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Old 05-11-2021, 10:02 AM   #1
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Force Sword (and Blaster) Design - Assistance Requested

So, musing some more over my Harpyias Space Opera setting (and watching season 2 of The Mandalorian and playing some Star Wars: The Old Republic), I've decided I want some weapons akin to Lightsabers, but I don't want to use GURPS Force Swords. These weapons - which I'll just call force swords for now, as I haven't come up with an appropriate in-setting name yet* - will actually be dependent on the character's ST, at least to an extent - I'm currently thinking they do around 1d burn passively (on a "touch," against Parried weapons, etc), plus standard ST-based thr or sw on a proper attack. That's for a "standard" one - there may be heavier and lighter ones that have more or less power, roughly scaling with Spaceships beam weapons. Below are my thoughts - I'd very much appreciate some feedback.

Where I'm running into some issues revolve around wounding, parrying, and color, which I want to be related. These force swords are explicitly a refinement of blaster technology, so I need to talk a little about that. My original plan for blasters had them divided into roughly 3 categories - ion blasters, blasters, and hyperblasters. Ion blasters are short-ranged, firing "invisible," subsonic projectiles (you can see air distortion, and electricity flowing through the projectile, so it's fairly visible); on impact, they explode, causing little damage but decent knockback, as well as having a stunning effect roughly comparable to UT electrolasers. Blasters fire glowing red projectiles (looking like typical Star Wars blaster bolts) at around 300 yards per second - still subsonic, but markedly louder than ion blasters. They also explode, typically a bit after impact, thus causing internal explosions in most targets (external for those that are heavily armored - or somewhere behind a target that it markedly overpenetrates). Hyperblasters can have yellow, green, blue, or purple projectiles, where the higher on the spectrum you get the faster and longer-ranged the projectile is (roughly +1 SSR to velocity, +2 SSR to range per step up the spectrum) and the higher the damage, but the weaker the follow-up explosion is (these are roughly +3 SSR to effective output for damage, -3 SSR for the explosion - a 30 kJ yellow hyperblaster would have the initial damage of a 100 kJ blaster, the explosive force of a 10 kJ blaster). They also have significant dwell time - yellow hyperblasters take a full second between pulling the trigger and actually firing, while purple ones take a full half-minute (+3 SSR per step up the spectrum). And they have minimum sizes - while ion blasters and normal blasters can get quite small, yellow hyperblasters would be Major Batteries for SM+0 vessels (so a full-sized rifle), green are scaled for SM+5, blue for SM+10, and purple for SM+15.

