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Mass Effect 2 guns - arc projector

Mass Effect 2 weapons locker


Context

This big article is about guns in Mass Effect 2. If this looks interesting but you have no idea what we’re talking about, please first hit the Mass Effect setting article then the first Staff Commander Shepard profile, then the Mass Effect 2 setting article… at a minimum.



Overview

Firearms now work differently than they did in Mass Effect. Since Shepard is obviously familiar with the new weapons despite having been dead for 2 years, one assumes that those were being rolled out during the first game.

The differences are explained below. The rest — mass drivers, use of the Mass Effect on the projectile and the weapon, design aesthetics, weapons telescoping from carry length to combat length when drawn, etc. — hasn’t changed.

Thermal clips

The main difference is a new method of heat management, based on geth weaponry. Rather than rely on trigger control to avoid heat buildup from sustained fire, the heat produced by shooting is pumped into a removable sink called a thermal clip.

This allows for rapid, sustained fire that is more likely to overwhelm kinetic shields – at least until the heat sink is at capacity.

Thermal clips have to be ejected and replaced once they’ve stored all the heat they can take. In practice, this is very much like firing firearms with removable box magazines. Hence the name “clip”.

Zaeed Massani ejects a thermal clip from his pistol

Mercenary Zaeed Massani ejecting a hot thermal clip from his M-3 Predator sidearm. Presumably the heat radiation is exaggerated for the cinematography.

Thermal clips seem to be universal and can be plugged into any small arm. But how many shots they allow entirely depends on how much heat the weapon has to dump into the clip.

A thermal clip ejected from a weapon is a serious fire hazard. The body of the clip is thermally insulated, but the connector at the top isn’t and is usually glowing white from the heat.

It’s a market

The market for this new generation of guns seems dominated by a small number of models. More specialised weapons exist, and are often more powerful than the basic models, but they’re not easy to get.

One No-Prize Hypothesis  is that the market is thoroughly dominated by those models that have been ordered by the Council militaries in vast quantities. Other guns find it difficult to compete with models approved by the military and benefiting from huge economies of scale.

From context, it seems that there’s a mess of lesser-known firearms produced in relatively small runs, possibly by start-up companies. Distinguishing the wheat from the chaff among those takes extensive testing, especially if you have the gunsmithing know-how to correct small problems.

Thus, from time to time Shepard’s team adopts a gun that has been recommended by an expert – like the Carnifex heavy pistol or the Vindicator battle rifle. Or one that seemed good when used against them – like the Firestorm flamethrower.

A note about ammunition and gameplay

Mass Effect 2 firearms come with a surprisingly small amount of spare clips. This is especially true since thermal clips are not large items, and could easily be carried on webbing, bandoliers, etc..

This is reportedly a game design choice so players won’t stay bunkered down trading potshots with the enemy. It forces to move to take fresh clips from the enemy as they’re running out, and alternate between weapons so as not to run dry.

This effect is chiefly present at higher difficulty levels, where shooting opponents dead takes a lot more ammunition.

Commander Shepard, Miranda, Liara and Kasumi pointing their guns

This game play decision is difficult to adapt to pen-and-paper gaming. It’s too hard on the suspension of disbelief. For instance the Mattock rifle only allows carrying four extra clips. But three extra clips could easily be carried on the rifle itself in a saddle holder.

There is just too much video game logic involved. And that’s even before wondering why there are fresh clips laying around places where combat will take place. Plus, counting ammunition in a pen-and-paper RPG is not fun for most (and DC Adventures doesn’t really have an ammunition concept).

Our suggestions:

  • If you want to emulate the mobility the video game designers were aiming for, just have the enemy use basic fire-and-movement tactics, grenades and flanking manoeuvres.
  • If you want to keep the stress of running out of ammunition, retcon  the Mass Effect and the Mass Effect 2 weapons out. Instead, have the guns be advanced firearms with mass drivers shooting from ammunition clips storing full-sized rounds rather than minuscule slivers. Ignore all the heat-related problems.
  • If you want to keep people alternating between firearm types, introduce additional penalties for using a weapon not well-suited to the circumstances. For instance something larger than a pistol in cramped circumstances, a pistol at ranges above 15-20 metres, a shotgun at more than 20-25m, something other than a shotgun or submachinegun in poor visibility or when shooting from an unstable surface, etc..

Not-concealed-at-all carry, part 1

It remains possible to carry a bevy of weapons. They still fold to a smaller size when not in use and seem to be lighter than they should – presumably thanks to the Mass Effect. Shepard certainly takes advantage of this, and carries enough ordnance to sink a cruiser.

However, her doctrine now calls for more mobile combat. This is to exploit the more rapid fire allowed by thermal clips, and because the risk of having one’s weapon shut down through Mass Effect hacking is not as bad as it used to be.

Shepard thus stops having everybody carry a fully-loaded MARSOC combat webbing. Most of her tactical operators simply go in with a main weapon and a backup or two.

Not-concealed-at-all carry, part 2

The webbing still works with glowing vertical strips along the back and on the hip, and an horizontal one in the small of the back. Weapons can be “anchored” onto those – they just reliably stick there until drawn.

Commander Shepard with Zaeed and Kasumi covering her

One bit of flavour text mention that professionals like Shepard have software in their armour that ejects the weapon from its holding strip right into the hand about to draw it.

Openly carrying is accepted in most areas of the galaxy. This is true even in safe and secured events, where it is socially acceptable for people to have a discreet sidearm – especially if they’re military or paramilitary.

Though a Predator is larger than most handguns in the real world, when collapsed in carry mode it’s not much bigger than a compact semi-auto.

Weapons upgrades, part 1

Various prototype technologies already exist to make this new generation of guns more powerful, more accurate, etc.. But these are difficult to obtain. Some are mature enough to be commercially available, but their distribution seems restricted. Further, the prices are outside the reach of most fighting persons.

There also seems to be exclusive distribution agreements. You definitely cannot find everything everywhere.

Furthermore, what is sold is the data file with the blueprints. Customers need manufacturing capabilities, skilled armourers and full firearms datafiles to produce modified models incorporating the enhancements. The Normandy has a minifactory and specialists to produce, test and tweak firearms.

This difficulty to obtain upgrades reinforce the impression that the market for new generation firearms is immature. It may see a lot of manoeuvring to build monopoly positions.

Most upgrades are jealously protected by those groups who have access to them. Many technologies can thus only be procured by capturing firearms that incorporate it, then reverse-engineering the design. DRM , DRM, DRM everywhere.

One imagines than most modified firearms have some sort of self-destruct mechanism for the hardware and/or the software. Capturing one that’s intact enough to reverse-engineer is not a common event.

Weapons upgrades, part 2

However, Shepard and her crew fight a wide variety of organisations, and do end up capturing a wide variety of firearms. From the way the game works and various in-game e-mails, the workflow seems to go like this :

  • Professor Mordin Solus analyses and reverse-engineers the innovative modifications found in captured weaponry. He codes data files to build the hardware.
  • Armourer Jacob Taylor machines several copies of the hardware and works on integrating it in firearms from the Normandy’s arsenal – iterations likely ensue.
  • Workable prototypes are tested by Taylor and Miranda Lawson until they’re good enough for field use.
  • Shepard and other tactical operators suggest changes if needed.
  • Lawson crunches ballistic data recorded during tests and fights to spot problems the shooters may have missed, and suggest adjustments.

