Being in the Main the Mouth of Olde House Rules

Monday, October 12, 2015

Retro Gear #1: Laserblast

Anyone growing up in the 1970s knows it was a special time for geekdom.  Fantasy and sci-fi were present, but far from mainstream, and fantasy fans had to use their own imagination to fill in the blanks and entertain themselves. 

But while such fantasy had not yet become mainstream, there were many movies, some better than others, that benefitted greatly from the innocence of a genre that had not yet become widespread or a product for mass consumption.  These movies were fun fare, but also contained some great ideas for fantasy gaming, which is something we'll continue to explore on this page...

So to get things started, here's a bit from LASERBLAST, a sci-fi film from 1978.  Being a blog of Olde House Rules, everything here corresponds to one or more of our systems, but easily tailored to whatever you happen to use...

The LASERBLAST is a powerful handheld plasma cannon of uncertain, albeit clearly alien, origin.  It appears as a 3' long metal cylinder with a slot on one end to insert the arm and a handle to hold and direct fire with the other, making this a two-handed weapon that precludes double wielding or shield use.

The laserblast irrevocably mutates
its wielder into a homicidal form with an
uncontrollable urge to kill!

As an apparent safety measure, the cannon requires use of a shimmering metallic amulet composed of an alien alloy and probably technological in origin, although without discernable mechanical components.  This appears to impart some basic knowledge of the item and its operation, if only on a subconscious level, such that the weapon is useless without it. 

The laserblast has an effective range of 200' and deals an impressive 3d6 damage.  If used to target any flammable substance, to include internal combustion engines, the judge/referee might assign one of more additional dice of damage within a 30' radius as befitting the conditions at hand, normally +1-2d6. 

An object of alien design, the laserblast does not appear to requires ammunition.  Some have speculated that it draws power from the user itself, although it most likely employs some unknown and highly sophisticated internal fusion...

Unfortunately, and owing to its alien origin, most races cannot handle the laserblast without terrible side effects!  After each day of use (including non-combat practice), the user must roll saving dice at a cumulative -1 per day to avoid mutating (perhaps radiation is involved) and being taken over by the judge.

The Toir-Tois relentlessly hunt down
lost laserblasts and the mutated beings who wield
them, but are apparently benign...

Such mutants become homicidal killers who use their power to annihilate friend or foe indiscriminately, although otherwise still vulnerable to normal attacks per the system being used.

Laserblasts make their way into many worlds, even crossing other dimensions such that they may appear in fantasy settings, like Blood of Pangea and Pits & Perils, or more mundane (historical) realms, including Barons of Braunstein or more modern games.  In fact, some report that a laserblast was found on Earth in the 1970s, although its final disposition remains unknown.

While the origin of the laserblast is unknown, it appears that an alien species, called the TOIR-TOIS, are actively engaged in hunting these weapons down and, where necessary, destroying their mutated wielders.  These appear as large (10' tall) humanoid tortoises with hand-held blasters dealing 1d6 damage per combat round:

 TYPE: TOIR-TOIS  LIFE: 15   MOVE: 40'  DAMAGE/BONUS: 1d6 (or +1)

The above is based on Blood of Pangea: Retrospace, although anyone familiar with the source material can easily adapt these to whatever rules are being used.  The Toir-Tois travel between worlds using advanced spacecraft capable of transporting up to 6 individuals and crossing a single system in 1d6 days on notification of activity.

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