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Side Story: Drones

Drones:

Funnel Drones

A funnel drone is nothing more than a hidden, remotely piloted VTOL that a mobile suit may carry for rapid fire-support and scouting operations. A standard Funnel is a missile-shaped VTOL, using powerful hoverjets to move, equipped with a small laser. Controlled through an extensively redesigned neural- helmet setup, which links into the virtual-reality 'psychommu' unit installed in the Funnel, the Funnel functions in battle just like a standard, piloted, VTOL and therefore moves as such. Therefore, unlike the earlier guided missiles that it so strongly resembles, the Funnel need not designate a single target upon launch, nor must it keep firing at one target alone during its active time. A pilot may equip himself with as many funnels as he desires, each one weighing a ton and taking up a critical location. These are protected by the mobile suit's armor and are deployed prior to combat. A standard funnel is equipped with a 40pt HX warhead for emergency uses, and which can be detonated in the event that the funnel collides with an enemy unit.

A standard funnel moves at a speed of 75-113. This speed allows it to pursue fighter craft as well as mobile suits.

A hit to a critical location containing a Funnel results in a 40pt explosion. Destruction of a funnel results in 1pt of feedback damage to the pilot hooked into the Psych(ommu/frame). Deliberate (declared) ramming by the pilot will still carry the 1pt of feedback damage.

Energy capacitor rule: (May be safely ignored for short campaigns.) A Funnel, due to its small size, has only a limited amount of power by which to run its engine and weapons. This form of funnel has 40 points of energy stored within its capacitors (basically large battery packs), 3pts of which are expended every time the SL is fired. In addition, 1pt of energy is used for every turn spent at cruising speed, and 2pts for every turn spent at flank speed, to run the Funnel's engines. When fighting in the gravity well of a planet, the amount of energy needed for movement is effectively doubled, requiring 2pts for cruise and 4pts for flanking speed. If, at the end of a firing phase the Funnel has expended all its energy and has not landed (per normal VTOL landing rules) it will crash and be automatically destroyed, causing feedback damage to the pilot. A funnel may avoid this fate by attempting to re-dock with the mobile suit that launched it. To do so, the critical location that originally housed the funnel must still be intact (or the docking equipment is declared destroyed) and the mobile suit must remain motionless for the turn. The pilot must make a standard piloting roll for each returning funnel, a successful roll means that the funnel has safely docked with the target mobile suit. A failed roll is treated as a charge (ram) by the funnel on the target mobile suit, and can therefore have devastating results. Once docked, all funnels will regenerate their power points at a rate equal to the mobile suit's engine rating divided by 100 (rounding down) per turn. I.e., a mobile suit with an engine rating of 360 can regenerate 3pts of power to each funnel per turn.

Fin Funnel

A powerful and dangerous modification of the earlier Funnel Drone, this larger cousin of the SL-carrying funnel is equipped with a Medium Laser and a 80pt HX warhead. Equipped with tactical sized weaponry, rather than the point-defense type SL of the previous model, the Fin Funnel is much more of an anti-mobile suit weapon than was the Funnel drone. The Fin funnel is controlled by the same 'Psychommu' or 'Psychoframe' neurohelmet design that the funnel was controlled by.

Weighing in at 2 tons, the Fin Funnel takes up only 1 critical due to its fins, which usually protrude outside of the mobile suit's armor, and which fold during firing (hence the name 'fin' funnel.) This slower model Funnel moves at a speed of 48-72. Detonation of a funnel inside the mobile suit's armor results in a 80pt explosion, detonation outside the armor results in a central core of 80pts, surrounded by a ring of 40pts, then 20pts, and 10pts. Damage is allocated in groups of 5pts. The pilot takes 1pt of feedback damage when a fin-funnel is destroyed. Like the earlier funnel model, the fin funnel uses the mobile suit-pilot's gunnery and piloting skills while flying.

Due to its advanced design, a Fin Funnel carries an onboard energy generator that can run on its own for the duration of any standard battle. Therefore no energy capacitor rule is needed for its operation. The standard docking rules still apply.

Bit Drone

The bulkier and slower predecessor of Funnel technology, a 'Bit' Drone is a large, squat, cylindrical or spherical VTOL studded with manuevering hoverjets. Used in the days before the advent of psychoframes, a bit originally carried a complement of 2 machine guns, 100 rounds (.5tons) of ammunition, and 8pts (.5tons) of standard armor supplanted by a devastating 100 point HX warhead. Later versions replaced weapons, ammo, and armor with two Small Pulse Lasers for improved accuracy and damage. Eventually, the bulky and slow Bit Drones would be replaced by the nimbler and deadlier Funnel Drones.

