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> Vehicles, Drones, and Agents, For Fun and Profit
Neraph
post Mar 1 2010, 08:30 PM
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The following thread will be broken into multiple sections...

1) Pilot:

Pages 213 and 214 of the Shadowrun 4th Edition Core Rulebook give us some interesting (and I believe, often overlooked) rules for Pilot programs. The Pilot program is equal to and stands in for the System attribute for vehicles, drones, and agents, and also whichever mental attributes the vehicle/drone/agent may require. It also stands in for the Computer, Cybercombat, Data Search, and Hacking skills, as needed. Remember those for later.

The downside to a Pilot rating is that it intentionally made stupid. The Issuing Commands sidebar on page 214 of SR4; the Pilot Capabilities section of Arsenal on page 102; and in Unwired, the Scripting sidebar page 69, Agent Scripts page 100, To Mook Or Not To Mook sidebar page 101, and the Agent Competency sidebar page 111, all seem specifically designed to make Pilots and Agents retarded. The important part of all of this is the following - in nearly every instance, if something comes up that the Pilot is not "designed" for, you are supposed to roll a Pilot + Response Test to see if the Pilot can adapt. The Adaptability Autosoft (for either Pilots or Drones) can help with this limitation. This will also be important for later.

I would also like to point out that the Unrestricted Agent modifier from page 100 of Unwired is, in my opinion, largely unneeded. The same modification can be done with a simple Extended Test (To Mook Or Not To Mook sidebar, page 101), and it only applies to Agents - not Pilot programs for vehicles and drones (but only on a technicality).


2) Drones and Modifications:

Here's where it starts getting fun. There's certainly a limitation to the modifications we can put into drones to make them viable, but I've found something that helps significantly.

There's a modification for minidrones called "Limited Maneuverability" that adds 4 modification slots, and states that "A drone with limited maneuverability does not move on its own..." (Arsenal, page 139). This is important because it does not remove any speeds from the drone, it just states the drone cannot move on its own. A simple trick for getting more modification slots is by taking a minidrone, applying Limited Maneuverability, and then tacking on Walker Mode, Lighter Than Air, or Tracked Vehicle upgrades to get our movement option back while retaining many modification slots gained from Limited Maneuverability. Any loss of speed can be offset by the Turbocharger and Custom Engine, or you can just find other uses for them, such as the one I'm leading up to.


3) Software:

Now a Pilot program counts as a System, so we don't have to worry about that, but we still have to supply a Firewall. We also have some work to do to make the Pilot as flexible as possible.

Let's take a look at Software Suites from page 128 in Unwired first. This section tells us we can lump any software into one master program that runs like a single program, but has the functions of all the component parts. Note how it does not make any distinction or preference for what types of programs are allowed to be Suite'd together.

Let's also take a look at Software Bundles, page 127, Unwired. This is a "group discount" for buying multiple pre-packaged programs that gives a 10-20% discount overall.

Which leads us to the following: the best possible Software Suites nuyen can buy.

[ Spoiler ]


The only program I couldn't fit into a themed Suite was Command, which gets to sit all by itself taking up a processor limit for 600 nuyen or finishing up your Ergonomic payload (assuming a 6 Response/Pilot) for an extra 300.

Now a very important note that I hit just above is that Software Suites do not care what kind of software they Suite - they just lump it together, which leads us to:
[ Spoiler ]


Now what would make this whole thing even better would be to toss that Command program that we couldn't place earlier into that Basic Program.

That Adaptability Autosoft, when applied to a drone or Agent, allows the Pilot program to start functioning autonomously considerably easier, and a Pilot that can think for itself should also be able to select the programs/autosofts that are the most appropriate for a situation.


4) Theorhetical Application of Above:

Let's start putting all these puzzle pieces together now.

Let's do a warm-up easy drone/program combination: the Drone Soldier.

