy Beams Systems consist of two separate systems. One is the Capacitor, and the other is the Projector. The Heavy Beam Capacitor stores a number of ENERGY POINTS (EP) up to its class rating. At the beginning of the turn the player rolls a number of dice equalling the Capacitor rating. These dice are read like beam dice (1-3 = 0 points, 4-5 = 1 point, 6 = 2 points + a re-roll), and the total of the points is the EP available for firing. These points can be stored indefinitely. The Capacitor does not have to expend all of its stored energy at once, though it may if desired.

Projectors are one-arc weapons linked to the Capacitor. EP can be transferred from the Capacitor to one or more Projectors, subject to standard targeting limitations and available fire control systems.

No more than six EP can be transferred to a single Projector. Each EP is equal to one die to be rolled when a beam is fired. For every full six mu of range subtract one from each die to be rolled. Level 1 screens also drop the damage by -1 per die, while level 2 screens drop the damage by -2 per die. After all the range and screen modifiers have been taken into account the total remaining is the damage inflicted. Any 6 rolled before modifiers due to range allows a re-roll which is counted at full value with no range or screen deductions.

(To summarise, each EP channelled thorough a Projector inflicts damage equal to 1D6 - Range to target in mu ÷6 (round down) - Target screen level.)

Roll separately for each Projector and Capacitor during threshold checks. If a Capacitor is knocked out (damaged) immediately roll again. On a roll of 1 or 2 the system simply loses any stored EP and may begin to recharge next turn as normal (i.e. it is otherwise undamaged).
On a 3, 4 or 5 it loses all its stored EP and its rating is halved (i.e. can not store more than half, rounded up, of its original rating) for the rest of the game. On a 6 the Capacitor is knocked out completely and any associated projectors may not fire for the rest of the game, the vessel also takes additional internal damage equal to the number of stored EP currently in the Capacitor. Threshold rolls that destroy Projectors do no further damage to the capacitor.
A successful Needle Beam attack will always halve the Capacitor rating on the first such attack, and destroy it on the second. Threshold checks caused by EMP weapons never cause internal damage.

The Capacitor requires a MASS equal to 3× its Rating, and have no upper limit on size (hull capacity permitting). It costs 3 points per MASS. The Projector(s) require a MASS of 2 and cost 6 points each.

ICON: Heavy Beam System (shows Capacitor Rating numerically, 1 Projector)

Heavy Beam System (shows Capacitor Rating graphically, 3 Projectors)

David Reeves:

This version of the Heavy Beam Weapon (HBW) does not have a separate Capacitor, but just has a Heavy Beam System with a given rating. The rating indicates the maximum charge (in Energy Points) the HBW can store, when fired, the HBW will inflict 2 beam dice of damage per Energy Point used, reduced by 2 beam dice for every full 12 mu of range. The HBW recharges at a rate of 1 Energy Point per turn.

EXAMPLE: A fully charged HBW–3, when fired, would inflict 6 beam dice from range 0 to 12 mu, 4 beam dice from 12 to 24 mu, and 2 beam dice from 24 to 36 mu.

A MASS requirements for the various Heavy Beam Weapon classes are as follows;


All Heavy Beam Weapons are limited to single–arc fire only.

All Heavy Beam Weapons cost 3 points per MASS used.


[David] Unlike our previous ideas, I dropped the recharge capacitor of earlier versions. It was en extra component and complication to track. Essentially, the HB is twice as powerful as a normal FT beam weapon.
One caveat: when I test the above, I test with the FT B5 rules that I have written over the past year and tested. I have made a more radical departure from the base FT rules, for example, all weapons have some sort of recharge rate (versus fire every turn). So, YMMV with the HBW above — specifically, your first shot has an advantage in doing all its damage up front versus a normal beam weapon, however, you get pounded by every–turn beams while you wait for the HBW to recharge.

For further options for Heavy Beam weapons, see the Genre: Babylon 5 section.


[Brendan] I would like to see a little middle ground with regards to the damage effects. The UN would have advanced on the Pulse Torpedo technology, but I don't think it should be upgraded all the way to slice'n'dice reroll weaponry of the EFSB.

H.E.T. LASER (High Energy Throughput Laser)

[Bif Smith] (FT-List 28-Jan-01)

This is a high-power laser beam weapon, rather than the more conventional particle beam weapons (the 'default' PSB for standard Beam Batteries).

The number of dice of damage rolled is 1 per class, minus 1 for every full 8mu of range (i.e. for 0-8mu it rolls 1 die per class, while for 8-16mu it rolls 1 die less, etc.). The damage each die dies is 1d6-3, with a minimum of zero, re-rolling on rolls of 6 (i.e. 1 to 3 = miss, 4=1 dp, 5=2 dp, 6=3 dp + reroll [use this system to avoid extra die rolls]).

