Perfectly cromulent battle tactics (image source)

The theme for this month in the secretive cabal of GURPS bloggers is “fire or heat”, so I figured I would do something a bit different from my usual dungeonnesque fare and adapt Melta weapons from Warhammer 40K to GURPS.

Hasn’t that been done already? Yep! Many times, often for the whole of 40K rather than just one weapon, with results of varying quality. A quick search for “gurps meltagun” brings in this this thread in the SJ Games forums as the top result, and there are a whole lotta others below that. My only excuse for doing this is the Full Metal Jacket adage: “There are many like it, but this one is mine.”


These bulky weapons fire short-ranged beams of concentrated heat with an effect similar to the blast of a shaped charge. They use canisters of highly compressed exotic gasses as ammo, which account for about a third of their considerable weight. There is pretty much no reason to use one of these instead of a good anti-vehicle missile, but the Imperium of Man never cared for reason.

A meltagun can punch through most personal and vehicular armor and cause grievous harm to the soft bits behind it. If you miss, though, your target will be in a prime position to shoot back or charge at you1.

Melta weapons come in several varieties:

Inferno Pistols can (barely) be fired with one hand, using Beam Weapons (Pistol). Their effective range is a bit shorter than that of your typical video game shotgun, which is quite a feat.

Standard Meltaguns are fired using Beam Weapons (Rifle). They do the same damage as inferno pistols, but have greater range and more shots per canister.

Multi-meltas, as the name implies, basically consist of several meltagun assemblies bolted together. The resulting weapon is huge and heavy, with a heat so intense it produces a 3d burn “backblast” that affects the shooter and anyone standing up to 2 meters behind them. For these reasons it’s usually either carried by large people in powered armor, mounted on vehicles, or attached to shielded tripods. In the first case it’s fired with Beam Weapons (Rifle); in the others with Gunner (Beams).

All melta weapons halve their armor divisor past 1/2D, and are affected by spaced, laminated or electromagnetic armor as if they were shaped charges.

TL Weapon Damage Acc Range Weight RoF Shots ST Bulk Rcl
9^ Inferno Pistol 6dx2(10) burn 3 10/30 3kg/1kg 1 3(3) 11 -4 1
9^ Meltagun 6dx2(10) burn 6 30/90 6kg/2kg 1 5(3) 12† -6 1
9^ Multi-melta 6dx5(10) burn ex 12 100/300 40kg/15kg 1 12 (5) 18M -8 1

Design Notes

Like Perfect Organism did over on his forum thread, I started by looking through Ultra-Tech in search of already existing weapons that would be similar to Warhammer 40K’s melta weapons. The plasma flamers on page 127 of that book looked almost promising, but look both too weak and too slim to fit the bill. The root of the problem is GURPS Ultra-Tech assumes a universe that makes sense, even when describing superscience. But this is Warhammer 40K! Nothing makes sense!

So in the end I took inspiration both from the plasma flamer stats in Ultra-Tech and from the melta weapon stats in the Only War corebook. Then I pulled the final numbers of out the Warp. The end result is even more insane and less realistic than UT’s plasma flamers, but that’s what the superscience tag is for.

Pricing these monstrosities is left as an exercise for the reader. If you’re playing in the 40K setting or somewhere similar, cost doesn’t really matter, since the people most likely to use these weapons will have them issued by their bosses. In other settings they’re perfect as the inventions of a pyromaniac mad scientist or the like. If they are available commercially, they should be expensive, and in all of these cases their Legality Class is no better than 1.

  1. If you hit and your target is still standing, then you’ve just angered something that can stand up to melta-guns. Good luck surviving!