Difference between revisions of "Starship Weapon Systems"

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The Fusion Rifle uses hydrogen as the "powder" and argon as the "round". Laser-fusion initiation sets up a reaction in the hydrogen, which is then allowed to mid with the argon, and the whole lot is fired through a hybrid barrel. The fusion jet is capable of much higher burst-power than normal plasma ignition methods, while the use of highly purified heavy gases produces a beam that is both "heavy"(IE hard-hitting) and resistant to drift. Balnor reckoned that an experienced crew could make a shot from twice the distance of a standard beam cannon. The various cannoniers who have operated the Fusion Rifle agree that that's spot-on.
The Fusion Rifle uses hydrogen as the "powder" and argon as the "round". Laser-fusion initiation sets up a reaction in the hydrogen, which is then allowed to mid with the argon, and the whole lot is fired through a hybrid barrel. The fusion jet is capable of much higher burst-power than normal plasma ignition methods, while the use of highly purified heavy gases produces a beam that is both "heavy"(IE hard-hitting) and resistant to drift. Balnor reckoned that an experienced crew could make a shot from twice the distance of a standard beam cannon. The various cannoniers who have operated the Fusion Rifle agree that that's spot-on.
What primarily kept the Fusion Rifle out of serious consideration was the additional need for specialized munitions. Much like a terrestrial naval cannon, the argon and hydrogen could not simply be pumped into a reusable chamber, but had to be packed into a canister like a shell. The canister required high-pressure and high-insulation in order to keep the gasses liquid. Most of the canister would be vaporized, but not reliably enough; so the entire canister had to be placed inside a disposable ignition chamber that was then removed and replaced.

Latest revision as of 20:21, 20 March 2020

Starship Weapons systems are highly varied and differ greatly by the groups that field them, but have a few marked similarities.

In general, most weapons fall in to one of two categories: projectile and non-projectile.

Projectile Systems

Any time a ship fires a solid, non-reusable object, it is considered a projectile. Projectiles themselves are generally differentiated by guided and unguided.

Unguided Projectiles

Rail guns are the most common, where in a metal 'slug' or bullet is propelled by passing a current between two rails. Magnetic guns are also common, and while less efficient, their do exist gravity guns (which use artificial gravity to propel a projectile). All of these weapons are typically small, turret-mounted affairs and commonly used for point defense or close-in ordnance. Because they are relatively easy to build and maintain, this is also the most common armament fitted to civilian ships.

While much less common, there have also been many notable examples of "space guns" fielded by different powers. Good old-fashioned nitro-cellulose (smokeless gunpowder) works perfectly well in outer space, and in a vacuum can propel a large projectile to very dangerous speeds.

While effective range is not a major issue(in space, an object in motion remains in motion), unguided projectiles are still considered only a short-range or close-in weapon. The primary problem with these weapons is aiming; since the projectiles travel much slower than the speed of light, it becomes nearly impossible to hit distant targets.

The Railgun Paradox

The Railgun Paradox is the general explanation for the low use of these systems. Railguns are cheap, easy to build, and highly effective in a vacuum. The ammunition is equally inexpensive, being comprised of any conductive material. In order to cause damage to a large ship, many small railguns are required, but these are not difficult to field. So, why aren't more rail guns used?

Essentially, the range is limited and the damage per slug is low, so large ships generally don't carry them, because better large-scale weapons are widely available. Conversely, smaller ships do not have space for the significant ammunition requirements, which do consume a lot of space, so small ships don't carry them.

And there you have it: such a great weapon, no one can find a use for it. (Note: this excludes the Glorina, which saw action during the late Kamian Succession Wars).

Guided Projectiles

Guided projectiles typically consist of missiles or torpedoes, and may or may not carry a warhead. A key difference between the two is size and payload: torpedoes are generally much larger than missiles.

The addition of a guidance system makes range considerably less of an issue. The deciding factor then becomes delta-V budget; how much can the projectile change it's relative velocity? Pure chemical-based motors have extremely low delta-V compared to their nuclear counterparts.


The most common guided weapon is a kinetic missile, which consists of a rocket motor, guidance system, attitude control system, and an inert "impactor" usually made of some dense, heavy metal. These missiles kill with pure kinetic energy, relying entirely on the speed of the missile and the speed of the ship launching them.

