I’ve got Shadowrun on the brain again. A friend of mine who is putting a character together asked for an overview of all the different ammo types in the game, and on my last Shadowrun Armory post someone asked me if I was ever going to get around to talking about grenade launchers, so once again, here’s a short break from my usual writing about my own games to talk about weapons in the 6th world.
Other Shadowrun Armory Posts
In this post I’ll go over grenade launchers, grenades (in more detail, since I touched on them under Throwing weapons as well), missile launchers and missiles, and all the different kinds of ammunition you can get for your firearms.
Shadowrun Armory: Ordnance
Bog-standard grenade launcher. This is your basic, cheap (but still a grenade launcher, so you know…actually kind of expensive) frag-thrower, with an included smartlink to make sure the payload drops where you want it to. It’s not bad if all you want is an emergency bit of extreme firepower, but the slow rate of fire and internal magazine mean that it’s not the most versatile of weapons. If it’s what you can afford, it’s fine. If you can afford better, get the MGL-12.
With the release of Street Lethal, the Antioch-2 is no longer the cheapest grenade launcher on the market. The Terracotta X-6 MGL costs 1,200 nuyen less and does almost everything the Antioch-2 does, which in my mind makes it the premiere entry in the low-end frag-thrower market. Get that instead of the Antioch-2 if you’re looking for a cheap but effective launcher, is my advice.
This one is a beauty. Twelve minigrenades in the magazine, which you can fire semi-auto at whatever you think needs to be put down. That fast action means you can put three grenades downrange in one initiative pass, which is a hilarious amount of firepower for a shoulder-mounted weapon. The external box magazine also means you can switch out grenade types more easily, letting you pick and choose what ammunition you want to use depending on the situation. The MGL-12 is in all respects a much better choice than the Antioch-2, but is also almost twice as expensive, clocking in at 5000 nuyen. If you can spare the cash, this is what you want to have.
Why does the art for this weapon have an obvious bullpup clip? It’s a single-shot barrel-loaded launcher…
Artistic issues aside, the 82A1 is actually a decent piece of hardware. Not as accurate as other dedicated grenade launchers, and it only carries one shot, but it’s also less than half the price of an Antioch-2. It’s more concealable than a normal grenade launcher, too, which is something a smart shadowrunner could take advantage of. My suggestion is to buy this if you only really need that single-shot emergency grenade, but don’t want to spend 3,500 nuyen on an underbarrel launcher for your main weapon.
Terracotta X-6 MGL
After Ares, Terracotta Arms may be my favorite weapons manufacturer in Shadowrun. The X-6 MGL doesn’t carry as many grenades as the Antioch-2, but it’s 1,200 nuyen cheaper, which is a damn good chunk of change. The Armtech MLG-12 is strictly better by virtue of carrying twice the number of grenades, but you really can’t beat that price. Also, it’s got a cylinder instead of a magazine, which means you can put an ammo skip system on it and get to pick and choose exactly which round you want to throw out whenever your initiative pass comes around.
Flash-Bang (Core): Keep a brace of these around for suppression and capture. The flash-bang in the Shadowrun core book should more properly be called a concussion grenade, and while it won’t knock everyone out for you it will supply them with enough wound penalties that you should be able to pile into the room and clean up. Alternatively, toss in two, to make sure your target hits the ground. Note that flash-bangs, unlike explosive grenades, have a flat radius of ten meters, which means that you don’t have to worry as much about how you place them–everyone in the radius is going to get hit the same.
Flash-Pak (Core): Tape one of these to the front of your drone, or one to your helmet, and enjoy the benefits. Be very careful about how you place them, because they can screw with your vision just as easily as they blind your enemies.
Fragmentation (Core): Your basic hand grenade. Better against soft targets, but it’s still pretty damn good against everything you’re liable to throw it at. It’s got the largest blast radius of any grenade type, so keep that in mind–you’re going to want to get these further away from you before they go off.
High-Explosive (Core): More armor penetration and less blast radius, the HE grenade is a much more focused device than your standard frag. Useful in tighter quarters where you don’t really want to bounce shrapnel everywhere.
Gas (Core): THESE ARE SO USEFUL. Fill them with neurostun, or pepper punch, or nausea gas, or seven seven if you’re feeling nasty, and strap on your gas mask. There are so many ways to use gas grenades that it’s impossible to list all of them here, but I personally have used them to clear rooms silently, empty cars, disperse crowds and surprise thieves. Get your hands on some weird chemicals and get creative–they’re cheap enough that you can afford to experiment a bit.