[ Spoiler ]


It should be noted that I am ignoring the Renraku's "senior citizen syndrome" - the inability to kick, punch, defend itself, ect. I have this setup saved to my files as a PR-3 encounter as-is. We can also easily upgrade the Pilot rating for the Manservant and toss in an Adaptability autosoft (and possibly a Fuzzy Logic system) to make a squad leader, or easily swap out weapons and Targetting autosofts to make different strike teams. Using an Ares Crusader, Ares Predator-III, a Remington 990, an Ares Alpha, or a Fichetti Pain Inducer are all valid and equally dangerous setups.

The plausibility of such a drone in any quasi-corporate setting is this: it is much cheaper to outfit or replace one of these drones than it is to train a metahuman for the same job. It also does not require pay, only upkeep, and there are no medical costs if it becomes damaged - just a repair bill.

Now let's try something a little more advanced: Glitch.

[ Spoiler ]


The sensors I've left blank so you can fill them yourself and tailor them to your own playstyle, although I'd highly suggest getting a tricked out microphone, a tricked out camera, and a R4 Ultrawideband Radar.

This drone is capable of hacking on its own, and with a R3 Adaptability autosoft has 15-18 dice to function autonomously, it'll be able to follow your commands and hack for you, as well as load and unload its autosofts/programs as the situation requires. With a skill of 6 in four of the five major hacking skills, and using some of the Software Suites from above, you're looking at a personal hacking device that rivals the most trained professionals the Sixth World has seen. If you add a R4 Electronic Warfare autosoft, Glitch will also be able to jam (assuming he has access to a jammer), intercept signals, and decrypt things as well.

In my personal opinion, Glitch is a worthy (though expensive) alternative to your everyday commlink. Vehicles and drones are allowed to do whatever they like, just like a normal matrix user, and with the high level of autonomy available with such little effort (but large bank account) they can replace the group's hacker (or at least give him a huge helping hand). The possibilities are extremely varied, and are basically only limited by your imagination (and again, your character's cash).

Nearly every character should be able to afford at least a basic drone. For example, a Renraku Manservant-III (man I love those things) with Fuzzy Logic and one Turbocharger, an Adaptability autosoft, and a handfull of other 'softs to your liking has a huge amount of versatile potential. He can be a mechanic/armorer, taking care of your items back at your base of operations (using the Mechanic/Armorer autosofts); he can be your driver, taking you wherever you want to go (after he loads the proper Maneuver Autosofts); and he could also be an additional gun on the battlefield (with Clearsight, Defense, and Targetting 'softs). And all of that is available for barely over 10,000 nuyen - cheap change in chargen and not that much on the streets.

AI PCs should also look at some of these builds for ideas. Renraku Manservants are really solid choices for a body out and about - they are extremely cheap, and their "-" availability means they are ubiquitous, two things important to 'runners. The Bust-a-Move is a cheaper drone and is much more overlooked alternative. An LEBD-1 can provide air support for a team, but brings more attention to the events (it's a restricted police drone - use at your own risk). The MCT Nissan and C-D Dalmatian are also good alternatives for air support, and they're not exactly expensive and have the benefit of being street legal.

I'll leave you guys with this one thought: the idea of a stock cyclopse monocycle hacking someone's commlink. As long as you upload the proper programs and the Pilot gets enough hits on its Rating + Response, it is absolutely possible. I bet you'll never look at a car the same way again.


End

So have I missed some things, or are the above more or less true? Discuss.

EDIT: Edited for compliance to rules for stock modifications.

EDIT #2: Updated for increased cost of autosofts, as per SR4A.
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otakusensei
post Mar 1 2010, 08:59 PM
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Is there a rule on removing stock equipment for additional slots? Seems broken if you can remove walker mode for two, add restricted for 4 more and then add walker back in for two.

This is basically a good leveraging of the rules and all GMs and players should be aware of the options. Corp Sec Manservant Army? Better hope your GM lets you roll a Gungan.
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Jaid
post Mar 1 2010, 10:56 PM
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meh. if your GM is that spineless, you may as well just ask him for a drone with unlimited slots to begin with.
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Neraph
post Mar 2 2010, 07:36 AM
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QUOTE (Jaid @ Mar 1 2010, 04:56 PM) *
meh. if your GM is that spineless, you may as well just ask him for a drone with unlimited slots to begin with.