Kinetic missiles are popular because they are cheap, easy to build, an effective against most targets. Chemically-driven kinetic missiles can, at close range, inflict serious damage; and much like railguns are popular "civilian armaments" in the Merchant Marine.

In fact, kinetic missiles are so efficient that chemical explosive warheads are almost never used. The most powerful and sophisticated non-nuclear explosives simply don't add enough to be worthwhile. The exceptions are whenever the function of the payload is strictly destructive against another ship. Some small SIMs are equiped with a chemical explosive payload and designed to produce a cloud of shrapnel; these are seen most often on weapons fitted to stunt-fighters designed to take out other stunt fighters.

Larger missile payloads are often nuclear, with most space navies fielding some form of N1 missile. Interestingly, most N1 missiles are complete ineffective on anything other than a direct hit. An N1 warhead exploding only "near" a ship hardened for the kind of radiation encountered in deep space(E.G.: All ships) would be unaffected by the radiation, and there is almost no shockwave to speak of.

To counter-act this, N1s are usually surrounded by a "burner" or fuel layer made of some dense material, usually a heavy elemental metal. In the explosion, the burner is vaporized and turns into a shockwave of energetic plasma. This is an important feature as it turns a "near miss" into at least some damage.

  • The Gudersnipe Foundation fields an N1 missile with a shaped tungsten or depleted uranium cone that functions much like the penetrator in a rocket-propelled grendade anti-tank weapon. When the warhead explodes, it creates a white-hot jet of plasma capable of penetrating most Starship Shield Systems and doing significant damage to an armored hull.

Less common as missile warheads are N1.5, or hydrogen fusion bombs. They are effective in that a powerful plasma shockwave is created, but finding a second-stage fissile material capable of fitting on a usually relatively small missile is extremely challenging and out of the capability for even most nuclear-armed forces.

Alliance combat ships rely heavily on very small N1s with burners and mostly use kinetic missiles. While the Foundation fields all of the above, its main-stay weapon is the N2 variable-yield warhead. Much like an N1.5, N2s produce a very powerful and devastating plasma shockwave, while also being relatively similar in side. The infamous Scion-Sending Missile fielded early in the Kamian Succession Wars combined an N2 warhead with the shaped burner shell from the armor-penetrating N1.

Missile Tubes

Missile tubes are typically described according to the direction relative to the bow of the ship and plane of the ship. A 0/0 tube would point directly forwards. A 0/45 is along the side aligned with the plane of the ship. A 45/45(the most common variant).


Torpedoes are, of course, the main-stay of the ship-killer weapon; a single good hit from a torpedo can generally take out anything smaller than a cruiser.

The difference between a missile and a torpedo in space is largely academic. The Foundation classifies a torpedo as being "any weapon fired from a powered launcher with an engine capable of multiple re-starts". Propellant-system re-start is the main determining factor for most space navies, though many cultures simply do not differentiate between the two weapon types. The Foundation primarily keeps the two as separate categories due to a long naval tradition.


The Foundation's torpedo system is too-stage: a compressed gas explosion coupled with a magnetic coil. The space in front of the torpedo is also exposed to the vacuum of space, and the combination of factors gives it a fractional speed of light acceleration. This allows the torpedo to be launched without engaging it's own motor, which makes the initial launch more difficult to detect.

Launchers are typically protected behind heavy armor plates which must be retracted in order to fire. Since the plates are a sizable fraction of the hull, this represents a detectable change in surface geometry. The same is usually true for missile bays. Opening of bay doors is usually considered a sign of aggression, since it signifies the intent to launch a torpedo.

In addition, the tube itself, since it contains sensitive equipment, is often pressurized while not in use(to allow for maintenance access), depressurizing the tube by venting into space is another detectable event. Some ships are equipped with vacuum pumps that can clear the tube without venting, but most prefer to simply go into battle with bay doors open and tubes emptied.


Foundation torpedoes typically use a Deuterium Drives, being small, compact, and very powerful. The Foundation's variant uses a small amount of anti-matter to spark the reaction, while many operators use laser fusion initiators. The anti-matter systems are actually more expensive to operate, but the Foundation uses them because the restart cycles are much faster.


Kinetic torpedoes are not a thing. If you are going to launch a torpedo at someone, you'd best strap a nuke on it. Most operators use the largest N1.5 warheads they can find, the Foundation uses N2 warheads "or better".

