Fading Suns and Flaming Heresies
Bullet-firing guns are not exactly rare in the Known Worlds, but they are outlawed among the peasantry. Thus, the majority of the Known Worlds population is forbidden to handle a gun, leaving the sport up to freemen and nobles. And a sport it is, for the nobles demand that their guns be elegant and a nice accessory to their outfits. The slug guns of the Empire are designed for looks and functionality. Noble slug guns tend to resemble Renaissance dueling pistols but act like advanced twentieth century firearms. While many guns are still factory manufactured, nobles insist that theirs be handmade by master craftsmen. This takes longer, of course, but usually creates a superior gun. The profession of weaponsmith to royalty is an important and lucrative one.
There are two different types of pistols listed below: revolvers and autofeed guns. A revolver holds its ammunition in a rotating cylinder; each pull of the trigger cocks the hammer and fires a bullet. Another pull fires again by recocking and rotating the cylinder where the next bullet is in line with the hammer; the gun can also be manually recocked by pulling down the hammer with the thumb. Bullets are loaded into the cylinder one by one or with a speedloader (a cylinderlike device which itself must be loaded one by one but which can be carried preloaded). Autofeed guns carry ammunition in spring-loaded clips or magazines. When the gun fires, another bullet is automatically fed into the chamber for the next shot (manually engaging the slide will also load a bullet into the chamber). Autofeed guns can jam — a bullet can get caught between the clip and the chamber. Until the jam is cleared, the gun will not fire (clearing a jam takes one action). Revolvers do not jam.
High-tech plastic models are available for most guns which can evade low-tech detection devices (TL 5 devices and below only detect for metal), but add 25 firebirds to the cost.
Derringer: A palm-sized gun designed to be hidden in a boot or other concealed but easy to reach spot. This gun can be either a revolver (2 shots) or autofeed (5 shots).
Light Revolver: These small pistols are popular as civilian sidearms. One model is the Mitchau .32 Protector, manufactured by the Mitchau family under the patronage of House Hazat.
Light Autofeed: Equivalent of a twentieth century .32 automatic or a Walther PPK. The most well-known in the Empire is the Mitchau .32 Rumbler.
Medium Revolver: Much like a twentieth century .38 special. The Mitchau .40 Thunderer is popular.
Medium Autofeed: Think of a 9mm Browning or similar twentieth century pistol. The Known Worlds equivalent is the Mitchau .40 Ripper.
Heavy Revolver: Like the twentieth century .44 magnum, these heavy guns can bring down large animals. The most popular Known Worlds models is the Sumpter .47 Ulik (named after a vicious Malignatian mammal), manufactured by the Sumpter family under the patronage of House al-Malik.
Heavy Autofeed: Similar to a .455 Desert Eagle or other heavy twentieth century pistol, the Known Worlds equivalent is the Sumpter .47 Urthquake.
Imperial Rifle: Alexius’ generals are trying to standardize the Empire’s weaponry. The standard armored trooper is given this cheap but well-manufactured assembly-line rifle. Nearly a dozen guilds and an equal number of Imperial armories are making these cheap, low-quality rifles. The rifles are now finding their way into the black markets of every planet where there is an Imperial military base.
Assault Rifle: Think of any number of twentieth century assault rifles, from an M-16 to an AK-47. There are many Known Worlds models, such as the Masseri 10mm Stomper or the Van Gelder Thracker (named after an astonishingly quick reptile from Vorox). All assault rifles are autofeed guns, and most of them are capable of autofire.
Sniper Rifle: These sleek and accurate rifles come in many varieties with many add-ons (sights, silencers) and some can break down to be carried in a suitcase for assembly at the sight of the intended kill. Most sniper rifles use bolt action (each shot must be chambered manually). The Radir family handcrafts the most sought after sniper rifles, under the patronage of House Decados.
Submachine Gun: A fully-automatic gun similar to twentieth century Uzis or Macs. The Jahnisak Muffler Gun is perhaps the most widely-used in the Known Worlds, although the Lank Stinger is better manufactured but more expensive.
Shotgun: Like twentieth century models, shotguns throw an arc of pellets or a single slug. Most Known Worlds models are pump loaded, but there are automatics and twoshot double barrels. Best known is the Dreskel Boomer, manufactured by Ariman Dreskel under exclusive contract to the Scravers.
Silencer: Attached to a slug gun, a silencer muffles at least some of the noise made by a shot. Silencers vary just as much as any other technological artifact in the Known Worlds; some completely deaden the noise and make a gun more accurate, while others barely do anything and burn out after only a few uses. An average silencer requires anyone not near the shot (in the same room or within 20 meters) to make a Perception + Shoot roll to hear the gunshot and know what it is. These are illegal on most planets.
There are a variety of slug calibers and types of slugs, from slappers (riot ammo) to needlers (armor-piercing) to blast capsules (explosive).
Slappers (TL5): Meant for use against rioting crowds, slappers knock people down but don’t damage them as much as most slugs. The slug is made of a viscous plastic which balloons out as it flies through the air, impacting the target on a wider area but with little penetration. The target feels like he’s just been walloped by a good Vorox left-hook. Do not add victory dice to slapper slugs. A target’s armor dice only generate armor points on rolls of 1, 2 or 3.
Needler (TL5): An armor-piercing bullet. When rolling damage, those dice which roll 1 ignore armor (except energy shields).
Sunder Slugs (TL6): Ceramsteel fragments in a gel medium, encased in steel. Add one die of damage and halve the target’s armor defense dice (except energy shields).
Vorox Claws (TL5): An expanding bullet which opens into a five-claw blossom upon impact. Increase damage by two dice.
Blast Capsules (TL6): Blast capsules have a special charge of stored plasma which is released upon impact. Add three to the damage. As with a blaster, these capsules can leak through energy shields, although not as effectively (only on damage rolls of 1). These cannot be made in calibers below .40.
Costs: Standard ammunition costs depend upon the availability of the ammo and caliber (size). The cost of clips or magazines to hold the ammo is usually 1/10th the cost of the gun.