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I'd like to get some feedback from the wise heads around here as to what yall think about the following idea. Specifically, I'm looking for input on whether this would be feasible, whether there might be interest in it, and what kind of things could be cool with it.

I've been kicking this idea around in my head for the past several months, as a potential long-term and larger capacity PBP game.

The basic idea would run something like this:
1. 10-20 Players are the leadership of a company-sized (100-200 man) mercernary unit.
2. This unit has prioirty bid on a textbook military mission - I was thinking 'mercenary company occupies and secures (for example) refinery complex in <remote, ungoverned or semi-governed location> no later than <6 months game time after mission received> until relieved by <sponsoring corporation security> no later than <9 months game time after mission received> in order to secure valuable, unowned resources for client.
3. Unit has something like 50 million nuyen in capital.
4. Players figure out bid for the contract.
5. Players structure their company accordingly (individual and team equipment for soldiers, skill set of soldiers, chain of command among soldiers and players).
6. Players move forces from <area where company assembled and equipment bought> to <target> and execute mission.

If possible, head GM would run the general situation, and there would be one or a group of opposing force players who play the group of people currently in the area (and would have a separate mission set). Head GM could also play the chairman of the mercenary company's board of directors, who could provide advice in sticky situations.

I would love to see how a group of players would figure this problem out, and create an organization with that capability.
I'm not sure this would be as exciting as you think, unless you define some limits around the application of firepower.

and by firepower, I mean drones.

Onto practical issues

A) You'll need to define payscales

B) whole of life costs for drones etc.

C) Maint requirements for drones

D) What the cost of big vehicles is - there is nothing that can replace an APC or a MBT in the books, and if the force warrants 1-2 companies, it probably warrants mechanized units.

I'm prreetttyy sure you'd only actually need 20 guys to do the mission incidentally. You'd want 50/50 mages and riggers.
Crusher Bob
Amusingly enough, another FASA product line has put out some ideas about how to do this; see various mercenary related books for battletech, which attempt to cover things like capital and replacement costs, plus maintenance, etc.

The main problem in trying this in SR is the existence of drones. Having a bunch of drones will almost certainly mean that you actually need to have much fewer meaty troops on the ground. Of course, you run into problems like: how long will drones batteries run? How long will a drone last? What are it's maintenance requirements? etc.

You also have to consider how much support the company is going to carry around with itself? Will it have medics? doctors? construction engineers? Engineering equipment? De-mining equipment? Etc. The list of things a company sized force might need is much longer than the list of stuff a company sized force would be able to afford.

One of the things you really need to do is specify a conflict region, and what sort of stuff you are likely to run into.
For example, I could define the game as follows:
The company will work almost exclusively in failed or near failed African and Middle-eastern states (whatever they happen to be in 2070, or whatever you want to make up).
The missions of the company will generally require the whole company to deploy and will generally be defensive (protecting personnel or installations) or carde (training other forces, or acting as opfor).

They can expect to typically face:
endless hordes of idiots with AKs, RPGs
A high number of low quality troops with most of the trimmings (support weapons, drones, etc)
A very low number of high quality troops (other mercs, other regular forces, usually not in direct opposition)
High number of improvised barricades and explosives
Sporadic artillery attacks (mostly to make it hard to get a good nights sleep)
Almost no opposing armored vehicles
Almost no opposing air, including helicopters


This tells us what kind of stuff our guys might need, or not need

So our organization might look like:

Recon Section
some number (3-6?) of airborne drone teams

3 Line Platoons
(around 30 guys each, or even 15-20 guys + drones)

Heavy weapons section (or can just do without)
(select no more than 6? from:
1-2 SAM teams, 1-4 light mortar teams, 1-3 ATGM teams , 2-4 heavy drone teams (steel lynx, wajinda, etc)

Motor pool
20-30 SUV type vehicles (the standard patrol car might be a good place to start)
5-10 military style trucks

Logistics and support section
probably at least another 40+ guys, who do everything from maintain the vehicles, procure new bullets and food, and deal with the taxman.

Magical support section
Keep on dreaming, dog boy.
A mage willing to get shot at for a living can probably get a job as a shadowrunner, that pays 10x as much.
Some of these issues are actually why it's exciting to me. There's a bucnh of stuff that I don't think is quite practically thought through in the SR4 rulebook, but could be usefu/fun to think through. I like thinking about the behind the scenes stuff. Like, if the players think that drones are the way to go, they can play that way. It'll be interesting to see if they think they can accomplish that with 50M nuyen, though - that will go quick.

On the company itself: I consider the size and equipment load out of the force a control variable for the players, based on what they want to play. That would have to be something that you'd figure out, and plan for. Payscales is something that can be aribitrarily concocted from the rules. You want a GOOD company (350 BP joes)? 3K a week, per joe, given hostile fire pay. That's something I've come up with from my butt, but in between that and the day job quality something can be refined.

Size of the company is based on size of the area, expected opposing force capability. I'm thinking minimum 1 sq kilometer. Expected opposing force capability would be an unknown, but player planning could provide an estimate. Take a refinery, for example - them's is big. Peeps need sleep. Drones need maintenance. And if you've got a big attacking force, then you've got similarly big problems. The interesting part to me isn't securing the facility, the interesting part to me would be getting there and then holding it for 1 or 2 MONTHS, in the face of opposition.

Log tail and Drones Mechanically, Example - assuming about 1 hour of helicopter miantenance by a normal tech per hour of flight time, (lets say, LOG 3 and skill 3), that would be on average an extended test with a threshold of (2x number hours flown) interval 30 minutes, requiring a kit. Which means you've got to plan technician availability, forward refueiling points, and such.

Drones would likewise be constrained by log tail. This is the kind of thing to think up in the planning stage. Something like the helicopter analogy would work for aerial drones.

Additionally, drones are highly constrained by signal range. Existence of the matrix in the area you are can't be taken for granted. To maximize drone capability, you'll need lots of big f***g drones with big, extended antennae (SIGNAL). That will cost money. You'll need drone techs.

ALSO, the magic thing plays a lot in. Characters can recruit mages, but they'll have to pay an ass load for them if they want anything more than the population average (what, 1% of the population is awakened?). ON the other hand, say that the nearest village (possibly opposing) to the site has a population of 3000 - assuming average number of awakened, that means they have at LEAST 15 times as many mages as you do. And air spirits can kill drones.
Sounds very much like a Tabletop War Game (such as Warhammer) using the Shadowrun system. If done properly, it could turn out fucking awesome.

It would, however, be very time-consuming; I suggest setting aside entire weekends for 2-4 weeks to complete this - it does not look suitable for a campaign. It would also be very easy to screw it up - on a scale that large, there are quite a few potential balance issues you will likely need to address.
Also, the reason this is cool to me, is that it requires some thinking to actually figure out how much it would cost. If you want a drone based force, how big? Infantry based force, with tactical drones? How big? How much? I really have no idea, conceptualizing it.
Muspelheimer - that's why I'm thinking PBP is actually a good way to do it. It would take years to run through, but that's fine if players are interested. Also, the tactical engagement itself is less interesting to me than the lead up. If you've got a good enough plan, the tactical engagement should be stupidly easy. I would want to allow the players to think that well.

In the case of big combats, some decisions would have to be made on things like number of rolls management, but that's an issue for future rob and company, not present.
It's doable, but leave it up to the players to decide how they spend their nuyen.gif .

Environmental conditions-> required maintenance infrastructure is of course a big issue. In the end it's a matter of PQRST (Product Quantity Resources Supplies and Time) and rapidly turns into a logistics game. Whether the Shadowrun system is suited for such a game is of course an entirely different issue.

