Saturday, 2 January 2016

Weapons: Belt Sword

            Today I was watching the Matt Helm movie “The Ambushers”. In one scene Helm runs out of ammunition so unthreads his belt from his trousers. He holds the belt under a convenient stream of water and the belt becomes rigid so he can use it as a weapon.

            It occurred to me that a similar device might be practical in TS. The belt would be made of memory plastic and become rigid under the stimulus of a piezo-electric charge generated by the buckle. Such a belt would be treated in combat as a light club or blunt sword so would do crushing damage. A typical man’s belt would count as a broadsword or bokken so do Sw+1 cr/ Thr +1 cr damage. Depending on the wearer’s girth it might instead be a shortsword or bastard sword. Successful use of this weapon depends on wearing trousers that stay up without a belt!

Blackcollars in TS.

          In Timothy Zahn’s Blackcollar series the Blackcollars are a ninja/commando unit that use low-tech, non-electronic and non-explosive weapons to avoid detection by their high-tech opponents. Favoured weapons included nunchaku, shurikens and slingshots. Oddly, the weapons used in the books that I read were still made from metal.

            The technology available in Transhuman Space permits the construction of effective non-metallic weapons from such materials as glass, plastics and ceramics. Low-tech, low-detectability weapons might also be supplemented by certain combat orientated bio-implants. The Blackcollars in Zahn’s books had enhanced speed and reflexes.
           There will doubtless be situations in TS where low-tech systems may be used to circumvent high-tech defensive systems.

            Items such as nanoburn are technically robotic and electronic but it is debatable as to whether the electric field is strong enough to be detected by security systems, particularly if carried close to a larger electric field such as that of a human/parahuman/bioroid/bioshell body. The dense covalent bonding of monowire and nanofiber effectively make them metallic as far as detectors are concerned. Undetectable garrottes and climbing ropes will need to be made from polymer or natural materials. What can and cannot be used is ultimately up to the GM.
            Below is some suggested stats for a slingshot. The American term “slingshot” often causes confusion with a sling, a weapon working on a quite different principle. (One episode of Lost in Space claimed the slingshot was the weapon that slew Goliath!) I have therefore used the British English name of “hand catapult” (aka “catapult” or “catty”). Late 20th century examples have proved to be effective for small game hunting and have been known to break riot police visors. A TS version would probably use a polymer that was less likely to break or perish. Non-metallic ammunition can be assumed to be glass marbles of 0.04lb weight each. Inventive Players will undoubtedly wish to use them to fire arrows, shuriken and various other devices.

            In World War Two some British commando units were issued catapults for throwing stones to distract sentries. TS catapults can be used in the same way but there is a danger that if the sentry is close he may hear or recognize the noise of the “rubber”. Robotic systems are more likely to be fooled.

            Zhan’s blackcollars used sticky clay pellets containing lumps of radioactive plutonium to blind and degrade sensors.

 Rubber Hand Catapult (TL6)

Slingshot/Catapult is a P/E skill, defaulting to Bow-4 or DX-4.
Min ST
thr+4 pi
1d-1 cr

Update! Since first writing this I have found there is a Slingshot stat in HT4e p.201. I have added these in red in the table above. Skill to use is Bow(Slingshot)(DX-5 or Bow-4). Bulk is -2 and folding models are Holdout -1. A lead or steel pellet costs $0.1 and gives +1 damage and double range. The handle of a catapult can be used as a yawara stick.