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Gear Guns Armor Vehicles Misc
There's more to Running than Guns, Armor, and Vehicles. Quite a few other tools of the trade come in very handy.
So-called "Drivers" are a recognizable archetype of Runner that specialize in having, maintaining, and piloting tricked out Vehicles in  a fashion conducive to the accomplishment of a Run. Whether said Vehicles are a more conventional conveyance such as an Urban Assault Vehicle of some sort, or more unusual machines such as Drones (remotely piloted robotic devices) really doesn't matter; though Runners that only work with Drones are sometimes referred to as "Droners" or "Slavers" to differentiate them.
While any Runner might have a Vehicle, the following document refers to "Drivers" in various place, operating from the assumption that characters making a significant investment in Vehicles and associated technology are Drivers to some extent, even if that isn't their main focus. However, this is purely a matter of semantics; the text is equally applicable to all types of characters.
In the MetaCyber campaign Vehicles are acquired via money, not points, but combat capable Vehicles must also be covered by a character's Equipment Pool allotments for Vehicles. All PC's and significant NPC's start with 10 Vehicle / Base points, but this can be bought higher as explained on page 151of the Dark Champions Supplement.
The credit cost of Vehicles is determined by a simple formula as illustrated in the adjoining table.
Factor Formula
Base Total Points x 5000
Ground HoverCars x1.5
SkyCar x 2+
JetCar x2.5+
Military/Rare x3+
The Base cost represents the cost of a normal ground Vehicle. Ground HoverCars, SkyCars, and JetCars all cost more, as do Military and certain rare / custom Vehicles.
The costs listed are the costs to purchase a Vehicle, either legitimately in the case of most Vehicles, or on the black market in the case of Military and other similar Vehicles. The cost to build such a Vehicle, assuming the parts and skilled labor were available, would be less as determined by the GM. And of course theft is always an option.
A device similar to but much more advanced than a standard Brainjack can be used to control Vehicles equipped to allow a Neural Interface. To do this a person has to get a cybernetic implant called a ControlLink, which is essentially an upgraded Brainjack with all the functionality thereof plus extra circuitry. Further each Vehicle to be controlled must be fitted with a specially encrypted interface card called a VehicleLink.
The VehicleLink in the Vehicle and the operator's ControlLink must be synched up, which is a process that takes about 10 minutes and requires a physical connection via a wire after which the VehicleLink and the ControlLink are specifically keyed to each other and the operator can issue commands to Vehicle via thought alone and from a respectable range. However, it should be noted that unless the Vehicle has a sense relay system also set up the controller is "flying blind", unaware of the surroundings of the Vehicle unless they happen to have LOS on it.
Basic Control Links can only be keyed to one Vehicle at a time, but better versions can be keyed to two at once and also have a slightly better range. For Drone controllers that don't mind being up close and personal, there is a "Swarm" version that allows up to 8 Vehicles to be keyed at once, but it has a very short range. There are also even better systems that can be keyed to four or more Vehicles at the same time, but they are custom made (i.e. exceed the 30 Active Point cap for cybernetics).
The alternative is having multiple Neural Connectors installed. However even the most jaded of cyberdocs would refuse to put more that three into the same person; more than that is just not safe and very likely to result in death. Further a third ControlLink prevents a character from also using a Combat Assist Computer since the Neural hookups for the two systems are competing for the same real estate in the host's spine so to speak.
