The Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook provides rules for three common types of energy weapons: phasers, disruptors, and polaron, which can be fired from banks, cannons, or arrays. Plasma is also included for Romulan torpedoes, in addition to photon and quantum torpedoes. This article expands on those options, describing additional energy types, providing additional detail and flavour along with rules for all the new types of weaponry species might employ on their starships.
In addition to the new energy types, this article describes new delivery systems for energy weapons. Mines are also added to the list of possible starship weapon systems, with rules on using and deploying mines along with a few variants.
Also in this article are several new damage qualities and effects, which can optionally replace or supplement the weaponry of some published ships, or even be added to existing starships to represent custom modifications.
Directed-energy weapons are the principal offensive systems of starships in the Star Trek universe, being used instead of solid projectiles, such as firearms and mass drivers. While torpedoes and missiles are used by some species, these often supplement to energy weaponry. Starfleet in particular favours energy weapons, as these have utility purposes beyond destruction, such as mining or transferring power.
The antiparticle of the proton, antiprotons are a stable form of antimatter that is typically short-lived as any collision with a proton will cause both particles to be annihilated in a burst of energy. Beams of pure antiprotons are an incredibly destructive weapon, being able to wholly eliminate matter more completely than even disruptors, leaving behind no residual matter.
The planet killing “doomsday machine” encountered by the U.S.S. Enterprise in the 2260s used powerful beams of antiprotons. The Voth and Malons in the Delta Quadrant used much less potent antiproton beams. Archeological evidence also suggests Iconian weaponry was based on antiprotons.
Antiproton weapons have the Physical and High-Yield qualities.
Related to phasers, disruptors cause damage to the target by breaking apart—or “disrupting”—the bond between atoms, causing the target to disintegrate into a cloud of its component elements. Disruptors can either fire bolts of highly-charged negatrons or high-energy nadions. They are effective at cutting through most substances, but are less effective at mining as they can easily destroy whatever substance is being mined. Because they destroy matter, it is challenging to design a handheld disruptor with a stun setting, and most species do not bother.
Klingons, Romulans, and Gorn exclusively use disruptors for their energy weapons. Many Breen and Tholian vessels also use disruptors, while larger Cardassian ships have disruptors as a secondary weapon.
Disruptors have the Vicious damage effect.
Powerful arcing bolts of negatively charged electrons can inflict heavy damage when deployed at close range, damaging shields and overloading a target’s computerized systems. While typically used at point blank range, electricity can be channeled over short distances with weak magnetic containment fields that focus its energy.
Few species make primary use of electron-based weapon systems, with electrical cannons and banks being secondary weapons. Some ships can produce improvised electrical weapons by negatively charging their hull and then firing a conductive beam at their target, or simply making direct contact.
Electricity energy weapons have an optimal range band of one category closer than other energy weapons and have the Accurate quality.
Gravitons are an elemental subatomic particle that transmits gravitational force. Like gravity, concentrations of graviton particles can warp space-time, manipulating objects in space or even causing extreme stress on starship hulls. Starfleet’s tractor beams are a focused linear graviton beam, albeit low power so as not to cause damage to their target. In addition to causing massive damage, focused high energy graviton weaponry temporarily warps local space enough to disrupt subspace, which can interfere with the formation of warp bubbles.
Graviton weapons have the Destabilizing damage effect.
Neutron beams are a stream of neutrally-charged subatomic particles. Despite most energy weapons being particle beams, neutron beams are occasionally identified as “particle beams” and the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Neutron beams work by sending a concentrated burst of particles towards a target at a velocity close to the speed of light. The accelerated particles strike the target with high kinetic energy, which is transferred to the target, breaking apart molecules. Neutron beams are efficient, being relatively low energy.
The Ferengi use neutron particle beam weapons on many of their ships. Talarians also use neutral particle beams (in addition to X-ray lasers and merculite rockets).
Neutron particle beams have no damage effects or special qualities.