That being said, sure I'm game for participating in such an experiment as long as it's restricted to sr3 (but then again I'm the type that would cost-effectively eradicate the surrounding native villages in order to quell potential resistance ahead of time).
Crusher Bob
Well, I'd assume you don't want to play a logistics game, so the main focus would have to be on the various trade offs you get by choosing one sort of force structure over another.

So what sorts of force structures can we have and what might the trade offs be?
I've actually thought a fair bit about the drone force so I can argue with it whenever people bring up the 'shadowrun military' zombie threads.

For starters, why would you use people to maintain the drones? There are drones in the book for that, and they cost less than getting some highly trained professional in there.

Incidently, I think 3k a week probably isn't bad, thats 12k a month which is a high lifestyle + 20% savings. Pretty realistic in terms of what actual soldiers get for actual deployments.

Force structure wise, it seems like there is a triangle with three points and you can put your force composition anywhere along the blend

The three points are

A) Highly trained, augmented and skilled soldiers

B) Chumps with or without skillwires and brainwashing or some reason to hate the other team

C) Drones.

I'm pretty convienced drones are seriously heaps cheaper than the other options.

The other thing is that a lot of the gear in the book is tailored towards the security market, so I doubt maintenance intervals would be as short - helis maybe, but a steel lynx isn't going to need MBT levels of maintence, it just wouldn't be fesible.

Crusher Bob
I think you can actually get away with much cheaper pay scales by hiring most of your guys out of the third world. If you just want grunt infantry with skill pools in the 6-8 range, then you should be able to get them from China, or India, or the Philippines, or wherever and pay out much less. It's only the guys who are better than drones (12+ die pools) that can really command international levels of pay.

So you'd have cheap guys, drones, expensive guys. Since you don't have to worry about training your guys from the cheap guys to the expensive guys, you'd don't have to worry about maintaining a bunch of middle cost guys and can instead fill out the middle with drones.
Mmm.... I think yall are underestimating the combined cost versus tactical effectiveness trade-off of the drones, versus the effectivenss of meat soldiers.

However, as Cthuludreams points out, this has been debated hypothetically before. I don't want to renovate those hypotheical debates, I'd love to set up the experiment where one or more of these hypothetical force packages can be tested.

Also, a lot of these assumptions depend on a common level of understanding of the game world between the players and the GM, whcih can't be taken for granted. For example, the effectiveness of drones vs. people depends a lot on how effective 'the people' are. I like where your head's at on this one, Crusher Bob.

I would assume that the average person (regardless of background), has all attributes at 3 and Edge at 4 (if human). Assume about 70 points of skills (five to six skills at rating 3, which I would actually say is pretty low, but many of those skills may be worthless depending on where you come from), and your average dude prior to resources, qualities, etc. is 250 BP. Including your average 'idiot with an AK 47', who goes for virtually nothing in pay. Assuming a normal distribution in human capabilities, this would normally distribute to a population of 150+3d6x10 BP (tails at 180 and 330 BP), that means that an utter chump prior to training is not a joke. With 6 months of lead time for the mission, the company can run a training program for its people itself for marginal out of pocket cost. More pay will get more experienced people, and a higher uniform standard with the same averages. But these idiots who can go for damn near nothing, with training, equipment, and good leadership, can be awesome. This should dovetail with common experience of people.

The drones don't strike me as the game breaker. There are some weapon systems and combinations, like tank characters, that might provide for systematically viable but not-common-sensible combinations that could break the game. I'm not worried about those, because if it doesn't make sense I'll outlaw them.

There are also some 'economy of scale things' that I'd be inclined to put in. For instance, ammo in shadowrun is WAAAY too expensive. Buying in bulk would decrease that cost substantially. Cyberware packages, armor systems, that sort of thing, can all be cheaper if multiple copies of the same thing are built in. Even drones!

Kiko, I hear what you're saying about the 'burn it down' tactic. That's legit - I have no preconceptions of how the players should solve the tactical scenario. But burn it down has its own problems, too.... It would be interesting to see how that would play out.

I am hearing some interest for this, though. How many people would be interested if I put up an OOC planning thread in the Welcome to the shadows forum?
You are protecting an OIL REFINERY. "Sporadic artillery attacks" will do a lot more than make it hard to get a good night sleep. Oil refineries are fragile and tend to blow up real good when people lob explosives at them. For that matter, they have a distressing tendency to blow up when people just make seemingly minor mistakes.

Keeping all bad people out of mortar/rocket range (> 10km) is going to be hard. So you'd better plan on being able to shoot down the sporadic attack.
QUOTE (kzt @ Dec 12 2008, 10:09 AM) *
For that matter, they have a distressing tendency to blow up when people just make seemingly minor mistakes.

QUOTE (Wikipedia)
The report identified numerous failings in equipment, risk management, staff management, working culture at the site, maintenance and inspection and general health and safety assessments.

So, care to explain how that is minor?
There is a risk management concept called "practical drift". "Each one of us makes locally rational decisions based on what we see at the moment. That is, knowing that we are the experts of our local system, we adapt organizational protocols and procedures to better match local conditions – practical drift. All well and good. Except when no one stops to check whether these local adaptations are beginning to collide or cancel each other out. This is particularly difficult to detect when ‘minor’ adaptations cause mis-matches across boundaries – across geographic areas, functions, organizational scales because by definition these are at the margins of our local expertise/business."

For example, people take minor shortcuts with complex safety procedures because it's quicker and their managers don't slap their hands, instead often rewarding them for "getting the job done under budget". And since it was ok that time, then we don't have to this either, right? And that works because someone else's "unnecessary safety procedure" kept you from doing something bad. Eventually you do something bad and the people who are supposed to catch that don't because "nobody could be that stupid" and they stopped looking and checking.
Logistics is a specialty of mine. So the first question is, on your budget, does that include the hiring, training (if any... mercenaries I know...) and outfitting or just operational expenses?

Moving on from there, you need to budget for things like food, housing and latrines, fuel expenses... particularly if you are running generators as a source of power for C&C.

For 100 men, a 50mil budget is pretty generous, so I'm suspecting you need to spend that to recruit and outfit too, in which case its pretty low.

So you start with the basics, an Org chart. You've established the PCs are your C&C and admin staff, and I'll assume then that your 100 man group is actually 100 grunts then, with the PC's being extra.

Say two platoons of 40 men, four squads of ten, each squad being two fire teams. For more flexibilty you could use, say, five squads of 8.

Each squad should have at least two support weapons, typically a light machine gun. You can add one (or, if you want expensive... all) undermount grenade launchers for the squaddies with assault rifles. Each Platoon should have one or two heavier weapons (HMGs or assault cannon available), which will be primarily emplaced weapons. Standard armor should be helmet and armor jacket probably, unless you are eliminating armor support, in which case splurge on heavy armor (milspec even...).

The remaining twenty men can be special teams, mortar squad (three, three man teams), for example, artillery support (call it two four man teams, using bigger weapons, 105mm probably for infantry), and vehicle support (ten drivers with vehicles (light skinned vehicles supporting the infantry, who provide the gunners; or 3-5 men per helicoptor... though you're lackign ground crews/mechanics in both cases...).

Being 2070, figure one squad member 'runs' the drones for that squad, with authorized backup from at least one other squad member. Number of drones, and type will depend on budget and mission.

Note that you'll have to work out rotation schedules on guard duty, rest times and quick response force (where they would ride with the vehicles, if any...)

That will help you set your budget. Note too that this is off the top of my head and using largely a US Army model as a starting point. You can eliminate, for example the squad support weapons and put more men into special weapon teams seperate from the squads, you can do an 'armored infantry company', where squads are smaller and have at least an IFV for each squad.
Let me rephrase
QUOTE (Wikipedia)
The report identified numerous failings in equipment, risk management, staff management, working culture at the site, maintenance and inspection and general health and safety assessments.

