Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Traveller Tuesday: Laser Rules

No sacred cows slaughtered this time, but they got singed a bit.

This came about as a result of me looking at the main book, and then the High Guard changes for lasers, and saying "That just doesn't seem right."  None of these designs have been playtested (yet), so feedback is highy encouraged.

Pulse Lasers are primarily defensive-- essentially energy version of Phalanxes. They do 1d6 damage, but due to their spread have a +2 to hit and to damage missiles, boarders, and any craft less than 100 tons. Because of this (and tonnage) pulse lasers are good choices for small craft. 

Beam Lasers are primarily offensive. They do 2d6 damage, because A) there's a lot more energy behind a constant beam than a pulse, and B) with the "hose" effect it's a lot easier to aim the laser and keep it trained on a target for maximum effectiveness. They are, however, terrible at hitting anything moving quickly, and so suffer a -2 to hit anything less than 100 tones.

My players like it, but please, tell me what you think. 


  1. I'd think that you could do more damage with a pulse laser....you can put a hell of a lot more energy in one point for a fraction of a second that you can with a continuous beam. Plus you don't get spalling or gassing that will shield your target.

    But that is just reality, not fantasy.

  2. I'd think it would be the other way around. Beam lasers at lower damage per hit, but you can raster a larger volume, so a better chance of hitting. Pulse lasers for the offensive punch.

  3. @Middleoftheright & @Geodkyt: Here's how the game did it, and maybe this will explain some stuff.

    Originally, a Pulse Laser and a Beam Laser were both Tech Level 7. The PL had an optimum range of short, did 1d6 damage, and cost half as much as the BL which did 2d6 and was medium range.

    Then a supplementary book came out and changed all that. Suddenly, Pulse lasers did 2d6 damage and bad a –2 to hit (why? They never said) and
    beam lasers did 1d6 damage but became tech level 9 weapons.

    These changes made no sense to me (WHY is a pulse laser suddenly less accurate?) and so I looked for a way to rationalize these changes. The above rules are what I came up with. I guess I just like the idea of pulse lasers being "Spray and pray" while beam lasers are more like those kickass weapons the Minbari and Vorlons used to drill into ships or cut them in half.

  4. To support Erin's ruling. Beam lasers are slow traversing and need to aim, track and collimate to "hit" but once they are focused, look out. Pulse lasers are fixed focus (or limited collimation) but quick tracking.

  5. so can you fire a beam laser indefinitely or is there a power drain or overheat clause?

  6. Starship rules are vague in this regard. But since ship combat turns take 10 minutes, and the starships have fusion reactors, power doesn't seem to be an issue.

  7. In original Little Black Book Traveller the beam lasers ran continuously; but you had to read an article from The Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society to find that out since the actual rules don't say.

  8. Beam lasers become a higher TL because of cooling and power requirements. But since you can "walk" them on target like a firehose, easier to hit. For point defense, a hot enough beam can be rastered in a cone. Unfortunately, if the beam isn;t hot enough to be the kiss of death on first brush, you have to hold it on target until damage occurs.

    That's RW lasers, anyway.

  9. I'd like to point out that there's a fundamental difference between making beam lasers more accurate and making pulse lasers less so, in that boosting the BL doesn't screw over everyone who bought a PL.

  10. Erin - I like your take on the situation (described above) and I vaguely remember that being in synch with what the old LBB gospel was (pre Book5).


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