Advice for creating a starship weapon that attacks a line of zones

I’m running a campaign that will eventually feature the species that one of the crew is (A creation by that player), and a weapon on their starships that I’ve been working on but can’t nail down one of the mechanics. It’s called the Positron Blaster Lance. In lore, it fires a big angry deathbeam through space that can hit multiple targets along it’s firing path, i.e. attacking a line of zones. It’s powerful, devastating, and really hurts. It’s an energy weapon that’s powerful so it eats a talent, but it also takes a talent because it takes this big bulky equipment. It’s damage is tabulated like a torpedo attack and it’s base difficulty to hit is 3 with a range of medium. So far the profile I have for it is:

4CD vicious 1, Calibration, Devastating, High-Yield, Power 3, Threat 2

It eats a ton of power, and adds to threat because it’s powerful, and scary.

I’ve read the books in depth for ideas on how to make it work. Antiparticle weapons exist in the game. They either give Vicious 1 or Penetrating 1 as far as I can see so that’s easy enough. And since shooting something with antiparticles would basically cause them to either explode or just rip them apart at the molecular level, Devastating and High-Yield seemed appropriate (Also pretty much nothing uses Devastating so I thought it’d be a good use for it). The thing I can’t figure out is mechanically how it would attack multiple zones in a line. I’ve thought about increases to difficulty to include more than one zone. That felt weird and not in the spirit of the rules. I thought about being able to buy extra zones with momentum and then effects rolled can hit things in more than one zone. That felt like you could roll fewer effects than what you were looking for so I scrapped that.

Currently I’m at back where where I started in very the beginning: A damage effect called Lance that lets you hit extra targets like Area but you can affect targets in other zones that must be in a line of zones aligned with the firing ship. That seems balanced enough considering the costs to fire the thing. However I can’t help but feel that while that’s the simplest and most “Lore meets Crunch” solution, that it’s still too much. Again, one of my crew is from this species and I want to run a campaign in their navy later if my players like them well enough so I want this to work if it can. None of my players know about any of this, it’s still a ways off; I want it to be a surprise, especially for the player who’s character is this species (I really like their species)

Thoughts? Alternatives? Have I created a monster?

Any new weapon should have the trait Prototype and a higher range of complication (high risks high reward)
This way, if you’re not happy of what you have done you can always rule it was abandoned because it was too unstable.

Not quite, actually. What you would do, is making an extra attack. Compare the Override action which increases difficulty.

You can spend Momentum/Threat to re-roll damage. Also: Sometimes you do not inflict as much damage as you had hoped. That’s called bad luck. :wink:

The Area damage effect was the first thing I thought of when I read your post. I’d go with this effect, modified like you proposed it. The addition of something along the lines of “only one target per zone” and either a maximum number of zones or a decrease of damage per zone.

I’d also think about setting its range to Close instead of Medium.

If this “Lance” has a fixed direction (as e.g. a railgun mounted through the ship’s spine would have, additional traits reflecting the needs to maneuver could be a thing for you. Maybe the weapon cannot be used while an Evasive Action is in effect or it needs an active Attack Pattern to be able to hit in the first place.

Thanks for you feedback!

Not quite, actually. What you would do, is making an extra attack. Compare the Override action which increases difficulty.

I’m aware of extra attack and the override action. My crew is mostly new to star trek save for one and let everyone do their own role. We also haven’t had a single override action yet. So, while I know them, I just didn’t think of them because extra attack has come up only a few times (Our security officer has Security 5 so they tend to end whatever they shoot at or even punch and our Chief Engineer has Mean Right Hook regularly laying people out), and override just isn’t a thing for us.

You can spend Momentum/Threat to re-roll damage. Also: Sometimes you do not inflict as much damage as you had hoped. That’s called bad luck.

We reroll damage all the time. And still get meh at times. Roll20 doesn’t really like us. Don’t get me started on the number of complications we roll, we started keeping track and it’s wild.

The addition of something along the lines of “only one target per zone” and either a maximum number of zones or a decrease of damage per zone.

