APAGear II Archives Volume 3, Number 2 March, 2001


Hovertank II

Numbers of the Beast

Janne Kemppi

There are officially built hovertanks in Dream Pod 9's Heavy Gear RPG. There is -as always- also room to change them to fit into one's particular vision of Heavy Gear campaign. Hovertank design depends first and foremost on selected technological prowess of Earth and New Earth Commonwealth. If they have excellent designs and knowledge they can built pretty much anything, if not, then the end result is somewhat less. Prospective GM should choose what is suitable for given situation.

Hovertanks are like any other military vehicles. They also come out with new technological features and better design specifications and solutions over time. Therefor it is suggested to have at least some rough generations. Each hovertank generation would describe some improvements in performance over previous one. First Generation systems would be logical outgrowths of official DP9's hovertanks with better features. Second and third generation would continue from there on with far better capabilities. Especially the third generation hovertanks are extremely capable.

Using Hovertanks in Heavy Gear

GM can insert some or all of these hovertanks into campaign. They could be just unique experimental systems or fully fielded mass-produced vehicles. However, GM should exert caution when using these design rules. They produce capable weapon systems that are quite capable to deal with battlefield threats. This provides problems with play balance.

These systems should be used in tactical setting only if suitable game balance exists. This can be best achieved with technological parity. Such a situation would exist on CEF internal struggle or CEF versus other Earth based (or equipped) force. In first situation both sides would most probably use exactly similar level of equipment (mostly second and third generation systems) while in latter case CEF would probably enjoy technological edge (as most of its enemies field typically First generation weapon systems). Play balance can then be evened out with introduction of larger number of lower technology units. Terra Novan military force can be fielded too. However, it is suggested that they would use official hovertank designs as backbone of their force with some first generation hovertanks as cutting edge.

These hovertank rules were constructed first and foremost for role-playing campaign, where characters are in Earth's vaunted (and without doubt notorious) Colonial Expeditionary Force. CEF is an elite force that fields equipment far surpassing that of their colonial enemies. Thus it is suggested that most CEF units would field first generation hovertanks for rear security and peacekeeping duties while all front line units would use second generation systems and cutting edge would be third generation systems. CEF unit would then be used to various missions throughout universe. Some would be against similar technology level foes (in Earth and Sol system) while others would be typically lower technology enemies in colonies. Player characters should be crew and passengers of a single hovertank or perhaps they only field a token force of hovertanks or various models and configurations.

Designing a Hovertank


Laws of physics do not set limit to hovertank weight. However, it is quite probable that weight is roughly comparable to modern armored vehicles (10-70 tons). High weight requires high performance engines. If suitable engine output is not achieved, there can be poor fuel economy and problems with maneuverability. This is assumed to be real limit in practical hovertank weight (and thus Size rating). Technology and design experience increases are assumed to increase this limit slowly.

Weight Evolution
Hovertank Generation Typical Size Typical Weight
First Generation 11 31-40 tons
Second Generation 11 31-40 tons
Third Generation 12 41-52 tons

Note! There could also be very heavy hovertank designs that are heavier than these limits but they should have (their maneuverability rating reduced with -1 for each Size rating above stated Typical Size rating). For example, I design a first generation hovertank with size 13. It would usually have maneuverability rating of -2 but its huge size rating moves it from -2 to -4 (-2-(13-11)=-4).

Systems that go beyond technology maturity usually pay the price, in this case via reduced maneuverability.

Weight considerations vary from various reasons that have no direct relevance to technology limitations. Heavier weapon systems require heavier support systems (like transportation vehicles and logistics support). For example, if some force has built a force of lighter systems changing entire support structure to new heavier hovertanks can be financially staggering.


Most civilian (and military logistics) vehicles would probably do with a just a pilot and possibly seating to co-pilot or passengers. Combat vehicles have different considerations. Small crew usually cannot use all systems at the same time while large crew is obviously expensive to recruit, train and upkeep. Large human crew also requires more space that increases size and weight in hovertank. Therefor hovertanks would probably settle for two-person crew of Pilot and Gunner. Pilot would fly and navigate vehicle while Gunner would handle weapons and countermeasures systems. Hovertank would rely on extensive automation of systems (add Automation Perk at suitable level) to make its systems as compact as possible. Advances in automation would eventually lead into one crew hovertanks, where a single person crew with extensive automation would handle all systems.

Crew Evolution
Hovertank Generation Typical Crew
First Generation 2 (Pilot and Gunner) or 3 (Pilot, Gunner and Commander)
Second Generation 2 (Pilot and Gunner)
Third Generation 1 (Pilot)

Note! Hovertank would probably always use also Automation perk at suitable level (which depends on weapon system configuration).

