Directed Energy Weapon
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"in some way they are able to generate an intense heat in a chamber of practically absolute non-conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any object they choose, by means of a polished parabolic mirror of unknown composition, much as the parabolic mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light… it is certain that a beam of heat is the essence of the matter. Heat, and invisible, instead of visible, light. Whatever is combustible flashes into flame at its touch, lead runs like water, it softens iron, cracks and melts glass, and when it falls upon water, incontinently that explodes into steam.
War of the Worlds H.G. Wells

Basic Information

A directed energy weapon is a ranged weapon which deviates from the normal pattern of such things by firing a pulse of some form of energy at the target rather than a solid projectile. This category also includes those weapons that fire a pulse of charged particles of some kind since although technically solid, they do not constitute a projectile as is commonly understood.

An indicative list of such weapons would include:

  • Lasers - both the traditional, visible light kind and more exotic forms outside the visible spectrum, up to and including X-rays.
  • Microwave projectors - currently a concept for a less lethal weapon, but also a cunning application for some Radar sets and potentially a full scale weapon at some point the the future.
  • Charged particle guns - firing a beam or pulse of electromagnetically charged particles.
  • Plasma guns - firing a charge of gas plasma.
  • Neutron guns - firing a pulse of fast neutrons.
  • "Nerve impulse" weapons - generating electromagnetic interference in the target's nervous system.
  • Sound guns - either using the nausating/structure damaging properties of infrasound as a less-lethal weapon or using airborne shock waves to deliver blunt impact attacks. The vortex ring gun may fit into this category … or not.
  • Psychotronic projectors - weapons that enhance or focus psychic powers for use in combat.

Some of these technologies are currently viable, some are under development and may be available twenty minutes into the future and some require some degree of superscience if they are possible at all.

Conversely, Archimedes is said to have used some kind of directed energy weapon - possibly an array of mirrors - to ignite Roman warships during the siege of Syracuse. This weapon, if it existed, has not been sucessfully recreated as yet, but if it existed, it would prove the first example in recorded history.


Game and Story Use

  • Many of these will be appear as ordnance class weapons long before they become viable as small arms - just because the GM doesn't want people running about with laser pistols, doesn't mean he needs to rule out laser armed AFV.
  • These weapons may have interesting abilites to by-pass the immunities of alien or supernatural creatures that are immune to normal weapons.
  • Access to directed energy weapons can make a useful shorthand for an advanced civilisation - whether aliens, the descendants of ancient astronauts or just a high tech pre-human civilisation of serpent people.
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