It was not caused by "minor" mistakes.
They all are, in isolation, fairly minor mistakes. The positioning of trailers was the most obvious mistake, but was done because it was convenient and nothing bad had ever happened (in the memory of anyone in the project...). It's the total number of them and how they interacted that results in disaster. This is almost always the way large disasters happen.

Finding like "Outdated and ineffective procedures did not address recurring operational problems during startup, leading operators to believe that procedures could be altered or did not have to be followed during the startup process" are all signs of practical drift. It's a series of rational and seemingly minor and harmless changes and adjustments in procedure and culture that are not effectively overseen by management at a high enough level to realize what this is doing to the overall safety environment.

As the accident report said:

"Many accident investigations make the same mistake in defining causes. They identify the widget that broke or malfunctioned, then locate the person most closely connected with the technical failure: the engineer who miscalculated an analysis, the operator who missed signals or pulled the wrong switches, the supervisor who failed to listen, or the manager who made bad decisions. When causal chains are limited to technical flaws and individual failures, the ensuing responses aimed at preventing a similar event in the future are equally limited: they aim to fix the technical problem and replace or retrain the individual responsible. Such corrections lead to a misguided and potentially disastrous belief that the underlying problem has been solved (CAIB, 2003)."

One of the best analysis of this is:
Friendly Fire: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Black Hawks over Northern Iraq
Scott A. Snook

Though "The Challenger Launch Decision" is also interesting.

Given how this happens in the US, imagine how much fun it is to run a complex industrial site in the 3rd world.
You also need to identify how big the mechanry group is - instead of paying licensed copies you're going to be making your own or cracking autosofts and skillchips and be handing them out like candy, and you need to know how much of the overhead you need to absord in your bid - its going to be different for Mercenaries Inc who has global orperations vs a small outfit where this is it.
Remember to buy your large-scale nano-forges. Darn, these are the ones they don't provide rules or prices for, as PCs "won't ever have access to them". But that is how you solve a lot of the spare parts issues. In theory you could use them to make ammo, but it really shouldn't be cost effective to make anything other than hugely expensive missiles, which they probably wouldn't have the pattern for.
If anyone is interested in the standard distribution of manpower in an American company sized light infantry element, it is as follows:

3x Line Platoons (PLT)
-Each PLT contains 3 Line Squads (SQD)
--Each SQD Contains nine men, split into two teams and a squad leader (SL)
---Each Team is led by a Team Leader (TL), with an automatic rifleman (LMG Gunner), rifleman (either radioman or marksman), and grenadier (rifle and explosives)
-Each PLT also contains a Weapons Squad (WPNs)
--WPNs contains one squad leader (SL) and two gun teams.
---Each gun team has a gun team leader with an MMG, an ammo bearer with a rifle and a lot of rounds, and an assistant gunner, with a rifle, a lot of rounds, and a tripod. Optionally, a fourth man equipped with rockets and a rifle can be attached to a gun team. He is known as the anti-armor specialist. In an area with high threat of enemy air assets, he could be equipped with an anti-air missile system, such as the Stinger.
-There is also a headquarters (HQ) element of each PLT, consisting of a Platoon Leader (Officer in charge of planning and logistics), Platoon Sergeant (Enlisted-man in charge of operations and execution), medic, Forward Observer, and the Platoon RTO, who is generally the technology liason in addition to being radioman.

Heavy weapons are assigned to the PLTs, who then can mount them defensively or onto vehicles. These are treated as being organic. PLTs typically have two HMGs and two automatic grenade launchers. They also generally have eight to twelve trucks. These trucks are not necessarily working at any given time. Low level maintenance can be accomplished at the soldier level. Higher level maintenance, which is all too common, must be done by battalion level assets consisting of mechanics.

Headquarters PLT
-This is where command elements are based out of. A Captain (Commanding Officer), Lieutenant (Executive Officer), First Sergeant, and Fire Support Officer are all part of this group.
-A mortar section is organized into this group. A mortar section has about the same amount of men as a line squad, but their focus is two organic light mortar tubes, with the potential for them to have attached medium and heavy mortars as the situation warrants. I am not an expert in this area.
-Forward observers not attached to PLTs are organized here as well, either for static emplacement (ie Base Defense) or just rest between being attached to a line squad. FOs have the bad luck to go on nearly every mission, whereas line squads rotate through rest cycles within the platoon.
-A communications sergeant, armorer, and supply sergeant are organized here as well.
-Operations, generally a two man team that also fills in as the First Sergeant's and Commander's personal radiomen is organized here. They are responsible for the majority of paperwork an Infantry company encounters day to day, including logistics, personnel tracking, awards, pay and medical issues, etc.

That is it. That is in a perfect world, nearly 150 people, usually less with more work. There is no room in there for maintenance or heavy artillery support. A mercenary company would either have to go "heavy" which is difficult given organizational concerns, a wider structure is much harder to lead or cut line platoons which would reduce maneuver capability for drone maintainers and pilots, artillerymen, and so forth.
I like where this is going... I've thought of many of these organizations, and eventualities, while I was kicking the plan around.

A few notable things:
1. Arguing about some industrial accident right now is extremely premature, because I haven't really identified a target.

2. The US Army infantry company example is a good starting point - and most infantry companies in the rest of the world are organized similarly. I would also suggest the Stryker company as an example, because that includes a bit more of the supporting elements at the company level. But, here's a couple things to think about that:
a. I don't have an org chart or anything in my head that's the right answer. I'm thinking company level, because it's finite enough to do at the beginning. Alternate org concepts are fine, and it's really whatever the players think they can manage and will accomplish the mission.
b. You might be able to timeshare, purchase, or limited-term contract some of the support capabilities. Helicopters, resupply, that sort of thing can be in company or subcontracted.
c. The 50M nuyen.gif is in capital to build the initial company with, NOT your entire operating budget. Players will have to estimate their operating budget and negotiate interim payments with the client. If you can do this for 50M out of pocket, that will be interesting.

3. Right now you don't know a thing about the opposition, so you'll have to design your force to maximize a number of capabilities, and hope that the contracts being offered fight to your capabilities. Hence, there will be tradeoffs between the flexibility to accomplish different missions and the organization to do certain missions well.

4. Economies of scale should factor into your planning. I'm thinking fairly significant tradeoffs for buying crap in bulk. Ammo? You won't need to make ammo. Common ammunition, like assault rifle ammunition, should come at pretty signifcant discounts - 20 nuyen.gif should get you about 500-1000 rounds, if you buy in lots of 10K rounds or more. But you will have the opportunity to deal with bulk suppliers, since you don't buy orders this size of the shelf.

5. You can have mages. Don't throw away the notion that they will be unavailable. You'll just have to pay for them. And the enemy will have them.

6. Cracking autosofts and handing them out like candy may be a viable solution, but you need to figure out how you'll do that. You'll have hundreds of people, and not all of them might be disciplined enough to keep you from getting in trouble.

7. There may be some nonstandard options you haven't thought about. Mortars, for example, could be effective off of smart weapons mounts with just a meat loader. You could even have drone operated loaders, if the price is right. There's a lot of stuff that isn't priced out in the shadowrun rulebook but seems reasonable, and one of our overhead concerns planning concerns will be pricing these things (like generators) out.

Now, we've talked in gneral about 'coulda/shoulda/wouldas' - how many people would be interested in trying this?
QUOTE (kzt @ Dec 13 2008, 01:14 AM) *
Remember to buy your large-scale nano-forges. Darn, these are the ones they don't provide rules or prices for, as PCs "won't ever have access to them". But that is how you solve a lot of the spare parts issues. In theory you could use them to make ammo, but it really shouldn't be cost effective to make anything other than hugely expensive missiles, which they probably wouldn't have the pattern for.