Smoke (Core): Always carry some of these around with you. If you have proper sensors, you’ll be able to see through the smokescreen, and if your enemies don’t have thermal or ultrasound that means you’ve got a fantastic advantage.
Thermal Smoke (Core): Even better than smoke, but you have to be sure that you’ve got ultrasound before you pop it. Or be in a situation where you don’t really need to see. Great for giving you cover or a distraction while you escape.
Paint (Run & Gun): These are marketed as a cheap way of defeating invisibility spells or marking someone for later pursuit, which is absolutely true. I imagine they’re a staple of riot cops everywhere. I personally like to take the paint out and replace it with something like Ultra Glide, which turns it into a slick area denial device. Toss one behind you as you run away, and enjoy a good laugh at the ensuing slapstick.
The Striker is cheap for a missile launcher, even considering you can only use it once. If you’re a shadowrunner on a budget (and what shadowrunner isn’t?), this is probably what you’re going to end up buying if you want to start using missiles. I’d suggest strapping an external smartlink to the top, even if you end up throwing it away with the launcher, because you really don’t want to miss your shot with this thing.
This is a very good, reusable rocket or missile launcher. If you’re firing rockets out of it, turn on the smartlink, because again, missing with one of those things means you’re out quite a lot of nuyen. It’s expensive, but everything about missiles and rockets is, and the double barrels bring a lot of firepower to the table.
Onotari Arms Ballista MML
Run & Gun
This thing is surprisingly cheap for what it is. The indirect fire feature brings a lot of new options to the table, though it does mean that this platform can’t launch rockets, only self-guided missiles, which means your ammunition is going to be a lot more expensive. If you were planning on using missiles already I’d suggest getting this instead of the Interceptor.
M79B1 LAW Rocket
Whether or not you want to buy this launcher is actually a really easy decision. Were you at any point considering getting a Striker loaded with anti-vehicle rockets? If so, get this one instead. If not, get something else.
Honestly, this launcher is so cheap that if you have some extra change rattling around in your pockets you might want to pick one up just for emergencies. Keep it in your getaway car and really ruin someone’s day with it.
Phalanx Systems Vogeljager II Missile Launcher
This missile launcher is very good in very specific circumstances, providing you with great bonuses to firing sensor-tipped missiles at airborne targets and large penalties to doing literally anything else with it. It’s also surprisingly, incredibly cheap for what that nuyen gets you. Don’t let that price tag lure you in too much, though. The missiles are still expensive as hell.
If you were considering getting a missile launcher but were put off with the cost, I highly suggest you get a Vogeljager. And then weep as you remember that missiles cost at minimum 2,500 nuyen for a bird so dumb it can’t even recognize the broad side of a barn.
Anti-Vehicle (Core): Mad expensive, but oh lordy, that damage is nice, and the armor penetration is unmatched. Like the name says, use them on vehicles.
Fragmentation (Core): Better against soft targets, and the cheapest rocket available. Fragmentation also has the biggest blast radius, so if you need to suppress a large area tossing one of these out the door will certainly do the trick.
High-Explosive (Core): The AV rocket’s little brother. Less damage, and less armor penetration, but also less damage falloff and less nuyen. The HE rocket is obviously meant for hard targets, but honestly, if you’re firing missiles at vehicles you should probably splurge on anti-vehicle rockets, because you’re going to need the armor penetration.
There’s a lot of different ammunition types in the game. I’m going to sort them by rulebook.
APDS: This should be one of the ammo types you always, always, in every situation, have on hand. If your gun isn’t loaded with this at all times, you should at least have a magazine or two ready with it, because when the heavy corpsec guys come out you’re going to need that armor piercing. APDS cuts a quarter of the armor off your average security trooper, which is absolutely crucial when you’re stuck in the thick of it.
Explosive: The fact that they can explode inside the gun if you’re really unlucky is a bit of an issue, but for the most part these rounds are fine. If you can’t afford APDS, get yourself some boom-boom.
Flechette: This is one of those situation-specific things. If you’re using a shotgun, or you’re going up against an enemy that doesn’t have armor (like feral ghouls or something), then by all means, load up with flechette rounds. I wouldn’t use them against opponents with modern armor, though.
Gel: I personally like gel rounds, mostly because of the knockdown effect they tend to have on people. If you have Run & Gun, gel rounds also have a number of very nice called shots you can make with them, to further increase their non-lethal utility. Between gel and stick-n-shock, the shock rounds are probably better in most cases, but if you’re hitting a lighter target then gel rounds will do the trick just fine.
