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[SR5] Semi-viable drone swarms

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Herr Brackhaus

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« on: (19:04:57/01-06-16) »
Unfortunately, the swarm rules just don't seem to be very encouraging in terms of teaming up similar drones, especially armed ones as they'd only attack once if my reading of the rules are correct. Until Swarm is rewritten, I figure the below might be a good alternative for a rigger looking for some anthroform power.

Start with a basic MCT Kenchiku-Kikai for 20,000•, increase its armor to 12 for 12,000•, and Nonconductivity 5 for 2,500• and a Vectored Signal Filter for 1,300•. Add your weapon (with mods) of choice.
Then add four MCT Fly-Spy mini drones for 2,000• each, and add Vectored Signal Filters for 1,300• each.

Get an RCC; for starting characters this is likely to be the Vulcan Liegelord for 66,000•, and add the Vectored Signal Filter mod for 1,300•.

NOTE: Vectored Signal Filters are only important if you expect noise, because a base K-K loses wireless connectivity in a Noise 3 environment which likely means it would lose it's connection to the swarm; with Vectored Signal Filters you are good until you hit noise 6. If however your GM reads the rules for noise as only the RCC needs to be able to reach your drones, a DR5 RCC with Vectored Signal Filter is good up to noise 8 and it would shave 1,300• off of the cost of every drone and the rigger could compensate on the fly for even more noise reduction.

Run EWar 5, Smartsoft, Stealth (Fly-Spy) 5, Swarm, and Targeting (weapon of choice) 5 for 9,600 total, or 75,600• for the RCC with programs.

For 42,500• in drones and 75,600• in electronics you've got an effective Device Rating 5 drone that rolls Pilot 5 (nope) Agility 2 + Targeting 5 + Smartsoft 2 + Swarm 4 = 16 13 dice on the attack, Pilot 5 + Reaction 5 + Swarm 4 = 14 10 dice on defense, and soaks anything up to DV 12 (-AP) without even rolling for it. As an anthroform with arms it has 8+Body/2=11 condition monitor, and because it's not firing a drone/vehicle mounted weapon it uses normal simple/complex actions to attack dependent on firing mode, and Strength 8 gives it 3 recoil compensation base and a few weapon mods easily adds enough for it to take aim and fire  full auto weapon simple actions for maximum chance to hit (+1 to attack and +1 accuracy with smart weapon, as well as -5 to defense). With Nonconductivity 5 it stands a good chance to resist electricity damage, which drones are especially vulnerable to, and it is completely immune to stun damage.

Someone trying to hit the minidrones would be at a -2 plus -Speed, though suppressive fire could be potentially troublesome. That being said, run two swarms of these and you can put down enough suppressive fire on your own for when your team absolutely, positively have to go loud.

While I think it's a shame riggers have to resort to these kind of cheap tricks to make drones relatively strong in combat (unless you're playing in games where PCs regularly throw 20+ dice, the above drone both packs a punch and can take a hit), I'm quite happy with how a unit like this could function.

If nothing else, it should act as a great anti-theft security system for when you leave it in charge of the teams ride ;)


What kind of drone swarms would you consider running as a rigger?
« Last Edit: (19:40:23/01-06-16) by Herr Brackhaus »

Malevolence

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« Reply #1 on: (19:13:36/01-06-16) »
The swarm only gets the dice pool bonus when "performing actions", so I don't think it gets it for defense. I'm assuming that "actions" refer to Free/Simple/Complex actions that involve rolling dice. If it gets the extra dice for defense, then Swarm is even more amazing.

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Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #2 on: (19:28:26/01-06-16) »
Interesting, good catch. I'd agree with the reading that the swarm doesn't get the bonus on defense, given that information. Even if you go on active defense, you're still not "taking an action".

ETA:
Actually, now that I think about it the K-K wouldn't get the benefit of the RCC Device Rating for the purposes of firing a weapon since it has drone arms and specifically "use the limbís Agility, rather than the droneís Pilot Rating" whenever "the drone is using the arm for a test that would normally be Agility-based". So anthroforms really need those Agility enhancements (or customizations, we still don't know which as far as I'm aware), which unfortunately add up real quick.

Since all the affordable anthro drones are Pilot 2 you're looking at a maximum of Agility 4 for the drone arm. You could go for the Executive Secretary for 40,000• base and upgrade it's arms to 8, but that would cost a whooping 26k for each arm and more than tripling the cost of the drone itself without any other modifications.