A bit drone weighs in at 5tons and takes up 5 criticals on the mobile suit or vehicle carrying it. Much heavier and slower than the funnels that would postdate it, it travels at a speed of 15-23, making it a chiefly anti-mobile suit weapon. When hit by a weapon, damage is taken on the standard VTOL hit chart. Any penetration of armor, or successful critical hit roll automatically destroys/detonates the bit, otherwise armor damage is taken normally. Any hit assessed against the bit which slows its speed does so as for a normal VTOL, though a hit that immobilizes the bit will cause it to crash immediately. The bit variants that carried 2 SPL instead of the MGs and armor, explode on the first hit by enemy fire. On impact with a target, the bit will explode doing 100pts of damage to the hex containing it, a ring of 50pts of damage around that, a ring of 20pts another hex out, and finally a ring of 10pts. All damage is taken normally, in 5pt groups.

A bit, understandable for its size, carries all the fuel and energy it needs for a standard battle, and does not need to be refueled. A bit may dock with the launching unit per normal rules for funnels.

Optional Bit Variant: A strange form of Bit Drone, used very rarely in the urban fire-support role, is the Reflector Drone. A reflector drone is a bit that carries a folding 'mirror' on board, capable of redirecting any energy weapon that it intercepts. The exact methodology of this use is a little involved:

If an attacking unit wishes to attack a target unit with a reflector drone, the attacker must have LOS with the reflector, and the reflector must have LOS with the target (though the attacker and target need not have LOS). The attacker must fire each direct-energy weapon he wishes to fire at the target unit, at the reflector as if the reflector was his true target (Taking into account all movement modifiers, etc). Missed shots merely miss the reflector with no ill effect. The reflector must now properly 'intercept' each energy beam. It does this by making a to-hit roll as if it was firing on the attacking mobile suit with the weapon that it was trying to intercept. I.e., if the attacking mobile suit fires a PPC at the reflector successfully, the reflector must now roll to intercept the PPC beam by 'pretending' to fire a PPC at the attacking mobile suit. If this roll fails, the energy weapon missed the reflector's mirror and hit the reflector itself, whereupon damage is taken normally (destroying the reflector.) If the roll succeeds, the Reflector must now roll to hit the target unit with the reflected beam, 'pretending' that the beam originated at the reflector. (This can effectively double the accurate range of energy weapons fired at the reflector, another reason for their use.) A successful roll means that the energy beam has hit the target mobile suit, a failed roll merely means the beam has missed, with no other ill effects.

In addition to this use, a reflector drone may 'catch' and redirect energy beams fired at it by hostile units. To do this, the drone intercepts the beam as explained above, with a +2 to hit modifier (due to pilot surprise). The Reflector may then redirect that intecepted beam at any target it has LOS with, 'firing' normally as shown before. Of course, projectile weapons and beam sabre attacks may not be redirected.

A reflector drone has the same speed as a normal Bit Drone, and carries no armor.

INCOM Drone

A basic wire-guided funnel-like weapon, an INCOM Drone is designed to be controlled from the more compact but more limited INCOM Control System. The standard Incom is a slim, cylindrical weapon equipped with a Small Laser, trailing a thin wire leading into the carrier mobile suit for control purposes. A standard INCOM moves at the same rate as a funnel, but is limited in range to 1 board due to the limited legnth of the wire.

In addition, a standard INCOM is capable of firing only 3 small laser shots (9pts of energy) before its capacitor is expended and it must return to the carrier mobile suit for redocking and recharging. No HX warhead is carried by the INCOM. After recharging the INCOM may be released and redeployed.

Another kind of INCOM is available for emergency defensive purposes: the Shield INCOM. This specialized INCOM carries a small, one-shot I-Field Generator. When activated, this Generator will block any energy beam weapon whose line of sight passes through the hex containing the Shield INCOM. Due to the small size of the Shield INCOM, energy dissipation is rapid and there is no need for extra heat sinks. However, an overload of the I-Field Generator (per I-Field rules) results in the immediate destruction of the INCOM. After activating the shield, the INCOM must return and be charged before being redeployed (treat it as 9pts of energy to recharge.)

An INCOM carries no armor, and is therefore destroyed upon the first hit by enemy fire. INCOMs will not explode, however, due to the lack of the Funnel's dangerous HX warhead (and capacitance system). If the mobile suit attacking the INCOM misses and rolls a 2 on 2d6, the INCOM has been missed but the control wire has been hit, disabling the INCOM. INCOMs may be mounted anwhere on the carrier mobile suit, requiring 1ton and 1crit, plus 1 critical for the wire-guidance reel. A critical hit on the wire reel results in immediate deactivation of the relevant INCOM (one per reel.) Docking is done per Funnel rules.