Spineless? This is perfectly within the realm of the rules. It looks to me like someone just doesn't like how a rule is written. Check out Removing a Modification, page 129 Arsenal.
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Squinky
post Mar 2 2010, 07:45 AM
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Thats in reference to after market modification.

To see the rules pertaining to standard upgrades, go to page 107, Standard upgrades and you will see this:

Removing a standard upgrade does not
provide additional modification slots.

Interesting post though.
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Neraph
post Mar 2 2010, 09:32 PM
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QUOTE (Squinky @ Mar 2 2010, 01:45 AM) *
Thats in reference to after market modification.

To see the rules pertaining to standard upgrades, go to page 107, Standard upgrades and you will see this:

Removing a standard upgrade does not
provide additional modification slots.

Interesting post though.

Ahh, they put that gem of info on a different page. So with Glitch you can safely remove Improved Sensor Array and Chemical Protection and be fine.
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Sengir
post Mar 2 2010, 10:38 PM
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QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 2 2010, 08:36 AM) *
Spineless? This is perfectly within the realm of the rules.

You forget the official rule number one: The GM has the final say over all player actions.
Only a spineless GM allows insane combinations like limited maneuverability + a new propulsion system.
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Jaid
post Mar 2 2010, 11:44 PM
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QUOTE (Sengir @ Mar 2 2010, 05:38 PM) *
You forget the official rule number one: The GM has the final say over all player actions.
Only a spineless GM allows insane combinations like limited maneuverability + a new propulsion system.

exactly my point.

if your GM is spineless enough to let you get away with such blatant abuse of the rules (whether or not that's how they're written), well, there's no point in being subtle about how you blatantly abuse the rules.

it's not the blatantly abusive stuff that worries me when it comes to RAW... it's the stuff that isn't immediately obvious until after it's already come into play. as soon as you show your limited mobility shenanigans to a GM, the GM will likely tell you no, because it is immediately obvious that isn't how the rule is supposed to work.

the removal of standard modifications, on the other hand, is much more worrying, in my opinion... this is something that a GM would look at, agree it is reasonable, and then suddenly have people removing the wheeled 'mod' from their car before installing some other propulsion method, or taking away extra entry/exit points for bonus mods, or taking off default armor before installing the new armor. clearly, many vehicles have these mods inherently, and that's the kind of thing that worries me. because a reasonable GM might not consider all the implications of removing standard modifications, but will be able to spot the absurdity of limited mobility combined with a mod that grants mobility on a casual inspection.
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SpellBinder
post Mar 3 2010, 03:19 AM
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On the subject of existing mods, what if a mod was modified but not removed?

More specific example using a weapon mount that is stock with some vehicles and drones, External Visibility & Turret Flexibility & Remote Control. The scenario involves changing Turret Flexibility to Flexible Flexibility (-2 mod slot difference) while also changing the External Visibility to either Internal Visibility or Concealed Visibility (+2 or +3 mod slot difference). Would this constitute removing the existing mod for the new (3 or 4 slots), or something where you merely pay the difference in mod slots (0 or 1)?

Same can potentially be said for other mods that might come standard, like Amenities, Personal Armor, Passenger Protection, and Rigger Cocoon, and can be upgraded. Unless I've missed it somewhere, there's no RAW for changing and not removing existing equipment like this.
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Neraph
post Mar 3 2010, 04:25 AM
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It amuses me how much venom Jaid and Sengir have for a simple rule as presented in a book. Less QQ, more PewPew people. Just because a player figured this out doesn't mean a GM can't use it too.

That aside, I don't see a problem with that at all. Just make sure you comply with the page 107 Hidden Rule about stock mods.
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Rotbart van Dain...
post Mar 3 2010, 10:05 AM
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QUOTE (otakusensei @ Mar 1 2010, 10:59 PM) *
Is there a rule on removing stock equipment for additional slots?

Removing Standard Upgrades does not provide additional slots by RAW, see the Standard Upgrades entry at the beginning of the vehicle listing.
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Sengir
post Mar 3 2010, 10:22 AM
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QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Mar 3 2010, 04:19 AM) *
On the subject of existing mods, what if a mod was modified but not removed?