Hollow Point: Ehhhh…explosive rounds are better, and only ten more nuyen per set of twenty. While I like the flavor behind hollow points, and I get where they’re supposed to fit in the pantheon of ammunitions, I don’t think they’re really worth it.
Regular: Only use this stuff if shooting is so far removed from your main job that you can barely handle a gun, or if you’re loading it in a weapon that would otherwise be impossible to keep fed. Otherwise, upgrade.
Stick-n-Shock: This is the good stuff. Less damaging, sure, but it cuts through armor and better yet drops the target’s initiative, which makes using them against security forces a no-brainer.
Tracer: Usually I’d suggest getting a smartlink system on your machine gun instead of using tracer rounds. However, there are some fun things you can do with them that aren’t necessarily obvious. First off, they’re the only exception to the rule of one ammo type per magazine, which means you can mix them with APDS or ex-ex to essentially make those ammunition types a little cheaper. Second, you can combine them with a laser sight to get smartgun accuracy without giving enemy hackers anything to latch on to. A proper smartgun system is still better, especially if you set it up so you get +2 dice in addition to the accuracy boost, but using tracer rounds in that big full-auto-only piece is still a good way to spend a little less nuyen keeping it fed with more expensive ammunition.
Run & Gun
Ex-Explosive: Oh, yes. This is the only ammunition I might consider using instead of APDS for your serious firefights with serious opponents. It’s damn hard to get your hands on, but once you find a way to source it ex-ex will bring all the thunder you need.
Frangible: This is a very specific ammunition for very specific circumstances. You probably shouldn’t be using it, unless you’re having a firefight in a museum or something and you really hate breaking precious artifacts.
Flare: I could see myself keeping one or two of these around. Don’t use them in a firefight, obviously, but if you get jammed or lose your commlink then having a signal flare might be useful.
Tracker: You don’t need these for what they bring to the table in a fight. You need them for all the situations where being able to find someone you’ve shot might be a good idea. They’re expensive, so maybe don’t get many of them, but they’re damn nice to have if you’ve got the nuyen.
Capsule: Load with DMSO and narcoject, is my advice. These rounds are great for holdout pistols, letting your backup piece punch outside its weight class with a dangerous chemical payload. Also, if you’re going up against HMHVV-infected like ghouls or vampires, you can load capsules with powdered silver, wood pulp and soy paste in order to trigger their allergies and make them a lot easier to deal with. Or if you’re facing down a berserker, load them with bitters (from Chrome Flesh) to knock them back to sensibility. Or load them with stimulants and pretend you’ve got a healing gun. There’s lots of uses for these little paintballs. Keep in mind that they use light pistol ranges no matter what you’re using to fire them, though, so you probably want to load something else into your sniper rifle.
Depleted Uranium Rounds: Depending on how much you know about depleted uranium rounds in real life, you may or may not enjoy the absurdity of how they’re portrayed in Hard Targets. If you can find them, and if you can afford them, they’re still probably not worth the time and expense when you can pick up hand-loaded APDS for so much cheaper. If you really like the idea of armor-piercing setting-people-on-fire cancer bullets, though, I’d only suggest buying them if you use a sniper rifle or shotgun, or maybe pistol. You want a hard-hitting single-shot weapon that won’t burn through a ton of this very expensive ammunition.
Hi-De: Short for “high-density,” these rounds are undetectable by magnetic anomaly detectors, which means you can walk them through your average security checkpoint. They’re a bit less useful than normal rounds, but having any bullets in a place where you’re not supposed to is a definite advantage. If you have a gun that’s invisible to scanners, get some hi-de to go with it.
Hand Loads: There are some different numbers given for this in the book. My interpretation is that if you hand load bullets yourself it costs +10%, while if you get someone else to do it it costs +25%. If you have the Armorer skill, you should absolutely be hand loading your own ammunition, especially if you’re a shotgun, sniper or pistol expert. For automatic weapons, maybe not, but if you’re a serious and dedicated fighter than you have no excuse to not have your best stuff be custom-made. Statistically, you’re better off building these for damage rather than armor penetration.
Silver Bullets: Keep some on hand for werewolves, obviously. This is one of those situational things.
Subsonic: These are nice for stealthy situations. If you’re using them with a silenced weapon (and you should be), people are going to have -6 to Perception to notice your gunshots, which means that your average corp security goon isn’t going to hear you at all.
Wood Pulp: See the section on silver bullets, except replace “werewolves” with “vampires.”