Seems we're stuck with drones that are just moderately good in combat after all. Cheap, fast, or good; pick two.
« Last Edit: (19:45:55/01-06-16) by Herr Brackhaus »

adzling

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« Reply #3 on: (21:29:01/01-06-16) »
Maybe I'm dense but I don't get why the fly spy's contribute to the walkers swarm? I thought they had to be the same drone to benefit from swarm.

Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #4 on: (21:39:13/01-06-16) »
According to Swarm, you just need multiple drones. There's no stipulation requiring them to be of the same model or even type, hence my opening comment.

Rooks

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« Reply #5 on: (21:47:39/01-06-16) »
Get a paladin mod it -3 armor add in machine Pistol add in doberman add in Prairie dog added in one of those smoke generator drones add in radio scanner get RCC Vulcan added sleaze Attributes add in electronic warfare machine Pistol targeting 5 autosofts smart soft swarm and smoke an mirrors get maneuvering autosoft installed on the drones direct and you got yourself a pretty good group of drone for defend stealth and support ad in the rating 6 sensor
« Last Edit: (21:56:07/01-06-16) by Rooks »

Rift_0f_Bladz

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« Reply #6 on: (22:18:36/01-06-16) »
That is one long sentence.

As far as I can tell, the swarm can be any type of drones. Odd that athros get stuck with agility, but than again, it makes sense when they said they get the benefits of cyber-arm upgrades (sans armor).
Quote- Mirikon on 7/30/2019 at 08:26:51
Agreed. This looks like a 'training wheels' edition, that you can use to introduce someone to the setting, and then shift over to something like 5E or 4E. Like how D&D 5E is best used as training wheels for D&D 3.X.

Turned in Toxshaman for •1 million/4 once.

Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #7 on: (22:56:52/01-06-16) »
Absolutely, Rift. But at 13k per point of Agility, a borderline cost effective drone just became a money pit that will still get taken out by a single well placed armor piercing sniper rifle round.

gradivus

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« Reply #8 on: (02:27:45/01-07-16) »
Isn't it better to give the anthroform armor?.. yes you don't have the auto bounce 12-AP but you can get to a higher AV and when the drone dies you can salvage the armor to put on the replacement drone.

and, for example, non-conductivity isn't in the drone mod rules...so how are you adding that.
« Last Edit: (02:31:14/01-07-16) by gradivus »
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Jack_Spade

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« Reply #9 on: (03:10:23/01-07-16) »
Don't forget that you can mount a normal weapon mount to use the full potential of your improved pilot even with an Anthro.

I'd also argue that the 50% cost reduction also applies to the normal custom AGI, since there is a separate enhancement table which would be full price (benefit: you can have higher agility than your pilot this way)

If you want to be cheap, get simple arms for 10%. They only lose 2 on physical limit and that is explicitly overwritten through accuracy of the weapon or can be compensated through passive sensor targeting (just be sure to have a drone with high sensor rating in your swarm)
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Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #10 on: (07:09:00/01-07-16) »
Isn't it better to give the anthroform armor?.. yes you don't have the auto bounce 12-AP but you can get to a higher AV and when the drone dies you can salvage the armor to put on the replacement drone.

and, for example, non-conductivity isn't in the drone mod rules...so how are you adding that.
Debatable, and comes down to personal preference. I like the Vehicle AV rules, though I personally think Vehicle AV should be hardened.

Non-conductivity is covered by the vehicle mod rules, Special Armor Modification on page 159. If Missions are considering using both sets of rules for drones and vehicles, I figure that you use the drone rules where there's overlap, and revert to the vehicle rules where there aren't, but that's just my interpretation.

Don't forget that you can mount a normal weapon mount to use the full potential of your improved pilot even with an Anthro.

I'd also argue that the 50% cost reduction also applies to the normal custom AGI, since there is a separate enhancement table which would be full price (benefit: you can have higher agility than your pilot this way)

If you want to be cheap, get simple arms for 10%. They only lose 2 on physical limit and that is explicitly overwritten through accuracy of the weapon or can be compensated through passive sensor targeting (just be sure to have a drone with high sensor rating in your swarm)
True, Jack, but that kind of defeats the whole benefit of an antrhoform being able to pick up a weapon with it's drone arms and use it.