Foundation payloads typically consist of a large, variable-yield N2. The "workhorse" torpedo of the Crimson Blade is a variable forty to one hundred and twenty megaton N2 in a thick, hardened tungsten casing. While the casing ads very little to the yield when vaporized, it does protect the torpedo from counter measures, and can allow it it to better penetrate into a hull.

The torpedo is also the standard delivery system for the Nova Bomb. Though they have been fitted to missiles, torpedoes are preferable for their improved capabilities.

The foundation also fielded the "Scion Torpedo", which borrowed from the shaped-charge design of the Scion-Sending Missile. This weapon eventually evolved into the modern Skipper Missile, a long-range hunter-killer torpedo.

Non-Projectile Systems

This section refers to directed energy weapons. Anything that created an explosively-formed projectile would belong in the projectiles section. Very few cultures ever field simple "lasers" as weapons; the space-gun of choice is typically a plasma-based compressed energy weapon or "beam cannon".

Beam Cannon

A beam cannon functions by heating gas until it it is converted to plasma, under high pressure, and releasing the plasma as a stream, or 'beam'. It has much in common with a traditional artillery piece. The term 'Beam Cannon' is often used as a sort of catch-all. Strictly speaking, most of the weapons discussed bellow can be accurately described as beam cannons.

A beam cannon is the simplest type of compressed energy weapon typically employed by starships, mecha, and sometimes tanks. Because of shielding and power requirements, handheld or even man-portable or crew-served beam cannons are unavailable. They are generally not considered effective in-atmosphere as passing through gasses severely limits the range. The power requirements are also enormous.

The "ammunition" for a beam cannon is plasma, generally of much higher power than dry plasma produced as part of an engine firing stage. While some variants do use anti-matter to spark the initial plasma reaction, the prefered method involves a laser array and a powerful electrical arc.

A typical design uses primary and secondary ignition chamber, followed by an alignment chamber, or barrel.

Interior Components

Primary Ignition Chamber

In the primary ignition chamber, ignition starts by arcing a powerful electrical current through a gaseous field. Dozens or sometimes hundreds of small, powerful laser beams are also pointed along the ignition stream, which rapidly converts the gas into ionized plasma.

Secondary Ignition Chamber

In the secondary ignition chamber, additional gases are added to be converted into plasma. This has both the effect of making the beam "heavier" while also helping to normalize it, or bring it to within a common power level. The plasma reactions in the primary ignition chamber can be highly erratic, the goal of the secondary chamber is to produce a highly consistent stream.

Alignment Chamber

The primary reason for the name "cannon" comes from the long barrel of the weapon. The interior of the barrel is lined with powerful force-fields, and may not be straight but use a series of ridges designed to deflect the ionized particles into a coherent stream. The fields determine final beam compression and are often adjusted, much like a lens.

Support Components

The primary factor in firing a beam cannon is available electrical power. This is used for control compression, alignment, and at the ignition stages. A cannon requires a very large amount of power over a very short time-frame. A major subsystem is a massive bank of capacitors, which can quickly supply that power.

A ship will usually have a tactical Power Buffer, but larger ships will also have a dedicated turret buffer and sometimes even individual buffers on the guns, all in an effort to make the highest possible amount of energy available to the cannon at any one time.

Firing Parameters

The beam that ultimately leave's the mouth of the barrel quickly looses cohesion and scatters into a conical shape. A more focused beam has a greater effective range, but is also more likely to drift. Gun crews, having chosen a target, have only a matter of seconds to make adjustments for the best possible shot.

The beam can further be adjusted to arc, accounting for drift, and someimes even allowing a target to be hit around an obstruction. "Curving the beam" is something only elite gun crews aboard capitol ships are capable of, and it requires a deep knowledge of both physics and the field of fire.

Gun crews are also known to exploit the cohesion problem by firing a "scatter-shot" - a beam intentionally formed with very low cohesion that is designed to immediately scatter into a wide cone. While useless against other capitol ships, this method is highly effective at destroying enemy fighters caught in the cone.

Firing pressure is also a factor; a "low-pressure" shot can have far greater range but does less damage. A high-pressure shot will spread much faster. The makeup of the gasses also effects this heavily(see Ammunition bellow). Generally speaking, the fire-control crew will include a "gas man" who's job is to monitor the contents of the coming shots and provide adjustments to the rest of the crew accordingly. Gun crews use a series of pre-calculated tables to determine how different plasma makups will affect their shot. The medium the beam must pass through is also accounted for, as it affects all of these factors as well.

