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A Beginner's Guide to Laserburn

A Beginner's Guide to Laserburn What is Laserburn? Laserburn is a classic first generation science fiction

What is Laserburn?

A Beginner's Guide to Laserburn What is Laserburn? Laserburn is a classic first generation science fiction

Laserburn is a classic first generation science fiction skirmish / role-play game using 15mm or 28mm miniatures figures. It was written in 1980 by Bryan Ansell, who later went on to produce the Warhammer 40K rules for Games Workshop (borrowing many of the original ideas from Laserburn in the process). The Laserburn rules and supplements are still published by Tabletop Games, and available in the UK and US from various outlets (see below)

What is a Laserburn character?

The Laserburn rules involve the creation of characters as in any other role playing game. These characters have three basic characteristics - Combat Skill, Weapon Skill and Initiative. These are determined by rolling dice (D6). Each character also has a number of unique or specialized skills ranging from nerves of steel to martial arts. Again the number and level of skill is determined by rolling a dice. All skills can be improved by gaining experience points during a characters game life. (This is expanded in the ‘Advanced laserburn and Aliens’ supplement, where statistics such as intelligence. Intuition, strength etc are rolled for and are used to calculate WS,CS)

What sort weapons and equipment are available for my character to use?

Each character can be equipped with a range of advanced weapons including laser weapons, gyro weapons, simple slug throwers, grenades, force swords, power gloves and more unorthodox weapons such as sun guns, conversion beam projectors and needle guns. The diversity of weapons and equipment in Laserburn is one of the strengths of the system. The character can also be equipped with a range of armour from simple flak or mesh to a full suit of dreadnought armour - a bit like a walking tank.

What happens in a typical game?

In a game, the characters face a range of potential enemies controlled by the game's referee. Usually, they will be set a series of tasks to accomplish as part of a scenario or linked series of missions. These might include mercenary operations, bank raids, commando style attacks or assassination assignments amongst other things. In completing these missions, several of which are available as full scenarios published by Tabletop Games, the characters will face many opponents, from fanatical Redemptionist revolutionaries to

Imperial combat troops or colonial police. A typical game might involve from two or three to twenty five figures or more, depending on the scenario in play.

How does the game work?

The game mechanics involve each character moving and acting according to their Initiative, with higher initiative scores giving faster movement or action. When a character wants to move or take an action e.g. firing, picking up an item or diving for cover, he may do so when it is his turn. Firing and hand to hand combat is resolved by using the character's Weapon or Combat Score as a base number, modified according to a table of variations and then resolved by throwing a D100 (percentage dice). If a hit is scored a further roll is made for location, penetration of armour (if the target has any) and effect. Again, further modifiers can affect the outcome of the hit or miss e.g. use of force fields, armour malfunctions and so on. It sounds long winded but actually the system is very quick once you get used to it after a couple of games.

What is the background to the Laserburn rules?

The rules include a background setting, which is similar but different to the Warhammer 40K universe, but really can best be compared to a Spaghetti Western in space. Some people like to stick with it whilst others just use the rules as a basis for their own settings, perhaps based on comic book characters like Judge Dredd or Strontium Dog, both of which have strong similarities to parts of the Laserburn background.

Are there any supplements to the basic rules?

Yes. There is a set of Advanced Laserburn rules, which tried to make the basic game into a full role-playing system but without much success. Most gamers have not adopted the advanced rules, which include some alien races and other modifications, as they tend to detract from the superior aspects of the original, basic rule set. Not recommended.

However, there is also a series of booklets adding additional detail to the Laserburn background. The first of these is Forces of the Imperium and this sets out the organization and characteristics of Imperial units in the Laserburn universe. A second supplement, Robots, covers different types of robots, androids, cyborgs and so on. Both of these supplements are valuable additions to the basic rules and are worth getting hold of.

Finally, there is a mass combat set of wargame rules for larger battles called Imperial Commander. This is a very good set of rules and adds a lot to the basic game, giving a completely new angle and level of play. It is possible to use Laserburn characters in Imperial Commander, allowing your heroes to take part in full- scale battles between the Imperial Forces and the Red Redemption. Highly recommended.

What about scenarios?

There are four published scenarios available for Laserburn. Each scenario consists of one or two simple A5 booklets, giving details of plot and characters and a set of A4 floor plans for use in the game.

The first scenario is called Bunker 17 and involves a mercenary team infiltrating an Imperial fortress to assassinate an Imperial general and re-program a computer defence system. This scenario is available along with the basic rules and a set of Tabletop Miniatures 15mm figures, as a starter set from Leisure Games and Tabletop Games.

The second scenario is called Sea Prison Siege and is a description of an Imperial prison complex for use in an ongoing campaign, although there is a scenario suggestion for a prison raid to release captive comrades.

The third scenario is called Tarim Towers Heist. This centres on an armed raid on a high-rise, high security housing complex with several unexpected plot twists and turns along the way.

The final scenario is called Sewerville Shootout. This is an underground mission to track down and eliminate a terrorist revolutionary faction hidden in the sewer complex of a mega city.

All of the scenarios are different in style and setting but they can be recommended as well thought out and entertaining games. If you want to start somewhere with Laserburn then one of these scenarios would be a

good kick off point for a campaign, especially Bunker 17, which is available as a starter pack including 15mm figures from both Tabletop Games and Leisure Games.

Finally, there is a Fighting Fantasy style solo game book for use with Laserburn called Scavenger. Although not much use unless you are a solo gamer, it does contain a lot of background detail and flavour for your own campaigns.

Where can I get the Laserburn rules and supplements?

The easiest way to get hold of the Laserburn rules in the UK is from 15mm.co.uk, who stock the full range ready for quick delivery. The range is also available from Tabletop Games or from an online supplier such as Leisure Games, or Spirit Games (see the links section for details). In the US the Laserburn range can be obtained from Brookhurst Hobbies, it is worth checking Ebay for laserburn items, as they occasionally appear for sale.

Does anyone make miniatures for Laserburn?

Yes. There is an extensive range of 15mm miniatures designed specifically for the Laserburn system available from 15mm.co.uk (recommended) or Tabletop Miniatures in the U.K. As yet, TTM do not have a stockist in the US but they are able to ship goods to the EU. Alternatively, Ground Zero Games (GZG) produce a range of 15mm figures and vehicles which may be used in Laserburn or Imperial Commander games.

See the Photos section for images of Tabletop Miniatures Laserburn figures).

Where can I find out more?

Check out the Messages on the A Few Gonads More yahoo group. Feel free to ask any questions you may have about the Laserburn system.

Are there any free supplements?

There is a wealth of free supplements and maps/ extra weapons available from the files section of the ‘afewgonadsmore’ yahoo web-group, or directly downloaded from :


Happy Gaming.