An armorer of Chu boldly claims to make the best spears and shields. "My shields are so strong; they cannot be penetrated by any weapon," he said. "My spears are so sharp; they can pierce any shield," he further said.
A man asks, "If your spear is thrown at your shield, what then?"
The armorer had no reply. By logic, both an unpenetrable shield and an all-piercing spear can not exist at the same time.
-State of Chu (841-233 b.c.), Chou Dynasty (translation www.chinapage.com)
The colonies have had little use of weaponry, and weapons development has been rather spotty. On most colonies the basic weapons are not significantly different from 2030’s weaponry: chemical projectile weapons with targeting support and recoil management. Many colonies have developed nonlethal weapons such as tasers, tranquilliser gels or tangler nets, which are much more useful for law enforcement than war.
Gaia and Dionysos have very underdeveloped weapons, in both cases the founders deliberately limited the available technologies. On Gaia there are nothing more advanced than longbows, while on Dionysos simple guns are allowed only for the police. Negsoa on the other hand has lost the ability to build modern weapons: a few relics remain while knives, swords, spears and arrows are used.
New America is the only planet with a real standing army. It was formed as a response to the perceived threat from the Filigrees. The weaponry has been especially developed for zero-g assault, and the space marines employ special space combat suits for boarding and long-range fights.
Atlantis is a bit unusual in that weapons have been developed as style statement and ideology rather than use. Arms manufacturer such as Trillicon Arms, ZetaTech, Sterling Rifles and others have developed a wide variety of extreme, unusual and powerful weapons, more stylish than useful. Many weapons are completely cosmetic, built to look intimidating rather than do damage. Others are built to provide dramatic amounts of damage or through unusual means.
On Nova drone weaponry has been advanced: the combinations of robots with weapons. A defence system consists of a number of independent robots that fly, roll or walk around equipped with some weaponry (usually non-lethal, although rather heavy guns have been used in the Alliance) and a communications link to headquarters or coordination agencies.
Space weaponry has not been developed far yet. Plans developed independently on different planets involve fast AI-controlled drones rather than close combat between ships. Manned fighters would coordinate the drones, forming a second line of defence between the mothership and the attacker. The two planets with the most well developed space weaponry in 2350 are Penglai and New America. Especially Penglai is developing space defences aggressively.
Even if conventional warfare has not changed much, information warfare is well developed on many planets. Instead of attacking physically, enemies try to subvert each other’s software, knowledge of the world or ideas. Attacks can range from blunt stuff like hacking, computer viruses and misinformation to subtle campaigns of paranoia and psychological warfare that makes the enemy believe the wrong things. Especially Nova and Traha excel in this kind of aggression, although Atlantis and New America are not far behind.
"Gaia, its hot."
While the technologies for causing actual damage have not advanced significantly, weapons information technology has advanced far. C3I (Command, Communications, Control and Intelligence) systems makes it possible to link together a team so that they can draw on the information from each other in the fog of battle. It also makes smart weapons possible, able to act more or less on their own. Even personal weapons are highly digital, containing everything from documentation and maintenance advice to targeting systems.
The most common form of C3I systems are teamware, where each team member has a wearable sending information to either some behind-the-lines headquarter or forming a local network. Cameras, position data and status are continuously sent, making it possible to build up a model of where everybody is. In the centralised version the officer at the HQ can then give orders and advice, supported by expert systems and AI ("Red three, two bogeys are approaching from left-behind"). However, the system works even without a HQ allowing the members build up a map over the fighting area from their mutual observations, and software can make estimations of where enemies are from observations and firing angles. Indirect fire becomes possible, as an enemy seen by one team member can be attacked by another team member who has not seen him or through guided weapons.
One often used application is FFI, Friendly Fire Inhibition, which connects the gun to the C3I and inhibits firing (unless overridden) against friendly targets (on Atlantis there is even EFI, Expensive Fire Inhibition - the gun refuses to fire if the cost or potential litigation is beyond the owner's means). The protection is never perfect, but enough to make a teamware team able to deal with enemies right among themselves. The reverse, FD (Foe Detection) disables firing when the gun is not pointed at a designated enemy, making it easier to hit. On Nova drones and local sensors are often included in the teamnet, making it possible to coordinate both human and robot attacks.