Fixed Parameter vs. Variable Parameter

The large cannons mounted about capitol ships are typically variable-parameter, capable of dynamically adjusting firing parameters to achieve different effects. Smaller ships carry "fixies" or fixed-parameter cannons, that are pre-configured for the greatest possible range. These are ideal on smaller ships that do not have dedicated gun crews, and sporting weapons that, given their smaller size, are virtually no use at anything less than their maximum effective range.

One common exception to this rule are "Fast-Attack Ships", which are very small vessels that field large, variable-parameter cannons for use against much larger ships

Cannon Classifications

Beam cannons are classified by three factors: barrel length, aperture diameter, and maximum pressure levels. Wyrick Balnor, CTO of IFA(a major manufacturer of beam cannons) has pointed out that "Gun crews generally take that last rating more as a 'suggestion'; I've met shooters who's SOP was twenty percent over max." Wyrick, who had a significant impact on weapons design during the Kamian Succession Wars, discretely had the maximum pressure level for IFA weapons reducied by about ten percent of the design limit, "splitting the difference" as it were.

As improvements in alignment chamber have progressed, barrel length has had less of an impact, making the final factors, diameter and pressure, the most important. Aperture diameter is measured in inches, while pressure is measured in pounds per square inch. Colloquially, guns are described simply as a pair of numbers, for example a "thirty-six, five hundred" would be a thirty-six inch, five hundred PSI maximum cannon. A popular game amongst gunners is to omit any any differentiator, offering up something like "36500" in order to test another gunner's knoweldge. An experienced gunner can typically spot different IFA models by eye.

Balnor Scale

Unhappy with the barrel length/aperture diameter/pressure level argument, Wyrick Balnor created a chart that cross-referenced all the weapon factors and arrived at a final number for damage, which he initially presented as "the Adjusted Aperture Diameter and Pressure Level Scale". While countless factors effect actual damage, his scale provided a number that was universal across all cannons.

It was immediately dubbed "the Balnor Scale" and weapon damage Si-units re-classified as "Balnors". The scale was later adjusted to include all ray-type weapons.


Typically speaking, gun crews prefer heavy inert gasses such as xenon or other noble gasses. Pure Nitrogen is popular, but in a pinch even the ship's atmosphere can be used. This is known amongst gunners as "shooting dirty" and is despised due to the unpredictability of using mixed gasses. In general the purest, heaviest gas available is the best ammunition. Gunners specifically avoid light gasses such as hydrogen and helium, as these tend to undergo fusion within the cannon, making them highly unpredictable. In fact, light-gas tainted ammunition has been the cause of many high-profile disasters.

During the Golden Age, for example, it was common practice to draw down directly from the ship's atmosphere for firing a cannon, no attempt was made to secure purified gas supplies. In the case of C.B.S. Actor, a six-gun dreadnaught, large amounts of helium from a damaged engine augment system had leaked into the atmosphere. Since helium does not burn, the ships internal sensors did not register the leak, and when fired, two of the ship's guns(being fired in concert) exploded catastrophically. From that point forward, it became Foundation policiy to draw-down off storage tanks and use pure gasses whenever possible. This decision eventually led to the advent of much stronger, larger, and more powerful cannons.

Auxiliary Modes

In the event that less power is available to fire the cannon, variable-parameter guns can narrow their capaerture to achieve higher compression with lower over-all beam strength. This contingency mode is also useful if the weapon is damaged, as it is less likely to result in a breach.

Charged Particle Cannon

A charged particle cannon works on the same principles as a beam cannon, but adds additionall electrolyzing elements, adding a high electormagnetic charge to the plasma. Charged particle weapons have a greater range are heavily increased damage, but at a cost of much greater energy consumption.

While "dual-type" charged particle/beam cannons are technically possible, they are never delibrately built with that in mind. A ship is either designed with enough power to field full charged particle cannons, or is equipped with ordinary beam cannons. The capacity does still exist as an auxillery mode, but is very seldom used as it would requite a gun crew o be proficient in both types of weapons. Some elite gun crews will still attempt it under emergency measures. A very common practice is to train gun crews manning charged particle weapons in the use of a standard beam scatter-shot, as this takes very little sckill but is extremely useful.

