|MAN'S BEST FRIEND|
giving robohounds an overhaul
by Gary Astleford
The following rules are based, in part, on those originally presented in Interface Magazine volume 1, issue 1. The rules presented here pretty bare-bones and to the point, but we've done a little bit of playtesting and they seem to work fine. As with just about any rules modification, these can be heavily abused by both players and GMs. Please use your good brains when implementing these rules, and accept the availability codes as gospel. I will be in no way held responsible for players who build uber hunds with Body scores of 16 and externally-mounted Hellfire missiles. You have been warned.
Instructions for use:
Choose a model type and frame composition for your hound. Add the two costs together, and then choose the size of the hound in question. The base cost is modified depending on the size of the hound. All further modification costs are added to this "final" price. In the case of multipliers, round to the nearest whole number. Next, buy options. The "spaces" used in robohounds are in no way compatible with the spaces used in Maximum Metal. If symptoms persist for more than two weeks, please seek out the advice of a qualified street physician.
Bod: The hound's initial Body rating, which determines its strength.
Ref: The hound's initial Reflex rating, which determines its reaction time and coordination.
MA: The hound's initial Movement Allowance, which determines how fast it can move.
Armor: The model's base armor stopping power. This counts as soft armor.
Avail: The availability of the model type on the open market.
Cost: The standard retail cost of the model type. This cost can increase dramatically on the black market.
|Frame Composition||Notice||Base SDP||Wt. Mod||Cost|
Frame Composition: The primary component that makes up the hound's frame. Frame composition affects the weight of the unit and the unit's durability, as well as the way it moves and feels when touched.
Notice: A bonus granted to an observer to detect whether the cyberhound is a true organic dog, or a robot.
Base SDP: The base structural damage points of the frame in question. A hound can take this much damage before shutting down, and can take double this amount before being completely destroyed.
Wt. Mod: The multiplier for the hound's final weight (base is determined by frame size).
Cost: The cost for the frame type in eurodollars.
|Frame Size||Bod||Ref||MA||Spaces||Max. Spaces||SDP||Guns||Wt.||Cost|
Frame Size: The size of the frame and, hence, the size of the hound. Small frames are equal to toy-sized dogs, Medium frames are equal to terrier-sized dogs, Large frames are equal to shepherd-sized dogs, and Very Large frames are equal to great dane-sized dogs.
Bod: The modifier made to the hound model's Body score.
Ref: The modifier made to the hound model's Reflex score.
MA: The multiplier for the hound model's Movement Allowance.
Spaces: The number of spaces the frame is equipped with normally.
Max. Spaces: The maximum number of spaces that the frame can be equipped with.
SDP: The multiplier for the hound frame's SDP.
Guns: The maximum size for pop-up weapons that are installed into the hound (see "Ranged Weapons").
Wt.: The base weight for the frame in pounds. This is further modified by the frame's composition.
Cost: The cost multiplier for the hound. This multiplier is applied to the total cost of the frame and model.
Base Options (all hounds come equipped with these, and they take no spaces):
1 CPU (Int 3): The hound's computerized brain.
Control Interface Workstation (CIW): Each hound has a separate control unit which is about the size of a standard briefcase. The workstation opens up, and is used to program hounds for specific settings and behaviors. A hound's location and status can be monitored from the workstation at all times. An operator skilled in piloting remotes (with the Control Remotes skill) can jack into the hound's CPU directly (neural interface cables), or can control it manually. CIWs come equipped with password security protection, but can be upgraded to a retinal identity system for 500eb.
Standard Audio Package: Standard cyberaudio mount with radio link (antennae in hound's "tail" by default), IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) equipment, and ten transponder tags. The IFF system keys on transponder chips which are placed inside tags. The tags are about the size of a credit card, and are typically worn by means of a metal clip or a lanyard. Tags have two settings: Friend and Master. The Friend setting indicates that the wearer of the tag is an ally. The hound will only take orders and instructions from a person wearing a tag set to the Master setting.
Standard Optics Package: Robohounds come stock with a pair of high-definition optics. Up to two cyberoptic options can be purchased at normal prices, and take up no spaces. Additional cyberoptic options can be purchased at normal prices, and take up ¼ space each. A single option need only be purchased once.
