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Quality in Rifts: Remembering Pete Overton

Quality In Rifts: Weapons in Rifts

By Pete Overton

Last Updated: 01/18/2001

Well, you know, this essay was inevitable, given Palladium's continual escalation of the Arms Race within its own sourcebooks. Weaponry in Rifts is an obviously important part of everyday life, given the vast number of threats the people of Rifts Earth face daily. This essay will look at the nature of the weaponry and how weapons are viewed in Rifts, especially from the point of view of the average Joe. It also suggests a possible system for classifying all sorts of weapons and a legality code for each (which in truth is only partially done, you would need to do the rest). And finally, as an update recently, I explain the enigmatic nature of e-clips and why it is that they can be universal, and explain dangerous ways to tweak your guns.

The Nature of Weaponry

As anyone who knows anyone who approaches Palladium Games knows, Rifts is based on a two-tier system of power levels. These are called SDC and MDC, and they are perhaps one of the most insanely nebulous and bizarrely arbitrary division system in the history of roleplaying, although AD&D spells come a close second. As the Web is full of definitions on these and all of that sort of thing, I will skip what Palladium defines it as and instead fall back on my own definitions. Please keep in mind that while in canon Rifts for some strange reason the ratio of SDC:MDC is 100:1, I have altered it to 20:1 and some have told me they have gone down as far as 10:1.

SDC Weapons are generally considered low-tech weapons of the Rifts period. Now, this is a totally subjective thing, you must understand. To the CS, a .45 pistol is a low-tech weapon in that it is cheap to produce and easy to maintain although its power is now far outstripped by modern armor (more on that later). This category generally covers everything from a simple knife to a sword to a pistol to an assualt rifle to a low-end rocket launcher. Contrary to what is implied in canon rules, SDC weapons are very useful for a number of reasons.

First, they are very easy to maintain. From a simple whetstone to a simple gun cleaning kit, they are very, very easy to maintain under field conditions because of their very simple parts and low-technology components. Second, they are readily available, far more than MDC weaponry, and the ammunition (if even applicable!) is readily available, even homemade! Third, especially since the changing rules of the ratio of SDC:MDC, they are comparatively cheap for the punch they provide and contrary to popular belief not every Average Joe in Rifts Earth walks around in MDC armor.

The maintanence of weaponry is of paramount importance as any good soldier will tell you. As far as the people of Rifts Earth are concerned, they want their gun to fire when they pull the trigger. Most people have a rather large concern in surviving day to day and don't have a lot of time to sit around and maintain complex weaponry with electronics that they really have little chance to explain, much less understand. The unusual conditions of Rifts Earth, from unusual climate patterns to radical magical storms to the post-apocalyptic grunge all take a toll on the weapons, and they need to be maintained to ensure peak performance. To most untrained folks, they only understand the most simple of weapons, and that is usually passed from generation to generation as a legacy (see below under How They View Weapons). Most SDC guns can be field-stripped and cleaned in an incredibly short time and the less time they waste maintaining their guns the more time they have to survive.

SDC weaponry is very available to most civilians. Since the CS (as a primary example) operates with military-specification weaponry (ie. MDC), they have little to fear about the mass consumption of SDC weaponry, especially older style of guns. The guns themselves are publicly available although folks are forced to register their guns when they buy them legally. This is usually a small price to pay for the homesteaders who need their shotgun, however. Because of the surprisingly low-tech parts and generally unchanged mechanisms (ie. the ammo and firing mechanisms are unchanged over the years), ammunition can be easily created literally at home with the right investment in a kit! Often each town will have a full-time ammunition salesman who can train people in creation of their own ammunition and sell them consistent material they need to make them. This sort of self-sustainment is very important in a world where travel is generally considered lethal as a rule.

