Sense Check: Crafting Ammunition

Hi all

One of my players asked about the ability to craft different ammo types for a weapon (specifically they are interesting in chemical and explosive tipped ammo types) and I wanted to run my thoughts on this by you guys just to make sure i’m getting it right.

My thinking is that essentially there are 3 contexts that would pretty much apply to slugthrowers only (obviously you can’t arm a blaster with physical ammo):

  1. The player crafts a weapon and rolls well enough to have special properties (Blast, Concussive, etc.) and that these could be themed as a special ammunition type

  2. The player adds or modifies an attachment that adds properties in line with an ammunition type and it could be themed as custom ammunition.

  3. The player could improvise and jury rig a weapon to fire something unique within the context of a given scene. This is likely to be a lot more flexible but temporary.

Does this sound reasonable to you guys? Am I missing anything obvious?

1 and 2 are both how it would be best represented by RAW and are intelligent/reasonable rulings.
There are a few select weapons that have alternate ammo types specified, but they don’t give a great template for expanding into a full ruleset.

3 is a bit out-there, but doable with the right tech. A standard slugthrower that uses chemical propellant to fire a bullet wouldn’t be able to fire “something unique,” but a verpine shatter rifle—a magnetic rifle designed to be able to fire a wide range of metallic objects—could fire nails, ore, a pocket knife, etc. The accuracy of these irregular objects is questionable at best.

If one of my players asked to craft ammunition (like wildcat cartridges or hand-loads), I would call for a Mechanics check to give small buffs to the ammunition, like +1 Pierce, +1 Vicious, etc. Costs should be higher than basic ammunition.

Threat and Advantage could be used to affect ballistics (e.g., Accurate/Inaccurate) and Despair could be used to include a “lemon” that causes a catastrophic failure, to be triggered with a Despair later.
You’d also have the options to spend Threat on combat checks to have minor malfunctions.

For poison/chemical effects, I would look at the rules for poisoned weapons and adapt those. This could probably be ruled quite simply with a Mechanics check to make frangible bullets that carry the poison, and 2 Advantage on a ranged check to force the target to test against it. However, this could get out of hand quickly and it would be reasonable to refuse it outright, replace it with a small Stun quality, or say that not a large enough dose can be packed into the bullet (a more “narratively justified” refusal).

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Beautiful - thanks!

Some good thoughts on scenario 3 - Frangible bullets is exactly what my friend has in mind, I think. I am inclined to stick with item qualities, as you say - it could get out of hand.

Very much appreciate the response and insight

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No problem, glad to be of assistance.

I would suggest that varying ammo types both give a bonus and a hindrance each, going beyond just cost. These are just spitballing and I’m sure need lots of work to be balanced.

Armor-Piercing: Gives Pierce 2, but reduces Damage by 1.
Hollow Point: +2 Damage, any Pierce reduced by 1. If no Pierce for the weapon, target gains 1 Soak?
Reduced Load: Boost, but Range -1.
Hot Load: Range +1, but apply Setback.


I would be careful allowing special ammo. I have a list of special bolt, arrow, and sling stones for a fantasy Genesys game, but I’ve yet to implement them in actual play. It’s an added step for realism, but adds complexity and possible balancing issues. I’m not sure if it is worth it.

If you do have special ammo, I would consider making them variations of the Extra Ammo gear. Thus, Extra Ammo (hollow point), Enc 1. Thus, when you get an out of ammo result, your special ammo is used up.

Why does he want frangible rounds? Frangibles break apart after hitting something, like a wall, a person, or body armor. They are a safety round that prevents over-penetration, often used in law enforcement (so you don’t accidentally kill the innocent behind the target). For game purposes (without getting too much into the realistic details) I would be adding 1 Soak to any target, without any benefit. For more realism they actually penetrate the first thing they strike fine, they just don’t continue on very well. Not sure how to emulate that in a game. I suppose if a GM is commonly spending slugthrower “successes with threats” to give an accidental penetration into a secondary target, then frangible could be ammo that reduces any threats rolled by 1?

Does your player mean frangible to be a shrapnel/birdshot type of round? If that is what he is looking for I would add Accurate 1, but Damage -1?

While your proposed effects for hollow-point and armor-piercing rounds make sense to some degree, they are effectively identical (+1 damage) due to the relatively high “base-soak” of FFG SWRPG characters, who never have less than 1 and rarely have less than 3.

The only difference is then against Cortosis armor, which counterintuitively makes hollow-point ammo more potent against what is actually heavier armor.

Messing with ranges based on ammo is, in my opinion, not appropriate the vast majority of the time. If you take a slugthrower pistol, it goes from Short to Engaged or to Medium, which in the former case is absurd and in the latter case is a x5 multiplier to the weapon’s range. With rifles (Medium), the difference is similar.

Velocity and accuracy out to a given range is very much about the weapon, though the ammunition certainly has a role to play (after all, that’s where the propellant is!), and the actual cartridge dimensions have only so much wiggle room for more or less powder. Any change that significantly adjusts the weapon’s range would likely require rechambering the weapon for a different caliber.

Hot/reduced loads would probably just have a minor effect on damage. A hot load might add a Setback to attempts to fire the weapon (like the Blaster Actuating Module) in exchange for +1 damage, while reduced loads reduce damage but provide a bonus to concealment, e.g., firing subsonic ammo with a suppressor.

It’s probable this is a matter of conflating frangible with expanding/hollow-point ammunition. I’m the one who originally said frangible, and I was conflating the two. The actual effect under discussion was putting a bio/chemical load into a bullet, which would release the toxin after entering the body.

Also, +1 Soak and -1 Damage are functionally identical, with the latter being simpler.