Standard Teeth & Claws: Base damage for a tooth or claw attack is 1d6+1 plus the hound's strength bonus.
Artificial Fur: Hounds come stock with an outer coating that, at first glance, resembles the fur of a real dog. Closer examination reveals it for what it is, though it can pass casual scrutiny fairly easily. Fur color and pattern depend largely on the breed of the dog that is chosen, though many designer colors and patterns are available. Ever want a dog with pink leopard spots or safety orange zebra stripes? Now you can (and God help you). Alternately, some people prefer to keep their hounds "naked," without fur or covering of any kind.
Dog Behavior Programming: See the section titled "Programs" for more details.
Energy Star Compliance: All hounds, unless programmed otherwise, will shut down after six hours of inactivity in order to conserve energy. This option can be toggled on or off, and the hound's master can set the hound to "wake" in response to a variety of criteria (sounds, elapsed time, specific events, etc.).
Rechargeable Power Cells: Hounds are powered by rechargeable power cells. The cells are good for twenty-four hours of normal operating time, though strenuous activity (running, for instance) can lessen the life of the batteries.
Kill Switch: All hounds come standard with an external kill switch. The location of the switch is such that it is not easily reached, and must be activated in a specific pre-programmed manner (three long presses, two short presses, etc.). The kill switch can also be activated remotely from the hound's CIW.
Each CPU past the first increases the hound's base Intelligence by 3 points. Note that this is not a form of sentient intelligence, but rather a measure of processor speed and sophistication. The hound's intelligence is used by an autonomous hound to make Awareness/Notice checks. In addition, a dog can run a number of programs equal to its Intelligence score. Each CPU takes up ¼ space and costs 2000 eb. A hound can have no more than four CPUs (12 Intelligence max). Availability C.
Armor & Coatings
Hounds can be made to look any way their owners wish them to look. Some examples follow.
Additional Armor: Additional kevlar and ceramic plating can be attached to a hound, increasing its SP by 5. Each five additional points of armor cost 100eb, and takes up no spaces. A hound's armor SP can never be higher than 30, and for each five points of SP a hound is armored past 20, observers receive a +1 to Awareness checks when detecting a hound. Availability C.
Superchrome: Hounds can be Superchromed. While this has no game effect (aside from marking the hound as what it is), it looks neat and stylish. No spaces, 200eb. Availability E.
RealHide: This is an artificial covering designed to make a cyberhound appear to be a real dog. It includes an artificial skin, complete with fur and markings for any species of dog imaginable, and gives off a heat signature comparable to a living, breathing dog. Observers suffer a 5 penalty to Awareness rolls to detect whether or not a dog so equipped is real or not. No spaces, 500eb. Availability E.
Electric Charge Defense: An active defense system that shocks anyone who touches the hound's body. As long as the target hits with a hand-to-hand or (conductive) melee attack, or the hound somehow makes full body contact with a target, no to-hit roll is required. The shock does 1d6 damage to the target, and the target must make a Stun/Shock save at -1 (plus any other modifiers for damage taken) or be knocked unconscious for 1d10 minutes. This option is powered by the hound's own power cells, and must recharge for three turns before it can be triggered again. Availability P.
Hounds can be fitted with many cyberoptions, as well. Each cyberoption, unless noted otherwise, takes up ¼ spaces and costs the full listed price. Obviously, not all cyberware is compatible with hound technology, and GM discretion is advised. Note that speedware of any kind is not compatible. Other neuralware (links, etc.) can be integrated without needing a Neuralware Processor.
External Mounts & Hardpoints
All hounds may carry up to half of their internal space value in external weapons and gear without affecting their performance. Obviously, this doesn't do much for disguising their artificial nature, but it sure looks intimidating.
This includes slight modifications that can be made to the hound's frame. Details follow.
EMP Shielding: This frame modification provides the equipped robohound and all its subsystems with complete protection against most EMP effects. It uses ¼ space, and costs half the price of the final hound (not including program costs). Availability P.
Heat Shielding: Provides an equivalent of SP 20 versus damage caused by fire and heat. This option uses ¼ space, and cost depends on hound's size: Small 400eb, Medium 800eb, Large 1200eb, and Very Large 1600eb. Availability C.