Crew size leads to several considerations in hovertank use in field. Humans (and even GRELs) have their limitations and require periodical rest (sleeping and eating). At the same time hovertanks can expect to stay on field long periods of time, during which crew must stay alert (or have at least one crewmember at guard) to act quickly in case of enemy activity. Constant guard duty, irregular rest and pace of action are higher when crew is smaller. This gets very tiring over longer period of time with associated problems too. Some armies could possibly field two crews for each vehicle so that crews can change to get rest (and to get easier replacements in case of casualties). This is more probable in extremely high end of technology (like in CEF). Some armies could also use small crew hovertanks in short pulses of violent activity while (perhaps older) vehicles with larger crews stay longer periods in line.

Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence Perk) is available as well. It is probably fielded on late second generation systems and be extensively used in third generation systems to take over in case of crew becoming disabled for one reason or another. AI could also guard sleep of human crew. Rating of this Perk is suggested to be same as generation of hovertank. AI cannot, however, really work outside hovertank with similar flexibility as humans so just totally AI driven hovertank fleet does not seem practical for time being. However, some armies with limited manpower and extensive technology base could possibly field limited number of human crewed hovertanks commanding large number of AI driven hovertanks.

There is no technological limitation why AI could not be installed to any generation of hovertanks (or any other vehicle for the matter), especially if human flexibility could be duplicated with extensive use of androids or other robots. Fears (and very possibility) of robots taking over their human masters could provide intriguing set of dilemmas for designers, buyers, users and opponents of these AI systems. They all offer intriguing role-playing opportunities for GMs and players alike.

Movement Systems

Hovertank clearly uses three modes for movement: Hover, Jumping and Flight. It is unlikely that it would change as technology advances. Hovertanks are still primarily ground vehicles so their Primary Movement Mode is always Hover. They also have always two secondary Movement Modes: Jumping and Flight. This reflects fact that Hovertank is primarily a ground fighting vehicle and secondarily a flying system. Hovertank could conceivably be configured to use any and all other movement modes (even through many of those are highly impractical) except Space because ground effect flying does not function in vacuum due lack of air.

Hovertank can be expected to move with three movement methods. For one it can fly just meters above ground as a Hover mode vehicle. This is typically used in combat. Then it can also rev-up the fans to fly as a Flight mode vehicle 50+ meters above ground for higher speed. This is especially useful for moving over long ranges in fast speed (marching).

However, between these two methods lay concept of using engine power just enough to let hovertank fly high above ground for few seconds and then return back to ground. While tactically it might be wise to select just 50 to 100 meter jump there is no limit that would prevent hovertank to jump any direction as much as its total hovering speed. However, there is a philosophical difference between jumping for distance and jumping over relatively small obstacles while hugging safety of ground. This can be simulated with ability of hovertank to make small jumps while in hovering mode (Jump Jets Perk) with capability roughly similar as its excess power reserves. The long range jumping can be achieved with Jumping movement mode.

Note! Jumping Movement Mode is similar movement mode as other movement modes (such as Ground or Hover or Flight). Only hover vehicles can choose this mode if they use ground effect flying method and they have enough power to use Flight movement mode. All movement rules apply except Jumping vehicle cannot use Jump Jets Perk action on same turn it is Jumping. Jumping movement mode uses otherwise same rules as Jump Jets Perk (note that Jumping does not cost action because it is normal movement and Jumping vehicle cannot use Jump Jets Perk at the same turn it is Jumping). For MP costs all terrain MP costs are 1.

Technology improvements in design, engineering and engine technology would probably concentrate on increasing speed in both hovering and flight. Military weapon systems need speed to be able to respond faster to enemy actions. Generally increased engine output relative to system weight expresses itself in increased speed and responsiveness as well.

Movement Mode / Speed Evolution
Hovertank Generation Hover MPs Jump Jets Perk Rating Jumping Mode MPs Flight MPs
First Generation 30 4-5 30 4-5
Second Generation 36-42 6-7 36-42 6-7
Third Generation 42 7-8 42 7-8

Note! Hover and Jumping movement mode MPs must always be same. Jump Jets Perk Rating is typically same as Flight MPs (which shows rough measure of power output). Flight movement mode and Jump Jets Perk Rating should be most sensitive to any problems in design and should drop if there are problems in design soundness. Hovertank should always have Stall Speed of 0 MP, because lift fans let it rise directly upwards like VTOL craft. Similarly it should be allowed to do any maneuvers that VTOL craft may do.

Speed has obviously many considerations to ponder and it affects tactics of any force using hovertanks. Hovertanks hover speed is a little bit higher than its flight speed. Flying within ground effect simply requires less engine power allowing it to use a bit more speed for forward thrust. However, hovertank must also avoid obstacles (by jumping over or going around) and plan its route carefully if terrain is very cluttered. Therefor hovertank is actually somewhat faster in flight over longer distances.