This means that the weapons in the Normandy’s armoury soon become Frankenguns. The fabrication data files compiled by Jacob gradually incorporate enhancements from various sources.

Jacob’s standard blueprint for an Eviscerator shotgun might thus include mass driver enhancements bought on the grey market on Omega , and a more efficient accelerator coil pattern observed on a Blue Suns  shotgun captured on the Purgatory .

As the Collectors campaign progresses, the weapons that Jacob builds stop resembling anything that can be found in even a high-end guns shop. They include a hodge-podge of exotic improvements, disparate technologies and the shooters’ personal preferences.

In game terms
The upgrades will eventually result in one then two extra Ranks/APs of damage, and perhaps 1 or 2 points of penetration (Sharpness in DCH, the Armour-Piercing Extra in DCA) – usually against either kinetic shields or conventional armour (Toughness in DCA, Physical RV in DCH).

In a pen-and-paper RPG context it possible to build upon this with longer ranges, more Ammo (in DCH), a larger Critical Range (in DCA) and various minor guns-related bonuses – plus optics and other rail-on systems.

Generally this can be handled as simple character advancement. Experience points are invested into Gadgets/Devices, and with the proper support structure (engineers, armourers, mini-factory, regularly capturing enemy firearms with enhancements, etc.) Gadgetry/Invention rolls can be waived.

Carry mode

One of the distinctive features of the Mass Effect guns is that when not in use they collapse to a much more compact “carry size” ; conversely drawing them makes them telescope to combat length in the user’s hands.

Here are some examples of common weapons in combat mode and carry mode — 3D models extracted by Haxxer and FloaterTWO.

ME2 guns in folded and combat modes

The following is Bioware  concept art showing the folded and deployed forms of the main Mass Effect weapon designs.

Mass Effect 1 guns in folded and combat mode

Guns ! Guns ! Guns !

The weapons selection in Mass Effect 2 is small enough to individually review models. We’ll use the same weapons categories as in the game.

The stats in these reviews are in the same format as in our modern firearms articles.


Pistols

These handguns are called “heavy pistols” and are indeed quite large. One assumes that much of the non-military armament in the galaxy is lighter sidearms, but these are not displayed in the game. Shepard’s tactical team is not going to bother with anything lighter than a Predator.


M-3 Predator

A workhorse handgun, the Predator is reliable and threatening. It is also large enough to vent most heat on its own, making its thermal clip last for many shots.

Being a handgun it has low military utility. Its round lacks the velocity to strike a telling blow against shields. It remains a good defensive weapon though, especially against unshielded opponents.

The large handguard of the Predator is not just there to trap the hand of the unwary when collapsing back into carry mode. It can be used as a foregrip, which most shooters find a considerable help when placing shots.

The Predator seems to occupy a niche similar to the Colt M1911’s during the XXth century on Earth.

DCH Predator [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 06, Range: 04, Ammo: 12, R#02, Drawback: Shield and Barrier RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead]

M&M Predator [Ranged Ballistic Damage 5, Quirk (Damage diminished by 3 vs. shields and barriers), Diminished Range 2]

Predator pistol

Predator pistol model views


M-6 Carnifex

A high-powered handgun with a lot of kick. The Carnifex is best reserved for handgun experts with strong, large hands.

It is well-regarded and something of a symbol of power. Many mercenaries from successful companies (such as Eclipse  or the Blue Suns) proudly carry one as a sidearm. The Carnifex is difficult to obtain, and some suspect that the manufacturer is covertly owned by Eclipse.

The Carnifex seems to occupy a niche similar to the Desert Eagle’s during the XXth century on Earth.

DCH Carnifex [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 07, Range: 04, Ammo: 6, R#02, Rec. STR 03, Drawback: Shield and Barrier RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead]

M&M Carnifex [Ranged Ballistic Damage 6, Quirk (Damage diminished by 3 vs. shields and barriers), Quirk (requires Strength 1+ to be used), Diminished Range 2]

Carnifex pistol

Carnifex pistol model views


M-5 Phalanx

The product of the Systems Alliance’s Offensive Handgun Project is particularly powerful and accurate.

It is in the last phases of field testing. As such it has been issued to selected Marines unit, though Jacob Taylor has procured full blueprints for the Normandy. A civilian variant is already available, and is usually bought for defence against large animals.

The Phalanx uses an old-fashioned laser sight rather than a cybernetic interface. Our No-Prize Hypothesis  is that it’s to ignore certain kinds of jamming – but the type of jammer thus defeated never caught on as it was too unreliable. Thus this version of Phalanx means retraining to get used to the non-conventional aiming.

On the Normandy it is chiefly used by close-quarter combat specialists like Jacob or Jack. To them it’s a secondary weapon with more range and accuracy than a shotgun for those situations where they can’t close in.

It is also very handy against heavily armoured, but not shielded, opponents. Presumably the Alliance designed it to engage various Krogan or Vorcha pirates who prefer armour to shields. It certainly goes well with a Katana shotgun on boarding actions where automatic fire would be ill-advised.

The Phalanx doesn’t collapse. It doesn’t have a carry mode. It is thus quite recognisable as a huge pistol one one’s hip rather than a collapsed box, especially with its design that vaguely evokes the early iMac desktop computers at the close of the XXth century.

DCH Phalanx [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 07, Sharpness (Projectile weapons – only vs. heavy armour): 01, Range: 06, Ammo: 06, R#02, Drawback: Shield and Barrier RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead]

M&M Phalanx [Ranged Ballistic Damage 6, Quirk (Damage diminished by 3 vs. shields and barriers), Diminished Range 1]

Phalanx pistol

Phalanx pistol model views


Submachineguns

M-4 Shuriken

A popular machine pistol. The Shuriken is essentially a smaller calibre pistol firing 3-round bursts. It is light and compact (a bit smaller than a M-3 Predator), and burst fire is suited to most engagements.

Professionals consider that the Shuriken’s round lacks power, however. This isn’t too bad against shields and barriers as copious fire can overwhelm such defenses even if individual rounds lack punch, but Shuriken bullets can’t achieve much against heavy armour.

The Shuriken is too light and has too short a barrel to efficiently handle the recoil of a burst. There’s no such thing as a tight group when firing a Shuriken, unless the weapon is shot from a vise.

It doesn’t really matter at ordinary firefight ranges (a few metres in poor visibility), but most Shuriken bullets fired from more than a dozen metres away are not going to hit what you’re aiming at.

The Shuriken may occupy a similar niche to the XXth century’s Skorpion – an easy-to-handle vehicle crew defense weapon. Or perhaps the TEC-9, since violent street criminals often tote badly-maintained Shurikens.

DCH Shuriken [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 07, Range: 03, Ammo: 8, R#03, Drawback: Heavy Armour RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead, Advantage: Autofire]

M&M Shuriken [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 6, Quirk (Damage diminished by 3 vs. heavy armour), Diminished Range 2]

Shuriken machine pistol

Shuriken Machine Pistol model views


M-12 Locust

A close-quarter-battle automatic weapon built by Kassa for the Systems Alliance. The Locust’s round is more powerful than the Shuriken’s and includes a small armour-piercing core.

