Waaaaay back when I first started to write major changes to the rules, a custom weapon creation system was one of the three things I was going to toy with. Things kind of spiraled out of control from there since then. Let's take a look at the state of the Weapons rules post-Weapon Builder.
The General Stuff
Weapons work mostly the same as they used to. They have a range, their own accuracy and penetration bonuses, and so on. The only really big things to keep in mind are two:
1) Every Weapon type does something by itself. Exceptional Aptitudes are gone, their abilities integrated into the Weapons themselves. Some of these abilities were changed though.
2) Penetration is no longer rolled - so Tension only benefits Accuracy now. Armor is clearly still superior, but there's more counters to go around now.
The customizable templates for each type of weapon all differ, they all have special abilities or drawbacks with their own UP costs too.
Custom Weapons can cost from 1 to 5 and if you want to give them powerups beyond the 5 UP cap, you must give them drawbacks so that their cost remains at 5. You cannot make a weapon with drawbacks if it costs less than 5, though. Cheap weapons are meant to be filler or backups, not overpowered one-use tricks.
I'll explain how the barebone templates stand next to each other and then list their prebuilt weapons. All of the Premade Weapons featured cost 5 UP, and cannot be modified through the Weapon maker.
The Four Types
Melee gains an Advantage when used during Duels or to Engage them, they start off with the strongest stats and get a discount on several purchasable abilities such as Reliable or Remote. Their drawback is, of course, a lack of range, plus not having many drawbacks to customize with.
All-Out Attack: Much like its previous incarnation, but slightly stronger.
Divine Wind: You sacrifice an Area and Level of Threshold as normal, but this time the Accuracy is equal to the UP in the Area and the Penetration is twice the Threshold lost.
Ensnaring Wires: Has better stats to make trapping enemies easier, and now they have to try to break free during their own Turns.
Gallant Kick and Radiant Fist: These two got their writeups reversed, I feel it makes more sense for the Kick to be the Ultimate Finisher after long duels, and for the Energy Punch to grant full Accuracy excess bonus like Beams do.
Ballistic grants an Advantage when you sacrifice your Move and sit down to aim instead, they have decent range and a variety of range-based drawbacks plus the usual, old ones. Their raw power is the weakest, but their conditional Advantage is the more reliable of the bunch.
Armor Breaker: Now it takes out all of the opponent's Armor until they are Maimed. It also benefits from better stats as well.
Resonance Cannon: Now a Technique instead of a One-Shot. It instantly destroys a single Threshold Level when it deals at least 1 Damage, but has terrible stats and needs to be set up otherwise.
Riot Weapon: This little guy hits all in a straight line instead of being a Blast, and has the Penetration to back it up.
Long Rifle: Modified to now represent a sniper rifle better, with a scope that makes for better Aiming too!
Heavy Machinegun: Still equally prone to jamming as it is to dealing extra damage.
Beams get full roll-over excess accuracy bonus as penetration, but otherwise are all-rounders with decent range and a variety of both abilities and drawbacks. Just be careful to not go too high with Energy costs.
Incinerator: Creates Extreme Terrain where it fires.
Giga Blaster: Still the most preposterous Weapon in the game.
Ground Zero: Still crazy powerful, now with adjustable range.
Lux Cannon: Autohits at no surplus with moderate Penetration, can be augmented with extra Energy.
Disruptor Cannon: A Blast that nerfs other Energy Weapons or Upgrades in the area of effect by increasing their Energy costs.
Missiles grant an Advantage when they are used close up, though they also start off with the highest base range of all weapons and get a discount on Blasts. Their main drawback is the inherent tension to being able snipers but wanting to be used from close up - but not too close, because they lose the Advantage at Range 0.
Bombardment: A remake of Reaction Bomb, hurting everything in an area for a flat 1d10.
Interference Cloud: Denies Tension bonus for a Round to everything in the area of effect.
Genius Missile: A recharging missile that gets better at tracking the same enemy with every subsequent shot.
Micro Missiles: These let you skip rolling dice now, counting Advantages as flat bonuses to Accuracy. Only One Shot.
Nega-G Rounds: Rewritten Air Rods.
And now, some Numbers
The following data is assuming we take these Weapons against Enemies that mirror our own Enhancements, meaning for each Evasion or Armor increase they happen to get, we have the same Accuracy and Penetration bonuses too. Obviously actual PCs (and NPCs) are going to go off those rails, they will sometimes use Weapons that don't quite work and sometimes use Weapons that counter specialized defenses amazingly well, real targets are going to get Threshold Enhancements as well, and finally Weapons have in-built Advantages to help out either against high Evasion or full rollover for high Armor targets adding to their tactical value.
Generally speaking, things like that either substract or add 1-4 Rounds of life.
Weapon Types without any sort of Drawbacks stand around the +2 Acc and 2 Pen ratings on average, going up to +3 Acc and 6 Pen if being more extreme about it. It does not sound like much, and it isn't, but they're acceptable basic all rounders and can reliably finish off an Enemy somewhere between 8 and 10 Rounds.
The Types skirt around 8-13 UP in drawbacks that can be 'gamed' more or less safely, which is about +3 Acc and 3 Pen for the four kinda sorta, going up to +6 Acc and 12 Pen for specialists that sacrifice the other stat with Melee and Missiles at the higher end of the curve. This means the Weapon itself is spammable, or at least repeatable without jumping through lots of hoops (It can be a 1 Energy Beam with very low range, or a long-range exclusive that Recharges and shoots every other turn) using said Weapons will take out most Enemies in 5 or 8 Rounds depending on how effective they are.
Of course outliers are going to exist. This is using vanilla generated Weapons without any fancy stuff, in the real game there will be Incinerators and Armor Breakers and Genius Missiles. Nevermind that this does not take Genre Powers (or Energy-based Defenses) into account at all. Two glass cannons with no defenses whatsoever going all-out at each other from the start can take the other out in three hits, and a guy with topped defenses who sacrifices their own attack power will take around 15 Rounds if we don't have any good weapons ourselves.
Melee makes you a close range monster, but you can be a midrange guy
too if you slap an energy cost of 1 or 2 on top for up to a Range of 6. Bullets are pretty much
always useful, but they're weak and do better when you're supporting your team. Beams are overpowering against everything (that they
can touch) if what you want is an all-range non-stopping beam based
offense, and they can be resupplied easily - for some UP. Missiles are the
best at the medium to long ranges, and the best versus dodgetanks in
So What is the Deal?
Ultimately this means the math is more transparent and less arcane, which is good news for everyone. There is a lot of variance though, and you can still optimize situations tactically, but the playing field is more even to keep things exciting and dynamic in places other than the character creation section. There's no win buttons and no easy mode buttons either (at least not without teamwork), but there's plenty of ways to get back on your feet when things don't look good.
More importantly, it is easier to tailor your own weaponry and defenses to suit your needs and your concept. Balanced stats for protagonist-wannabees are actually a good idea now, but if you want to specialize it is easier to do so without being afraid of hidden pitfalls. You mark your own limits, after all.
Sometimes things might sound like I'm taking away people's toys but I'm
only making it easier for everyone to see which are the toys they
actually want. It is always more fun if you can take anything, but not everything.
Speaking of making things more exciting and dynamic, Genre Powers changed a lot before I even realized it. And because they're super important, they'll be the subject matter next post.