Non-lethal weapons

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Varulv
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Non-lethal weapons

Postby Varulv » Mon May 07, 2018 7:16 pm

One of my player’s uses a stunner as his primary weapon. It is legal to carry around up to law level 7 and it is also small and discrete so that you can actually have it in your belt without giving the impression of being armed to the teeth.

It has turned out to be a real success in the campaign since they have been able to solve problems without using excessive force. The other players have talked about getting their own stunners since they can be used on quite high law level, plus as a backup weapon to their slug throwers.

Overall I think this is really good but when I search the central supply catalogue for weapons with the stun trait the result is rather meagre. The stunners (TL 8-12) are the only non-lethal weapons with a range (5-10 m) besides stun grenades and concussion ammunition. No 2300AD sonic stunners, no Star Trek phasers with the possibility to switch between lethal and stun damage. Basically nothing that doesn’t exist on Earth today.

Have more non-lethal weapons been introduced in any supplements or adventures by Mongoose or any other publisher? How do you handle the situation when your player’s asks for a hard sci-fi non-lethal ranged weapon?
Reynard
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Reynard » Mon May 07, 2018 7:56 pm

So far, hard sci-fi stunners would be no different than what we have today, either a touch device or a wire delivery of a charge. the TL 8 Stunner can be a direct representation of what we call a Taser and the Stunfist fills the baton or glove today. Nothing says the ranged stunners can't be a beam or arc directed on a target, just change the name.
steve98052
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby steve98052 » Fri May 11, 2018 6:22 pm

One plausible science fiction stun weapon is the electro-laser. It shoots the target with a beam (or possibly a pair of beams) tuned to maximize air ionization rather than energy to the target, creating a path of ionized air that is conductive until the ions dissipate or neutralize.

Once the path of ionized air reaches the target, a large electric pulse is sent through it, like a taser zap. And that stuns the target, assuming the target would have been stunned by a comparable zap through a wired taser.
Condottiere
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Condottiere » Fri May 11, 2018 11:21 pm

Law levels might be less tolerant of greater ranged stun weapons.

They may count as energy weapons.
Sigtrygg
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat May 12, 2018 9:29 am

Snub pistol tranq rounds...
Spartan159
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Spartan159 » Sat May 12, 2018 4:26 pm

Condottiere wrote:
Fri May 11, 2018 11:21 pm
Law levels might be less tolerant of greater ranged stun weapons.

They may count as energy weapons.
Want to run the logic by me where a non lethal device is going to be less tolerated than something that is lethal?
steve98052
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby steve98052 » Sat May 12, 2018 6:32 pm

Spartan159 wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 4:26 pm
Want to run the logic by me where a non lethal device is going to be less tolerated than something that is lethal?
One point is that there aren't really any non-lethal weapons; it's more accurate to call them reduced-lethality weapons. Some people have heart attacks in response to electric stun weapons like Tasers. Sometimes people will fatally overdose on sleep gas. And so forth.

Another consideration about reduced-lethality weapons is that the reduced lethality sometimes makes them more likely to be used, increasing the risk that an argument might escalate to a shootout. Not good.

But why would law enforcement be hesitant about stun weapons? For one thing, police like to be in a position of being better armed than potential criminals. Cops who pack stun guns with 5 meter ranges don't want to meet criminals with 50 meter stun guns. Cops with billy clubs don't want to meet criminals with 5 meter stun guns. (And at the other end of the scale, cops with automatic rifles don't want to meet criminals with grenade launchers.)

Possibly more significant, how does the inspector at the starport's extra-territoriality line tell the difference between a wired stun gun (or electro-laser) set to incapacitate typical people from one charged to electrocute people? How do they tell whether a snub pistol is loaded with paint rounds, stun tranquilizers, and sleep gas, as opposed to shaped-charge armor-piercing rounds, ricin darts, and novichok mist?
Linwood
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Linwood » Sun May 13, 2018 4:02 am

I’ve played around with creating a couple of variant stun weapons, including a very small and discreet personal stunner with reduced damage and limited charges. I’ve also created some light personal armor with stun (not energy) protection that might be legal on medium to high-law worlds. But to the points Steve and condottieri have made, local LEOs may object to allowing ordinary citizens to have armor designed to block their less-lethal standard-issue weapons.
Condottiere
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Condottiere » Sun May 13, 2018 8:00 pm

1. The purpose of short range stun weapons for civilians is self defence; extend that, and it becomes offensive.

2. Bullets may get chipped; actually, I think it's almost certain they will. That will allow an electronic scan to identify the payload and the current legal owner.