Obviously there are some drawbacks. The communications need strong encryption, since if somebody manages to hack the network teamware becomes the enemy’s best asset. Another obvious problem is that the team members are more easily detected due to the constant broadcasts by enemies with communications detectors; they are vulnerable against ECM which jam the communications. Some systems use line-of-sight laser communication with support from relay nodes the members drop off. Running the signals through the Net makes the team less conspicuous, but makes them vulnerable if the net is in the hands of the enemy; often C3I teams spread out comdust to build their own local net.
Teamware can be used by individuals too; they do not get any tactical help from any comrades, but they can link up with sensors and other equipment, giving them an enhanced tactical view anyway.
[ Teamware has several effects. It makes tactics rolls for the leader(s) easier. An Ordinary teamware system gives a -1 bonus to Tactics rolls, a Good -2 and an Amazing-3.
People using teamware can fire at enemies not visible to them but to another member or a linked camera at +1; if several team members see an enemy there might not be any penalty at all as the enemy's position is so well defined.
FFI, Friendly Fire Inhibition, increases the difficulty to hit a team member (or a designated friend) with +2 for each level of quality of the system. If the gun is firing autofire at a mix of friends and foes, it makes it possible to inhibit firing when the gun is pointed at the friend; for each friend that could be hit, roll a firearms roll (with a 0,-1 or -2 bonus depending on quality) to avoid hitting him. Before the battle the system must be set to whether to fire or not if enemies stand in front of friends; bullets may still pass through them, and if the system fails to see the friend it may still fire.
EFI works just like FFI, but inhibits firing that would be costly given the information that can be gleaned through the net. It is essentially a small expert system doing cost-benefit analysis on the fly.
FD, Foe Detection, helps inexperienced people hit enemies by disabling firing when the gun is not pointed at a designated foe. Just pressing the trigger and sweeping the gun across the enemy will make it fire as soon as the FD system decides it has a chance to hit. Simple systems just allow firing inside the contours of the enemy, while more sophisticated delays the shot until the gun points at the centre of the figure. This gives a -1, -2 or -3 bonus to hitting. One major drawback is that new enemies might not be eligible targets, and have to be designated (one action) before they can be attacked, something that can be lethal in a big fight. FD is regarded a bit like "trainer wheels" by experts.
Detection of a person using C3I has a –2 bonus when the system uses radio, -1 when using local computer nets and no bonus if stealth radio squirts or line-of-sight laser plus comdust is used.]
Mapping bullets are special bullets that contain wide-angle cameras and a transmitter. When fired they transmit what they see back to the C3I system, making it possible to add a lot of (fuzzy) information to the map without sending people in.
[The bullets do -d6 damage less than normal bullets if used to hit someone or something. Cost twice the ordinary ammo cost.]
Weapons harnesses are wearables with extra add-ons for C3I, defence and sometimes even offence. One version, the Trillicom Distracter, is able to launch chaff and smoke to protect the wearer from attack when it detects it. More offensive versions exist, with weapons under the control of an expert system and partially the owner; they tend to be quite dangerous to approach.
On Nova, some law enforcement people have used bionics to allow AI to take control of their bodies in a crisis situation, essentially allowing the teamware to use them as drones. It is not very popular.
[Teamware control requires a motor shunt, and either somebody running the person through telepresence (for example a veteran officer or expert on the task) or a motor-equipped teamware system. Motoric teamware is an expert system containing knowledge about how to move, acrobatics, armed or unarmed combat as well as a small AI performing the necessary tasks to reach the objective.]
Smart weapons have varying amounts of intelligence in them. Some just link to the C3I and give the owner the ability to shift between types of ammo, see through the aimpoint camera etc. – this kind of connection is necessary for use in teamware, and is practically standard these days. The scramjet bullets of the sabot pistols of Trillicom have built in cameras and some limited steering capabilities. Zetatech's Marksman Gun is equipped with a Nova-designed AI program and can act as a point defence or drone if placed on a tripod or suitable vehicle (although the pricetag deters most people).
Electronic warfare isextremely important, especially as a defense against C3I. They range from jamming fields to disrupt bugs and radio to missiles homing in on sources of radar.
A device filling part of the radio spectrum with noise (or in the case of more advanced models, "adaptive garbage" that tries to confuse any signals maximally).
