The effect of a beam on a target usually depends on its intended purpose, composition and output - while most beams are meant to damage and destroy a target, some can be used to stun the target or disable them, and some can be used to forcibly communicate with the target .
Armed spaceships are often equipped with beam cannons. Due to a beam cannon's high energy output, it cannot be used within an atmosphere without the air expanding and exploding in front of it .
To protect themselves from beams, warships often employ Beam Dispersers - pieces of reflective material which are spread out to reflect and disperse incoming beams, reducing the chance of the ship getting hit . Some ships are also equipped with shields which block or deflect beams .