Jumping movement mode is theoretically as fast as ground effect flying but in practice it is uncomfortable and nerve cracking exercise. For one jumping vehicle crew never knows exactly what is behind ridge or house one is jumping and landing on minefield or obstacle can be deadly. Therefor jumping over long distance is usually done in situations where crew can see where it goes but this is almost never done in combat unless it has been tried and rehearsed before. Jumping maneuvers using Jump Jets Perk should be instead very common especially if when using pop-up attack techniques. Civilian hover vehicles probably never do maneuvers like this except in extreme emergency and they probably have less excess power to do such things.


Most important considerations are probably capability and soundness of design together with engine output to weight ratio (raw power) and maneuver fan design. At the same time it is hard to imagine particularly clumsy design would be taken into service, especially in front-line duty. Most civilian vehicles would therefor be fairly clumsy because they do not need to do rapid maneuvering necessary to survive in combat. Hovertank is probably as nimble (or clumsy) as a typical tracked main battle tank. Multiple maneuvering fans as well as thrust power changing without gears would allow it to maneuver effortlessly. However, it is also a heavily armored fighting vehicle with heavy mass (armor) to move around and no friction from ground to help it change direction. As designs mature, their maneuverability would probably also increase, although slowly.

Maneuverability Evolution
Hovertank Generation Maneuverability rating
First Generation -2
Second Evolution -2
Third Evolution -1

Note! It is suggested that maneuverability would depend on design weight so that hovertanks heavier than given maximums are possible to construct but would be less maneuverable. Again this value could change according to circumstances. Particularly small and nimble hovertank (perhaps specializing in reconnaissance) could have maneuverability rating of one better than typical rating while badly designed (or cumbersome) system (perhaps too early fielded system) could have one or two worse.

Some players might be interested in building particularly small hovertanks. These are not real hovertanks in sense of military steel beasts capable of carrying heavy weaponry but lighter and considerably nimbler vehicles used mostly for recreational role or as extremely light military systems. They use similar movement methods as hovertanks. This is suggested maneuverability rating for these particularly small and nimble systems.

Small Ground Effect Vehicle Maneuverability Evolution
Hovertank Generation Typical Size Maneuverability Rating
First Generation 1-3 0
4-5 -1
6-11 -2
Second Generation 1-4 0
5-6 -1
7-11 -2
Third Generation 1-5 +1
6-8 0
9-12 -1

Note! General technology advances seen with heavier hovertanks will sooner than later filter also to lower end (in terms of size). This can be particularly noticeable when military introduces vehicles on low weight classes.

Very small systems have rarely military advantage directly on the battlefield due limited armor and weaponry they can carry. However, these vehicles have their place in scouting, where nimble systems are quite useful. Similarly these systems can found their slot in civilian world in recreational use. Many wealthy individuals like toys and there might be sports using these kinds of vehicles. Civilian commercial vehicles are considerably less equipped than military systems. However, there are always exceptions like particularly well done recreational vehicle or extremely honed and specialized sports vehicle.

Deployment Range

Most military vehicles wildly variable deployment range. However, this varies due engine configuration (highly powered engines may be selected upgrade despite lower deployment range) and tactical needs. Hovertanks can be assumed to use prodigious amounts of fuel and therefor accept poor deployment range as acceptable price for high mobility. Fuel economy is highly important in expeditionary warfare (what expeditionary forces like CEF does) but not critical if battlefield is expected to be in own country (where logistics bases are near). Deployment ranges will probably diverge with some designs slowly improving their fuel economy while others would accept losses there as price to pay for higher performance. Hovertanks are not probably very fuel efficient anyway because flying above ground effect is bound to use fuel in high quantities (Fuel Efficient Perk should not be used except for a good reason).

Deployment Range Evolution
Hovertank Generation Deployment Range
First Generation 400-500 km
Second Generation 350 to 600 km
Third Generation 300 to 650 km

Note! It is probable that systems with gradual evolutionary improvements over older models would have improved fuel economy while radical changes would end up cutting down deployment ranges. Fuel Inefficient flaw should be used, especially if hovertank performance increases rapidly over previous design. Many Second and especially third generation hovertanks would probably have this flaw.

Deployment range and fuel economy is issue seldom seen on battlefield. They are, however, very important on big picture. Hovertanks primary asset is its mobility and without fuel it cannot move. Fuel inefficient perk can drive up sheer volume and weight of fuel moved around so high, that long distance operations become very difficult. This is well known to military planners. There are ways to go around these problems. For one hovertank could carry external extra fuel tanks (Cargo Bay Perk) for long distance movement. They could also have systems for refueling (Refueling Equipment Perk) on the move to cut down vulnerable time of standing still around fueling vehicle. Some armies may put a lot of attention to these problems while others might not fully prepare for that until they face it in the battlefield.


Usually technology advances increase armor as better technology and worse threats emerge. It is assumed that Armor eventually increases from relatively modest values to truly fearsome numbers. Armor design depends on technological limitations (which means usually weight) and threats (which means usually enemy weaponry evolution). This depends on particular campaign setting. Some enemy can field extensive number of missiles and energy weapons (as Earth seems to do) in another trust on field cannons and gauss rifles on heavy tracked tanks (as colonialists in Terra Nova seem to do).