The rule I go by is that if it doesn't have a price tag then it's free.
QUOTE (rob @ Dec 13 2008, 11:57 AM) *
2. The US Army infantry company example is a good starting point - and most infantry companies in the rest of the world are organized similarly. I would also suggest the Stryker company as an example, because that includes a bit more of the supporting elements at the company level. But, here's a couple things to think about that:

The problem is that in most all US units (since J series TOE anyhow) all the maintenance is at battalion level. You'd need a slice of the support company/troop and probably a slice of the brigade support battalion. Companies also don't include things like intelligence analysts. So, if you are supposed to be self-supporting for months you are going to have to reduce your teeth to tail ratio.

4. Economies of scale should factor into your planning. I'm thinking fairly significant tradeoffs for buying crap in bulk. Ammo? You won't need to make ammo. Common ammunition, like assault rifle ammunition, should come at pretty signifcant discounts - 20 nuyen.gif should get you about 500-1000 rounds, if you buy in lots of 10K rounds or more. But you will have the opportunity to deal with bulk suppliers, since you don't buy orders this size of the shelf.

Not really. For example, the silly SR prices are nuyen.gif 2 per round. That is absurd, but so is nuyen.gif 0.02 per round.

Current real world open market prices for assault rifle ammo in quantities of 1000 delivered in the US is $0.39 per round . That's a 10 kg box.

In quantities of 100,000 it is $0.35 per round delivered in the US. That's a pallet, and it's going to weigh around 1000 kg.

If you go to container sized orders (say 4 million rounds) you'll get another 10-20% off, but that's about it. Ammo will be big bucks. And SR really under prices everything but small caliber bullets.
What version of sr are we looking for (I don't have acces to sr4)?

Ammo-prices (at least for ordinary rounds) could very well be based on the previously mentioned prices and then scale up linearly for special ammo-types (APDS, Ex-Ex).

By thinking about a 'US Infantry Company' you're totally looking at the opportunities movement and telework/the matrix present you. The fact is your intel capability except the most tactical stuff is going to be outsourced, you'd outsource all platforms like UAVs and any battalion level artillery you'd want to deploy, and you'd have a rapid response team based out of Macao that would be servicing the china block. As is whatever maint guys you require and a bunch of other stuff.

This plan does make you vunerable to jamming, but the only thing that jam a satcom with R6 ECCM is.. nothing! But you'd still want some anti radiation missles, heh.

Movement 6 on a C-130 in Macao allows you to get 92 paratroopers to anywhere in china in less than an hour, and the reality is it'll get them to most of the bits with people in them in like 20 minutes. And thats assuming the slow as molasses Herc is the fastest thing you can get your guys to jump out off.

The C-17 with a top speed of 500 mph will get you wherever you want in China in 40 minutes, and most of it in 10 minutes. Which is really quite fast.

So the guys on the ground are going to be the thin edge of the wedge. Most of the 'guys' on the 'team' will be sitting in an office block in Macao.

But anyway, the best way to do it would be to run a google spreadsheet, come up with various squads, vehicles, weapons teams and 'capabilities' that can be plug n played. I'd be keen for opfor or blue team for this.
The vulnerability with a rating 6 SATCOM link wouldn't be jamming, since high gain antennae aren't really subject to jamming at all unless somone is pointing a higher-gain antenna at the exact same receiving dish on the sattelite in orbit. The bigger concern would be someone intercepting, jamming, spoofing, or blocking the signal as it moves from <wherever you are> to <wherever your strategic QRF is>. Or, if you want to be more immune to that, the cost (astronomical) of dedicated, secure, constantly available SATCOM channels.

Cthulu, your QRF idea would work somewhat, but remember the tricky part will be holding for months, not taking.

I like where yall's heads are at, and it's refreshing to see so much good thought coming out of this thread. I'd break out the planning for some such operation in 4 phases:
1. Company formation. This is where you sepnd the 50M nuyen in capital you have and make your company. I pulled that 50M out of my rear, I could fudge (probably higher) with that if need be). This company will be built in the abstract.
2. Receipt of mission, planning, and bid preparation: This is where you get the mission, you are identified as priority bidder, and you generate the rough estimate of costs and your company's bid for the mission. Bid will be negotiated with the contracting officer from the client, and he'll generate the client side input and refined guidance.
3. Prep for op and movement. This is where you spend the rest of your time, your post bid capital infusion, and your training time to tailor your force to the mission. This is also where your advanced reconnaissance will take place (because you won't know the specific target until the bid is approved), and where you begin the movement to the objective.
4. Execution: This is where you get into the AO, go weapons red, and rock and rock and roll.

Planning phase on the board itself will equate to the following:
1. Phase 1 will be the people who are interested in this concept, coming up with the specific framework of the company, and initial recruitment thread. Phase 1 will be less like a standard adventure, and more heady. Start with the planning thread in welcome to the shadows.
2. Phase 2 will be where you get most of the company on board, start the actual game thread. In phase 2, OOC, that's also wehre we'll identify most of the "how does one actually manage this in a reasonable cognitive demand time." Phase 2 is where we also start looking for OPFOR.
3. Phase 3 + will require a group of players.
The question I was getting at before about overheads is will our company being taking multiple missions in parallel, and we'll only be managing one of them, or is this the entire lock stock and barrel of the firm.

For better or worse this is an area where there are significant economies of scale. Like the QRF can be used defensively if you have to defend a dozen positions around Macao, and is much more economical that point (the cost of keeping the C-130 operational is much less because you'll have a few C-130's to support the firm as required.)

Other likely economies of scale are in mages providing spiritual support, hacking and cracking, security spiders for your comms network - because yeah, I'd be renting sat comms time for dedicated channels to immunize ourselves to matrix threats. Much better if I can spread that burden over multiple contracts.

Also, need guidance on basics, like what is the cost to deploy, operate and recondition a Steel Lynx, UAV, perimeter security drones, I'm assuming airframes are in the 1:1 for helis and 1:18 for planes.

Costs change considerably, with a 5000 capital cost, 2500 monthly operational costs and a 0 reconditioning cost with extractable capital of 5000 dollars, a steel lynx 'costs' 5k for the 2 month gig, but you can see how the costs can slew wildly.

If its 500 a month for parts, 2500 for reconditioning, 5000 upfront, and 4000 extractable capital (a 20% casulty rate, which is high), you're out 4500 for example.

Also, a firm handling multiple missions has capability to have say, 2 urban security forces, 4 rural forces, a VIP protection detail, 2 HTR capabilities, airlift and a strike team, whereas a firm with only one mission cannot afford specalist capability in any one area.
Crusher Bob
There's also been no real discussion of 'soft power' type approaches. For example, I might be able to provide long term protection for my facility quite well with a civil engineering force of guys with picks and shovels who build schools, drill wells, repair churches, provide preventative health care, etc and a small team of hard cases to assassinate anyone who give the civil engineering guys any problems.

I think that that is one of the major disadvantages of the drone heavy force; it gives up way too much 'soft power'. Sure, if you want to fight a regular force in a conventional war, it'll work great. If you want to pacify Somalia, not so great.
It's Crusher Bob! I was just thinking that your ideas about how to do AFVs in a semi-logical way are sorely needed for this kind of game.

Mission controls everything. If the primary mission is to protect an oil refinery you handle it differently than if the task is to provide QRF for a corp running mineral surveys over 25,000 square KMs. But a unit that specializes in protecting sites like 3rd world oil refineries proably isn't even going to bid on the QRF job, as they won't have the lift to do it.

It's also important to ensure the scale of the task fits the unit. I'm not sure that you could actually protect a delicate site like an oil refinery over the long run with just a reinforced company. I suspect you'd need a reinforced battalion or brigade. These sites are huge and very easy to damage, and require protecting the input and output feeders, like oil pipelines, truck routes and power lines. In addition it is likely to be a really damn important target if there is shooting going on.