3. Next up would be tranquilizer darts, the type you use to stop a charging rhino in his tracks; what are the current regulations for it's use? That's an extended range stun weapon.

When I played Dungeons and Dragons, little inhibited me from fireballing groups of people; except when you had to travel through Cormyr.

When I played ShadowRun, I was inclined to magically knock out surveillance equipment and put people to sleep, probably because I was aware how our authorities and law enforcement viewed mass shootings.
heron61
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby heron61 » Mon May 14, 2018 5:44 am

Here my outline for what we have with non-lethal weapons and also some I’d like to see:

Current TL: Tasers, stun guns & batons (essentially taser melee weapons), tranq darts (which are risky, since dosage problems can result in serious medical problems or death), various types of gas attacks, including knock-out gas that is exceedingly risky, and more likely than not to kill at least some people (like the fentanyl gas Russian authorities used to end the Moscow Theater hostage situation in 2002).

TL 9-12: Stunners (I’ve always assumed that they are electrolasers or something similar, or perhaps simply “stun rays”. At this TL, I’d also allow tranq darts that were somehow dosage controlled so they aren’t dangerous, as well as some sort of less dangerous knockout gas. Another long-range option would be taser bullets – a superconducting battery with spikes on the end and taser circuitry inside – shoot someone with one of these and they suffer a taser effect. Also, I’m baffled that there’s not some sort of TL 12 tangler grenade or perhaps tangler shotgun shell that uses some sort of fast drying goo to immobilize targets.

TL 13+: I’ve always been disappointed that there aren’t any higher TL non-lethal weapons. One obvious option is a somewhat more powerful and longer range stunner that has the option of projecting a cone of stun ray that can affect multiple targets (but would have the disadvantage of using like 5 charges and a lesser effect on each target). Another would be a paralysis beamer, which could be anything from another wacky ray to some sort of temporary force field that freezes the target in place, or perhaps creates a small temporary zone of increased gravity that keeps targets from being able to move.
Epicenter
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Epicenter » Sat May 19, 2018 11:21 pm

Spartan159 wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 4:26 pm
Want to run the logic by me where a non lethal device is going to be less tolerated than something that is lethal?
Because authorities want to discourage their use. The more reliable and safe the stunning technology is, the more it becomes a "weapon" and less a "defensive" or "self-defense" item. Once it becomes ranged it's definitely a weapon.

I won't get into the military uses except to say a very effective stunning technology likely would replace entire swathes of current military weapons.

It would become even more illegal and less tolerated in the civilian market because people would be too tempted to use it for its supposedly non-lethal qualities, despite the fact as a nuisance (and menace) it's just as bad as a lethal weapon. For American readers; as a newer technology it doesn't have the history and mystique of true firearms, but are just as effective -- it's easier to slap down with properly severe laws for possession.

* Teenagers (and adults) who think it is funny to stun drivers at stop lights or even stunning drivers of oncoming traffic; at the trial the teenagers tearfully confess they thought it'd be funny, not lethal.

* School bullying where you stun people then do various humiliating things to them then upload the pics to twitter or whatever. Or you know, you don't like someone on the swim team. You stun them after they leap off of the high dive "for fun."

* Sex crimes. It'd replace date-rape drugs (roofies). It'd also be pretty effective to zap victims walking alone.

Also, on the subject of stunning weapons. I had a player in the (old) 2300 game who took stun weapons to their logical conclusion after discovering the Autoinjector Rifle. Stun weapons are "a black hole the size of a gorilla in the room" of a game as their rules are often an afterthought tacked onto the lethal combat rules so they can be a ... bit too effective. Again, an effective stunner with a reasonable range (in a 'low combat' Traveller game, most fights will occur at pistol range, so even a short-ranged stunner is fine) becomes more effective than a firearm. Most stunners as worded can drop a person in a single shot and the rules are abstract enough that as long as you hit, it does this. Anything short of a "magnum" pistol or an full rifle has trouble doing this in most combat systems and many combat systems get into things like hit location and so on. Knocked Out is the same as dead for combat. Even if wearing something as cheap as tinfoil over your body can make you immune to the effects ... most people don't wear tinfoil taped to their clothing as stunner defense. Even if a "stimulant" can wake people up from stunner shots, who is going to be carrying stimulants all the time (and if your whole party is carrying stunners, they can usually stun people faster than they can be "stimulated" back).
steve98052
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby steve98052 » Thu May 24, 2018 6:39 pm