ControlLink Basic
Brainjack: Computer Link (5 Active Points); Restrainable (by EMP's; -1/4); Real Cost: 4 points, ~20,000 credits
Computer Link (Neural Connector) Mind Link , One Specific Mind (Vehicle), No LOS Needed, Invisible Power Effects (Fully Invisible; +1/2) (22 Active Points); Only With Others Who Have Mind Link (-1), Does Not Provide Mental Awareness (-1/4), Restrainable (By EMP's and Interference; -1/4); Real Cost: 7 points,  ~230,000 credits
Total Real Cost: 11 points; ~250,000 credits
ControlLink Elite
Brainjack: Computer Link (5 Active Points); Restrainable (by EMP's; -1/4); Real Cost: 4 points, ~20,000 credits
Computer Link (Neural Connector) Neural Connector: Mind Link , One Specific Mind (Pilot), No LOS Needed, Number of Minds (x2), Invisible Power Effects (Fully Invisible; +1/2) (30 Active Points); Only With Others Who Have Mind Link (-1), Does Not Provide Mental Awareness (-1/4), Restrainable (By EMP's; -1/4); Real Cost: 9 points,  ~405,000 credits
Total Real Cost: 13 points; ~425,000 credits
ControlLink Swarm
Brainjack: Computer Link (5 Active Points); Restrainable (by EMP's; -1/4); Real Cost: 4 points, ~20,000 credits
Computer Link (Neural Connector) Neural Connector: Mind Link , One Specific Mind (Pilot), Number of Minds (x8), Invisible Power Effects (Fully Invisible; +1/2) (30 Active Points); Only With Others Who Have Mind Link (-1), Does Not Provide Mental Awareness (-1/4), Restrainable (By EMP's; -1/4); Real Cost: 9 points,  ~405,000 credits
Total Real Cost: 13 points; ~425,000 credits
Link Card (Neural Connector) Mind Link , One Specific Mind (Pilot), No LOS Needed, Invisible Power Effects (Fully Invisible; +1/2) (22 Active Points); Only With Others Who Have Mind Link (-1), Does Not Provide Mental Awareness (-1/4), Restrainable (By EMP's and Interference; -1/4), ~35,000 credits
Total Real Cost: 9 points; ~45,000 credits
Because VehicleLinks must be keyed to a particular ControlLink, it is possible to determine a match between a captured VehicleLink and a particular ControlLink assuming you have both in the same room and can run a diagnostic test on them. While this is low risk in most situations, some people like to make sure.
A VehicleLink can be fitted with a device that scrambles the key on demand. This can either be done manually or by an Onboard computer with an apropriate Program. LinkFraggers are only good for one use; for added security the unit burns itself out so that its encryption key can't be reverse engineered and undone.
LinkFragger: Cosmetic Transform 6d6 (standard effect: 18 points) (VehicleLink Code Key to Scrambled Code Key) (30 Active Points); 1 Charge which Never Recovers (-4); Real Cost: 6 points, ~30,000 credits
Though it is possible to actively control a Vehicle in this fashion, it is seldom practical and thus most such Vehicles also have a Control Computer onboard which can be given commands and handle the basic operation of the Vehicle in accordance with the software it has installed.
In lower tech scenarios the Control Computer will operate any sensors avaialble to it and relay data back to the controller, but more deluxe versions stream video and sometimes even sound. However, this is more a function of the Computer and Sensors than the ControlLink -- out of the box it can handle just about any kind of data feed.
Control Computers can be a very important item in the MetaCyber setting. Control Computers are bought as normal (non-AI) Computers, and can run a number of Programs simultaneously equal to their (INT / 5) or the rating of the Computer Link they are hooked up to, whichever is lower. Thus a Computer with an INT 30 hooked up via a Computer Link (3) could run 3 Programs simultaneously; though it is capable of running more the I/O busline (Computer Link (3)) lacks sufficient throughput and acts as a bottleneck.
Control Computers vary widely in power and capability, but there are three basic variations used.
Integrated Computers are part of whatever Vehicle they belong to, and their cost (both points and monetary) is part of the Vehicle's cost (and thus are much less expensive to an actual character). Because such a Computer is specifically fitted to a particular Vehicle, it usually has very specific Programs and abilities tailored to that Vehicles capabilities and thus tend to be efficiently designed. Integrated Computers are used in the vast majority of Vehicles that have an Onboard Computer. However there are a few downsides to Integrated Computers.
As a further benefit, it is assumed that a person with a ControlLink and an Integrated Control Computer on a Vehicle with a keyed VehicleLink can interface with each other without the Control Computer needing a specific Program or Programs to handle it.
However there are a few downsides to Integrated Computers.
First off, Drivers (and other characters) that have multiple Vehicles might need to have an Integrated Computer in each of them and further a certain lowest common denominator of features and Programs is likely to be the same across all of them; thus incurring redundant costs.
Additionally, if a Program is modified on one of the Integrated Computers and the person wants to apply the same change to their other Computers, they must go through the motions of either coding it again or affect some form of software transfer between them; this can be a waste of time.
