Monday, February 1, 2016

Tools of the Raid or Trade

"The difference between salvage and piracy is just a matter of timing."
-Captain Zag Zagig

"Right. In salvage the crew is dead before you start stripping the ship!"
-Captain Vi Hexen just before spacing Zag Zagig

Zero gravity operations of any kind are difficult. The problems of weightlessness are compounded by the operator often needing a space suit to stay alive. The first tools for eva or zero gravity were devised in the early days of space travel: high speed, low torque power tools to facilitate the removal of the primitive nuts and bolts low tech cultures and cheapskates seem so fond of. The best tools let you do your job with the minimal apparent weight of magnetic boots or elastic lines while saving a few of your fingernails (no one has ever made spacesuit gloves that were sufficiently rugged, affordable and easy to wear.)

Modern salvage operations require a number of tools for prying, smashing, and forcing mechanical solutions on stubborn derelict interiors. It should come as no surprise that many of these tools were co-opted for fights and the ever dreaded boarding operations. This should come as no surprise to anyone with any knowledge of humans. There are aliens who insist we given toilet paper, toothpaste, and floss a human will find a way to build a shiv  (or a crossbow) and do you in with same.

The first and most prominent tool/weapon is the prier. Using a simple crowbar while floating is a problem. The prier is a set of thin tough metal plates on arms extending from a fat handle holding a powerful motor the will separate the plates or close them. It's very useful for forcing interior doors among other things. About half a minute after the first prier was put into use some realized it would not  do to get an extremity caught in it and modified it with a set of metal jaws. A user will typically carry several of them on his belt. Each has a small key n the base of the handle that is tied to the belt by a lanyard. In a fight the user clamps the prier onto the victim and moves away fast causing the lanyard to pull the key out. Once the key is pulled out the prier will close inexorably on the increasingly frantic victim who must either surrender, yank it free risking damage to his suit and extremity or find kill his opponent and get that darn key.

A prier is handled like a dagger with the same modifiers in most combat situations. If a roll of 10+ or a natural 12 is rolled the prier can clamp down on an arm or hand. The prier then inflicts 2d damage a round for the next two rounds. A victim of a prier can pull it free on a 10+ with +1 if strength is 10+ or +2 if strength is 12+. Every two levels of Vacc suit skill or Brawling gives a +1 to this roll. If the prier is pulled off a vacc suit on a 6+ the suit has taken damage and needs a patch. Priers can also be thrown like daggers. In zero-gee the required and advantageous stat becomes dexterity instead of strength. Striking with a prier in zero-g gives a -2 to keep control.

Bang-axes are another useful tool for forcing doors or destroying them. It's essentially a single bladed axe. The head opposite the blade is wide and hold 3-4 small solid rocket engines. A trigger on the bottom of the handle triggers one rocket at a time. To use it plant your feet, aim at what you want cloven and pull the trigger. It can easily split a spacesuit helmet or visor. Untrained users find the bang-axe hellishly difficult to operate without spinning out of control or losing the weapon. On more than one occasion a rookie axman has lost his weapon only to find it in his opponent's hands.

In gravity bang-axes handle like halberds. In zero-gee the required and advantageous stats become dexterity as well as strength similar to bows. A Dex and Str of 6 is required to avoid negative dms and 10  in dexterity and strength to gain the hit bonus. Striking with a bang-axe in zero-g gives a -3 to keep control.

Drill-picks are used to remove locks, bore small holes etch metal. They resemble daggers with a drill replacing the solid blade. They are simple to modify into weapons. Basically any pressure on the drill point activates it. In use it is typically aimed at the non-rigid components of armor since rigid plating requires a a good solid stab that an opponent will do more to avoid than a lock. A few skilled brawlers have managed to grab a pick and bend it rendering it unusable before it can engage. This is usually a bad idea outside of action holos as it lose your spacesuit's glove (and the fingers it contains).

Drill-picks function like a dagger in gravity. In striking with one in zero-g  gives a -2 to keep control. Like priers the required and advantageous stat is strength in gravity and dexterity in zero-g. A drill pick does an extra 1d of damage in combat but on a natural roll of 2 or 3 it becomes stuck in the target's armor or a wall. Tools and time are required to free the drill-pick.

Note these weapons still are useful as tools in salvage operations or belt mining. Pirates harassing belters or salvage operations do so at their own risk.