|APAGear II Archives||Volume 1, Number 5||May, 1999|
In my submission to this month's APAGear collection, I present a selection of Terranovan vehicles designed for scientific use. They have minimal tactical wargame value, and yet, I went ahead and ran them through the full vehicle construction system. Speaking of which, I do the VCS calculations by hand, on paper, using a pencil. I use the threat value and perk/flaw costs from the original first edition rulebook; it's still not all together clear where the errors are in the second edition Technical Manual, unfortunately -- although DP9 has made it clear that the miscellaneous threat value calculations are in error, there are a number of perks and flaws that are inconsistent with the original sources. I did, however, use the second edition defensive threat value calculation for the Hummingfly drone's flight systems. (I guess I should also point out the use of the second edition rules for computing the DTV and part of the MTV for the Cirrus-A LPU space vehicle, too.)
Herein, you will find two walkers (a Work Gear and a Strider), three drones (one of which is a space vehicle very much like the modern-day PAM [Payload Assist Module] used to launch satellites from the U.S. Space Shuttle in low Earth orbit to a higher orbit), and a big ol' truck.
[NOTE: Dear Mamoud! I'm not terribly fond of the format that I ended up with for the vehicle stats -- I'll probably be changing it at some point soon. -Ed.]
In TN 1910, corporate marketing analysts for Territorial Motors, the civilian vehicle manufacturing unit of the Southern Republic's Territorial Arms, noted the existence of an overlooked niche in the civilian vehicle market. Research universities throughout both hemispheres of Terra Nova were using farming-industry trucks and surplus military transports for their field trips and research expeditions. While the equipment they were using was well-suited for the kinds of terrain they were taken through, such as swamps, canyon lands, dune fields, and rain forests, the actual drivers of the vehicles -- consisting largely of students and faculty -- were wholly untrained in their proper use and maintenance. As a result, the vehicles were returned to the university motor pools often in abysmal condition: Cracked axles, smashed windows, and mud-filled engine compartments were not uncommon. Worse still, because the universities' motor pools were ill equipped to process the repairs in a timely manner, the universities often had to resort to third-party rental agencies for temporary replacements to their fleets. The rental agencies, catering largely to recreational enthusiasts, kept their own fleets stocked with so-called "sports utility vehicles," which purported to be fully equipped offroad vehicles. Unfortunately, most SUVs weren't ever intended to be put through the kinds of punishment an enthusiastic graduate student would take them as soon as they left the city-states and got into the field.
Enter the 1911 Territorial Motors Explorer. A rugged, durable frame with independently-driven six-wheel drive, sealed against water and mud, capable of seating 5 passengers comfortably, with a full sixteen cubic meters of cargo space, the 1911 Explorer was an eye-opener for the universities. At first, however, the purchasing departments would typically balk at the price tag -- until the motor pool accountants pointed out that by not replacing the drive axles, the frame, or the engine compartment after every expedition, the repair costs would plummet and the turn-around time would soar. There would be no need to farm out to the rental agencies that were becoming increasingly estranged, and the lawsuits that typically resulted when their vehicles were returned would vanish overnight.
Faced with these observations, the purchasing departments didn't take long to change their tune, and by the end of the cycle 1911, most universities in the AST and even some in the CNCS had a half dozen Explorers in their fleets. It was even easier to persuade the universities when Territorial Motors offered a substantial discount to accredited institutions.
The 1936 model Explorer looks outwardly very much like the 1911 model: The distinct rounded curves are still present, the six-wheel drive remains a standard feature, and the cargo bay is still as spacious as it was 25 cycles ago. Gone, however, are the reinforced frame, the independent steering of each wheel, and the heavily armored side paneling. Those extra features, which in some cases made the Explorer tougher than even a military transport, have been replaced by an advanced computer system and a fully-stocked field laboratory, two features often request by university faculty. The motor pool accountants keep their rumblings over the trade-off to a minimum; afterall, it was really the amphibious nature of the Explorer as well as its incredibly well designed drive system that made the vehicle hold up to most punishment in the field.