And perhaps most significantly Computers can be used for much more than controlling Vehicles; a good Computer is an invaluable tool in the hands of a person that knows how to use it on Runs, but if the computer is integrated into a Vehicle it can't be taken along and used for other purposes.
Since Integrated Computers are part of the Vehicle the are in, or at the very least permanently mounted, and specifically designed to interface with the control systems of that Vehicle, not much security is typical. The basic thinking being that if you managed to get into the Vehicle and know how to use it then you are probably cool. It is generally more efficient to put phyiscal security on the actual Vehicle to keep intruders out entirely.
However, a particularly paranoid Runner could certainly install various Security features in their Integrated Computers if they had the skills. This would just require modifying the Computer design to include some or all of the Security features described under Portable Computers.
Portable Computers are, as the name suggests, portable rather than attached directly to a Vehicle and their cost is paid for by the character that owns them (bought as a Follower via Resource Points). This option is less frequently used, but some people use them for very impressive capability gains.
Portable Computers tend to be more robust and fully featured than Integrated Computers, with an array of useful Programs and features.  They are effectively no different than any other form of Portable Computer save that they have specific custom software installed to enable them to interface and control a Vehicle in addition to any other software they may have.
To attach a Portable to a Vehicle, the Vehicle must be fitted with a Datajack (defined with the Computer Link Perk). The same Portable Computer could be used to control multiple Vehicles, as well as other purposes too if equipped appropriately.
Also a Portable Control Computer attached to a Vehicle with a keyed VehicleLink needs a Program to accept and relay commands via the VehicleLink / ControlLink interface.
PROGRAM: Enable Link Interface; Real Cost: 1 point
A Gunnery Computer can be either Integrated or Portable; it's primary purpose is to control one or more weapon system on a Vehicle independently of a human operator or another Computer operating the Vehicle's other systems. Though an expensive option to have a dedicated Computer for such a limited task, the increase in frequency and accuracy of fire is a very attractive benefit.
Some large or particularly tricked out Vehicles have several Gunnery Computers, each independently controlling separate weapon systems. If the Gunnery Computer is a Portable, a Vehicle must have a Computer Link for each Computer that can be linked into it to control its systems, so this can become an expensive undertaking.
Most Vehicles, even ones without dedicated Computers, have some basic needs for software, even if it is just a City map or some navigational coordinates. There are several different ways to do this.
The most direct way to model basic navigation data is to simply take an appropriate Knowledge Skill for either the Vehicle or its Computer if it has one, call it "Nav Computer" or something similar, and be done with it. However, the downside to this is if the vehicle is taken out of the area its nav data is for.
An alternative is to take either Cramming or Improved Cramming for either the Vehicle or its Computer if it has one. This allows either an 8- or (9+(INT/5)) Knowledge Skill to be loaded as needed.
Improved Cramming: As Cramming, but a (CHAR/5) Skill Roll is granted rather than the usual 8- Familiarity and the character can use any relevant Skill Levels with the Crammed Skill. Alternately, up to 3 points of fluency in a Language can be learned instead; Cost: 10 Character Points
FlashROM I: Cramming (5 Active Points); Only for Area or City Knowledges (-1); Real Cost: 2 points
FlashROM II: Improved Cramming (10 Active Points); Only for Area or City Knowledges (-1); Real Cost: 5 points
Another alternative is SkillSofts. SkillSofts are chips containing voluminous data that are used via a device called a Chip Reader. SkillSofts are only usable for Skills based on Intelligence or Weapon and Transport Familiarities. To use SkillSofts a Computer or Vehicle must have a Chip Reader installed.
A Chip Reader is a device represented by a VPP for Skills (a rare exception for such), which requires SkillSoft Chips to function. SkillSoft Chips are built as Skills in an IIF Fragile Focus. SkillSoft Chips only cost money, never character points.
This is the same basic technology as the Chip Readers described under Cybernetics, but the Computer and Vehicle mounted versions are larger and better shielded. SkillSofts are completely compatible with both types of Chip Readers.
 The cost of SkillSoft Chips varies based upon their usefulness and quality, but the adjoining table indicates general guidelines.
Base Active Points x (Skill Roll x 1000)
Uncommon or Unusual Total of above x 1.5
Rare or Familiarity Total of above x 2
There are cons to the use of SkillSofts; Chip Readers have a limited capacity and individual SkillSoft Chips can be of greater capacity than a character can use, or consume a disproportionate amount of capacity when used. Depending on the capacity of a particular Chip Reader, it might be impossible to use some SkillSofts simultaneously with that device.
