28 July 2019

Cutting Problem

Light Sabers and Variable-Swords are two science fiction weapons which really captured my imagination as a youth.

GURPS: Ultra Tech has stats for both.

The light saber is called a force sword (Ultra Tech p. 166) and it does 8d(5) burn damage.

The variable sword is called a stasis switchblade (Ultra Tech p. 164) and is does sw+1d+R(10) cut damage.  R is equal to the currently set reach and can be from 0 to 30, but is only valid at that reach.  ie with it set to 30 you still only get +5 on the person five hexes away.  The cutting power is also dependent on the strength of the wielder.  The average Joe with a 10 ST is going to do 2d+2(10) cut at a bastard sword length of R 2.  Typical fighter ST of 12 will up that to 3d(10) cut.

I cannot find the rules for how to just cut something so don't really have a basis to compare them for cutting power absolutely.

But I do have some real world tools from High Tech to give some relative cutting power comparison.

A TL8 chainsaw (High Tech p. 27) does sw+1d cut.  2d cut for ST 10 and 2d+2 for ST 12.

A cutting torch does 1d+3(2) burn per second.

A plasma torch does 3d+6(2) burn per second.

It becomes difficult to make a fair comparison because of the armor divisor, or not.

Because inanimate objects are unresisting, I think we can assume max damage every turn.

Substances with a low DR make the armor divisor not matter much.  A DR 1 substance, like 1" of wood, gets attacked pretty much with just the dice of all five tools here.  Because wood is combustible, we have other things to check when using the cutting torch and force sword.

1" of mild steel, however, has a DR of 56.  The stasis switchblade gets treats it as DR 6, the force sword as DR 12 and the cutting and plasma torches as DR 28.

The chainsaw cannot hurt it.

Hmmmm, it appears that our torch can't cut 1" mild steel plate.  There might be other rules I'm missing here, because I know you can cut 1" mild steel with a cutting torch.  The "per second" rule might treat it as a cumulative deal where you're doing the damage and eventually wearing through; so four turns of max damage to get the DR melted then another 7 to get the 1-hex hole cut.

Alternatively it could be add 4 seconds of cutting time for every application of max-damage to the material...  Then it would take 35 seconds to make a 1-hex hole.

For the plasma torch, 2 seconds to eliminate the DR and two more to finish the hole.  Alternate: 9 seconds to make the hole.

The stasis switchblade with a ST 10 wielder doesn't have the "per second" qualifier so they will have to penetrate the DR every time.  With 14 points of damage every turn, 6 will be lost to getting through that DR every turn so 8 damage every second and 8 seconds to make a 1-hex hole.  The ST 12 wielder does just two more points per turn, making their hole in 6 seconds.

The force sword does it's damage every second like the cutting torch when being used as a tool.  the DR 12 is penetrated in the first second leaving 36 to damage the plate and the next second completing the 1-hex hole.  Alternate: still two seconds.

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