More specific example using a weapon mount that is stock with some vehicles and drones, External Visibility & Turret Flexibility & Remote Control. The scenario involves changing Turret Flexibility to Flexible Flexibility (-2 mod slot difference) while also changing the External Visibility to either Internal Visibility or Concealed Visibility (+2 or +3 mod slot difference). Would this constitute removing the existing mod for the new (3 or 4 slots), or something where you merely pay the difference in mod slots (0 or 1)?

In theory, you don't mod the weapon mount but tear it out and put in a new one. But most GMs will probably allow the latter option, with the usual restriction that you cannot gain extra slots from removing standard equipment.


@Neraph: We are just pointing out that you missed the most important rule: The GM has the final say on everything, even if the rules do not specifically disallow backstabbing with a siege wepaon.
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Rotbart van Dain...
post Mar 3 2010, 11:37 AM
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QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Mar 3 2010, 05:19 AM) *
On the subject of existing mods, what if a mod was modified but not removed?

That would only work for incremental mod like signature masking, mostly - Special Machinery allows for that too.
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SpellBinder
post Mar 4 2010, 06:24 AM
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Of course I'd expect no bonus slots for degrading a weapon mount. Just in part wondering what the consensus was around here about changing the turret itself. To me it seems silly that if you try to take a stock mod and change it a little to reduce its profile, or maybe even improve upon it (like the Thundercloud Morgan, upping its fixed mount to a flexible or even turret mount, or the Ford Canada Buffalo if you improve upon the amenities) and potentially pay out the rectum in the slots.

Sounds like it's more up to the GM then, how the upgrades of standard mods are done.
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The Jopp
post Mar 4 2010, 12:51 PM
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I will shamelessly put forward my little thoughts on drones.

Vehicle And Drones - New models from old.
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Neraph
post Mar 5 2010, 04:07 PM
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QUOTE (Sengir @ Mar 3 2010, 04:22 AM) *
@Neraph: We are just pointing out that you missed the most important rule: The GM has the final say on everything, even if the rules do not specifically disallow backstabbing with a siege wepaon.

This rule is always at the fore of any discussion, and often the last resort of people who do not like an idea. Since it is the first rule that is read, it is assumed this rule is known by all, and any further discussion is about the rules that follow it.

It's like Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris holds all of the Guinness World Records - the people in the books are simply the ones that came closest.

We ignore the Rule 0 because we understand that it does now and always will take precedence. This does not mean we ignore it completely; this simply means we acknowledge its existance but set it aside in pursuit of the interesting and comical things allowed purely from a RAW perspective.

Also, I believe that this game (Shadowrun) is a game of rules, and I like to play by the rules. Unless something makes absolutely no sense at all (like not allowing spirits to materialize/possess/inhabit, since those powers are Physical and you can't use Physical powers on the Astral), I usually allow it because that is how the rules of this game are designed.

EDIT: Also, as I've said before, invoking Rule 0 is the last defense of an unimaginative and inflexible GM. Having to resort to Rule 0 is bad GMing, because it represents your lack of creativity and your ability to adapt to things your players figure out that you do not.
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endou_kenji
post Mar 5 2010, 06:07 PM
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QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 5 2010, 01:07 PM) *
This rule is always at the fore of any discussion, and often the last resort of people who do not like an idea. Since it is the first rule that is read, it is assumed this rule is known by all, and any further discussion is about the rules that follow it.

It's like Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris holds all of the Guinness World Records - the people in the books are simply the ones that came closest.

We ignore the Rule 0 because we understand that it does now and always will take precedence. This does not mean we ignore it completely; this simply means we acknowledge its existance but set it aside in pursuit of the interesting and comical things allowed purely from a RAW perspective.

Also, I believe that this game (Shadowrun) is a game of rules, and I like to play by the rules. Unless something makes absolutely no sense at all (like not allowing spirits to materialize/possess/inhabit, since those powers are Physical and you can't use Physical powers on the Astral), I usually allow it because that is how the rules of this game are designed.