The term “phaser” is an acronym for PHASed Energy Rectification and these weapons are actually a subtype of particle weapon. Phasers strike a target with streams of superheated nadions: artificially-generated particles created by running plasma over a specialized crystal in the phaser emitter. As nadions can possess a variable amount of energy, phasers are easily adjusted to have a lethal or non-lethal effect depending on the power of the stream. This also makes phasers useful as tools, as they can be employed for cutting or mining purposes as easily as energy transfer or heating objects.
Phasers are the primary weapon of Federation, Orion, and Kazon starships. Cardassians also make use of phaser arrays on most of their ships.
Phasers possess the Versatile quality.
Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, being matter in an ionized gaseous state commonly seen in electrical arcs or in fire. As plasma, matter can reach temperatures of over 3 million Kelvin. Super-energized electro-plasma is generated by warp reactors and used in power transfer systems by many species. This same plasma can be deployed as a traditional energy weapon through magnetic containment fields that compress the plasma into a forced beam.
Romulans use plasma in their torpedoes. The Son’a of the Alpha Quadrant and Turei and of the Delta quadrant have been known to use plasma energy weapons. The Borg employ a variant of plasma in their cutting beams.
Plasma weapons have the Persistent damage effect.
Polarons are a quasiparticle used in condensed matter physics with a variety of uses, from enhancing sensors to disrupting tractor beams. Prolonged exposure to polaron radiation is harmful to most cellular life and it can be focused into devastating directed-energy beams that can partially penetrate most forms of force field and hull plating.
Dominion warships almost exclusively use polaron weapons: technology they shared with their Breen allies. The Hierarchy, Hazari, Varduuar, and Kobali of the Delta Quadrant also use polaron weapons.
Polaron weaponry has the Piercing Damage Effect.
This positively charged particle beam is a concentrated stream of proton particles. Proton beams require slightly more energy than a neutron particle beam, but also impart more energy to their targets. Shields were typically effective against proton beams, but some species have found ways of designing proton streams designed to penetrate energy barriers.
Feregni ships can modify their neutron particle beams, charging the stream to turn them into proton weapons. In the Delta quadrant, Ramuran vessels used highly focused proton beams.
Most proton weapons have the Reliable quality.
Subnucleonic radiation is a volatile and deadly form of ionizing radiation. Even short term exposure to subnucleonic energy causes intense disorientation and severe radiation burns to the skin of most humanoid lifeforms, with focused exposure quickly resulting in death. The radiation has a deleterious effect on active energy systems, causing wear and overloads.
The Hirogen use subnucleonic weapons to disrupt an enemy ship’s warp engines, navigational sensors, weapons, and communication systems, making them into easier prey.
Subnucleonic weapons have the Dampening damage effect.
Tetryons are subatomic particles that exist naturally in subspace, outside of normal space. When brought into normal space, tetryons become highly unstable and reactive. Tetryon radiation can be used to disrupt physical matter in a similar fashion to disruptors. These particles also have a deleterious effect on shielding, as the residual radiation interferes with energy fields.
The Tzenkethi employ teryon weapon systems on their ships, and many Tholian ships are armed with tetryon weapons.
Teryon weapons have the Weakening damage effect.
Thalaron is a form of electromagnetic radiation in the tertiary EM band with biogenic properties. This extremely deadly radiation is able to rapidly necrotize organic matter at the subatomic level, reducing living beings to ash.
Thalaron weapons are banned by all major powers in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, but some individuals still risk employing these weapons.
Talaron weapons have the Anti-Personnel damage effect and the Calibrate and Hazardous qualities.
New Delivery Methods
The delivery method of an energy weapon describes how the directed energy is produced. Each delivery method defines the weapon’s Range category and often grants some additional benefit.
Pulses are a radial burst of energy emitted from across the ship in all directions—either in a flat ring of energy or an expanding sphere—striking all targets within the area of effect. Pulses can be fired from a complex lattice of emitters that fire simultaneously. More commonly, pulses are released by generating a charge around the ship until it hits critical power and is expelled. Pulse generators have a Range category of Close, increase the weapon’s damage by +1 Challenge Dice, and the Area effect.
