"For instance, did anyone EVER miss with phasers in the original Star Trek? I don't think they did. They were flashlight beams and basically impossible to avoid. They could fail to work, but they pretty much always hit. That's very different than in Next Gen, where you get fire fights with people hiding behind cover and such."
Excuse me while I look around for the closet trekkies/trekkers or whatever fans like to call themselves these days.
An important part of the Star Trek phaser experience for me was that there was no consistency with how the damn things worked. One week they'd disintegrate rock, next week they'd barely touch the silicon based critter that was scorching miners to ash. One week the stun setting worked like the disintegrate beam, the next week someone in the special effects department thought of a cool new effect that they could use when Kirk zapped Spock while he was possessed by some alien they'd found in a suitcase.
The same with the Enterprise. One week the budget allowed them a weapons room and a shuttlecraft, the next they'd run out of cash so we had transporters and Sulu doing everything from flying the ship to loading the dishwasher from his station on the bridge.
BUT and this is the big BUT, it didn't really matter to most viewers, it wasn't jarring enough to disturb their sense of belief. And the same can go for games - you don't need a huge amount of detail about what the technology does, just enough to hang a decent narrative off.
For example the bunch I play with usually have day long sessions where we sit down and play a series of Prime Time Adventures. The series we've run have included what turned out to be a fairly hard sci-fi/horror and all the tech was made up as we went along. No one needed to know what the gear was in advance, someone wanted something to do something so we made it up on the spot. No one was sure whether the weaponry was James Cameron style futuristic automatic weapons or energy until someone actually needed to fire one (they turned out to be energy weapons as someone wanted to use one as a blowtorch).
Just paint enough to give yourself a background to set the rest of the game to. Make the rest up as you go, it really doesn't matter too much.
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