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This article originally appeared in Issue #009 of the downloadable PDF magazine.

Editor’s Note: Scott Diamond’s PowerGuns do not appear to be an adaptation of the weapon by the same name from the Hammer’s Slammers setting book from Mongoose Publishing.

The powergun series (colloquially known as “blasters”) all operate on the same principle of forming a controlled plasma reaction and directing to the target in a compact pulse resulting in both kinetic and heat damage. When directed at tissues the heat is such that it causes explosive rupture due to the fluids turning to steam, and massive burn damage extending from the surface of the wound.

A bridging technology between the development of a more practical high energy weapon than a laser rifle or PGMP-12, the powerguns have found favor among military forces which are not battle dress equipped and cannot use the PGMP-13 as a result. They have the advantages of lighter weight, easily managed ammunition that doesn’t require cumbersome backpacks, and they are better suited to a wider variety of missions, both onboard ships and on land. This shipboard use was one of the primary considerations in the development of these weapons since it provides Imperial Fleet Marines with a personal energy weapon with the power to penetrate Combat Armor and Battle Dress, but not blow a hole through the side of a bulkhead or hull. None of these weapons create spillover damage as do the P/FGMPs so they are better for room and corridor clearing on ships, or in close assault situations since they don’t pose the threat of friendly fire casualties form fragmentation.

Because of the success of the design the TL-15 versions are the standard small arm of the Imperial Fleet Marines (the Line Marines continue with the FGMP-14/15) with the FGMP-15 reserved for landings and as a squad support gun onboard ship.
The basic principal the powergun operates on is that a magazine containing both the charged slugs containing the materials used for creating the plasma bolt, as well as a battery sufficient for powering the weapon and a reservoir of nitrogen is inserted into the weapon. The weapon is charged by racking the receiver action back to insert the first slug; this also initiates the laser firing system in the chamber. Pulling the trigger causes a laser to fire, initiating the plasma reaction, and a magnetic field accelerates the bolt through the barrel and directing it towards the target. Immediately after firing, the recoil (which is considerable for a weapon of this size – comparable to a 12mm pistol cartridge in the pistols and a heavy caliber rifle round in the rifles) causes the internal action to unlock the chamber and allow the next slug to be loaded while a jet of nitrogen is shot through the barrel to cool it. The rifles fire 2cm bolts, while the pistols fire 1cm bolts. All are semiautomatic and with few moving parts.

Power Pistol-13

The 1cm bore TL-13 Power Pistol is the first of the powergun line to be developed and has an integral laser dot (variable from IR to visible light mode by the operator) sight for targeting. The weapon uses a ten round magazine inserted into the grip, requiring one round to swap out during reloading. One round is fire per pull of the trigger.

One aspect of the pistol designs was that trying to panic fire the weapon for suppression caused jamming due to higher heat buildup than the coolant reservoir can handle. As a result, if the weapon is used for panic fire then it can also be assumed to now be inoperable until fixed by a gunsmith. The operator may clear the jam, but it takes complete disassembly of the weapon to do so, in addition to the time to cool down without damaging the gun further.

Len: 250mm, Wt, Unloaded: 700g (loaded mag 300g)
Base price: Cr3000 (loaded mag: Cr100). TL13

Power Rifle-13

The first assault rifle based on the powergun design, the TL-13 Power Rifle is a semiautomatic assault weapon with a recoil-dampening stock, electronic battlesights (thermal imaging, IR laser designator, and telescopic zoom), and uses a 20 round box magazine loaded in front of the pistol grip. The magazine contains a larger battery and coolant reservoir than the pistol version and operates on the same principals – just with greater force and recoil along with increased damage to the target.

In order to better reduce the chances of jamming due to overheating in a rapid fire situation (like panic or suppression fire) the rifles have been designed to use a side aperture to eject residue and allow for extra cooling. When the weapon fires any residue inside the chamber is ejected out the side aperture and there is also a sliding panel in the side of the receiver to allow the operator to open the chamber manually for cooling without total disassembly. When the last slug is fired both of these apertures are opened automatically to cool the interior; they close automatically when the new magazine is inserted and the weapon is again ready to fire.

Under-barrel grenade launchers are available as an option for these weapons which use standard RAM grenades in three-shot magazines. These are not popular among the troops issued these weapons since the recoil and heat of the gun itself has sometimes caused malfunctions of the launcher resulting in misfires and premature firing of a grenade. Common practice is to not load the grenade launcher if the rifle is so equipped until ready to use a grenade to avoid such mishaps.

