Sunday, January 4, 2015

GURPS Punktech: powered melee weapons

Through a great deal of the various punk genres, powered or otherwise enhanced melee weapons of various sorts are rather common. Chainswords, enormous war-drills, flaming blades, and axes with a circular saw for a blade.

GURPS provides no provisions for such weapons, but tools and stats that could be used are provided through most of high tech. Stats for ultra-tech weapon modifications such as Vibro will also be used in their creation.

A few things will be determined based on tech level.

TL0+(5 through 8) (Stonepunk): Your powered weapon is some manner of animal. It can get grouchy with you, and requires the usual care and maintenance one might expect.

TL4+1 (Clockpunk): Wound spring drive. Gives minimal time of operation between windings, but it's a freaking clockwork powered weapon. Generally simple, such as the buzz axe or war drill. Relatively lightweight and very quiet. At higher tech levels, may be equipped with another drive source to run it when the spring is unwound, or to rewind it quickly. Rewinding a weapon requires a winding key and 5 seconds of cranking per 1 second of run time, except on smaller weapons where a manual hand crank may be included. Large spring assemblies can provide power for about a minute from full wind, while a squeeze-cranked weapon can store 15 seconds. 2x weight for correctly sized spring assembly (Replaces modifier for Chain and Buzz weapons. Larger assemblies can be built separately and linked to weapon with flexible whip). ST increases to that required by other weapons of that size.

TL5+1 (Steampunk): Steam/air drive. Mechanical weapons require compressed air or a steam line, typically from a backpack source. Larger suits, vehicles, etc. may have the compressor or steam generator integrally, assuming they don't use such power for their own operation. Always loud when active, often accompanied by billowing clouds of steam or dust kicked up by the high pressure. Pressure source must be maintained (compressed air bottle, or steam generator at operating temperature). Provided power is available, can roar to life with essentially no wind-up time. 
Purchase compressed air tanks as per Air Tanks, High Tech p.74. Steam generator is $500, 25 lbs.

TL6+1 (Dieselpunk and Raygun Gothic): Engine drive. May or may not produce a lot of smoke, sounds like most running lawncare power tools. Must be started and kept idling as with any other two stroke power tool. Engine is often carried as a pack, with a flexible coupling to connect power to the blade. Medium Backpack Engine is $300, 10 lbs, if attached to weapon, the weapon requires +3 ST or becomes more unbalanced.Takes whatever fuel the engine is designed for. 
Electric drive is available, see Atomicpunk and double weight and cost for stats.

TL7+1 (Atomicpunk or alternate timeline): Electric motor power. Power supplied by batteries (regular or nuclear, depending on setting). Rev up happens quickly, and even while running sound is kept to a moderate level. Can be kept on but not running nearly indefinitely. Motor size is determined by size and type of weapon. Small blades (large knife and shorter) use 1 lb motors, long knives and shortswords use a 2 lb motor, broadsword and bastard sword sized blades use a 4 lb motor, and greatswords use 6 lb motors. Scaled up weapons increase the motor size proportionally.

TL8+1/9 (Cyberpunk): Electric motor power. See TL7+1, halve weight and cost for superior motors/batteries/etc.

We'll start with the biggest one, featured prominently in some cyberpunk worlds, and most famously the world of Warhammer 40K; The CHAINSWORD. Or, chainblades in general, since the technology is versatile and can be applied to make a chain version of most blade things, though at lower tech levels the blades tend to be much larger to make full use of the weight of the power source.

Both chainsaws and vibro weapons add 1d of damage to the user's regular strength-based weapon damage. We'll keep that. Vibro, however, emits only a barely perceptible low hum, requires very little power to run, and gives a fairly substantial armor divisor. On top of that, it's only available at TL10. On the other hand, prototype chainsaws show up at TL6, with them becoming practical at TL7. They do the same +1d of damage, but with an armor multiplier when not equipped with carbide blades, and a chance of the chain snapping on any contact with something they can't cut. We'll be keeping the +1d, modified for power source according to tech level (noise, weight, etc). Because a chainsblade is designed simply to do more damage, rather than gouge material, with regular steel blades there is no change in armor penetration, and carbide teeth give an armor divisor of (2). Combined with Superfine or equivalent, the armor divisor increases, but not as much as it would with Vibro, with (1) becoming (2), and (2) going to (3). Because of the difference in chain and tooth construction, chains do not catch and snap. A variant with reciprocating blades, such as a Sawzall, but it is functionally the same. Weight and required ST of weapon is 1.5x, plus any modifiers for the power source.