The weapon itself is very well-built, with a complex recoil-reduction system and excellent targeting software. But size-wise it is clearly a submachinegun rather than a machine pistol. In situations where a rifle is inadvisable, an expert can produce remarkable results with a Locust thanks to its stability and accuracy.

Kasumi Gōtō and Shepard procured the blueprints during a daring heist.

Kasumi also walked from that one with the most valuable Locust of all – a famous gun reportedly used to kill 2 Presidents. This likely was a hit during some diplomatic event, as the Locust is favoured by hitmen for close-in jobs.

The Locust seems to occupy a niche similar to the H&K MP5’s during the XXth century on Earth, albeit it’s much less common.

DCH Locust [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 07, Range: 05, Ammo:05, R#02, Targeting 1, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead, Advantage: Autofire]

M&M Locust [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 6, Diminished Range 1, Ranged Attack 1]

Locust submachinegun

Locust submachinegun model views


M-9 Tempest

A more common submachinegun than the Locust. The Tempest excels at delivering a large volume of fire up close. Outside of this application, it suffers from accuracy and power issues, but in its niche it is a good weapon, for instance to hammer the kinetic shields of the opposition during urban or in-ship combat.

It has its place in the military arsenal. For instance the Quarian marines use it up close against geth with serious shielding. Howbeit other weapons are preferable against geth units with heavy armour.

Shepard has most lighter shooters on her teams (such as Kasumi, Mordin or Miranda) train with and pack M-9s. By using high-density weights in the stock, they can be balanced just right for the shooter to wield with one hand. It allows these specialists to use their actual assets — tech and/or biotic abilities — on the fly without changing grips.

The ammunition capacity, full auto capability and more powerful round than a Shuriken also allows them to just open up to assist a heavier shooter. Examples include suppression fire whilst their colleague reload, or finishing a wounded opponent.

The Tempest could be loosely compared to the Uzi on XXth century Earth.

DCH Tempest [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 07, Range: 04, Ammo: 10, R#02, Drawback: Heavy Armour RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Projectile weapon has No Range, use the listed Range instead, Advantage: Autofire]

M&M Tempest [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 6, Quirk (Damage diminished by 3 vs. heavy armour), Diminished Range 2]

Tempest submachinegun

Tempest submachinegun model views


Shotguns

Projectile clusters from Mass Effect shotguns disperses very rapidly. The spread is very wide, starting right at the muzzle. This gives them a low range.

This improbable dispersion could be rationalised (a “negative choke” magnetic system built in as a flash hider). But why anyone would want their shotgun behave like that cannot.

Perhaps shotguns are meant to be employed in specific circumstances where overpenetration would be catastrophic (boarding spaceships ?), and people use them for close quarter combat in general because in practice it’s good enough.


M-23 Katana

The Katana is by far the most common military shotgun, used for military police detail and close-quarter battles such as ship boarding actions.

It fires blasts of 8 heavy slivers. This ammunition is good against unarmoured targets, kinetic shields and biotic barriers thanks to the multiple impacts, but is easily defeated by heavy armour.

It also has a surprisingly short range. The mass driver is badly calibrated and tends to spin left or right, rapidly dispersing the slivers. Recalibrating it never sticks. A common exaggeration is that it’s called the Katana because it has about the range of a sword.

The Katana has the most popular — and most useless — weapon modification currently sold, which usually can be had for 5 credits. When the wielder grabs his Katana and unlocks the safety, this tiny bit of electronics plays the stock sound of a sword being unsheathed in a chanbara movie as the Katana telescopes to combat length.

A depressing number of soldiers find this hilarious. This mod is even used by numerous Turian soldiers who are supposed to know better.

DCH M-23 Katana [BODY 04, Shotgun blast (Range 02): 09, Ammo: 05, R#03, Drawback: Heavy Armour RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon]

M&M M-23 Katana [Shotgun blast 8, Reduced range 1, Quirk (Damage diminished by 3 vs. heavy armour)]

Katana shotgun

Katana shotgun model views


Captured geth plasma gun

This weapon is often called the “geth shotgun”. While it’s not a shotgun by any technical definition, that’s what it most feels like when used.

The guns used on the Normandy were captured by a Cerberus cell in 2185, though it is possible that a few had already had been acquired by the original Normandy. The technology used is still close enough to Quarian designs to be fabricated on the ship.

The plasma gun is a triple-barrelled affair – two secondary uppers, one main lower. The “plasma” part comes in play when the projectile impacts and fragments, emitting an electrical explosion that turns the air into plasma.

The 3 projectiles usually impact close enough to each other to form one big plasma ball. Heavy armour can withstand that (the plasma is not that hot, as plasma goes) but this attack is murder against shields and barriers.

There are 2 electronic triggers. One just shoots when pressed, the other supercharges the projectiles for 2 seconds then shoots when it’s released (double-tapping in DCH, Power Attack in DCA). The projectiles can slightly bend their trajectory as they are attracted by Mass Effect generators from weapons, armour, etc.

The geth plasma gun is a mainstay of the team’s shotgun operators. Solid autonomy, more powerful than a M-23, and most importantly a longer range than conventional shotguns.

This latter feature means that shotgunners can take effective shots even when a fight takes place outside of their preferred range.

The ammunition capacity, threatening aspect of the gun and slight tracking capability of the projectiles also make it possible to provide themselves with suppression fire as they rush toward more forward cover and into preferred range.

DCH Geth plasma shotgun [BODY 04, Energy blast (Diminishing): 09, Range: 04, Ammo: 05, Schtick (Double-tapping), R#03, Drawback: Heavy Armour RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon, Limitation: Energy blast has No Range, use the Range listed instead,]

M&M Geth plasma shotgun [Ranged Plasma Damage 8, Power Attack, Reduced range 2, Quirk (Damage diminished by 3 vs. heavy armour)]

Geth plasma shotgun

Geth plasma shotgun model views

Commander Shepard firing a geth shotgun


M-27 Scimitar

The Scimitar is a semi-automatic shotgun. It was famously built to specs for the Eclipse mercenary corporation as a close-quarter storming weapon, mostly for boarding ships and urban combat.

The slivers it shoots are not as heavy as the Katana’s, but it can be shot quicker and the lower heat output is not as hard on the thermal clip.

Like the Katana it has a mediocre range and poor armour penetration capabilities. But the ability to shoot quickly is generally considered to make it the better weapon and it’s not much more expensive than a M-23.

Shepard’s unit took a few Scimitars from fallen Eclipse troopers for tests on Illium. Generally it’s not very useful since the shotgunners on the team have superior weapons like plasma shotguns and Eviscerators, but Shepard has been packing one lately.

She seldom uses her shotgun outside of a close-range self-defense role when other weapons are not available, and the Scimitar is actually pretty good at that. It can be drawn quickly, Shepard can shoot it one-handed if the target’s close enough, and it rapidly puts a lot of metal in the air. Specifically, it chains shots much more quickly than the geth “shotgun”.

