Thursday, 2 May 2019

Weapons: Crewed Infantry Support Weapon (CISW)

The 15/25mm CISW (Crewed Infantry Support Weapon) was developed by a Belgium company, although inspiration was obviously drawn from the much earlier American XM307 [High Tech 4e p.144]. As is not unusual in the THS worlds, a number of companies produce similar or identical weapons, with or without license.
The CISW is an infantry support weapon designed to be used by a two-man crew. The gunner carries the launcher with the fire-control system (35 lbs, Bulk -7). The assistant gunner carries the tripod and ammunition. Additional ammunition may be carried by other squad members. The CISW is also mounted on some robotic combat systems.
The CISW is an e-mag weapon so there is no muzzle blast nor flash. The e-mag system allows rounds of differing calibres to be fired without modification to the weapon. The CISW can fire either 15 mm “kinetic” rounds or 25 mm explosive grenades. The CISW provides a unit with both an automatic grenade-launcher and a heavy machine gun.
In grenade-launcher mode, the weapon can be used against personnel in the open or behind cover, and lightly armoured cybershells and vehicles. Machine-gun mode gives increased hit probability against airborne and fast-moving targets.
The CISW has dual-feed. Usually the left port is used for grenades and the right for bullets. The feed modules can be exchanged or two of the same type fitted.
The tripod is made of very lightweight materials but includes the three D cells that power the weapon, so weighs 17 lb with these in place.

Kinetic Ammunition.
The finned kinetic rounds are known as “bullets”, “slugs”, “solids” or “fleche”. The latter is French for “dart” or “arrow” but the rounds are often mistakenly referred to as for “flesh”. Kinetic rounds are available in the usual THS bullet options available for other bullets [THS 3e p.157; THS:CT 4e p.64], the exception being those that would result in a plastic and non-magnetic round.
The relatively light weight of the weapon limits how much recoil it can handle. RoF in machine-gun mode is 7, Rcl 2. Semi-automatic and five-round burst settings can be used in machine-gun mode. Muzzle velocity of 15 mm projectiles is 900 yds/sec. AP: 7d x 2 (2) pi++.
Kinetic rounds weigh 0.1 lbs each, including feed links. A 100 round belt weighs 10 lbs.

Grenade Ammunition.
Grenades are usually either HEMP (Dmg: 6d x 3 (10) cr + linked 2d cr ex [1d+1]) or thermobaric (Dmg 8d cr ex inc.), or a mix of the two. Grenade fuses are programmed just before firing. Options included impact/point detonation, timed-airburst or airburst with impact override. Impact mode has the options of superquick detonation or variable (programmed) delay. Airburst mode is achieved by a timer and the fuse includes an accelerometer to compensate for velocity variations due to head or tail winds. This also compensates for the grenade being slowed by passing through cover or vegetation. Airburst includes a “window” option that detonates the grenade 1.5 yards beyond the lased distance. [HT 4e p.144]
Each grenade weighs 0.3 lbs. Self-destruct is 24 seconds after firing. Grenades are loaded by a 30 round drum-magazine, (often called a “can”) that weighs 10 lb loaded.

Max ordinate for grenades a standard/subsonic velocity is 100 yds/430 yds. This may limit use of the weapon within large buildings.

Time of flight to 2,2000 yds at standard/subsonic velocity is 9 secs/21 sec.

In addition to the HEMP and thermobaric rounds, two training rounds are available. The first is an inert warhead fitted with a small tracer element. The second is a flash-bang munition (HT-3 aff (5yd.)). This variant may also be used as a less-lethal weapon to deter mobs. Threat as a small stun grenade [HT 4e p.193].

As a grenade-launcher the CISW has a standard and subsonic velocity setting. Subsonic mode is mainly used when high-trajectory, indirect fire is needed.

Standard grenade velocity 450 yds/sec. Standard velocity arming distance 35-55 yards.
Subsonic grenade velocity 250 yds/sec. Subsonic velocity arming distance 20-40 yards.

The light weight of the weapon limits fully automatic mode with grenades to RoF 4. In practice semi-automatic fire or two-round burst mode is more commonly used. 

The CISW fire control system (Acc+1) includes day, night and thermal vision with 1-6x video magnification (Acc +1 or +2) and recording. The fire control system uses a laser rangefinder to determine the correct range setting for airburst. The system also has a coincidence optical system for targets that cannot be easily lased. The fire control program can distinguish between different target types such as troops in the open, entrenchments, windows or vehicles. The operator or his AI can override the automatically selected fuse or distance settings.

Many nations have brought the weapon but the number of units sold has been modest. The weapon is most suited for company-level dismounted operations, which are not common outside of training exercises. Most actual dismounted combats on the THS worlds involve platoon-size or smaller units. More powerful or capable vehicle-mounted support weapons are often available so CISW are seldom unpacked.
The relatively long minimum range of the grenade-launcher also limits its utility in some environments.

