In the 21st Century, aerial wars have devolved from the massive efforts of previous conflicts to small affairs, attended by relatively few aircraft. Such wars are fought over specific targets instead of large areas - entire "limited wars" are planned around a single objective, using swift raids that depend on speed and surprise rather than overwhelming firepower.
Around the world, this doctrine of limited force is necessary to preserve expensive and rare aircraft. In North America, where aircraft are relatively inexpensive and plentiful this is done to avoid the attention of the Federal Government and its Canadian ally. These governments don't approve of private and corporate wars; such things are literally bad for business, and when business is bad, that means tax revenues -- something near and dear any government -- go down. Private warfare is supposed to be restricted to set-piece contests in the Commercial Combat Zones, under government supervision and taped for broadcast sale. Any other conflict is classified as covert warfare, which is defined as terrorism. Terrorism, whether corporate or political, is highly illegal in North America. The penalty for terrorism is death, although some terrorists are allowed to live, "reprogrammed" with extensive false memories and used to betray their fellows. Still, classifying warfare outside of CCZs as terrorism gives the Federals leave to meet any corporate thrusts with the overwhelming force the Army and Air Force can muster. And no corporation wants to have "terrorist" activities traced back to it, for fear of the damaging investigation that would follow.
Fortunately for the state of corporate warfare, there are always skilled warriors who are willing to undertake dangerous missions for high pay without asking embarrassing questions like why or for whom.
The characters are just such people, willing to work on short information for a big payoff. They've been contacted by faceless people to meet a representative who has a proposition for them.
If the players don't have pilot-type characters already, they should make up some. The adventure requires at least two characters, and players are allowed to use up to 60 skill points to build them (no more than 40 points in any one skill).
The meeting is shrouded in secrecy. The characters aren't given a name or even a good description; they're just told to be at a certain truck stop restaurant. (The actual location of the truck stop is up to the referee. It can be in anywhere in North America.)
When all the characters arrive, they are approached by a nondescript Man in plain body armor who greets them by name and introduces himself as "Mr. Smith." He takes them to a back office and lays out the proposal.
If the pilots accept the offer, they're told to rendezvous at a hotel in Paducah, Kentucky, in one week. Timing is very important, since the raid must be precisely executed when the order is given. They'll receive further orders at the hotel.
As for any questions concerning the targets or aircraft orders, Mr. Smith tells them that one target is vehicular -- probably a convoy, heavily defended -- and the other is a fixed industrial target, which means a factory and guaranteed defenses. Both must be totally destroyed to complete the mission.
If helicopters are requested, two types are provided for conversion, the Dark Angel and the lighter Evil Eye. As all pilots know, the Dark Angel needs no conversion, due to its universal weapons arrangement The Evil Eye choppers have been stripped of weapons and await rearming. Armor can be shifted on both types of helicopters to character specifications.
Dark Angel -- Std. helicopter, super power plant, pilot, gunner
with extra driver controls, VFRP (with two extra magazines
and magazine switch, two loads AP and one regular, all laser guided)
and ITRL with LGL in universal turret under, 2 spaces
& 300 Ibs. of bomb capacity, CACR, ITA, 2 pairs of jettisonable
maneuver foils, IR, long-range radar. LR metal/FP armor:
F20/15, R20/15, L20/15, B20/15, T15/10, U20/15, 7-point FP
maneuver foil armor on each foil, 10-point normal armor on each
main rotor. Acc 5, top speed 250 mph (240 with EWPs), HC 3;
17,881 lbs., $141,068.
Standard Military Options - Add long-distance radio, radar jammer, tinted no-paint windows, 2 hi-res computers. $154,168.
Tank-buster EWPs - 2 3-space EWPs, 2 linked ACs in pods. 10-point FP armor on each pod. 19,961 lbs., $173,118.
Ground Attack EWPs -- 2 3-space EWPs, 900 Ibs., of bombs. 10-point FP armor on each pod. 19,661 lbs., cost varies with bomb load.
General-Purpose EWPs -- 2 3-space EWPs, 2 linked GGs (each with extra magazine) in pods. 10-point FP armor on each pod. 19,971 lbs., $180,718.
Rocket EWPs -- 2 3-space EWPs, 2 laser-guided RLs Each with extra magazine and magazine switch, one load AP and one normal in pods. 10-point FP armor on each pod. 19,391 lbs., $170,968.
