Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vehicles in Cypher System, Part 3: Vehicles and Special Abilities

In many genres vehicles are important characters themselves, especially in games inspired by Japanese Anime, but often in other stories certain vehicles take on a role almost as significant as the characters themselves, like the series of vehicles used by a certain multi-millionaire vigilante with a nocturnal flying rodent motif.

Links for Vehicles in Cypher System series: 
Part 1: A Matter of Scale
Part 2: Vehicles
Part 3: Vehicles and Special Abilities
Part 4: Vehicle Combat

   Related Posts:
Firearms in Cypher System
More Modern Weapon Distinctions

Special Abilities:

Most vehicle abilities are covered by giving them a Size, Level, and Armor (Parts 1 and 2), however what truly distinguishes one giant battle robot from another, or a luxury sedan from a super-spy's gadget-laden car is the Special Abilities.

Intrinsic Special Abilities:

A vehicle may have built-in special abilities taken from any Type or Focus, as usual the GM is encouraged to use logic to limit what is or isn't available for vehicles in their world. When a PC uses a vehicle's special ability they will use the vehicle's Might or Speed pool, or in rare circumstances their own Intellect pool. Some special abilities should be modified to draw from a different pool, for example a tank with the "Far Step" ability (IE: Jump Jets) should draw points to use Far Step from it's speed pool, not the pilot's Intellect pool. 

As a rule of thumb the vehicle's Level should be a limit on the number of Tiers of abilities that a vehicle can have. Example: Invisibility is a 4'th Tier Adept ability and Hover is a 2'nd Tier Adept Ability, a fighter jet that could turn invisible and hover in VTOL would have to be Level 6 or higher.

Character Abilities Used Through a Vehicle:

Some Special Abilities possessed by the pilot may be used through the vehicle. In some cases this may be limited to humanoid vehicles, such as the Warrior abilities Bash and Swipe which require melee weapons. The Warrior ability Pierce however requires a ranged weapon with a sharp point, which the GM may rule that a cannon equipped with advanced kinetic-penetrator rounds may count.. or they may not.

Mobility and Special Abilities:

Normally a vehicle has only one type of mobility system. Cars operate on the ground, boats float on water, aircraft fly through the air, etc. For most vehicles it's enough to say it's a car, or a tank, a submarine, a jet-plane, etc. and move on. Some vehicles may however combine some of these motive types and may need to be more specific. 

(Most aircraft have a limited ability to move on the ground, to taxi on a runway for instance, but as this is limited by requiring improved runways and doesn't really function as a mobility system)

Some vehicles have more than one type of mobility, Amphibious jeeps for example. Each new mobility type counts as a Level 1 Special Ability against the Level cap on abilities.

Notes on mobility specific abilities:

Hover (Tier 2 Adept, 2 Speed Points): Most airplanes have to keep moving a minimum of their Short distance each turn to stay in the air. An airplane with the Hover ability may use the Hover ability to remain flying without moving a minimum distance. Using this ability still costs 2 Speed Points (modified from Intellect points as an Intrinsic Special Ability), minus the pilot's Speed Edge.

Teleportation (Tier 5 Adept, 6 Intellect Points): "Travelling without Moving", a vehicle with Teleportation is most likely a "Jump-Ship" capable of moving at right angles to reality to traverse vast distances in an instant, or at least as close to an instant as large space vessels can manage. Intellect point costs come from the navigator of the vessel as they work the calculations required to send the vehicle through jumpspace.

Vehicular Special Abilities:

Some additional special abilities for vehicles:

Adept Adaptation (Level 2, Enabler):
Some vehicles may be designed to allow an Adept pilot to channel their abilities through the vehicle. This alters the Adept's abilities to match the vehicle's scale, and/or cover the vehicle rather than just the pilot. For instance Onslaught becomes a vehicular scale weapon, Ward still only grants 1 point of armor, but it protects the vehicle and occupants (even ones in exposed seating), and Scan's area of effect is increased 50% every increase in size class. Using an Adept Special Ability through the Adept Adaptation system costs 1 point from each Might and Speed pool for each use. These costs may be reduced by the pilot's Edge in Might and/or Speed. Adept Adaptation will also provide an Asset to any attacks made directly against the Adept's Intellect pool. The connection with the vehicles's external emitters goes both ways.