DCH M-27 Scimitar [BODY 04, Shotgun blast (Range 02): 09, Ammo: 08, R#03, Drawback: Heavy Armour RV is considered one CS higher against this weapon]

M&M M-27 Scimitar [Shotgun blast 8, Reduced range 1, Quirk (Damage diminished by 3 vs. heavy armour)]

Scimitar shotgun

Scimitar shotgun model views


M-22 Eviscerator

Actually a Lieberschaft 2180 shotgun made by a Human company. It is usually commercialised under the lurid name “Eviscerator”.

This distinctive weapon doesn’t shave slivers off an ammunition block like most. Instead, it breaks a small part of its specialised ammunition block into serrated metal wedges with excellent ballistics.

It thus has a dramatically better range than an ordinary shotgun. This round is also defence-agnostic. That is it doesn’t under- or over-performs against any type of heavy defence. On the other hand the creation of the wedges generates more heat than actually shooting them, and the thermal clip will be quickly filled.

The adverts claim that the Eviscerator is illegal for militaries to use due to its unique ammunition. This is intended to project an aura of toughness though cruelty. Whether this claim is true is unknown.

The Eviscerator would have been the standard-issue weapon for shotgunners on the Normandy has the get plasma “shotgun” not narrowly edged out in tests and in the field.

However it is considered the shotgun of choice if intelligence indicated that the enemy will be primarily wearing armour rather than shields or barriers. For instance, when engaging Blood Pack  mercenaries.

The limited ammunition capacity is a pain, but a high level of training and intra-unit coordination lessens the problems this poses.

DCH M-22 Eviscerator [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 09, Ammo: 03, R#03, Advantage: Scattershot]

M&M M-22 Eviscerator [Ranged Ballistic Damage 8, Quirk (three shots before reloading)]

Eviscerator shotgun

Eviscerator shotgun model views


M-300 Claymore

Technically, the Claymore qualifies as a shotgun. But it’s best described as a light cannon.

It is built on Earth, the goal being to fire the most powerful round possible. It was presumably intended as a show and collection piece, since shooting a Claymore will normally break one’s arm. The weapon unexpectedly found a market among Krogans, who have the strength and mass to shoot it, and artisanal production continues.

Since it was intended as a conversation-starter for wealthy collectors, the M-300’s fabrication file is protected by heavy DRM. But Warlord Okeer bought a serial number for Grunt.

There are Claymore-like shotguns floating around. These are cheap knockoffs with far more modest performances. Many of them are literally a Katana fitted into a shell patterned after a Claymore – a cheap way to augment one’s shotgun’s intimidation value.

Firing a single Claymore blast saturates a thermal clip, forcing a reload after each shot. Each of the 8 slivers in a blast hits with the force of a large calibre rifle round, which makes up for any performance issue against armour plating.

Despite this, tactical appraisal with Shepard and her crew was negative. Shepard’s squads often end up against opponents who can take this sort of hits and/or seriously outnumber the squad, making the reload time of the Claymore too much of a liability.

Range is also too much of a problem compared to other weapons available aboard the Normandy.

Though he cannot pack it on combat missions, Grunt still carries his Claymore in other circumstances for its original purpose – as a status symbol and intimidation device.

DCH M-300 Claymore [BODY 04, Shotgun blast (Range 03): 11, Ammo: 01, R#03, Rec. STR 06]

M&M M-300 Claymore [Shotgun blast 10, Quirk (readying a Claymore after a shot takes two Move or Standard Actions)]

Drawing of a Claymore shotgun

Claymore shotgun model views


Assault rifles

M-8 Avenger

This is the modern workhorse assault rifle. It looks very much like the previous workhorse assault rifle of the Systems Alliance — the Lancer — and it is likely that the ergonomics have been kept similar to facilitate training.

The Avenger seems designed to deliver a high volume of fire with reasonable accuracy at common engagement ranges. Some cutscenes imply that it has a low-magnification scope.

Though it’s a decent infantry weapon, the Avenger’s round is weak. It achieves results through volume. In very demanding circumstances like those tackled by Shepard and her tactical crews, this can be a problem. For instance, when fighting numerically superior opponents backed by heavily-armoured mechs.

The Avenger’s low power-per-round gives it a lot of endurance — 40 shots per clip — and easily controlled recoil. But it becomes a hindrance when you need all sorts of things destroyed *right now*. Avengers are still occasionally deployed by Shepard’s men when sustained suppression fire is required.

The Avenger seems to loosely occupy the same niche as the M4 carbine nowadays.

DCH Avenger [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 08, Ammo: 10, Telescopic vision: 03, R#03, Advantage: Autofire]

M&M Avenger [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 7, Senses 1 (Extended Visual)]

Avenger assault rifle

Avenger assault rifle model views


M-15 Vindicator

A battle rifle that accurately places powerful 3-round bursts at respectable ranges. The bursts are fired very quickly, so as to achieve tight groupings before the recoil can kick in – at least in theory.

This big, heavy rifle requires a high level of training. It cannot be used for spray and pray fire, and using it in close quarters is trickier than the Avenger’s “keep the trigger pressed and hose down” approach.

Furthermore the operator needs to perform frequent clip changes since the ammunition generates 4 times the heat of the Avenger’s, it benefits from proper bullet placement, etc.

This rifle was recommended to Shepard by the sharpshooter Garrus Vakarian, who owned squad-level fabrication rights for the Vindicator. Other riflepersons on Shepard’s team, such as Zaeed Massani or the Justicar Samara, seconded Garrus’ assessment.

However the much more expensive Incisor eventually displaced the Vindicator among the team’s sharpshooters. This left those riflepersons with more of a shock trooper skillset — Grunt and Samara — the main two Vindicator operators.

The Vindicator seems quite comparable to, say, the H&K G3 SG-1 battle rifle.

DCH Vindicator [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 09, Ammo: 07, Telescopic vision: 03, R#02]

M&M Vindicator [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 8, Senses 1 (Extended Visual)]

Vindicator rifle

Vindicator rifle model views


Rebuilt M-96 Mattock

The M-96 Mattock is an old model – a heavy, semi-automatic Mass Effect-powered rifle. It is renowned for its reliability ; the semi-automatic action allowed the Mattock to be used by poorly-trained paramilitaries without overheating it through undisciplined automatic fire.

This rugged and surprisingly accurate weapon equipped a number of militia. It then found a second life for colonists on planet with large, dangerous animals – though it is more a weapon you keep in the truck than one you always have with you.

A loose XXth century equivalent would be a cross between the 1940s Lee-Enfield N°4 and the 1950s FN FAL, with modern Belgian ergonomics.

(The Mattocks featured in the anime Paragon Lost  are presumably one of the continuity mistakes in that movie.)

Shep’s Mattocks

Shepard uses Mattocks to capitalise on her speed and bullet placement ability. Since she can routinely double-tap or two-plus-one her targets at common engagement ranges, burst fire is not an asset for her.

Though her rifles still look like M-96s, they have been completely rebuilt. THey include high-performance mass accelerators, a competition-grade hair trigger, Master Spectre targeting and acquisition systems from the Normandy SR1’s wreck, an hideously expensive tungsten alloy ammunition block for enhanced penetration, etc.

The body has even been reinforced to “go Krogan” – that, is smash opponents who go into melee range with the stock, which can be a lifesaver against husks.