As noted, that's the original intent, but of course long dwell times, minimum size, and exploding bolts don't work so well for my force swords. While I like the dwell time concept, I think I may incorporate that into general blaster design - you can get more power out of a given size of blaster if it has to "charge up" immediately prior to firing (these may be called hyperblasters, otherwise I'll abandon that name). Minimum size simply gets tossed out the airlock. Instead of exploding, I'm thinking the bolts (and by extension the "frozen bolts" of my force swords) are surrounded by a repulsing force. When a bolt is going through someone's body, this repulsing force would be working to widen the wound channel. This has the advantage of simplifying matters - rather than a follow-up (internal) explosion, this would function instead as something that increases the WM of the attack. Clear (ion) bolts would have the strongest repulsing force, to the extent they don't even penetrate flesh but rather push the target away - reduced damage that is Crushing (not Burning), high knockback (something like quadruple, perhaps more), no armor divisor, and a stunning side effect. Red would be next, with full (Burning) damage, knockback perhaps comparable to an equivalent cr attack, a high wounding modifier, and no armor divisor. Higher-spectrum bolts would still be full damage, have reduced knockback and WM, and better armor divisors. The following chart is my current thoughts. Note WM and AD have two entries - the first is for blaster bolts and for thr attacks, the second is for sw attacks (EDIT: although for WM, I'm considering using the same for each - the latter number only, so red blasters aren't quite so lethal against unarmored targets). Clear has an extremely high knockback multiplier (KB) to make up for its reduced damage - it actually ends up with x4 knockback relative to a red bolt of the same power.
Code:
Color	Dam	KB	WM	AD	Spd	Range
Clear	x0.2	x20    x1/1	1/1	300	x0.2
Red	x1	x1     x5/x2	1/0.5	300	x1
Yellow	x1	x0.5   x3/x1.5	1.5/0.7	500	x2
Green	x1	x0.2   x2/x1	2/1	700	x5
Blue	x1	x0.1  x1.5/x0.7	3/1.5	1000	x10
Purple	x1	x0.05  x1/x0.5	5/2	1500	x20
So, now we come to Parrying. Here, I'm torn on how I want it to work. Ideally, I want Red force swords to be focused on offense - more significant wounding, but less capable of Parrying - while higher-spectrum weapons would be focused on defense - better for Parrying, but less significant wounding (Clear force swords would be good for training, as well as taking the place of shock batons for security/police work). But the above... doesn't lend itself well to this. First off, I'm thinking the way the weapons are used to Parry blaster bolts, they rely on that surrounding repulsing field - you don't need precognition (which characters in Harpyias lack - psions largely don't exist, and those few that do have different powersets and aren't an option for PC's anyway) when you only need to get your weapon close to where the bolt would hit to deflect it. It seems, however, that Red force swords would have the largest "parrying surface" thanks to their stronger repulsing effect. I'm thinking maybe the repulsing effect's area is the same regardless of color, and even Purples are strong enough to repulse blaster bolts. Rather, what makes Purples better is that they are more stable - lower-spectrum force swords can't repulse as powerful of bolts, or as many in a short period of time, without overloading, which can lead to shutting down, being damaged, or even exploding (harming the wielder). This would also apply when dueling. Mechanically, I'm thinking the weapons might have a pool of quickly-regenerating HP that is depleted upon impact with bolts or other force swords, and when this is depleted must roll against HT - Success means a shutdown (Immediate Action to fix, but HP regenerates normally), Failure by 4- means a minor burnout (Minor repair to fix), Failure by 5+ means a major burnout (Major repair to fix), Critical Failure calls for another roll - Success here means a critical burnout (weapon is destroyed), while Failure here means an explosion (damaging the character, and likely mangling their hand).

Of course, I'm also not certain how difficult I want parrying bolts to be. I feel that rolling against unmodified Parry would be fine for Red bolts - they're fast, but not supersonic, and are fairly obvious. The problem is for when foes are too close to be able to reliably react in time, and when the bolts are faster. For the former, you're essentially relying on the same thing you do for Dodge against firearms - you're defending against their aim rather than reacting to the projectile. For faster bolts, you could presumably do the same, but what about when the foe is further away and it's hard to tell where he/she is aiming? I'm tempted to just have it be unmodified Parry regardless of range and color (but with Predictive Shooting able to penalize this, as a Ranged Deceptive Attack) - does that sound fair? It certainly simplifies matters, but it seems odd that Parrying a Mach 4 Purple bolt is just as easy as Parrying a Mach 0.8 Red one. There's also the issue of the Clear (ion) bolts, which aren't quite as visible as proper blaster bolts - the air distortion and electricity arcing through them make them visible, but not nearly as much as glowing red (or whatever) would.

*One idea, because the superscience material they are reliant upon is called KN plasma (Karmac-Nusom, the names of the researchers who discovered it around the same time), is to simply call them KN Blades. Interestingly, I've already decided "KN" is typically said as "keen" or "cane," depending on region, so if I go with this the people in setting will either call these "keen blades" or "cane blades."
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Old 05-11-2021, 02:01 PM   #2
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Force Sword (and Blaster) Design - Assistance Requested

As far as actual design goes, I'll need to restore the files from my old computer to see my original design system, but a blaster has (aside from accessories like scopes) three basic components: the Crucible, the Barrel, and the Mounting Hardware.