Next up is the Buzz weapon. Buzz axes feature prominently in the Borderlands series, and a great many post apocalyptic games, where the saw blade used as an axe head may or may not be connected to power. Van Helsing's Tojo blades from the 2004 movie could be considered a hand cranked version of a buzz knife (treat as clockwork). Buzz weapons add +3 damage and an armor divisor of (2) at any level. No change in weapon weight other than inclusion of power source.

War Drills are just what it says on the tin. Most famously used by the Big Daddies of the Bioshock game series, they are massive metal drills that often wrap around the outside of the forearm, often with spiked protrusions along the shaft of the auger. They are optimized for grinding flesh, and only have an armor divisor of (2) if carbide tipped. Primarily used to stab, stabbing with the tip while running does Thrust+2d+2 pi++, and bashing with the side does +2 and does cutting damage while the drill is running. Use whatever skill is closest to the drill's setup, typically Brawling (for those worn around the arm) or Spear (for those held with two hands on approximately a haft). They tend to be very heavy, but those built with a relatively small drill may be wielded exactly as any spear. A small drill (1 foot long, approximately 30 degree taper) weighs 10 lbs plus drive system (assume 5 lbs of springs for clockpunk), and a giant drill weighs 25 lbs (with 15 lbs of springs for clockpunk). Giant drills do increased damage when used as a bludgeon, and count as a small shield for +1 DB.

Breakers are a type of weapon unto themselves, and are wielded in the manner of a war drill, or mounted to the arm and used to strike with. Regardless of their implementation, breakers are effectively miniature jackhammers. They show up most commonly attached to mecha and power armor, with variations present in WH40K, Armored Core, and anime series such as Big O. Breakers at clockpunk level (4+1) are only available as single shot weapons, releasing their entire spring winding in a single shot. At higher levels, with a source of high pressure or sufficiently powerful motor, they can be used in a manner not unlike that of a jackhammer, although they tend to be far smaller and less powerful for portability and wield-ability. Unlike war drills, breakers cannot apply their boosted damage except on striking with the tip, although tip slashes performed with them are extremely damaging. They do Thrust+3d(2) pi++ damage and weigh around 20 lbs for repeating variants.

Electro weapons imbue your violence with the power of LIGHTNING!(lite). Available once electricity becomes available, it's pretty much a cattle prod rigged to a weapon of some kind (a pair of blades, generally, with each blade serving as a contact, although heavy bashing instruments such as maces, provided the striking surfaces can be insulated from one another for use as contacts, are quite common). Unlike a stun gun, it is adjusted to inflict additional damage, and even has a chance of causing a heart to stop. Deals 1d of burn damage and incapacitates on a failed HT-3 roll per normal stun guns. $100, 2 lb available at TL5+1 and beyond.

Flame weaponry marries a modified cutting torch or pocket torch to a weapon, often a blade (blades similar to those of a non-running chainblade are common, alternating between blade teeth and flame nozzles). Adds 1d-2 of burn damage per second and runs on butane. An average $1 refill will get you about 4 minutes of active blade time. Available at TL5+1 and beyond. At TL7+1 and up, a plasma generator backpack and compressed air tank (see Plasma Cutter, High Tech p. 27) will bump this damage up to 2d+2(2) per second (the plasma is split between several nozzles). Regular flame upgrade cost is $20/nozzle, weight is negligible, making it popular for those looking for a flashy way to add damage to their melee combat.

Prototype Rocket Hammer: Almost identical to the TL9 rocket hammer given in Ultra Tech, the prototype rocket hammer is a far simpler affair. The combination of parts becomes available at TL4+1: Reliable springs to power a rotating hammer, percussion primers, and rockets. Small, fast burning solid fuel rockets are used, the primer ignited by the hammer to produce reliable, near-instant ignition. They're not quite as powerful as the TL9 version, giving +4 ST for the hit and +2 ST required for that swing. The mechanism costs about $150 at TL 4+1 or 5, and drops by $25 per TL after. Each mechanism only holds one shot, and must be centered along the axis of the weapon to avoid producing a spin that gives penalties. Multiple shots may be added to a weapon of sufficient size to hold the mechanism and motors. Replacement motors are $15 apiece.

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