Thursday, 10 August 2017

Cling Nets for GURPS

The cling net is a device unashamedly lifted from Judge Dredd. It is a device that may be encountered in any scenario where technology has achieved tangler weaponry.

The cling net consists of a handle and a number of long, weighted cords. The cords are made from an electrically influenced myomimetic polymer. The entire device folds small enough to fit in a typical belt pouch so can be carried by any patrolman. The cling net follows the rules for nets given in the Basic rules, 4e p.411. It has a range of 2 hexes so may be used at C, 1 and 2 range. A successful hit from a cling net is treated as a one hex tangler warhead hit but the target is not allowed an extra dodge [THS 3e p.159 or Ultra-tech 4e p.155]. The cling net will hold on to its target until a key or code is entered into the handle. The cords are ST 30 DR 10 and not susceptible to tangler solvent.

Grigori: Watchers in the Heavens.

Achieving stealth in space is very unlikely. To hide you need something to hide in, and most of space is nothing. Monitoring systems operate over a considerable breadth of the spectrum, including radio waves and infrared. Even if a ship could perfectly match its background colour at one wavelength range it is likely to be plainly visible at others. The temperature difference between a ship and its surroundings is such that it is the equivalent of a lump of coal on a white bedsheet.
Strategies such as directing waste heat in one direction or hiding behind another astral object have only limited success. This only works with respect to a single viewpoint and the solar system contains many Grigori.
The Grigori are small unmanned surveillance vessels that monitor the movements of objects within the solar system. Typically they travel well away from the spacelanes. Some use photon sails for propulsion, others solar-powered ion drives. Grigori are not particularly fast, but they do not need to get anywhere fast. They are designed to operate independently for years at a time.
Each spaceborne nation has launched a number of Grigori and monitors their transmissions. None of these nations are forthcoming about how many they have operational at a given time. There is even a story that China (or some other nation) has a fully-automated factory ship producing Grigori somewhere in the asteroid belt. A small part of the lunatic fringe maintains this ship will consume all of the asteroid belt within a century or so!
Grigori cannot hide in space any more than any other vessel. What protects the Grigori is their remoteness. To get within weapon range of a Grigori a ship might have to travel days or weeks. Even if unmanned vessels such as AKVs are used this is a poor use of resources. For each Grigori destroyed there are a dozen more observing and reporting the location of the aggressor.

Mini-mores and Flying Claymores.

The Mini-more is the late 21st century version of the Vietnam war-era Claymore mine. Improvements in explosives formulation and technology have resulted in a weapon that is lighter and less bulky without any reduction in effect. The focussing of the blast force is better controlled, resulting in a reduced backblast area. Use the profile for a standard Claymore in High Tech 4e p.189 but reduce the weight to that given below and make the backblast range 5 yards. Even beyond this distance it will be dangerous and unpleasant to stand too close!
A Mini-more is the size and shape of a typical paperback novel so will fit within most pockets or equipment pouches. It weighs 1.2lb. The resemblance to a book is increased by the presence of a hinged plate that resembles a book cover. This plate can be locked at various angles and serves as a stand for the mine. The plate is skeletonised providing numerous openings by which the stand can be nailed, screwed or tied into position. Older versions of the mine also have an adhesive pad on the mounting plate. This used a glue similar to that used on adhesive rodent traps, allowing the mine to be stuck to a variety of surfaces and removed again if not used. More modern versions use the same biomimetic sucker cups or NewtGlu utilized by smaller limpet mines (THS 3e p.159, Under Pressure 3e p.115). The mounting plate has a range of movement exceeding 180 degrees, allowing the mine to be used as a door-breeching charge or limpet mine. Vehicles sometimes mount the mines on armoured plates with the charge facing outwards for local defence.
Mini-mores may be command-detonated by radio signal or fibre-optic hardline. The latter resembles monofilament fishing line and is less susceptible to jamming countermeasures that radio signals or conventional wire. Mines may also be triggered by a variety of plug-in sensor modules such as motion detectors or “tripwire” lasers. A long-life battery and small solar panel keep the mines electrical systems charged.
The lower weight and size of the Mini-more has led to new tactical applications. A Mini-more may be carried by relatively small UAVs or ground robots. The “flying (or crawling) claymore” can stealthily approach a target, using terrain features as cover and concealment and accessing building through small openings.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Shiner VIP protection UAV.