As a side note, the tenth anniversary 1921 model Explorer almost doomed Territorial Motors. Luckily, top management interceded before a deranged marketing nightmare and oversight could take effect. It seems that one Jacques LeVey, senior marketing analyst for the tenth anniversary Explorer, had conducted several mismanaged surveys of the universities of the AST. Instead of targeting the actual field-working scientists, he targeted all of the scientists, including ones who had never been in the field before, such as space physics theorists. As a result of the survey, which was designed to determine how TM could improve the Explorer, LeVey's proposal for new modifications included luxurious living arrangements, food and sanitary support systems, long range communications antennas, and even satellite receiving dishes. The total projected suggested retail price for the proposed 1921 Explorer was slightly over a half million dinars! LeVey now works as a manager at a Weird But Tasty located in Siwa Oasis.
Name: Explorer Mobile Research Truck Vehicle Type: Truck Production Type: Mass Produced Cost: D 121,500 (D 85,000 direct to accredited schools) Manufacturer: Territorial Motors Use: Scientific Field Work Height: 3.5 m Length: 6.2 m Width: 3.2 m Average Armor Thickness: 21 mm Armor Material: Steel with composite core Standard Operational Mass: 4670 kg Primary Movement Mode: Ground (68 kph) Deployment Range: 350 km Sensor Range: 2 km Communications Range: 10 km Powerplant: Gas turbine
Threat Value: 243 Offensive/Defensive: 0/27.56 Miscellaneous: 702.76 Size: 6 Original Default Size: 6 Individual Lemon Dice: 3 Crew: 1 Bonus Actions: 0
Primary Movement Mode: Ground Combat Speed: 6 Top Speed: 11 Maneuver: -3
Sensor Rating: -2 Communications Rating: -2 Fire Control Rating: -5
Availability Threshold: 4 Max. No. in the Field: 6
Amphibious (Can move in water) Camouflage Netting (For concealing the Explorer from wildlife) Cargo Bay (16 cubic meters) High Capacity Computer (To assist in data reduction) Improved Off-Road (Big, all-weather wheels) Laboratory (Rating 0; generally a biology or earth sciences lab) Passenger Seating (5 passengers) Rugged Movement Systems (Can take a serious beating from untrained drivers) Searchlight (50 m range, fixed forward) Urban Friendly (For city driving)
Large Sensor Profile (Rating 2; loud engine)
A factory variant of the Explorer trades the camouflage netting for modifications that keep the Explorer operating smoothly in the deserts of Terra Nova. The cost is identical.
A lesser-known model of Elementech's widely available Groundhog Work Gear is the Groundhog Mk II/R, or "Groundhog Research" as it is known colloquially. Designed for field surveys and sample collection, the Groundhog Research features a set of small, nimble manipulator arms in addition to its set of standard-sized manipulators, an impressive sensor suite that rivals military sensors and that is augmented by a set of sensor booms similar in function to the Naga Strider's booms, and a powerful microcomputer for assisting the pilot with field analyses of collected data. Additionally, the Groundhog Research features a small, enclosed vehicle bay and control interface for a remote operated drone. Finally, on top of all these extras, the vehicle sports a mounting and interface bracket designed to accept a variety of modular microlabs.
Despite the fact that most civilian groups hear little of the Gear, the Groundhog Research is perhaps the most widely used light research vehicle of its kind on Terra Nova. It's even very popular in the South, although import tariffs limit the number that most institutions can afford. Capitalizing on the Groundhog Research's popularity, Mandeers Heavy Industries is reportedly working on a similarly equipped variation on their civilian Garter Snake Work Gear. It is expected to replace the Groundhog Research in the South, although manufacturing delays have been met with harsh criticism from potential clients.
The Groundhog Research suffers from a few minor snafus: First, although it has the same armor configuration as its parent model, the Research version sports a number of extra features that turn the unit into a "shot trap" -- thus, the armor protection is effectively weakened by the addition of the extra equipment. This design defect is hardly crippling, however, as the Groundhog Research is not intended for battlefield use. The same equipment that reduces the overall effectiveness of the Groundhog Research's body is also itself very fragile and exposed. A careless operator can seriously damage the sensors and other equipment while tromping through the forest.
