Trope-a-Day: Universal Ammunition

Universal Ammunition: Not quite universal, but so far as regular guns go (see Bottomless Magazines for the description), there are very few different types of standard magazine cartridges (metal for slicing up), powercells (which are just the fast-discharge versions of regular battery equivalents), and heat sinks which cover virtually everything on the market.  And even where slugguns are concerned, there aren’t all that many different bore sizes beyond the two main ones, and the rest of the compatibility issues can often be handled by software patch.

Conventionally averted where the exotica are concerned, though.

Trope-a-Day: One-Hit Kill

One-Hit Kill: Your mileage will almost always vary, given the amount of variant tech out there, but a sluggun – and the S-11i Mamabear in particular (see: BFG) – will do this to most regular infantry (they are, after all, designed as anti-materiel weapons), and one in which you put antimatter-grenade slugs will one-hit kill just about anything assuming you’re in the sort of war and on the sort of battlefield where they let you use weapons like that, which tends to be the problem there.

Trope-a-Day: Only a Flesh Wound

Only a Flesh Wound: Averted.  Sure, modern transsophs have all kinds of enhancements for durability and healing – smart cardiovascular nets, auxiliary hearts, better blood clotting, etc., etc.  Those will help you if something slips past equally modern milspec combat armor with full kinetic barriers, or against a (very) glancing hit or ricochet, or against car wrecks, or shrapnel, or stabbing, or being on the fringe of an explosion.

But a mass-driver gun tosses target-customized flechettes downrange at appalling, air-plasmating, entirely excessive velocities.  If you get hit directly by one of those without armor, or with enough of them to overcome its protection, it’s a bone-pulverizing, flesh-pulping experience that is almost certainly not survivable – and there’s no safe place to be hit.

If they bring up the heavy weapons or go to full-auto, it’s all over bar picking the vector stacks out of the slightly-charred chunky-salsa-esque ooze.

Interlude: Things That Go Bang

Since in the ongoing series about the Legions I’m obviously going to be talking about their guns, seems to me that I ought to maybe describe the terminology used for those just a bit so that you know what I’m talking about.

That is, inasmuch as terminology has changed from what could reasonably be translated into our firearms terminology, inasmuch in turn as these guns technically aren’t firearms – they’re powered by mass drivers rather than chemical explosions – so while some of the words are familiar, the definitions have changed.

Let me sum up:

There are four basic classes of guns (in the slugthrower sense, that is, and ignoring needlers which no-one counts as slugthrowers even though they technically are) used in the Empire. These are referred to as pistols, carbines, snipers, and slugguns.

The first three of these all work by firing tiny flechettes at HOLY CRAP speed.

A pistol is, basically, any flechette-firing mass-driver handgun.

A carbine is the common flechette-firing mass-driver long gun. The original definition as “shorter-barrelled than a rifle” has more or less gone away, since there are no more rifles – the mass drivers spin their projectiles purely through EM fields – but it translates to the vast number of general-use longarms intended for use in pretty much all combat situations from close-up defense to long-range suppressive, essentially filling both the PDW and assault rifle role.

A modal example has a bullpup configuration and probably has a form factor not dissimilar to the FN P90, the weapon I would expect to play them on television if any of this were ever to be made into television. The barrels, in general, are not significantly longer than the main body.

A sniper is the only really long longarm, long-barreled and equipped with specialist software and sensors for even more accuracy than you’ll get out of an already accurate carbine. They’re the descendants of sniper rifles, only shortened in name because, well, they’re not rifles.

The sluggun isn’t a flechette weapon; it fires macroscopic metal slugs in an anti-material role, or canisters which you can put just about anything in, up to and including using it as a launcher for bore-compatible grenades and gyroc micromissiles.

A battle carbine isn’t a special class of its own; it’s what you get when you mount a regular carbine and an underslung sluggun in the same case for maximal versatility, usually sharing their redundant components.

Of our other common firearm types, this can be said:

There aren’t shotguns, because a simple software change to a carbine can emulate them by firing a burst and oscillating the final stage of the mass driver to produce a spreading cone of flechettes, with all the stopping power and spread of the real thing. You can do the same thing with a pistol to emulate a sawed-off shotgun. Alternatively, you can fire canister shot out of a sluggun to much the same effect.

There aren’t submachine guns, because you just configure your carbine to fully automatic rapid fire, and you have exactly the same effect. Likewise, the machine pistol and the pistol.

Any questions?

Trope-a-Day: Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better

Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: For most things, yes.  It’s not that they don’t have perfectly functional energy weapons, or power cells which can manage the job – if you can run a mass driver that can get a flechette or slug up to a respectable fraction of the speed of light, yep, you can power a laser with it too, just fine.  Nor do energy weapons lack their place – lasers are a damn fine way of pumping heat into things, which is very handy in starship combat, for example, and electrolasers (fire the laser to ionize a path through the air to your target, then dump a lot of voltage down it) make excellent stunners and anti-machine weapons, and EMP weapons are also handy for the latter, if really hard on the infrastructure.  Blinding lasers are effective on at least many species and relatively humane.

But in practice, it’s a lot easier to solve the problems of making really awesome kinetic weapons than of dealing with beam dispersion (while you can do some cool blasting-shit-apart – not slicing it up – with a big laser or graser, you would generally prefer not to have to let it get that close), atmospheric humidity (a big problem for electrolasers), and other such things, and in some cases vulnerability that varies sharply by the precise way the energy is delivered, and suchlike.  So while energy weapons of various types are part of the arsenal, in the special uses for which they excel, the jack-of-all-trades weapons still Throw Stuff At You Really Damn Fast.