Hybrid Cannon

Hybrid Cannons are a type of charged particle cannon that combines the normal weapon with a laser grid that helps to align the particles and form a perfect laminar plasma flow. Hybrid cannons should not be confused with dual-type cannons. A hybrid cannon has very great range over a standard charged particle cannon, and while it inflicts somewhat less damage per unit of power expended, the dramatically increased range more than makes up for it. Hybrid beams also do not "arc" and are far less suspectable to drift.

The trade off, however comes in complexity, as hybrid cannons are much more complicated and suspetable to damage. Also, due to their sensative components, they cannot be operated in auxilelry modes except under the most extreme of emergencies(as doing so effectively destroys the gun).

Hybrid cannons are surprisingly not much-liked by gun crews. As Wyrick put it "For some reason the greater accuracy tends to lead to more meddling from the bridge, the captain wants to direct the shot instead of the gun commander. So the captain wants to call the shot, say 'hit the bridge!' or some other really specific target, and the turret's not lined up for it, and the gun commander's already chosen a much better target... yeah. They are just a hastle."

Anti-Proton Cannon

Often called the "holy grail" of energy weapons, an anti-proton cannon fires a stream of energized plasma heavily laden with anti-matter. The stream has enough mass to penetrate most shields, while the anti-proton content annihilates any shielding. AP cannons were first conceived as far back as the Mage Wars, and low AP-content cannons have been fielded at various points by different nations.

The Foundation had long researched the technology and hit a wall in terms of power generation. In order for the beam to be effective, the anti-proton content has to be around 80%. Low-content cannons(with around 10%) were found to be basically as effective as charged particle cannons. On a "long shot" most of the antimatter would have already annihilated by the time the stream reached it's target. An ideal shot would be 100% percent.

Fusion Cannon

Fusion cannons are very rarely fielded due to the extreme difficulty in construction and maintenance, weapon usage hazards, and the relatively low advantage provided.

A fusion cannon functions like a beam cannon, but instead of electrically heating heavy gas into plasma, it takes light gases such as hydrogen and helium, and heats them to the point of undergoing nuclear fusion. In all other aspects, the weapon resembles an ordinary beam canon.

Since most of the power is derived from elemental fusion, the actual energy requirements of the cannon are topically substantially lower than with a traditional beam cannon. However, the forces acting within the weapon are considerably more violent, requiring a much greater effort to be contained. The momentary energy requirements of the cannon can thus be higher, depending on the efficiency of available forcefield technology.

Safety is another serious factor. A loss of power at the wrong time in a traditional beam cannon will usually lead to a rapid cooling of plasma and a "fizzle"-shot. A partial power loss allows the remaining plasma to be safely vented, a complete power loss will usually damage the weapon. In the case of a fusion cannon, an inopportune power loss can result in releasing a thermo-nuclear explosion. This is not preferable in most circumstances.

Pulse Cannon

A pulse cannon or pulse gun works on the same principles as a beam canon, but without a secondary ignition chamber. The alignment chamber is also smooth. Rather than a steady stream of energy, the weapon releases a very short "pulse". While the momentary power requirements are high, the long-term requirements are much lower. Pulse cannons are also less susceptible to drift, giving them a greater effective range with less requirement to correct.

The downside is massively inferior damage when compared to a full beam cannon of similar bore. Pressure is a non-comparison, as these weapons fire at much lower pressures.

However, pulse cannons make up for their deficiencies in both scale-ability and reliability. A beam cannon with a barrel of only thirty-six inches must operate at very high pressure to achieve a useful shot and be nearly as long as a much larger weapon. A barrel much smaller than twenty inches is effectively useless. Compare to the pulse cannon, which scales effectively down to the calibers of large machine guns. However, they cannot be used in-atmosphere.


As a main weapon, pulse cannons are not very effective without an extremely high-energy source backing them. As such, most are relegated to duty as close-in or "point defense" weapons, the effective purpose being to to shoot down enemy fighters or missiles.

Some lower-tech civilizations do field pulse guns as main weapons, and against similarly armed and equipped adversaries, they are effective enough. However, it does not take much to develop defenses at the capitol ship level.

Some small Crimson Blade cutters field a turret with quad-mounted pulse cannons for engaging enemy fighter formations. The four barrels have some independent aiming capability, and can also be used to "pepper" a larger target with shots in order to assist in stripping it's shields.