The last point is that they are affordable as far as their value is concerned. Compared to the expensive MDC weaponry, a shotgun and a few boxes of shells is more than enough for most typical families and they firepower they wield is decent. Considering the rarity of MDC weapons and armor at the local level, often the localities will wield a number of SDC guns in a militia of sorts. SDC weaponry is affordable to the regular Joe (and if it is not it is still accessible through credit plans) and especially the further you get from well-defended cities does the need for personal weaponry become important. SDC weapons are the "everyman's weapon."

Of course, the disadvantages of SDC weapons should be obvious. In general they don't even approach the power of military-spec weapons and have a very hard time punching through MDC armor. If the guns are not maintained, they very often will jam (this depends very much on the specific model), and if the ammunition is created improperly, very bad things result. :)

The most popular gun of non-adventurers of Rifts Earth? The good old shotgun. Why? It is easy to keep firing, packs enough of a punch that most people won't rush into it, and is psychologically comforting and threatening at the same time. Swords are on a comeback as well as people take the time to learn to use them. Pistols are always a favourite and are often carried concealed with a simple permit. Knives need no permit and are in wide use of course, but if you stab someone, you will be charged. :)

Now, many times I hear the complaint (and I have made it before) that canon Rifts only used 1980s gear as SDC weaponry, clearly cut and pasted from their other books. This is a valid argument since over 100 years passed before the Coming of the Rifts. However, there are indeed some weapons which would transcend time. The shotgun is obviously one, because of its utter versatility and powerful punch (solid round anyways). Another is the AK-47, which in our very own present is in very widespread use indeed. The AK is a classic because of it's sheer simplicity and ruggedness and would very much be in use on Rifts Earth. These two are simply examples of guns that would never go out of style for various reasons, but as a rule, Palladium's laziness comes through again. Someone (I forget who I'm so sorry it might have been Ambience) suggested using Shadowrun weaponry to represent the gap between the 1980s gear in canon Palladium and the 2090s when the Cataclysm happened.

As you can tell, I have a clear bias for the shotgun. :) If you have the Manhunter sourcebook, I loved the one line in it describing the shotgun as "The gun mankind took to the stars," and that's the level of versatility and ruggedness that it represents. SDC weapons are those who are commonly available to the mass public and can pack a deadly punch if not careful.

MDC Weapons on the other hand represent the cutting-edge technology of Rifts Earth. This covers most guns with complex mechanical parts, its own power source (ie. vibroblades), and weapons of mass destruction (missiles and such). Note that most dumbfire missiles, while having rudimentary electronics in them, are considered SDC for classification purposes because they lack self-guidance. Very often (but not necessarily always), they are military-grade weaponry and only available to military, mercenary or other licensed private individuals.

The advantages of MDC weapons are obvious. They are powerful, very powerful, often on another magnitude from SDC weaponry (although not so distanced that they don't ever reach). The exact technologies vary but the principle is the same, to dump energy at a target in its various forms. They are great status symbols and they garner a great deal of respect occasionally. I don't think I need to sit here and expound on the greatness of MDC weapons. :)

However, there are some disadvantages (sorry munchkins :). The first one is that they tend to be very overpowered for general use (as far as Average Joes are concerned). Second, they are very expensive, usually out of the reach of most normal folks to say the least. Third, they tend to be surprisingly fragile (comparatively speaking) and their ammunition is often more specialized than standard SDC weapons. Finally, sales are strictly controlled where possible and establishments are very suspicious of people who buy military-grade weaponry.

MDC weapons tend to be very powerful, more with anti-armor purposes in mind rather than, say, going hunting. Using energy weapons against unarmored targets usually results in the vaporization of the target which makes hunting useless, a staple of many frontier families. Aside from this, the practicality of a weapon of that power is very limited in application -- for instance, if someone comes across a locked box, using an MDC weapon to open it would probably damage the contents if not destroy the box, whereas a good pistol shot would take that lock out.

The cost is extremely prohibitive for most normal people, who won't see that much money in a year typically. It's not just the initial cost but the cost of maintaining and recharging the gun and clips that is very prohibitive, especially considering that most of these folks tend to lean more towards the simple life. Money is better spent on food or other useful materials and tools and a huge powerful gun in lieu of, say, helping a neighbour on bad times would create resentment and envy.