Civilian hovertanks are probably not terribly well armored because there is no pressing need for it (no one tries to kill them). These vehicles have probably similar armor to aircraft. Military systems have real armor that is probably actually overall weaker than what tracked vehicles can carry (due weight considerations) but will get thicker and better as technology improves.

Base Armor Rating Evolution
Hovertank Generation Armor rating
First Generation Size*1 to Size*2
Second Generation Size*1 to Size*3-4
Third Generation Size*1 to Size*4-5

Note! Basic Minimum armor rating is always Size*1. This is similar to most aircraft and it can be used to describe unarmored civilian hover vehicles. Base Armor Rating increases slowly due weight considerations.

What kind of armor is actually used depend on a lot on technology and threat. Most threatened (and thus armored) sector is usually vehicle front. There can be extra armor for that direction (Reinforced Armor Perk). Additional armor against missiles and energy weapons can be gotten with specialized armor (Heat Resistant Armor Perk) or reactive plates (Reactive Armor Perk). Armor can also be made rapidly changeable after each fight (Ablative Armor Perk). This is probably add-on armor intended to give extra defense rather than specific design goal (because lack of logistic support can hamper armor effectiveness in long campaigns).

Most hovertank designers will probably tailor their equipment to fight against enemies with weaponry widely used on home (like Earth) as it would be natural to expect enemy have roughly similar technological prowess and equipment as they go to fight in unexpected places (like colonies) for first time. Thus it can be expected that CEF tailors (initially at least) its hovertank armor against energy weapons (like lasers and particle beams) as well as missiles, because all these weapons can be easily mounted on hovertanks they assume their enemies to routinely field. Kinetic energy based weapons are not as well protected (because they are on slow and obsolete tracked vehicles). Thus materials research is concentrated on energy weapons first.

Armor Perk Evolution
Hovertank Generation Reinforced Armor Heat Resistant Armor Reactive Armor Ablative Armor
First Generation +25% +25% R1 +25%
Second Generation +25% +50% R2-R3 +50%
Third Generation +50% +100% R4-R5 +75%

Note! Not every hovertank will have all or even most of these systems. First generation systems will probably only have one perk installed while latest second generation and especially third generation hovertanks will probably have most or even all of these systems.

Suggested CEF Armor ratings are very high, mostly due their highly advanced materials technology. However, they are quite vulnerable too as CEF fields missile systems that can punch through even Third Generation armor and they readily assume their enemies have access to similar systems too (their enemies, at least on Earth do). The constant race between weapon and defense will go on through all three generations.

Weapon Systems

Hovertanks ability to flow on air means it has very stable weapon platform but also lack of friction means that recoil must be taken into consideration. There is no real limit on number of types or weapons hovertank can carry except large number of weapons and turrets and systems will eventually offer diminishing returns as they cannot all be used effectively together. This is, however, depending on weapon designer whim rather than any specific physical reason. Recoil is, however, extremely important and limiting factor that depends severely on weight (Size rating) of hovertank (see page 75 on 2nd Edition Technical Manual). High recoil weapons are very difficult to mount on hovertanks.

Note! Hovertank can carry weapon (with Minimum Size) of its own Size (rating), then (hovertank Size - weapon Minimun Size)* (hovertank Size - weapon Minimun Size) for lesser sized weaponry. For example a Hovertank with size 10 can carry one weapon of minimum size 10, one of minimum size 9, four of minimum size 8, nine of minimum size 7, sixteen of minimum size 6 and so one...

Recoil affects this further. Minimum Size of weaponry depends on individual weapon type and it is modified so, that weapons with high recoil (all Machineguns, Guns, Cannons, Rifles, Autocannons, Field Guns, Mortars and Grenade Launchers) have their Minimum Size doubled. For example a Terra Novan Heavy Machine Gun has Minimum Size doubled from 3 to 6 if it is mounted on hovertank.

Hovertanks may carry weaponry that exceeds aforementioned limits (Oversized Weaponry). These hovertanks are usually specialized systems for specialized use. For example field artillery systems have huge recoil yet hovertanks may carry them. However, such systems will have severe problems in combat, especially when firing on the move. Rules presented below are given so those players who insist on such action and who will face consequences of stressing hovertank platform beyond its structural capabilities.

Note! If hovertank has Oversized Weaponry, and it is in Hover or Jumping movement Mode using more than 0 MPs (e.g. it has moved) or it is in Flight movement Mode (at all) and it fires its weapons, hovertank may have excessive recoil mishap. Excessive recoil mishap is resolved as following. Hovertank pilot must make a Piloting skill Roll (Piloting vs. 1+excess recoil).

