Mass Effect: From the Ashes
Weapons in the Mass Effect universe are micro-scaled mass accelerators, using mass-reducing fields and magnetic force to propel miniature slugs to lethal speeds. Nearly every gun on the battlefield is laden with features, from targeting auto-assists to projectile shavers that can generate thousands of rounds of ammunition from a small, internal block of metal.
Recently personal weapons have undergone a massive shift. It was discovered that, in an age of kinetic barriers, most firefights were won by the side who could put the most rounds downrange the fastest. As such, detachable heat sinks, known as thermal clips, were adopted first by the geth, and shortly thereafter by organic arms manufacturers. Ammunition may never be a concern with modern arms, but the availability of thermal clips is; weapons without thermal clips have nowhere to disperse their heat and are incapable of firing.
To better simulate weapons in Mass Effect a few things will be added to the base gun rules on page 127 of the Bulldogs! rule book. Namely Penetration and Minimum and Maximum Range as seen in Diaspora. Also most weapons in Mass Effect are ballistic weapons so the base assumptions in the rule book about lasers and blast weapons should be ignored.
Penetration is subtracted from the armor rating of an opponent’s armor before damage is applied. Negative numbers give a bonus to the armor for the purposes of that attack. Cost: Penetration costs 1 Improvement per positive bonus while a negative bonus will subtract 1 Improvement.
For example: An M-4 Shuriken submachinegun isn’t very effective against armor with a Penetration of -1 and a damage of 2. A character with medium armor reduces stress by 1 per attack which becomes effectively a 2 against the M-4 meaning that the target takes no stress.
Range is also divided into two separate numbers representing Minimum and Maximum Range. Range 0, or the same zone as the attacker, is included as part of that. A weapon used inside its minimum range or outside its maximum range applies a modifier of -2 to the roll. Cost: Adding an Area of Range to a template costs 1 Improvement while subtracting an Area will subtract 1 Improvement.
Because of the changes in Range accuracy is no longer used as a separate category. Bonuses or penalties can still be applied in certain circumstances to attack rolls however. For example Autofire causes a -1 or -2 penalty to attack rolls depending on its level.
Bulk works exactly as it does for Armor and represents a negative applied to actions involving Tech Talents and Biotics. Reducing Bulk will cost 1 single improvement per point and applies to both Tech Talents and Biotics unlike armor penalties which require an improvement expenditure per skill penalty reduced. Bulk from weapons doesn’t restrict Athletics or Alertness at its base however. Penalties can be added to Athletics and Alertness if desired which will subtract 1 improvement point per penalty per skill impacted.
Weapons in Mass Effect can be designed by using the following templates which replace the Type and Forms in the base rules (see Bulldogs! pg. 128). Once a Template is selected it can be modified using the rules presented here and in the Bulldogs! rule book by adding Improvements listed below as desired. Note that these rules are made for designing different weapons. They are not intended for modifying an already existing model. That is more the providence of Upgrades which can be purchased separately below.
I priced the weapon templates Cost by using the following formula rounding up on fractions:
Damage + Sum of Areas of Range + Penetration – Bulk = (Subtotal / 2) -1 = Cost
ASSAULT RIFLE TEMPLATE
DAMAGE: 2 RANGE: 1-6 PENETRATION: 1 BULK: 2 COST: 3
Assault Rifles in Mass Effect are a class of rapid firing ranged weapons, which also encompasses battle rifles, marksman rifles and light machine guns. Assault rifles are one of the primary weapons in the Mass Effect universe. Extensively used by factions across the galaxy, assault rifles generally offer mid-range stopping power, more accuracy than submachine guns, and overheat allowances larger than shotguns, pistols/heavy pistols, or sniper rifles.
DAMAGE: 2 RANGE: 0-3 PENETRATION: -1 BULK: 2 COST: 1
NOTES: Scattershot (page 129) is included.
Shotguns are particularly deadly at close range. The shotgun is stored on the small of the back in its collapsed form, below your character’s assault rifle and sniper rifle. Shotguns fire a number of pellets per shot giving them high burst damage, which can quickly eliminate enemies. As a result, they are excellent tools for overwhelming enemies when advancing through a fight. Because they are limited by their fire rate and heat capacity they are not quite as versatile as assault rifles, sometimes requiring staggering or time to cool in between shots.
SNIPER RIFLE TEMPLATE
DAMAGE: 3 RANGE: 2-7 PENETRATION: 1 BULK: 3 COST: 2
Sniper rifles are slow to fire often requiring re-cocking after each shot. However, they make up for this in range and damage – higher-level sniper rifles retain accuracy at incredible ranges, and they will often kill weaker enemies in one shot. Beware, though; close-range encounters are not recommended, due to the fact that you will more than likely miss any shots in close combat. Used for long-distance combat situations, sniper rifles are generally equipped with targeting scopes, sport longer barrels, and pack a higher damage per round than most other weapons but at the expense of reduced firing rates and overheat allowances.