Evil Eye -- Small helicopter, standard power plant, pilot, 2-space universal turret under, 2 2-space EWPs, targeting computer, long-range radar, long-distance radio, one pair of jettisonable maneuver foils. 1 extra space left. LR metal/FP armor: T12/22, U19/30, 16/30 elsewhere, 10-point armor for foils, main and stabilizing rotors, 10-point armor for each pod. Acc 10, HC 2; 12,550 lbs., $77,055. Can be outfitted with up to an additional 780 lbs. of armament, armor and equipment at Acc 10. Can be outfitted with up to an additional 7,450 lbs. of armament, armor and equipment at Acc 5.
Fixed-wing aircraft provided are conversions of the popular Hawk series of aircraft, manufactured in St. Louis, Missouri. The three designs in the series are the Microhawk, the Skyhawk and the Maxihawk. These aircraft may be fitted with EWPs and any weapons within the aerowarriors' budget, as long as they can bolt it on to the aircraft. The Maxihawk could conceivably mount a TG forward ... The Hawk series is not known for blazing speed, but it is renowned for dependability and sturdiness under fire.
Microhawk -- Large microplane, large power plant, pilot, heavy lift wings, 3 HD cycle tires, retractable landing gear in the fuselage, 2 ducted propellers in wings B, 2-space universal turret top, 2 maneuver foils, LR radio, ejection seat. LRFP armor: 160 points. 5 points propeller armor each prop. 3 spaces in fuselage, 2 spaces each wing, empty turret, 1,500 lbs. for weapons and gear. Acc 5, HC 3, Top speed 170 mph (fully loaded), stall speed 24, 5,989 lbs. fully loaded), $24,850 (unarmed).
Skyhawk -- Large airplane, mini helicopter power plant, pilot, gunner, heavy lift wings, 2 ducted airplane propellers wings B, 3 standard car tires, retractable gear in the wings, ITA, 2 maneuver foils, 2 3-space universal turrets (T, U), FE, ejection seats, LR radio, extra pilot controls. LR metal/plastic armor: 4/30 in all locations. LR metal/plastic wing armor: 4/20. 10 points propeller armor each prop. 9 spaces in fuselage, 3 spaces each wing, 2 empty turrets, 2,790 lbs. for weapons and gear. Acc 5, HC 1, Top speed 160 mph (fully loaded), stall speed 80, 16,000 lbs. (fully loaded), $53,350 (unarmed).
Maxihawk -- Cargo airplane, small helicopter power plant with PCs and SCs, pilot, 2 gunners, heavy lift STOL wings, 2 ducted propellers in wings F, 6 standard truck tires, retractable gear in the wings and body (1 space in each), ITA, 4 maneuver foils, 2 4-space universal turrets (1 TF, 1 UB), FE, ejection seats, LR radio, bomb bay UF, extra pilot controls. LR metal/plastic armor: 6/25 in all locations. LR metal wing armor: 5 on both wings. 10 points propeller armor on each prop. 20 spaces in fuselage, 27 spaces cargo, 7 spaces each wing, 2 empty turrets, 9,050 lbs. for weapons and gear. Acc 5, HC O, Top speed 160 mph (fully loaded), stall speed 60, 30,000 lbs. (fully loaded), $116,850 (unarmed).
One photograph is provided with the message: A dirty shot of a lone factory building, obviously taken with night gear from some distance. The characters may freely assume that this is one of their targets, since the caption "Objective 12" is written on the photo margin. This photograph is quite important, since it is the only piece of data the pilots and bombardiers will have on the factory target before they actually attack it.
The photograph depicts a three-or-four story square building with a blank facade broken by vehicle and personnel doors at ground level and a few windows near the top level. There is a chain-link and barbed-wire fence surrounding the building at some distance -- the photo is too poor for an accurate measurement. Defenses consist of several turrets atop the building, mounted on the corners to traverse the grounds below. The size of the turrets and their weapons cannot be determined, but they are likely to be large.
The characters spend two days waiting. They may formulate battle plans, test-fly their aircraft, and generally loaf during this time -- the hotel is actually quite large and comfortable; a major class hostelry in a minor-class town, with excellent cuisine (including real food at algae prices!). On the third day, they receive a message delivered to their rooms.
"Target #2 is a factory at the following coordinates. Commence attack immediately." Latitude and longitude figures are given, placing the target squarely in the middle of some heavily forested, mountainous terrain west of I-65 in Tennessee.