MDC weapons also tend to be more fragile than SDC weapons. This tends to be because of the parts involved and the critical electronics that regulate the energy flow and the guns don't take a lot of abuse (comparatively speaking), which makes them into useless husks very quickly if they are not carefully taken care of. The E-Clips are also a far more specialized ammunition type and indeed as compared to making your own shotgun shells in your barn, the E-Clips are virtually enigmas.

Finally, establishments (CS, Triax, whatever) are very, very careful with their sales of military-grade weapons for obvious reasons. They are carefully monitored when possible and while special licenses are available, there usually needs to be a very good reason for it. Establishments tend to be leery of folks who claim to need plasma rifles in their daily life and flag and monitor them as much as possible. People walking around brandishing their MDC weapons openly are just begging for a "routine security check" that better be spotless lest they get dragged in, especially if they are wielding the establishment's own military weapons (ie. in Chi-Town with a C-30).

How Weapons Are Viewed

The view of weaponry by the time of Rifts Earth has radically altered for obvious reasons. During the days before the Cataclysm, harsh gun controls were in effect during those volatile times, but afterwards they obviously became not only permissible but necessary to survive the changes of the times. Indeed, a thriving view of the gun as a necessary tool arose during this time, rightfully so considering the deluge of monsters and magical aberrations.

Very often there is a sincere reverence regarding weaspons. Most children are ingrained from birth to accept and use guns safely, and the few who use them foolishly or play with them like toys are very, very harshly dealt with. Very often the rite of passage into adulthood involves giving a weapon of some sort to the young adult to show increased responsibilities in the new society. Maintanence of weapons is a primary skill taught to all children and they grow up with these skills ingrained into them as necessary for their survival.

Very rarely will you see the sort of gun arms race that happens in our own times. Most weapons are passed from generation to generation and a sword of three generations is considered far more valuable than a freshly bought AK-47. However, value and usefulness are two different things, and the people of Rifts Earth are very practical in their outlook. But guns are an accepted part of the culture and no one sees it as odd that the majority of people walk around with a weapon of some sort -- it is 100% natural given the dangerous times they live in. This serves a double purpose since folks trained in basic weaponry can be drafted into a militia or in more dire times a national army (ie. CS Army) and put into the field with minimal upgrading of skills.

Shooting competitions and melees are common and celebrated festivals when days off do occur. Those skilled with their weapons are accorded the respect they deserve for it. These festivals often offer cash prizes or useful tools but it is stressed that day-to-day survival is more important than seeking prestige.

This is not to say that all is peachy. Very often shootings happen, either mistakenly or in the heat of argument. The leading charge of most people with weapons is 2nd Degree Murder, murder committed in the heat of the moment. There is a small minority of gun control advocates who say that as security increases, guns should be phased out. This is a very small but vocal minority and they are often literally derided and kicked out of assemblies they turn up at.

However, this being said, the gun has progressed from dangerous weapon to accepted tool and the culture responsible for it is the one that was raised in Rifts Earth, and it's likely that this culture will continue regardless of the security offered by establishments. The weapon and gun in particular is here to stay as the frontier continues to exist.

Legality and Classifications

I will freely admit right up front that this system of classification is *not* mine. It comes from that ultimate sourcebook of utter usefulness Shadowtech which outlined these classifications for their various weapons. The book is amazing and this classification list is only half of what you need to run it properly, the rest being in the book. I cannot urge you strongly enough to go out and get the sourcebook, it really is aces. If FASA comes to me and wants me to take this section out, I will, but this is THEIR system, I only adapted it to Rifts. Please realize that many of the classifications below are covered in the augmentation file only and if they exist in Rifts they are mislabelled (see the augmentation file for details).