Operating a CISW uses GUNNER (MACHINE GUN) skill or DX-4 or other Gunner skills at -4. Values on table given for APS-equivalent 15 mm ammunition. 





Min. Range







CISW 15mm MG.

7d x 2 (2) pi++










Grenade standard vel.











Grenade subsonic.











Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Memory Cubes, Cards and Holodisks.

Following my blog adding some depth to the subject of energy cells, I thought I might give a similar treatment to that of storage media.

Transhuman Space 3e p.141:
Portable data-storage units are teradisks (TDs). Each holds 10 TB and is the size of a sugar cube. $5, 0.01 lb. Old holodisks are still used on cheap machines (new systems can also run them): each holds 1 TB. $1, 0.01 lb.”

It is feasible that “disk” may become a generic term for storage media of any form. (I still promise to “tape” films for my girlfriend!) If you feel this may be confusing, alternate names for TDs include info-cube, memory cube, data cube, holocube, teracube, archive block, teradice, info-die, memory crystal, information crystal and so on. 

I am making the assumption that “size of a sugar cube” also implies that it is of a similar shape too. Incidentally, 0.01 lb is 4 grams, about the weight of a sugar cube. A cube is a space-efficient shape for a storage medium.
Sometimes it is impressive what you cannot find on the internet! A credible statement of the dimensions of a sugar cube proved elusive. The claim a sugar cube has a volume of 4.93 mls gives a cube of 17 mm sides, which seems on the large side. Not having any sugar cubes handy, I examined some dice of similar size and decided to make a memory cube 14 mm across. Like many dice, a memory cube may have rounded corners.

I am assuming the memory cube is a holographic storage medium, so is made of transparent material. It is possible an actual holographic media will just look like glass. For TS we might as well add some glamour and say its interior is iridescent with rainbow hues and some get used as ornamentation rather than their designed function. The surface of the cube can be engraved for identification. Readers automatically compensate for such legends or any other surface scratching.

There are a number of ways to read a cube. Many computers and similar devices have a reading deck, with a “glass” area on its upper surface. A cube is placed on a deck and the lasers and sensors beneath the glass read it. A basic deck has a “window” about an inch across. Better decks have a window of several inches and can simultaneously read more than one cube or card. Decks are also compatible with some other devices. More mobile computers have a small drawer into which one or more cubes are placed for reading. Such readers are preferred to decks in microgravity or weightless environments.

Memory Card.
One of the drawbacks of the memory cube is that it is a cube, making it too bulky for some applications. A memory card or “wafer” is a 12 mm x 1.2 mm square with rounded corners. The edge of the card is reeded to make it easier to handle. A card resembles a slice of memory cube, although its sides are actually a shade shorter.
Many designs of memory cube reader can also read memory cards. For a deck the card is simply placed on the reading surface. If a device lacks a cube reader compatible with cards it may have a dedicated card reader instead.
A memory card holds 0.85 terabytes (850 gigabytes) and costs $1.75. Price often varies with local availability and can be as low as $1 or higher than $3. It would be misleading to simply think of a memory card as the 2100 equivalent of a micro-SD card. A memory card can hold a lot of information in a very compact space, facilitating many other applications.

He held the tiny square of glass up between finger and thumb:
This is what you have been waiting for! Everything about the target. Floor plans, blueprints, personnel files, patrol schedules, everything!...there was a bit of space left, so I put some music and recipes on there too.”

Holodisks are an older format of storage media that is still widely used. It would be unusual to find a Fifth Wave household that does not have at least one holodisk player.
A holodisk resembles a modern CD or DVD disc, but is transparent. Like CDs and DVDs it must be spun for reading and has a 15 mm central hole for this purpose. Material intended for the developing world or less advanced regions is often placed on holodisk.
Two sizes of holodisk are commonly encountered. 120 mm diameter discs hold 1 TB of information and are the same size as an old CD. 80 mm diameter discs are handier for many applications and are correspondingly more common than other sizes. An 80 mm disc holds 0.42 TB/ 420 GB. Standard holodisk readers are designed for both 120 mm and 80 mm discs.
A holodisk reads from the centre outwards so any size less than 120 mm but usefully larger than the central hole is possible. 100 mm discs are sometimes encountered, and more rarely discs of 25-40 mm diameter. Non-standard sized discs may need to be placed in an adapter to be read by certain players. An adapter resembles a 120mm disc with central well of appropriate size.
Many holodisk readers are backwards compatible with non-holographic optical discs such as the various forms of CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. This capability may be useful for historians and other researchers. Sadly many optical discs produced in the earlier decades of the century have exceeded their shelf-life and deteriorated with time.
Cheaper holodisk players, or those intended for specific purposes, may lack compatibility with optical discs. Pirated copies of players may claim compatibility but be variable in performance or non-functional for such discs.