A further design problem is the fact that the crew compartment is entirely open to outside air. This fact provides endless irritation to the operator, often in the form of inquisitive jungle or desert wildlife -- it is not unheard of for an operator to find a go-ki or novoon companion intent on pushing every bright, shiny button available. Finally, the location of the microlab bracket often frustrates operators. Because the lab is mounted externally and on the back of the Gear, the operator has to leave the cockpit to work with it.
[NOTE: See Scott Blow's article in last month's APAGear to find out what a novoon is! -Ed.]
Name: EL 345/R Groundhog Mk II/R "Groundhog Research" Vehicle Type: Work Gear Production Type: Mass Produced Cost: M 31,600 (D 45,000 imported in the AST) Manufacturer: Elementech Use: Scientific Field Work (Survey/Sample Collection) Height: 4.2 m Width: 2.8 m Average Armor Thickness: 15 mm Armor Material: Steel alloy Standard Operational Mass: 4200 kg Primary Movement Mode: Walker (30 kph) Deployment Range: 350 km Sensor Range: 1 km Communications Range: 10 km Powerplant: V-Engine
None, though the larger manipulator arms can punch
Threat Value: 79 Offensive/Defensive: 4.1625/25.364 Miscellaneous: 207.375 Size: 5 Original Default Size: 4 Individual Lemon Dice: 3 Crew: 1 Bonus Actions: 0
Primary Movement Mode: Walker Combat Speed: 3 Top Speed: 5 Maneuver: -2
Sensor Rating: +2 Communications Rating: -3 Fire Control Rating: -2
Availability Threshold: 4 Max. No. in the Field: unlimited
None, except for the R5 manipulator arms
Cargo Bay (1 cubic meter) Camouflage Netting (For concealing the vehicle from wildlife) Easy to Modify (It's a Groundhog...) HEP: Desert (Desert protection for those geologists) High Capacity Computer (To assist with analyses) 2 x Manipulator Arm (R5, can punch; primary lifting arms) 2 x Manipulator Arm (R1, cannot punch; for fine work) Microlab (Modular design, function varies) Searchlight (50 m range, fixed forward) 2 x Tool Arm (R2, cannot punch; sensor booms) Vehicle Bay (Size 2; for remote operated drones)
Annoyance (The microlab is mounted externally on the back of the Gear) Exposed Auxiliary Systems Exposed Crew Compartment Exposed Movement Systems
Structural Weakness (-10% to armor, already noted in parentheses)
Hartford Motor Company, the manufacturer of the fearsome Mammoth military Strider, also manufactures a variety of civilian Strider variants, including a mining and engineering version, a farming variant, and the GeoMammoth geological survey Strider. The GeoMammoth-S, sometimes known as the "Space Mammoth," is the vacuum-sealed version of the GeoMammoth designed to work in space, typically on the moon Hope, though sometimes on Charity and Faith. It has even been used on Ares to study the massive impact basin there and to gather samples of the long-chain organic molecules.
The GeoMammoth-S features a crew compartment that is surprisingly functional if not a little cramped. The compartment sports a powerful computer, a petrochemical analysis microlab, and a complete geological analysis bench that includes a thin-section cutter and a computer-driven polarizing stereo microscope. The delicate electronics and crew area are shielded from the hard radiation of space by a screen system common to most civilian space vehicles. The life support systems are capable of sustaining the crew for up to a week -- while that is not the ordinary operating period for the GeoMammoth-S, it is sufficient time to allow rescue missions to reach the vehicle should something go wrong. A backup air supply ensures the operators' survival.
Externally, the GeoMammoth-S features two large arms with grappling pincers; not as delicate or nimble as a Gear's manipulator arms, the pincers are nevertheless capable of shifting large rocks out of the way, should the crew need to do so, and they can carry any additional heavy equipment necessary to the mission. A trench-digging tool, mounted on the back of the Strider, permits the crew to dig into the local regolith when necessary. Fine work is usually left to the crew themselves, who can go on EVA for such purposes. Since the crew area is a single compartment, however, the entire interior must be evacuated prior to EVA in a manner remarkably old-fashioned, one that harkens back to the early days of space exploration, when human beings first left their homeworld. A powerful searchlight rounds out the external equipment on the GeoMammoth-S.