[If the Jammer has a higher quality than the communication system, then it will block the communication. Otherwise it will just add a +1/+2 or +3 penalty to communications attempts.]
A smoke grenade that also blocks infrared light, making thermographic vision and especially IR signals from computers invisible.
[Effects just like a smoke grenade, but blocks IR links within the cloud.]
Electronic CounterCounterMeasures are the next step, with missiles homing in on jamming.
The Radar Tracker is a device which is either put into a missile or connected to C3I to guide it. It tracks sources of radar (the user or an expert system has to make a System: Sensors roll to lock on), and allows the missile to zoom in on them with a -3 bonus for hitting. It can also be used to track radio, IR emissions or jamming.
The step after that is the Trillicom ECCCM mini-missile: a small missile that protects some radio source by firing itself when it detects an approaching ECM or ECCM missile.
[Does damage like a pencil missile, and automatically fires at approaching missiles. ]
EMP bomb ("Ethernuke", "The Pulse", "E-Bomb")
A device creating an intense electromagnetic pulse by powering a coil with an explosion, disrupting electronics in the vicinity (similar to the EM torpedo in space combat or the standard Alternity Pulse Grenade). Electromagnetic pulse weapons are still effective in 2350 even if much of computers run on optronics: enough systems are electric for an EMP to damage them or activate failsafes. Remember that bionic interfaces are electric - on Nova an EMP bomb can hurt people too. Illegal on most planets.
[ A tactical E-bomb does Amazing damage (d10+2s) to electronics within 100 meters, good damage (d8+2 s) within 500 meters and ordinary damage (d6+2 s) out to 1 kilometre (although sensitive equipment like sensors beyond this range may be affected). The bomb itself explodes like a fragmentation grenade. The damage type is En/A]
A gun radiating an EMP; it creates a high frequency field that induces current into conductors it is pointed at. Instead of a barrel it has a waveguide. Due to reflections and diffractions it is hard to hit just the target, usually much of the surroundings are radiated. Illegal on most planets. A popular weapon among anti-AI terrorists on Nova.
[Skill: Mod-pistol Acc: 0 Md: F Range: 10/20/30 En/O d6+2s/d8+2s/d10+2s (only against electronics; affect everything within two meters of the target and can be reflected by conductors) Actions: 1 Clips size: 5 Hide: +1 Mass: 2]
To protect against EMP is possible, but often expensive. The surface of the object protected is covered with a conducting mesh, and special fuses used inside. Sensitive installations are usually shielded, but most equipment is normally unprotected. A bonus of EMP shielding is that it becomes harden to eavesdrop on electronic communications.
[Ordinary shielding merely protects against power surges and lightening strikes. To shield against Herf guns and Pulse grenades Good shielding is needed, and a dedicated E-bomb (or nuclear explosion) requires Amazing shielding. Usually, each level of shielding gives d6 armour to the object. The cost is 1-10% % of the object's price for Ordinary shielding, 10-50% for Good shielding and 100-200% for Amazing shielding. Weapons and sensors are usually more expensive. ]
A computer peripheral checking the local network traffic, IR emissions and radio for traffic. It will detect increases or changes in bandwidth usage, alerting the owner if C3I or other infowar is going on.
Robots and weapons make a logical combination - by automating weapons they can be sent into dangerous situations (i.e. combat) without risking their owners. Also, cheap AI makes it easy for individuals to run large groups of machines - now almost everybody can be a general (although in practice drone combat is best left to the experts; managing a dozen semi-independent devices in a battle situation is not something that can be learned overnight).
Drone combat relies on the skill Weapons Systems to coordinate the many robots and devices involved. The manager can either allow the drones to act on their own, reprogramming them along the way, or take direct control over one and control it manually (using his skills instead of its own). Usually drones are programmed to run a standard program like scan area (reports any unexpected events) or search-and-destroy (search through an area, attacking anything fitting the enemy criteria). The manager sees what they see on his screens, and the drones can alert him about various conditions.
Drones are usually not that smart, and can be fooled or mistaken - even if you are designated as a friendly target a drone might mistake you for an enemy and fire anyway.
Pencil missiles are popular drone weapons: small missiles with high manoeuvrability used mainly on small hard targets like other drones or to threaten humans. They have a shaped charge sending tungsten shrapnel into the interior of the target, intended mostly to damage electronics and servos. Since they are so small, portable launchers can carry tens of missiles.