A "disruptor" is a style of directed energy weapon that is engineered specifically to strip shields. Shield power is largely limited but available space in the buffer, once that's drained, a ship will typically need to retreat in order to re-charge its shields. The disruptor employs a low-energy, high-compression plasma beam that has been made to spread. The principle is similar to a scattershot, and disruptors have also proven highly effective against enemy fighters.

The higher rate of spread upon hitting the target, coupled with the higher density of plasma, has a much greater effect on shields. Disrupters have very little effect on hulls and are basically useless against armor, but it does not matter as they are made to clear out shields for "the big guns", usually charged particle cannons above.

Due to highly different firing parameters, no one has ever perfected a dual-type disrupter/beam cannon, though there have been attempts.


Disruptor technology existed before the Succession Wars but was not highly regarded. Most fleets would not field disruptors powerful enough to disrupt Crimson Blade shields, and most Crimson Blade weapons could cut through enemy sheilds without much concern.

However, with the start of the Succession Wars, and the Kamians having an upper-hand, bot Alliance and Foundation began working on disrupter-style weapons in earnest.

At first, the Foundation experimented with battleships that carried a combination, using two and three barreled turrets in which one barrel would be a disrupter. This proved highly inefficient, was terrible for both single-target and multi-target engagements, and wrecked havoc with established firing protocols.

The next step was to fit-out entire turrets, a fourteen-gun battleship might have, for example, six guns on the two aft turrets set up as disruptors, then then the eight guns on the three forward turrets would be regular beam cannons. In a broadside, the disruptors would fire first, followed by the beam cannons, hopefully stripping the shields for maximum effect.

In practice, however, this method worked out even worse than the mixed barrels idea. In a broadside, yes, it was devastating. However, if the enemy could not be engaged side-one(which was common) the disruptors became useless. And having them fitted at the back of the ship meant no big guns for defense.

The last attempt at fielding disruptors on a battleship involved mounting them to the middle turrets, but even this was found to be ineffective. Battleships spent most of their time engaging much smaller Kamian vessels where disruptors were not required. As the war progressed, the Kamians grew more cautious with their capital ships, and the use of disruptors on battleships waned all together.

Later in the war, the Foundation tried fielding "Disruptor Cruisers", which would keep beside a battleship or dreadnaught, and offer disruptor support where needed. These are largely found to be ineffective, and the pace of distruptor technology had changed dramatically.

The last major use involved fielding Disruptor Frigates. Small, fast ships, designed to bypass fighter screens and move in close. Each was fitted with dozens of small disruptors(found to be more effective than large units, which had greater range) and try to strip a capitol ship's shields. Disruptor frigates continued to be used throughout the war.

Dual-Type Attempts

Wyrick Balnor shares his thoughts: "An ongoing project at IFA, it was there when I started, it'll be there after I retire. Not sure who it is, but SOMEONE high-up has a raging nerd-boner for a combination beam-cannon/disruptor. Yeah, the two techs are pretty similar. No, you can't make them work together. Not in any sense that's practical.

"Try to keep in mind: by the time I came on, we'd stopped building beam cannons all together(the small remaining demand for beam cannons was being met by our subsidiary, Consolidated Head-Melters), we were just making charged particle or hybrid cannons by then. Which, of course, meant the project had changed to make one of THOSE that could also be a disruptor. This is basically impossible, and stupid, and a huge waste of resources. I flatly refused a transfer to the project several times, and when I got high enough in the organization I started to slash the budget. I tried to cancel it, but got angry letters from the Blind Consl, so I used it as a dumping-ground for all the terrible employees I couldn't just fire. I think it was something of a nightmare for the project manager, some people asked me what he did to deserve it, but he knows.

"Anyway, when I was named CTO, the first thing that happened was I got a message from a group on the Blind Consl asking me why, with my legendary leadership, that particular project was so far behind. I answered them by saying it was a dead end and a waste of time. And then to prove it, I invented the Gallet Gun... in an afternoon. While at least a little bit drunk."

Wave Cannons

Often also called "wave emitters", "phase emitters", or "phase cannons", the Wave Cannon is a type of compressed energy weapon that lacks the distinctive long cannon barrel. Wave cannons are very short and stubby by comparison. A Wave Cannon functions like a normal beam cannon, but relies on artificial gravity generators to compress the plasma into a coherent stream.

The effect of the gravitation compression creates a very distinctive wave-pattern in the beam, hence the name.

