Magnetically Accelerated High Energy Missile (MAHEM) System

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by Tom Stephens


The MAHEM system was developed by the Saurians in their fight against the Sathar. It uses strong magnetic fields to propel molten metal, typically iron, to high velocity. As the metal leaves the "barrel" of the launcher and enters the vacuum of space, the outer layers of the metal bolt freeze harden into a shell while the core stays molten. Upon impact with the target, the shell ruptures and the molten metal penetrates the hull of the target and splashes around on the interior causing significant damage.

The MAHEM system is long and large, measuring a full 60 meters in length and 3 meters in diameter for a total of nearly 450 cubic meters just for the barrel. Thus any ship that uses this system must be at least 60 meters in length to accommodate it and the barrel would run the entire length of the ship. It is a forward firing weapon roughly equivalent to Assault Rockets but slightly more deadly.

The construction and operation of the MAHEM system is a closely guarded Saurian secret. In order to prevent the system from falling to the Sathar's hands, the Saurians built a failsafe into every weapon system constructed. When a ship containing the MAHEM system is destroyed, or on command of the crew, the MAYHEM system will self-destruct. It does this by releasing a small amount of metal into the chamber, and then going through the firing sequence. However, instead of ejecting it as a fired bolt, the metal is released into the housing of the system, destroying the electromagnets, computers, and other systems by melting them into slag. This self-destruct can be triggered without damaging the rest of the ship if necessary.

While no image of a MAHEM system is available and the Saurians keep even the schematics close to their chests, they did provide us with a scan from their archive of one of the early notebook sketches of the general design.  It doesn't have any details on it but shows the basic idea of the weapon's operation.

Use in the Knight Hawks board game

In Knight Hawks game terms, the MAHEM system is Forward Firing, Moving Player Only, and Limited Supply. It has a range of 5 hexes (50,000 km) and does 2d10 points of damage. It has a flat 60% chance to hit against any defense type as none of the defenses have any influence on the weapon. It is purely a kinetic weapon.  If using the lower to hit chances with player skills, the base chance is 45%. Because of the MAHEM bolt's high speed, ICMs only get a -5% per ICM deployed against it.

If using the advanced combat rules and the Advanced Damage Table, roll twice on the table for the effects of the MAYHEM system, once with a -15 to the die role and once with a +15. This represents the penetrating power of the weapon and the subsequent internal damage it does to the ship as the molten metal is spattered around inside. If playing with just the basic combat rules, increase the damage done from 2d10 to 3d10 to represent this increased damage.

When rolling on the Advanced Damage Table, the MAHEM system is damaged whenever a damage roll calls for Assault Rockets being damaged. If a ship is designed with both assault rockets and the MAHEM system, assume the MAHEM system comes before the Assault Rockets in the damage table.

MAHEM KH Game Statistics

Restrictions:  MPO/FF/LTD

Range:  5

Damage:  2d10 (advanced rules), 3d10 (basic rules)

Attack:  60% (45%)

ICM:  -5%/ICM

Damage Table Modifier:  two rolls – one at -15 and one at +15

Optional Repair Rule

The MAHEM system is somewhat delicate and can be knocked out of alignment and lose effectiveness. If desired, the referee can simulate this as described below. This variation represents the inability of the combat repairs to fully align the electromagnets that propel the metal bolt and control the intense energy field that liquefies the metal.

The system functions correctly until the first time it is damaged in combat. If it takes damage and is then repaired, it does not achieve full functionality after the repair. After repair, the weapon has its range reduced from 50,000 km to 30,000 km (3 hexes) and it only receives one roll on the Advanced Damage Table with no modifier instead of two rolls. If playing with the basic rules, the damage is reduced from 3d10 to 2d10.

After being damaged a second time, the MAHEM system cannot be repaired during combat. The only way to repair the weapon back to full effectiveness is at a shipyard, regardless of whether it was damaged once or twice in combat.

Use in Starship Construction

When building ships using the MAHEM system, it has the following characteristics. (Note:  the mass isn't used in the KH system but if you want to incorporate the MAHEM weapon into some other system it is provided for reference.)


Minimum Hull Size:  3 – While the minimum hull size is 3, the ship has to be a longer than an average HS 3 ship to accommodate the longer 60m length of the weapon system. In addition, a larger portion of the ship's interior volume is taken up by the weapon. Typically this is mounted on at least a HS 4 ship.

Volume:  450 m3

Mass:  1200 tons

Cost:  75,000 cr

Computer Program:  level 3, 8 function points


A ship can carry one ammo charge per hull size.

Volume: 40 m3

Mass: 80 tons

Cost: 1,000 cr (it's just a lump of iron after all)