A Chip Reader can also take a Memory Chip, which allows the storage and transferal of data, similar to a data disk. An example of a Memory Chip is provided below.
A typical Chip Reader is illustrated below, along with some sample SkillSoft Chips. The largest capacity Chip Reader commercially available has a storage of 30 Pool; an example is given of this as well.
Standard Chip Reader:  Variable Power Pool, 9 base + 4 control cost, Powers Can Be Changed As A Half-Phase Action (+1/2), No Skill Roll Required (+1) (19 Active Points); Requires SkillSoft Chips (-1/2); Real Cost: 16 points; ~80,000 credits
Max Capacity Chip Reader:  Variable Power Pool, 30 base + 16 control cost, Powers Can Be Changed As A Half-Phase Action (+1/2), No Skill Roll Required (+1) (67 Active Points); Requires Skill Soft Chips (-1/2); Real Cost: 55, ~275,000 credits
Sample SkillSoft Chip I: Computer Programming (Computer Networks, Hacking and Computer Security, Electronic Locking Devices) 11- (9 Active Points); IIF Fragile (-1/2); ~9,900 credits
Sample SkillSoft Chip II: AK: Net Address Directory (INT-based) 11- (3 Active Points); IIF Fragile (-1/2); ~3,300 credits
Sample SkillSoft Chip III: CK: Local City (INT-based) 11- (3 Active Points); IIF Fragile (-1/2); ~3,300 credits
Sample SkillSoft Chip IV: Electronics (Communications Systems, Recreation Systems) 11- (3 Active Points); IIF Fragile (-1/2); ~3,300 credits
Sample SkillSoft Chip V: WF: Beam Weapons, Common Melee Weapons, Energy Weapons, Electric Whip, Sonic Stunners, Vehicle Weapons (9 Active Points); IIF Fragile (-1/2); ~18,000 credits
Memory Chip: Eidetic Memory (5 Active Points); Data / Facts Only (-1/2), IIF Fragile (-1/2); ~7,500 credits
The availability of numerous published Vehicles from the official sources are noted in the The Ultimate Vehicle Supplement and Hero System Vehicle Sourcebook Supplement documents and are used for the bulk of the Vehicles in a MetaCyber campaign.
In summary however, the following list represents the most commonly used types of Vehicles in the MetaCyber setting:
  • Groundborne
    • Tracked / Wheeled Ground Vehicles
    • Close-surface Hover Vehicles
  • Airborne
    • SkyCars
    • JetCars
    • JetCycles
    • Helicopters
  • Mass Transit
    • MagLev Trains
    • SST Airplanes
The below chart lists the most common manufacturers of Vehicles in the MetaCyber setting and some of their key models.
Manufacturer Models
SKYCARS Molantor V400, V450, V620 SST
JETCARS Adranator V905 SST
Quicksilver Aerocars
SKYCARS Hawk (military), Dove, Robin, Nightingale
JETCARS Sparhawk
Tetra Motors CARS Precis, Eagle, Maverick, Gemini, Caliber
TRUCKS Farhunter,  T-150, Heavy Duty, Sidetrip, Adventurer, Highflyer, Mountain Man, Searaider
VANS CargoLine, Freebird, PanelCruiser
SKYCARS Air Eagle, Air Maverick (Air Mav), Air Gemini
Allied Autos CARS Grand Regional, Cutter, Commuter, Mohawk, Grand Rapids
TRUCKS Upscaler, Frigate, Coronado, Gorge, Plateau, Trailfinder, Reno, MetroUrban, Prospector, Ambassador
VANS Labormaster, Loadmaster, Pass-V, Questor
SKYCARS Grand Adventure (Grand Ad), Cutter VTOL
Strucker CARS D-Series, K-Series, L-Series, Z-Series
SKYCARS Vogelstrahl - 990, Vogelstrahl - 2421 Z, Triebeneg 440.c
JETCARS  Strahlluft - 101B
AIR CYCLES Luftjagr series
Yamamoto CARS Cogno 330, Cogno 342, Cogno Elite, Allesandro Racer series, Super-Z Cruiser series, Solo series
TRUCKS Courier 534, Forte 508, Fuji 5
VANS Sportmom Mini, Sage series
MOTORCYCLES Kami and Kami Racer series
SKYCARS Cogno V1, Cogno V2
AIR CYCLES Amutso series
Yukio CARS Oppidia, Laroyal, Ventra
TRUCKS Natura, Agora
MOTORCYCLES Tenumbra series, Vexa series, Alary series, Excipio Series
SKYCARS Oppidan 5
JETCARS Metra Exec-2, Metra Exec-4, Metra Exec-6
AIR CYCLES Comet Rider, Screaming Mimi, Shooting Star
Allerby Ltd CARS Thoroughbred, Benson, Rides Foist, Allerby Lark, Venus Vitas (Brands)
TRUCKS Estate Cruiser (Brand)