The mercenaries have more than enough information to find their quarry.
The convoy is difficult to attack from the air due to the terrain -- the high, wooded ground to either side of the interstate negates low-altitude approaches. Any aircraft flying more than 5" away from the road off to the side must be at a minimum of 8" altitude or it will crash into the trees and the steep inclines. Aircraft that lose altitude due to control loss are also in danger of crashing if they drop below 8" of altitude.
If an aircraft drops below 8" of altitude, roll 1d every movement phase that the aircraft is below 8" altitude. On a 1-2, the aircraft crashes. If the pilot wishes to suddenly gain altitude in mid-turn and crash-climb away from the terrain, the aircraft does a D4 maneuver and goes into a 45 climb. It is counted as climbing as of the next acceleration phase, gains altitude and loses speed according to how many inches of movement were convened into vertical movement.
Aircraft that remain within 5" of the road may drop lower than 8" altitude. However, the road tends to twist ... Roll Id for each 12" road section. On a 1, the road turns right or left (determine randomly).
The Hive vehicles are presented below. The Robobee is an addition, and is slightly modified from its statistics in VG I. The trailer must be completely gutted and destroyed to complete the mission.
Hive Trailer -- 40' van trailer, 8 solids, 4 drivers for remote-control units, 2 universally-turreted VFRPs (each laser-guided with an extra magazine) and IRTLs with LGL (TF, TB), 4 remote-control sender sets, wheelramps. Cargo: 64 spaces, 47955 lbs. when pulled by Queen. FP armor: 40 in all locations, 4 10-point wheelguards, 4 10-point wheel hubs. 15,650 lbs., $94,750.
Queen -- Sleeper longnose, x-hvy chassis, super truck power plant, 10 solid tires, driver, 3 gunners, VFRP (laser-guided with extra magazine) and IRTL with LGL in universal turret T, IR sighting system, 3 hi-res computers, long-range radio. FP armor: F50 (ram plate), R40, L40, B40, T40, U27, 6 10-point wheelguards, 6 l0-point wheelhubs, 10-point fifth-wheel guard. 16,187 lbs., $138,266.
Drone -- Reversed medium trike, large cycle power plant, hvy. suspension, 3 PR tires, no cyclist, airdam, laser-guided VFRP and IRTL with LGL L, IR sighting system, HD shocks, FCE R, FE, remote-control receiver, SWC. Armor: F15, R12, L12, B10, T5, U5. Acc 5, HC 0, 2,098 lbs., $22,416.
Robobee -- One-man helicopter, mini copter power plant, no pilot, laser-guided VFRP with extra magazine and IRTL with LGL F, fire ext., SWC, remote control receiver unit. Armor: F30, R20, L20, B20, T20, U30. Acc 5, HC 0, 4,985 lbs., $57,690.
The factory is DP 25(20), taking a total of 20 breaches to destroy. It has fire extinguisher systems that immediately douse any fires or incendiary shells/bombs. Turret and AA guns are manned by Gunner-2, cyberlinked gunners (total +5).
Active defenses consist of a tripod-mounted MG at the checkpoint (Handgunner +2), the four corner universal turrets (#1 mounts twin VMGs, #2 mounts a blast cannon, #3 mounts twin laser-guided RLs with HEAT ammo, and #4 mounts a long-barreled GTG with proximity and AP ammo -- the long barrel gives it a range modifier of -1 per 20", as long as the target is over 20" away. If the target is 20" or less away, the range modifier is -1 per 4" as usual), and a pair of self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. The anti-aircraft guns are long-barreled, laser-based radar guided TGs mounted on tracked chassis. They are rolled out into the parking lot at the first sign of aerial attack. Their guns are slow-traverse, long-range weapons firing proximity-fused ammo, and are only a threat to high-flying aircraft -- they can't track an aircraft at low altitude, but with proximity ammo, laser guidance to nullify a high-flyer's speed modifier and a range modifier of -1 per 50'', they are excellent at shooting high-flying aircraft. Treat the SP anti-aircraft guns as having 100 DP.
As soon as aircraft are detected on radar, the factory goes to defense mode, activating all turrets and deploying the anti-air-craft guns. If the attackers elect to fly their aircraft in low, under radar, or have stealthkote or radar-proof armor, they get one pass at the factory with no return fire.
The factory must be completely destroyed to complete the mission.
