Whilst Fenspace is a land of wonders begging for exploration, the need to defend oneself is sadly also a part of it. Much like the historic ages of discovery back on Earth, danger from the wildlife means that arming yourself is a regular thing. Even more unfortunately, the wildlife is our fellow man.
In the sometimes fragile environments of space habitats and vehicles, hand-to-hand combat is normally the safest proposition. In most cases people have knives on their person, mainly because they're useful for many things other than stabbing people. Throwing weapons, swords, and clubs of various designs also proliferate, as do any number of Ninja weapons due to Hidden Asteroid's presence in the system, but the following are some of the more unique Fen weapons:
- Denn'bok - The Minbari Fighting Pike used by The Rangers. This is a quarterstaff like weapon that compacts to a cylinder the size of an average hand. Anyone who carries one of these is assumed to be a skilled fighter, as the weapon is not as balanced as a simple staff and requires a lot of control to use effectively. Very few have been given to non-Rangers.
- Shockrods - A simple device that was intended to be a safe riot control weapon, as they were designed to stun the recipient of the blow. Unfortunately they are so effective slavers use them regularly, giving then a brutal reputation.
- Mono-blades - 'Wavetech blades that have a monomolecular edge. These are only produced by a few people, and only for specific highly skilled customers.
Like hand weapons, most anything to be found in the 'Danelaw made it up the well. However, while there are no specific mass-produced Fen-made weapons, the use of specialist ammunition makes them more effective.
- Gun Ammo - This has stabilized at mostly 9mm and .45 caliber ammunition, although .40 caliber ammunition is also around. However to be effective against waved body armour they have a far more powerful cartridge, necessitating modification of the guns that fire them to handle the recoil (along with the modification of some to WORK in vacuum). Certain types are 'banned' (read restricted as it's still possible to get them) on all stations and craft due to the damage they can do. These include the deadly hyper-penetrator rounds just hitting the space lanes.
- Chemical Pellets - A rare but effective weapon (mainly because the resources used to create them are more useful elsewhere most of the time), and used in everything from arrowheads to paintballs to airsoft pellets.
|Sidebar: The Whistler Custom Shop|
|The Whistler Custom Shop is considered the best gun shop in Fenspace, mainly because of its proprietor. The shop only accepts jobs on appointment, and Whistler himself only works on the weapons of specific customers. This is because Whistler is the Chief Weapons-smith of Justice League Interplanetary, and spends much of his time in the Supers Q Branch as the third in command. Whistler is generally regarded as the best Gunsmith in Fenspace, and his apprentices and employees some of the best in the business. Having a Whistler Custom Shop gun is a mark of respect, but a Whistler Special is something that could give a person BNF status.|
Directed Energy Weapons
Of this class of weapon, only one type of handheld device exists, commonly known as a Stunner. Officially designated a neural disruptor, the stunner is a projective charge device. Using a combination of microwaves and sound waves to carry a charge to its target which induces a quick shock to a person's central nervous system. They are let down by the fact they can easily be defeated by grounding the charge.
Military weapons are expensive, especially in Fenspace. Never the less, the type of weapons to be found are usually military surplus or black market. However the type of combat encountered by the military forces of the Factions is mostly close quarters, which makes the assault rifles normally used unwieldy. Carbine or bullpup weapon designs have gradually filtered into service, several of which are modified versions of existing weapons. It wasn't until Mid 2013 that the first Fen designed combat weapons were put into production (including the SWI-18 MPAW, based on development done by the Whistler Custom Shop), based on experience from these modified weapons.
The use of explosives in Fenspace is typically a military matter. Given the nature of hulls in Fenspace, an explosive charge is generally necessary to penetrate them. Grenades are a mix of concussion, gas, and HEAP with some special Chemical grenades rounding them off. They are either the standard hand-held, 40mm shells, or the rare aerodynamic versions.
There are a wide variety of weapons mounted on ships and they break down in the following way.
Generally these are coilguns in the 20mm - 100mm range. Coilguns have proven themselves as a good general purpose weapon with sustained fire rates, and have been around a while.
The Mass Driver, the bigger brother to the coilgun, has started to appear in places, however the weaponized versions are rare, as most that are built are the electromagnetic catapult version.
In early 2013 the Railgun was perfected. This is a weapon good for armour piercing and has a superior burst firing ability as well as a faster muzzle velocity of around 100 times the speed of sound. The most effective calibre currently is the 20mm round.
First seen in prototype during Serenity-Con is the Rail Cannon, a weapon using a 155mm round weighing 5Kg. It typically operates at muzzle velocities of 1000 times the speed of sound with a maximum firing rate of 10 rounds per minute. Due to a combination of power use, size, and heat levels generated in action, it is only mounted on stations and ships of the Destroyer type and up.
|Sidebar: Pre-OGJ Weaponry|
Before Operation Great Justice, Fenspace was a kinder, gentler place to live. Many "weapons of mass amusement" were developed by the Professor and other scientific types, and were happily adopted by Fenspace's less-than-serious majority. These weapons could be divided into three broad classes: non-lethal melee weapons, grenades, and firearm projectiles.
Melee weapons could be found in all of the styles endorsed by the SCA.
Grenades provide cover by creating clouds of otherwise-ordinary items. Known examples include the pompom grenade (described above, not to be confused with a pom-pom gun round), the pantsu grenades (popular when one needs to distract members of the Happosai Brigade), and the Chocolate Bomb (pull the pin, throw the grenade, everything in the blast radius gets covered in chocolate - then eat the chocolate pin). Katz Schroedinger has been known to use these grenades even in real combat.