Excess recoil is counted as a sum of excess weapons of weapon sizes allowed to carry and a size difference of maximum allowed size and carried weapon size (times sum of those weapons). For example a Size 10 hovertank carries one of minimum size 12 weapon, two of minimum size 11 weapons, one of minimum size 10 weapon and six of minimum size 8 weapons. It has excess recoil (if it fires all weapons) of: 1*2 (one of minimum size 12 weapon -two is size difference-) + 2*1 (two of minimum size 11 weapons -two weapons and excess size is one-) + 0 (one of minimum size 10 weapon) + 2 (six of minimum size 8 weapons -two are in excess-) = 6. Thus hovertank pilot has to make quite difficult movement maneuver (piloting vs. 1-6=7) to stay on course after firing all weapons.

If (actually when) piloting roll fails, pilot has lost control of hovertank. Roll 1D6 (and add Margin of Failure of piloting maneuver) on Hovertank Control Loss Table to see what happens:

Hovertank Control Loss Table
Die roll Effect

Nothing happens except a good scare.

Pilot loses 1 action.


Hovertank slips from its course.

Hover Mode: Hovertank almost touches ground. Pilot has to make a Piloting roll vs. threshold of 3 or Ground Impact.

Jumping Mode: Hovertank lands slightly amiss its target. Roll randomly what hex hovertank lands around target hex. Hovertank pilot has to check for Ground Impact (Piloting roll vs. 3).

Flight Mode: Hovertank Sideslips, as per maneuver. Roll randomly for left or right)


Hovertank goes wayside!

Hover Mode: Hovertank almost touches ground. Pilot has to make a Piloting roll vs. threshold of 4 or Ground Impact.

Jumping Mode: Hovertank lands definitely amiss its target. Roll randomly what direction hovertank lands around target hex and then roll one die for a number of hexes from target hex it will land. Hovertank pilot has to check for Ground Impact (Piloting roll vs. 3).

Flight Mode: Hovertank Skids (turns one hexside, but keeps going in the same direction) for a number of hexes equal to one die.


Hovertank structure is badly stressed!

Hovertank suffers Light Structural Damage. Furthermore as Roll 3.


Hovertank loses altitude rapidly!

Hovertank suffers Light Structural Damage. Furthermore...

Hover Mode: Hovertank almost touches ground. Pilot has to make a Piloting roll vs. threshold of 5 or Ground Impact.

Jumping Mode: Hovertank loses a number of altitude levels equal to one die roll during jump. If hovertank hits ground during flight, it suffers a Crash, if jump went good, hovertank pilot has to check for Ground Impact (Piloting roll vs. 5).

Flight Mode: Hovertank loses a number of altitude levels equal to one die roll.


Hovertank Stalls!

Hovertank suffers Light Structural Damage. Furthermore...

Hover Mode: Hovertank almost touches ground. Pilot has to make a Piloting roll vs. threshold of 6 or Ground Impact.

Jumping Mode: Hovertank loses a number of altitude levels equal to two die rolls during jump. If hovertank hits ground during flight, it suffers a Crash, if jump went good, Hovertank pilot has to check for Ground Impact (Piloting roll vs. 6).

Flight Mode: Hovertank Stalls.


Hovertanks structure is extremely stressed!

Hovertank suffers a Heavy Structural Damage.

Hover Mode: Hovertank almost touches ground. Pilot has to make a Piloting roll vs. threshold of 4 or Ground Impact.

Jumping Mode: Hovertank lands slightly amiss its target. Roll randomly what hex hovertank lands around target hex. Hovertank pilot has to check for Ground Impact (Piloting roll vs. 4).

Flight Mode: Hovertank Skids (turns one hexside, but keeps going in the same direction) for a number of hexes equal to one die.


Hovertanks structure is extremely stressed and it loses altitude!

Hovertank suffers a Heavy Structural Damage. Furthermore...

Hover Mode: Hovertank almost touches ground. Pilot has to make a Piloting roll vs. threshold of 5 or Ground Impact.

Jumping Mode: Hovertank loses a number of altitude levels equal to one die roll during jump. If hovertank hits ground during flight, it suffers a Crash, if jump went good, check for Hovertank pilot has to check for Ground Impact (Piloting roll vs. 5).

Flight Mode: Hovertank loses a number of altitude levels equal to one die roll.


Hovertanks structure is extremely stressed and it Stalls!

Hovertank suffers a Heavy Structural Damage. Furthermore...

Hover Mode: Hovertank almost touches ground. Pilot has to make a Piloting roll vs. threshold of 6 or Ground Impact.

Jumping Mode: Hovertank loses a number of altitude levels equal to two die rolls during jump. If hovertank hits ground during flight, it suffers a Crash, if jump went good, check for Hovertank pilot has to check for Ground Impact (Piloting roll vs. 6).

Flight Mode: Hovertank Stalls.


Hovertank falls into uncontrollable spin!

