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With the erratic nature of runner teams (members moving on, regrettable fatalities, inevitable betrayal), Quince is looking to drones to fill voids as members of a Tactical Software (UW p 124) team.

He’s been tinkering with the MCT Fly-Spy mini drone- dual purpose, he’s thinking; tactical intelligence during combat, plus occasional use for surveillance. First, he adds in an Improved Sensor Array to bring the Fly-Spy up to Sensors Rating 3; Unfortunately, Level 3 drone sensors are not quite high enough for a Rating 2 TacSoft. To work around the problem, he’s gutted the stock sensors, and using the now available sensor capacity, added a Camera (w Low Light, Smartlink, Thermo, Ultrasound, Vision Enhancement & Vision Mag), a Microphone (w Audio Enhancement, Select Sound, and a Spatial Recognizer) and a Motion Sensor.

So, for the purposes of a TacNet, would this drone be contributing a basic 3 channels from its overall Sensor Rating? (and if so, did Quince miss a way to bring the drone up to sensors 4?). Or would the drone now have 12 channels from the various enhancements?
For tacnets, I QUOTE:
"Drones Sensor systems also count; each drone can commit a number of sensor channels equal to it's sensor rating"
I read this to mean no drone can participate in more than a rating 3 tacnet (sensor rating 6 being the max).

What is the fly-spy... it's a mini-drone, body rating 1, sensor rating 2. So we look at the chart on p.325 SR4. It has a capacity of [3] which is filled off the sensors chart.

Since we can only upgrade the sensors once (body limitation on modspace), only 1 mod allowed... we can only attain sensor 2->3 so the flyspy can never participate in a tacnet. In doing so, it's capacity would go from mini-drone to small sized drone capacity [3]->[5].

However the iball which is also a mini drone, has limited manueverability (it has no motive power of it's own, you need to carry it, or toss/roll it into the area of interest) which gives it a +4 modspace bonus. We can upgrade that puppy the whole way to sensor 6. So we can take the iball the whole wasy from sensor rating 2->3->4->5->6 (4 mods). And from [3]->[5]->[8]->[12]->[30] in sensor capacity.

This actually raises a small way of force multiplication to abuse the tacnet rules. Everyone carries an iball w/ sensors that work even while the drones stowed in the pocket (microphone, ultrasound, gps, radar, radio signal scanner... etc.). Instant freebie 6 channels once the iball is subscribed to their commlink running their tacnet software.

We could take this one farther, and treat the sensor rating 6 iball everyone carries as another teammember for a rating 3 tacnet. So for the enterprising team of 3 looking to run a tacnet3... all 3 carry an upgraded iball in a mesh pouch on their belt ;P.

Now this is just me here...
If I was your GM I'd pull you aside and slap you silly... Smartlink, Ultrasound on a drones VIDEO camera! They don't make sense, the camera is a recording device not a display device like glasses. That much said, I'd have zero issues if the ultrasound was put on the drones 'microphone'. The smartlink used in the example isn't the characters smartlink display capability, but the guns smartlink feature (which raises a wierd prospect, a character w/o smartlink vision upgrade, w/ a smartlinked gun providing it's info to the tacnet but not the player itself).
- Minor service information: (quote='Unwired pg. xx')(/quote) with the other type of bracket will do it.

- The Improved Sensor Suite improves the sensor capacity, but not the sensor rating. If you want to improve the sensor rating, you have to improve the individual sensors (Arsenal pg. 105). Upgrading Sensor Rating.

- Any drone can be a working part of a rating 3 tacnet if you upgrade all sensors to rating 6.

- Using carried sensors is a good way of getting battlefield information and enough sensor channels. If all you want the drone for is that, you are better of taking a straight sensor package and only paying for the sensors themselves.

Result: The Flyspy is a pretty good choice for what solitary Quince wants.