This is one area where I wish Palladium had spent a lot more time. If you have never had the problem of having Coalition authorities allow a character with a host of dangerous cyberware walk into Chi-Town, then you are wiser than I am. This will attempt to rectify things more, although one must remember that this is an average based on the Coalition -- other places will have tougher or easier criminal codes based on their own experiences. For instance, Germany might be lighter on cyberware infractions because of the gargoyles, while Japan may not tolerate an unregistered vibroblade in the least. With the release of the Coalition War Campaign we got a little more data on it but still it was very thin indeed.

Permits can be issued by the proper authorities for some of the classes below, which will be stated. The black market has a notorious collection of weapon and cyberware permits, but even they have a limit. The general, legal costs are listed below, but again can vary widely depending on where you are. Ignore or modify at your whim.

However, as you might imagine, defining a universal legal code for Rifts Earth is sort of like trying to get all the Scottish clans to agree on one tartan. Situations vary immensely and these guidelines are just that -- rough outlines. Cuidad Juarez would be much more casual with spears than Chi-Town, while the NGR would be more permissive for pistols than a kingdom in the middle of North America. I'm not going to even try to tell you how to use your judgement on this, just apply common sense. I'm leaving ENFORCEMENT of these laws to your own imaginations, although I suggest that you pick up the Shadowtech book for ideas on that. Please note that the classifications listed below should be considered standard as they date back to before the Coming of the Rifts. This means that the classifications will be uniform throughout the world, although the enforcement, penalties, and costs for legal permits and licenses will vary.

In any event, these general categories are the basis that most large, civilized empires use. You will no doubt notice many categories that are not covered in this file, including the ream of weapon categories. It is much easier for me, while lacking a separate file, to put it all here and extract it later than to put it in piecemeal. Also, it gives you a general idea of where I am heading with this. Note that all categories may not be available in all empires -- eg. Class C Bioware is virtually unknown except in the minds of great theorists in the Coalition.

Category A: Small Bladed Weapons
This includes any sharp-edged, hand-held weapon with a cutting edge under 18 centimeters long. This includes impromptu weapons used on the spot for attacks.

Category B: Large Bladed Weapons
This includes any sharp-edged, hand-held weapon with a cutting edge more than 18 centimeters long. This also includes impromptu weapons, axes, polearms, and cybernetic blade weapons. Permits for this category cost 100 credits for possession and 250 credits for transport. Please note that vibroblades are covered under Class J, Military Weapons.

Category C: Blunt Weapons
This includes any non-edged hand-held weapons. This also includes impromptu weapons, clubs, batons, and all shock weapons or nonlethal weapons.

Category D: Projectile Weapon
This includes any weapon specifically designed for throwing, and any mechanically or muscle-powered ranged weapon. This includes bows, crossbows, and spears among others. Permits for this category cost 125 credits for possession and 300 credits for transport.

Category E: Pistol
This includes any revolver or semi-automatic pistol, regardless of caliber. This category is only for SDC pistols. Permits for this category cost 200 credits for possession, 500 credits for transport.

Category F: Rifle
This includes any single-action rifle or manual-action shotgun. This category is only for SDC rifles. Permits for this category cost 350 credits for possession, 700 credits for transport.

Category G: Automatic Weapon
This includes any weapon whose rate of fire exceeds one per pull, including all assualt rifles, machine pistols, and submachine guns. This category is only for SDC weaponry. Special licenses are available to legitimate, registered security and law-enforcement agencies.

Category H: Heavy Weapon
This includes all cannons, machine guns, and other heavy-caliber weaponry. Special licenses are available to legitimate, registered security and law-enforcement agencies.

Category I: Explosives
This includes all explosives, including propelled (HE rounds) or demolition charges. Special licenses are available to select individuals and agencies.

Category J: Military Weapons
This includes any military-grade/issued weapon not specifically covered by other categories. Special licenses are available, but don't hold your breath. Note that this refers more to the class of mortars and other odd weapons. Energy weapons are covered below.

