3G3 Guns! Guns! Guns!
Guns! Guns! Guns!, or 3G3, as it seems to prefer to be known, is a more or less complete generic weapons design system. Despite it's title, it does not only design guns, but more or less any weapon from the pre-historic to the far-future, not to mention any alternate worlds or cultures. It's main advantage over any other weapon design book is that it lets you design any weapon that might have been, or could be, not just that is historically accurate. Want to give the Babylonians basic gunpowder and see what weapons you can make when bronze is still the main material, go ahead... Or to design weapons for a huge and strong alien race with different priorities in weapon design to humans, again, this is possible.
Amongst the weapons it covers are: virtually all firearms, through black power, cased, caseless, electro-thermally enhanced, liquid propellant, etc., missiles and grenades of all types, lasers, masers and particle beams (although it does not really differentiate between charged and neutral particle weapons), railguns (aka coilguns and gauss guns), bows, crossbows, and other siege weapons, any melee weapon (except some really advanced ones, sadly) and others. The weapons it does not cover are perhaps more easily listed; I have seen no rules for flamethrowers (not really, you can use the gun rules a bit), and the rules some weapons are there, but a bit skimpy.
3G3 simplifies weapon damage down to what is basically energy over area, and thus the damage you get from the system will always reflect penetration more than actual weapon-target energy transfer. Thus a light, needle-like high-velocity round will do more damage than a slower, heaver, larger and more deformable one. The game generates a pretty full selection of stats for the weapons through, including velocity, and if your game seperates penetration from tissue damage, you can still work it out.
You are probably thinking that such a system is math-heavy, and it is. Furthermore, it requires a scientific calculator, though 99% of those people reading this have one built into the accessories of their OS, so that shouldn't be a problem (though not with as many functions as, say Fire, Fusion, and Steel for Traveller:TNE did). However, I am a certifiable "math klutz", with supposedly below average math skills, and I could handle 99% of the system, as examples are given constantly, and one can almost always check one's working on these. There were only a couple of minor points I didn't "get", more on those later. The system is very good and the parts of it feed into one another. My weapon design skills rapidly increased as I became more familiar with the book, to the point where my first rambling and complex design took perhaps 3 hours, but another later design took more like 25 minutes (and remember, I suck at most math). With a spreadsheet and/or copies of the design sheets in the back of the book this could be reduced to a matter of minutes. Apparently, if you order the online version, you get the spreadsheets necessary with it, so that sounds like a good deal.
The book includes conversions to a large variety of systems, the quality of which is variable. For instance, the book converts very well to GURPS (making it an ABSOLUTE must-have for time/reality travel games), but suprisingly poorly to Cyberpunk 2020, as they decide to re-write the Cyperpunk 2020 damage system instead of taking it into account, and do so very strangely (they appear to have read books like Chromebook 2, but do not take the damage of weapons in there inot account). Instead of relying on CP2020's figures as a guide to what should be, they use a stupid log function to create a damage curve, which is absolutely incompatible with CP2020's SP/SDP system. They do say this is only an option at least, and you can still convert weapons over manually much more accurately. The rest of the system/setting conversions vary, but are generally pretty good. (apart from FUZION, for the same reason as Cyberpunk 2020). I will list the settings/systems conversions at the end of the review.
I found virtually all the systems to be agreeable and understandable, save two. Firstly, firearms reciever length's example seems to be wrong, and the whole part is generally odd. I will write it out here, perhaps someone can explain it to me...
"The reciever length is equal to the propellant/projectile volume ratio, times the projectile diameter (in cm), times two, with a minimum of two times the projectile length for single shot weapons and revolvers, and 4 times the projectile length for other actions."
Yet the example is: A 9mm bullet with a 2:1 powder/projectile ratio would have a semi-auto reciever length of 0.9 x 2.0 x 4.0 = 7.2cm.
Bolding is my addition.
WTF? How does this example relate to the calculation given in the paragraph above? At NO time in weapon design does one calculate the propellant/projectile volume ratio, nor does it tell you how (though even I can work it out, eventually), nor does the figure appear to have any function on the above calculation, nor is projectile LENGTH mentioned _at all_ in the example. I cannot understand HOW the propellant projectile ratio (which is not a proper number, rather a ratio) could be part of the equation at all. In computer game terms this would be called a "bug", and I do not know what to do about it. I get around it by ignoring the propellant/projectile ration in the calculations, but this does not seem like a great solution.
My other quibble is more minor, being: why the heck do batteries waste 80%+ of their power when transfering it to capacitors or superconductors? I can see how some would be lost by resistance or turning into heat or electromagnetic waves and so on, but such large amounts seems unlikely, especially if the weapon is not being "direct-charged", but allowed to charge at whatever rate works most effeciently... I have a couple of other minor quibbles, but they are easy to fudge and not such massive problems (both are with reliability calculations).
Overall I would say that 3G3 is great for any GM designing a new setting or new weapons for virtually any system (not just the ones mentioned), but has it's limitations, and requires imagination and time to use properly. I would highly recommend getting the online version, as the spreadsheets would help calculation speed and accuracy alot. It allows the creation of almost any weapon you can think of, and even has systems for creating weapons which only exist in certain games, like Battlelords of the 23rd Century. If you only run a system like, say, Vampire or AD&D however, there is very little point. It is easy to read, has an index, glossary (with illustrations) and has useful sidebars, so I give it 4 for design, and is very useful, but has minor quibbles and so gets 4 for content.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)