Yo Quince! I have just the right thing for you: An optimised-2 stealth 5 program, taken just yesterday from the Stars finest! You´d unfortunately have to compile the sourcecode yourself, but I´ll give you a 90% rebate for that. It comes bundled with a Covered-Ops Autosoft 3 (Unwired pg. 114), same conditions. Interested?
- Shogun
I personally find it to be contradictory. In one place it says CHARACTERS use each enhancement but then it says DRONES use sensor rating. Its not intuitive and I hope the devs errata it to either:

A) Use a chart to give characters the equivalent of sensor rating, or
B) Change drones to go enhancement-by-enhancement with a default # of enhancements for each given sensor rating
QUOTE (Ryu @ Sep 15 2008, 05:21 AM) *
- The Improved Sensor Suite improves the sensor capacity, but not the sensor rating. If you want to improve the sensor rating, you have to improve the individual sensors (Arsenal pg. 105). Upgrading Sensor Rating.

- Any drone can be a working part of a rating 3 tacnet if you upgrade all sensors to rating 6.

Ryu, many thanks for pointing this out. I learn stuff on DS every day!!!

Rotbart van Dainig
On the other hand, it's amazing how a more advanced tacsoft can't provide any useful help when it has the same input as a lower one.
Ryu: I was about to say thanks for pointing out p104-106 arsenal... but I just reread it and you know something... the page isn't much help. It's so vague it's a pure GM call what goes or what qualifies. It's nothing more than what I heard some people were already houseruling. Also there's a lot of sensors which are just there... and don't have grades such as the motion scanner. I was hunting forever in the BBB for a way to upgrade sensor ratings (because gunnery and drone perception is rolled w/ sensors... and that's VERY important so upgrading it should be a big deal, and not some cheap handwavium).

This is a criticism of the writers... I would have really appreciated a guideline on rules to say how much is reasonable, and how much it should cost. And some kind of an idea of how much size plays a part in limiting sensor quality. Noting above, we start w/ a sensor rating 3 large drone. Now just because we put rating 3 vision enhancement on the camera (visual), would you allow that to translate to an 'individual sensor' enhancement when he uses the cameras to fire the guns? (look at how cheap vision enhancement is... and how quickly that translates into say 3 extra dice... and tell me that isn't a potential source of trouble when the rigger says I'm using visual for shooting whenever I can, especially as this change comes AFTER the widespread use of visibility mods).

The only DEFINATE text is the text under "Improved Sensor Array" which states that any vehicle which improves itself to large vehicle gets a sensor rating of 6 and a capacity of [30]. (that's where I picked up the erroneous idea that each rank increased sensor rating; To borrow the old soviet maxim "Quantity has a Quality all of it's own" more sensors means better quality package).

And frankly... reading the description of the Fly Spy... I'd NEVER allow it a full sensor 6 rating (being generous it's roughly the size of a dragonfly (large insect) as a mini instead of a microdrone (and already has ITOL2 and Maneuverability 2 enhancements on top of that). There's a severe space limitation which severely limits the amount and quality of sensors. If they were insistent, I'd make it insanely expensive due to the large degree of miniaturatization required to fit things on the drone. The flyspy is literally smaller than a cybereye. I could see maybe getting it up to sensor rating 2 if they both increased the size of the sensor package, and also paid for better sensors (vision enhancements, audio enhancements, higher grade sensors when available), but it'd be hard to convince me it could go higher.

I'm a little curious here... do people think that maybe I'm being a bit too restrictive in my outlook here. Or do you tend to agree. At the core, I'm worried about how very important Sensor Rating is to drone combat and drone recon which are the primary uses of drones. I want to see them be reasonably upgradable, I don't want to see every drone and vehicle w/ sensor 6 because you can upgrade them for a song and a dime.

For right now, I'm going to stick w/ my interpretation:
Pay 1 mod slot (most drones only have 1-3), pay 1000 nuyen (cheap) for the shop grade improved sensor mods. Then pay a little more for sensors to fill out the enhanced capacity for 1 point of sensor upgrade.
Enhance all the individual sensors for at most a +1 sensor rating mod on the drone (reflection of space available for sensors inside the drone... you can only upgrade them so much with higher grade before you run out of space and need to resort to a vehicle mod to make more).