Category K: Military Armor
This includes any armor whether partial or full) intended for law enforcement, military, or security work. Special licenses are available.

Category L: Military Ammunition
This includes any special purposes ammunition (APDS, FL, etc.) designated for law-enforcement and military purposes. Special licenses are available. This includes the vast majority of ammunition types from the ammo file.

Category M: Energy Weapons
This includes any energy firing weapon of small caliber, including energy pistols, energy rifles, particle beam guns, and ion beam guns. Special licenses are available with a lot of jumping through hoops.

Category N: Heavy Energy Weapons
This includes any energy firing weapon of large caliber, including plasma throwers, heavy particle beam guns, and heavy ion beam guns. Special licenses are available, but bet on a lot of questions and to be monitored strictly.

Category BA: Class A Bioware
This includes all bioware of a paralegal nature, including damage compensators, orthoskin, pain editors, and trauma dampers. Permits are available.

Category BB: Class B Bioware
This includes bioware designed for law enforcement, military, or security work. This includes adrenal pump, muscle augmentation, suprathyroids, and synaptic accelerators. Permits are available.

Category BC: Class C Bioware
This includes all military-grade bioware, including adrenal pump beta, muscle augmentation gamma and higher, and synaptic accelerator beta. Special licenses are available to legitimate, registered security and law enforcement agencies.

Category CA: Class A Cyberware
This includes all cyberware of a paralegal nature, including bone lacing (plastic), dermal plating, smartgun links, and vehicle control rigs. Permits are available.

Category CB: Class B Cyberware
This includes all cyberware designed for law enforcement, military, or security work, including bone lacing (aluminium), boosted reflexes, muscle replacement, tactical computer alpha, and wired reflexes. Permits are available, but cost 10% of the purchase price.

Category CC: Class C Cyberware
This category covers all military-grade cyberware, including bone lace (titanium), cortex bombs, cyberweapons, tactical computer beta and higher, and wired reflexes beta and higher. Special licenses are available.

Category CD: Class D Cyberware -- Matrix Technology
This includes all unregistered cyberdecks and matrix program software. Practically non-existent outside of Japan and very rare in the NGR and the Coalition. Special licenses are available but the authorities would be surprised as heck to see someone actually register their cyberdeck.

Category E1: Class A Equipment
This includes all equipment of a paralegal nature, including jammers and laser microphones. Permits are available.

Category E2: Class B Equipment
This covers all equipment designated for law enforcement and security use, including datataps, maglock passkeys, and voice identifiers. Permits are available, but cost 10% of the purchase price.

Category E3: Class C Equipment
This includes all military-grade equipment. Special licenses are available. Quite often when civilians request military gear this license is included in the cost, but few civilians get to walk around with military descramblers, for instance.

Category M1: Class A Controlled
This includes controlled chemicals and pharmaceuticals. There are no real permits or licenses for this stuff, it is more for arrest purposes only that the list exists.

Category M2: Class B Controlled
This includes controlled neural electronics, neural drugs and other severely self altering substances. These substances are taken very seriously because there is a chance that a supressed personality may lurk or that the person may be disturbed from use of the substances.

Category M3: Class C Controlled
This includes microbiological warfare agents and some of the nastiest stuff you'll ever meet. Any civilized empire will hunt and exterminate with extreme prejudice anyone possessing this category of substances, no questions asked.

The wise among you will have noted that the categories generally start at paralegal and work to law enforcement or security use and then to military grade. Anything which does not fall into these categories is generally legal, although use some common sense, to be sure. Punishments for transgressing these are left up to the GM, although of course the Shadowtech book is helpful in that regard too. :) For now, these are the broad categories involved.

Generally speaking, permits are cards which entitle the bearer to possess the weapon, either openly or concealed, and carry said weapon around, although common sense should be used when decided where you are going to go with your 9mm semiauto pistol. Permits vary in cost to the category and generally last indefinitely, although renewing it every year is a good way to get some easy brownie points.