Firearm projectiles tended to use Snurf-tech - they would hinder a target's movement by encasing him in a quick-setting foam-rubber-like substance. The substance is a solid when in the firearm, only becoming liquid for timespans measured in milliseconds after being fired, when making contact with a solid or semi-solid substance. Human skin is sufficiently solid for the projectile to undergo the temporary transformation. Obviously, larger caliber rounds were more effective as restraints. (Nobody's sure why the Professor used the name "Snurf-tech" for this effect. It isn't as if he cared about trademarks any other time...)
Directed Energy Weapons
By far the most common of these is the Laser. Useful for many things, it wasn't long before their use as weapons became viable.
Electromagnetic Pulse Guns have proven a difficult proposition, leading mainly to various Maser devices. As a side effect, most vessels have been shielded against this due to its obvious practicality.
Particle Beams are still fairly rare in Fenspace after their explosive (figuratively speaking) introduction at Boskone Prime, due to their large size and much larger energy requirements. Again, these weapons are normally mounted on stations and large vessels. Any vessel that mounts one is classed as a Battleship or Battlecruiser. The latter are especially closely watched by the Fen law and military organisations.
Missiles, Bombs, and Mines
As it stands, most missiles are vacuum adapted versions of those found in the 'Danelaw. Only Stellvia Corporation had access to pure space designs originally, and they didn't share with anyone (except once, when they delivered a consignment of missiles to the USS Stingray at the very end of the Boskone War). These used specialist warheads (specifically Kaboomite, but rumours of other high-level warheads exist). Since then other factions have developed more 'aerospace' versions, with the new Illudium-P24 Space Modulator warheads.
The most lethal devices are Kinetic Kill Vehicles. These are basically Speed Drives aimed at a target. Their sophistication ranges from re-tasked general purpose drones (as used by The Jason) to the latest custom built systems coming out from the Fen weapons nuts. Compared to other systems, they're rarely used due to them being overkill for craft less than the largest SS class vessels and their size (the smallest are go-cart sized). This is because anything less can not be armoured enough to resist Point Defense systems, or mount a powerful enough drive to allow 'side-slip' dodging.
(There have been numerous attempts at melding RC toys and explosives as a small KKV missile system. While swarm tactics have some value, the numbers needed are impractical to be carried generally by anything less than an SV class vessel.)
Bombs and Mines and fairly simple, although Mines in particular have limited range and usefulness. Bombs are rarely used, as they're only good against (relatively) static targets.
Weapons and the Wave
Of course, in Fenspace nothing is ever entirely simple. There are two main difficulties for the use of weaponry in the realm of the Wave. These are The Slapstick Effect and good old Space.
Acme Corporation, for all your needs
The main impediment to the development of all those neat things like phasers, blasters, death-rays and the other cool Sci-Fi weapons is the property of Handwavium to tend to protect life, or at least not hurt it. This has come to be called The Slapstick Effect, after several well known incidents where heavy mil-spec hardware such as mini-guns and bombs were waved and used against people. The end result of these incidents was a lot of people looking like classic cartoon characters after an explosion (soot covered and blinking in surprise). The surroundings (and sometimes the victims' clothes) are usually not so lucky. Not a single person has been confirmed as more than trivially injured from Handwaved weaponry. Attempts at various rayguns, death beams, antimatter bombs, and other staple Sci-Fi weapons have proven otherwise impossible via Wavetech.
This has prompted some to declare the Effect as proof of a Higher Purpose and/or origin for Handwavium.
Regardless, the Effect has been used by many to create 'Weapons of Mass Amusement'. Sometimes strange, often silly, but never harmful, these were the weapons of choice until Operation Great Justice.
One thing of note is the recent rumors of the Effect weakening. Whilst recent developments hint at this, there is no solid proof as of yet. Especially...spirited...discussions on this subject are taking place in various forums in Fenspace.
It's cool to look at, but it doesn't really have any atmosphere
Handling guns in space is a bit of a tricky thing. The main problem is not the lack of oxygen, as all cased rounds contain an oxidiser in their cartridge for more efficient combustion. You can fire a gun underwater after all.
No, the main problem is the lack of atmosphere.
Guns from the Really Real World are designed to work in an environment where there is an atmosphere. That's where we live after all. This causes a few things:
- The lack of pressure translates to not enough recoil to re-cock the weapon.
- There is no heat dissipation due to atmospheric gasses.
- There is no stable temperature for the gun, and as such metal fatigue will occur, as well as chipping as the metal becomes brittle in the cold.
Depending on who you are and what you use, a simple Handwavium treatment of the weapon's component parts (individually done, to get round the Slapstick Effect) could be all you need. This is particularly appropriate with semi-automatic weapons.
Lubrication can be handled by 'Dane ultra-low temp lubricants, or by a simple coating of Black Handwavium.
This doesn't stop certain people from selling "Space-adapted" or "Vacuum-sealed" weaponry to unsuspecting tourists and the ignorant.
Another thing to consider is recoil. If you're not anchored to or braced against something, the act of firing a gun could spin you round and send you flying.
The last thing that a gun-slinging Fen might want to keep in mind is the mess made by all those bullet cartridges flying everywhere. Not only are they a hazard to navigation (the Space Shuttle has had cracked windows due to paint flecks for instance), but metal is recyclable. If you don't use a brass catcher, someone else will probably sweep them up and make use of them. In general the Fen aren't rich enough to afford the loss of money from not recycling.
- There are always specialists who create one-off or limited-run weapons, such as The Whistler Custom Shop described in the sidebar on this page.
- Such systems may actually be part of a missile tube on larger vessels or for launching small craft quickly.
- It would be an odd space suit to be sure
- There has been no confirmation of the rumored cuddly Hello Kitty M16 in use by a Senshi, but nobody would be surprised if it did exist. It's about the only thing that hasn't been branded by the Kitty.