Really Wild West Lightning Guns (For the Starfinder Roleplaying Game)

In the Really Wild West setting hack for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, lightning guns were experimented with by numerous inventors and scientists throughout the mid- and late 1800s, but the technology for focusing and directing electricity beyond a wire lead was consistently lacking for purposes of a practical weapon. The advancement of theosophy, though seen as the study of the spiritual and supernatural, proved to be the major breakthrough in lightning weaponry. Theosophy proved that inanimate objects could have the impression of events, thoughts, or even natural phenomena permanently infused into them. This lead to the idea of having the event of a lightning strike infused into a focusing orb, which could then ‘convince” electricity built up within a device to fire outward in a (roughly) predictably way. While many inventors sought to find the best material and theosophic infusion for practical lighting guns, it was the Menlo park workshop of Thomas Edison that ultimately created the “Menlo Storm” standard of “recording” the event of a lightning strike into a focusing orb and using that to store and focus electricity as part of a weapon.

Even with the Menlo Storm standard, early lightning guns were heavy, expensive, and not particularly superior to traditional firearms. However, many of those drawbacks became irrelevant when the Martian tripods attacked and turned out to be almost entirely immune to most kinetic attacks. Short of artillery, only energy weapons had any notable effect on tripods and the Martians other weapons of war. Suddenly it didn’t matter how limited lightning guns were, they were the go-to weapon for anti-tripod forces.

As is often the case when war breaks out, the technology used to fight quickly improved. German-born inventor Charles Proteus Steinmetz made numerous adjustments to lighting weapon technology, though his name remains not nearly as well-known as that of Edison. Steinmetz’s battery and coupling technology were quickly retrofit to nearly all lightning gun designs, and his own weapon designs were in field trials when the Tripods came crashing down worldwide, and the need for such specialty crafted high-end weapons ended. Westinghouse created a few commercial models based on Steinmetz’s designs, but simplified for mass production, though these remain less popular than the Menlo Park models. Steinmetz’s various field prototypes remain the most powerful lightning guns in existence, but they are exceedingly difficult to find.

RealWildWest-LightningPistol with Text 72dpi

Table: Small Arms

One-Handed Weapons

Level   Price        Damage        Range    Critical             Capacity          Usage    Bulk

Shock

Spark gun, Westinghouse light
1          250           1d4 E            30 ft.      Arc 1                20 charges     4             L

Lightning pistol, Menlo arc
2          750           1d6 E            40 ft.      Arc 2                20 charges     5             L

Spark gun, Westinghouse heavy
3          1,400*     1d6 E            40 ft.      Arc 1d4           20 charges     4             L

Lightning pistol, Menlo storm
4          2,100*     1d6 E            50 ft.      Arc 1d6           40 charges     5             L

Lightning pistol, Menlo custom
5          3,000*     1d4+1d3 E   50 ft.      Arc 1d6           40 charges     5             L

Proteus pistol, Perun
6          4,200*     1d8 E            60 ft.      Arc 1d6           40 charges     5             L

Proteus pistol, Zeus
8          9,300*     1d10 E          60 ft.      Arc 1d6           40 charges     5             L

Proteus pistol, Ukko
9          13,250*   2d6 E            60 ft.      Arc 1d8           40 charges     5             L

Proteus pistol, Thor
10        18,000*   3d4 E            60 ft.      Arc 2d6           40 charges     5             L

*Only 1,000 of this price can be covered in credits. The rest of the price must be covered using renown, as covered in the rules for Renown and Gear.

Table: Longarms

Two-Handed Weapons
Level   Price        Damage        Range    Critical             Capacity          Usage    Bulk

Shock

Spark rifle, Westinghouse light
1          275           1d6 E            40 ft.      Arc 1                20 charges     4             1

Lightning rifle, Menlo arc
2          800           1d8 E            50 ft.      Arc 2                20 charges     5             1

Spark rifle, Westinghouse heavy
3          1,500*     1d8 E            50 ft.      Arc 1d4           20 charges     4             1

Lightning rifle, Menlo storm
4          2,200*     1d8 E            60 ft.      Arc 1d6           40 charges     5             1

Lightning rifle, Menlo custom
5          3,300*     1d10 E          60 ft.      Arc 1d6           40 charges     5             1

Proteus rifle, Perun
6          4,600*     1d12 E          60 ft.      Arc 1d6           40 charges     5             1

Proteus rifle, Zeus
8          9,900*     1d12 E          60 ft.      Arc 1d6           80 charges     5             1

Proteus rifle, Ukko
9          14,250*   2d6 E            60 ft.      Arc 2d4           80 charges     5             1

Proteus rifle, Thor
10        19,000*   3d4 E            60 ft.      Arc 2d6           80 charges     5             1

Table: Heavy Weapons

Two-Handed Weapons
Level   Price        Damage        Range    Capacity     Usage         Bulk            Special

Shock

Spark canon, Westinghouse light
1          275           1d6 E            40 ft.      20 charges     4             2        explode (5 ft.), unwealdy

Lightning canon, Menlo arc
2          800           1d8 E            50 ft.      20 charges     5             2        explode (5 ft.), unwealdy

Spark canon, Westinghouse heavy
3          1,500*     1d8 E            50 ft.      20 charges     4             2        explode (5 ft.), unwealdy

Lightning canon, Menlo storm
4          2,200*     1d8 E            60 ft.      40 charges     5             2        explode (10 ft.), unwealdy

Lightning canon, Menlo custom
5          3,300*     1d10 E          60 ft.      40 charges     5             2        explode (10 ft.), unwealdy

Proteus canon, Perun
6          4,600*     1d12 E          60 ft.     40 charges     5             2        explode (10 ft.), unwealdy

Proteus canon, Zeus
8          9,900*     1d12 E          60 ft.      80 charges     5             2        explode (10 ft.), unwealdy

Proteus canon, Ukko
9          14,250*   2d6 E            60 ft.      80 charges     5             2        explode (15 ft.), unwealdy

Proteus canon, Thor
10        19,000*   3d4 E            60 ft.      80 charges     5             2        explode (15 ft.), unwealdy

Over on Patreon!
My patrons are why I am able to produce posts like this, so occasionally when I’m done with an article, I write a bit more just for them. In this case, I discuss a little about how the item level system impact weapon design, and how I accounted for that in this list of 30 Really Wild West lighting guns. For just a few bucks a month, you can check it out!

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on February 12, 2018, in Anachronistic Adventurers, Game Design, Microsetting, Starfinder Development and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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