Why use anything but a fusor?

As I read and re-read the Firefight and Tech Burner rules with intense/obsessive/downright creepy enthusiasm, I am struck by a real inequality among the weapons (see table, p. 517). Specifically:

Why would anyone in Iron use any weapon but a fusor?

Yes, I know, “close combat” . – but you can carry a SCREW or a CEBW as your sidearm for a mere Ob 2 Resources test, and that’ll do you better in tight quarters than trying to make your main weapon do both long range and point blank.

Yes, I know, “heavy (6)” – but if you’re going to be part of a hereditary warrior elite, you really ought to hit the gym until you reach Power 5; your Iron will take you the rest of the way (Power Assist, pg. 545).

Yes, I know, “Squad support weapon, 4 pts” against your Resources instead of 3 points for an Assault weapon (p. 382; this is assuming you’re not just buying an “appropriate weapon” for 1 point during character generation) – but that’s a very small price to pay for vehicular-scale damage and longer range.

And once you’ve talked yourself into a Squad Support Weapon, the fusor does more damage than everything but the Heavy Laser – which at “heavy (8),” is really a bit much to haul – and has the “Blast” and “Devastator” traits to take out your target’s squadmates and armor respectively.

Am I missing something here? Clearly normal human troops in Anvil or (snicker) Ballistic Armor can’t haul fusors, and even Iron squads will need specialists with particular weapons, but I just don’t see any reason why the default weapon for someone in Iron shouldn’t be the fusor.

Don’t know if you’ve read Faith Conquers, Sydney, but a fusor is pretty much the default weapon for lords-pilot in iron.

Aside from that, skills, cost and that pesky Power exponent do sometimes limit choices for your character. But if you want to take a fusor, it’s really not hard. And that’s ok!

EDIT: And welcome to the wheel, Sydney! I hope you like the game!

Thanks, Luke. I did read both Faith Conquers and Sheva’s War – entirely because I thought the game was so cool, I should read the inspiration – but I also noticed that both the generic “burned NPC” Lord-Pilot in the back of the book, and the protagonist of “The Passage,” are both carrying laser rifles. Hence my wondering if I were missing something.

So, got it. Fusors for everyone! Well, everyone in Iron, that is.

Now I just need to use the Tech Burner to invent a tidy little grav pod to clip under your heavy weapon to give you a +2 Power boost, and then non-Iron troops can haul fusors and Iron troops can walk around firing Heavy Lasers from the hip.

I think a lot of it ends up being character-dependent.

I’m working on an Anvil Lord character right now, and - while I might find I can’t help myself and end up trying to re-work things to give him a fusor just because BFGs are fun - there’s really no good reason why this guy, who has a 3D Anvil affiliation score that gives him his own elite military force, and who will be spending his time commanding, would feel like lugging what’s essentially a crew-served weapon around when he might hardly even get a chance to fire it.

On the other hand, I suppose I could always have a flunky carry the damn thing for him…

Ha ha… speaking purely from the “canon” point of view rather than as a cheating gamer (in the best sense of the word), Fusors are Squad Support weapons for a couple of reasons: 1. their range is less than a laser’s. They’re intended to give Iron squads an anti-armor capability. They do have some blast effects, so they’re not bad against lightly armored troops. 2. They are expensive. 3. The aforementioned blast effect means they are the opposite of surgical weapons. Don’t use them if there are friendly, unarmored soldiers/civilians nearby and not in confined spaces (!). There’s no such thing as a “jack-fusor” 4. They are unwieldy, even in Iron, as much from the discharge as from the weight/size. So your cute little grav pod would have to also have some kind of recoil-absorber.

You can see how a typical Iron squad is equipped in Faith Conquers… Laser Rifles plus a Fusor. Of course Gopher uses a Fusor, but he’s a Kerrn, so, you know, he HAD to have one. Plus the Grey Rats are elite.


Chris Moeller - hello! You’re brilliant. And, purchase being the sincerest form of flattery: If there are any more issues of Iron Empires/Shadow Empires in print besides the ones collected in the Faith Conquers and Sheva’s War trade paperbacks, please point me towards them.

Also, my wife looks kind of like Lady Sheva, without the facial scarring.

But I digress.

Fusors are Squad Support weapons for a couple of reasons: 1. their range is less than a laser’s.

Ah. The weapons table on pg. 517 lists laser rifles under “assault weapons” and fusors under “squad support weapons,” and as I understand the rules, all “squad support weapons” have a longer range than all “assault weapons” (p. 478), unless customized with appropriate traits.

So it looks like what we need to do to get “canon” Shadow Empires armament is

  1. use the Tech Burner to come up with a laser rifle with the “long range” trait (p. 521), so it bumps up a category.

and possibly

  1. use the Tech Burner to revise the standard fusor so it has some kind of “short range” trait (I don’t see one in the book) that bumps it down a category.

Doing (1) alone makes the new “heavy” laser rifle equivalent to a fusor in range; doing (1) and (2) means the two weapons switch places, so the revised fusor is now the shorter-ranged weapon and the heavied-up laser rifle is the long-range one.

I’m a little puzzled by how the Tech Burner rules apply to modifying the example weapons, though.

Here, we’ll add this to the errata then:

Fusor traits: Heavy (6), Heater, Blast, Devastator, Short Range.

Short Range
This weapon’s range capabilities are severly limited. Its range is always consider shorter than Assault Weapon ranger (but longer than Close Combat).


That looks good to me, Luke.

Also, my wife looks kind of like Lady Sheva, without the facial scarring.

Okay, now we must duel. My wife was the model for Lady Sheva (without the facial scarring). A coincidence? I demand satisfaction!


PS - thanks for the compliments too, btw. I’m working on the next story as we speak. More on that later.

Wow. Now THAT is customer service: The source author and the game designer not only both reply but issue an erratum within 18 hours of the original question. I blink with amazement.

And I defer to Chris on his wife probably looking more like Lady Sheva than my wife does. I do think we’ll agree that dark hair + high cheekbones + strong jawline beats the heck out of a blonde Barbie doll any day.

Oh, and while we’re at it – Luke, what would it cost to bump a standard Assault Laser (p. 517 again) up from assault-range to squad support-range? I’m looking both at the “Long Range” as described on p. 521 (“5 or 8 points”) and at the “Range category tweaks” on p. 382 (“Assault, 2 pts. Squad Support, 5 pts. Vehicular, 8 pts.”). But I’m not sure how to read this. The first interpretation that comes to mind is that bumping up an Assault weapon’s range to Squad Support costs 5 points – but that’s more than it would cost to just buy a Squad Support weapon in the first place.

It’d also be nice to be able to reverse-engineer what a “short range” disadvantage would be for dropping back down the range hierarchy, as well.

(Yes, I know this is a Tech Burner question, and if I actually burn up a weapon I’ll post it there, but it’s in context for this discussion).

“Assault, 2 pts. Squad Support, 5 pts. Vehicular, 8 pts.”)

I’m guessing this means upgrading assault +2, upgrading squad +5, etc…

So it would cost +2 to change an assault into a long range laser.


Yes, to make a Pistol into an “Assault” Pistol, you’d increase its cost by +2 pts. To make an Assault Laser a super death sniper laser, add +5 pts to the cost.

Why not just buy the Heavy Laser? Because you don’t have the Squad Support Weapons skill or you don’t want to deal with the Heavy (8) trait or generally not have to deal with lugging a crew served weapon around.

You get all of the convenience of an Assault Laser with the range of a SSW.