Melee weapons are typically SD. The exception to this is a weapon made of MDC material, wielded by an individual with supernatural strength.
Vibro-blades are MD weapons. The forcefield around the “blade” will cut through SDC material, including flesh, with ease. Note: If a strike is made with a vibro-blade that deals mega-damage in excess of its hit point value, the vibro field will collapse. The excess damage is typically enough to destroy the relatively fragile physical component of the blade.
Neural maces are generally made of strong SDC material. They also produce an effect on contact that disrupts the neural system of the target. This effect is very similar to a cattle-prod, with a Fortitude DC of 18 to resist the paralyzing effect.
Unarmed attacks follow the standard Spycraft rules. They are considered SD attacks unless the attacker has supernatural strength.
Laser weapons are favored for small arms. They are efficient, silent, and accurate. They also have exceptional penetration, punching through most materials with relative ease. However, they do not have exceptional damage values, as they often over-penetrate, instantly cauterize the wound preventing significant blood loss or hydrostatic shock, and generally only make small holes. Also, lasers do not cannonize well, losing penetration as they gain diameter. Lasers count as fire damage, for purposes of resistance/vulnerability, but cannot actually ignite items. Lasers are MD weapons. 1d6 – 2d6 damage. Long range. 1 DET per shot. +1 accuracy.
Ion weapons tend to suffer from middle-child syndrome. They don’t excel at any one thing, but are solid all-around weapons. Ion weapons work by creating a tunnel of charged particles in the air with a low-power laser. The weapon then discharges a significant amount of energy down that tunnel. This creates a visual effect remarkably similar to the beams in Ghostbusters. The damage of the weapon is limited solely by the quantity of energy that can be discharged, meaning that ion weapons scale up very well. Ion weapons count as electrical damage, for purposes of resistance/vulnerability. Ion weapons are MD weapons. 2d8 – 4d8 damage for small arms. Medium range. 4 DET per shot.
Plasma weapons are an interesting anomaly in Rifts. They are, in essence, highly advanced flamethrowers. Using a rather complicated interplay of microwaves and particle streams, plasma weapons create super-heated gases from the atmosphere. Even as super-heated as it is, it is still just fire. Rather than doing modest amounts of mega-damage, as most modern weapons do, plasma weapons deal out tremendous amounts of standard damage, frequently enough to overwhelm mega-damage protection. They tend to be iffy as larger weapons. The damage scales up well, but the range does not. Plasma weapons count as fire damage for all purposes, igniting most flammable materials instantly. Plasma weapons are SD weapons. 5d6 – 6d8 damage for rifle size (pistol sized plasma weapons are not generally available). Short range. 3 DET per shot.
Projectile weapons, or “slug-throwers,” are generally disdained by serious adventurers. This is for the simple reason that they only deal standard damage, which is generally ineffectual against modern armor. The fact that they are cheap and reliable, though, makes them favored among simple farmers and city rats. (They are also favored by hunters, as ion and plasma weapons tend to destroy the target.) There are also a couple of special rounds that even jaded headhunters find useful.
HE — High Explosive rounds deserve that name in Rifts even more than in modern times. These babies are equivalent to modern grenades, but pack a punch in a much tighter area. This allows them to deal 2d4 MD per hit (note that the weapon used does not affect this damage). However, HE rounds are very touchy. The GM can activate an error involving an HE round with 2 less action dice.
DU — Depleted Uranium rounds are also a bit different in Rifts than their more familiar modern counterpart. Mostly because the uranium is not so depleted. In truth, most of these bullets are actually made out of radioactive waste, rather than true uranium, encased in lead. As dangerous as this can be to the person carrying these bullets, it serves a significant purpose. Most magical forms of regeneration are significantly slowed, or even halted, by radiation. When fighting demons, these bullets ensure that your enemy stays down.
