Quick, what’s the difference between a laser and a phaser?
The fun part of writing this chapter was trying to differentiate between all the energy weapons that can be found floating around in the Alpha Quadrant—trying to come up with ways to make them all a bit different in terms of their mechanics. So, Starfleet’s phasers are complicated and versatile (they seem to have about ten thousands settings on the show), Klingon-style disruptors are all about brute force, and Jem’hadar rifles are more soldierly and mean-spirited. Of course, there are only so many things you can say about “pistol what shoots an energy beam,” but players do get a few options this way.
Apparently, Starfleet was originally going to use laser guns, not phasers. But as scientists in the ’60s learned more about what lasers could (and couldn’t) do, the producers of Star Trek decided to go with a completely fictional technology so they wouldn’t end up looking bad for getting the details wrong.