Part of the problem is that there's pretty much zero standardization, but I suppose it can be broken down a little.
Most mages have a Device. This is a combination of handheld supercomputer (this takes most of computational stress of casting or maintaining their Barrier Jacket off the mage, improving their reactions and performance under pressure), battery for magic, and frequently hand weapon. Devices come in a huge number of forms, though some are reasonably standardized: the Ground Forces "Staff Weapon" is reasonably universal. Some Devices are classed as "Intelligent" being inhabited by strong AIs
, and are capable of limited freedom of action. A Device interfaces by reading the brainwaves and nervous impulses of the user, and can manipulate their perceptions in a limited fashion (typically used for the equivalent of a Heads-Up Display or to allow people to see in the dark).
Offensive magic breaks down into three broad types: packet, beam, and target effect. It can also be broadly divided into intended terminal effect: lethal, nonlethal stun, and "other".
Packet attacks use smallish packets of condensed magic as projectiles: typically lacking in power, but much more controlled terminal effect, and with a bit of effort guided. They also don't require much skill to just generate about ten and throw them in a direction to keep someone off your back for a little bit.
Beam attacks are pretty much what it sounds like. If you've seen Nanoha pull a Starlight Breaker or Divine Buster, you know what it looks like. They use a lot more raw power, making them less controllable, and it's not like you can guide them (most of the effort goes into simply getting the beam to cohere). They do have power, though, and they're still relatively simple to use because of a point-and-shoot nature.
Target Effect attacks have some kind of esoteric effect when they hit something; freeze it, petrify it, set it on fire. This usually requires a natural talent or a specially designed Device.
Technologically assisted stuff. Ground mages can be fought and killed with shoulder-fired rockets or other weapons intended to fight armored vehicles, but flight mages occupy an awkward space for Earth technology, able to soak high-powered anti-tank weaponry if you can even hit them.
Then there's more fundamental fuck-with-the-universe stuff. The most powerful actually used in the story are dimensional backlash and dimensional dislocation weapons. Dimensional backlash weapons resulted from the fact that if you poke reality just so
, it reacts violently by releasing huge amounts energy and making the general vicinity extremely unhealthy...and by the time the story takes place they're reasonably safe and respectable weapons. Dimensional dislocation weapons make a general area uninhabitable by causing local physics to break down to the point where life and most objects can't work. They are much more compact and can built into a Device, but most decidedly not safe: their extents and exact location of the weapon versus where the dislocation appears is not wholly predictable.
edited 6th Apr '12 7:09:23 PM by Night