This will be another article that adds more detail for an item only covered briefly in the official publications. This one will be about the hand-grenades encountered in Transhuman Space. Hand-grenades are actually quite a broad subject so this topic will be covered in several parts. This initial part will describe explosive hand-grenades, later posts detailing chemical and specialized grenades.
According to the original 3rd edition rulebook (p.159): “A standard grenade in 2100 weighs 0.1 Ib. costs $5, and is treated as a 30mm warhead (see Smart warheads p. 158): all types except SEFOP are available. Use Throwing skill to throw a grenade: see p. B49. The distance a character can throw a grenade is ST x 3 yards. A grenade is Holdout +3.”
And (p.158): “All [warheads] have smart fuses, programmable through augmented reality as long as the shooter has a virtual interface or is a cybcrshell. It takes 2 seconds to reprogram one or more warheads in a weapon.”
Externally, the mechanism of a 2100 grenade would seem perfectly familiar to most 20th century soldiers. There is a pin or tab that must be pulled out and a safety lever, spoon, trigger or large button that must be held down until the grenade is thrown. The pin or lever may not detach in many models, but the basic mode of operation has not changed. In addition to these basic controls most modern grenades also have an additional button. This is the reprogramming button. The program of a fuse cannot be changed by an interface unless the programming button is held down. When not depressed the button physically isolates the grenade’s receiver circuit. This feature prevents an enemy from remotely hacking grenades and, for example, setting all fuses to zero delay.
Default setting for most grenades is 4.5 seconds delay. The electronic fuses used are more reliable and more consistent than those of earlier eras, so detonation will nearly always be in the 5th turn after throwing. Many models have an impact setting and this may be the default instead. As a safety feature the impact mechanism does not arm until a second after the safety level releases. If not triggered by an impact the grenade explodes after four or more seconds. The delay in arming allows an impact-fused grenade to be bounced-off a wall, around a corner, or off the ground for an airburst. These settings may be reset by interface.
Time delay can be reprogrammed. Zero delay is used for booby traps. Most electronic grenade fuses can be set for any value of 0 to 9,999 seconds, giving a delay of up to 2 hours, 46mins and 39 seconds.
The rules for smart warheads allow for a proximity mode and IFF. This is not available for standard grenade fuses. Some models can have a sensor module added. This is usually used to convert a grenade into a booby trap or mine.
Many grenade types do not need such sophisticated fuses. Some chemical grenades have a conventional lever and pin mechanism but the fuse is not programmable and has a pre-set delay. Munitions intended for signalling or other non-bellicose purposes often have a simple ring, tab or loop that is pulled for ignition.
Powerful explosives such as octoniuocubane are widely used for grenades in 2100. Theoretically this could be used to make very powerful, highly destructive hand grenades. In practice the utility of a hand grenade is limited by its danger area. Above a certain limit, hand grenades are too dangerous to their user so see little use. Instead, the advantages of modern explosives have been used to create small, lighter grenades, allowing the soldier to carry more.
Physically an explosive grenade from 2100 is about the bulk of a golf ball. Making them any smaller makes them difficult to manipulate.
Common types of explosive grenades are:
Fragmentation Grenade: The general workhorse of “pocket artillery”. Preformed fragments or related technologies ensure a predictable casualty radius. “Frags” are simple, versatile and effective. A 2100 fragmentation grenade does 4d cr ex [1d+1] damage.
Concussion Grenade: An underappreciated weapon, concussion grenades are designed to minimize fragmentation. While their lethal area is smaller this makes them more useful in situations where range is short or cover for the user is limited. Their proportionally higher explosive content makes them useful for improvised demolitions and destruction of equipment. Concussion grenades are designed to not produce dangerous fragments, but debris and friable items in the vicinity of the blast may act as fragments. A 2100 concussion grenade does 4d+2 cr ex damage.
Modular Fragmentation Grenade: A fragmentation grenade designed with the fragments in a removable sleeve. In the past fragmentation sleeves were issued to turn concussion grenades into frags and make them more lethal. The modular grenade reverses this, in that a fragmentation grenade can be converted into a small concussion grenade for situations were a frag has too great an effect area. Damage with the sleeve fitted is 4d cr ex [1d+1]. The explosive core on its own is treated as a concussion grenade with damage 2d+2 cr ex. A core throws the same distance as other THS grenades, its lighter weight being balanced out by its low density. An alternate sleeve containing additional explosive can be fitted to a core to create a standard power concussion grenade, although this is unlikely to be done during actual combat.
HEMP Hand Grenade: The rules given only prohibit SEFOP hand grenades and a HEMP grenade is theoretically possible. In order to ensure the hollow charge is directed towards the target this would need to be a stabilized hand grenade similar to RPG-43 (High-Tech 4e p.192). There would be a -5 to Throwing skill for users not familiar or well-practised in using such grenades. The GM may rule the HEMP hand grenade is not general issue and a rare item. In 2100 mini-missiles fill a similar role more effectively. A HEMP hand grenade is only likely to be useful to someone who for some reason cannot carry a mini-missile launcher: an agent, terrorist, guerilla or operator. HEMP hand grenade: 6dx3 (10) cr + linked 2d cr ex [1d+1].