One interesting feature of the Strider is a set of hard points situated near the shoulders of the walker. These mounting points are designed to accept the standardized interface found on most Terranovan Lift/Propulsion Units, or LPUs. By attaching two appropriate LPUs, a crew can lift the GeoMammoth-S from its position on a planetary surface into orbit for retrieval by a mothership. Rapid City Aerospace manufactures a line of civilian LPUs well suited for the GeoMammoth-S; the Cirrus-A model can easily lift the Strider from Hope, and the powerful Cirrus-C LPU can even lift the Strider from Ares!
Name: Hartford Motor Company GeoMammoth-S Vehicle Type: Work Strider Production Type: Mass Produced Cost: M 384,000 Manufacturer: Hartford Motor Company Use: Geological Surveying on Airless Worlds Height: 6.8 m Width: 9.2 m Average Armor Thickness: 81 mm Armor Material: Durasheet with ceramic Standard Operational Mass: 20,500 kg Primary Movement Mode: Walker (29 kph) Deployment Range: 250 km Sensor Range: 2 km Communications Range: 10 km Powerplant: Superconducting Batteries
Threat Value: 768 Offensive/Defensive: 0/162.8 Miscellaneous: 2141.8 Size: 9 Original Default Size: 9 Individual Lemon Dice: 3 Crew: 2 Bonus Actions: 1
Primary Movement Mode: Walker Combat Speed: 3 Top Speed: 5 Maneuver: -3
Sensor Rating: +2 Communications Rating: -2 Fire Control Rating: -2
Availability Threshold: 6 Max. No. in the Field: 2
Backup Life Support Geological Sensors HEP: Desert (For protection against fine regolith) HEP: Radiation (Screens, rating 2) HEP: Vacuum High Capacity Computer Improved Offroad (Big walking feet) Laboratory (Earth Sciences, rating 0) Light Mining Equipment (Trench digger) Limited Life Support Microlab (Petrochemical analysis) Satellite Uplink Searchlight (200 m, swivel-mounted) 2 x Tool Arm (Pincers, cannot punch, rating 9)
Exposed Auxiliary Systems Exposed Movement Systems Large Sensor Profile (Rating 3)
Since TN 1850, Rapid City Aerospace has been a strong competitor in the civilian aerospace propulsion industry, producing such propulsion modules as their Cirrus line of solid chemical rocket thrusters, the Stratus line of liquid fuel boosters, and their recent foray into the ion drive market, the Nebula Ion Drive. The Cirrus-A lift/propulsion unit, or LPU, is a strap-on solid chemical rocket designed for relatively low-mass duty, on the order of 10,000 kg mass, and for low-g environments, such as that found on Terra Nova's primary moon, Hope. Like all of Rapid City Aerospace's propulsion units, the Cirrus-A features an industry-standard mounting and control interface bracket, and can easily be attached to most aerospace vehicles.
The Cirrus-line of LPUs has a long history; the Cirrus-A was Rapid City Aerospace's first commercial LPU, introduced in TN 1850. While it is a remarkably inexpensive unit, the license to operate one is typically out of the reach of most private consumers. The Cirrus-A is designed to be reusable.