Convincing people not to screw with you is almost always easier to do than killing them when they do. But there is still the "drain the ocean" approach...

The other issue I see is that there are a few essential capabilities that I don't think are in the game. Like artillery and anti-artillery defenses. Otherwise you have to have pretty good control of everything within 40 kms, as a battery 1 of 2060 tech DPICM type arty round could blow up a good chunk of a lot of industrial sites.
Crusher Bob
Have fired up Google Earth to take a look at the Mombasa Refinery in Kenya. There is some cloud cover, but it looks like the refinery complex is something like 500 m x 1000 m, with the port facilities a kilometer or so away from that. It's also possible I'm greatly underestimating the size of the complex (due to the cloud cover) and is should be closer to a 1.5 x 1.5 km area.
Cthulu: Though it would be interesting to do multiple missions simultaneously, I'm of the opinion that as far as simple GM cognitive load requirements dictate, there's a finite amount of stuff that I can put forward to keep the scenario interesting and dynamic. Maybe if this scenario works, and works well, then we can go for other missions. Also, I prefer missions with some sort of offensive posture to them, as it allows for positive action by the company rather than yall just waiting for me to through variables at you.

As far as a Steel Lynx combat drone would go, I assume the following:
- Resale price of used military equipment = much lower. 20% casualty rate is quite sensible.
- Spare parts: I'd calculate this on the basis of use. I haven't looked at it, but I'd look at something like 'fatigue damage' actually applied to the drone itself over time and usage, and spare parts costing half of the percentage of the condition monitor of the drone. For example - 2 boxes of damage accrued over two weeks of operating in a mountainous region; that's 20% of your condition monitor. If your techs fix it, spare parts will be 10% of drone value. You can get some economies if you purchase spares in bulk and if you have good enough facilities on hand - for example, if you give your company armorers a drone shop and a vehicular nanoforge, they could cut new cogs or sprokets or things on location. I'm not one for reinventing the wheel, though. If battletech or Rigger 3 from SR3 have reasonable rules on this I'll look into adapting them.
- Operating costs - something to think about. Fuel consumption and consumable POL will go in there to some extent, but I'll probably abstract it a bit to keep some convenience. I will operate on the assumption of one fuel type for the vehicles and generators (unless yall have helicopters or something).

Crusher Bob: I like where your head's at with the soft power approach, too. Building SOME capacity for that into the initial force seems like a good idea to me. Up to yall, though, to identify how much of that you want to build into the force from the outset and how much you want to leave it open as an option as you get further information.

Kzt: Good keeping it on the mission focus. First off, it's up to yall what your unit will specialize in. Your unit, as you make it before the initial mission is even received, will be constructed as to yall's priorities, and yall's idea of an effective general-purpose combat mercernary company. Upon getting the specific mission and recieving your bid, you'll then retool the force for accomplishing your specific goals. Dependent on the scope of the mission and how well you planned, that could be anything from a small change to a radical new capital infusion. Don't focus on the specific task quite yet; we're still at the "Capabilities-Based" stage.
Regarding essential capabilities: Once yall identify a capability in enough detail, I can GM-fiat some level of ruling. For example, to build a fire-finder radar I'd simply put a cost for a rotating radar mount, high rating radar sensor, some generator (if your radar is rating 7+), and a standard "Fire-Finder" autosoft; then maybe apply a discount for a put-together system. Network it to a minigun loaded with flechette or explosive rounds, and you've got something like a phalanx system. The only thing I won't do is start writing whole hosts of military capabilities before we've even identified what yall want or need, simply out of time constraints.
You can add some capabilities but you can't turn a ranger company into an attack helo company or a armored cav troop. Well, you could but it would suck, as you'd basically have to fire everyone and hire everyone, from the CO on down, off the street.
QUOTE (Crusher Bob @ Dec 15 2008, 02:20 AM) *
Though it would be interesting to do multiple missions simultaneously, I'm of the opinion that as far as simple GM cognitive load requirements dictate, there's a finite amount of stuff that I can put forward to keep the scenario interesting and dynamic. Maybe if this scenario works, and works well, then we can go for other missions. Also, I prefer missions with some sort of offensive posture to them, as it allows for positive action by the company rather than yall just waiting for me to through variables at you.

oh I agree, you'd go nuts. However, having a single scenario in the context of a larger organisation will play very differently to a single scenario in a small organisation.

Like, we're discussing force planning now - if our lage organisation expects to do 10 things at once, we can buy specalist capability and be prepared for whatever mission profile gets coughed up, because we have that depth of capability.

If we're a single organisation, we just have to randomly guess as to required capability and potentially lose before the game even begins.
QUOTE (Cthulhudreams @ Dec 15 2008, 02:17 AM) *
Like, we're discussing force planning now - if our lage organisation expects to do 10 things at once, we can buy specalist capability and be prepared for whatever mission profile gets coughed up, because we have that depth of capability.

If we're a single organisation, we just have to randomly guess as to required capability and potentially lose before the game even begins.

KZT, this also dovetails with your comment, re: turning rangers into attack helicopters.

Remember, it's iterative. There's a couple things to keep in mind:
- One: I'm in this for fun, curiousity, and a little bit of learning. Wouldn't much be fun for anyone if I throw a scenario you can't win based on your initial force decisions at you. Nor would it be interesting if I make you scratch out all the effort in the general organization at the start. So yall ain't gotta worry about that.
- Two: Real organizaitons wouldn't be concocted out of nothing for one mission. Most organizations have a set up, and a mission that they have to adapt to. That's why I'm putting in the iterative thing, and encouraging yall towards a general-purpose company at the start.
- Three: A general purpose company in SR4 land, capable of doing missions across the world and stuff, is not necessarily going to look like a company anywhere else. There's no right answer, and as I think about it more I get more and more cool ideas.
- Four: Your contract is part of a larger corporate operation. Your client is in charge, and you are the "Tactical solutions provider." There's a lot of additional capability that you can negotiate with the client, and if you build additional capability into your organization that helps him achieve his overarching goal, of which you are part, you get a bigger portion of the contract.
- Five: I don't want to put yall as part of a mercenary battalion or brigade, or anything, because that would endeavor me to include more NPCs who tell you what to do. Less fun for all of us.
- Six: I said company because I'm worrying about my cognitive load. So yall will build a company, do your thing, make a bid, and prepare for ops. If you find out you need to hire another two companies of low skilled warriors and embed your soldiers in those, making yourself a battalion, more power to you. Game starts with receiving the call for bids, which we aren't at yet.
Yeah, just the thing to remember about that would be work selection would be based in part on team selection ahah.

Anyway, I guess the thing to think of next is what do we think the likely missions are in 2070. We're almost certainly going to be in Asia or the middle east (heh), and both will have serious hardware on opfor, particularly china.

I guess one basic bit of capability we could do with is a 'real' APC, and 'real' transport plane. We're going to need to use all three almost certainly - and the missles in the basic book are pretty weedy if a tank is sightly tougher than the vehicles as represented.
By the way guys, I'm costing out a drone based force (natch), and we you can get a serious force for not much money with extremely high levels of organic fire support and organic observation capabilities. Needs vehicles to make it practical, but including 2 months deployment costs, and doesn't assume that anything can be recovered, which you'll need to do for the bid (Also, people are really expensive compared to drones because of the pay and equipment costs)

3 x Drone Rifle Squads = 106116 * 3 = 318,348 (Drone rifle squad consists of a human operator, 5 LMG drones, 2 grenadier drones, 2 LEBDs with grenade launchers, all with satlinks)

1 x AT Squad = 540912 I cannot really price this as none of the vehicles or drones can carry an ATGM. Well.. the landrovers and stuff can, but I think we can all see the problem there. So this has 4 humans with ATGM launchers 2 LEBDs for personal protection (either with an LMG or a grenade launcher), and a carrier drone

1 x Pltn HQ = 545456 Including an officer, a pltn Sargent, a GTS Tower, 8 Dragonfly Microdrones, an Evo Orderly Medical Drone, 3 Tata Hotspurs, one retrofitted with drone racks and 3 Vulcan maintenance drones.