Three such rifles were built for Shepard, who named them săt sănbòm (“mean-looking beast”). They include co-axial phasic needle guns and the block that includes the handguard was retroffited with a “Massani special” underbarrel shotgun.

At medium and long ranges they are a good marksman’s rifle, and at medium and short range Shepard can place 3 or 4 shots a second into a single target.

Though in her hands it’s practically an universal weapon, Shepard eventually drifted toward more specialised weapons for increased role efficiency, setting on a Revenant squad automatic weapon (short and medium range) and a Viper semi-automatic sniper rifle (medium and long range).

DCH Rebuilt Mattock [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 09, Ammo: 16, Telescopic vision: 02, R#02]

M&M Rebuilt Mattock [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 8, Senses 1 (Extended Visual)]

Mattock rifle

Mattock rifle model views


M-76 Revenant

This hideously expensive piece of artillery is not an assault rifle. It is a squad automatic weapon intended to be used much like the modern Minimi (M249 SAW for Americans).

What makes it so expensive is that it is built to be operated and aimed just like a rifle, and has an incredibly durable barrel that doesn’t need to be changed even when shooting hundreds of rounds. It also sports a heat management system that allows for firing a staggering 80 rounds by thermal clip.

The recoil is so well-managed that a strong Turian marksperson can fire it one-handed and still hit something.

The Revenant is highly regarded as a superb piece of craftsmanship, but its price tag, extensive DRM and waiting list make it difficult to obtain. Shepard’s team captured one on the prison ship Purgatory, but reverse-engineering it would have taken too long.

However, another Revenant was found on a Collector ship along with an unregistered fabrication file. It was gleefully snapped up by Shepard and put to immediate use.

For a guns enthusiast like Shepard, getting a Revenant is much like a cars fan being gifted some exclusive Italian sports car. Though as Garrus observed in deadpan, an undead Spectre wielding a Revenant is getting redundant.

The M-76 is mostly intended to be used for suppressive fire, being a SAW. However, Kasumi Gōtō found a clever hack to trick the DRM in the fabrication file into acknowledging administrator mode. This let Shepard and her staff modify the weapon to their heart’s content.

Master Spectre targeting computers have been installed and lovingly calibrated by Vakarian and Lawson to compensate for recoil and drift. This allows Shepard to deliver bursts with pinpoint accuracy – she can achieve very tight groups. Paired with a Viper, the Revenant replaced Shepard’s beloved Mattock.

A Revenant modified for pinpoint accuracy, advanced targeting solutions, a 40% increase in muzzle velocity, dual-purpose armour piercing rounds, etc. may seem like overkill. But Shepard and her crew do run into opponents — such as Collectors — where a 15-rounds headshot at close range in 2 seconds is an appropriate level of force.

The Revenant’s key feature is how long it can fire on a single thermal clip. With various systems increasing accuracy and a shooter like Shepard — with a tight control over her weapon’s recoil — the Revenant can rake over multiple lesser enemies or demolish a layer of protection of one powerful enemy in one long burst.

When fighting defensively it can set up a prolonged corridor of fire destroying enemies like only a machinegun can.

It thus plays well with Shepard’s tactics by closing fights fast. It often allows her to rush the enemy and take an advanced position that wouldn’t be tenable without the Revenant’s sustained gunfire.

DCH M-76 Revenant[BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 11, Range: 06, Ammo: 16, Telescopic vision: 01, R#02, Advantage: Autofire, Limitation: Projectile weapons has No Range, use the listed Range instead]

M&M M-76 Revenant [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 10, Senses 1 (Extended Visual)]

Revenant machinegun

Revenant machinegun model views

In the hands of huge, strong gunmen the Revenant often looks like a heavy rifle. But its actual size is that of a light machinegun. This becomes evident when wielded by a less bulky shooter, such as the 5’7” Shepard :

Commander Shepard aims her Revenant machinegun

As can be seen, due to her smaller frame Shepard doesn’t use the physical trigger of her Revenant. She keeps her hands further apart – rear vertical grip and front handguard. This compensates for the length of her weapon since having augmented strength doesn’t mean having longer arms. The gun is fired via cybernetic interface.


Geth pulse rifle

During the Saren plot, Shepard and her team captured a number of geth rifles. Their black market contacts also spotted more for sale, though it is unclear where these came from.

These weapons were powerful.&emsp.Though they weren’t as good as Master Spectre assault rifles Shepard issued them to operators not trained with assault rifles, such as Dr. T’Soni.

The low recoil, low heat and high rate of fire made these excellent for suppression fire. Even an untrained operator could blast away in long bursts with enough precision to keep the enemy pinned behind cover.

While Shepard was dead these weapons stopped being available on the black market. The geth had apparently improved the self-destruct mechanisms of their guns, and repairing captured guns breaking down proved nearly impossible.

However, on Haestrom , Tali’Zorah vas Neema somehow managed to salvage then refurbish one. It was in such a good state that the Normandy crew learned to fabricate their own. One was soon battle-tested by Garrus Vakarian during the boarding action on the Alarei.

This type of geth pulse rifle has a variable fire rate (starting slow and quickly building up) and shoots a rapid stream of phasic slivers. Heat buildup is low, and it can be used to hose down everything much like a M-8 Avenger. Yet it can achieve much tighter groups thanks to the low recoil.

Though the phasic slivers are very light, they carry a strong charge. This means that a pulse rifle isn’t too good against armour (whether heavy or regular) but will chew through a shield or barrier like few things can. This ironically makes it an excellent weapon against the geth, who are chiefly protected by kinetic shields.

DCH Geth Pulse Rifle [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 08, Sharpness (Projectile weapons) (only vs. kinetic shields and biotic barriers): 04, Ammo: 10, R#02]

M&M Geth Pulse Rifle [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 7, plus 4 Ranks of Damage that are Limited 1 (only vs. kinetic shields and biotic barriers)]

Geth pulse rifle

Geth pulse rifle model views


Sniper rifles

M-92 Mantis

The Mantis is apparently the most common military sniping rifle. Its specialised design excels in the one-shot, one-kill long-range elimination role.

The one thing the Mantis does is to accurately fire a powerful projectile. The design goal seems to have been to fire the most powerful round whose heat could still be absorbed by a thermal clip without fancy heat dissipation systems.

The Mantis is quite comparable to a early XXIst century bolt-action high-powered rifle. Say, a .300 magnum one such as the AI Arctic Warfare Magnum.

Once the Mantis has fired, it is necessary to work a sort of bolt action to prepare a new shot, then eject and replace the thermal clip. One shot will put a clip at capacity. A well-trained sniper can perform these actions very quickly, but the Mantis is not the weapon you want to perform successive shots or to defend yourself.

Kinetic shields and biotic barriers are also good at absorbing the energy of a single bullet like the Mantis’. With weaker shields the difference is academic as the Mantis’ round just hits too hard. But a Mantis sniper is going to have problems with heavy shielding.

Garrus Vakarian’s Mantis used to be his signature weapon, though with Shepard’s close sniping support doctrine he switched to an Incisor.