Grenades are the simplest tactical weapons. In Rifts, they come in two flavors. Rifle-propelled grenades are designed to be fired from a grenade rifle, which gives much better range and accuracy than throwing. Rifle-propelled grenades, by default, have a safety switch which allows them to only be armed by a rifle. This switch can be overridden with a successful DC 15 Demolitions check, but that increases the error range of the grenade by 2. Thrown grenades work in a manner much more similar to what we’re used to. The primary difference is that they are shaped more like large metal test tubes than pineapples, and can be armed with one hand. See the combat section for special rules on grenades.
Rail guns operate by magnetically accelerating small pieces of steel to speeds several times that of sound. They are loud. Given the laws of preservation of momentum, they also produce one hell of a kick. But, there is no disputing their effectiveness. A single round can penetrate three feet of stone. As they are generally fired in bursts, they tend to rip very large holes in armor, and in the flesh beneath. The sheer intimidation value of a rail gun makes them a favorite among mercenaries. However, most mercenaries cannot actually carry and fire them. To fire a hand-held rail gun without penalty, the gunner must be at least Large sized, must be stationary (taking no move action that round), and must have superhuman strength (supernatural, robotic, etc.). If the gunner fails one of those conditions, he is at a -4 to hit, and his error range is increased by 2. If he fails two conditions, he is at a -10 to hit, and his error range is increased by 5. If he fails all three conditions, he automatically misses, and the rail gun immediately sends him sprawling. As such, rail guns are most often used by power armor or vehicles. Rail guns are MD weapons. 1d4 for single-shot. On autofire, deal 1d4 for each point by which the attack beat the Defense of the target, up to the maximum set by the gun. Medium range. 1 DET per shot, plus ammunition. If a piece of armor is damaged by a rail gun burst, it suffers one additional point of Wear.
Mini-missiles are the Rifts equivalent of LAW rockets, but better. They are small, generally a bit larger than a human’s forearm. When combined with a radio guidance system, they have an effective range of close to a mile. While technically they can carry a variety of warheads, they almost always carry a multi-explosive system that virtually guarantees penetration of any man-portable armor system. The only downside to them is that there is no room left to make the missiles smart, meaning they must be either radio-guided by the shooter (if the option is available), or used in fire-and-forget mode (which has a considerably shorter effective range). Well, that, and they have a very high cost-to-damage ratio. Mini-missiles are MD weapons. 4d6 – 3d10 damage, plus special. Long range. Ammunition only. Radio guidance system requires linked system in shooter’s helmet.
Missiles are the simplest and most common vehicle-mounted weapons. They come in a wide variety of sizes, and with a wide variety of warheads. They come in three primary flavors. Guided missiles use radio guidance from the vehicle to correct their flight path, homing in on the target. Seeker missiles have sensors that will track some particular energy signature (typically heat, but variants exist to track other energy signatures, and there are even TW seekers that track magic sources). Programmed missiles have a precise flight path entered into their system, and will (almost) unerringly impact at a given set of coordinates (the downside, naturally, being that the intended target may no longer be at those coordinates). All three flavors are generally configured as “smart” missiles, that will dodge to avoid obstacles and evaluate possible distractions.
Cannonized weapons are also very common. These are nearly identical to man-portable weapons in effect, simply scaled up to take advantage of better firing platforms and increased available energy. As noted in the descriptions, neither lasers nor plasma weapons cannonize particularly well, making ion cannons and rail guns most common.
Particle beam cannons can only be used when vehicle-mounted, due to their extreme energy requirements, and need for significant heat sinks. Particle beam weapons are one of the few weapon types common on Rifts Earth that can be said to be definitely of alien origin. They take the theory of rail guns to the next logical level. Instead of firing finger-sized flechettes, they fire streams of individual iron atoms, accelerated to near-relativistic speeds. Against hard targets, these lightspeed needles do tremendous damage. Oddly enough, however, they do little damage to soft targets, due to over-penetration. There are even stories told of unarmored humans suriving a direct hit with little more than severe bruising and minor burns, while the earth behind them exploded from the impact of particles that had barely slowed at all during the trip through their bodies. PB cannons are MD weapons. 2d10 – 6d6 (+40) damage. Medium range. 15 DET per shot.