[Skill: Hvy-indirect Acc: -2 Md: F Range: 100/200/500 Type: Hi/A d4+2w/d4+4w/d4+1m Actions: 1 Mass: 100g ]
ATU 22 (Autonomous Tactical Unit)
A standard drone developed for Alliance patrons in Landfall by Robodyne Armament Systems. ATU is tracked and armed drone, one meter long and 30 centimetres high. It is able to extend wheels for increased speed or helping navigate broken terrain. On top it has connectors for one gun (RAS also sell adapters enabling it to carry more ordnance) and several sensors or manipulators. The standard version comes equipped with visual and heat sensors, but audio, radio, chemical, radar, sonar, radiation and even touch senses can be added. There is space for either one major manipulator (STR 8) or two smaller (STR 4). The ATU is fairly easy to detect; it is mostly intended as a smart point defence, heavy firepower support during an assault etc.
STR 8 DEX 8 CON 8 INT 3 WIL 9 PER 1 Durability: 8/8/4/4 Action check: 12+/11/5/2 Actions: 2 Move: run 50 (on wheels on flat ground/road; otherwise 30), walk 20 Armour: d6/d6/d6/d6 Skills: Ranged weapons modern 14, Stealth 10, System Op Weapons 14.
Typical armaments: Flares, Multi-ammo shotguns, pencil missiles, machine guns
Kobyashi-Havel Engineering Eagle
A flying drone, hovering on fans. It is 70 centimetres in diameter, able to carry loads up to ten kilograms for one hour of use.
Typical armaments include micromissiles, guns for scramjet bullets (Trillicon arms have begun selling their weapons on Nova), fine calibre gatlinger, liquid gas guns.
STR 8 DEX 15 CON 6 INT 4 WIL 8 PER 1 Durability 6/6/3/3 Move: fly 200 Action check: 20+/19/9/4 Actions: 3 Armour: d4/d4/d4/d4 Acrobatics 15-flight 17. Stealth 14.
Kobayashi-Havel Engineering Bat
A flying stealth-drone 30 centimetres in diameter, able to carry loads up to two kilograms for four hours of use. It is mainly intended for surveillance and scouting, but can also release two packets (stealth spider surveillance boots, bombs or something else).
STR 2 DEX 17 CON 3 INT 5 WIL 8 PER 1 Durability 3/3/1/1 Move: fly 150 Action check: 23+ 22/11/5 Actions: 4 Acrobatics 16-flight 18. Stealth 16 Awareness 13-Perception 14
Kobayashi-Havel Engineering Monkey
A manipulator drone, intended for infiltration, sabotage, exploration and rescue. It is intended to be flexible and be able to open doors, move objects and manipulate small things like keypads. It looks like a spider monkey made of plastic, with four flexible limbs with hands, and four extra manipulators that can be folded out from the body.
STR 7 DEX 15 CON 6 INT 4 WIL 8 PER 1 Move: walk 10, jump 10, run 50 Action check: 20+/19/9/4 Actions: 2 Durability: 6/6/3/3 Armour: d4/d4/d4/d4 Athletics (7)-Climb (16), Jump (14), Stealth 1
Pi 3 Orionis
Pi3 Orionis is unique in its development of truly autonomous weapons. Years of relentless infowar has produced a whole infrastructure of underground microfactories, autonomous drones, warfighting expert systems, exoskeletons, software tricks and EMP devices.
The expert systems are small AI program kept in wearables or exoskeletons owned by the clans. Most have their own personalities, acting as family members rather than advisors. Often the family has one or more aiqutbs, devices where the AIs can link together and exchange experience as well as make backup copies. Most of the experts are skilled in tactics, stealth, various practical skills and the subtle information skills needed to handle the information background of the jungle.
The drones are controlled by the experts or simpler programs. They act as scouts, weapons and communications devices. Most are tiny, solar powered devices usually hiding in pockets or on trees. They work extremely well in swarms, attacking from all directions (often the humans act as tactical advisors remotely).
Infodrones act as eyes and ears of the family. Often they disperse small subcameras squirting back information to the hidden drone.