Hydraulic Rams: Adds +10 SDP to the hound's total SDP, as well as +3 to the hound's Body stat. Uses 1 space and costs 800 eb. Not compatible with Thickened Myomar. A hound equipped with hydraulic rams will never, under any circumstances, pass for a real dog. This modification can be purchased once. Availability C.
Reinforced Joints: Adds +5 SDP to the hound's total SDP. This modification can be purchased once. Uses ¼ space, costs 400 eb. Availability E.
Restricted Access Kill Switch: The hound's kill switch is internally located, and cannot be activated unless the hound is first opened up. The kill switch can still be activated from the CIW. Uses no spaces, costs 100eb. Availability C.
Spaces: Additional "spaces" can be bought for 250 eb per ¼ space (or 1000 eb per full space) up to the Max. Spaces rating listed under the frame's size. Availability E.
Speed: A hound's Movement Allowance can be increased by 4 points for every ¼ space used. This modification can be purchased twice. Cost is 300eb. Availability E.
Stealth: Any noise produced by a moving robohound can be reduced by modifying the hound's joints and feet. This modification grants the hound a +2 bonus to the use of the Stealth skill. Uses ¼ space, costs 500eb. Availability C.
Storage Area: A lockable airtight space within the hound which measures 2 inches by 2 inches by 6 inches. This option can be purchased twice, which doubles the available space. Uses ¼ space, cost is 50eb. Availability E.
Thickened Myomar: Adds +5 SDP to the hound's total SDP, as well as +1 to the hound's Body stat. Uses ½ space and costs 600 eb. Not compatible with Hydraulic Rams. Gives observers a +2 bonus to detect if the hound is a real dog or not. This modification can be purchased once. Availability C.
Water Safe: Robohounds are not naturally buoyant, and require special modifications in order to traverse deep water safely. The Water Safe modification provides the hound with the ability to float. In addition, it seals the dog's chassis to prevent water damage to sensitive components. Spaces used and cost of the modification depends on the hound's frame composition, as heavier frames require more modification in order to supply the requisite buoyancy. Metal frame uses ½ space, costs 750eb, Ceramet frame uses ¼ space, costs 500eb, and Triplastic frame uses no space, costs 250eb. Availability E.
Hounds can be equipped with additional weapons, including "pop-up" firearms. Specific weapons cost double the standard list prices, and are specially modified for inclusion in a hound's chassis (therefore, they look little like their standard counterparts). Once ammunition is depleted, the hound must be opened up and the weapon re-loaded manually (unless an Auto-Reload system is installed, see below). Weapons are restricted by the size of the hound, so you won't be putting an M60 machine gun into a cyber-Pomeranian. The "Guns" column on the Frame table lists the maximum concealability rating a weapon may have before being added to a hound. GMs, please use common sense, as this is only a general guideline. For example, it's doubtful that you would be able to fit a Barrett-Arasaka 20mm cannon into very large frame, so show some restraint. Weapons take up a number of spaces depending on their concealability ratings, as follows:
|Not Concealable||1½ or more|
Auto-Reload System: This is a rotating magazine system that will reload a hound's ranged weaponry when it runs out of ammunition. The system will reload a given weapon only once. The size of the Autoload system and the number of spaces it takes up is one grade less than the concealability rating of the weapon (with a minimum of Pocket, even for Pocket-sized weapons). Cost is equal to one half the weapon's cost, and ammunition costs remain unchanged. Availability P.
Tooth & Claw
Aside from the standard teeth and claws that most hounds are equipped with, there are numerous other upgrades that can be applied to a hound's "natural" weapons.
Carboglas Teeth: An old favorite. Replaces a hound's standard mouth with a maw of extremely sharp teeth (similar in construction to mono-blades). These teeth do a base of 2d6 damage, plus any bonuses for the hound's body type. Takes up ¼ space, costs 500eb. Availability P.
Climbing Claws: Titanium alloy claws that give the hound greater traction and enhanced ability to scale vertical obstacles. These grant the hound +4 to climbing-related Athletics rolls, and increase claw damage to 1D6+3 plus any bonuses for the hound's body type. They come in two styles, either retractable or non-retractable. Standard climbing claws take up ¼ space and cost 350eb. Retractable climbing claws take up ½ space, and cost 500eb. Note that when retracted, climbing claws do standard claw damage (1d6+1). Availability C.