The Crucible is the heart of the weapon; many holdout blasters are nothing more than a crucible and trigger. The technical name for the crucible is the Karmac-Nusom Plasma Excitation and Focusing Chamber, but most prefer to use the former term. The crucible can be designed for any color of bolt (including clear) - the original design system had a minimum size for each color and made crucibles designed for higher-spectrum blasters more expensive, but I'm discarding the former and haven't made up my mind about the latter. The crucible's design also dictates the weapon's maximum RoF, but with no impact on cost - rather, an RoF 10 (for example) blaster has only 1/10 the output (and thus 1/2 the damage) per shot compared to one with RoF 1. The crucible can be designed to generate a "frozen" bolt rather than a projectile, for purposes of creating a force sword. Multifunction crucibles are possible - such are heavier and more expensive, but can be designed with several use modes - perhaps it has RoF 3 clear bolts (as a "stun" setting), RoF 10 red bolts (for general combat), RoF 1 purple bolts (for sniper fire), and a green force sword (for melee), for something with far too many choices built in. This would probably follow the general trend for combination gadgets - full cost for the most expensive component, full weight for the heaviest component, and 20% cost and weight for everything else.

The Barrel is optional, serving to focus and stabilize the bolt. On a blaster, a longer barrel gives longer range and better accuracy. These can be designed to be collapsible, allowing a single weapon to serve both for long-range engagements (with extended barrel) and CQC (with collapsed barrel). On a force sword, it serves to give longer Reach, better stability (either more HP or higher HT, I haven't yet decided), or a combination of the two (up to the designer, and possibly adjustable - a given length barrel will result in a more stable beam the shorter it is). Some force sword barrels have built-in splitters to redirect the beam and create a hilt (like Kylo Ren's lightsaber), additional tines to make the weapon harder to avoid (like a force trident), prongs for more readily catching another force sword and disarming its wielder (like a force jutte/sai), etc.

The Mounting Hardware is similarly largely-optional, covering the "inert" parts of the weapon (that is, those that don't contribute to the generation and stability of the beam). On blasters, this covers the grip (although many holdouts just use the detachable power cell instead), trigger, and stock for hand weapons, or the actual mounting hardware for vehicular blasters. Force swords typically don't have such (aside from a trigger or switch to turn it on/off), with the crucible (and often part of the barrel) serving as the grip, but there are exceptions, such as pistol grips and the like. As the crucible is the most dense component of a force weapon, force polearms will typically mount them near the middle, with barrel in front and an inert, extended grip behind, for balance (some opt to be mostly inert grip, making the weapon both cheaper and more tip-heavy for stronger swings). The rare double-bladed force swords also typically have an inert grip between the two crucibles.


The original design system based weight on the batteries from Spaceships. I had this weight make very small weapons only include the crucible (and trigger), then as the weapon got larger various freebies were thrown in - first the grip, then a short (handgun-length) barrel, and finally a rifle-length barrel and the choice of stock and grip or mounting hardware (which could make for a fixed mount that got +2 to Acc or a turret). I'm thinking for this revised one, I'll have the weight come with crucible and an appropriately-sized stock, barrel, and grip - it's just that the stock, barrel, and grip will be more appropriate for very small characters for smaller blasters. So, a 30 kJ, 10 lb, 7d blaster rifle (with RoF 1) would be scaled to a human, while a 3 kJ, 1 lb, 3d blaster rifle (with RoF 1) would be scaled to something with SM-6, necessitating that you remove the stock and perhaps shorten the barrel to have an SM+0 grip if you want the weapon to be the same weight (EDIT: scratch that - a 3 kJ blaster rifle would be scaled to SM-2, which is much less harsh). For force swords, I'm thinking around -3 SSR to damage (comparable to having a 1/30th weight crucible) to have the crucible produce a force sword beam rather than a blaster bolt, so a 3 kJ crucible produces a +1d force sword, while a 30 kJ one produces a +2d force sword. I also need to decide how I want MinST to work - I'm thinking the repulsive force functions not unlike weight, meaning a typical 1 lb force sword is going to require higher ST to wield than a 1 lb knife would (but it may be the case that purple force swords require less ST to wield than red ones).
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Old 05-12-2021, 08:57 AM   #3
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Force Sword (and Blaster) Design - Assistance Requested

Nothing?