EDIT: Also, as I've said before, invoking Rule 0 is the last defense of an unimaginative and inflexible GM. Having to resort to Rule 0 is bad GMing, because it represents your lack of creativity and your ability to adapt to things your players figure out that you do not.

Wether you like it or not, wether it is in the rules or not, it IS abusing the system and as a GM, it is his duty to prevent system abuse. It just usually makes the game not fun for everybody but the abusing player.
Still, it's a nice hole you found.
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Draco18s
post Mar 5 2010, 06:11 PM
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QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 5 2010, 11:07 AM) *
EDIT: Also, as I've said before, invoking Rule 0 is the last defense of an unimaginative and inflexible GM. Having to resort to Rule 0 is bad GMing, because it represents your lack of creativity and your ability to adapt to things your players figure out that you do not.


Like a no-class-levels ECL 20 D&D character that on average can punk 4 CR 20 dragons by himself? The last attack on the fourth statistically knocks him unconscious due to the 0HP rule, but he has regeneration.

Of course, the character is unplayable as a PC due to being all kinds of chaotic evil. If it was a hostile NPC...I'd have to calculate its CR, because it simply is that much more powerful than it should be (it was an exercise in "how many templates can I stack?"). It would however be a GM's nightmare: almost nothing would pose it a challenge.
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Sengir
post Mar 5 2010, 08:47 PM
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QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 5 2010, 05:07 PM) *
EDIT: Also, as I've said before, invoking Rule 0 is the last defense of an unimaginative and inflexible GM.

Enforcing rule 0 is the principal duty of a good GM. Shadowrun is not MtG, where you have 171 pages of Comprehensive Rules to adress every bizarre corner case of the rules, it gives you a set of rules to cover 90% of all situations and the rest is up to the GM. So yeah, the rules don't explicitly say "no MANPADs in your fingertip compartment", because the Devs obviously assumed that no sane GM will ever allow it.
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Jaid
post Mar 6 2010, 02:22 AM
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so neraph, what you're saying is that there is nothing implausible about removing the engine from a vehicle, then re-installing it into that vehicle, and having more space? nothing about that strikes you as being unusual or odd? nothing seems suspect?

in any case, i find it strange that your opinion is that rule 0 is so desperately to be avoided. the whole reason we have a person running the game is because of the importance of rule 0. rule 0 is what makes pen and paper RPGs so much more flexible than any CRPG. indeed, the vast majority of what a GM does is rule 0. there is no rule defining what shadowruns the team gets offered. there is no rule defining what the team should get paid. there is no rule telling you whether a Mr Johnson is legit or not. there is no rule telling you what defenses the target of your shadowrun has.

when it all comes down to it, rule 0 is invoked almost constantly, and actually forms the basis of pen and paper roleplaying games.

the GM is there to tell the rules to shut up whenever the rules say to do something stupid. in this case, the rules tell you that you can remove the wheels and engine from a car, put them back on, and somehow you end up being able to fit extra stuff in just from doing that. tell you what, go ahead and try this with something (your car, if you own one, is probably more expensive than you're comfortable risking, so feel free to use something else). open it up, remove a piece, stick that same piece back in, and then see if the interior of whatever you opened up somehow becomes larger than it was before.
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Neraph
post Mar 6 2010, 08:43 AM
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QUOTE (Jaid @ Mar 5 2010, 08:22 PM) *
so neraph, what you're saying is that there is nothing implausible about removing the engine from a vehicle, then re-installing it into that vehicle, and having more space? nothing about that strikes you as being unusual or odd? nothing seems suspect?

No, I find nothing odd about removing the engine, wheels, and axles and making a walker mode drone. Or removing most of the moving parts, attaching a balloon with gas inside, and a small propeller on the butt of the drone. Or removing the legs and sticking some tank treads on.

QUOTE (Draco18s Posted Yesterday, 12:11 PM )
Like a no-class-levels ECL 20 D&D character that on average can punk 4 CR 20 dragons by himself? The last attack on the fourth statistically knocks him unconscious due to the 0HP rule, but he has regeneration.