Translation of above: someone w/ a medium or large drone is going to have little trouble getting sensor rating 6. Smaller drones are going to have very limited space to get more than 3 or 4 sensor, but they make up for that in terms of raw size and stealth. For actual vehicles, one use of improved sensors mod brings them up to large vehicle and takes most of them directly from sensor1 -> sensor 6 in a single bound (RAW)!
- The sensor rating rules are a known issue, as you will see in the link I gave. The suggested upgrade price for the time being was "basic sensor cost * sensor rating" IIRC.

- The drone contributes a number of sensor channels equal to its sensor rating. Individual enhancements play no role. This is inconsistent with the metahuman sensor channel rules. As for the cheap extra dice, no problem really. That´s working as intended, and providing an incentive to run a complete matrix setup. Opting out comes at a steep price. Remember that the guards can do it, too.

- Your rules keep small drones out of sensor networks. Given the size of my group, and the requirement of having a certain number of team members in one combat area, they would write tactical networks out of my games. Then there is the issue that the current sensor rules require a high-end sensor rating. The signature modifier table puts many important sensor tests at -3, which hurts with a DP of 4 going in... So if you want to walk your way, at least also rule that sensor pools are Pilot+Sensor+Clearsight, rather than Sensor+Clearsight.
What happens if I treat a set of 6 fly spies as a single subscription, e.g. the Captain's Chair. In what way does that contribute to a tacnet? Is it sensor 3, or 18 channels of data?
Darn good question. I´d say it is 6*3 channels, bad for the individual drones (which still can´t play), good for your own ability of contribution.
Rotbart van Dainig
Or add a houserule for TacNets to function at the optimal level - that is, the level that is actually supported by software, sensor channels and contributors.
If I was to houserule the thing, I´d go old-school and have dedicated hardware for it (TacNet module, much like a SIM module). No counting of sensor channels, I´ve never seen a lack of senseware anyway.
Rotbart van Dainig
Nah, software is the way to go.
Back at the drawing board, Quince is not 100% that the Fly-Spy will provide enough sensor channels to function as an individual, stand alone TacNet member. He makes his living solving people’s problems, so perhaps a different approach...
Quince is sure that adding in an Improved Sensor Array will bring the Fly-Spy up to Sensors Rating 3. He’s at least 3 channels away from where he needs to be. The revised approach he is tinkering with is adding 3 mounted sensor systems to the drones as Special Machinery/Storage (taking up 3 slots). To keep the weight and size within limits, he’s looking at microsensors- if they fit on microdrones, there should be room on a minidrone. Channel issues could be cleared up by keeping the additional sensors independent of the drone’s sensor package, in effect, broadcasting as a worn sensor.

Shogun- Quince is definately interested in your stealth 'ware package; is the Optimised-2 stealth 5 program / Covert-Ops Autosoft 3 a bundle or a Suite?
I do not know if custom suites fly in missions games (they are great, but they are also hard to keep track of), so:

Quince - Not a suite I´m afraid, but I would be willing to negotiate a bundle price if you take both.

But I repeat: The Improved Sensor Array does nothing for your Sensor Rating. Different kind of animal.

Three "dimensions": Capacity, Signal, derived overall Sensor Rating. The Imp. Sensor Array improves the first two, and therefore makes improving the overall Sensor Rating HARDER. The cheapest way of having a Sensor-6 within the rules as they (in this case unfortunately) stand is having single sensors with max. rating.
Unlike Ryu, I'm not so sure on the whole sensors thing. Really this comes down to something between you and your GM. As there's only two sections of Arsenal which even address the problem (one is so vague and the books are incomplete on how you'd even do it; the other only gives an outcome when you increase the size of the sensor suite to the max). I don't see much issue with getting up to sensor 4 on the fly-spy myself (tacnet2). And unlike Ryu states... it's not so much a matter of improving a few individual sensors because those rules and equipment lists are incomplete (see below for more on that if you're interested)... You're just going to have to sit down w/ your GM and hash out how you're going to improve sensors, and if so, how much.