Having actually written things down, and then giving it further thought, I think I may have a clearer idea of how I want to handle things. First off, I think I will go ahead and set the WM using the second entry, for both thr and sw (and blasters), giving them a similar range to firearms - purple is comparable to pi-, green to pi, yellow to pi+, and red to pi++ (blue is between pi- and pi - or is comparable to pi- with a common houserule, while purple is instead comparable to pi-2).

On the topic of firearms, I'm not entirely comfortable with the way blaster damage scales with weight. With the firearm design rules from GURPS Classic: Vehicles, damage for firearms often scales linearly with weight - both weight and damage scale linearly with length and power; however, weight scales with the square of caliber, while damage scales linearly with caliber. Blasters are meant to function like firearms, so it may be appropriate to have them scale the same way. This is problematic for spacecraft and the like, however, considering armor DR scales with the cube root of weight. Of course, the ammunition - both in the form of energy and KN plasma (although considering KN is used in superconductor loops as energy storage, I'm thinking blasters would just have a modified power cell, which serves as a supply of both power and KN) - would still follow Spaceships progression - a 6d blaster may only be twice as heavy as a 3d one, but it uses 10x as much ammunition. This would likely result in a similar effect to what we see in Star Wars, where vehicles typically use relatively-small blaster cannons instead of full-sized ones. For example, I've already decided KN supercapacitors store 50 GJ per ton, or 25 MJ per lb. If we go with, say, a 1 lb RoF 1 blaster doing 3d, that's 3 kJ per shot - a 1 lb supercapacitor could power a bit over 8000 shots (assuming 100% efficiency, which probably won't be the case). Scaling this up, an RoF 1 Major Battery on an SM+12 capital ship would weigh 10,000,000 lb, for an amazing 30,000,000d. Of course, such a shot would require 30 YJ, which in turn would require a supercapacitor weighing 600 teratons for a single shot. For reference, back at the end of 2020, it was estimated the total weight of man made objects was somewhere around 1 teraton. This means what SS calls a Major Battery for a SM+12 vessel - 30 GJ, for 600d - would only weigh 200 lb.

It's something I'll need to play around with. I'm thinking it might work out a bit better to have damage scale with the square root of weight - if a +1d force sword is 1 lb, having a +2d one be 4 lb seems like it would work out better than having it be only 2lb or a full 10 lb. And above, that 30 GJ cannon would weigh 20 tons, rather than only 0.1 tons or a full 5,000 tons.


As for parrying, I think the whole HP idea would be overly cumbersome in play. Instead, I'm thinking Green force swords are the standard when it comes to Parrying blaster bolts, using the character's normal Parry (skill/2+3). Reds are at -2 to Parry bolts, Yellows are at -1, Blues are at +1, and Purples are at +2. The fluff explanation for this is that the more stable, higher-spectrum beams have a wider repulsing effect, but because it's spread out further it's not as strong (and thus doesn't enhance wounding as much as the more concentrated fields do). This conveniently also explains why faster-moving bolts aren't any harder to Parry - their repulsing field is also wider, meaning you don't need to get as close to deflect it enough for a miss (the fields work both ways). The weapons don't benefit from this against other force swords due to the control exerted by the other user (blaster bolts are nearly weightless, making them easy to deflect, but a user can keep a force sword on-point); they don't benefit against other projectiles because only one repulsing field in play is insufficient (also, even a Kolibri bullet is massive compared to a typical blaster bolt). Incidentally, visually I've decided Reds look like Kylo Ren's lightsaber (thick, unstable, crackling with energy), while Purples look more like the ones seen in Rebels (or at least in the Asoka vs Vader duel, the only part of that series I've seen - foil-thin and stable); other colors are somewhere in-between (Greens look something like what we see in most of the movies - moderately thick and fairly stable, with a bit of flickering). In all cases, the actual beam is incredibly thin - what people see is where the repulsing field is strong enough to distort the beam's light.

