With Rigger V in the pipeline, it’s time to discuss some vehicle houserules about repair and armor. After all, Rigger V is still at least three months removed from now (since they’re aiming for Q1 2016). Furthermore I doubt Rigger V will override all subjects tackled here. (I will also tackle the default sensor packages, but that will be done next week.)
Note that when I talk about vehicles, this generally includes drones as well. The reverse of how the Rigger chapter does it, but a bit less confusing for my tastes. ^_^
Rule: Vehicle repair-costs are 2% for normal damage boxes, 5% for overflow boxes, 10% for each box past overflow, percentage includes all modifications!
Originally all damage cost 10% per box to repair. This meant that a vehicle taking 10 boxes of damage would be a total waste to fix. There are Lifestyle options that absorb this as part of an expensive lifestyle, but those are hardly worth it. There is no official override for this yet. However, Missions has a 2% rule assuming the vehicle/drone isn’t completely destroyed.
Unfortunately, it is rather easy for a drone to be completely destroyed in combat, given their ‘HP’ of 6+B/2 (8~9 basically). A Roto-Drone, for example, only has 8 soak dice and 10 condition monitor boxes. An Ares Predator with a single net-hit will already do ~7 damage. If it happens to take 9 damage? Repair costs would already hit 90%, and that’s excluding mechanic costs. Cheaper to get a new one then. And under the normal 10% rule, a Steel Lynx taking just four boxes of damage would cost 10k to repair just for the parts. So the 10% rule makes drones far too expensive to repair, requiring at the very least the Missions rule. However, the Missions rule is insufficient because a drone also far too easily will go down. This basically means ‘as long as people see fit to fire on it, the drone can be wrecked completely’.
(It’s also bad for vehicles: They often are more expensive than drones but not that much sturdier, so while not as easily wrecked the second they are you always automatically can just forget about repairing it. )
Now the drones used in combat all have Body 4+. For a player that would mean they can take 4+ more damage before expiring. So why should a drone, or vehicle for that matter, not have Overflow of sorts? This rule introduces that overflow for repaircosts, where overflow boxes are more expensive but not as expensive as completely wrecked.
Second, this rule does not make you pay 10% per box the second you get past the threshold. Instead, it’s a sum-game. Say a Roto-Drone takes 14 damage. That’s 8 normal damage, 4 overflow, 2 past that. Repair costs would be 8×2+4×5+2×10 = 56%, excluding the price you pay for the mechanic’s services. And it’d be a really tough repair, so chances are they’ll only be able to repair some of it. Thus you would still be able to salvage your vehicle, but it’d be risky. If 5% and 10% seem too cheap, these could be doubled but with the manhours added it’s still really expensive.
And of course any modification to the vehicle would be included in the costs. If you bought additional armor, a better sensor array, weapon mounts and whatever else Rigger V may include, you’ll pay extra repairing the vehicle as well. This makes a wrecked vehicle still expensive to repair, without automatically requiring scrapping the entire thing.
Rule: Vehicles use Hardened Armor
Many vehicles are incredibly squishy in SR5, especially the Drones. Damage amounts went up, but the best defense they can muster tends to be 3 (Pilot) + 6 (Maneuvering Autosoft) = 9 [Handling]. And a drone has 8~10 soak dice, a bike has 10~19, even most cars have less soak dice than a runner. 18 dice is easy for even weak mages while any augmented character can hit 24 without trying. Only the big vans got a good amount of soak dice.
One solution people have offered for this squishiness is giving vehicles Hardened Armor. They already partially have this by simply ignoring any damage that fails to pierce their armor, due to not having a stun track. However, they don’t have the auto-hits that Hardened Armor grants. If a Roto-Drone gets shot at with a Predator, that’s -1 AP so with Hardened Armor it’d still get +2 autohits on its soak test. A Ford Americar would get +3 autohits, pushing it to average ~8 instead of ~5 damage soaked.
However, there are a few downsides to this rule. Weak drones remain horribly squishy to any attack with a decent bit of AP. The second that Ares Predator uses APDS, those autohits are gone. An APDS Alpha would easily obliterate the Ford Americar. Only the vans would have Armor left. Which brings us to the second downside: Vehicles that already can survive a big hit, or even soak most if not all of it, would become impregnable. The best a sniper can do (barring the overpowered Bullseye Called Shot) is 14P/-10. The best they can do without a very expensive gun is 12P/-8. The Roadmaster would normally soak 9 damage, leaving ~4 damage. With Hardened Armor even that sniper rifle would do less than 1 damage average per shot, making it practically impossible to dent the heavy vehicles. If you don’t mind that, it’s a good rule, but it keeps the weak vehicles squishy while the strong become near-invincible. Hardly a proper solution to the whole ‘you lose way too much of your paycheck on gunned-down drones’ problem.
Rule: [[[Vehicles can get their armor upgraded]]]
Since I have no doubt Rigger V will include this modification, all I’m leaving here is a link to the temporary houserule I designed for my own campaigns. By letting vehicles at least get more armor, albeit at a price, it provides players with an option to make them less squishy. For a normal drone this already is +8 soak dice, while some can get even more.