DCH M-92 Mantis [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 11, Ammo: 01, Telescopic vision: 04, R#03, Drawback: Slow reload]

M&M M-92 Mantis [Ranged Ballistic Damage 10, Senses 1 (Extended Visual), Quirk 2 (readying a shot takes a move action plus a standard action)]

Mantis sniper rifle

Mantis sniper rifle model views


M-29 Incisor

The Incisor is a precision rifle firing 3-round-bursts. The burst is rapid enough to more or less register as one shot and not be spoiled by recoil.

It is intended to deal with shields. Three impacts are better than one to overtake kinetic shields – and conventional sniper rifles already do a fine job penetrating heavy armour.

This weapon is comparable to the Vindicator. But the base design is a precision rifle, not an assault rifle. It is thus designed to much tighter specs, and much more expensive.

Incisors have become an important part of the Normandy’s armory, arming one (occasionally two) shooter per fire team.

They were acquired as a typical example of the Normandy’s tactical improvement process. Lawson crunched data to find weak spots in tactical performance, Taylor selected firearms to address those points, and Shepard designed doctrine and ran field tests.

The Incisor is used for close-in precision fire (usually 20 metres or less) to eliminate opposing forces. This relies on Shepard being on point with the opposition frantically trying to stop her, freeing one shooter hanging in the back and working their way through exposed opponents.

If momentum is lost, the marksman/assaulter pair can immediately employ standard bounding overwatch tactics instead. This is thanks to the Incisor’s burst fire and fast action – though in practice the difference between suppression fire and shooting to kill can get blurry.

Incisor duty is hard, technical work. The operator is constantly scoping in and out. This requires modified cybernetic interfaces and a high-end HUD to rapidly shift between an appropriate scoped view and normal view.

They also must make precision shots very quickly while interpreting the data stream from Shepard and predicting her moves. They also run a lot to take a succession of sniping positions that become obsolete within seconds.

As the Incisor eats through ammunition quickly, exploits such as reloading on the run are also necessary. What makes this use of the Incisor possible is the sheer skill of the marksmen on the squad – Zaeed, Thane and Garrus, providing 3 fire teams with Incisor fire support.

The Incisor fits particularly well with Shepard’s general approach. Move in and deliver a high volume of very accurate, very powerful fire to close the fight as quickly as possible while advancing rapidly and leaving as little reaction time as possible.

DCH M-29 Incisor [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 10, Ammo: 5, Telescopic vision: 03, R#03]

M&M M-29 Incisor [Ranged Multiattack Ballistic Damage 9, Senses 1 (Extended Visual), Quirk (Multiattack can only attack one target]

Incisor sniper rifle

Incisor sniper rifle model views


M-97 Viper

The Viper semi-automatic precision rifle was introduced to Shepard by Thane Krios, becoming her standard long rifle.

The round shot by the Viper ensures about a third of the energy transfer of the Mantis’ overpowered round. But that’s still a lot of punch, and unlike the Mantis the Viper can rapidly chain shots. Further, a sophisticated heat evacuation system gives a thermal clip in a Viper a lot of endurance.

Shepard regularly runs into opposition sporting enough armour and shielding to take a centre-of-mass Mantis shot and keep fighting. This makes the delay to cycle the action and heat sink of a Mantis a problem.

By contrast the Viper’s semi-automatic action and excellent recoil management go well with her speed and markswomanship. They allow her to regularly place tight 4-round groups under 2 seconds.

While quad-tapping is not generally doable, trained shooters can double-tap with a Viper. This a good tactic to use against kinetic shields and biotic barriers – it’s more efficient for saturation than one big projectile.

The Viper is thus often sold as an anti-shield sniper rifle, particularly for those buyers who cannot afford, access or maintain Incisors.

The Viper occupies a niche loosely similar to the H&K PSG1 rifle back on XXth century Earth.

DCH M-97 Viper [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 10, Ammo: 12, Telescopic vision: 03, R#02]

M&M M-97 Viper [Ranged Ballistic Damage 9 Senses 1 (Extended Visual)]

Viper sniper rifle

Viper sniper rifle model views


Heavier weapons

M-451 Firestorm

The Firestorm is a flamethrower compacted into heavy rifle/light machinegun format.

This close-range weapon is generally associated with Vorcha and Krogan mercenaries (including the Blood Pack mercenary group). But other groups such as the Blue Suns mercs have used it as a terror weapon.

It certainly has a psychological impact against all but the most hardened. Also, the patented fuel used by the Firestorm is extremely efficient, allowing for sustained fire. A surprisingly small amount of fluid can generate a large stream of fire.

A number of Firestorms were used in quick succession against Shepard and her crew on Omega and Zorya . Shepard had Taylor and Massani procure several and test them.

The Firestorm was found to be a good, well-built weapon and to have a niche use against Krogans and Vorchas. These generally wear physical armour rather than shields, and their regenerative powers are much less of a problem when they’re on fire.

In practice, the Firestorms are practically never broken out. The opponents against whom it would be most effective are the ones Shepard want eliminated at range as they’re more dangerous up close. Such opponents also tend to make tactical mistakes that allow for this.

And though the Firestorm does a lot of damage it cannot compete with the extensively modified, overpowered artillery used by Shepard and her weapons specialists.

Shepard and her teams also quickly came up with methods to let a Mass Effect overload attack detonate the fuel tank of a Firestorm. After Mordin and Garrus used this approach to massacre a team of Vorcha pyros on Tuchanka, the Firestorms of the Normandy were essentially put in storage.

DCH M-451 Firestorm [BODY 03, Flame Project: 09, Range: 03, R#03, Bonus: Flame Project does Continuing Damage (like Disintegration)]

M&M M-451 Firestorm [Line-Area Fire Damage 8, Secondary Effect]

Firestorm flamethrower

Firestorm flamethrower model views

Commander Shepard firing a Firestorm flamethrower


M-100 Grenade Launcher

Shepard’s favourite man-portable heavy weapon, the M-100 is used to even odds against both large groups and single super-heavy opponents.

The name is misleading, as the “grenades” are actually the rocket-propelled kind. It is a 50mm high-explosive warhead propelled by two seconds of solid-state fuel and shot by a low-powered mass driver.

The projectiles can interface with a target designation system, and can alter their trajectory a bit during their brief flight. This feature is mostly intended to facilitate shooting moving land vehicles.

Though Shepard carries it all the time — which has been useful for the sheer intimidation factor — the projectiles are difficult to replace. She only uses it in the most difficult fights, to clear some breathing room when things are about to go bad.

The projectiles are not so powerful as to be used in a real anti-armour role. But they can be shot quickly and the explosion works very well against clustered enemies, particularly in tight quarters.

According to Garrus and Kasumi Shepard once launched into an epic drunken rant about how if Liara dumped her she would marry her grenade launcher instead. Shepard insists that she doesn’t remember anything about that.

DCH M-100 Grenade Launcher [BODY 03, Bomb: 12, Range: 04, R#03, Ammo: 15]

M&M M-100 Grenade Launcher [Burst-Area Explosive Damage 11]

M100 Grenade Launcher

M100 Grenade Launcher model views


ML-77 Missile Launcher

A lightweight, shoulder-fired, semi-automatic micro-missile launcher. The ML-77 is often called the GSD (“Guided Suppositories Dispenser”) by Marines Special Operations troops, including Shepard.

