Home Forums Sci Fi General Sci-Fi Can we talk SF "infantry" weapons?

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    Caveat, I assume killing from a distance is good and we will not “return” to bullet/missile proof melee based only combat like some Dark Gothic games seem to think will happen.

    We are not talking about Combined Arms forces with wheel/track/GEV/GRAV vehicles being the focus of combat. There will always be a place for the “grunts” even if they wear “Power Armor” in war/combat. More so is dense terrain or small unit missions.

    Basically there are personal and team crewed weapons for such combat.

    Personal and crewed weapons weapons:

    Melee: Okay, there will be up close and personal (you screwed up or they were really good tactically and you are in essentially “arm’s length” (tentacle, fin, whatever,) when it gets personal. IMNSHO there is not a lot of difference between monochrome blades, coagulators, force knives, or a simple club unless you are talking 1970s/1980s rules like FGU/FanTac Space Marines.* Either I incapacitate/kill you, you incapacitate/kill me, or we are (sometimes literally) locked in combat for another round/phase/segement.


    1) Weapons that essentially (for whatever reason) target an individual only. This can range from a musket to a Gauss Sniper Rifle.

    2) Weapons that have “burst” capability and either attack one target multiple times or multiple targets adjacent/near in a zone/template effect (bullets, sonic attacks, shards, plasma bits, whatever.)

    3) Weapons that attack a point/area with essentially one attack per opponent/friendly but unlucky trooper within that circle/ellipse/square/rectangle. From Grenade launchers (GL) or Atomic Demolition Munitions (ADM.)

    How they do that is “game “Color Commentary’ flavor.”

    In Modern (2014) terms this would be 1) single shot “rifles”, 2) Automatic capable weapons like ARs, SMGs, MPs, LMGs, etc., and 3) GLs/Flame-throwers weapons. Whether these are “bullet”/anti-matter/plasma or other forms of attack is “handwavium” and game mechanics manipulations.

    Agree? Disagree? Want to add/delete a significantly in effect different weapon type?

    Curious to see how/why people layer flavor over a basically simple construct of weapon classes. * the FanTac/FGU Space Marine rules are overflowing with types/effects/plusses or minuses list of weapons that are pure joy to read and talk about but the grit involved in game terms pretty much limits a player force to a fire team or maybe a squad each for a four hour play of a 4 minute assault.

    Not going to get into why StarGuard lasers had less “real world” range” then M-14s…

    Angel Barracks

    Next year all being will I will do a Kickstarter for an alien race (new take on an old favourite) wherein the weapons will not be any of those and will very much be an option 4.

    It is an idea I had to try and make an alien race alien, not only in appearance but in how they fight wars.
    Shooty shooty bang bang may not be what they do out there.

    There will be rules and stats for the aliens to be used in KR 16.
    Not only will their weapons be different, the tech they use will mean that their vehicles are different too.
    You will still need to roll dice to hit, but the ‘damage’ depends very much on what you are firing at.

    It is a bit cryptic I know, but I don’t want to reveal much as I think it is a good idea.
    I have delayed an alien race for a while as I don’t want to make a NOT something else.

    I wanted an alien race that looks and plays in a totally new way.
    Of course when it is released no doubt someone will say “oh these are just like XXXX from 10 years ago….” Then I will be sad!

    Thaddeus Blanchette

    I’ve been thinking about this for awhile in conjunction with my Luftpanzer fast-play sci-fi rules.

    I really think that, when you get right down to it, there are only two main axises of differentiation for sci-fi weapons: direct/indirect and area/precision.

    Direct weapons are those things that shoot in a straight line and thus can be easily blocked by intervening terrain and other obstacles.

    Indirect weapons are those which can be fired in a parabola or which can change trajectories.

    Precision  weapons hit one target and tend to hit it heavily.

    Area weapons hit many targets within an area and tend to do in not so heavily (at least as compared with precision weapons).

    One could also rate these as light, medium, heavy and superheavy. I’m rating them on a 1-6 scale.

    So, let’s look at some weapons:

    Direct precision weapons would be gauss guns, lasers, machine- or chainguns, cannon, etc.

    Direct area weapons would be plasma or fusion guns, flame throwers.

    Indirect area weapons would be mortars, artillery and all sorts of things that fly and go “boom”. Traveller’s ole meson cannons also fit here.

    Indirect precision weapons could be anti-tank guided missiles. It could also be something like the wild laser wands used in Christopher Hinz’s “Paratwa” novels.