Wire-Guided Arms

A strange weapons system designed chiefly to attack I-Field equipped mobile suits under the guard of their shield, a wire-guided arm system uses a Psychommu or Psychoframe setup to control a self-propelled, claw-equipped limb of a mobile suit. A Wire-Guided Arm costs 5% of the mobile suit's tonnage per arm for the special docking, thruster and wire-guidance mobile suitanisms it requires. A claw (per Solaris or THB rules) must be mounted on that arm in place of the hand actuator, taking up the required tonnage and space. One critical location must be allocated on the arm for the wire reel and thruster, destruction of this critical location results in the disabling of the WGA system. Finally, tonnage and space must be allocated for fuel (15pts of fuel per 1ton, 1crit), for the arm's thrusters.

A WGA may be used normally for melee combat purposes. When launched, however, it is treated as a 1-2-3 melee weapon for ranging purposes. (Therefore, a target in the forward or respective arm arc of the mobile suit may be attacked up to a range of 3 hexes away). If the to hit roll is successful, the WGA has grabbed the enemy mobile suit, does punch damage, and is locked to the location which it has grabbed. (Destruction of this location automatically releases the claw.) The target mobile suit may attempt to break the hold of this arm the next round by making a successful piloting roll. If the roll fails, the claw has not disengaged and punching damage is done to the target mobile suit due to the struggle. The target mobile suit is immobilized until the claw grip is broken. If the to hit roll for the claw attack is unsuccessful, the WGA ends the movement phase in the closest hex between attacker and target, adjacent to the target.

Every hex covered by the WGA en route to its target and back costs 1pt of fuel. If a WGA should run out of fuel before successfully redocking, it may be reeled in by moving the carrier mobile suit into the hex containing the arm. If not latched to a target, the arm and mobile suit may move freely, so long as the arm expends enough fuel points to always be within 3 hexes of the carrier mobile suit.

When latched to its target, the WGA may fire any and all of its arm-mounted weaponry at that target. (Treat the Wire Guided Arm as if it were a mobile suit standing 1 hex away from the target, with a +1 if the WGA has moved that round). Ballistic and Projectile weapons may be fired so long as their ammo bins are located on that arm. Energy weapons may be fired, costing energy points (in the form of fuel) equal to 1pt of fuel per 1pt of heat generated by that weapon. (The heat actually generated is taken up by the mobile suit that launched the arm.) If the weapons fire is successful, the weapons have automatically hit the location that the arm is latched onto. (Energy weapons firing is no longer affected by any I-Field that the target may be equipped with.)

The target mobile suit may attack the arm normally. (Treat it as if it were 1 hex away, with a +2 to hit due to its size). Weapons contained in the location that the WGA has grabbed may not be fired at the WGA. All damage that hits the WGA must be absorbed by the armor of the launched arm. Destruction of the claw immediately disengages the arm. Destruction of the wire-reel and thruster critical disables the arm (but it stays latched). Destruction of the fuel critical causes an explosion equal to the number of remaining fuel points. In addition, should the attack miss with a result of 2 on 2d6, the arm has been missed but the extended control wire has been hit, resulting in the disabling of that arm.

A WGA need not always be used in this manner. It may be launched and used as a mobile weapons platform (Example: For range purposes) at any time. Any attack on it has a +2 to hit modifier due to its small size and profile, a 2 to hit roll by the enemy again results in the severing of the control cables. A WGA may be equipped with a beam weapon (the only time a beam weapon may be used by an arm without a hand actuator, the beam sabre extends from the palm of the claw hand,) and may attack mobile suits in hexes adjacent to it freely (+1 if the WGA itself has moved that round). This requires energy in the form of fuel points equal to the heat output of the beam weapon.

Any piece of equipment (weapons, ECM, AMS, probes) may be mounted on a WGA other than shields of any kind. A WGA is launched at the end of a Movement phase, and is always the last object to move. WGA attacks are always the first calculated. If the target mobile suit successfully hits a WGA carrying mobile suit in the arm, while the respective arm is already launched, the hit is instead taken by the closest torso section.

Destruction of the WGA results in feedback damage identical to what the destruction of a funnel causes for a Psychommu/frame equipped mobile suit. Docking is done per normal Funnel rules.

Launch of the Wire Guided Arm results in 4pts of heat to the launching mobile suit.