Licenses on the other hand are extremely hard to get outside of the elite little circle called the military. Organizations such as mercenaries and private security firms quickly find out the value of purchasing special licenses when they arrive at the doorstep of any major empire. There is a lot of paperwork and jumping through hoops, especially in the more paranoid of empires. In general, players need to have a darn good reason to get a license for those sorts of items. They are expensive and need to be renewed every year, although many organizations renew every six months as a matter of due course. No one wants to be stuck in an empire after their military-grade weapon license has run out!

You are now of course wondering why the hell the players would pay all of their hard earned money to get permits for their weapons when they are perfectly content to run around the wilderness or just not get caught. What an ingenious idea! However, anyone who has tried to get through airport security with some haggis knows how security procedures work. The Rifts manual outlined a brief and pathetic entry into a city on p.206 which had my tactical-minded editor laughing wildly. Suffice it to say that generally speaking, players are unable to smuggle weapons past security. Either they bypass security all together or they don't try. This seems harsh until you realize the detection methods the security folks have on hand. Paying a measly fee to bring your C-18 laser pistol into the city seems to be not a lot to ask when the opposite is a headache. However, there are obviously places where such permits are not necessary, such as the Burbs -- presuming you never get stopped by the patrols. Japan is notorious for its police force, and the NGR is no shake either when it comes to crackdowns. No one likes being found with a tactical computer gamma and no permit!

In summary, use common sense when dealing with the authorities. On lighter transgressions, many authorities don't mind the occasional bribe to look the other way, but anything with Class 3 behind it will get you in front of a military interrogator without a good explanation. The Coalition and the NGR have an agreement which allows their respective permits and licenses to carry over to the other side's territory, which gives added incentive to register. One must wonder, however, who has access to the central registry. :)

However, there is an alternative in the black market. As stated, they are notorious for forging or stealing legitimate documents for everything from visitor passes (see Rifts pp.206-207) to, of course, weapon permits and licenses. Generally speaking, these tend to be very good to almost perfect in detail (exceptions for when the GM wants there to be exceptions) but are hideously expensive, especially as the calibre of the weapon rises. Basically, the black market versions can cost up to 250% of the cost depending on which weapon or augmentation it is.

All of this is subjective, it must be noted. Every major government wll take severe exception to its nonmilitary citizens running around with military guns and even moreso when noncitizens possess them (just try entering a CS city with a C-50 sometime :). I mostly posted this for the classifications rather than the penalties of such, so take it all with a grain of salt, this is not my specialty. ;)

E-Clips (01/18/2001)

One of the more enigmatic parts of the game is the use of e-clips. E-clips are short for energy clips, and they are just that, magazines that contain energy instead of bullets. They are in essence a glorified battery, although the exact science behind it is a little more complex than that. There are a number of variations on the basic ("short") e-clip, including the "long" e-clip, the "extended" e-clip, and the e-canister. Each type holds more energy than the last in a successive order. Some have complained about how pricey they are, but they are essentially high-capacity batteries and as such are not necessarily easy-production items, especially not in hot urban colours.

Now, the operation of an e-clip is simple. You take the clip and load it into the weapon you are using. Then you are ready to fire. However, much like everything else on Rifts Earth, these simple movements hide a complex array of activities behind the scenes by the electronics of the high-tech guns. E-clips are renowned for their universality. Almost every modern high-tech weapon accepts them, and they can be recharged by an astonishing array of energy sources, including but not limited to conventional generators, electrical sources and nuclear packs. It is this universality that makes them regarded so fondly, because you can literally pick up an e-clip up off the ground and pop it into your weapon. Now, for the first time since my four posts on the QiR List, I reveal the secrets of the e-clip.

