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Laser Weapons

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Laser pistol

Alpha Dawn PGC-1 Laser Pistol

In Star Frontiers, lasers are a common form of weaponry. They range form personal hand-held pistols to massive cannon mounted on the bow of a spaceship. They make up the following types of weapons:

Personal Lasers:

Vehicle-mounted Lasers:

Ship-mounted Lasers:

How they workEdit

Laser weapons in the Frontier emit a pulse of visible and infra-red light so intense that it causes the matter it hits to violently explode, inflicting bullet-like damage.

Each SEU is approximately one kilojoule worth of energy, which the weapon splits into approximately 1,000 single-joule laser pulses separated by approximately 5-microsecond intervals,[10] focused into a “beam” approximately one millimeter wide. The exact number of pulses, their separation, and the width of the “beam” depend on the weapon’s model specifications.

Sirisian lasers

Sirian laser weaponry

When the first pulse hits its target, it is fast enough and the energy is concentrated enough that it creates a tiny explosion. This blasts a tiny crater in the target, with the vaporized debris clearing just as the second pulse hits, cratering the crater as the third pulse hits… by the time the last pulse hits, the craters have formed a tunnel a thousand times deeper than the crater created by the original pulse, with a temporary cavity (created by expanding vaporized matter) in soft tissues up to 10 cm in diameter.[11]

Generally, laser weapons multiply the energy put into each pulse by the number of SEU used for each shot, so that a laser using 10 SEUs[12] will (depending on model) fire 1,000 pulses of ten joules each, causing ten times the amount of damage (on average) that a 1 SEU shot would produce.

Larger laser weapons use more sophisticated focusing equipment, which allows for greater beam coherence at longer ranges, which explains why most models have longer ranges, but do not produce more damage at closer ranges per SEU, than their equivalent smaller versions.

Most laser weapons do not work properly underwater due to light propagation issues. Only lasers tuned to the blue-green portion of the visual spectrum work properly in such an environment. Laser weapons designed or modified to work underwater add another 50 credits to the cost of the weapon.[13]

Albedo DefenseEdit

In the Frontier, the most common defenses against laser weapons are albedo-based, meaning “reflective”, but this is more than just a mirror which would be shattered from the impact of the first few pulses; albedo defenses are two wholly different systems working on completely different technologies.

Albedo SuitsEdit

Albedo 1

Female Human wearing albedo suit

Albedo suits are made of a silvery mesh chemically bonded to more traditional materials (like cloth) and formed into garments or plates; this silvery mesh has a crystalline structure that vaporizes easily but retains reflective properties while vaporized. When a laser pulse strikes the outer layer, its vaporized debris cloud blocks over 50% of the next pulse, while burning away more material to block the next pulse, while a capillary wicking effect draws more albedo crystals from the surrounding material to block more of the laser’s pulses. The net effect is that 100% of the damage of the blast is deflected from the wearer, but the same amount of “damage”, in the form of a decreased ability to deflect damage, is inflicted on the suit (although the term “absorbed” is commonly used, and perfectly illustrative, it is inaccurate).

The point of impact on a suit shows a pockmark where the laser blast hit, surrounded by silvery-grey scorch marks. The surrounding material’s silvery sheen will look tarnished and dull, as refractive material was drawn from it towards the blast point. Even if only one blast is responsible for “depleting” the suit, the resulting expenditure of crystalline material will be so severe that the entire suit will be rendered useless. The wearer of the suit will feel a slight tap at the point of impact, not strong enough to cause damage to the wearer, but enough to know that the suit has been hit.

Damaged albedo suits cannot be repaired.

Albedo ScreensEdit

Unlike albedo suits, albedo screens do work on a fully reflective basis; when turned on,[14] the system passively detects inbound lasers, using a dedicated computer to analyze direction, frequency, and power, then projects a pulsing energy field that matches the incoming laser blast, diffusing it safely around the wearer. This generally happens to fast for the eye to see; all that is seen is a flash of light that is barely visible.

Albedo screens work extremely well, deflecting 100% of the damage of the laser blast, but consuming a like amount of energy. Since only energy is consumed, albedo screens are generally preferred over albedo suits, which are depleted when used and cannot be repaired.

Notes & ReferencesEdit

  1. Non-canon.
  2. Non-canon.
  3. Non-canon.
  4. Non-canon.
  5. Non-canon.
  6. Non-canon.
  7. Dragon Magazine "Tanks a Lot"
  8. Non-canon.
  9. Non-canon.
  10. The 5-microsecond pulse rate is optimized for soft body tissue, other rates are optimal for steel or other materials, but few laser weapons are specifically designed for such work. An anti-robot laser weapon might, for example, deal 20% more damage to robots, but also 20-40% less damage to living creatures.
  11. This tunnel and temporary cavity may be 30cm or more in depth when striking soft body tissue; approximately equal to a .22LR bullet fired from a rifle.
  12. Each SEU used in a single shot in Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn does 1d10 damage, so a 10 SEU shot will do 10d10 damage.
  13. "Going for a Swim?" Dragon Magazine #110
  14. The system is passive and uses very little energy; once activated, any residual energy not used is stored for its passive sensors, thus it does not, on personal units, use SEU while on (but inactive). If the GM prefers, the system can consume 1 SEU per minute (10 turns) of operation.

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