Hovertank suffers Heavy Structural Damage and will plummet to the ground. Pilot has to make very difficult maneuver to land hovertank successfully (Piloting vs. threshold of 10). Success means Ground Impact while failure means Crash.

Note! Ground Impact means vehicle falls down to ground relatively controlled (allowing pilot a Piloting roll to avoid some damage) while Crash means hovertank comes down almost uncontrollably (Piloting roll is not allowed).In Ground Impact, Hovertank takes damage equal to its Size times half the speed of hovertank (in MPs) rounded up times highest die of two die rolls. Pilot can avoid some or all of this damage (Piloting roll against threshold of Terrain MP one is landing on). Margin of Success is subtracted from the two die rolls used.

In Crash, pilot can make this roll with modifier of -3. For example a Size 10 Hovertank is Jumping 13 MP jump when it fires all its weapons. It all leads to Ground impact into Rough hex. Hovertank suffers 10 (Size of hovertank) times 7 (half of MP used rounded upwards) times 4 (highest of 2 and 4 used to roll damage) or 280 points of damage! However, Pilot makes successful piloting roll of 5 against threshold of 2 (in rough terrain) making whole damage roll result of 1. Thus final damage is just 70 points.

Recoil causes severe problems to hovertanks. Usually oversized weapons are fired only when hovertank is stationary. Therefor most armies will almost certainly employ only long-range indirect fire weaponry (such as artillery) or specialized super-heavy tank hunting systems (such as very heavy field guns or gauss weapons with extremely high penetration and range), where firing platforms do not need to move constantly in order to survive. This creates interesting (or terrifying) situations, when their more mobile and moving and shooting capable brethren catch such vehicles.

Anyway, it is more than probable that force capable of fielding large number of extremely capable hovertanks can also create equally capable weaponry. For example in HeavyGear universe there are constant hints that many advanced weapons are more or less copies of far more advanced Earth equipment. Therefor it is suggested that CEF field its own set of weapons with fearsome abilities compared to systems usually available its enemies. Most weapons in hovertanks should be advanced energy weapons and missiles and rocket due their lack of meaningful recoil. It is very probable that these advanced weapons are good enough to destroy hovertanks themselves and new generations of larger and better weapons introduced as time goes on. Exact specifications of these weapons are best to be left for individual GM to decide to fit ones individual campaign.

Fire Control Systems

Fire Control systems are probably developed at the same speed as hovertanks themselves. Fire Control system technology is heavily dependent on electronics and would go forwards with the rough pace of weapon technology itself. General advances in electronics would then filter down to other fields such as sensors (which are quite important) and communications equipment (where arms race is slightly less intensive). Fire Control rating is a catchall term for general ability of hovertank to acquire target, select it and fire at it. Thus it is roughly as good as generation of hovertank.

Fire Control Rating Evolution
Hovertank Generation Fire Control
First Generation 0 to +1
Second Generation +1 to +2
Third Generation +3

Note! Older models within generation will probably have weaker Fire Control Rating.

Fire Control rating of systems has strong impact on general ability of hovertank to engage targets. This is area where hovertank designers would most probably do their utmost to stay ahead of competition. Again older systems are probably less capable and could have rude awakening when put against similar systems with better fire control systems. This can have huge impact on battlefield. Very capable hovertanks would be highly requested yet command would be naturally skittish on using sigh high value assets on secondary duties. At the same time enemy could either avoid meeting such capable systems if possible to avoid casualties, or try their utmost to destroy them as soon as possible too.

Sensor Systems

While long sensor ranges are good for finding out enemy as early as possible the ranges on 'ordinary' hovertanks would probably not get much longer. First excellent sensor systems are exceedingly expensive. Second they often require specialized personnel that is hard to find even in most high-technology militaries. Therefor engagement ranges of weapons would probably be limited to first few kilometers and effective sensor ranges on these systems would probably be roughly equal to these ranges too. Curvature of planets affects this as well.

Sensor Rating Evolution
Hovertank Generation Sensor Rating / Range
First Generation 0 to +1 / 2 km
Second Generation +1 to +2 / 3 km
Third Generation +3 / 4 km

Note! Older models within generation will probably have weaker Fire Control Rating.

Ability of hovertanks to jump or flight allows them to jump high above ground to observe their surroundings for a short period of time. This allows only few plinking hovertanks to observe enemy troops for large group hiding around them. All hovertanks have large sensor profiles (as shown as a Large Sensor Profile Perk). It means that they can be found relatively easily at long ranges and defender can start to counter then rapidly. Thus hovertank-using armies almost certainly press forwards on violent execution of their actions at the expense of cautious approach. When this is combined with good mobility, attacker can pop up almost everywhere. This can be very unnerving to armies that are not used to such mobility.