The Shiner is a quadcopter UAV designed for VIP protection duties. A typical model is about half a yard in width.
The Shiner hovers several yards above the principal. In this position its camera feed may contribute to area surveillance. If there is a threat to the principal the Shiner drops down to a position between the principal and the potential threat. The Shiner then activates its powerful floodlight system, dazzling anyone looking toward the principal. This effect is particularly potent on magnified vision systems such as cameras or sighting devices. The light source also serves as a countermeasure against the smaller or less sophisticated types of laser-guided munition. The floodlight varies its wavelength output to counter countermeasure attempts. The deployment of the Shiner buys vital seconds for the principal to be removed to safety.

Some Shiners carry a smoke grenade that can be dropped to mask the retreat of the principal. Floodlights may also have a strobe or LED incapacitator option to further disorientate a threat source.

Shiners have a secondary role as flying illumination sources so may be see accompanying search and rescue units.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Deunan Parahuman.

“There are quite a few of the Deunans around here. You don’t really notice the bigger craniums since most of them have a good head of hair. They’re quite attractive once you get used to the big eyes. Funny thing is when I first saw them I had this nagging feeling of familiarity. Could not put my finger on why! It was Felix who eventually pointed it out. They look like animie characters!”

Like many parahuman designs the Deunans are intended to have increased intelligence and reduced susceptibility to many of the medical conditions baseline humans are prone to.

The most distinctive feature of the Deunans are their larger eyes. Their noses tend to be small and not particularly prominent. The cranium and forehead are larger but this is not particularly noticeable. Baldness is rare whilst females lack leg and axillary hair.
Skin shade is typically a golden brown, although there is considerable variation between individuals. Skin can tan to much darker shades of brown. Prolonged exposure to weaker sunlight and low vitamin D levels can cause skin tone to lighten.
Natural hair colours include various shades of blonde, grey, white, brown, red, orange and black. Eyes may be grey, blue, yellow, brown or green. Actual hair and eye colour may be different due to cosmetic procedures.
Like many parahumans the Deunan constitute a visibly distinct ethnic type. Deunans were designed as mukokuseki. While they closely resemble baseline humans they do not appear to belong to any of the distinct baseline human racial types. They are not particularly Oriental, African, Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern or European. They would most likely be mistaken for being of mixed race if it were not for the larger eyes.

Deunan Parahuman. +67 Points.
Attribute Modifiers: DX+1 [20]; HT +1 [10] IQ+1 [20].
Advantages: Acute Vision +1 [2]; Night Vision 2 [2]; Attractive [4]; Longevity [2]; Extended Lifespan 1 [2]; Resistant to Disease (+8) [5].
Features: Taboo Traits (Genetic Defects, Mental Instability, Myopia, Hyperopia, Astigmatism, Allergic reactions); No appendix; Light menses; Unlikely to sunburn.


Friday, 24 March 2017

Urban Combat: The Problem with Population.

Master Corporal Chen paused on Hoon Street. He was certain. Carefully he entered the relevant code phrase: “luv yu Ginnie; Hunni”

“That is the confirmation! No checkpoints on Hoon street! Tell first platoon to take route Baker. They have a clear run at the target!”

In the 1940s, at the height of World War Two the world population was 2,300 million. By the early part of the 21st century this had risen to 7,500 million. At the start of the 22nd century and in the era of Transhuman Space population is 11,000 million. Most of this is located on Earth and it is likely around 70% of this will be in urban areas. Unless you are Judge Dredd a “megacity” is defined as a city with a population of more than 10 million. In the 1950s there were just two megacities in the world. There were 22 by 2015. Some predictions suggest that this number will have increased to 50 by the 2050s. An alternate possibility is that the existing megacities will simply get even bigger. Whichever happens it seems certain that many military operations in the future will take place in areas with a high civilian population density.

Images from World War Two have accustomed us to the idea that urban combat will occur in relatively deserted areas. The depiction of Berlin in the video game “Sniper Elite” with its ruins, barricades and pavises is a good example. In future conflicts this may not be typical.

Evacuating a city of several million people poses numerous problems. Even if this can be achieved, what to do with the displaced population will be an even bigger problem. Each individual needs shelter, food, water, sanitation and many other things. It is more likely that a large number of civilians will remain in the conflict area and attempt to progress with their normal lives as best as they can. This tendency can be observed in some of the recent European and Middle Eastern conflicts.

A city with a large population needs considerable resources. In the past it has been a common strategy for combatants to attempt to control the movement of resources into a conflicted area. In the future humanitarian and less altruistic concerns may cause one or both sides to take measures to ensure that large local populations are kept relatively healthy, happy and fed.