Injecting Fangs: Replaces the hound's canines with hollow fangs that are very sharp. Also included is a reservoir for each fang, and these can be filled with any injectable chemical, poison, or drug. Upon making a successful bite attack, said chemical is injected into the target. As many as three injections can be made before the reservoirs have to be refilled. Takes up ½ space, costs 750eb. Availability P.
"Lockjaw" Restraint Jaw: Once a hound equipped with this modification bites a target, its jaw will lock into position and nothing, short of disassembling the hound, will get it to let go. What this means is that the hound bites for standard damage, and doesn't let go. Each time the restrained target struggles to break free, make opposed Body checks. If the victim succeeds, he manages to break free, but he takes half damage from the hound's original bite attack. If the victim fails, he takes full damage from the hound's bite, and is still restrained. Takes up ¼ space, and costs 500eb. Availability E.
Taser Bite: The hound with this upgrade has teeth cast from an alloy that is highly conductive to electricity. The teeth are wired to a miniature taser, which has enough battery power for three bursts. The taser activates automatically on a successful bite attack, and forces the victim to make an additional stun/shock save at 1 to his roll (in addition to any other modifiers for wounds) or be knocked unconscious for 1d10 minutes. The burst will also short out unshielded cyberware in and around the bite's hit location 20% of the time. Availability C.
This includes just about any other enhancement that doesn't fit under the other headings.
Diagnostic Scanner: This is a simple medical diagnostic device that is installed in a robohound. By touching an individual, the hound can determine and report the subject's medical information, including blood pressure, pulse, respiration, temperature, and general state of health. Uses ¼ space, costs 800eb. Availability C.
Explosives: Hounds can be turned into effective time bombs with addition of explosives. For every ¼ space used to store an explosive device, one kilogram of any stable explosive substance can be placed inside the hound. Uses ¼ space per kilogram of explosive, costs 200eb each time bought, plus the cost for the explosives used. Availability P.
Fire Extinguisher: A small fire extinguisher can be placed within the hound's internal cavity. The unit is good for five "shots" of flame retardant foam, after which it must be replaced. Uses ¼ space, costs 100eb. Availability E.
Olfactory Enhancement: This increases the sensitivity of the hounds scent receptors, allowing it to track targets by scent. The hound must be supplied with a scent sample, and afterwards gets a +4 bonus to any Hunt program skill rolls it makes to track the target. Uses ¼ space, costs 600eb. Availability E.
Siren: A must for security models. The hound is equipped with a miniature bullhorn/siren. The siren can play up to ten short pre-recorded messages (ie, "Drop your weapons!") and can belt out a loud alarm. Uses no spaces, costs 75eb. Availability E.
Self-Destruct Device: A small explosive charge or EMP generator that is placed in or near the hound's central processor(s). When activated, the device destroys the hound's CPU(s) without causing significant damage to the rest of the unit. These devices can be activated from the hound's CIW, or with a hand-held remote (about the size of a pager) that the handler can carry on his person. Uses no spaces, costs 500eb. For an additional 200 eurodollars, the device can be tied into a unique verbal "kill phrase." The kill phrase need only be spoken aloud to the hound, and this then causes the self-destruct device to activate. Availability P.
Spotlight: A bright spotlight can be installed in a hound, either on an external mount or as a "pop-up" option, effectively turning the hound into a walking flashlight. Externally mounted spotlights take no spaces, and cost 150eb. Retractable "pop-up" spotlights take ¼ space, and cost 300eb. Note that a dog with an externally-mounted spotlight will not pass as a real dog. Availability E.
Winch and Cable: A winch and cable assembly can be installed into a robohound. 100' of five-hundred pound test cable are supplied, along with a hook attachment. Uses ¼ space, costs 300eb. Availability E.
