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[Cyber Hero] Drones and Droning

Dr Divago

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Hi all

about to start a Cyberpunk Hero campaign (well... at the moment only one one-shot and maybe few adventures but it's still a good start)


and wondering how to rule the drones


in the settings, drones uses a sofisticated computer-like semi-AI called "robobrain"; this let the drone acting in similar way than already trained animals.

Drones are built as automaton-like animals (and i can also use some animal sheets from bestiary to build drones just adding them automaton powers and something else)

So long, drone users just have to turn on the drones and then issue some command (using a drone handling skill similar to animal handling) and the drones will act. Obviously, they will follow orders just like animal would and that's means they can do ligical assumption: you can say them "go inside the building and tag the criminal with bigger gun" but can't say "go inside the building and tag the leader"...


however, drone operator can "pick up the control" of the drones: this means they can directly control drones actions.

i though about using summon for it: you "summon" the drone, and so you can control their actions


or it's better using mind control?

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Sorry i write this topic in rush, and now i read it and see it's not really clear :\


ok so far i thought about having this "drones" that are something really close to animal but made of metal.

drones are equipment and campaign is heroic, so they can be brought with money

however, you cannot "control" them like you would with followers, they are just "GM's character you can somehow control with drone handling skills"


i'd like also the idea of having someone specially trained in "drone using" who can actually "control" them, i mean: open an Augment Reality panel inside his visor/cybereye and remotely control the drone, or giving them a more complex order (that can also be: "attack the guy on second stairs to the left, using stun weapon on his right arm so he drop the weapon")

but i don't whant to create a "techno-druid controlling robotic animals"


so, how can i do something like this, but without falling inside the "superpower to control robots" or "magic to control robotic animals"?

  • at first i thought about using summon (slavishly loyal, +1), with limitations "must posses private key to drone (-1/2)" (similar to "must inhabit locale") and "arrives on his own (-1/2)
    in this way, the operator can control drones he bought but also every drone someone else gave to hime, etc, changing this control everytime he "use" this talent.
    if the drone is destroyed, he does'nt lose any point because the drone is just bought
    i don't like the idea of using the summon as a way to "uber control" something you own... :\
  • then i thought about using follower. operator spend some time "reprogramming" the drone so he can connect to them and this is done by spending point in follower perk. You can't change the drone you control, because you need to "spend time reprogramming his robobrain (aka buy follower perk in it)". However, if your drone is destroyed you will lose the points, but you can "have back" the points buy buying another drone and spend some time reprogramming his robobrain (or if the drone is the same model, just reinstalled backupped software image). In this way you will not lose the point, it work exactly like any other follower
    i don't like much this idea becase reminde me of fantasy druid or ranger with a lot of animal pet
  • there is also the idea of mind control, or possession, limited to personal drone only, to mind control your drones and force them to do whatever you need them to do

All this ideas brings me the idea of drone operator like a "class": only if you have this talents you can control drones; if you are "not a drone operator" they are just NPC running around you...


Another idea, that's quite different, is to use skills:

in this way, i should create more than one skill (something like "drone order" "drone attack" "drone scout" etc) and use them to "specifically control drone". However, the mechanics to do this seems something really different of what should be "normal use of the skills" in HS so i'm pretty unsure...


@Deejmeister: i'm keeping the idea of control drone of someone else more like hacking system; i will cover it with hacking (whenever i will found a good idea for hacking)

in this topic, i would cover only the idea of the "drone operator" like "someone expecially trained to use his own droid to a superior level than normal people"...

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I would treat the drones themselves as (uncrewed) Vehicles, controlled by an AI. Untrained operators are limited to using the expert systems (telling the AI what to do), but a trained one can write new programs or even hack into the machine directly (Mental Powers vs Machine class of minds).


I wouldn't worry too much about the mechanics of obtaining a drone, any more than I would about buying cyberware or learning martial arts.

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i thought about using AI+veichle but this configuration lack the possibilities to give them "commands"; ok a computer/ai can run some programs, but everyone can give them orders and use them while treating them as "artificial pet" mean operator will need to give orders using drone handling skills


also, how can an operator "overcome" ai control and being in control of the drone vehicle? it will need mind control equipment/cyberware/talents...


as for cyberware: for balance sake it will be bought with character point (however, some of them can be given by GM at the cost of additional complications, to reflect the humanity loss)

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Use the automaton rules or AI+ vehicle rules.


For remote control, use mind link to relay commands. (Mind link represents the radio or laser comm link)


Create "programs" that facilitate use of the drone and supports remote control function.


Other hackers can try and use mind control to take control of your drones remotely. use mental defense as a firewall. mental damage reduction helps with this immensely.


Use mind scan as a GPS tracker to keep track of all your drones.


Standard sensors like radar, high range radio etc can help you collect and record video and audio from your drones. clairsentience can be used foe remote-viewing capability with the drones.

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mmhhh ok

problem with vehicles is size: minimum vehicle size is 2x1x1m and drone are generally less than 1x0.5x0.5m (ok not everyone: but recon drone, the one player would use most, are around a football ball size. However, combat drone are bigger, from suitcase size to double autobus size for military automated weapon platform drone)


i really like the idea of ai + vehicle so i can build only few AIs (standard recon, standard military, standard automated car, and maybe one or two advanced AIs) and use them with all drone

however there is the size problem... don't remember if APG and APG2 solved this (i mostly use hero for fantasy where vehicle are pretty simple...)



then there is another problem: i like the idea drone operator con "take control", like a sort of "possession": they open Augmentd Reality Console, and "use" the drone as if direct controlling them (ie: the player use the drone as if where a second/third/fourth characther)

with "drone-as-animals" i thought about using summon or follower perk (not really liked it however); dunno how to do it with "drone-as-AI-plus-Vehicle"...



ps: there is a way to connect AI to Vehicle in Hero Designer? if someone still use it...

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Obviously the AI+vehicles rules are for the bigger drones. a size 1 vehicle is the same size as a human (about the size and weight of a dirt bike motorcycle).


For smaller drones, use the automaton rules. summon works just fine with those. build the automaton, then base the cost of the summon on those points and dont forget to add slavishly loyal.

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i really liked the idea of ai+vehicle so i could build a limited amount of robobrain (AI) and then add a virtually unlimited array of drones.

however, with ai+vehicle i can't reduce str AND body (it's based on size) and size is fixed at minimum 2x1x1m...

so i'd stick with automaton.


as for direct control i probably will search for some compatibility with all hacking system (at the moment i have'nt a good idea about it) but probably will be mind control (with ciberkinesis rules from APG) or summon (cost are roughly the same)

i'm thinking about a more complete control, aka possession or like, but at the moment i probably stick with the standard mind control thing

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