The micro-missile it fires is quite smart and will do a good job tracking and hitting its target. It is also possible to rapidly put several in the air by aiming in the general direction of the target and repeatedly pulling the trigger.

Though many soldiers think that the ML-77 is a super-powerful last word weapon, the ballistics of the micro-missiles are not actually that good. Rocket launchers may be associated with anti-vehicular roles, but the ML-77 missile is slow compared to a Mass Effect-propelled projectile and its warhead has modest performances to save costs.

When dealing with heavily-shielded, well-armoured infantry (or Krogan warriors wearing 50 kilos of armour plating) those who expect their ML-77 to one-shot pedestrians are in for a rude surprise. A shot from a heavily modified Mantis sniper rifle can pack more punch than a GSD micro-missile.

Still, ML-77s do get deployed by Shepard and her crew. In situations where one has to pop from cover, fire like hell without aiming and dive back, the ML-77 gets excellent results.

It also excels in an anti-sniper role – and against camouflaged opponents in general. There are also situations where indirect fire (say, above or around a wall) is a huge advantage leaving the opposition as sitting ducks.

Intellectual property rights protection in the fabrication files for ML-77 make it too much of a pain to adjust the weapon to the needs of the users. For instance, equipping the projectiles with more expensive warheads isn’t really workable.

However, the manufacturer was sued and had to modify the files to allow for ammunition capacity adjustment. It is possible to custom-build ML-77s using variant, larger designs for the sealed ammunition block.

DCH ML-77 Missile Launcher [BODY 02, Projectile weapons: 11, Ammo: 15, Telescopic vision: 01, R#03, Bonus: Projectile Weapons is Indirect (self-targeting projectile, +2), Drawback: No Reload In The Field]

M&M ML-77 Missile Launcher [Ranged Ballistic Damage 10, Extra (Self-targeting projectile, treated as Indirect 1)]

ML77 missile launcher

ML77 missile launcher model views


Ammunition

Specialty ammunition still exists in Mass Effect 2, but in the form of character-specific video game powers. Some adaptation is thus preferable in a pen-and-paper RPG context.

Overview

The main ammo types are:

  • Disruptor. Carries an electric charge that messes with shields, synthetic organisms and some Mass Effect-powered systems such as firearms.
  • Incendiary. Will set unprotected living targets on fire, which is even more of an edge against targets that can ignore some conventional wounds through rapid regeneration (such as Krogans).
  • Armour-piercing. Excels against armour plating, and still inflicts full damage against unarmoured opponents.
  • Shredder. Enhanced damage against unprotected targets.
  • Warp. Enhanced damage against biotic barriers and armour plating. Likely only useable by specific, powerful biotics.
  • Cryo. May freeze targets in place for a short while, making them more vulnerable.
  • Concussive. A heavy projectile that knocks back and damage most targets, stunning them.

Our No-Prize Hypothesis  is that these “ammunition powers” are not actually ammunition but a specialised coaxial gun mounted on the character’s main gun.

The goal of this hypothesis is to explain why anybody can’t just slap an ammunition block in their Predator and use this or that specialised ammunition, like they could in Mass Effect.

These coax guns might resemble an underbarrel shotgun (see our modern firearms articles) or might be built right into the firearm.

Coax guns are not standard. They’re built to specs then installed by an armourer. The user has to set when and how they shoot – likely reacting to trigger pulls from the main gun. There might be various decisions as to the ballistics and behaviour of the projectiles, probably managed by custom ballistic programs.

One assumes that having a coaxial gun fire under the main gun changes its behaviour in terms of balance, recoil, weight, etc.. These problems become harder to compensate for as the coaxial gun is set to fire more powerfully and more often.

Multiple specialised ammunition use is possible, but very rare.&emspCertain versions of Shepard can deploy multiple types, but even extremely skilled shooters like Garrus Vakarian or Thane Krios only develop expertise in one type in Mass Effect 2.

The situation becomes a bit more complicated when a character develops the “power” to enhance the ammunition of their squadmates – an option at the highest level.

In the “coaxial gun” hypothesis, exceptionally skilled fighters can develop the expertise to install coaxial guns on the weapons of people they fight along with. Extensive analysis of their shooting style is necessary – through shared combat experience, shooting range exercises and mining ballistics data from guns and armour sensors.

The expert is the one specifying an appropriate design, adjusting it for their colleague based on feedback and further analysis, teaching basic maintenance of the custom coax weapon, doing the advanced maintenance, etc.

Of course, the expert has to have access to firearms engineers, combat data recorders and analysts, and a large armoury with manufacturing capabilities.

Colour-coded

In-game, weapons set to fire a specialised ammunition have a colour-coded holographic display about them, complete with a colour-coded ammunition icon.

Commander-Shepard-Mass-Effect-2-zombie-h5

A not-fully-resurrected-yet Shepard wields a Predator pistol set to fire disruptor ammunition.

This is presumably meant to unclutter the game interface by having the information appear on the game screen proper.

In-universe, one assumes that these holographic displays are only visible through the HUD of the people on your team. Thus one can see whether their own weapon has special ammunition active – a useful feature given the stress of combat. They can also glance at their squadmates to see whether their weapon is set to fire a special type of ammunition.

Since special ammunitions are not a thing for most fighting forces in Mass Effect 2, it is quite possible that this display system is something that Shepard invented. Unlike 99% of commanders, she runs a fighting force wielding coaxial guns.

Her people are also smart enough to draw conclusions when noticing one of their squaddies just activated a special ammo type.

Ammunition – general stats

Mass Effect 2 ammunition can be represented as Combined With (DCH) or Linked (DCA) effect added to the firearm.

The defenses-defeating ammunition (disruptor, armour-piercing, warp, shredder) simply have one or two APs of Sharpness (DCH) or one or two Ranks of extra Damage (DCA) that only work against one type of defense (shields, armour, barriers and a lack of such, respectively).

Ammunition with a stunning effect (disruptor, incendiary, concussive) will also have a Stagger (DCH) or Affliction (DCA – disruptor dazzles, incendiary pains, concussive knocks down) as a secondary effect. Cryo instead carries a Snare effect in both games.

Tertiary effects exist (such as high-level disruptor ammo also shocking Mass Effect-powered weapons out for a few seconds), but like with Mass Effect ammunition this rapidly becomes a pain to handle in a pen-and-paper game.

Our suggested approach is that each ammunition type can have but 2 bonuses. In this approach, there are several distinct types of disruptor ammunition – one that penetrates shields and stuns synthetics, one that penetrates shields and synthetics, one that penetrates synthetics and disrupt weapons, etc.

Being super-heroes game, DCA and DCH both do unique equipment that cannot easily be replicated (Devices and Gadgets, respectively).

In the coaxial gun hypothesis, the Device/Gadget is built normally by an Inventor/Gadgeteer but requires collaborating with a gunfighter who has developed a Familiarity (DCH) or one-point Benefit (DCA) about the type of ammunition at hand.

The Device/Gadget has a Quirk/Limitation that the gunfighter with the proper Familiarity/Benefit must be around to maintain and adjust it or it will gradually become less accurate and reliable. Of course that doesn’t count for the coax guns installed on the specialist’s own weapons.