My normal reaction to things is to try and limit the power curve while looking at it. Then opening it up once I'm sure it's not going to come back and bite me (I take this view as both a player and a GM. As a player I don't want the GM to feel I'm abusing him or his generosity, as a GM it's because it's easier to give things out than to take them back... the proverbial genie has been let out of the box). I'm also very fond of 'turnabout is fair play', I don't want to abuse something then see it used against me by NPC's only better. So I'm wary of allowing sensor 6 on drones too easily (as their primary purposes are combat, and recon... so sensor stat is involved very very directly in both... so raising it should be a big deal). This also is because, if you start out low, and your GM gets used to it and feels he can handle it.... there's a good chance he'll later say yeah go ahead I don't think 6 will be a problem later for a bit more. (call it the boiling a frog problem... get yourself/them comfortable w/ it first before trying to turn up the heat).

As such, I tend to feel that a very small recon drone should be limited to only a rating 2 tacnet (if nothing else, to limit people abusing them just to swell the enrollment figures for higher rating tacnets while still allowing them to benefit/contribute). Larger drones like the doberman and up... rating 3 is doable, but I'd want to see getting there to be a very big deal in resources and equipment.

Ryu: (sorry I missed the link in your first post there... but the thread made for some good reading)
After reading that, I now realize that right now everything is just house rules right now (except improved sensor array, large vehicle == sensor6 because it says so outright in arsenal).

Synner stated more data was upcoming on that in errata... but that puts it in a huge backlog stack of errata. Also I'll point out, Synner was also stating each individual camera and microphone upgrade (low-light, thermovision, etc.) should take up one sensor capacity in a drone. (not just 1 camera for 1 capacity w/ all the bells and whistles you can afford). There is no such thing right now as a rating 6 camera and this is supposed to be addressed in errata. Until that's done, what you're saying can't be done (upgrade all the individual sensors, most of the sensors in the 'standard' package don't have individual ratings!). If past performance is any indication of future gains, I suspect it'll be something more like we see w/ matrix rules (rating 1-3 cheap, rating 4-6 costly).

IMO: 3 principals should determine sensor rating... quantity, quality, and technical difficulty (little vague). In other words, just because you have the drones camera blinded w/ the camera blinding laser, doesn't mean I can't see and target you with the ultrawideband radar (quantity). Similarly, better sensors are more likely to see through spoofing ; a higher rating camera is more likely to spot the chameleon suit (quality). The last is difficulty, call it a miniaturization penalty. One thing about engineering is balancing tradeoffs, in order to fit something into a smaller package, something else needs to go (budget explodes, inferior optics, processor limitation, etc. etc. etc., or it's just not possible w/ current technology).

Reading your other comments on clearsights and the like...
Quite frankly a drone should not be much better than a professionalism 3, maybe 4 once it's been tricked out. If the riggers in it profesionnalism 5 (a rigger is in far less danger than a street sam). You can have a small drone army for not too much trouble, so having a smaller sensor perception pool isn't quite so bad as if you have a pack of 3 say dobermans, each gets to roll once w/ a lesser dicepool, as opposed to a char w/ one roll and a large pool. Further the pilot software is a limitation, it should be easier to dupe/evade a drone than a player.

So w/ that in mind and your example... I'd probably suggest treat the clearsight autosoft as a perception enhancement equal to half it's rating. When you're looking at a 12dice cap on the pool... (6+6), 3 more dice from half-rating autosoft is a 25% boost.