Reality is that the GTS tower and vulcans will be pushed to company level.

So that is Yens: 1,554,716 - Doesn't include software and autosofts.

One options for vehicles is Tata Hotspurs (equiv of landrovers I guess). Which to carry the humans and have a recharge rack for the drones, you'd want 3 I guess - but an APC or IFV would be better.

You could replace them with Ares Citymasters, which would save you a meaningless amount of money.

Coy is going to want three of those, plus an organic artillery capability, further aerial capability and a surveillance unit.

Organic Artillery can cvary pretty widely, again due to a lack of a proper APC platform we can do stuff like technicals with mortars at 140112 for 4 mobile turret mounted mortars to MLRS systems on trucks

3 Track converted trucks with mounted MLRS systems cost 630,750, 3 technicals cost 96750..

Total Artillery unit cost = 768612, including 3 tracked MLRS systems flexible turret mounted, 3 mortar techicals (turret mounted), 3 Loader drones (for the MLRS systems), 2 drone grenaddiers, 3 vulcan maint drones and a human squad leader

Ariel Unit Capability = 1852580, including 3 nimrods armed with missles, 3 skyclouds, 60 dragonflies, 2 Drone Grenadiers, 6 Vulcans, 2 Loader Drones, 3 GTS Skytowers

Company HQ = 639,156 Pltn Hq + a mage

Total Cost = 7,941,896 (3 rifle pltns, artillery attachment, ariel attachment and a stand in Company HQ)

We have an absurd number of maint drones too, so that can probably be cut back. I'm doing it up as a spreadsheet so I can go back and fiddle with things.

However, what I need is tanks. This unit can blast through any conceivable opposition not in APC or a MBT. So logically, I need some MBTs and APCs of my own - 1-2 APC per pltn to carry the humans around in (scrapping the hotspurs) and some MBTs. The more the merrier really. A tank pltn would help mitigate many of the weaknesses of this unit.

Assuming tanks clock in at 1 million (main gun is 100,000), APCs clock in at 200k, I'm actually not doing to badly. Swapping otu the Tata's for APCs per squad and HQ, and adding 3 tanks takes total cost up to: 11,020,096 Nuyen
I'm ignoring most of the thread about doohickeys including drones.

The refinery and port facilities will sit 5x5km area which is going to be my primary secure zone. I will also be expecting to have a daily patrol area of 50-100km.

My primary way of resupply is by air. My secondary method of resupply will be by ship. Resupply by ship takes three to six months and has to involve enough supplies to be economically viable. Resupply by air is for immediate needs, such as ammunition, fuel, food, and medical supplies. Resupply by air is extremely expensive as you will be carting infrastructure by air.

You won't have any artillery fire in the area, because that really demands having functioning roads. However, mortars being portable will be quite common.

Quick back of envelope calculations, you would be looking at a force 300 soldiers with a logistics train of 450, of which 150 will be situated in the primary secure zone. More back of envelope calculations, if it costs £250 a day to maintain a soldier in a foreign land, then maintaining a force of 300 will be £60,000 a day, at 60 days that will be £3.6 million. That's not counting the logistics of transportation to or maintenance of equipment at the primary secure zone. I think a conservative estimate would put this whole thing with two air assets of light reconnaissance helicopters at £100 million.

Now this is all done back of the envelope and if you were to give it to the real logistics expert, they would be able to to do a more serious calculation estimate.

@ALL: Some little concept things that can cause confusion. For one, I do not assume much autonomy on drones. If I don't, yall shouldn't either unless you talk to me about what you're thinking on how to employ them.\
Mechanically, I'm inclined to put up a psuedo-IC initial planning thread in Welcome sometime later this week, maybe tonight.

Cthulu: Good work costing out a drone based force, and some good starts. There's some refinement (natch) that's due, and some expectations that need to be put on the same framework, though:
1. Out of the box drones - I assume the prices in the box are for the bare bones drone itself, with absolutely nothing on top. So you're talking about minimal pilot ratings, minimal sensor ratings, minimal signal strengths, etc. You're also not talking about any shipping or storage capacity. So, drones will get more expensive as you 'arm them.'
2. Span of control - Tactically, the US Army assumes a span of control of no greater than 5 - that means, one leader can 'control' five people. There will be similar span of control limitations on drones, just in terms of instantaneous cognitive demand. Unless you want your drones making the majority of their decisions on the basis of their pilot ratings, and I assume pilot ratings are REALLY STUPID. In my view, even a LOG/INT/WIL 1 human has a 'pilot rating' of 6. Pilot ratings are good for execuitng things, but not for making tactical decisions. What this means - for your drone rifle squad, for example, I'd suggest either two human operators and one squad leader. Or, refine them into drone rifle teams and have five rifle teams under a platoon leader. NOTE - I don't assume that span of control of 5 is 'right'. But that's a planning factor I use when I make this stuff up. If you want to test it, then yall can organize scenarios and wargames in your planning time.
3. Regular soldier prices - these will vary a lot, and not just on the basis of BPs. Soldiers with technical skills, like drone operators, will be more expensive than regular people who have no skills that require extensive education. If you want to train them up to a standard, that's up to yall. So, I'd need to see some list of the assumptions you're making on soldier prices. You might find regular joes looking more cost effective, esp. when you include the fact that they have edge.
4. Custom drones - you can negotiate with the companies that sell you the drones to have them sell them to you in more useful packages, with the equipment installed. You can also buy some of the stuff and have some of your techs who are sitting around during the planning phase upgrade the drones for you.
5. APC platforms - yall can just rip off something from one of the old sourcebooks, and convert it over. Want an organic APC capacity, talk to me about what you want and we'll figure out a conversion to SR4.
6. Maintenance drones and medical drones - these can multiply the abilities of skilled soldiers, but can't replace soldiers. They have some skills, but no diagnostic capability. So, 'medical drones' can work with the company medical section, but you wouldn't want them treating people coming in with no abilities. Likewise, 10 maintenance drones can let 2 technicians do the work of 12+ people, but can't do anything on their own.
7. Drone vehicles - all the drones in the SR4 book are absurdly small. You want some real killing capacity, screw steel lynxes and buy landrovers with big guns, and rigger convert them. You can stick a lot of guns on them, esp. if you remove the capability to carry dudes. And you don't have to do all that yourself - somebody out there will sell you what you want.

Chrysalis: We're actually past the 'back of the envelope stage'. Some of your assumptions are really good - identifying some capability for the patrol range you want to be able to work is very good. Some of your assumptions are premature, since I haven't designated a target area. Right now we're trying to work out some of the initial estimate of what a force would look like.
1. Too much resupply planning is premature, since you might well have to carry all two months of stuff with you. I'd worry more about what kind of resupply you'll need, rather than how to get it there
2. Where did you get your number for 250 a day per head? Not saying it's a bad number, it seems appropriate, just want to figure out where you're coming from.
3. As for artillery fire, doesn't necessarily demand functioning roads. The VC were famous for sneaking big guns through the jungles. An off-road converted Ares Roadmaster or Zugsmachine can carry some big guns. But you may not even need guns that big, if you've got missiles and rockets.
We have fundamental disagreements then - by the book, pilot 4 is highly capable of autonomous action, and is far better at independent decision making that someone with log 1/will 1. If you want to arbitarily nerf drones, thats okay, but we're not talking the book rules then.