Playable/Interactive Cards.
In some communities etiquette demands the exchange of physical business cards. Playable business cards are popular in such circles. A card can be played by placing it in a normal holodisk reader. Content is usually promotional material and web-links.
Since a holodisk needs to be transparent it has limited applications for business cards. Playable business cards instead use optical disc technology so they have can have a reflective side and a printed side. Cards may also use other storage mechanisms such as magnetic stripes, OCR characters, barcodes or QR codes. Hence they are sometimes referred to as “multi-media” cards. The optical storage capacity is a relatively modest 4 GB but this is adequate for the sort of content usually placed on cards. It is not possible to incorporate a memory wafer into a working playable card. 
Playable cards see other applications. A musical group might promote itself by handing out cards. Content would include sample tracks, videos, a calendar of future appearances and web-links. Cards are also used as coupons, for loyalty schemes, as hotel room keys and for some security passes.

Media Applications in 2100.
One thing to understand is that storage media are used less in 2100. If someone wants a book, film, music track, game or program they will download it directly from the web. Many people do this already, but by 2100 this will be the norm. Buying such items on a physical media would be unusual.

It is always prudent to have a back-up, however. Most Fourth or Fifth Wave citizens have at least one cube holding back-up copies of important or valued files. Cubes are readily available, reasonably priced, take up little space, immune to EMP and resilient against many other threats.

Residents in the more distant space colonies cannot access the internet as readily as citizens of Earth or Mars. They have to download from more local sources. Visiting space vessels often carry a few cubes with the latest InVids, slinkies and any other information updates a community might want. This can include anything from celebrity gossip to the latest research papers. A pound or so of update cubes can be a compact but highly lucrative cargo. It is not unknown for a packet vessel to be used solely as a transport for just a consignment of update cubes.

Cubes, cards and discs have to be read by a reader. Storage media not inserted into a device cannot be read remotely. The only information it broadcasts is its v-tag, if any. Information on storage media is therefore “air-gapped”, so cubes and other media are often used to store information that is too sensitive to leave on a machine that might be remotely accessed.

Similarly, cubes and other physical media are used to move information that one would not wish to transmit across the web.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Murder in Reno.

Reno, Nevada, USA, Earth: 6th March 2100:

A gen-yu-iyne locked room mystery!” Carter announced.

Pretty much!” agreed Chang. “Cameras show no one leaving all night. Keycard log confirms it.”

Cameras and records can be hacked...”

True, but we also have views from independent cameras out on the street. Need to be very thorough to remember to hack those too. Besides, the door is visible from reception and the desk guy would have seen anyone entering or leaving. He is sure that he would have noticed if the two girls had come out. Real lookers!”

Marcon the Master Illusionist lay dead on the king-size bed. He had been tied to the bed and smothered with a pillow, so suicide seemed unlikely, even for someone of his talents.

Carter sighed. “Anything missing?”

Yeah. He had a list of valuables logged with his insurance company. He had an expensive watch and some good jewellery. Those are gone, as are a number of other items that could be easily pawned. No cash found in the room either.”

You said 'girls'?”

Also listed as valuables. A pair of matched female bioroids, 'Mia' and 'Pia'. They were his assistants. Blonde, attractive, what you would expect. They went into the room with him last night, were not here when the body was discovered.”


Yup. Lots of illusions use identical twins. Magicians often buy matched bioroids.”

Hmmm. Anything else interesting about them?”

Umm...double-jointed...extra flexibility...extended breath-holding ability...can dislocate joints ...ouch! Designed as contortionists. They need those for some other tricks.”

Carter began to grin. “I know it is a cliché, but for once I think someone actually did escape via the ventilation duct!”

