Equipment lists are the core of many sci-fi RPGs. For some types of game, a gun is a gun and it does gun things. For others, the mechanical difference between a snub-nosed autopistol and flechette pistol can create interesting optimization problems. If a game is about gear, the gear should be interesting.
In a standard game, you're exchanging one resource for another. Money, time (in the form of rarity or difficulty of acquisition), weight, stealth. Bonuses to accuracy, penalties to damage. Flexibility or specialization. Optimization lies in finding areas where the exchange, or a series of exchanges, creates a favourable outcome at a lower than expected cost.
Optimization is sometimes pointless; the problems a character is optimized to solve may not be the problems a group encounters.
Most games with gear lists have the basic/obvious tools covered. In long-running game lines (like Traveller or Fantasy Flight Games' Rogue Trader), the same tools might be published multiple times. I think Rogue Trader has three or four different "temporarily fake your own death" drugs; it's a problem-solving tool authors clearly thought players needed.
The tools below are systemless and should fit in any generic sci-fi setting. They're tools I think a group would find useful, or that I'd be pleased to see on a list, but that I haven't seen in a published book. This doesn't mean they're unique (I can't possibly have read every gear list), but at least they're interesting. If I was sensible and had the time, I'd turn this into a 'zine or something.
Ranged Weapon Upgrades
Janus-Pattern Rail Barrel
Replaces the barrel of any standard chemical propellant weapon (or equivalent) with a stacked-core railgun, and the weapon’s magazine and/or stock with a high-density power cell. Sabots must be muzzle-loaded, but a single railgun shot when a target is expecting a low-velocity slug can provide an edge in high-staked engagements. Barrels are guaranteed for 3 shots (in atmosphere) or 12 (in vacuum).
Uses proprietary Chrono-Shift ™ Technology to provide a visible superposition of all possible futures, weighted by probability. See where your enemy will be a half second before they move.
Note: prolonged use of Chrono-Shift ™ Technology may result in paranoia, degraded reaction times, headaches, nausea, sixth-finger syndrome, and glaucoma. Chrono-Shift ™ Technology is illegal in the New Netherlands. Speak to your local arms dealer to find out of Chrono-Shift ™ Technology is right for you.
Hammerton-Smythe Non-Lethal Agony Rounds
A mixture of red
gelatin, calcite crystals, mild but highly soluble neurotoxin, and
foaming agents. Hammerton-Smythe prides itself on realistic fatal wounds
with consistently non-fatal effects. Our motto: “Experience Mortality”.
Available to fit most shotgun-style chemical propellant weapons, or in a
handy 3-shot disposable pistol.
Thanks to an exclusive partnership with Demon Lord Buxogspan Mulcifent, the soul of any mortal slain with a Hexbound Bullet will be sent to the Hell of Unlimited Scorpions* for a time period not less than one eternity.
*Unless otherwise engaged. Some restrictions may apply.
Neon Tracer Epoxy
Everyone knows the adage, “Tracers work both
ways.” If you’re going to be visible, why not be fashionable? Send a
streak of neon goodness. Leave your mark on the battlefield.
Currently Available: Arc, Blood, Obsidian, Prismatone.
Discontinued: Blacklight, Faefire, Glitter, Spiral.
Suitable for high-calibre chemical weapons or
grenade launchers, the Fellaporter is a premium payload for the
discerning bounty hunter. On impact, the round opens a 2m spherical
wormgate to the paired receiver. Range is 1km in ideal conditions.
For best results, do not use a Fellaporter within 10km of any other active Fellaporter (or other wormgate device). Ensure receiving antenna has a clear line of sight to the target. Do not store Fellaporter rounds near bismuth. Do not look directly at the Fellaporter impact site. Ensure everything you intend to teleport is within 2m of the impact site.