I do still like the idea that, in a duel, the combatant using a lower-spectrum force sword (red vs purple would be the extreme case) is better off fighting aggressively to end the fight quickly, while the opponent is better off dragging things out. With the HP idea, each clash of weapons would deplete the lower-spectrum force sword more than the higher-spectrum one (as the latter had a higher pool of HP to draw from), making this occur as a natural consequence of those rules (the lower-spectrum force sword runs out and shuts down first). I intend to adapt the rules from "The Broken Blade," possibly setting higher-spectrum force swords as having a higher threshold, to risk "breakage" (actually a forced-shutdown, with effects like those previously described) if striking too hard, deflecting too powerful of a strike (including one from a blaster bolt), etc, but I don't think those lend themselves to this effect (unless I set it so there's a risk of shutdown on nearly every exchange, but I think having your weapon roll HT constantly would detract from the game). I may just have to let that particular idea die, but I'm open to alternatives.


Finally (for now), I'm debating the inclusion of in-between colors, like orange and teal. If I have these be possible, I'm not sure if I should have the player pick which color's effect it has (so an orange beam could function like red or yellow, depending on the player's choice when the weapon is made/purchased/whatever), round to the nearest wavelength, or throw simplicity out the airlock and have the effects be somewhere in-between. It might also be possible to "dye" a beam a different color, so you could have a visually-green beam with the stats (and instability) of a red one.
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Old 05-12-2021, 09:29 AM   #4
naloth
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Default Re: Force Sword (and Blaster) Design - Assistance Requested

I like the idea of color being a visual cue for the danger/intensity. I'm not sure I'd adjust speed, but dmg multiplier, armor divisor, and range tradeoffs seem good.

Making the sword based on thr damage seems like a good change. If nothing else it makes ST important.
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Old 05-12-2021, 10:05 AM   #5
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Force Sword (and Blaster) Design - Assistance Requested

Quote:
Originally Posted by naloth View Post
I like the idea of color being a visual cue for the danger/intensity. I'm not sure I'd adjust speed, but dmg multiplier, armor divisor, and range tradeoffs seem good.
The speed increase makes long-range attacks more feasible - with a subsonic, highly-visible round, it's very difficult to hit anything capable of moving at a decent range without massed fire, and I want higher-spectrum blasters to largely be used as sniper rifles and the like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by naloth View Post
Making the sword based on thr damage seems like a good change. If nothing else it makes ST important.
Well, you have the option of thr or sw - the former does less damage but has a better armor divisor. While it's not stated, I intend for thr attacks to function like imp/pi when it comes to hit location interactions, while sw attacks would function more like cut. And yeah, I've liked the idea of ST mattering for force swords for some time now - I prefer instances in Star Wars where the weapons seem like swords rather than cut-through-anything-with-a-touch-deathsticks. The sequel trilogy has this to a limited extent (notably Kylo and Rey fight in the first movie, but to a lesser extent the preceeding fight between Kylo and Finn), but seems fairly prevalent in games (video games and PnP RPG's) for the franchise.
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Old 05-12-2021, 11:29 AM   #6
naloth
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Default Re: Force Sword (and Blaster) Design - Assistance Requested

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
The speed increase makes long-range attacks more feasible - with a subsonic, highly-visible round, it's very difficult to hit anything capable of moving at a decent range without massed fire, and I want higher-spectrum blasters to largely be used as sniper rifles and the like.
Yes, I saw how you were using it to adjust how hard it was to parry. If I was doing Star Wars type combat I'd just make it all either short range or largely inaccurate at long range. Short ranges would keep combat more local much like Dune creates a reason to do melee combat. It's much easier to close to melee range that way.

Longer range isn't bad, it just adjusts the focus of the game.