The 50% reduction in cost specifically does not apply to anything but the base cost of the arms ("Upgrades for the arm are at full price, however."), and I'm assuming Enhancements should be used instead of Customization. I'm all for applying the cost reduction to upgrades as well, because drones are already expensive.

And having to replace an existing anthroform's arms with simple arms just seems like it shouldn't be necessary to make a cost-effective combat drone.

The biggest issues as I see it with drones are the lack of an overflow monitor so that drones can at least be recovered if fully damaged (easily house ruled), lack of durability (easily house ruled with vehicle AV counting as hardened; I'll run some math on that today for my own benefit), and the lack of decent skill pools (also relatively easily house ruled by making upgrades less expensive). If you're having to sink 50k • into a drone to make it a contended in combat and it can still be dispatched by one or two hits the system doesn't adequately cover risk vs reward as far as I'm concerned.

Jack_Spade

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« Reply #11 on: (07:25:08/01-07-16) »
The reason I say customization is part of the cost reduction is that this is how the arm comes from the factory. Everything else is a modification that can be added later. But the base strength and agility must come from the basic arm. (Otherwise I'd be sorely tempted to rip cyberarms from fallen foes to equip my drones)

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Rooks

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« Reply #12 on: (08:35:35/01-07-16) »
Still think you should be able to double stack armor on a drone upto the body rating, since it acts as its strength for alot of its intended purpose

Malevolence

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« Reply #13 on: (13:27:46/01-07-16) »
Some thoughts on recent developments in this thread (houserules ahoy!):


@Hardened Armor
It should be a thing. I see most armor worn by metas as "soft" armor - flexible ballistic fabrics with maybe some harder plates here and there. Vehicles don't need flexibility and breathability, and therefore should be using stiffer, sturdier armors. Adding armor to an anthroform goes "under the skin" to the stiff metal skeleton where stronger, "hardened" composites could be used.


This is not to be confused with the general fragile nature of most drones, where many don't have armor to begin with. But if you are adding armor, especially obvious armor, it should be hardened. Of course, the resulting "scratches to the paint" from drones with realistic features (especially anthroforms with expensive synth skin) could get pretty expensive as that would not be protected by the armor, but there aren't really rules to reflect repairing cosmetic damage.


@Drone skills
Like Agents (and spirits after a fashion), I think that Pilots should come with some base skills at their rating - namely Pilot [vehicle type] (effectively the current Handling autosoft) and Perception (Clearsight). Those are the things a pilot needs in order to keep from crashing - see things to avoid, and then avoid them. This reduces the need to waste autosoft slots on such basic functionality. Since it is now clarified that devices (including cyberdecks I'm guessing) can't run programs with a rating higher than their DR (so you need at least a Fairlight Excalibur or Paladin to run a Rating 6 Agent), having the pilot come with base skills at their pilot rating gives them those skills at thier highest possible value by default. When swarming, the upgraded "pilot" in the RCC then provides these functions at the upgraded pilot level. Combat and specialty functionality (Targeting, Performance, EW) would still require a specialized autosoft. This should ease much of the absurdity from limited autosoft slots.


Drones should also benefit from specialization. If a meta can take automatics and then get +2 dice for specializing in Assault Rifles, a drone should get at least that same +2 for hyper-specializing in Ares Alphas. Call it a combination of hyper-specialization and hot-sim, but that +2 to the dice pool for most actions involving an autosoft could go a long way toward bringing drone dice pools up to snuff. Obviously, if you install an Armorer or Medicine autosoft, there is no bonus since that is a very broad chip, but there should also be Armorer (Armor) and Medicine (Trauma Surgery) autosofts that would allow the drone to get the +2 in the appropriate situations.


It might also be useful to allow generic Automatics, and even Automatics (Assault Rifle), autosofts for use only by anthroform drones and that only apply to held weapons. This might make them too powerful, so I'm mostly spitballing this one.
« Last Edit: (15:53:51/01-07-16) by Malevolence »
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Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #14 on: (14:12:52/01-07-16) »
Thanks for sharing, Malevolence. A lot of good ideas in there, including the lack of rules for cosmetic damage. I might allow life styles to cover the paint on a car, but if your drone with Realistic Features 4 takes a bullet wound, I'd probably be looking at hospitalization costs for guidance on how much it would cost to "heal" such an injury.

I definitely like the approach on autosofts re specialization vs generalization. Good call!