Thursday is GURPS-Day, and you should never bring a knife to a gunfight, and a pistol is a defensive weapon, not an offensive one.

Truisms, of course, but still true nonetheless. As I was washing dishes this morning, I remembered a study, not sure why, about the older 55gr 5.56x45mm M193 cartridges, showing that the jacketed lead rounds actually overpenetrated less in common household structures. Fairly sure I read it at the Box O’ Truth, though other studies have shown similar results. The high energy rifle rounds tend to destroy themselves on hitting just about anything, while pistol rounds tend to keep coherent, if deformed. But a pistol bullet is a squat beast anyway, and you can only deform it so much.

Naturally, my thoughts turned to GURPS, and I thought “what would a sidearm that qualified as an offensive weapon look like?” Stats-wise.

Well, you’re really talking something with a Bulk like a pistol, -2 or so. Accuracy like a rifle or carbine: Acc 4 or Acc 5. And of course the ever-popular damage, and in this case, I think you’d really want about 6d to 8d in GURPS terms, because those give you an ability to drop dead an unarmored foe of HP from 10-12.

But at the Incapacitation Station we also decided that instant death is overkill, and 4d is probably enough to do the job, especially for a low Rcl weapon that might achieve 2-3 hits.

But to really qualify, you want that big damage, and that says Ultra-Tech.What qualifies?

  • The Heavy Laser Pistol (UT, p. 115) gets it done. Acc 6, 4d (2), Rcl 1. That’s TL10. Same thing with the TL11 Rainbow Laser Pistol variants (p. 117).
  • The TL11 and TL12 big brothers of even those, the heavy X-Ray lasers and grasers work too, same reasons, higher armor divisors, staggeringly high range. All Acc 6.
  • The Heavy Blaster pistol works, but is a bit high in bulk, low in Acc.
  • The pulsar pistol (UT, p. 124) is sweet. 6d(3), Acc 5, Bulk -2, Rcl 1. That works. 
  • The TL11^ plasma pistol delivers the goods
  • An odd choice, but effective, seems like the Force Pistol
  • You can’t go wrong with a disintegrator pistol. 36d(infinity) and Acc 6 means not even having to apologize to vapor.

The Ultra-Tech guns in the book aren’t terribly impressive. None of them make the list in any form.

Parting Shot

While you can certainly find a sidearm that is as powerful as a current-day rifle if you look into the futuristic beam weapons in the Ultra-Tech book, you will, of course find even more accurate and powerful weapons in the longarm variety. Still, unless armor is very common, comfortable, and appropriate to the sensibilities of whatever society we’re dealing with, the above weapons will serve well as things that blur the distinction between a defensie weapon (a pistol) and an offensive one (a rifle).

16 thoughts on “Self-Defense Weapons

  1. Don't forget the ammunition upgrades. At TL10 you can go ETC, and projectile weapons start to look competitive again. (Indeed, it makes gauss weapons effectively obsolete.)

    1. Looking at a +50% boost to damage from a pistol-sized weapon doesn't quite get you to my arbitrary cutoff of 4d (2d+2 jumps to 3d+3, which is admittedly only just shy).

      It's a near thing, but you really need to do something like make an already-hot round like the 10mmAuto into an ETC thower (which I think means you're tossing a 180-200gr bullet at something like 500-600m/s). I'll run some numbers with my calculator

    2. Your main problem there is Acc, not damage; a 10mm ETC pistol loaded with APHEX one-shots humans (4d+2(2) pi+, 1d-4 Cr Ex, 1d-2 fragments) and HEMP is just silly (8d(5)). However, it only has Acc 2. Alternately. there's always a Gyroc pistol with Viper rounds.

    3. Does adding a hud and fast, hardened, tiny computer with a Comp 4 targeting program count for boosting the TL 9 ETC guns to offensive? Its expensive (+$2600, +0.1lbs), but for +1 Acc and +2 skill at TL 9, the Heavy Pistol starts looking good. Thats 4d+2 pi+ (before APHEX or whatever) at Acc 3 to 270/3000, at only 2.6lbs and 20+1 shots. With the +2 skill, you could consider that sliding nicely into the Acc 5 minimum. Coupled with some Night Vision Contacts, and your looking at a pretty deadly yet subtle load out for TL9.

    1. No, I mean Ultra-Tech. The guns themselves, as presented, underperform in many respects relative to their High-Tech equivalents. Of course, the real advantages of UT guns lie in ammunition (though the really cool stuff at TL9 is 10mm or 25mm limited), and the huge number of kick-ass accessories you can put on a weapon. But in many cases you are better off served with a TL8 gun from High-Tech modified to shoot TL9 ammo with TL9 optics and electronics. The ETC or liquid propellant options help, but not enough on the stock UT guns to push over the line in most cases.

    2. Yeah, I got to know Ultra-Tech really quite well when writing Will to Live, and it's kind of patchy. It was written very early in GURPS 4th's life and some things just hadn't settled down yet. I'm fonder of it than many people, but I think it works best for games if you use either UT weapons + UT electronics and ammo, or HT ditto, not blending the two together.

    3. You listed a bunch of UT weapons that qualified, and then said UT guns sucked, so I was confused. I believe the issue is that you don't bin the energy weapons with "guns," and I do.

    4. It's a widely held and not unreasonable opinion that it is the energy weapons that are unimpressive compared to the guns in terms of damage. Your criteria of ACC 5 for a Bulk -2 pistol is giving things a different slant.

      However, even in that category you've overlooked the TL11^ Grav Gun. It's Bulk-2 AC 5 and 3D(10) Imp with Rcl 1 too. For tissue damage even a field-jacketed Graser pistol isn't as good.

  2. When you praise the range of the X-ray and Graser pistols did you miss the note about in-atmosphere performance? 1.2D on X-rays is 7 yards and 70 yards for the Grasers in an Earth-like atmosphere. That's fine for the hold-outs and regular pistol-use for the Grasers but nto your offensive weapon criteria.

    If you have force field jacketing you get full range.

    The explosive effects of the Pulsar and the Plasma pistols may not matter in your offensive mode but are limiting in regular pistols usage.

    The Force weapons actually shone as sniper weapons. They're both invisible and soundless. Also when facing light armor going against Crush defenses is advantageous. Also very good as a short-range defensive weapon as the Double Knockback actually does give it "stopping power". "Fly backwards power" even. Wh doesn't want a weapon with Fly backwards power? 🙂

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