Quote:
Well, you have the option of thr or sw - the former does less damage but has a better armor divisor. While it's not stated, I intend for thr attacks to function like imp/pi when it comes to hit location interactions, while sw attacks would function more like cut. And yeah, I've liked the idea of ST mattering for force swords for some time now - I prefer instances in Star Wars where the weapons seem like swords rather than cut-through-anything-with-a-touch-deathsticks. The sequel trilogy has this to a limited extent (notably Kylo and Rey fight in the first movie, but to a lesser extent the preceeding fight between Kylo and Finn), but seems fairly prevalent in games (video games and PnP RPG's) for the franchise.
I should have said Strength based damage. It always struck me as odd that Jedi focused on swinging attacks rather than thrusting if the blade (rather than the pressure used to strike) was what does the damage. Making it based on Strength with a high armor divisor explains that style of fighting pretty well.
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Old 05-12-2021, 12:43 PM   #7
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Force Sword (and Blaster) Design - Assistance Requested

Quote:
Originally Posted by naloth View Post
Yes, I saw how you were using it to adjust how hard it was to parry. If I was doing Star Wars type combat I'd just make it all either short range or largely inaccurate at long range. Short ranges would keep combat more local much like Dune creates a reason to do melee combat. It's much easier to close to melee range that way.

Longer range isn't bad, it just adjusts the focus of the game.
This is a good point. I do intend for red blasters to be by far the most common. With the previous iteration, this would be an organic consequence - the dwell times (up to half a minute) of hyperblasters made them a poor choice outside of sniping situations, and of course there was cost to consider. Now, higher-spectrum blasters give up some wounding potential, but gain an armor divisor as well as increased range, which may be too tempting - an entire military force using green, blue, or even purple blasters wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility. So, it may well be a good idea to bring back the increased cost for crucibles that produce higher-spectrum beams.

Quote:
Originally Posted by naloth View Post
I should have said Strength based damage. It always struck me as odd that Jedi focused on swinging attacks rather than thrusting if the blade (rather than the pressure used to strike) was what does the damage. Making it based on Strength with a high armor divisor explains that style of fighting pretty well.
Theoretically, a swing with a cut-through-anything-deathstick is great because it means anything but a glancing hit is going to sever whatever you hit, making it easy to either disable a foe or kill them outright with a single hit. Such a weapon is also capable of striking multiple foes with a swing, which can be useful in certain situations. That said, Jedi seem to put far more power behind their strikes than would be necessary with a weapon that behaves the way lightsabers do in the prequels (it occurs to me the original trilogy treated them more akin to swords than deathsticks). Sanderson's Stormlight Archives has an interesting interpretation here. The Shardblades there similarly cut through almost anything (although they have a distinct edge - you can Parry a strike from one with a mundane weapon by focusing on the flat of the blade), and it's explicitly noted that most who use them don't put much power behind the strikes. There's a technique - the lastclap, what GURPS calls a Hand Clap Parry - that exploits this to allow an unarmed fighter to catch a Shardblade swung at him.

Of course, a massless omnidirectional deathstick can potentially get the best of both worlds here, as you can thrust and then shake your hand around a bit (or even do a quick back-and-forth as you thrust) to open up some massive wounds, sever limbs, etc. That isn't an option with my force swords, as they behave more like physical weapons (although they do still have the "omnidirectional" bit going for them).
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:05 PM   #8
WingedKagouti
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Default Re: Force Sword (and Blaster) Design - Assistance Requested

Quote:
Originally Posted by naloth View Post
I should have said Strength based damage. It always struck me as odd that Jedi focused on swinging attacks rather than thrusting if the blade (rather than the pressure used to strike) was what does the damage. Making it based on Strength with a high armor divisor explains that style of fighting pretty well.
It's generally easier to miss with a thrust than a swing since you have a far smaller "active surface" with which you can connect. That said, a thrust can be faster and harder to adjust to than a swing. But both factors are below the resolution at which GURPS usually operates.
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