Tacnet Question:
Smartlink is an augmented reality aiming bonus already to firearms. p126 unwired states that these tacnet rules supercede the augmented reality bonus and replace them. Does that mean someone in a rating 2 tacnet using a smartgun doesn't get tacnet bonus to shoot (but still gets it to all those other items), EG: getting an AR bonus to shoot twice... if the tacnet is calculating ballistics and range for a non-smartlinked user and displaying it on his shooting glasses how is that different than the player w/ the smartlink getting the same w/o the tacnet? (or am I reading too much into this on stacking bonuses of the same type... and you don't need more than a rating 3 or 4 tacnet to help someone already using a smartlink).
Rotbart van Dainig
QUOTE (Falconer @ Sep 18 2008, 01:53 AM) *
(except improved sensor array, large vehicle == sensor6 because it says so outright in arsenal)

Quote, please.
The sensor rules are very confusing. I would have prefered "Pilot+Clearsight capped by sensor rating" , without individual sensor suites, and straight upgrades to the overall rating. Should even work within the published ratings. The current sensor test rules could be salvaged for radar.

Sensor Ratings
But all of that does not help if you have to stay RAW. Therefore it is a given that
a) you need to have a overall sensor rating that is 2*tacnet rating (channels don´t cut it for drones, they get to be special).
b) you need to do it with rated sensors.

Medium drone capacity: 6. Real-world believeable sensor suite: Radar rating 4/6, Laser Microphone 4/6.

Small drone capacity: 3. Improved Sensor Suite (capacity 5), Radar rating 4/6.

Justification: Vid-based motion detectors (what RL will use) are unrated, using Radar is theoretically possible. "Believeable + ruleswise legal" is a go IMO. Plus all other sensors that currently have a rating are a straight NO for navigational purposes.
If you use the tentativly suggested "base price*desired rating" cost, you can freely choose your sensor setup, but you officially left RAW.

Sensor Suite Signal Rating
Not the overall sensor rating. Determines sensor range.
Rotbart here...
p138 ...micro->small->medium->large->vehicle.... "and vehicle size becomes a new extra-large vehicle size with a Capacity of 30 and a Signal rating of 6."...continues on to say this only adds capacity, you still need to buy the individual sensors to place into the enhanced capacity and extra-large size vehicles now qualify for the missile defense system mod.

Ryu: Clearsight limiting sensor quality sounds like a good idea. Too bad good ideas rarely get used. They make too much sense :(.
QUOTE (Ryu @ Sep 17 2008, 05:35 AM) *
Quince - Not a suite I´m afraid, but I would be willing to negotiate a bundle price if you take both.

Shogun- Ready to roll, my technical friend. Give me a deal on both Optimised-2 stealth 5 program & Covert-Ops Autosoft 3, and I'll tackle the technical side myself. Any program options installed on this 'ware?

- Quince

(Note: this is for a Missions character. Does this still work with you, Ryu?)
QUOTE (Quince @ Sep 20 2008, 04:04 AM) *
Shogun- Ready to roll, my technical friend. Give me a deal on both Optimised-2 stealth 5 program & Covert-Ops Autosoft 3, and I'll tackle the technical side myself. Any program options installed on this 'ware?

- Quince

(Note: this is for a Missions character. Does this still work with you, Ryu?)

I assume you may only trade with other missions characters? In that case it´s a no I´m afraid.

But since I´ve kept to the rules, you should have little problems in getting the goods. Availability is 14 for Stealth and 6 for Covered Ops. Depending on how tight money is for your char, you might want to invest into Stealth 6 (Optimised-3 / Ergonomic / 3rd Option). Hey, a hacker needs dreams, too.

5000 Stealth 5
1500 Optimised
1500 Autosoft: Covered Ops
8000 Total Baseprice
*10%: 800¥, with some RP negotiations you should get it to 750¥
From the preliminaries specs you sent, looks like the 'ware is incompatible with my OS. Even emulated, the two systems don’t cross over well. Hate to string you along, but I’m going to have to take a pass.

With the Missions Quince runs, he’s keeping things squeaky clean. You called it; Can’t trade outside of missions characters.
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