Dogs can be programmed with software that dictates how they behave, what they can do, and how well they can do it. As stated previously, a dog may only run as many programs as it has points of Intelligence (not including the Dog Behavior routine). Hound programs are similar to skill chips, though they are not the same (and hence, they cannot be used by a person who has a chip socket implanted, so don't be a doofus). Most hound programs are bought in levels (like skill chips), and these levels rarely exceed +4. In order to use a piece of implanted weaponry or equipment autonomously, a hound must have the requisite programming.
|Attack||Use of "natural" weapons and brawling.||200eb||+4|
|Breed Behavior||Behavior typical to a given breed.||100eb||N/A|
|Companion||Necessary for dogs used by people with disabilities.||150eb||N/A|
|Dog Behavior||Standard dog behavior: sit, fetch, stay, come, etc.||Included||N/A|
|Firearms||Handgun, Rifle, or Submachinegun skills (specify).||300eb||+4|
|Heavy Weapons||Programming for use of Heavy Weapons.||400eb||+4|
|Hunt Behavior||Shadow/Track, Stealth.||175eb||+4|
|Misc. Skills||Depends on skill, use list & pricing CP2020 pg 83.||Varies||+4|
|Movement||Athletics and Swimming skills||150eb||+4|
|Pack Mind||Group tactics, increases pack effectiveness.||250eb||N/A|
|Patrol Behavior||Awareness/Notice, knowledge of patrol area.||125eb||+4|
|Rescue Behavior||Search and rescue programming.||200eb||+4|
Attack: This programming applies to any natural attacks the hound makes with tooth and claw attacks. Availability C.
Breed Behavior: Breed programming can emulate the quirks and personality types common to specific breeds of dogs. Availability E.
Companion: Used by hounds that are in service to disabled masters. The software allows the dog to safely guide a blind master, as well as perform simple tasks (bringing the phone, etc.). Availability E.
Dog Behavior: The standard programming included with nearly every robohound. Includes the behavior typical of a trained canine. Robohounds that are so equipped will stay, sit, fetch, come, speak, etc., on command. Availability E.
Firearms: Ranged weapon programming for robohounds. Each type of weapon programming must be purchased separately. Availability P.
Heavy Weapons: Heavy weapon programming for robohounds. Availability R.
Hunt Behavior: The level of this programming determines the hound's skill when using the Shadow/Track and Stealth skills. Availability C.
Miscellaneous Skills: Some consumers like to have hounds trained in skills that are not normally related to dogs. This includes additional languages. GM discretion is advised, as certain skills used by cyberhounds might be considered silly. Availability varies.
Movement: This programming acts as the hound's Athletics and Swimming skill scores. It is used to climb or jump over obstacles, to catch thrown or dropped items, and to negotiate other hazards. Note that hounds have no neutral buoyancy, and will sink like stones in deep water unless properly modified. Availability E.
Pack Mind: All hounds in a particular "pack" must be running this software. The software grants a +1 bonus for every hound past the first to Hunt and Patrol program rolls. Additionally, when a pack is attacking a single target with the Attack program, the attacks are assumed to be coordinated as well, granting a +1 to hit per every hound past the first in the pack. The maximum bonus granted by Pack Mind software is +5. Availability P.
Patrol Behavior: The level of the hound's Patrol Behavior programming is applied as its Awareness/Notice skill. Additionally, a hound with Patrol Behavior can store up to fifty different patrol routes, as well as minute details about them. For example, on a successful check the hound will notice a hole in a piece of fencing that was not there the last time it passed. Availability E.
Pseudo-Intellect Programming: This nasty package is a large quasi-AI program that counts as three programs when determining how many programs a hound can run. In addition, the hound in question must have an Intelligence score of at least 9 (ie, three CPUs). What this software does, more or less, is give the hound near-autonomy, allowing it to plan, make decisions, formulate strategies, and act independently for an indefinite amount of time. Even though the hound may seem Intelligent, remember that this software is just an advanced program suite designed to replicate genuine intelligence in an artificial construct
or is it? Availability R+.
Rescue Behavior: This programming allows the dog to employ search and rescue routines. The dog will actively search for injured or lost people, and can even be programmed to look for a specific person. While the hound cannot administer first aid, it can transmit a status report to its master via the CIW with a simple description of the subject's status (ie, awake, unconscious, dead, obvious wounds, etc.). With proper equipment, this status report can be quite detailed (see Diagnostic Scanner, under Miscellaneous Modifications). Availability C.