A three-part highly endothermic chemical mixture in a convenient delivery package. Freeze up to a litre of room-temperature water in an instant. Damage against conventional or armoured targets is minimal (compared to standard rounds), but unconventional targets are in for a nasty surprise. WARNING: do not damage a Kryo-Lok Kapsule. Remove the protective casing before firing. The manufacturers are not responsible for catastrophic cascades that may occur if Kapsules are loaded improperly, damaged, heated, or exposed to ultrasonic vibrations.
Tuneable Ray Gun
Now with 7 settings!
1. Radio. Send an aggressive morse code message, track a target’s speed or distance, or temporarily jam a comm-link.
2. Microwave. Gently warm something polar. Scramble badly built electronics.
3. Infrared. Gently heat something.
4. Visible Light. A handy flashlight.
5. Ultraviolet. Illuminate suspicious stains,
6. X-Ray. Extensive exposure may cause mild burns, sterility, or cancer.
7. Cosmic Ray. Completely undetectable by most equipment, and equally harmless to most terrestrial life.
Melding Beam - Quantum Foam Shotgun
Take a failed prototype for a jump-capable torpedo, flip it around, add a trigger, and give it a coat of paint. The Melding Gun opens a wormhole foam between a focal point 1m from the barrel and a point 50m distant. Anything along the line is mixed in sub-mm pockets. The effect is hampered by metal, but is catastrophic to most other materials. Misfires in high-energy environments are tragically commonplace.
Posthuman Combat Brick
These handy little devices turned up in a shipment of kapok, and we're selling them at a discount because, quite frankly, they creep us the fuck out. The shipping label says they came from a warehouse that doesn't exist, and that our head receiver was the one who requested them, but our head receiver died in a tragic fusion core accident six months ago and we haven't appointed a replacement.
ANYWAY! This fist-sized brick of inert metamaterial seems to transform the violent intent of the wielder into direct action. Even the most advanced armour offers no protection. If you can hit someone with this brick, they'll feel it. Available while supplies last, which could be a while as the crate seems to refill itself.
Omniversal Hydroid Headhunting Rig
So simple a feral ghoul-bot could manage it. Simply remove the sealant sticker, apply the base plate to the neck stump, attach the fluid clamps, and flick the green switch. Get answers from beyond the veil. (Answers not guaranteed). Interrogate meat for up to a minute! Works on any reasonably cranial stack from a Core or Core Adjacent species.
One tube per 100kg of target flesh. For best results, ensure target is completely immobile and all circulation has ceased. Patch any large holes with adhesive plasters (sold separately). Adjust pose. Inject tube(s) near the centre of mass, then stand clear. Remove polymer chrysalis and metabolic debris. Display your new trophy in a tasteful and legally acceptable manner.
Delbond Instant Flashtape
When you want to go from accessorized to weaponized in the blink of an eye, use Delbond Instant Flashtape. At your electronic command, the tape disintegrates into carbon weave and nitrogen gas. Shed an outfit on the red carpet, surprise a partner, or sabotage a drogue chute.
Facial Recognition Serum
The human mind contains specialized pathways for recognizing faces. A single dose of FRS permanently enhances these pathways. Users will never forget a face. Camouflage loses some effectiveness. Assassins can no longer rely on shadows and mirrors. Use of FRS as a paranoia-inducing toxin is not recommended by the manufacturer.
Two tubes of dried and pulverized hallowed and unhallowed earth and an automatically adjusted silver mixing bowl and spreader. Each package creates up to 1m3 of ground that is, theologically, neutral territory.
Rest-Frame Gyro Pack
Prevent, or at least diminish, unwanted acceleration. The faster you move, the faster the gyros spin, converting velocity into heat and noise. While the gyros can't stop you from falling (at 1g, at least), it can reduce impact speed to a manageable level. Extended use may melt the gyros. Temperature warning lights will activate as core temperature rises. Ensure the pack is switched to "inactive" before boarding a vehicle, or set the activation velocity to a suitably high value.