Drones in the book also explictly come with much higher specs than that. A Steel lynx (which forms the back bone of my force) is a security droid and comes with all systems at Rating 4 per the device rating table for 5k.

Again, you can arbitrarily nerf drones, but thats what it is - an arbitary nerf.

Medical drones, by the book, do have diagnostic capability with the relevant autosoft. Again, per the rules, a drone with the 3 skills in the medical group via autosofts is just as good as a real doctor. But really, he only needs to be as good as a corpsman and diagnose 'he's been shot' and 'maybe we should stop the bleeding' real treatment is probably a medical evac away. I certainly haven't brought a surgical centre.

Again, the Vulcan maint drones in the books are explicitly capable of managing the majority of maint tasks by themselves. The book states they only need assistance with advanced tasks where you need vendor assistance. Skillwise compared to the sample skills chart they are as capable as an enlisted man/junior NCO. The reality is of course I'd expect squad leaders to provide some minimal direction, and use the off site support capability for anything hard if you need it.

The drones in the book being absurdly small is good - a steel lynx's LMG is no less deadly for being on a drone. It is more deadly because it suffers no recoil penalties and has 3 IPs.

Now, we need to resolve this drone question. If you're going to be playing with a non-book interpretation of drone's capabilities, tell me now, so I can stop wasting my time.
Cthulu: Yup, this is a talking point. I operate on the concept that "drones are very good at one thing" and people are "okay at all sorts of basic stuff, and can be good at a few more of them." This isn't a disagreement that should be a deal breaker. Recognize that this is an interpretation question, not necessarily an "arbitrary fact" question.

Drones have nothing like "common sense" or a concept of the bigger picture. I am a big fan of getting these little things ironed out early, so we have fun and I don't have to make GM calls on stuff the PCs should have known about, on the basis of invincible ignorance about rob's little idea of the shadowrun world. We'll save the discussion about ratings for later, because that's so trivial. Again, I won't throw the concept out for a few thousand nuyen in rating points.

Here's the issues I'm thinking about:

1. "What routine maintenance is" - Fair enough, a vulcan maintenance drone should be able to do all of that stuff. Anything that would cause a present day car to throw an engine code, a vulcan should be allowed to fix. Most periodic checks and services - regrease your chassis, that sort of thing. Hell, a vulcan maintenance drone could easily check every nut, bolt, tube, electrical connection, etc. on a helicopter, all in a tenth of the time as your regular tech. BUT, if your helicopter has a bunch of small arms bullet holes in the side armor, and you don't have OEM replacement panels for that armor, your vulcan isn't going to be able to cut you some new steel armor patches and weld them in place without you telling it. Similarly, if your steel lynx bends a tie rod on one of its axles, the vulcan will call the vehicle deadlined and wait for you to give it a new tie rod. Your vulcan won't know that in this situation, the bent tie rod is OK, or your need an aftermarket tie rod because the manufacturer's suck. Say you want to weld a ram plate to all your vehicles, becuause you're going over brush. Vulcans don't know how to design ram plates. Won't know that you need a ram plate. You can play with this (for example, it's trivially easy to tell your vulcan you need to clean your air filters every day, rather than every month, because you're in a desert), but they won't think of the kind of stuff that a regular, trained (logic 2 or 3, automotive mechanic (tactical vehicles) 2 or 3, some knowledge skills) mechanic can come up with. Best solution? Buy both, use 'em together.
2. "Medical drones" - Similar shtick on that. I don't disagree with you on this one. Your med drones may actuallly be more useful than the maintenance drones, because "he's shot, lets stop the bleeding" is not a hard concept to articulate.
Remember a couple things, though: The average soldier is not significantly worse than the drone - a "first aid (combat wounds)" skill gives you 3 dice, and a medkit (6) is trivially inexpensive compared to the drones. I would expect every soldier in your unit to have that skill, since it's not hard to train in the game or RL. Plus, every dude should have a trauma patch clipped to their wrist, just in case.
The way I figure it, an actual doctor has logic 4 and medical skills in the 4 or 5 range. In the book, they give the example of "Elite soldiers" as firearms skills 5, and your average (straight out of med school) medical doctor has gone through far more years of training than, for example, a brand new special forces qualified soldier.
Again, best solution? Buy 'em both. Instead of needing one multiple-years-of-training medic per platoon (an average squad medic has a year and half of training and really high ASVAB scores in the US), you need two good medics for the company and some helpful drones.
3. "Tactical Drones" - Tac drones are awesome for a lot of things. Say you've got a cargo helicopter, and you want 4 Nimrods flying security for it, 2 with missiles for air security, 2 with miniguns for ground security. All have pilot upgrades to 6, relevant autosofts, and the 'weapons detector programs' and stuff. You could easily tell those Nimrods to kill anything that threatens your helicopter. A Nimrod, if it sees, for instance, a group of hidden dudes with surface to air missiles, could shoot them all up, much less expensively than additional security helicopters or whatever. Probably even better. But your Nimrods won't know that "that group of dudes who's sitting next to a donkey cart on that mountain top shouldn't be there, because why the hell would a group of dudes with a donkey cart be sitting on a damn mountain top?" Now, the rigger who's flying your chopper will probably also be controlling the drones, and can make that call, but the drones themselves won't know it's all that wierd because it's not a threat they've seen before and they have no common sense. Say also you've got a team of steel lynxes, who's going to go into a city. The steel lynxes, unless they have chemsniffers, won't know that there's a landmine hidden in that teddy bear. Chemsniffers don't come standard in Steel Lynxes, and they're not usually programmed to look for teddy bears. Say you roll some steel lynxes into a village, because you've got some problems, and the village is wierd; they will have no way to articulate the "this isn't right" concept. You also have some mechanical situations that Steel Lynxes will suck at, like clearing a building that has stairs. But those are forecastable, and you can always blow the building up. On the other hand, for your basecamp itself, you can easily just set up a "dead zone", and have 40 medium machineguns on weapons mounts controlled by one guy with a "wake me up if you kill something" function programmed.

Now, especially with the tac drones, this isn't a problem if you've got enough leaders. But 9 drones is a lot for one squad leader to control, especially if he also has to negotiate with the villagers, that sort of stuff. That's why I brought up the span of control idea. In clear cut situations, the drones will often beat the soldiers. They don't need sleep, they don't get spiteful, all sorts of things. But I'd be a crappy (and unrealistic) GM if I gave yall clear cut situations and if the OPFOR fought to your strenghts.
QUOTE (rob @ Dec 15 2008, 10:04 PM) *
[Chrysalis: We're actually past the 'back of the envelope stage'. Some of your assumptions are really good - identifying some capability for the patrol range you want to be able to work is very good. Some of your assumptions are premature, since I haven't designated a target area. Right now we're trying to work out some of the initial estimate of what a force would look like.
1. Too much resupply planning is premature, since you might well have to carry all two months of stuff with you. I'd worry more about what kind of resupply you'll need, rather than how to get it there
2. Where did you get your number for 250 a day per head? Not saying it's a bad number, it seems appropriate, just want to figure out where you're coming from.
3. As for artillery fire, doesn't necessarily demand functioning roads. The VC were famous for sneaking big guns through the jungles. An off-road converted Ares Roadmaster or Zugsmachine can carry some big guns. But you may not even need guns that big, if you've got missiles and rockets.

Hi Rob,

First off I would seriously need to sit down and do the logistics calculations to be able to say with any authority how much would this cost. As I am not in RL going to make a bid on this kind of project I am not going to devote a week to find the manuals and do the cost calculations.

1. Two months of stuff for 450 men is calculated in the thousands of tons.

2. Average cost of how much a infantry soldier is going to cost to supply. Still I would trust Diesel's figures than my memory on this.