    This means that if you wanted to do a rules set, you could classify every weapon according to those four categories on a variable strength scale.



    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    Ivan Sorensen

    Wouldn’t one option be to look at more flexibility in weapons?

    If the basic infantry weapon incorporates long range targeting, an option for very high rate of fire and a “smart” grenade launcher attachment, the need for a wide range of support weapons might drop away.

    Along with every trooper having the ability to designate targets for drone mounted artillery in support a few kilometer behind him, and we have a pretty flexible “space marine” type.

    Nordic Weasel Games

    Eli Arndt

    To throw in my two cents.

    The biggest and most fundamental issues I can see with scifi weapons, or any weapons for that matter, is that no matter how cool the fluff is on them, they have to be playable in the context of the game you are using them in. In an RPG the sky is pretty much the limit as any sort of rules can be played out in the scope of an RPG. Wargames need to be more efficient in their rules and play out simply in the context of the action on the table. This is why so many rules sets have poison weapons giving an immediate bonus, the assumption there being fast-acting poisons or an abstraction of the effects of poison.

    Subtle effects almost never make good wargaming effects.




    The biggest and most fundamental issues I can see with scifi weapons, or any weapons for that matter, is that no matter how cool the fluff is on them, they have to be playable in the context of the game you are using them in.

    This is a major component of why sci-fi is not all that sci-fi in miniatures games. It’s not just subtle effects, it’s the major effects, and the area of play/amount of models in play. There was something I read recently (might have been in MWwBG?) That pointed out a lot of the kind of technologies and planned ones are already in play in games due to the lack of fog-of-war mechanics obscuring knowledge of what the opposition is up to, and having near-perfect information and control of individual units is commonplace. For instance, how to add thermal optics to a game and have it feel like the important tool that it is when you can already see units to target them without the dust and debris of battle interfering? Could it be made to actually matter all that much in the typical platoon level game?

    Another is the issue of including support, such as incredibly accurate, powerful artillery fire, and keeping it playable. A lot of gamers just don’t appreciate losing entire companies of infantry to artillery barrages and yet modern artillery is entirely capable of doing just that, let alone sci-fi stuff. And then there’s the small stuff, like being able to negate cover by flying a drone-bomb through a window or having air-bursting grenades going around it. And that’s just modern tech. How do we make weaponry as effective as they can/will be whilst still keeping things playable, without resorting to dumbing-down that tech with massive limitations? Specific rules of engagement just don’t cut it in games for the most part.

    Am sure you can think of a few examples for all of these already (Such as how A Fistful of TOWs does it’s thermal optics and restrictions on targeting to make them a significant advantage for just one), just a bit of thought prodding anyway.


    Angel Barracks

    Have people seen the PS4 game which uses remote drones to ‘paint’ targets behind cover and then the infantry in the fight can use lock on weapons to hit the painted target?

    That seems quite sci-fi to me.


    Have people seen the PS4 game which uses remote drones to ‘paint’ targets behind cover and then the infantry in the fight can use lock on weapons to hit the painted target?
    That seems quite sci-fi to me.

    As to how close this is to modern practice I suspect I probably couldn’t say, even if I knew, which I don’t, but it is not too far in the future I think.

    Any other examples?

    When the drones start engaging each other autonomously it may be time to consider how humans can (may) be able to survive on the battlefield of the future…

    Guy Taylor

    We’ve been doing this in our 15mm games for approx 6+ years, using small spaceship fighters on single stands as the smaller (desert hawk) style drones.

    The rules which we use are approx 30 years old with ideas for hiding in cover until the enemy get within a certain range , we have just adapted this for small recon drone spotters.

    The problem with a lot of sci fi rules is that they are not even ultra modern rules, if our ‘boys and girls on operations’ can use things like the dragonfly micro drone etc,and irregular f0rces are starting to use drones we’re actually using 1980’s , 1990’s or earlier sci fi/ tech stuck in a retro time warp.




    I have said it before, but I will say it again.
    I think what makes a sci-fi game to a large extent is how we play.

    In the sense that as a player we can see the entire table and make our troops react to things they would be unaware of.
    It is this god-like birds eye view that as a player we have, that makes sense for sci-fi, but not for ancients and older period games.

    However as we have this view of all games it makes it less relevant for sci-fi.

    Does that make sense?

    Ivan Sorensen

    Yup 🙂


    The WW2 and modern games we play are already scifi games, from the way we play them.

    Nordic Weasel Games

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