STR 1 DEX 6 CON 3 INT 12 WIL 8 PER 1; Durability 2/2/1; Movement – fly 4; Action check score – 9+/8/4/2; Actions per round 1; Mass 0.1 kg; Size 10cm; Stored programs: operating system, System Operation – sensors 6, control utility (controls cameras, devices and scoutdust placed in the vicinity), Acrobatics-dodge 3, Awareness-perception 4, Investigate-search 4, Stealth-hide 6.
A small drone for cracking systems; it tries to sneak up on other drones, devices or even people to crack or sabotage their systems. Once it is in, it can either "pervert" the system by replacing the code with its own (or other code downloaded from the nearest aiqutb), add backdoors or simply sabotage it. Cracker drones have stats like the infodrone, but instead of System Operation it has Computer Science-Hacking and instead of Investigate-search Demolitions-disarm.
STR 2, DEX 6, CON 4, INT 13, WIL 8, Per 2; Durability 4/4/2; Movement fly 5; Action check score –9+/8/4/2; Actions per round 1; Mass 1 kg; Size 15 cm; Stored programs: operating system, Modern weapons – onboard weapon 6, Acrobatics – dodge 4, Awareness perception 4
Carries a built-in weapon, either a needle gun with paralysing poison or blackmailers, an ordinary gun or micromissiles.
Drones intended to protect their owners against attackdrones. They are expendable, and act as very quick countermeasures. It can release confusing chaff, blind with lasers and physically intercept missiles.
STR 1 DEX 15 CON 2 INT 5 WIL 8 PER 1; Durability 4/4/2; Movement fly 10; Action check score 9+ 8/4/2 Actions per round: 1 Mass: 0.3 kg. Size: 10 cm
Stored programs: operating systems, Acrobatics-dodge 6, Awareness perception 4, Modern weapons – laser 4
Carries chaff containers (makes targeting +1 in the vicinity of a release) and blinding lasers (increases difficulties for the enemy when hit with +1/+2/+4).
Extremely tiny scout drones, less than a millimetre large each. While they just drift in the air or trickle along the ground, they are able to signal if some pre-set condition occurs. Usually they are dispersed by infodrones as perimeter defence. Gives a +3 penalty to stealth when dispersed normally; if densely dispersed the difficulty can increase even more.
Like scoutdust, but seeks out electronics, drones or equipment and either inserts viruses or sabotage it. Every minute someone is inside the sabotagedust area it will do an attack doing d4+1s/d4+1w/d4+2w damage (skill depending on governing drones; if running on its own it will have a score of 10).
A small pellet, containing explosives, poison or some other nasty surprise. When it pierces flesh it extends thin hooks and generally refuses to be removed. If it receives a signal or is tampered with, it detonates. This is used by the clans to catch other people, who they can then sell back for a ransom.
[The damage is one wound, regardless of how good hit it is. Explosive blackmailers does d6w/d8+1w/d6+2m (depending on the original shot; an Amazing hit means the blackmailer has located itself in a vital organ) damage, while poison blackmailers have effects depending on what poison it is filled with. Removing the blackmailer is a +d6/+d8/+d12 task, depending on how good the hit was.]
When we control the fire
Hear the roaring sound
When matter is subjected to disruptions of the scalar fields, it becomes unstable and decays into energy - a phenomenon known as confused matter. Under some circumstances the confusion spreads to nearby dense matter, and ever since this was discovered a small but energetic group of Atlantean physicists and engineers have tried to construct a bomb based on confused matter.
Currently the confusion charge only exists as plans and some small test models built by Geodesic Systems (they and Trillicom Arms have detailed plans but no buyers yet). A relatively small higgsdevice creates a "higgswhistle" (an increasingly high-frequent and intense modulation of the Higgs fields achieved through some clever trickery where the device implodes when generating the field), making nearby matter unstable. It requires plenty of power to run, and has generally been imagined to run of an accumulator (or, in the case of the Trillicom Armageddon, a fusion reactor). The device makes all matter inside a short range unstable, and produces damage roughly like a scalable nuclear weapon. Presumably this could be placed in missiles or stationary bombs, although the real "killer application" would be if the weapon could be tuned to create a spreading, self-reinforcing confusion field - that would be the mythical planetbuster bomb.
Many people have warned that pursuing these technologies is a bad idea, that if they are successful they might create a situation where the colonies have to arm themselves "just in case" and end up in an unstable situation of Mutually Assured Destruction with FTL missiles.