Sunday, 13 January 2019


The term “future city” conjures up images of vast urban expanses filled with towering skyscrapers and neon. A “megacity” is defined as a city with a population of ten million or more. With a current world population of more than 7.5 thousand million it is perhaps surprising that the Earth has only 47 megacities. The majority of these are in Asia, with other continents having only a handful each. North America, for example, has only three megacities, Los Angeles, New York and Mexico City. By 2100, the era of Transhuman Space, the population has reached 11 thousand million. Many current megacities will have gotten bigger and it is reasonable to expect that a few more cities will have grown to megacity status. It is probable that there will not be that many more, however. TS Fifth Wave tells us that many of the world's largest cities are undergoing something of a decline as technology removes the need to live in such conditions. The majority of the world's population are still likely to be living in areas other than megacities. Transhuman Space offers some interesting alternatives such as arcologies, space stations, floating communities and undersea habitats. This article suggest some features for more conventional urban areas that are not megacities.
A friend of mine has a pet theory that the ideal size for a city is a million or less. He has yet to explain to me how population growth beyond this would avoided. Forced resettlement would not be practical in many nations! His figure does not figure in population density, geography, infrastructure and other relevant factors either. He did, however, inspire me to do some research.
The modern day UK (67 million people) has 94 cities of between 100,000 and 1 million. London is a megacity but the other cities are much smaller. Very few UK cities are between 1 and 10 million in size. Looking at this for the US is a bit harder due to the differing definition of city. An “incorporated area” is not really representative and I am not sure “metropolitan area” is much better. About two thirds of metropolitan areas did seem to be under the million mark, however.
The technology of 2100 will have had an influence on living patterns. For many workers it will no longer be necessary to physically commute into a place of work. Living in smaller communities and working from home will have become commonplace. This will become true even of some “physical” jobs. It will be possible to telefactor to cybershells and other devices.
A company or corporation no longer needs to be situated in a major city or megacity to conduct business and have influence. Some corporations may prefer to base themselves in smaller cities, effectively finding smaller ponds to be the big fish in. Just as many towns now revolve around a single industry, mine or factory, so some small cities in the future may be similarly distinguished by the corporation centre present.
The trend away from megacities may be a useful boost to many smaller communities. We may indeed see most of the population spread across communities of a million or less. Many of these areas will grow from existing towns and cities. Some communities, however, will be new creations, and these are more likely to be different to what we are used to now. This will include communities that are created on Mars or the other worlds and moons. Such new communities or new areas of older communities are a fresh slate so we are more likely to see new concepts in city design applied to them. 

A system likely to be utilized is the “fused grid” system. The city is divided into “quadrants” of about 400 metres to a side. This gives an area of 16 ha/ 40 acres and a quadrant can be traversed on foot in around five minutes. The quadrants are separated by twin roads for motor traffic. Most quadrants are residential with park areas. A interesting variation is that in each block of four quadrants one is partially or non-residential. This quadrant would have shopping areas, industrial and office concentrations or large parks. Each such area would be bordered by and be within easy walking distance of eight residential quadrants. In addition to this, the areas between the twin roadways bordering quadrants are utilized for high intensity uses such as schools (where they still exist), hospitals, community facilities, sports stadiums, high-density housing, hotels and retail. Numerous pedestrian/cyclist bridges connect quadrants and intra-road “reservations”.

Residential quadrants are mainly park areas and housing. Design strategies such as “new pedestrianism” are likely to be applied to quadrants. Buildings are designed to face onto pedestrian walkways and cycle paths. Cycle paths are also used by rollerskaters, skateboards and similar. Many cities have communal or rental bike schemes. Certain low-speed, low emission powered vehicles such as disability scooters are also permitted on cycle routes. Many households have a Christiana trike, useful for picking up groceries or ferrying the toddlers to daycare. Pedal-powered vehicles may have a small electric booster motor for assistance on hills or extra speed when needed. Speed restrictions apply on routes shared with pedestrians. In some communities ro-peds in electric mode are allowed on cycle paths if they have a speed restriction program active. Recumbent e-bikes or e-trikes with aerodynamic fairings are an alternative mode of fast transport. The better models have gyro-stabilization and other high-tech mod cons!
Conventional motor vehicles within a quadrant are usually restricted to roads or alleys behind the buildings. Many buildings are built around courtyards or along cul-de-sacs. Such features lend themselves to the establishment of gated communities or controlled areas if desired.

TS Fifth Wave p.23 notes that ownership of private motor vehicles has decreased. This will probably vary with region and local conditions, however. In the US and some parts of Asia owning a motor vehicle is still a status symbol, no matter how impractical it is becoming. If a resident of a quadrant wants to visit a more distant quadrant there is usually a variety of public or hired transport that can be easily and economical utilized. Computer traffic control allows even some public transportation systems to pick up a passenger on request. Just order transport from your wearable, VII or comppanion and it will tell you where and when to meet your ride. Within a typical quadrant the motor vehicles most likely to be seen on the roads are municipal or delivery vehicles. Where residences do have a garage it is more likely to hold an assortment of pedal-vehicles and perhaps a ro-ped or two. Often garage spaces are repurposed. The small size of a quadrant means that many have a communal parking structure for cars in or under the quadrant. Residents and visitors park in this area, knowing their destination is within a few minutes walk.
Conventional traffic is mainly along the twin roadways between quadrants. Where these twin roadways cross others the intersections utilize traffic roundabouts to keep traffic flowing. GMs should bear in mind that such areas can be put to various purposes. Some have monuments, fountains, duckponds, sculptures or floral displays. They can also be stations for surveillance cameras and drones, parking spots for police vehicles or store areas for automated emergency systems.