Recently I watched again the Star Trek film Insurrection. This will not be a movie review. In the film, there was a space battle scene in which the enemies of the Enterprise used an "isolytic burst" weapon. The Enterprise crew were surprised, as the weapon was banned by some treaty or other, for being unpredictable. I think it was supposed to be a scene to show how the Enterprise crew are creative and resourceful thinkers. Maybe it worked at that, maybe not. Watch the film and judge for yourself.
We never actually see what the weapon is supposed to do. Rather we get told about it by several crewmen, and then the Enterprise defeats it, and the enemies. The weapon might as well have been a 20th century ICBM, or a boring old laser beam.
So I thought, what kinds of crazy weapons could show up in my TU, as unique and probably banned weapons?
Well, there is the "stellar ray" from that post on Edmund Hamilton's "Crashing Suns". That's a crazy-powerful weapon.
Here are some of the unusual and illegal weapons that have been at least researched if not developed by star nations in my TU. The Talaveran Empire has declared a ban on all of them; any vessel found in Imperial Space equipped with such will be impounded and destroyed, or just destroyed if they don't surrender.
"The Imperial Ministry of Defense in conjunction with the Ministries of State and of Science have signed resolutions, later confirmed by the King, banning the experimentation, development production or use of the following devices. Some of these were explored by the Ministry of Defense, but were rejected by the Navy as being “irresponsible, inhumane and contrary to the ways of civilized peoples”."
Project Code: 735D-168W-465N
Project Name: Ruritania
Common name: Ionic Blaster [TL-12]
The Blaster is a 'lightning cannon' projecting a conductive media which has been super charged wit electricity. Upon impacting a target, the electrical charge is transferred to the hull & penetrates the ship. People inside the ship are attacked with a massive electrical surge, The expected result is the main computer and most electrical systems blown out, and the crew dead. Otherwise the ship is fine, but still massively charged. Vacuum is an effective insulator. Large capacitors on the firing ship's exterior can absorb the charge, then the attacking crew can board the ship without resistance.
The weapon was banned due to its 'insta-kill' nature which would be of interest to pirates and those who want to steal ships. “Cruel & inhumane” is the term. Also if another ship without capacitors comes into contact, it could keep on killing. even if the crew survive the ship will be blind and deaf; dead in space which dooms the remaining crew to the loneliest death. Concern over this outcome was another major argument for banning this weapon.
100- ton bay, equivalent to a Particle Accelerator
Spinal Mount, equivalent to a Meson Gun-C
Project Code: 7745X-62P-349S/44
Project Name: Bialya
Common Name: Gravitic Imploder [TL-13]
The Imploder focuses a gravitational field on a point inside a target ship, causing it to collapse inward towards that central point. Ship structure will be warped or bend inward. Vacuum seal is lost, atmosphere is drawn toward the singularity and then escapes, and the enormous gravitational force (excess of 1000 G's) will crush anyone within its radius. Even if an entire ship is larger than the radius of the imploder, the ship will be torn apart & crippled.
If aimed at a planetary surface, the imploder would devastate whatever it touches, and create enormous craters.
Spinal Mount equivalent to a Meson Gun-L
Project Code: 388R-1142M-3V47K/66
Project Name: Genosha
Common Name: Black Hole Generator [TL-15]
This device creates a physical persistent singularity in space.
The black hole's event horizon is 5-10 range bands. As it is persistent it becomes a navigational hazard. Any object or EM Source inside the event horizon is lost, pulled inward at 1000 Gs. At the edge of is horizon, the pull is 10G, dropping to 5G at twice the horizon. A high enough initial velocity away from the singularity may allow a vessel to escape; but the crew of the craft will be subjected to crushing gravitational stress until well away from it.
Spinal Mount equivalent to a Meson Gun-T
Project Name: Nambutu
Common Name: Reality Warper [TL-15]
It is not hard to understand why this one was banned. The warping effect is unpredictable & random. Even the firer cannot know what will happen. Whatever it is, it will be bad for someone. The warping field is a sphere 100m in radius (as far as the tests have determined). All of these changes are permanent and irreversible. Why this was considered a viable weapon is not known. Listed here are the effects documented in a test environment.
- time extension/dilation/reversal
- gravity altered – added, subtracted, acts in odd vectors
- sensory disturbances
- living things radically altered/evolved/devolved/disintegrated
- objects or persons disappear/shifted in space/shifted in time/created
- relative distances between things distorted
- energy levels of devices change/drain/supercharge
- heat levels radically change
- characters skills enhanced/reduced/altered/eliminated
- characters age is shifted forward or backward
- mechanical devices activate/deactivate/explode/become sentient
- creatures or beasts appear/age/grow/shrink/mutate/become sentient
- psionic abilities appear/disappear/intensify/special/cause psychosis
Spinal Mount equivalent to Meson Gun-K
Unfortunately there are plenty of uncivilized people in my TU that might still want to get their hands on these things. Are there any working models? Any prototypes, or detailed design schematics? That all depends on whether the Referee wants them to be accessible. Would you have one of these weapons show up in your setting? Why or why not?
image credit: Space Ray from Pixabay
City Destroyer from Pixabay
City Destroyer from Pixabay
Would a government or governments even announce that such weapons exist let alone that they might work? I'm thinking of the Streisand Effect here. If the Empire proclaims that success with Project X means Weapon Y using Effect Z is now outlawed and certain people are going to start looking into Effect Z in the hopes they too can build Weapon Y.ReplyDelete
Take the novichok nerve agent for example. The Soviets began researching it in the 70s and all sides had heard about it by the 80s. It was considered so potentially nasty, however, that everyone agreed NOT to publicly mention it even going as far as NOT mentioning it by name or type in various chemical weapon treaties. Everyone involved understood that novichok was implied to fall under the catch-all "Not Listed" category. It remained a "Burn Before Reading" secret worldwide for decades among the many scientists, bureaucrats, and military officials who were either briefed on it or stumbled across it. Precautions went as far a checking papers submitted to open scientific journals to make sure they contained no references to it.
It was only after "someone" decided to use it in the UK in 2018 to try to assassinate and ex-GRU agent, that the existence of novichok was admitted publicly.
I'm thinking that if the Empire's research concluded an ionic blaster, gravity imploder, or other such weapon was feasible, they'd prohibit such weapons under some deliberately vague description while also keeping a flinty eye on all those avenues of research which could give someone else the same ideas. While a pirate armed with an ionic blaster is still going to be stomped with alacrity, the Empire is going to announce it was done because he's a pirate and not because he possessed an ionic blaster.
So we can have PCs being quietly hired by star nation governments to chase down rumors of these weapons, or kidnap/rescue scientists involved with the projects, stealing or destroying lab notes, test models, all the way up to hijacking a starship mounted with a (possibly) working model. Mercenary units could be hired to go into enemy territory and destroy laboratories or workshops that may be building these kind of weapons.Delete
"We want you to go and blow up everything that you find."
"Umm . . . they're doing bad things. Definitely do not go inside, or make copies of any of the computer drives there. Definitely don't take anything with you. Bring us proof that you've blown up everything."
"Right. Okay. How much are you paying for this?"
These make good plot hooks for adventures, and can get a variety of skill-sets involved. Everyone needs to be the star from time to time.ReplyDelete
You forgot the classic Star Trek forbidden technology : genetic engineering. For me, it's like nuclear power after Hiroshima and Nagasaki : sure, it can be used for peaceful purposes, but after the Eugenics Wars, the taboo about it is too great to even think about using it.ReplyDelete