Wave Cannons are typically used aboard much smaller ships, either as turret weapons on cutters, or most famously as the nose-gun on Corvettes. They have much lower compression than typical beam cannons and as a result have considerably less effect on targets. The lack of a barrel to help focus the beam also leads to a hugely reduced effective range. All tolled, the wave cannon is considered ineffectual against armor, and is employed for use against fighters, bombers, and other small craft. They are sometimes fitted as close-in weapons aboard large capital ships, where the rapid aiming, rapid firing nature is of great value when backed by the power output of a large vessel.

Wave cannons are also infamous for their non-standard uses, the ability to make heavy, on-the-fly modifications to the beam cane make them extremely versitile.

Exotic Weapons

Fusion Rifle

AKA "God's Gift to Gunners", it was designed by Wyrick Balnor during his retirement, but not built until long after his death. In his diaraies, he described it simply as a pet-project, the ultimate gunner's gun.

The Fusion Rifle uses hydrogen as the "powder" and argon as the "round". Laser-fusion initiation sets up a reaction in the hydrogen, which is then allowed to mid with the argon, and the whole lot is fired through a hybrid barrel. The fusion jet is capable of much higher burst-power than normal plasma ignition methods, while the use of highly purified heavy gases produces a beam that is both "heavy"(IE hard-hitting) and resistant to drift. Balnor reckoned that an experienced crew could make a shot from twice the distance of a standard beam cannon. The various cannoniers who have operated the Fusion Rifle agree that that's spot-on.

What primarily kept the Fusion Rifle out of serious consideration was the additional need for specialized munitions. Much like a terrestrial naval cannon, the argon and hydrogen could not simply be pumped into a reusable chamber, but had to be packed into a canister like a shell. The canister required high-pressure and high-insulation in order to keep the gasses liquid. Most of the canister would be vaporized, but not reliably enough; so the entire canister had to be placed inside a disposable ignition chamber that was then removed and replaced.


The Fusion Rifle was never envisioned as a main-turret weapon; it was too sophisticated and slow to fire, it main function being effectively a giant sniper rifle. As such, the gun was popular to mount one of at the top-castle of a ship(thus giving it the greatest possible field of fire) and assigning the most experienced crew to it. Even at close-range, the weapon was still useful as it could penetrate most shields, and could also be used to assist other ships by firing long-range shots.

Fusion Riffles saw especial use aboard cruisers and as secondary weapons on dreadnaughts. They are not often fitted to battleships, which rely primarily on fielding as many large beam cannons as possible.


The Saratoga experimented briefly with the Severely Oversized Laser(S.O.L.), a weapon that used the shield grid to produce, contain, and fire and omni-directional burst of plasma, like a beam cannon that went everywhere. It was hoped that it could provide the ultimate point-defense weapon, taking out any nearby fighters in a single burst. A few operational trials determined that the range was too limited and the power requirements too high for the potential value.

Photo-Sonic Weapons

While technically classified as a missile, a photo-sonic device has two functions: blind the ship and deafen the crew. The device uses an explosive charge which creates a powerful burst of light, heat, and radiation. It also released a heavy, low-intensity plasma shockwave. The shockwave is heavy enough not to be dispersed by shields, but too weak to deal much actual damage. Instead, the impact(usually over most of the hull) produces a loud cacophany inside the ship, capable of causing permenant hearing loss at close range.

The primary function of the weapon, the intense energy burst, can obscure sensors. At long range, it can also be used as a form of non-active sensor pulse.

Photo-sonic weapons are highly effective against stealth ships.

Radiation Weapons

Radiation has been employed by many groups as a weapon. The most common is to use a high-intensity, artificial source in a reflector to create a "radiation gun" which can damage ship systems and injure crew. Another common method was to "salt" a battlefield with high-order nuclear waste.

Radiation weapons fell out of use with the advent of active radiation shielding, and would never have been effective against heavily armored warships, who's hull plating already serves as an extremely effective radiation shield.