I see the point of this and will consider it well. There’s only so many effects you’re going to roll. The ship that’s meant to carry this thing will have Security 4 so it’ll throw 8CD. Assuming it got ~2 effects or more per roll, which it should by odds, that’s at least 2 extra ships hit. I have considered targets hit in the first zone take full damage and each additional zone take half like the spread effect. It would mean even using it on a single target would be worth it seeing as the thing hits like a anime deathbeam just about without feeling like you’re not getting maximum use out of it in that scenario. As far as a maximum number of zones, I’m still on that one currently. Way back originally it had a maximum range of Extended so you couldn’t just shoot across a solar system if you rolled high enough (Which by rules you technically can anyway) but was still a spectacle if you did manage to hit. Imagine being in orbit of a planet and the moon’s rotation brought something into view you didn’t like? :smiley:

I just like the idea of this thing firing and everything hit takes full damage while my player’s eyes pop out of their sockets thanking their lucky stars the thing’s on their side. :slightly_smiling_face: As I said I’d like to run a side-story campaign in this species star navy if my players are interested.

I’d also think about setting its range to Close instead of Medium .
If this “Lance” has a fixed direction (as e.g. a railgun mounted through the ship’s spine would have, additional traits reflecting the needs to maneuver could be a thing for you.

Yes, it is a “spinal mount” as the term goes. 2 things about this regarding your feedback:

  • Medium range made sense to me because it’s not a mobile weapon system on the ship and shooting at something that’s at close range would therefore be very difficult. The beam travels slower than light but still very fast so too close and it’s hard to keep the nose on and hit your initial target, too far and it’s harder just because your target might move by the time the beam gets there.
  • Torpedoes are launched from fixed launchers on a ship. Granted they are guided and mobile, but you still in narrative are pointing the ship closely nose on or so if not directly nose on (Like in the shows) without a Task or otherwise mechanic to do so, therefore I wasn’t concerned about the ship “Needing to maneuver into position”. I figured that was covered by the necessity of lining up the shot already zonewise for maximum effectiveness if you’re using it as intended: making things across a large area go away. (Though firing the BFG at something you just want to go away is cool too :grin:)

I think players using attack pattern or simply buying advantage using momentum from a maneuver task is absolutely on theme. My players have done this to great effect buying “advantageous angle” for attack or defense for a round or before a next attack (By them or the enemy). So something similar would be thematically great and I think by the narrative of this weapon something very inspiring for the players.

As a side note about making it Close range, there is another version of this weapon: The Positron Blaster Cannon which is deployed later as a derivative of the Lance. Smaller and more feasable, it’s the same thing with 3CD base, Close range and no Lance effect. It’s a short range heavy hitter that’s more a beam that goes the usual Star Trek “Pachew!” instead of the Lance’s “AHHHHHHHHHH!” screaming across space.

These are my current thoughts and some more insight into how I came to my current ideas about this thing.

P.S. How do you quote with user names in this forum? I’ve looked all over I must be blind if it’s right in front of me.

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So this is guided weapon that can home in on one target in each zone?

If it is not and is basically a beam, which is what I thought it sounded like. Then one target is likely, a second target is maybe possible if you can maneuver just right, but a third target is near to impossible unless you manage to take a squadron formation completely by surprise and there are three plus ships that just happen to be in a line.

While the game may abstract starship position by using zones, three dimensional space makes it extremely difficult for four moving objects (firing platform, target ships One thru three) to line up along a single line.

This sounds like a weapon more suitable to reducing non-maneuvering structures, rather than multiple maneuvering ones. Kind of like mass drivers. Great against targets with no ability to maneuver, but easily sidestepped by anything that can.

The zones are pretty abstract. There are only 5 zones for distance, Contact, Close, Medium, Long and Extreme with Extreme only reflecting “3 or more zones”. So any shot will reach out to Extreme range.
But how are you defining width of beam? With a “narrow pencil beam” the odds of engaging more than two targets are very very daunting as I mentioned above, unless you achieve total surprise or the enemy are idiots. While a wide spread weapon, say a cone, will enable you to hit a wider area and perhaps multiple targets. That is not a powerful weapon, it is a world busting weapon.

Which is fine if that is what you are looking for.
I Just cannot wrap my head a “beam” weapon that can hit 2-4 targets with one shot, especially when they will probably be under power.