DAMAGE: 1 RANGE: 0-5 PENETRATION: -1 BULK: 1 COST: 2
NOTES: Autofire (Page 129).
Submachine Guns (SMGs) in Mass Effect are a class of rapid firing weapons, including both fully automatic and burst fire weapons. They generally have low accuracy and damage per shot, offset by their clip size and rate of fire. They are best suited for close-mid range combat. SMGs are very effective against shields and biotic barriers, but are weak against armor.
HEAVY PISTOL TEMPLATE
DAMAGE: 1 RANGE: 0-3 PENETRATION: 1 BULK: 1 COST: 1
NOTES: Aspect: Weak Against Shields
Heavy pistols are a class of semi-automatic weapons, which have a low rate of fire and limited ammunition, but do relatively high damage per shot. They are an invaluable backup weapon, somewhat effective against armor, less so against shields and relatively accurate at mid range.
Below is the list of improvements from Bulldogs! page 129 that were used in creating the Weapon Templates above. Some additional Improvements were brought in from Diaspora Weapon Stunts on page 115. Italicized entries are new or modified to better reflect the Mass Effect paradigm.
Improvements can be used to modify an existing template or to create a new one as needed.
Not Available because of changes to Range.
- ADDITIONAL CAPABILITY:
Available. See Upgrades below for a list of common aspects applied to weapons in Mass Effect.
Available. Part of Assault Rifle and SMG templates. Can be removed from those templates for -1 improvement point. Autofire still causes a -1 or -2 penalty to attack rolls depending on its level as stated in the text despite Accuracy no longer be used. When autofire is used an opponent can free tag an “Out of Ammo” Aspect per level of Autofire (up to 2 free tags) compelling them to reload that weapon or use another instead of attacking for a round. Guns with Autofire that are focused directly at a single target reduce the defensive bonus provided by Shields by 1 per level before the die are rolled. Autofire weapons do not get the damage bonus normally available for focused fire on a single target unless shields are down.
- AWKWARD RELOAD:
“Out of ammo” is free-taggable (or free compel) after regular fire and not just AoE fire. -1 improvement point.
- HIGH CAPACITY:
“Out of ammo” cannot be free-tagged. If a weapon has 2 levels of Autofire only the FIRST free tag may be negated. To eliminate the free tag all together would require adding a Heat Sink upgrade or Magazine Upgrade (see Upgrades below). +1 improvement point.
- HIGH EXPLOSIVE (Explosive guns only):
Available but only for artillery and heavy weapons.
- HIGH RECOIL
The weapon can only be fired every other round unless the firer is prone. -1 improvement point.
- INDIRECT FIRE:
Available but only for artillery and heavy weapons.
This is available but modified. It can be used to increase or decrease the number of areas a weapon is effective by one and becomes called RANGE.
Because of the great weight and mass of this weapon it reduces Athletics checks by one for -1 improvement point.
- PERSISTENT EFFECT:
Available. Although it will mostly be covered with Ammo Upgrades.
Available. Can be a penalty on a template as well for -1 improvement point.
Available. Found in the shotgun template already. Can be removed from that template for -1 improvement point.
Available. In addition to adding to Damage it can be applied to Penetration although it must be selected separately for Armor and Shields. +1 improvement point.
Usually applied to sniper rifles. A weapon with this usually requires sighting through a scope to use properly. This reduces situational awareness which results in a -1 to Alertness checks for noticing and for initiative purposes. -1 improvement point.
I decide to make a shotgun that can drop a charging krogan with one shot. It needs to be effective against armor and shields and deal out a stupendous amount of damage. I decide that I am not really concerned with cost. I start out with the base shotgun template from above which gives me DAMAGE: 2 RANGE: 0-3 PENETRATION: -1 BULK: 2 COST: 1 NOTES: Scattershot
I add the Powerful Improvement to increase the damage to 4 which adds 2 to the cost of the shotgun for a total of Cost: 3. But I also want this shotgun to be effective against armor and add 3 Specialized Improvements to increase its Penetration against armor from -1 to a respectable 2. This raises my cost to 6! That is a bit too high so I increase the weapon’s Bulk to 4 which lowers the cost to 4. That is still too expensive. I decide a weapon this powerful is likely hard to maneuver and would have a small magazine. So I pick out the Massive and Awkward Reload Improvements reducing the cost by 2 more points.
Below is what I end up with:
DAMAGE:4 RANGE:0-3 PENETRATION: 2 BULK: 4 COST: 2
NOTES: Scattershot (page 129). Massive (-1 Athletics). Awkward Reload.
The Claymore used to be a hard-hitting but poor-selling shotgun due to kickback problems snapping the arms of anyone but krogan firing the weapon. After a rehaul of its kinetic dampening system, the Claymore is being rolled out again. As a way to lure back customers, the gun’s manufacturer has lowered the shotgun’s selling price without skimping on its stopping-power.
Click on the buttons below to view different weapons from the Mass Effect games.