Black Hole Weapons

Black-Hole Gun

The old Gudersnipe Army was known to be fielding the infamous "Black Hole Gun" as far back as the Mage Wars. This terrifying weapon came in the form of both an artillery shell and a starship-fired projectile. The old-syle black-hole gun used two plates of extremely dense matter, separated by a buffer. On impact, the buffer would jetison, and the force of the two plates coming together would collapse the matter into a small black hole. Damage from these weapons, however, proved to be less effective than conventional nuclear weapons, while being orders of magnitude more expensive. Formally, the Foundation retired the technology for this reason, and reported that it had only been used against "extremely hardened targets" - this was true, as while the damage to a conventional target was low, these weapons did essentially remove a small corner of existence.

Black-Hole Bombs

The Gudersnipe Army also fielded a type of bomb based on the black hole gun. It used a similar effect but employed nuclear explosions to compress the material. These, too, saw very little usage.

A race called Fraya are also notorious for employing black-hole weapons. The nature of their technology was never determined, but they could create large, temporary back holes capable of pulling in capital ships.

Black-Hole Shields

Joshua Jusenkyou invented a way to produce a stabe artificial singularity, then bend the event horizon around a starship. The ship itself would be safe inside

Gallet Gun

The Gallet Gun is a type of hybrid weapon invented by famed designer and IFA-CTO Wyrick Balnor. It is considered a highly notable weapon and credited with helping to turn the tide of the war. Balnor famously commented that the original design for the gun, which he credits to himself and a close circle of friends, was created over the course of a Sunday afternoon. It was during a backyard barbecue, in which they were "a little drunk" and playing with model rockets, quote "in ways that were distinctly irresponsible for teenagers." Note that this incident happened while Wyrick and his friends were in their early fifties.

The actual prototype for the weapon took roughly six weeks to build, and operational prototypes were being fitted to new ships within a year.


The Gallet Gun was born of the desire for a weapon that could inflict serious damage like a charged particle cannon, but also strip shields like a disruptor. The Foundation had apparently been funding projects to develop such a weapon for millennia to no avail, and had worked on it earnestly during the Kamian Succession Wars.

In about A.Y. 6510, Wyrick Balnor, then CTO of Industrial Face Annihilators, was eager to cancel the charged particle disruptor program now under his control, but was receiving significant push-back from the Blind Consul. Balnor felt the technology was a complete dead-end.

One summer afternoon, he and a few of his closest friends(one another high-ranking IFA-employee and the others have advanced scientific backgrounds) were together celebrating a holiday from their now-destroyed home world. Amidst the festivities, he brought up the subject of the much-wanted weapon. According to Balnor "while playing with model rockets, fireworks, and the sorts of home-made explosives you get when you have access to an industrial chemistry lab, one of us threw out the idea of combing an explosively-formed penetrator with a beam cannon. In principle, the penetration would still be reasonable solid, but traveling at close to the speed of light."

Balnor comments that it's lucky IFA's facilities were located in space, as more than one of the group were keen to do a proof-of-concept experiment that day, and that everyone involved was quite tipsy(in one interview, Balnor famously added 'but, you know, it was light beer, so it's tough to say exactly how much damage we could have done.'). Still, the group completed the mathmatical proofs of the design and performed a proof-of-concept test the following day(while sober).

Balnor says: "The test utterly destroyed the weapon and missed the target, but given that we threw it together in an afternoon none of that was very surprisingly. The sensor data told us we were on to something."


The basic principle of the Gallet Gun is fairly simple. A "cap" is placed over an ordinary charged particle cannon. The cap, made from some heavy, dense material, then becomes an explosively-formed penetrator. The penetrator is then carried by the particle beam at close to the speed of light. The particle beam itself, being in essence a small amount of super-heated gas, can be dispersed by the ship's deflector shields, but the penetrator cannot. A sufficiently heavy penetrator will pierce even the strongest shield grid, and strike the hull "like a nuclear rocket-propelled grenade".

The same concept was used by the Scion-Sending Missile, but as part of a missile warhead, and not backed by the awesome might of a main-gun charged particle cannon. The new type of cannon "effectively made shields and armor transparent". In fact, the biggest "problem" was that at close-range it had a tendency to punch a neat little hole clean through a ship, instead of expanding inside.

The primary difficulty with the weapon came in the use of a projectile. A major advantage: the gun could be used like a normal charged particle cannon, it did not require the "round" to be chambered in order to work. However, when a round was chambered, it caused considerable re-coil - enough to momentarily overcome the force of the engines in some cases. This called for considerably greater support systems and a complete re-design of the turret. The re-design was also necessary to accommodate the new re-loading system.

Operational Usage

Gallet Guns did not see wide deployment.