Electrothermal Weapons in Cyberpunk 2020


Author: unknown.
These weapons are very unrealistic and overpowered. The default rules don’t talk about the many disadvantages of such weapons. Will all know that an electrothermal upgrade can only be preformed on a gun that fires cased shells. While the increase in firepower is considerable, the large list of disadvantages may make you think twice about using such weapons.


Think about it, using plasma to fire a copper cased shell is not by any means smart. The copper casing ejects from the side of the gun through the sliding action. These casings are extremely hot and can burn your skin. Even normal casings can burn you if you catch them, but with electrothermal casings the chances of starting fires and such are greatly increased. Burning your hand on a casing inflicts 1 point for a normal casing and 1d6/2 for a electrothermal casing. There is also a 15% chance that a hot casing will start a fire if it lands on something flammable.
Also note that blowing up a clip of electrothermal ammo is a bad idea. Throwing a clip into a fire, will likely cause it to explode (most ammo will).

Water :

Yeah yeah, it says the batteries are sealed against water. Big deal, plasma basically is super-heated gas. Usually (99% of the time) man made plasma is super-heated water. If water gets into the barrel of your electrothermal weapon. You could be in deep, deep trouble. Firing a water filled electrothermal weapon will cause your gun to blow up. Damage everything within 5m of your weapon and inflicting 4d6.

Rapid Fire:

To avoid over-heating the barrel of your gun, it is suggested that you only fire at a ROF 2. Think about it, nothing is stopping you from firing at a faster rapid. However firing a burst with a electrothermal weapon has a 1 in 10 chance of warping the barrel of your gun after the first burst. Basically you allow the player to get away with the first burst, but then you start rolling a 10-dice. If you roll a 1, the gun’s barrel becomes warped.
Optional : If you want to be really nasty, you can roll another 10 sider after you’ve rolled a 1. If you get “double 1’s” the gun blows up inflicting 4d6 to a 5m area (see above).

Speciality Ammo:

Oh this is a big one. Behind a electrothermal bullet there is alot of heat and force. This seriously limits the kinds of ammo you can use in this type of weapon. Hollowpoints, explosive tips, and most fragmentation rounds will simply blow through and with the cores blown out the jackets are left in the chamber. This jams the gun and is weaponsmith vs dif 15 to clear.
Ammo such as Armor Piercing, Tungsten Carbide, Depleted Uranium and Titanium rounds are very heat resistant and tough. They are unlikely to blow through and are therefor good rounds to use in an electrothermal gun.
Ammo Cost:
The cost of electrothermal ready ammo costs twice that of normal ammo. This is because of the plasma injected into the base of the round and the re-configuration of the firing plate of the round, so that it maybe fired from an electrothermal weapon.

Battery Power :

Electrothermal guns use up an unreal amount of electrical power. A small battery storage in the butt of the weapon will hold about 25 charges. While a hip pack can hold up to 100 charges. The small battery is included in the weapon conversion, but the hip pack costs roughly 75 euro. (Hey it’s just a big battery)
These batteries have to be recharged after all the shots are fired. No other rounds can be fired if the battery is at 0 charge. Not even normal shots (duh!), since the rounds are completely different.

5 thoughts on “Electrothermal Weapons in Cyberpunk 2020”

  1. While I agree ET weapons have their flaws what you list is are not really any poblems.

    first off as in the discription of the ET modification it uses cased shells that hold water which is converted into plasma by electricity which means no mater what fire you put it into it isn’t going to explode.

    Secound as stated it uses cased it never said it was copper heck the cost alone indicates it isn’t that cheap for water(proppelant) cost you nothing and the basic bullet is realitivly cheap so all the cost is in the casing and maybe inproving the bullet. Since special ammo cost more it isn’t counted in the increased base cost.

    Third as far as batter goes the technology exist in the world for such power and micronization. They have the liquid metal batter for the man made lightning pistol(volt pistol), Batteries that can run your cyberware for a year, radioactive material used for unlimited power source(near orbit equipment section), A semi with 300% power increase from a steam engine(neo tribes), and a wall chargeable battle laser(base book). While I agree that the thought of what is described in the ET modification seems impossible to me by accepting the technology of the world I can not say it isn’t possible to fit it into your weapon as discribed. Personnally taking that into consideration and the fact the Maximum metal came out later makes me wonder how much power is needed to run ACPA?! Since the old linear frames opereated off just two or four cyber batteries.

  2. What flaws do you see?

    I would say that you are right regarding the power problem. Its totally unclear how Mike Pondsmith imagined the batteries of 2020…

    But even unmodified ammo will explode in a fire, so fire is a problem. And water too. The author refers to some leftover water in the barrel, which would influence the process of creating the plasma: BANG

  3. Not to go on a cyber rant like all the other so-called keyboard warriors out there, but before we write off ETC Weapons in the game, we might want to do some reasearch on weapons technology before a posting of misleading elements regarding the real life stuff. Yes, dammit!! No military specialist on CP2020’s design team!!

    So let go through it shall we?

    Heat – yep, no one’s denying plasma is hot. However, what’s been overlooked is that the charge is NOT plasma based. The charge is still our ‘normal’ (although certainly highly engineered and modified) chemical-based composition and the plasma charge is being used to ignite the propellant charge. Why? In very basic terms, this allows for an extremely broad range of control over the speed and distribution of the burning propellant. Thinking RL 2020, how about a gun that can shoot with a barrel velocity greater than 2000mps then with a ‘flick of the switch’ drop to less than ~330mps ie subsonic? As for copper casings….uh yeah – gave away the lack of apparent ‘expert knowledge.’ Brass is the material for current [modern] casings, the projectiles are copper jacketed. I’m sure however that caseless ammunition is being favoured of a cased version.

    Water – this is a short one. Almost all cased propellent-burning projectile weapons will blow up (or at least serious damage to the weapon system) when the barrel/chamber is full of water. Even caseless is subject to the same issue of massive pressures in an incompressible medium.

    Rapid Fire – The most ‘vaild’ point. Higher velocities will indeed generate greater heat through friction, but not that much more; maybe someone more mathmaticaly enabled can do the sums for me on exactly how much more going from today HVPW of ~1800mps to ~2000mps (Yes, a whole 200mps more). Further, metalurgy is becoming more advanced everyday; ‘Titanium? You’re so living in the 90’s man!’

    Specialty Ammo – Oh this is NOT a big one. Today’s issue isnt to do with the limitations of construction/structural integrity of the projectile, but rather the limitations of actually ever-increasing that projectile’s velocity.

    Battery Power – Kotus pretty eluded to it all and I’ll not repeat it suffice to say that the never-ending AA battery was invented oh-so ages ago. Ok, I lied….it has a half life of just under 5000 years. Someone posted on a research site (cant remember, it was about month ago and late at night – could have been a wiki ref link?) about RL ETC weapons being fielded within the next 5 years

  4. Whoa! Never heard of that battery! Have a link?

    I posted that article (I once found on the internet, when it was young) because I have game-balance problems with ET. But hearing your arguments, ET does seem possible in 12 years…

  5. What about Cold Plasma? That would even work in automatic weapons. Also with a one use micro chemical battery in the shell casing itself (instead of a primer) Don’t forget the insulated ceramic case! Come on guys get out of the box!!!

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