Now, you have to understand that e-clips are only energy sources. Pertaining to the basic physical truth that you cannot create or destroy energy, only convert it, e-clips store basic energy as really glorified high-capacity batteries. What I mean is, there are no 'plasma' clips for Plasma Rifles, or 'laser' clips for Laser Rifles or any such thing. Energy is universal and can be converted into other forms. So the e-clip is basically only a repository of energy. The real action happens in the weapon itself. Palladium frequently tells us that high-tech weapons have complex electronics and delicate parts in them. This is entirely true. The reason is that the gun itself produces the type of emitted energy, not the clip. A plasma rifle, for instance, shoots plasma by drawing upon the energy in the e-clip and converting it to plasma to eject from the barrel (this is grossly simplified obviously). So the important thing here to realize is that the e-clip is the source of the energy, but the gun converts that energy into whatever form it shoots.

Now, e-clips vary ammunition load by what gun they are in. For instance, an e-clip may give a C-12 Laser Rifle 20 shots, while it may give a C-27 Plasma Rifle only 10 shots (I don't know if these are accurate, I'm just making a point!). At first this seems like an inconsistency, but the answer lies in what is called the Energy Regulation Chip (ERC hereafter). The ERC is a small component near the clip feed that can be reached by sliding it out from the upper inside of the port where the clip eventually goes. The ERC does exactly what its name says, it regulates the energy that flows from the e-clip. Each gun when it is manufactured has an ERC programmed to its custom needs, and limits what can be drawn from the e-clip safely. So a laser rifle needs less energy per shot and so can draw 20 shots from the clip, whereas a plasma rifle requires more energy per shot and can only draw 10 shots from it. These are all preprogrammed into the chips at creation and no matter what energy source is fed into the gun, the ERC will make sure that only the correct amount of energy is drawn.

See, the reason for this chip is that without it, there would be no regulation on the energy drawn. The true enemy of the high-tech energy weapon is heat, and if there was no regulation then the gun would likely heat up extremely fast as the user pulled the trigger like a Juicer on speed. That's why even though a laser rifle may be plugged into a nuclear power plant, it cannot just go full auto, because the ERC ensures that only the proper amount of energy per shot is pulled. It may have an unlimited pool of that energy to draw from, but it won't take more than it needs at one time. These settings are generically programmed in at the factory that creates the ERCs and then ships them to be placed in the guns at the time of manufacture.

To answer the question that you are now thinking, the answer is yes, you can fiddle with the chip or remove it entirely. In the latter case, you are no longer limited to the standard ROF, but as soon as you pull the trigger the entire pool of energy is drawn from the e-clip in one happy torrent. Depending on how kind the GM feels, he could roll anything from a small burst to a full-auto damage roll for the resulting explosion. If you have ever attached a car battery to an electric toy car, you'll understand this result. With no regulation at all, the e-clip dumps its whole energy payload into the gun at once. Duck. In the case of merely fiddling with it, you can essentially "overclock" your gun (you can also "underclock" it if you wish but the mind boggles on why you would do that). This may or may not be common knowledge in your campaign, depending on whether you want to mess with this. Basically it requires a highly skilled rating in a Weapon Proficiency (had the WP at least four levels), a middle-range Weaponsmithing roll (at least 60%) or a lower-ranger Electronics roll (30%). Operators can pretty much fine-tune any energy weapon with a few hours, much like a mechanic tinkering with the timing belt on a car. The net result is up to you -- you can go two ways, either an increase in the Rate of Fire or an increase in the Damage per shot.

Regardless, this doesn't come free. The more you overclock the gun, the greater the chance of it permanently frying is, proportional to the amount that you overclock it. So if you overclock the gun by 25%, then there is a 25% chance per shot that it will fry on you. Hey, no one ever said life was fair -- the ERC is programmed with the OPTIMAL energy consumption. If you try to overclock it to 100% or more, it explodes, period. That would be double the energy per shot and the gun is not designed for that. If you do some math, even 1.5 times the energy still ends up with a 50/50 chance per shot that it will fry.

So, now you understand all of the arcane mysteries of the e-clip. Except why Palladium has recharge costs so high. Ha ha.

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