3. If an artillery section is willing to beast a 7 ton artillery piece, through 20 kilometers of forest, and then build up a resupply route for the ammunition, and set down the hardline to headquarters, and all that without the use of a truck. Now, just forget about your mercenaries, just hire these boys.
QUOTE (rob @ Dec 15 2008, 01:04 PM) *
1. Too much resupply planning is premature, since you might well have to carry all two months of stuff with you.

That's absurd. Just the generator to run the TOC will take over 2000 gallons of diesel fuel for two months. Each guy would need to carry 60-120 pounds of food on their back? Not to mention that a support weapon can go though tons of ammo in a few hours.

3. As for artillery fire, doesn't necessarily demand functioning roads. The VC were famous for sneaking big guns through the jungles. An off-road converted Ares Roadmaster or Zugsmachine can carry some big guns. But you may not even need guns that big, if you've got missiles and rockets.

Crossed stick 122 rockets with a 25km range get really ugly when you have GPS and MMM terminal guidance. Being able to put a 10kg warhead through the roof of the TOC on demand is really an ugly capability.
Yeah, this force clearly cannot operate in isolation. However, it is also really, really cheap. It is probably 12 million for a Coy(+) with frankly insane organic firepower, artillery, and survlliance. The budget is 50 million. You could ramp up to a full battalion and buy a 10 million dollar HQ capability in Macau and have change left over.

With the examples you give for the Vulcans - I figure patching bullet holes would be a basic operation that military combat maint techs are going to know how to do, but for the ram plate examples - yeah, you'd need to provide them direction (wield a ramplate on here, here and here on all the APCs), and they could manage the execution seamlessly.

And whats more, if you actually have a really serious problem, you'd just get your doctor or engineer to tele presence in over a satlink from HQ. I don't want to deal with the problems of having that guy on the ground when he can deal with the problems from VR back at the HQ in Macau. You need the guy for like 10 minutes to tell him what the problem is, then he needs to think of a solution, come back, tell the drones what to do, then go attend to another client.

My 12 million bucks currently includes like 20 people total, so a full time doctor is completely unnecessary. If I need one, I'll use telepresence.

I figure you'd spend the remaining cash on specalist capability to do mission profiles. My 12 million is actually quite anemic in an urban enviroment, or doing VIP work, or doing HTR, but for the take and hold missions it is pretty much unbeatable, having over 100 flying survelliance drones, in addition to massive firepower that doesn't require sleeping.
Adn yeah, we need airlift and resupply capability. Mages with movement are going to be essential.

Edit: Interesting point about drones. Remember, steel lynxes are supposed to be good at fighting and security. So they are going to have loads of programming about perimeter security etc and all that good stuff.

But yeah, my force is 100% unsuitable for operating offensively in an urban enviroment, mostly because it has MLRS as company level artillery.

But yeah, there are other problems, it is designed to take and hold ground conventionally, and can also defend unconventionally, but fundamentally it is Armoured/Mechanised Infantry and needs to operate as such.
Here's a general guideline to think about - Since I'm running this one like a textbook scenario, textbook COMPANY operations assume a platoon worth of opposition. So, the opposition you'll have might have a budget in the 7.5-12M range. They are smart, too. Yall could easily kick their rears if they don't know you're coming, have a good plan, that sort of stuff. But they'll have some significant firepower too, and if they are smart they will be able to hurt you a lot.

And, here's another thing. Some of the examples I've given for 'non-routine' things take some precision. In the drone's case, I don't define "routine" as "frequent," I define "routine" as "there's a set of procedures that you can do specifically that don't require much judgment" in that problem. For example, clearing a room according to the book does not occur often, but falls in the latter category, and Steel Lynxes will ROCK at it.

KZT, Chrysalis - Yup, two months of stuff for 450 men IS calculated in the thousands of tons, and you WOULD need 2000+ gallons of diesel fuel. So buy a Zugsmachine with 3 trailers. Or two zugs + trailers. Or 10 zugs + trailers. Well within your budget. Again, US straight-leg infantry companies have 10 trucks themselves, and they're supposed to walk. It is conceivable to move all that much stuff in two months. And yep, you would need to guard it. Which means you need stuff.

We agree on the artillery thing. I, for one, think that this is the case where there are great economies of precision. An Ares Heimdall drone missile with some good riggers on top can blow up very specific targets on the cheap.

Cthulu - Your telepresence idea is an interesting one. Yall may well be able to build that capability into your force, and could prob. get some economies with the doctors. That's quite cool, and I think a way to maintain a very realistic advantage in the situation.

Just one thing I've found - when I built my rigger characters, I found that as I went through the number of things I wanted my little surveillance drones to do well with, they cost in the order of 5-10K each. My Steel Lynxes, kitted out, were on the order of 15-25K each (when I put ultrasound, smartlinks, appropriate autosofts, chemsniffers, vision mods, etc. on them). And this was before arsenal, and extra goodies to buy.
Yeah, I just haven't bothered with that. The advantage in steel lynxes is that they cost 5.5k (once you bolt a sat comm on) and the smartlink comes with the gun. for that you get radar, camera and audio sensors (not fussed about ultrasound given they have radar).

If you lose a lynx, you get another one. Once you start tooling them up their weaknesses become apparnt and they lose the advantages of 'being cheap'

Which is a big advantage. Unit price of ~20k vs ~5k means that the expensive guys had better be a lot better considering the forgone capability. And seeing as your not buying extra armour, they still die fairly easy. Whereas at 5k you go.. well, whoops.

Anyway this is all predicated on me thinking that pilot 4 is perfectly fine to make independant decisions and you not. Unless we have a resolution on that, its all hot air.
Textbook company operations assume a platoon as an opponent. In the attack. When defending the textbook opponent is a reinforced battalion. I've been in Army simulations where a infantry battalion gets to fight a reinforced MRR. On the few occasions we won we didn't have any capability to do much (had from a company+ up to two companies- left, once you consolidated), and when they won they were generally pretty much hammered. This isn't going to work out well in a mercenary unit where loses come out your hide.
Crusher Bob
A 'soft power' coy- might look like:

HQ section
3 men

Construction platoon
1 Platoon leader
-3 construction teams
--3 men, 6 carpenter drones

Medical Section
1 Section Leader (MD)
-2 Medical teams
--3 men, 6 medical/education drones

1 EOD/de-mining team
3 men, 6 EOD drones

1 Earth moving team
3 men, 2 earth movers

Motor pool
3 mechanics
9 maintenance drones
8 light trucks
10 medium trucks

Assuming EOD, construction drones, medical, and maintenance drones cost as much as steel lynx, and the 2 earth movers weigh in a 75 K a piece, with light trucks @25K, and medium trucks @55K

So you are looking at a capital cost (not counting personnel) of around 1,150,000 Y

and monthly operations:
Housing, food, etc per man of 500 Y/day
15,000 for your MD
5,000 for your medics
6,000 for your command personnel
3,000 for line dogs
maintenance of 5%/month on the vehicles and drones when deployed

Of around 175,000 Y, plus how ever much you want to spend on the stuff you are building, etc; at least enough to bring you up to 250K Y a month.

Adding another construction platoon (10 guys, 18 drones) adds around 100K in capital costs and around 33K a month in operating costs.
You salaries are very low. An Australian NCO on deployment can earn north of 120k a year, which is in the top 10% of Australian incomes, and thus qualifies for a 'high lifestyle'

And his wife gets a pension if he eats a bullet, which our guys don't. I think you have underestimated all the costs by between 50 and 75% as a result. A soldier can probably expect to clear 12k - 20k a month. Currently I'm using 20k for officers and 12k for NCOs.. but it probably needs to be higher.

Thats why I've gone really drone heavy. Given 250 yens a day to feed the guy, plus a 12k salary (which is too low as I just established), you're looking at 19,500 a month for a private or junior NCO.
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