"What the hell are we supposed to use? Harsh language?!" — Frost, Aliens

"Check it out! I am the ultimate bad-ass. State of the bad-ass art...not one to mess with me! Check it out, Ripley! Me and my squad of ultimate bad-asses will protect you. Check it out: Independently-targetting particle-beam phalanx. Whram! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phased-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic ee-lec-tronic BALL-BREAKERS! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks..."
— Hudson, Aliens

First, a brief side note: the firearms combat in this section is not intended to be either realistic or detailed. If you want realism, go buy a gun magazine (the paper kind, prime). If you want detail, play Aliens. Roleplaying is not about overpenetration, tumbling, hydrostatic shock or any other technical gun-weenie details. If you like that kind of stuff, head over to alt.guns.knowitall and design your own system. This game is about fast-n-furious fun, not the size of your silencer. I'll stick to alt.guns.bang. bang.you're.dead. [/Rant mode off]

Although the basic design of firearms has not changed in over a hundred years, there are some innovations which have changed their lethality and have added a few more functions than previously possible. The latest trend-word used by the US-SOCOM for their fancy firearms is Aware Weaponry and the shells are called Directed Munitions. Cyberpunks will prefer to call these smartguns and hunter-bullets. Aware weaponry is basically a normal gun combined with a tiny computer and connected to various sensors. These sensors can be basic, like targetting lasers and starlight viewers, or very sophisticated, like a swarm of flycams or milliwave detectors. Directed munitions are hunter-seeker bullets which can alter direction during flight and can receive telemetry data guiding them to their target. Under optimal conditions all these enhancements can increase a marksman's attack value by +4. Whoopee. The major breakthroughs are as follows:

This was already being adopted in the late TwenCen, but it only gained widespread popularity during the War. Caseless ammo dispenses with the jacket that covers most bullets and which adds weight and sometimes throws off the accuracy of the projectile. The majority of guns in the First World are built for caseless ammo; the majority of guns in the Third World are built for old-style cased ammo. Keep that in mind when you're travelling.

These are tiny ballistic missiles with positioning sensors, guidance computers, fins, and limited flight thrusters. They look like a large- calibre (14mm+) bullet with fins (hence they're often called 'fins' by shooters), but their lethality is quite amazing. Once locked onto a target they can follow that target around corners, through glass without exploding, and other tricks. Once they hit the target, they burrow into the skin/armour and explode with massive force. The Hunter variants can be programmed beforehand to attack certain types of targets with amazing accuracy. Each fin has a tiny computer that accepts coded instructions for targets such as moving objects, human-hot objects, shaped objects, and many other combinations. [Weapons capable of firing micromissiles cost between $2,000 and $6,000 and are almost entirely in the autorifle category.]

The advent of micromachinery in bullets allowed them to become sophisticated payload carriers able to deliver a variety of reactants, substances, nanoids, and propellants to the target. Micromissiles can be equipped with acid, explosive, glue/web, gas or viral tips which activate their contents only after burrowing a distance into the target. Reactive armour can be neutralized with directional-charge tips. Hard armours can be melted with fusion-tips or with acid. Civilians can be quickly disabled with webber-tips. One of the most lethal kind are plasma-tips, which have a tiny magnetic field that erupts in the direction of flight, spraying the target with ionized gases that can melt pretty much anything. These kinds of munitions are also fabulously expensive and difficult to procure. [Cost ranges from $50 to $500 per bullet]

Aware weapons are designed with integral gyro-stabilizing micromachinery which reduces vibrations and jolts in the barrel, and helps to keep the weapon accurately aimed at the target. This kind of machinery is fragile and prone to breakdowns, so it is rarely used by anyone except snipers and special forces which require great accuracy. Targetting computers can also be hacked, unfortunately. Connected to portable battle computers and sensor gear, a targetting system can provide threat assessment, tactical advice, weapon/unit identification, spotlighting, and munitions control. Targetters often rely on micro-air-vehicles (more commonly known as flycams) to provide indirect sensory information. Flycams are tiny (1 inch across) flying robots which rely on the dragonfly/flapping wing design for lift and convey information from around corners, inside pits, and other dangerous areas. Since they are fragile they mostly operate in swarms. Data from the swarm is sent to the targetter and the battle computer, which use it to calculate trajectories, wind shear, hit probability, and other details. [Targetters generally add +2 to hit objects, and allow the attacker to hit concealed targets if he uses micromissiles as well. Cost ranges from $5,000 to $25,000, depending on the quality and accuracy of the system.]

A wide range of sensors can be connected to aware weaponry. The popular spectrum goggles - which can switch between many electromagnetic frequencies - are probably the most useful, as they provide data for targetting computers in adverse situations. Milliwave detectors combined with sniping weapons and micromissiles can even attack people inside buildings from far away! It must also be pointed out that most types of micromissiles are banned under national law and the Seventh Geneva Convention.

Note Concerning Smartlinks: They don't exist in NT. Gee, somehow I don't see anyone developing neural-computer interfaces for $1000 in the next twenty or thirty years. Sorry. Nevertheless, the simple wire connections used in aware weaponry is almost as good, and provides a lot of help to a dedicated marksman. You just have to keep it clean and spend a lot of money on it. And remember that oftimes a solid .45 slug will do the job just as well, for less. Your choice.