MOTORCYCLES Valkyrie Ltd (Brand)
Impressario CARS Molari, Lombardini, LeCoeur (Brands)
Charley Jamison MOTORCYCLES Varsity Rider series, Acta series, Twin-V Racers series, Cruiser series, Plushride series, Rolling Thunder series
NorAm Industries VARIOUS Makes military grade items for the New Colonial Union
The following section discusses more unusual types of Vehicles in the MetaCyber setting:
Drones are Vehicles that are primarily robotic, lacking a capacity for a pilot or any sort of crew, that are usually controlled remotely via a Control Link, or have an Integrated Computer that can carry out commands.
Drones are Vehicles that are primarily robotic, lacking a capacity for a pilot or any sort of crew, that are usually controlled remotely. There are a wide variety of Drones, but the vast majority falls somewhere into one of three categories.
Sentry Drones are usually ground based, or at least anchorable, and serve a similar role as a self-propelled howitzer, able to maneuver into a position and then hunkering down to provide heavy fire support.
Due to their nature they usually get destroyed when used, but they can lay down so much hate in the meantime that they are seen as a worthwhile expense when the situation dictates. Most Sentry Drones have a single primary weapon system, but some have multiple systems for extra meanness.
Sensor Drones are, as the name indicates, kitted out with sensors. They are usually fairly small; about the size of a child, and are typically fast. When used correctly, they are highly recoverable and thus usually have more money and equipment invested in them. Some Sensor Drones have minor offensive capability but since extra weight and mass makes them bigger, slower targets most don't. Get in and get out is the order of the day.
Assault Drones are like a cross between Sentry and Sensor Drones. They are closer to Sensor Drones in size and speed and are typically airborne, but their primary purpose is to pack weapons like a Sentry Drone. Unlike a Sentry Drone, which typically pack heavy weapons, the heat on an Assault Drone is small-arms grade.
Many Drivers use them to project force from the safety of their primary armored Vehicle, or otherwise displaced from the main action. Assault Drones have more armor than a Scout Drone, but since they are often stuck in combat their recoverability is never a sure thing.
There are other uses for Drones such as Flying Bombs, Electronic Warfare Platforms, Scientific Collection / Discovery, Hazardous Waste Removal, and EOD. However they are not as commonly used among Runners for various reasons.
Perhaps the most common sort of Runner Vehicle are "Urban Assault Vehicles"; which take many forms but basically boil down to Riot Vans, modified trucks, and similar Vehicles kitted out with some armor, guns, and / or gizmos. At the high end some UAV's take the form of  actual military grade Vehicles such as LAV's (Light Armored Vehicles).
At any rate, a good UAV can be a very useful thing for just about any Runner group. The BattleVan on page 144 of the HERO System Vehicle Sourcebook is an excellent start for this sort of Vehicle.
Runner cars are just a smaller, usually faster and more manueverable, version of a UAV. Most are commercially available sports cars that are modified by skilled mechanics and gunsmiths to be useful to Runners.
NOTE: The sample drones, UAV, and RunnerCar are not representative of a particular brand, make, or model; they are merely generic examples. Runners that use Drones are almost invariably incorrigible tinkerers and kitbashers, and all manner of Drone configurations are not only possible but almost inevitable. Similarly most Runners that invest in a custom UAV or RunnerCar are directly involved in the design of their Vehicles and build them to suit their preferences.
Following are some sample Vehicles specific to the MetaCyber setting of particular interest to Runners.