Name: Rapid City Aerospace Cirrus-A LPU Vehicle Type: Space Propulsion Unit Production Type: Mass Produced Cost: M 37,500 Manufacturer: Rapid City Aerospace Use: Low-G, Small Vehicle Lift and Propulsion Height: 4 m Width: 1.5 m Average Armor Thickness: 56 mm Armor Material: Durasheet w/ceramic Standard Operational Mass: 10,250 kg Primary Movement Mode: Space (2 g max thrust) Deployment Range: 50 hrs Sensor Range: 1 km Communications Range: 10 km Powerplant: Chemical Solid Fuel Rocket
Threat Value: 105 Offensive/Defensive: 0/250 Miscellaneous: 66.125 Size: 7 Original Default Size: 5 Individual Lemon Dice: 3 Crew: 0 (Drone) Bonus Actions: 0
Primary Movement Mode: Space Combat Speed: 10 Top Speed: 20 Reaction Mass: 300 BP Maneuver: -3
Sensor Rating: -2 Communications Rating: -2 Fire Control Rating: -5
Availability Threshold: 4 Max. No. in the Field: unlimited
Autopilot (Drone programming) Easy to Modify HEP: Radiation (Screen, rating 2) HEP: Vacuum
Large Sensor Profile (Rating 3)
Designer's Notes: When attaching this device to a vehicle, compute the overall thrust as per the multisection vehicle rules in the second edition Technical Manual. (They're listed as "Large Vehicle" rules, though in this case, we're dealing with something roughly Gear-sized.) If you strap two of these to the GeoMammoth-S, the total thrust will be 1.0 g at overthrust, or 5/10 MP (thrust/overthrust). Since it has no crew, it must be a drone, even though it is attached directly to the hull of another vehicle. Also, since it's not actually the primary unit in control of the overall vehicle, I decided not to give it the "Sensor Dependent Flaw." If I had, the thing would be even more laughably cheap!
I designed the Cirrus-A in order to use two of them to lift a GeoMammoth-S off a Moon-like world. Assuming a desired orbital speed of 2000 m/s (which is a nice, low orbit for the Earth's Moon) and an opposing gravity of 0.2 g, the time to reach orbit for a GeoMammoth-S equipped with two of these LPUs is about 26 turns, or 13 minutes, burning 10 BP per turn to achieve a thrust of 3 m/s/s above the planet's gravity of 2 m/s/s, or a total thrust of 5 MP. That's a bit under the maximum time these rockets can burn. These calculations all follow material from the Jovian Chronicles main rulebook; presumably, similar material will be available in the Heavy Gear Tactical Space book, too, when that becomes available.
Located in the industrial nightmare of Siwa Oasis, Monodyne Remote Systems, Inc. is a relatively recent addition to Terra Nova's drone manufacturing industry; formed in TN 1930, MRS is a mere 6 cycles old. Nevertheless, in that short amount of time, they've managed to make a decent name for themselves in the industry, with two popular and widely-available drone systems for scientific field work.
The MRS-A Hummingfly, Monodyne's first product, is arguably the company's most popular model. Designed to conduct field surveys of animal and plantlife, it consists of a one meter diameter rotary lift system mounted three-quarters of the way up a half-meter tall cylindrical body. It bears little physical resemblance to its namesake, a small, noisy insect found in the Asoka and Chantilly regions of the Southern Republic. At the top of the cylindrical body is a sensor cluster and the communications mast. On the underside are mounted additional sensor clusters and a set of four arms; one pair is used for fine manipulative work and the other pair comprises a set of sensor booms. The rotary assembly is housed within an enclosed superstructure that protects the blades from most incidental hazards. The ability of the drone to operate in heavily forested areas is one of the key factors in its success.
The Hummingfly is radio-controlled, as opposed to being wire-guided, as is often the case for military drones. The advantage of being far more mobile than a wire-guided drone far outweighs the disadvantage of losing communications with the vehicle -- especially since the drone is designed for civilian use, where electronic signal jamming is the stuff of spy novels and conspiracy advocates.
Interestingly enough, the Hummingfly does not at all exhibit the distinctive characteristic of its namesake. The drone's rotary system has been adapted from stealth technology to minimize the noise, and an all but silent superconducting battery powers the vehicle. These precautions were taken in order to mask the drone from wildlife in the areas in which it might be deployed. Ironically, however, the use of the drone's sophisticated sensors in active mode generally alerts the very same wildlife from which it was designed to hide. Further, power consumption within the drone was adjusted for optimal flight, resulting in an inadequate supply of power to the sensor systems.
[NOTE: See Christian Schaller's article in last month's APAGear to find out what a hummingfly is! -Ed.]