Ammunition – DC Heroes stats

Here are interpretations of character-specific ammunition powers as coax guns.

DCH Zaeed Massani’s disruptor coax gun
[BODY 01, Sharpness (Projectile Weapons) (only against Kinetic Shields): 02, Paralysis: 08, Bonuses & Limitations: Paralysis only affects Mass Effect-powered weapons, is tested against BODY/BODY, and lasts for at most three Phases ; Paralysis is Combined with Sharpness and thus the Projectile Weapons score of the main gun – it has No Range of its own but rides Projectile Weapons’ Range ; Paralysis is a Mass Effect field].

This coaxial gun is mounted on the side of Massani’s Vindicator rifle, which also includes an underbarrel shotgun.

DCH Mandala Shepard’s bos’tet-buster
[BODY 01, Sharpness (Projectile weapons) (only against Kinetic Shields): 02, Sharpness (Projectile weapons) (only against synthetics and robots): 02, Limitation : the second Sharpness is a Mass Effect field]. 

Chiefly developed by Tali’Zorah as an anti-geth weapon using data recovered on Solcrum , in the Skyllian Verge. Mounted on the right side of a rifle, the Buster is a linear accelerator shooting phasic-charged needles.

These very light projectiles are automatically shot to ride the coattails of a bullet.&emspThe user may cybernetically block the shot – usually because the target wouldn’t be affected by a phasic needle. Scripts and user cybernetic input determine the phasic charge, depending on the exact type of robot or synthetic life form being shot.

It was originally quite complicated to calibrate. Improvements were made by having EDI datamine the footage from the suit cameras, gun cameras, ballistic computers, targeting computers, etc. and the Buster is now comparable to other disruptor coax guns.

DCH Jacob Taylor’s lower barrel
[BODY 02, Sharpness (Shotgun Blast) (only against Armour): 02, Flame project: 06, Flash: 08, Bonuses & Limitations: Flash and Flame Project have No Range but are Combined with the main gun’s Shotgun Blast Power and ride its Range ; Flash is not resisted by Shade but by Flame Immunity ; Flash is a Mass Effect field ; Flame Project only against unprotected targets with a RV against flame below 07].

Jacob’s shotguns are modified to have an over-under double barrel configuration. The lower barrel shoots incendiary gel using the Mass Effect, at a slightly higher speed than the main gun’s blast. This way it will impact and spread in the target just in time to be ignited by the projectiles.

This will be defeated by major defenses, but will set ordinary body armour on fire, forcing the target to extinguish it. It could be used as an incendiary weapon against unprotected targets (no body armour, no major defense, low RV) but this is a situation that very seldom occurs.

DCH Garrus Vakarian’s tungsten penetrators
[BODY 02, Sharpness (Projectile Weapons) (not against Shields, not against Barriers): 02].

This is actual specialised ammunition. The metallic block from which ammunition is shorn is a special tungsten alloy, with a much-reinforced shearing mechanism that requires a lot of calibrations to keep working reliably.

The projectiles also can damage the barrel, though that can usually be compensated for by redistributing the power along the coils until the barrel can be changed.

The denser, harder projectiles will penetrate ordinary body armour as well as heavier armour plating. Garrus can even snipe the softer bits of military vehicles using those. Technically this ammunition is two Sharpnesses (one only against Armour), one only against targets without major defences.

DCH Jack’s warp ammo
[Sharpness (Projectile Weapons) (not against shields): 02, Power Reserve (Projectile weapons): 01, Limitation: Ammunition load for a Mass Effect-powered firearm, Power Reserve only against targets under the effect of a biotic effect].

Possibly the rarest type of ammo, warp ammo is done without equipment. What happens is that a very powerful biotic charges their gun with Dark Energy, making every projectile shot carry a small biotic warp field.

Shields will stop such projectiles normally by stripping them of Mass Effect augmentations. But armour and barriers will be hit by the warp. The warp also reacts to Dark Energy explosively, like most biotic warp fields do.

This is bought as a Power, albeit with the ammunition load Limitation. Though the extra damage is written up as Power Reserve for clarity’s sake, we suggest having it bought during Character Creation or Character Advancement as a Misc. Advantage worth 35% of the cost to increase the Projectile Weapons Power of the Character’s guns by one.

It takes a biotic on the scale of Jack or some versions of Shepard to produce the warp ammo effect.

DCH Underslung shotgun with HESH slugs
[BODY 03, Stagger: 08, Projectile weapon: 07, Bonus: Stagger is Combined with Projectile Weapons and ride its Range, Stagger has Scattershot, Limitation: Can only be fired every third Phase].

A robust, high-calibre shotgun affixed under a rifle. This weapon uses the old heat dissipation action rather than thermal clip, and fires large explosive projectiles. It was originally designed for civilian defence against large animals. The explosion is meant to scare away attackers even when shot by an amateur.

The slug is good to knock back armoured opponents, detonate dangerous items, blow away cover, etc. This trick is used by certain veteran SWAT operators from the police and military trying to take out opponents under cover.

The Stagger effect enjoys the Scattershot Advantage, so even an explosion close to the target may throw them back, either leaving them in the open or making it possible to storm the location.

Zaeed Massani has been using this underslung shotgun for years. Several members of Shepard’s tactical team quickly adopted this excellent idea – Shepard herself, Garrus Vakarian and Grunt all trained to use the “Massani Special” shotgun. Having a shotgun that is itself armed with a shotgun also keeps Grunt happy.

Changing grips rapidly and aiming the thing requires significant training, and of course there’s the whole process of building and mounting one. The Normandy’s weapons techs have further been experimenting with more powerful explosives to confer a larger radius to the detonation.

DCH Cryo-blast ammunition
[BODY 01, Glue: 05, Sharpness (any Physical attack hitting the target whilst a cryo-blast-generated Glue effect has RAPs active): 01].

A creation of Mordin Solus, the “cryo-blast” is actually an artificially-produced Mass Effect field. It increases the mass of the target, stopping or dramatically slowing the advance of most humanoids. Objects that impact the target also have their mass increased as they enter the field, making them deadlier.

The “cryo-blast” name comes from a side-effect. Some rime usually appears on the target as molecular motion is slowed by the mass increase.

Being a Mass Effect field, the cryo-blast is normally blocked by major defences. Tt was designed to work against animals, civilians and lightly-armoured opponents, offering the option to either stop them non-lethally or to follow up with killing shots.

As Shepard anticipated clashing with husks like those encountered on Eden Prime, Professor Solus developed coaxial guns firing a variant of his cryo-blast. The goal is to stop the savage undead right in their tracks.

These coaxial guns are commercial omni-tools bolted to the side of the gun, and modified using improvements Professor Solus made to his personal omni-tool.

Using them requires a practical knowledge of physics and/or extensive training. Solus gradually developed better programs to make them easier to fire.

Whether the Mass Effect field will correctly stick with any given shot remains somewhat random, though with massed automatic gunfire it is possible to stop and shoot to bits even a charging pack of husks.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: The second game in the Mass Effect video game trilogy — and ONLY the second game.

Helper(s): The weapons model are a mixture of Bioware concept art, screenshots of the in-game models (usually shot on the weapons benches of the Normandy), and 3D model extractions by Troodon80 on his DA page.

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