Set-Up: The attack takes place as the characters rendezvous their aircraft to fly back to their airfield. If the characters do not rendezvous, then each force is attacked simultaneously and separately as they fly back.
The ambush force consists of four Dragon fighter aircraft flown by Pilot-2, Gunner-2 pilots. Their orders are to totally destroy the characters' aircraft. If the characters are split into two forces, two Dragons will go after each force.
Dragon -- Medium airplane, small helicopter power plant, 3 HD car tires, 1 ducted prop F, pilot, universal turret with laser U, laser battery, LGL, 1 RL with laser-guided incendiary rockets F each wing, 1 2-space rocket EWP each wing (with 2 SAMs), fire ext., links for all SAMs and RLs, hi-res computer, ejection seat, retractable landing gear in wings. LR plastic armor: F44, L35, R35, B35, T30, U35. 5 points prop armor, 21 points LR wing armor per wing. Ace 10, top speed 345 mph, stall speed 100, HC 2; 9,982 lbs., $58,130.
Of course, if they took some or all of their money in aircraft, then they came out ahead. Otherwise, they're not going to get any more of the promised reward. Do the pilots think to change the markings, identification and paint on any aircraft they flew? If not, they're in for a bit of trouble with the corporation they just raided and the Federal Government -- you see, "black box" camera recorders got some good pictures of the aircraft while they were blowing up ElecTech's newest power plant prototype and assembly line. ElecTech is going to scream "terrorism" which brings the Feds into the picture. As a matter of fact, if any PC was foolish enough to leave his face uncovered in a cockpit, the pictures include some fair views of his features, and his face is going to be faxed to every city in North America, with a hefty reward attached to it. (And you always thought body armor had mirrored faceplates for that "hi-tech" look, never thinking about the benefits of anonymity.)
Anti-Air Radar -- $30,000, 150 Ibs., 2 spaces, O DP. This IR laser-based variant of AA Radar is typically restricted to military use. It works identically to AA Radar, but cannot be jammed, fooled or bollixed.
Delay Fuses -- $100 or $500, no space or weight. Delay fuses are fitted to bombs to delay their explosion once dropped. The delay is set before dropping the bomb -- setting the delay counts as a firing action, but may be done out of combat. Delay fuses can be set for any time delay from one second to up to ten hours. A delay-fused bomb can be disarmed by someone with Explosives skill on a 7 or better. A mechanic can also disarm a delay-fused bomb, counting it as a Medium job. Each defusing attempt takes ten minutes; attempts to defuse the bomb may be made until the timer runs out and the bomb explodes. The $500 delay fuse is fitted with anti-tampering devices that subtract 4 from the disarming roll and explode the bomb automatically if the defusing attempt is not successful. Napalm bombs cannot be delay-fused.
Hardened Bombs -- bomb casings can be hardened to penetrate armored targets. Normally bombs explode on impact or airburst -- a hardened bomb with a delay fuse crashes through the target's armor to explode inside. For an extra 50X of base cost, a bomb can be hardened to penetrate 25 DP of armor or obstacle. For an extra 100 X of base cost and 25 X of base weight, a bomb can be hardened to penetrate 100 DP of armor or obstacle. Hardening does not add DP to the bomb. Unhardened bombs can penetrate 6 DP. Bombs depend on speed for their penetration, going through 5 DP of armor for each 1" of speed the bomb moves. If a bomb hits something with more DP than it can penetrate, roll 1d. On a 1-4, the bomb is destroyed. On a 5-6, the bomb sticks in the target. Hardened bombs add +2 to the roll. Of course, if the bomb wasn't delay-fused, it explodes on contact anyway. Napalm bombs cannot be hardened and always split open on contact, spreading the contents as per normal rules. Proximity Fuses -- +$150 to CPS, no weight or space. Proximity fuses can only be applied to ammunition that has a burst effect. A burst effect weapon using proximity fused shots has its listed damage changed and its To Hit lowered to 3.
Proximity fused shots can only be used on aerial targets, and they do damage to all targets within the specified radius. The actual damage depends on the potency of the shot:
Normal Damage Proximity Damage Radius 1d 1d-3 1" 2d 1d-2 1" 3d 1d 1" 4d, 5d 2d 2" 6d, 8d 3d 2" 9d-14d 4d 3" 15d or more 5d 4"
Proximity fuses utilize multiple sensors to detect the proximity of the target (including magnetic, radar, visual and sonic), so they are immune to anti-radar measures and bollixes.