Screens have no effect on a H.E.T. Laser due to the beam being non-charged, therefore not affected by the magnetic screening used on human ships. However, it is affected by Phalon vapour shields as the beam is diffused by the vapour droplets. A vapour shroud subtracts 2 from each dice of damage, but re-roll dice are not affected.

A class 1 H.E.T. Laser can be used in a limited point defence roll in exactly the same way that a class 1 beam battery can.

A H.E.T. Laser requires the same MASS as a Beam Battery of the same class, including the MASS required for additional fire arcs. It has a cost of 4 points per MASS.

ICONS (examples):    1-arc Class 3 HET Laser  (Class 3, 1 arc)     6-arc Class 2 HET Laser  (Class 2, 6 arc)

Alternatively, use the same symbol as a Beam battery, except with a L added in the icon.




[B5Wars conversion by Clint Kozell/Corye Seale] (Corye's web page)

This weapon is found in the Genre: Babylon 5 section.


[Noam Izenberg] (NIFT- Midbar Ghostworks)WotW #8

The Meson Flechette fires a powerful, (relatively) wide-angle beam of mesons, producing a powerful, but somewhat short-ranged weapon.

At 0-12mu it inflicts 6 beam dice, while at 12-24mu it inflicts 3 beam dice. Dice are re-rolled on a roll of 6 as normal. Screens and vapour shrouds have their normal protective effect.

The Meson Flechette is 4 MASS, plus an additional 1 MASS for each additional fire arc (to a maximum of 3). The cost is 3 points per MASS used.

ICONS:     1-arc Meson flechette  (1 arc)     2-arc Meson flechette   (2 arc)    3-arc Meson flechette   (3 arc)

(Alternative Design):     1-arc Meson flechette  (1 arc)     2-arc Meson flechette   (2 arc)    3-arc Meson flechette   (3 arc)


[Noam] The cost of Flechette +2 arcs is the same as for 3 class 2 beams, and has exactly the same power.

[WOTW #8] List discussion produced no alterations.


(Richard Bell, w. adaptations by Noam Izenberg] (GZG-L 1-29-01)

That staple from Traveller, the meson gun (actually a pi-meson [pion] cancer therapy machine on uber-steroids). A laser-like emitter produces bursts of pion with a very small range of energies, and these are then accelerated by a very tightly controlled and precise accelerator. The pions have a very short mean lifetime, so they decay very quickly, but at near light speed, they can go far enough to reach the target ship. Once they hit the ship, they are forced to slow down as light travels slower when not in vacuum, so their arrival is heralded with a burst of Cherenkov radiation. Interactions with the target's hull and atmosphere slow down the pions enough that their time dilation is no longer enough to carry them outside the hull before they decay into a flash of gamma rays. Screens are very effective against these beams, as they slow down many of the pions before they reach the ship. Armour actually worsen the damage, as the armour absorbs the high energy gammas and re-radiates low energy gammas, which are much better at interacting with the contents of the hull, so too little armour is worse than none.

The Meson Gun does damage as a beam battery of the same class, with the same range bands, but the damage by-passes armour entirely. Level one screens halve the number of dice (round down), and level two screens reduce the number of dice by two thirds (round down). Screens only affect the number of dice, not the amount of damage determined by each die. Ships equipped with armour take double damage (after the number of dice are reduced by screens).

By unusual happen stance, the weapon was discovered by the NSL. After test firing a non-deploy able prototype, they spent a conspicuous amount of effort failing to make a practical weapon out of it, and enumerated a great many reasons why it would never be capable of fleet use. Although, the funds could have added two Von Tegetthoff Superdreadnought's to their battle line, and the project was hopelessly penetrated by foreign intelligence services, they consider the investment quite sound.

The Meson Gun has the same MASS as a beam battery of the same class, and costs the same number of points, including the MASS and cost of additional fire arcs.

ICONS (examples):    2-arc Class 3 Meson Gun  (Class 3, 2 arc)     6-arc Class 3 Meson Gun  (Class 3, 6 arc)


[Noam] Richard's original design was for a single, large (Mass 16, 8 die damage) weapon. I adapted it to the beam dynamic.
[Oerjan] Interesting. Certainly provides an incentive to use screens, as screens make the target virtually invulnerable to the meson gun...


[Bif smith and GZG-L] (GZG-L)WotW #3

This weapon is found in the Genre: Star Trek section.


[B5Wars conversion by Clint Kozell/Corye Seale] (Corye's web page)

This weapon is found in the Genre: Babylon 5 section.


[B5Wars conversion by Clint Kozell/Corye Seale] (Corye's web page)

This weapon is found in the Genre: Babylon 5 section.

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Last Update May 31, 2002, NRI