Model: Kay Nine Enterprises "Barbie Hound"
Type: Artificial Animal Companion
Frame/Model: Small Metal/Basic Model
Total Cost: 1,750eb
|Body: 1||Reflex: 9|
|Intelligence: 3||MA: 6|
|SP: 5||SDP: 5|
|Total Spaces: ½||Weight: 37.5 pounds|
Breed Behavior - Toy Poodle
Patrol Behavior +2 (5+1d10 to Awareness/Notice)
Capsule: Put forth as the original artificial poodle, the Barbie Hound is an extremely affordable robohound designed for companionship and limited home security. These dogs don't present much of an obstacle for a determined thief, but they're not designed to. Available in many "natural" colors (white and black are popular), as well as in pink, blue, and red.
Model: Militech Security "Pavlov"
Type: Standard Security Robohound
Frame/Model: Medium Ceramet/Security Model
Total Cost: 5,625eb
|Body: 5||Reflex: 9|
|Intelligence: 3||MA: 16|
|SP: 10||SDP: 16|
|Total Spaces: 1||Weight: 70 pounds|
Reinforced Joints (.25/400eb)
Olfactory Enhancement (.25/600eb)
Increased Speed (.25/300eb)
Attack +2 (11+1d10 to attack)
Hunt Behavior +2 (5+1d10 to Shadow/Track, 10+1d10 to Track by scent, 11+1d10 to Stealth)
Patrol Behavior +2 (5+1d10 to Awareness/Notice)
Capsule: A standard low-end security robohound. Not particularly bright, but it gets the job done for many metropolitan police forces. They are quite often designed to resemble Labradors, and are often used to sniff out narcotics and other contraband.
Model: Astratech "Sparky" RoboRescue
Type: Fire and Rescue Robohound
Frame/Model: Medium Ceramet/Security Model
Total Cost: 9,475eb
|Body: 5||Reflex: 9|
|Intelligence: 6||MA: 12|
|SP: 10||SDP: 11|
|Total Spaces: 1.5||Weight: 70 pounds|
+.5 Additional Spaces (0/500eb)
+1 CPU (.25/2000eb)
Heat Shielding (.25/1000eb)
Standard Climbing Claws (.25/350eb)
Fire Extinguisher (.25/100eb)
Pop-Up Spotlight (.25/300)
Diagnostic Scanner (.25/800eb)
Attack +2 (11+1d10 to attack)
Breed Behavior - Dalmation
Hunt +2 (8+1d10 to Shadow/Track, 11+1d10 to Stealth)
Movement +4 (13+1d10 to Athletics)
Patrol Behavior +2 (8+1d10 to Awareness/Notice)
Rescue Behavior +4 (10+1d10 to Search & Rescue)
Capsule: The modern fire department's Dalmatian. Though too expensive to be popular in cities where tax dollars are tighter than a lollypop's fishnets, several municipalities rotate a limited number of these models between local fire stations.
Model: Militech Security "Plague Dog"
Type: High-Performance Autonomous Military Robohound
Frame/Model: Large Triplastic/Military Model
Total Cost: 27,250eb
|Body: 11||Reflex: 11|
|Intelligence: 9||MA: 24|
|SP: 20||SDP: 25|
|Total Spaces: 2||Weight: 75 pounds|
+1 Additional Space (0/1000eb)
+2 CPUs (.5/4000eb)
Reinforced Joints (.25/400eb)
Restricted Access Killswitch (0/100eb)
Carboglas Teeth (.25/500eb)
Standard Optics Package with Low-Lite and Targeting (0/600eb)
Smartgun Link (.25/100)
Smartlinked Militech Viper SMG (.5/2400eb)
Auto-Reload System (.25/600eb)
Attack +4 (15+1d10 to Attack)
Hunt Behavior +4 (13+1d10 to Shadow/Track, 15+1d10 to Stealth)
Movement +4 (15+1d10 to Athletics)
Patrol Behavior +4 (13+1d10 to Awareness/Notice)
Pseudo Intellect Programming
Submachinegun +4 (18+1d10 to SMG Attack)
Capsule: A high-end, military grade robohound. The intelligence of the model is frightening, and there are rumors that several units have actually managed to go rogue. Militech is considering installing a remote-operated self-destruct in future models.