Name: Monodyne Remote Systems MRS-A Hummingfly Drone Vehicle Type: Drone Production Type: Mass Produced Cost: D 15,500 Manufacturer: Monodyne Remote Systems, Inc. Use: Remote Biological Surveying Height: 0.65 m Width: 1.0 m Average Armor Thickness: 5 mm Armor Material: High-impact plastic and steel Standard Operational Mass: 95 kg Primary Movement Mode: Flight (70 kph; 0 kph Stall) Deployment Range: 30 km Sensor Range: 1 km Communications Range: 10 km Powerplant: Superconducting Battery
Threat Value: 21 Offensive/Defensive: 0/4.17 Miscellaneous: 59.245 Size: 2 Original Default Size: 3 Individual Lemon Dice: 3 Crew: 0 (Drone) Bonus Actions: 1 (Automation)
Primary Movement Mode: Flight Combat Speed: 1 Top Speed: 2 Maneuver: +0
Sensor Rating: +2 (+1) Communications Rating: -2 Fire Control Rating: -5
Availability Threshold: 5 Max. No. in the Field: unlimited
Automation (Linked to active sensors) Autopilot (Drone programming) HEP: Desert 2 x Manipulator Arm (Cannot punch, rating 2; for grasping small objects) NOE Flyer Stealth (Rating 1; noise baffles, silent running power supply) 2 x Tool Arm (Cannot punch, rating 1; sensor booms)
Cannot Glide (It's a VTOL) Maximum Ceiling (Rating 8; 4 km maximum altitude) Sensor Dependent
Annoyance (Active sensor use at odds with remaining undetected by fauna) Electronic Glitch (Under-powered sensors; -1)
Named for the arboreal relative of the grassrunner that it vaguely resembles, the MRS-B Treerunner is Monodyne Remote Systems' second most popular drone. Like its sibling, the Hummingfly, the Treerunner is designed primarily to study Terranovan flora and fauna. A miniature walking platform, the Treerunner features a pair of oversized legs for its primary locomotion and two pairs of manipulator arms for fine motor work. The legs feature a set of retractable spikes to allow the Treerunner to climb trees and rock faces to perform its mission. The second, smaller set of arms is often deployed to assist the drone in movement, and they feature climbing claws as well. When the unit is stationary, however, the arms can be used for sample collection as well.
The Treerunner's power supply, like the Hummingfly, is a superconducting battery. Unlike the airborne drone, however, the Treerunner's power supply does not have to drive a set of rotary blades. As a result, there is an ample flow of power to the unit's sensor suite, which therefore performs much better than the Hummingfly's. As with the Hummingfly, however, the Treerunner's sensors are so powerful in active mode that they frequently alert the very creatures it is supposed to be studying.
[NOTE: See Christian Schaller's article in last month's APAGear to find out what a treerunner is! -Ed.]
Name: Monodyne Remote Systems MRS-B Treerunner Drone Vehicle Type: Drone Production Type: Mass Produced Cost: D 78,000 Manufacturer: Monodyne Remote Systems, Inc. Use: Remote Biological Surveying Height: 0.25 m Length: 0.3 m Width: 0.2 m Average Armor Thickness: 6 mm Armor Material: High-impact plastic and steel Standard Operational Mass: 75 kg Primary Movement Mode: Walker (8 kph) Deployment Range: 50 km Sensor Range: 0.25 km Communications Range: 10 km Powerplant: Superconducting Battery
Threat Value: 78 Offensive/Defensive: 0/6.0 Miscellaneous: 227.0 Size: 2 Original Default Size: 4 Individual Lemon Dice: 3 Crew: 0 (Drone) Bonus Actions: 1 (Automation)
Primary Movement Mode: Walker Combat Speed: 1 Top Speed: 1 Maneuver: +1
Sensor Rating: +2 Communications Rating: -3 Fire Control Rating: -5
Availability Threshold: 5 Max. No. in the Field: unlimited
Automation (Linked to active sensors) Autopilot (Drone programming) Climbing Apparatus (Spikes in the feet and secondary arms) HEP: Desert 2 x Manipulator Arm (Cannot punch, rating 2; for grasping small objects) 2 x Manipulator Arm (Cannot punch, rating 1; for grasping small objects)
Annoyance (Active sensor use at odds with remaining undetected by fauna)
|APAGear II Archives||Volume 1, Number 5||May, 1999|
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