However, slow but stealthy force can also surprise a hovertank force that is used to their sensors pick up their enemies at far longer ranges. Good sensors also work both ways. Large sensor profiles mean also that hovertanks logistical points can be very difficult to hide. This can creates problems to hovertank force because modern weaponry makes attacking such logistical points easier at very long ranges. Enemy can also get warning on incoming assaults much easier when hovertank movements (and staging areas) are difficult to hide.

Communications systems

Every hovertank has probably fairly standard military radios and communications. Communications are important because units that do not receive orders usually do not do anything and thus are ineffective in fighting. Jamming and countermeasures are also widely used in battlefield so steady improvement of reliability of communications is must. Communication rating typically shows ability of communicating despite effects of weather and enemy jamming (this is further modified by both Electronic Countermeasures and Electronic Counter-Countermeasures Perks). It can be expected to get better by the generation along other advances in military electronics. Militaries prefer reliable communications to communication ranges because they need to be able to coordinate fighting of all units in battlefield.

Military Communications range is fairly static because it depends heavily on available antenna systems for transmitting and receiving signals. Hovertank is probably equipped with few meters long whip antenna allowing range of some 20kms. Putting communications to risible mast (probably requiring Tool Hand Perk) would increase range to some 40-75 kilometers. Higher masts (and variety of communication methods) increase ranges even further. Ability of hovertank to fly will allow using it as a relay station when sending data over long ranges.

Hovertank Communication Rating Evolution
Hovertank Generation Communication Rating / Range
First Generation 0...+1 / 20 km
Second Generation 0...+2 / 20 km
Third Generation +2 / 20 km

Command vehicles and specialized communication systems have considerably longer communications ranges as well as necessary systems (for example a Satellite Up-Link perk).

Communications seldom have impact when they work but everyone will know it when communications do not work. It is probable that those armies fielding large number of very mobile hovertanks will also notice that they need plenty of equally impressive (and expensive) communications vehicles to simply keep abreast with developments in the battlefield. Enemy could easily exploit this weakness by trying to strike at these communications links. Electronic warfare is biggest question mark in the equation. Probably armies will field increasing number of electronic warfare systems as their technology and dependence on computers and communications will increase. High-technology armies such as CEF would almost certainly have lead in these technologies over their less advanced enemies, although at extremely high cost.

Perks and Flaws

Obviously it is not intended for extended flying and it becomes very unsafe when flying relatively high from ground (Maximum Ceiling Flaw). It has also no lifting wings or body (Cannot Glide Flaw) and thus it is not very good maneuvering at high speeds (Unstable Flaw). In general it is closer to rock than bird in flight (Decreased Maneuverability flaw for Flight movement mode). Hovering few meters above ground means one cannot really Tow anything (Poor Towing Capability flaw) either. While moving within hovering height there is problem that ground effect may be weaker, disappear altogether or even turn negative, if hovertank moves in terrain with large buildings, trees, large boulders or nearby vertical surfaces (Poor Off-Road Ability flaw). Airflow close to ground will also kick up large numbers of dust and there is always superheated air flowing around.

Compulsory Hovertank Perks and Flaws
Compulsory Hovertank Perks and Flaws Rating Explanation
Cannot Glide - No wing surface
Decreased Maneuverability (Flight) 1 (3rd Gen) to 2 (2nd Gen) Subtract from Maneuver while flying
Jump Jets Should be same as vehicle's Flight MP Engine power necessary to allow it fly allows it jump as long as necessary
Maximum Ceiling 11 500 meters maximum
Poor Off-Road Ability - Ground clutter makes moving over cover filled terrain difficult.
Poor Towing Capability - Cannot tow ground vehicles
Unstable - Unstable platform when flying in high speeds
Large Sensor Profile - Removal of this flaw is requires specialized design considerations. Hovertank should, however, never get Stealth Perk. 1 (3rd Gen), 2 (2nd Gen) to 3 (1st Gen). Hovertank is quite large to its size and its engines leave considerable signature to enemy sensors to detect. Airflow also kicks up considerable amount of dust that make easier to observe moving hovertank.

Because hovertank is a ground effect using flying and hovering systems it also cannot select several Perks or Flaws.

