This article is going to focus on the game design part of the RPG business. I have a science fiction game I am working on, I have Guns in my game and since I am using Open Game License content such as the D20 Modern and Future rules I have run up against some more issues with that aging ruleset.
D20 Future was written in 2004, now I don't remember exactly what the state of the Earth weaponry was in 2004. There were a lot of folks in the Middle East using M-16s, M-4s and lots of AK-47 variants, there seemed to be a lot of research and development going on around replacing the M-16 or AR platform due to issues showing up in the harsh desert conditions. Also with lots of continuous use and a lot of entrepenurial spirit many AR family modifications came about.
I promise this is going somewhere.
In the years leading up to this point there were M-16s and the M-4 manufactured by Colt, the M-4 had a shorter barrel and shorter stock. There were several scope mounts available for the carrying handle and some flashlight and laser designators that you could attach to the forward grip using the Pickatinny Rail. In the military there had been 40mm Grenade Launcher and 12 Gauge Shotgun attachments that went under the barrel of the M-16.
In the current incarnation of the AR series rifles you can buy every single part for this rifle from more than a Dozen different vendors and each one will tell you why theirs is the best. You can get folding stocks, collapseable stocks, no stock with a pistol grip, gas operated, 10, 20, 30 and 100 round magaznes, belt feeds, silencers, integral supression, flat top barrels that take all kinds of scopes for long range shooting, Red Dot scopes for close in shooting, foregrips that allow you to mount four different "accessories" not 'mods' on modifyed Pickatinny Rails and several new kinds of slings to carry it with. Also DARPA has developed Smart-Scopes that do a lot of the work Sniper Spotters used to do into one gadget and Smart bullets that can change course in-flight to follow a laser designator to their target.
Ok we're done with modern day weapons talk right now, just suffice it to say there are more options in the real world than there are pieces of gun related equipment in D20 Modern or gun related gadgets in D20 Future. Because the Equipment in Modern was written before the Gadgets in Future sometimes these items overlap and don't complement each other as well as they could. An example all Scopes should be Gadgets, not some Equipment and others Gadgets. I will try to streamline the two things together for my game Galaxy Pirates as well as integrate them better into the rest of the Equipment and Gadgets.
Mass Effect, a series of video games that I really love has taken the Collapseable stock idea to the extreme, whether you have a rifle, shotgun, sub-machinegun, or sniper rifle most of these things collapse down to the size of a big water bottle when they go on your character's backpack. Usually both the stock and the barrel both collapse into the body of the weapon. Mass Effect is also a game where they have high technology and gravity drives. Many of the projectile weapons use Gravity Drive technology to accelerate slugs of metal at your target. Mass Effect also has a lot of Cryo and Flame weapons, they cover a lot of the same ground as D20 Future BUT their customization of these cool weapons generally breaks down to More Damage, Higher Rate of Fire, Better Accuracy, More Ammo mostly because they're already as small as they can be and nothing else matters in a First Person Shooter. Thus Customization is Mass Effect really is which weapons you carry and modify not how you modified them.
I think there are some things Role Playing Game players will want more for story reasons and more things I have added to the setting based on extrapolations of existing science and trends.
I have seen a rifle built with Scope and Red Dot sight both to accomodate long range and close quarters shooting, weeks later I saw an article on Light Field cameras and decided that as long as we already have Video scopes, adding micro-lenses to them woudn't be an issue and so then having an All Ranges Scope became a reality. Basically it is a Free action to change from short to long range and the Viewfinder image of the scope is relayed to an actual display on the weapon or a Heads Up Display on your Helmet Visor, Goggles or Contact Lenses. Since the latter displays don't require you to be looking down the barrel of the gun, shooting accurately around corners becomes possible.
The real problem the cropped up with the D20 Modern/Future Gadgets was basically how few things you could change about a basic weapon. The ruling I'm making with Galaxy Pirates is that if the weapon has the part, you can customize it. So a weapon with a stock has all available stock options including no-stock, and all possible trigger combinations are possible. All kinds of sights from no sights to iron sights, Red Dots, Long Range Scopes, Smart Scopes, and All Ranges Scopes are possible. All barrel lengths from sawed off to elongated barrel and everyting in between are possible. If you want a Grenade Launcher, Shotgun or a Bayonet go for it. There may be modifications that don't work together, no stock/pistol grip won't work with storage compartment because there isn't going to be any free space in the weapon because you tried to make it smaller and lighter instead.
After that we're going to start moving into the Super Science stuff, like Mass Effect, why screw around with Gunpowder if you have Gravity Tech? Why limit yourself to what a Humanoid soldier can carry if you have Anti-Gravity tech and why limit yourself to the recoil a normal Humanoid can withstand if your starships have Inertial Dampers. I know this could lead us to enourmous Anime style guns that put off some gamers so we'll stick to Gravity Guns with Inertial Dampers that look reasonably proportional to the user, but pack the punch of small artillery. We'll start to introduce these guns around the time the Players find themselves fighting a lot of enormous Boss monsters.
Plug and Play, I really want all the players to have fun with this aspect of the Tech system. You buy an All Ranges Scope, you touch it to your rifle and pair the two devices together, or pair both devices to your Universal Commlink.
The images above is from an upcoming game about Pirates, Space Pirates!
I hope this helps some of you out there working on your own RPG projects.
Designer at Evilrobotgames.com