RULES FOR SIGNAL DEVICES
The category “signal devices” includes a broad range of flares, star signals, and sometimes even whistles and radar reflectors designed to aid in rescue, sending a signal to begin an operation, or warn friendly forces of imminent danger. They can range from hand-held flare tubes to rocket-powered signals to ground-based devices with tripwires meant to catch enemy troops that are entering a friendly area of control. Most hand-launched devices are simple tubes that are discarded once fired; others are shells that are fired from specially-designed pistols (referred to as “flare guns” or “signal pistols” here) or sometimes grenade launchers. Hand-held devices are usually flares or smoke, and are normally used to signal rescuers, dropped on the ground, or (in some cases) thrown into water. Most launched devices, whether tube launchers or signal pistol shells, are designed to leave no trail, so they cannot be visually back to their launching point; some do produce such a trail, and some do it by design (these are usually warning signals).
Flares: These are very bright lights that are generally launched into the air, but may be hand-held. They are very bright, visible from long ranges, and typically have longer burn times. Some deploy parachutes when they actuate, slowing their descent and in game terms increasing their burn times. Most use white light, but some use other colors. A flare on the ground will cause dry objects or wood to catch fire 0-4 phases after they light (roll 1D6-2).
Star Signals: These signals also deploy bright signals, but the signal is more of a bright but localized light rather than illuminating an area. Star signals (also called “star shells,” particularly when launched from a signal pistol or grenade launcher) usually come in colors rather than simple white light, though white-light star signals are by no means unknown. Like flares, star signals can cause fires if they land in dry areas or in woods, though the chance of this happening is 0-3 phases (roll 1D6-3).
Smoke: Smoke is, well, smoke. Most (but not all) smoke signals are orange, and are usually hand-held devices; few are designed for launching. Virtually all use non-flammable compounds and will not ignite dry tinder or items. Unlike smoke grenades, these signals are not designed to produce obscuring smoke; most have short burn times and produce relatively thin smoke.
Radar Reflectors: These signals are composed of a chaff packet that spreads when the payload bursts. They are primarily meant to allow a signal to show up on friendly radar and therefore aid in a rescue, but they also have a secondary use as a decoy for enemy radars.
Whistles: This is a loud, high-pitched whistle designed to get attention, scare enemy troops, or ruin an enemy’s hearing for a short time (or any or all of the above).
Size: The size of the device or shell; this gives the players and GM some idea of the size of the device they are carrying around. (It also helped me figure out costs…) Virtually all such devices are cylindrical, and the first number should be treated sort of like the caliber of the device.
Burn Time: This is how long the signal burns, in seconds. Smoke signals generally take triple that time to totally disperse; chaff devices have a second number under the Burn Time that shows how long the dispersion of the chaff makes the radar return useless.
Burst: The first number listed here is the “direct burst” radius; i.e. how wide an area is directly illuminated. The second number shows how far away the flare or star can be seen for signaling purposes; this will usually say something like “4K” meaning “4 kilometers.” Some of the signals listed will have three entries under the Burst entry; this means that the signal has some other effect such as chaff or a whistle, and that third number is the range at which that signal can be heard, picked up on radar, etc.
Altitude: This is the maximum altitude the signal will reach when fired, provided the signal is fired straight up. Trigonometry fans, have fun here; I was a History major and will just guess at other angles of fire. In some cases, the signal is not designed to be fired straight up; in this case, the Altitude rating is more like a “Range” rating.
SIGNAL PISTOLS AND LAUNCHING DEVICES
Caliber: This is the caliber of the signal pistol or launcher in millimeters, measured by the bore size. Like most firearms, the bore size of the signal pistols are not necessarily exactly the same as the nominal caliber, but they are close enough to launch the nominal bore size shells of appropriate size. Though some launchers, particularly pen-type launchers (where the launcher is simply a small tube and the round screws or latches in the end of the launcher) have a proprietary design, in general, signal pistols of similar nominal caliber can launch shells of the same rough caliber, regardless of origin. Some particular examples include 26.5mm signal pistols, which can generally launch shells of 25-27mm; and 37mm and 38mm signal pistols, which can launch shells of 37mm-38mm. Note that virtually no signal pistols can launch grenade launcher rounds, even those that are 40mm, though certain 37mm, 38mm, and 40mm signal rounds can be fired by grenade launchers of the appropriate caliber.
ROF: This is the rate of fire by Twilight 2000 v2.2 rules; this will almost always be SS (Single Shot).
AND NOW YOU WANT TO USE YOUR SIGNAL DEVICE AS A WEAPON
The problem is that Twilight 2000 is an RPG and not a movie. I’ll grant you that both have a large element of unreality, but for purposes of these rules, we’ll try to throw in as much reality as possible (and then translate it into game terms).
The problem with the typical signal device (even shells fired from a signal pistol or launcher) is that they fire low-velocity rounds that take a long time to arm and actuate. Thus, unlike you might see on movies or TV, they are unlikely to hit your opponent and then ignite him into a blossom of fire or even go off when they hit him. They are equally unlikely to even penetrate the clothing or even skin of the typical human being. Therefore, the best you might hope for is to hit your opponent hard enough to knock the wind out of him, or hit him in the head hard enough to crack his skull.
So here’s a quick and dirty rule that will suffice for most such cases: take the caliber of the device, divide it by 10, round off, and that’s the number of points of damage your opponent will take if you shoot him. Body armor of any type will prevent any damage from being done. (Even if your opponent is wearing a backpack and you hit him there, the projectile will just bounce off and not hurt him.) Range for the shot is equal to the Altitude figure, again divided by 10; in addition, all shots are one level more difficult at short range and two levels more difficult at any greater range.
An exception to this rule is hand-held flares. These can be waved at an opponent; they will cause damage to the opponent equal to the caliber divided again, but in dice, not points; this is burn damage. Hit probability is calculated using Melee Combat (Armed) rules, but hit rolls are one level more difficult. They are also 25% likely to ignite the opponent’s clothing on fire. Unfortunately, they tend to go out rather quickly…