Waves are an arcing or conical discharge that expands the further it travels. The further the wave travels the more energy it loses, but the more targets it can engulf. Wave emitters have no Range category, but their difficulty does not increase based on range. Instead the damage of an energy wave decreases by 1 for each Range category it travels: -1 for Close, -2 for Medium, etc. Wave weapons possess the Area and Spread damage effects.
Starfleet’s weapon systems have remained largely unchanged since the founding of the Federation, with only incremental refinements for efficiency. But sometimes nonstandard weaponry needs to be used. And other species encountered by the Federation don’t always employ the same weapon systems.
Stationary explosive devices containing large quantities of reactive or explosive substances, mines are essentially torpedoes without the propellant and guidance systems. Mines typically detonate when they come into contact with a starship, but some can be set with proximity sensors and explode when a vessel moves close enough.
Few starships carry a complement of mines and stationary charges. Because mines can remain active after a battle and become a hazard or inflict collateral damage, the use of mines is heavily restricted by treaties between the major powers in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.
Mines are typically laid in small clusters, with the exact number depending on the size and potency of the mine. When one mine in the cluster detonates, the resulting explosion triggers neighbouring mines. Placing a cluster of mines has no power requirement but mines cannot benefit from additional power spent on their attack. But because mines are highly dangerous, placing a cluster of mines adds +2 to Threat.
When a cluster of mines is placed, determine its proximity rating: the Range category a ship has to be within to trigger the mine. Mines can have a proximity range of either Contact or Close. Only when a target enters a mine’s proximity range of the mine do you make an attack, which has a Difficulty of 3 and a Complication Range of 18-20.
All mines have a base Damage of 4 Challenge Dice, with the High-Yield and Area qualities. Mines can be further modified when constructed, gaining additional qualities.
Bladed: Spinning blades are used in place of or in addition to explosives, cutting into starship hulls. The mine gains the Physical and Reliable 2 qualities.
Cloaked: Equipped with a cloaking device, this mine cannot be seen or detected by conventional sensors. It has the cloaked trait.
Gravitic: Employing gravitons in the warhead or as a secondary component, this mine disables ships, leaving them vulnerable to more mines or further attacks. The mine gains the Destabilizing 3 Effect.
Magnetic: These mines are drawn to nearby metallic targets prior to exploding, allowing more mines in the cluster to detonate with an effective radius. The mines gain the Spread quality.
Subspace: Hidden in a pocket of subspace, these mines phase in and out of reality at semi-random intervals. While in subspace, these mines cannot be detected, even by methods designed to locate cloaked objects. When a target moves within proximity to a subspace mine roll 1 Challenge Die. On an Effect, it materializes and explodes.
Timed: The mined explode after a pre-set duration, typically 1 or 2 rounds, allowing ships to travel further into a minefield or for more ships to enter into range of the mines.
New Damage Effects and Qualities
The following weapon abilities have an additional trigger related to rolling one or more Effects on the Challenge Dice.
Anti-Personnel X: If 1 or more Effects are rolled, the attack inflicts X damage to the crew of the target vessel.
Destabilizing X: The attack weakens subspace. The Power cost and Difficulty to go to warp increases by X for each Effect rolled.
Weakening X: When 1 or more Effects are rolled, the attack reduces the target’s maximum Shields by X. This damage can’t be restored by the Regenerate Shields Task for a number of rounds equal to the number of Effects rolled. On subsequent attacks, the damage is cumulative but the duration is the number of Effects rolled or the existing duration, whichever is longer.
The following qualities alter how a weapon system operates in a positive or negative way.
Hazardous: The attacking weapon is potentially dangerous to use. A weapon might have this quality if it is damaged or if it uses energy that is hard to contain. If one or more Complications is rolled, the attacking vessel is also hit by the attack, and takes damage equal to half of what the target would take on a hit, rounded up.
Efficient: The first time during an attack when Power is spent to to increase the damage of an energy weapon, it increases the damage by +2 Challenge Dice rather than 1.
Physical: The attack inflicts half damage when some or all of the damage is deflected by shields.
Reliable X: The attack rerolls X damage dice.