Better Torpedoes

By default torpedoes are of limited use in diaspora. While they have lots of range and will not generate heat, they consume ammo are opposed by beam, and have no secondary use. Beam and EW are both defensive and offensive, but torpedo is purely offensive and does not pack nearly enough punch to justify this.

Presented here are a bunch of optional stunts to make military spacecraft with torpedoes more lethal. I haven’t had a chance to playtest these so I can’t grantee they will be balanced. If you would like to try, or have done so and want to share the results. Contact me.

Warhead stunts

By default, torpedoes are assumed to be kinetic energy weapons. These stunts represent more exotic and lethal warheads. These stunts are not compatible with civilian, and require a gunner with military grade gunnery.

Atomic Warheads, (T-1, 2bp, military grade)
This ship is armed with nuclear weapons. If a torpedo attack has dealt at least one shift of damage after the defense has been applied, (IE, it has hit it’s target) add two shifts of damage to the final total.
Bomb Pumped Laser warheads (T0, 4bp, military grade)
This ship’s torpedoes use atomic warheads to energize a powerful single shot beam weapon such as a Casaba Howitzer or Excalibur X-ray laser. The attacker rolls a torpedo attack as normal, but the defender must defend against it as if it were a beam attack, using only aspects and the vector randomizer stunt. This attack suffers a -2 penalty if it is used from less than two range bands away, does not generate heat, and is effected by out of ammo as if it were a Torpedo attack, but it may not be countered with defensive beam fire or the point defense stunt.
Neutron Warheads, (T0, 2bp+, military grade)
This ship’s torpedoes are armed with neutron warheads designed to bathe a large area of space with deadly radiation. The attacker makes a single attack roll and applies it to every ship (friend or foe) in a single range band. The defenders each get to make defense rolls, but only the highest will be applied against the attack. After this, the damage is applied to all defenders. The area of effect may be increased to two adjacent range bands for 4bp, and three adjacent range bands for 8bp. At T4 this stunt may be upgraded as many times as you can afford, each additional range band of effect doubles the cost.
Antimater Warheads, (T1+, 2bp+, military grade)
Starting at T1, any of the above stunts may be upgraded once per tech level (once at T1, Twice at T2, ect), costing two BP per purchase. Each purchase adds another +1 to the total damage done provided the attack did at least one shift of damage. At T4 this upgrade may be purchased as many times as can be afforded.

Careless use of nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons are not toys. If any of the previously mentioned stunts are used in combat, the GM is free to apply any of the following aspects.

Using a nuclear weapon near an earth-like planet will cause a massive electromagnetic pulse. If this is done in the right orbit, it can disable an entire hemisphere. If somebody uses a torpedo with any of the warheads stunts in orbit around a planet with an ionosphere, the bonus damage (minimum of +2) is applied as an attack against the Data tracks of each spacecraft participating in combat. This is countered with a skill of zero, and only aspects may be considered in the roll. If The planet below is between T-2 and T2 it also gets the aspect Blackouts, the duration and effects of which is up to the GM.
Using nuclear weapons in an atmosphere also releases radioactive contaminants. This does not pose a threat to spacecraft which are hardened against much harsher radiation, but it is very dangerous to unprotected humans. If a torpedo with a warheads stunt is used in a planetary atmosphere (such as against a target with the atmospheric scattering aspect mentioned in the small craft rules) the planet gains the aspect radioactive fallout, the duration and effects of which is up to the GM. The GM may also rule that this aspect does not apply to planets with a low E value, as any settlements there will already be hardened. If many nuclear weapons are detonated, the GM may consider lowering the planet’s E value and upgrading radioactive fallout to nuclear winter
Even in deep space you are not safe from public opinion. Using nuclear weapons against civilian craft is bound to make you unpopular, even if you have a legitimate reason. If warhead stunts are used against civilian spacecraft, or if any of the previously mentioned aspects come into play. The characters responsible will gain the aspect political fallout. The effects and duration of this are up to the GM.

Improvised Torpedoes

Nukes may be flashy, but In space anything can be a weapon. Ships without a torpedo skill can still make torpedo attacks. If the ship has a crew member with a gunnery skill of at least one, the ship may roll Torpedo with a skill level of 1, to represent decoupling some part of the ship and letting it drift into the path of the enemy. After the first time this happens, the enemy may attempt to compel out of ammo as normal.

Ramming speed!

A spacecraft’s potential kinetic energy is comparable to a nuclear weapon. During the torpedo phase, a desperate spacecraft may attempt to ram another spacecraft. To do this the pilot must first pass a resolve check, failing this the character chickens out and may not attempt to ram. If the spacecraft is not a small craft or does not have Skeleton Crew the pilot must also pass an oratory check, failing this results in a mutiny.

If both checks pass, the ramming proceeds. The attacker and target both roll v-shift augmented by piloting. Both ships may attempt to apply burn if possible. The resulting shifts are multiplied by two and applied to the hull tracks of both spacecraft. If one of the ships is smaller than the other (IE, one has the huge aspect, or is a small craft and the other does not) the shifts against the smaller craft are doubled again. If a small craft is colliding with a huge craft, the huge craft’s shifts are not doubled. As always consequences may be used to reduce total stress damage.


2 thoughts on “Better Torpedoes

  1. Good stuff. A technical point on the EMP stunt – Unless the Nuke goes off in atmosphere, an EM pulse is not generated, because the don’t form in vacuum. Weirdly, if you DO nuke in atmo, the EMP will travel through the vacuum and knock out sats, stations, and spacecraft in low orbit. Go figure…

    Love the work you are doing and I’m looking forward to putting some of these supplimental rules into action. Keep up the good work!


    1. I thought it was the ionosphere that caused the EMP. Starfish prime is my reference here.

      This aspect would be compelled in low orbit, but not higher up.


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