Epicenter wrote:
Sat May 19, 2018 11:21 pm
Spartan159 wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 4:26 pm
Want to run the logic by me where a non lethal device is going to be less tolerated than something that is lethal?
Because authorities want to discourage their use. The more reliable and safe the stunning technology is, the more it becomes a "weapon" and less a "defensive" or "self-defense" item. Once it becomes ranged it's definitely a weapon.[/i]
That was my point too: the psychological barriers to use of less lethal force is a lot lower than than the restraint people have about killing.
I won't get into the military uses except to say a very effective stunning technology likely would replace entire swathes of current military weapons.
That probably falls into the same area. A big part of military training is teaching people to put aside their normal societal training to not kill, and shooting people with stunners would jump past that.
[Quotre]It would become even more illegal and less tolerated in the civilian market because people would be too tempted to use it for its supposedly non-lethal qualities, despite the fact as a nuisance (and menace) it's just as bad as a lethal weapon. . . .
There's a lot there, but it only reinforces the idea that law enforcement authorities are probably not going to like stunners any better than they like deadly weapons.

But law enforcement opposition to general public possession of less-lethal weapons doesn't mean opposition to their existence. Riot police would love to be able to subdue a mob of rioting rabble -- or peaceful protestors with legitimate complaints -- if only they could acquire such weapons. They just wouldn't want the rabble shooting back.

The absence of many less-lethal weapons in the face of police desire for them strongly suggests that they're really difficult to invent. Even if we assume that real-science weapons will advance, it's likely that it will always be easier to reduce people to a messy corpse than to a harmlessly incapacitated but living person. And even with super-science, it's probably good to follow the same pattern, even if super-science allows us to easily "set phasers to stun".
I had a player in the (old) 2300 game who took stun weapons to their logical conclusion after discovering the Autoinjector Rifle.
The game implications of widespread less-lethal weapons are complicated too, as your example shows. A possible fix is to design them so they are not strictly non-lethal. Give the weapons a stun damage range, and apply it like regular damage, except that the victim is merely incapacitated by the damage -- but for every point of excess damage there's a chance of complications.

Examples: That transdermal sedative paintball just slows the other guy down if it hits thick clothing, works as intended if it hits thin clothing, but can cause a fatal overdose if it hits close to the mouth, nose, or eyes. That electro-laser fails if it hits conductive fabric, works as intended most of the time, but can cause cardiac arrest in unhealthy people, and occasionally even in healthy people. And even the super-science neural stunner can throw people into convulsions, or cause them to fall down and break their necks.

Game stunners should allow for those adverse outcomes. They shouldn't be magic weapons.
Annatar Giftbringer
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Annatar Giftbringer » Thu May 24, 2018 7:03 pm

Mongoose’s judge Dredd rpg had a couple of non-lethal weapons. Stumm has for instance, requires the target(s) to roll END 11+ Or be incapacitated for d6 minutes. I’ll see if I can dig up a couple more later.
Itharus
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Itharus » Thu May 24, 2018 10:26 pm

In real life today, we actually have sonic weaponry that can disorient you, knock you out, make you vomit and sometimes defecate, cause traumatic brain injury, and with enough intensity cause you to internally bleed.

It's not uncommon for SWAT teams in major urban areas to utilize the ones that disable you by making you insanely dizzy and vomitting. They're for crowd control. IIRC Portland Oregeon SWAT has them, as does LAPD SWAT. A bit of google-fu should turn something up.

That said... homebrew a sonic weapon? Sonics can actually accomplish quite a lot...
Condottiere
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Re: Non-lethal weapons

Postby Condottiere » Fri May 25, 2018 1:18 am

Glue gun, lethal if it hits both mouth and nose.

Bean bags from shotguns.

Though presumably you could load up a mini net in a shotgun shell.

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