Westworld S3E07 and the Starfinder Drone Mechanic
So taking a break from Wild West steam trains, I want to talk about Season 3 Episode 7 and the fight between Maeve and Dolores.
Video scopes with LED displays have existed in RPGs for a long time, there is no reason that the screen has to be tied exclusively to a camera attached to the rifle, you can put one on a selfie stick around a corner, on a throwable camera grenade, feed from a satellite, drone, forward observer anywhere you can get a signal. We generally don’t think about anything else because rifles tend to follow ballistic trajectories.
There are large smart scopes today that estimate temperature and wind to help a sniper better aim their shot. With the help of a forward observer or second point of view a sniper could easily shoot through concealment. Normally you need thermal goggles to shoot through smoke, but what I mean here is you could shoot through cover if you know where the target is and the rifle has sufficient bang to penetrate the cover and the target. Still just talking about ballistic trajectories here.
In 2012 scientists at Sandia National Laboratories developed a .50 caliber bullet that could steer in flight en route to a target and change its direction by 6% or 6 degrees. The bullet veered towards it target by aiming towards a laser designator, the laser would have to be visible to the bullet all the way to the target. The laser could be pointed at the target by a drone or forward observer.
However if you have as we did in the episode, a number of stationary targets and a covert means of surveilling them and reporting their coordinates such as a quiet little drone, you could predesignate the bullets for each target, program an inertial guidance system to steer the bullet around without having different laser designators for each round and each target.
This assumes the bad guys don’t move, they give you a few minutes to recon the entire facility and don’t have any countermeasures in place other than walls, fences and glass.
The question becomes should this kind of power only belong to a drone mechanic? Could an operative with a stealth drone, targeting computer and a sniper rifle do all this?
When Christian Conkle and I still lived on the same coast and played RPGs together, I played in the first Lightspeed games, my space ninja was a cop and she let her starfighter’s AI check criminal records for her and do lots of gruntwork. I really thought of the smart ship as KITT to my Michael Knight. So the ship would sometimes be my backup, my transport and my partner.
We see Dolores do this early on with her motorcycle, but we also see Maeve do this with the gunship. IF you let PCs bring starships or vehicles to character scale encounters, they’re going to do it. Do we assume that the gunship has sensors that are better than Maeve’s eyes, do we assume Maeve can see through the gunship’s cameras like the ones in the lab and robot in the facility? The gunship only seemed to be able to shoot at what it could see, unless Maeve was its forward observer.
So we have wireless control of otherwise autonomous vehicles on display for both Hosts. Maybe the Hosts have a Control Module?
We have a sniper rifle that can aim and shoot under manual and remote control?
We have Charlotte Hale and her Delos Riot Robot wreaking havoc all over the place, again the robot probably can act autonomously when given commands, and Hale commands it wirelessly. The difference between this and Maeve controlling various labor robots is just scale. So can they take the Drone Mechanic class features without taking X levels in Mechanic?
Do all Hosts need to be Exocortex Mechanics? Can an Operative take the Remote Hack, Wireless Hack, Mechanic class feature without taking X levels in Mechanic?
Do we assume because of the big computers running the world that everything that’s autonomous also has a Control Module and that if you don’t already have access to something, you need to hack it as if it were a computer with a Tier equal to half its CR? Maeve’s ability works on other hosts that are otherwise pretty autonomous unless controlled by a tablet or human with the right commands.
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