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Shadows over Baltimore

Drone and Rigger Combat

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Nearly any kind of vehicle—matchbox-sized cars, dwarf sized rotorcraft, ground patrol vehicles the size of a large dog, even modified sports cars—may serve as drones. The key difference that sets drones apart from ordinary vehicles is the rigger adaptation that provides drones with a Pilot program, which enables the drone to act independently of its controller to a limited degree.


All drones that are incapable of carrying passengers are usually automatically pre-adapted for rigger control. Passenger vehicles or larger passenger drones are not usually pre-adapted, but can be adapted quickly by the manufacturer, a mechanic, or even a rigger character.


Controlling Drones

To manipulate a drone, you must first have accessed it and linked to it as a subscriber. Actively subscribed

drones count toward your persona’s subscription limits. See Issuing Command, for details on instructing drones.

Drones acting on their own use their own Pilot and autosoft  ratings for all necessary tests, and act on their own Initiative.

A rigger can choose to have multiple drones subscribed as a single device. This allows the rigger to have more devices actively subscribed, but is limiting since all the drones must receive the same orders. Alternately, a rigger can choose to issue orders to a drone and then unsubscribe it and trust its dog-brain to carry out the orders. If instructed to, drones can subscribe to each other and share data, allowing them to coordinate attacks and other actions.


Jumping Into Drones

Riggers may also take a Complex Action and “jump into” a drone via full-VR. In this case, the rigger essentially “becomes” the drone, perceiving through its sensors and operating it as if it were his own body. A rigger who has jumped into a drone can still issue commands to other subscribed drones.


A drone controlled in this manner acts on the rigger’s Initiative—the rigger and the drone are treated as a single unit.

Any tests are made using the rigger’s own skill and attributes. If a jump-piloted drone takes damage, however, a rigger operating with hot sim also risks injury from dangerous biofeedback.


Each time the drone suffers damage, the rigger must also resist half that amount (round up) in Stun damage with a Willpower + Biofeedback Filter Test. If the drone is destroyed, the rigger is dumped from the Matrix and immediately suffers the effects of dumpshock.


Rigging Security Systems

It is possible for the devices in a security system (cameras, maglocked doors, tripwires, fixed gun-drones, and other sensors and secmeasures) to be rigger-adapted and subscribed to a central node so that a rigger can “jump into” the entire security system. Security riggers feel the opening of doors as light touches on their skin, the tripping of alarm sensors as a buzz in their fingers or an itch, and the building’s alarm literally goes off in their heads.


Drones and Sensors

When observing through a drone, a rigger rolls Sensor (rather than Intuition) + Perception. Drones operating on their own simply roll Sensor + Clearsight autosoft (or just Sensor if they don’t have the autosoft).


Drone Initiative

Like other programs, the Pilot drone brain acts at fast digital speeds. Drones are hampered, however, by their physical shells, and so act slightly slower. Drone Initiative equals Pilot rating + Response, and they receive two extra Initiative Passes (three total). A drone directly controlled by a jumped-in rigger, however, acts on the rigger’s Initiative. If a rigger jumps into or out of a drone, both continue to act with the same Initiative Score.


Rigger Actions

The following actions pertain specifically to riggers. Riggers can perform other combat and Matrix actions as well while rigging (see The Action Phase and Matrix Actions).


Activate/Deactivate Sensors (Free)

A rigger may activate or deactivate sensors for a single drone. Activated sensors come online at the start of the next Combat Turn.


Activate/Deactivate ECCM (Free)

A rigger may activate or deactivate ECCM for a single drone. Activated ECCM comes online at the start of the next Combat Turn.


Arm/Disarm a Weapon System (Free)

A rigger may order a single drone to arm or disarm one of its weapon systems. A drone may have only one weapon system armed at any one time. Switching weapon systems, however, only requires one Free Action.


Call Up a Status Report (Free)

A rigger may monitor the position, heading and speed, damage report and/or current orders of a single drone.


Actively Subscribe a Drone (Simple)

A rigger may add or drop a drone from active subscription.


Jump into/Leave a Drone (Simple)

A rigger takes direct control of one drone in full-VR mode, or leaves it.


Fire a Weapon System (Complex)

A rigger may fire an armed weapon on any single drone (see Gunnery and Sensor Targeting) If the rigger is directly controlling the drone, he cannot perform this action with other drones.


Autosoft Programs

Autosofts are specialized programs that assist Pilot programs in undertaking tasks that their basic Pilot programming does not cover. Just because you’ve added a machine gun to your standard rotodrone, for example, doesn’t mean that the drone knows how to identify, acquire, and shoot at targets. Autosofts fill in the blanks and allow riggers greater leeway with what commands they can issue. In essence, autosofts provide drones with specific skills so that they may make the appropriate skill tests.



Clearsight autosofts improve the Pilot’s cognitive abilities, allowing it to better analyze and judge sensory input. A drone with this autosoft rolls Sensor + Clearsight for Sensor Tests.



This program enables the drone to identify, guard against, and even dodge physical attacks made against it. A drone equipped with a Defense autosoft can parry against melee attacks (using Defense + Pilot) and can also take a Complex Action to go on full defense against an incoming attack.


Electronic Warfare

This provides the drone with an in-depth knowledge of radio communications and the use of electronic warfare against them. A Pilot with this autosoft can intercept, decrypt, jam signals, and take on other actions made possible by the Electronic Warfare skill.


Maneuver (Vehicle Type)

Maneuver autosofts are the equivalent of vehicle skills—they assist a Pilot to maneuver itself better. They contain a comprehensive guide to a drone’s particular specs, allowing the Pilot to achieve optimal performance and control the vehicle to the limits of its capabilities. A drone with this autosoft rolls Pilot + Maneuver for Vehicle Tests.


Targeting (Specific Weapon)

Each Targeting autosoft mimics a particular ranged weapon attack skill, such as Targeting (Pistols) or Targeting

(Longarms). This program instructs the drone on how to use and fire the appropriate rigger-modified and drone-attached weapon. A shooting drone rolls Targeting + Pilot for ranged combat attacks.

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