Additional Fire Control (Level 2+, Enabler):
Under normal circumstances a vehicle's ability to fire weapons is limited to one Heavy weapon, one Medium or two Medium at a 2-step penalty.* Light weapons may be fired as Medium weapons, or may be fired by any crew not otherwise occupied. (More on vehicle combat in Part 4)

*Essentially as per any human combatant using one or two handed weapons. 2-Medium weapons at a 2-step penalty is my house rule for characters trying to fight with two weapons without the "Wields Two Weapons" focus. 

Each time a vehicle takes Additional Fire Control, it allows the vehicle to take an additional "Attack" action that may be targeted at the same or different target than the first action, so a vehicle that takes Additional Fire Control twice (4 levels) may target three opponents with three separate Heavy or Medium weapons (or six Medium weapons at a 2-step increase to the difficulty of all attacks) in one action.
Each Additional Fire Control requires at least one crew to operate.

Damage Control (Level 2, 1+ Intellect Point, Action):
Vehicles equipped with Damage Control systems are able to make Recovery Rolls as if they were a character as long as there is a character on board who takes their action to repair damage and spends 1 Intellect point. Pool Points regained by the vehicle is equal to the vehicle's Level +1D6. Recovery times are as for characters (1 action, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 10 hours) multiplied by the ship's size class. The time to repair the ship can be reduced by the engineer spending an additional IP to reduce the ship's effective size by one level (minimum 1).

Example: A naval Frigate (Level 6, size level 10) takes damage from a pirate vessel they've been pursuing in international waters, and the ship's engineer scrambles to activate bilge pumps and seal off flooding chambers. As this is the first time the ship has activated Damage Control it will require the vessel to do nothing for ten turns or about a full minute, however the Captain doesn't have that long before the pirate vessel will be out of range, so the engineer spends 10 Intellect points (1 to activate DamCon, 9 to reduce size modifier to 1) ordering crew to the fastest possible Damage Control and the ship is only offline for 6 seconds (1 turn) while it restores 6+1d6 to it's Might and Speed pools before it can resume the chase.

After that the engineer takes his own 1-action Recovery roll to recover the points he lost keeping the ship combat worthy. A second Damage Control Recovery roll will force the ship to be down for more than an hour and a half (100 minutes), and even if the engineer pulls off the same miracle of engineering to get the fastest possible recovery the ship will still be inactive for ten minutes.

Engine Booster (Level 1, 2 Speed Points, Action):
Activating an engine booster provides an asset to Speed rolls involving covering distance, but an inability to Speed rolls involving maneuverability.

Enhanced Controls (Level 2+, Enabler): Most vehicles require the Driver/Pilot to spend their action controlling the vehicle each round that the vehicle is in motion. (CSR p.214 Vehicular Movement). Each level of Enhanced Controls allows the Pilot/Driver to maneuver the vehicle and operate one other system (such as a main weapon) on the vehicle at no increased penalty to the vehicle operation roll next round.

Micro Weapon Array (Level 2, Enabler): 
Some vehicles have multiple batteries of very small caliber weapons for defense. Typical of these defensive batteries are the anti-aircraft machine guns scattered around most warships at the turn of the 20'th century.

A vehicle with a Micro Weapon Array may make an attack on any and all targets at less than Short range. At Short range the attack is modified 1-step in the attacker's favor, at Immediate range the attack is modified two-steps in the attacker's favor. The Micro-Weapon Array does damage of 1 point plus the Vehicle Size Class. Effort may be used to enhance the Micro-Weapon Array attacks as per any ranged weapon, all attacks are enhanced by effort in that round, however to do so requires an action from the vehicle crew.

(I'll cover transforming vehicles in a later post.)