Living cities have a circulation. They cannot function if people and resources are not being moved to where they are needed. This poses both problems and opportunities for a military force. Sheer volume of traffic may prevent the movement of large numbers of military vehicles. It is not possible to search every truck, every car boot nor frisk every train passenger. Infiltration will be a common strategy in future operations in densely populated large urban areas.

A populated city has thousands of eyes on every street, each pair with a communication device such as a phone or interface googles. In the past this blog has described sophisticated surveillance devices such as robo-bees, surveillance fluff and bird-bots. One of the most useful reconnaissance systems may be an unarmed individual with a phone. A seemingly innocent and everyday transmission may convey important information about the disposition and movement of enemy forces. Some such sources of information may indeed be innocent but no less useful. A girl posts a selfie with a police car visible in the background. A youth tweets “Just seen an old M113 and BTR. Cool!” From such tidbits military intelligence may be built. Potentially AI systems could monitor thousands of transmissions a minute, sifting them for anything that may be utilized.

In 2017 US Gen Mark Milley made some comments on fighting in large cities. These included the statement:

“We will have to have, what I think, is a lot of relatively small formations that are networked and can leverage Air Force and naval-delivered joint fires”

The US Army loves the concept of networking units but this may not be practical. Firstly, neither the Air Force nor the Navy in their current forms have weapons with sufficient accuracy and focus for use in highly populated urban areas.  Densely populated areas are likely to have many large buildings which will inhibit the radio communications necessary for networking. Infantry units may need to be operating inside these buildings, or in narrow alleys between them. Contrary to what you see in movies, radio reception within buildings can be very variable. Most large buildings have some areas where phone reception is poor or non-existent. The potential for civilian transmissions compromising military security may require blanket jamming, which may also inhibit a military unit’s communications network. In a previous post I noted that enemies may use electronic warfare to neutralize the superior resources of better equipped units.  

Thursday, 16 March 2017

CLAW Cybershell.

“Yeah. They are exactly the sort of thing you would expect the army to come up with. A lot of the guys call them CLODs rather than CLAWs. I’ve heard them called “pigs” or “doggies” too, but what they most resemble are pygmy hippopotamuses! Armored pygmy hippos! Heah, heah.

On the plus side, they are well armored! Like the Tiger tanks of ground cybershells! They’ve only got four legs but they are incredibly hard to disable. You can bathe the CLODs in lead and grenades and they won’t slow down, they just keep trudging forwards.

But they’re slow! Seldom do you see them moving faster than a brisk walk. Theoretically they can run, but it’s seldom done. With the shaking the joints get the maintenance afterwards is a nightmare. Don’t run them unless you do not expect to use them in the near future. They’re not too good at braking or changing direction if you run them, either! Seen ‘em plough through a brick wall. Seen them collide and trip each other up. That was a sight!

The gun is in the nose. Well, it’s in the body actually, but you know what I mean. They’ve a limited arc of fire and have to do that shuffle thing or change course to traverse. They have trouble tracking fast crossing targets. They can be flanked too. Use them in groups or use other forces to cover them.

They tend to get left behind during fast-moving operations. They’re best used to guard your flank or beef up a defensive position. Just like they used them at the town hall in Vancouver.

The first ones had that microcalibre minigun and a couple of grenade tubes. Most of those got replaced when the 7.5mm MG came in. That was much more practical. Quite a few of them now have those air-burst grenade launcher machine guns instead. [High-Tech 4e p.144 M307] Good thing is they all come with a big supply of ammo. You can mount a couple of smart anti-tank missiles on each side, but generally it is only done if there is an armor threat. Army thinks they are vulnerable there and might blow up the CLOD.

We used to like that rack thing they have on top. You can hang quite a few rucksacs on a CLOD, which beats having to carry them yourself. Not that that is a problem for me anymore since I got uploaded.

The first CLODs were fielded something like thirty years ago. They’ve been upgraded a few times so I expect they will be used for at least another decade. Army and marines have still got hundreds. State and National guards have quite a few and so do the air force. Even a few police forces.

They are not by any means the best combat systems out there, but they can be useful. They're tough! The world tends to mark what the US Army does, even their not so good ideas! The Chinese, the Iranians and the TSA have all copied the CLOD and fielded their own. A whole bunch got given away as military aid and have ended up all over the place. Chances are you are going to run into them sooner or later.”