Len: 900mm, Wt, Unloaded: 6000g (loaded mag 500g)
Base price: Cr9000 (loaded mag: Cr300). TL13

Power Pistol-15

The 1cm bore TL-15 Power Pistol is the most powerful handgun currently available. The pistol operates the same way as the TL-13 version but has a more efficient system for generating and firing the bolt of plasma resulting in greater penetration and damage to the target. The weapon is slightly heavier and larger than the earlier version, and suffers from the same cooling issues as the earlier design when used for rapid fire. The same rules are in effect for weapon malfunctions as a result.

The weapon comes equipped with an integral laser sight (configurable by the operator for IR or visible light modes), and is the standard sidearm of the Imperial Line as well as Fleet Marines. Known as a Tannhauser (“The fight’s over when the Tannhauser sings!”) and sold as such by Norge Interarms, the weapon is heavy and expensive, but much favored by mercenary unit officers as a deadly manstopper.

Len: 280mm, Wt, Unloaded: 800g (loaded 10-rd mag 350g)
Base price: Cr8000 (loaded mag: Cr175). TL15

Power AutoRifle-15

The ultimate word in the powergun line, the TL-15 Auto Rifle version is an improved design that allows the operator to select either a single shot mode, or a 5 round burst. The advancements made in the plasma ignition and firing system have also increased the damage and penetration of the weapon, which is truly fearsome in burst mode. The rifle is equipped with a recoil-dampening stock containing a gyrostabilizer to aid in controlling the weapon in burst mode, an electronic battlesight (thermal image, IR/visible light laser designator, and telescopic zoom), and uses 20 round box magazines or 50 round drums.

Because of the heat issues common to powerguns in order to safely use the auto burst mode the drum magazine must be used. It contains not only a larger battery pack, but a large enough reservoir of coolant to keep the weapon (just barely) within safe heat limits. It is recommended that burst mode be used with discretion regardless.

No provision is made for attaching grenade launchers. Currently this is the weapon issued to Imperial Fleet Marines stationed onboard warships and used as a personal weapon supported by an FGMP-15 as a squad-level support weapon when acting as ship security.

Len: 950mm, Wt, Unloaded: 5500g (loaded mag 500g, drum 1500g)
Base price: Cr13,000 (loaded mag: Cr300/Drum Cr1000). TL15


PowerGun Dexterity Requirements and Modifiers
Weapon  DM  if  DM  if
Power Pistol  -2  DEX 5-  +2  DEX 10+
Power Rifle  -2  DEX 6-  +1  DEX 10+

PowerGun Dexterity Modifiers are cumulative with all other modifiers on PowerGun tasks.


Range Modifiers
Weapon  Close  Short  Medium  Long  Very
to Hit
Power Pistol-13  +1  +2  0  -5  -9  1  3D
Power Rifle-13  N/A  -1  +3  +1  0  1  6D
Power Pistol-15  +2  +3  0  -4  -8  1  4D
Power AutoRifle-15  N/A  -1/+2  +3/+5  +2/+3  0/+1  1/2  8D

Power Rifles cannot be used at Close range due to risk and poor handling characteristics.


Armor Modifiers
Weapon  None or
 Mesh  Cloth  Ablat  Reflec  Combat
Power Pistol-13  +3  +2  +2  0  +3  -4
Power Rifle-13  +4  +3  +3  +1  +4  -2
Power Pistol-15  +4  +3  +3  +1  +4  -3
Power AutoRifle-15  +7  +5  +5  +3  +6  -1


I use a “stepped” TL-vs-Combat Armor/Battle Dress rule to show the improved protection against all weapons at increasing TLs of these armors vs weapons of lower TL. As shown in the table below, the modifiers should be added to the target (to-hit) number, rather than modifying the player’s roll.


Tech Level Target Number Modifiers for Combat Armor and Battle Dress
Armor TL 11 TL 12 TL 13 TL 14 TL 15
Combat Armor  0  +1  +2  +3  +4
Battle Dress Not Available at these TLs  +4  +5  +6


PowerGun Statistics for Striker and Azhanti High Lightning
Weapon  Shots  Effective (8+)  Long (10+)  Extreme (12+)  Number of Targets
Power Rifle-13  20  200 (15)  400 (11)  2000 (5)  1
Power AutoRifle-15  20/50  200 (15) +2  400 (11) +1  2000 (5) +1  1/2
Power Pistol-13  10  30 (6)  75 (3)    1
Power Pistol-15  10  50 (8)  100 (4)    1