Forbidden Hovertank Flaws
Forbidden Hovertank Flaws Explanation
External Power Exhaust jets necessary to lift hovertank require fuel to burn
Maximum Climbing Angle Hovertank flies like VTOL.
No Engine Engine is necessary to hovertank to move. It cannot be towed and it cannot glide or float.
Required Airstrip Hovertank can land and lift on any surface.
Traceable Emissions Hovertank exhausts large amounts of hot air. This creates a cloud of dust. However, dust is impossible to trace after it has fallen on ground and it provides no clear target for lock-on. It is also hard to imagine any military selecting a system that would be so vulnerable to enemy guided weapons in modern battlefield.
Forbidden Hovertank Perks
Forbidden Hovertank Perks Explanation
Stratospheric Flight Hovertank has trouble rising to high altitudes and thus cannot fly in stratosphere.
No Fuel Required Hovertank needs fuel to burn in turbines to create hot air exhausted by fans.
Diving Wings Hovertank has no wings at all.
Climbing Apparatus Hovertank is not bipedal walker configuration.
Improved off-road ability Hovertank relies on ground effect that is negated by cluttered terrain.
High Towing Capability Hovertank flies few meters in air making towing practically impossible.
Acrobatic Handling Hovertank is not bipedal walker configuration and cannot do acrobatics.
Catapult Hook Hovertank cannot be launched with catapult.
Amphibious Hovertank is not ground vehicle that can float on water or use snorkeling equipment to move through water obstacle.
NOE Flyer Hovertank can fly relatively low but it is clumsy and difficult to fly even close to ground.
Urban Friendly Hovertank ejects extremely hot air as exhaust. This makes it very difficult to stay close to it without adequate protection. Furthermore, nearby buildings disturb ground effect.
Stealth Hovertanks have large numbers of excess heat and dust that make designing system stealthy extremely difficult.

Perks and Flaws for design are finally selected now. They depend on particular vehicle in question but following Perks and flaws would be appropriate to describe most CEF military hovertanks.

Very Common Hovertank Perks and Flaws Rating Explanation
Airlift Ready - CEF is always ready for deployment and as such all its equipment is ready for rapid deployment to hot spots.
Exposed Movement Systems - It seems fair to assume that turbines are very large units and difficult to protect from enemy fire. In addition the unique hybrid mode of flying (and high speed) also ensures that hits that disrupt movement would be very perilous to the system as whole.
Difficult to modify - HT design is probably not badly designed per se, but the mechanical engineering requirements are such that it is probably more complicated than helicopter. Therefor this flaw is used to simulate technical complexity of such a system.
Weak Underbelly - Since HT is hybrid of ground and air vehicle the designers probably need to cut corners in some aspects. As it is probable that vehicle is used in hover mode in fighting, leaving the bottom weaker armored than top would be fair. However, it also makes hovertank very vulnerable to ambushes from the bottom in flight.
Sensor dependent - This seems fair assumption in an armored fighting vehicle that has closed hull.
Pintle Mount - Most if not all military vehicles have a mounting for infantry weapon carried on top of vehicle.

Modernizing a Hovertank

As long as there are wars military technology goes forwards ever on. Thus there is always bound to be new models and ideas that will initially challenge, then equal, sooner than later surpass and finally replace older models. Some of these older models will simply be used until they are destroyed in battlefield or used in tests as targets while others are scrapped away. However, this all assumes that all older models will be soon replaced by newer generation. In wartime militaries have usually almost unlimited budgets, because if they have to start pinching money -the whole war and thus country- may simply collapse. Bills are then worried after the war. In peacetime budgets must be justified and cheap solutions are sought (if possible). Furthermore, expensive weapon systems can be just too expensive, especially when one has to buy them in large quantities. Therefor there is room to improve and modernize existing fleet of hovertanks, especially if weapon technology changes gradually and some upgrades can make old hovertanks roughly similar to modern models in capability.

Hovertank Modernizing Suggestions

Change Comments
Size rating Comprehensive changes, such as changing entire existing chassis might end up into this. However, such change is almost same as to building whole hovertank again so it is highly unlikely it would be done unless absolutely necessary.
Crew Crew size can change due changes in technology and they are quite possible. Increased automation can be used to replace member or two in crew.
Movement Mode Adding or removing movement modes do probably require massive changes to existing chassis and are thus highly unlikely. Small changes in speed are more probable.
Maneuverability Maneuverability changes require extensive changes in hovertanks and they are thus very expensive. However, adding a lot of weight increasing systems to hovertank can also decrease maneuverability (and speed) as weight is increased.
Deployment Range Deployment range will probably increase when more fuel is added or fuel consumption is cut. However, more effective engines will also increase fuel consumption that some designers may sacrifice in order to achieve maximum power output.
Armor rating Base armor rating should not change unless entire chassis is rebuilt. However, better armor may be done with adding armor options available to later generations.
Weapons Weapon packages and upgrades depend heavily on job.
Fire Control Good fire control is highly sought after addition to modernization because they have such a good effect on battlefield. Fire Control changes are unlikely unless they are combined with adequate weapon suite (if weaponry is adequate, then fire control might be improved on its own).
Sensors Sensors are expensive but very important in battlefield. Sensor changes are more likely to happen when hovertank is getting a major modernization overhaul.
Communications This is relatively cheap upgrade and likely to is most often added.
Perks and Flaws There are hundreds of various possibilities available.

Note! Modernizing comes in all shapes and forms. Some systems might get comprehensive upgrades in shape of electronics armor and updated and upgraded weapons while others may have to do with token changes. Usually the more comprehensive change is less chance there is to make it. Prospective GM should consider options carefully.

Your Hovertank is now ready.

Welcome to the Future.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 3, Number 2 March, 2001