I could have sworn that there was a rule somewhere that stated you needed at least 1 HD... For instance, putting the Monster of Legend template onto an orc is only going to work if that orc has at least 1 class level, since it has no racial HD. You need at least 1 HD otherwise the character can't exist.

QUOTE (endou_kenji Posted Yesterday, 12:07 PM )
Still, it's a nice hole you found.

This. This is the business I'm in. That was the main point of this, and to provide some things to think about for other players/GMs out there, just like my other thread about spirits.

EDIT: I find it interesting that out of that whole thing the biggest problem you have is using Limited Maneuverability to free up slots, then tacking a movement mode back on. No word on the Software Suit Autosofts or anything..
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Falconer
post Mar 6 2010, 03:38 PM
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Neraph...
How to put this... limited maneuverability REMOVES the engines/motors and transmission. That's how they get the extra mod space.

Changing a wheeled vehicle to a walker means you change the drivetrain but you keep the motors and engines etc..

Sorry, while it's nifty in concept "Limited Maneuverability" is on it's face incompatible w/ "Walker Mode". In what way does a walker drone have 'limited maneuverability' and unable to move itself under it's own power?! Maybe if I put puppet strings on it and move it that way (it has the legs now w/ the mod but no motive system to move them... so hell that actually make sense).

Even you must admit that this reading makes sense under strict RAW. If it has both mods it is subject to both mods text.
Limited maneuverability... drones speed/accel go to 0 as it's motive systems are removed. "A drone w/ limited maneuverability DOES NOT MOVE ON IT"S OWN" As long as you keep that mod (minidrones), that drone does not move on it's own, even if you give it another mod.
Walker mode: Speed and Acceleration are halved round down... well half of 0 is still 0! It's immobile.. so even it's handling +1 is questionable.

IE: limited maneuverability iBall.... modification lighter than air... okay it inflates a weather balloon and goes where the wind takes it.



As far as your comments about Rule0.. I would only agree with you in a setting like Battletech or some other wargame where the rules are very cut and dried, and there's very little room for GM to change things. The rules in that sense are designed to arbitrate a contest between two closely matched opponents fairly w/o the presence of a GM.

RPG's tend to be a completely different animal. In this we have a cooperative game. Not only that, but the rules actively EXPECT the GM to arbitrate things and give players far more leeway to operate in, as there's expected to be a human brain saying.. okay now you're just being silly.

IIRC, there's an old saying, "The law is the last refuge of the scoundrel."


At best it's an interesting attempt to game the construction rules.

Though then you hit the other problems... software suites and the like. Generally that's the kind of thing only a GM should construct for his game world. Just like cyberware suites and the like, these aren't custom built for the runner but reflect product offerings for sale to people w/ money and who need it in quantity.
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Rotbart van Dain...
post Mar 6 2010, 04:04 PM
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Well, the first post is still wrong, anyway.
QUOTE (Arsenal @ p. 107, Standard Upgrades)
Removing a standard upgrade does not provide additional modification slots.

Not that it matters, anyway: People always miss that the normal slot count is just before overmod rules apply.
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Draco18s
post Mar 6 2010, 04:06 PM
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QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 6 2010, 03:43 AM) *
I could have sworn that there was a rule somewhere that stated you needed at least 1 HD... For instance, putting the Monster of Legend template onto an orc is only going to work if that orc has at least 1 class level, since it has no racial HD. You need at least 1 HD otherwise the character can't exist.


Half a hit die, really. Check out some of the smaller animals.
In any case said character does have ten hit dice, just no class levels. Even at 10 hit dice it has more hit points than a 22 HD dragon, yay Con Mod. A third of its stats are over 40, half of them are under 10. Before magic items.
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Tymeaus Jalynsfe...
post Mar 6 2010, 04:48 PM
Post #25


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QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 6 2010, 09:06 AM) *
Half a hit die, really. Check out some of the smaller animals.
In any case said character does have ten hit dice, just no class levels. Even at 10 hit dice it has more hit points than a 22 HD dragon, yay Con Mod. A third of its stats are over 40, half of them are under 10. Before magic items.



Why would you want such a monstrosity?

Keep the Faith
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