This article originally appeared in Pyramid #2
Maximum Metal is R. Talsorian's military hardware upgrade for Cyberpunk 184.108.40.206. Author Craig Sheeley describes it as, "all those guns your mother warned you about."
By Craig Sheeley
"How should powered armor be deployed/used? The 'two-legged IFV' school says right out there with the tanks, mixing it up, depending on their size and maneuverability to avoid the heavy guns, while shrugging off small-arms fire from 'soft' infantry. The 'pinnacle of body armor/linear frame tech' school puts them in the streets where tanks can't go; doing the strength-and-firepower jobs combat borgs do, but better, relying on their superior protection to handle the close-range punishment that would pulverize anyone else."
So says editor Derek Quintanar, the arbiter of the powered armor rules in Cyberpunk 220.127.116.11. There are arguments for both schools of thought. This article is not intended to add fuel to either argument, but to provide some handy tactical tips for using both regular armor and powered armor in any situation, as a sort of supplement to the dry design and combat information in the book.
Actually, we ran out of space.
The Wide Open SpacesOpen terrain is defined as a place where cover is scarce. This can range from salt flats (flat as a pool table) to plains, deserts and fields, all the way to western Kansas (again, flat as a pool table).
If you're in a vehicle, you have to keep moving. This is imperative, whether you are on the offensive or the defensive. Whenever you can, find a good hull-down position and use it - not the best idea in the world, but at least it can be done.
Who to shoot? The largest threats are your first priority. You're not much good dead, no matter how cost-effective you were, so there's no profit in shooting a more expensive but less powerful target when there's a real threat in sight. After you've smoked the threats, then you can concentrate on the gravy targets.
And, above all, keep moving!
Powered armor suits are in a lot of trouble in the open. They're too big to hide like a regular infantryman, their weapons are usually too small to take on tanks, and they're just expensive enough to be worth shooting! About the only chance powered armor has is to head for cover, quick, and hope that any infantry that might be hiding in that cover can be dealt with. PA suits in open warfare do best as anti-tank snipers, lying in cover with Light ATGMs and bugging out as soon as the single attack is over.
Working In CloseDense terrain can be heavily wooded areas, the dreaded hedge-rows of France, canyons, culverts and even urban blight. The single deciding factor is the ready availability of cover, restricting line of sight, range and movement.
Vehicles should, for the most part, avoid these places. With the vehicular advantages of speed and range nullified, all that's left is armor, and the range is so close that an infantryman can step around a corner and nail your rear without you ever seeing him. If you have to go in, then by all means operate with an infantry screen. Vehicles in close terrain without infantry are dead. Even if you do have infantry along with you, keep your eyes and sensors open! If you see a threat, blast it! Don't be afraid to waste an entire building to smoke out one ground-pounder, 'cause there are probably more of them in the same building. This is what your light autocannons and machine guns are for.
Powered armor has an easier time in close terrain. Finally, the range is down to their level, and their high mobility and reflexes are useful. Let's face it, a legged vehicle can go places where no other land vehicle can go. (Long ago, the U.S. Army determined that over 50% of the land surface of the Earth is inaccessible by wheeled, tracked and hover vehicles.)
Of course, a PA suit has the same problems that an AFV does: it's an inviting target for a light anti-tank weapon, and it's the perfect range, too - short. The answer is to watch your back, move from cover to cover with your mates providing fire support, and generally act like a normal ground-pounder, even though you are much bigger. This includes working as a team. A lone PA suit in close terrain is begging for an ambush by enemy infantry. Just because you can run through MG fire doesn't mean you should do it - that MG might just be a spotting rifle for something bigger, like an Auto-GL.
Urban landscapes are the ultimate in close-terrain nightmares, but cover is ready availabile and you have a high level of mobility. A good stout building becomes a fortress, where you can fire from one position and bug out to another position without ever being exposed. A tall building provides high-angle shots at the vulnerable top armor of ground vehicles, and the city infrastructure - sewers to the layman - has always been a wonderful way to get around undetected.
You can go all the way across a city without ever coming up, and when you do come up, practically no area of the city is inaccessible. Ask the Germans at Stalingrad.
InfantryDon't let anyone fool you. No matter how big you are, how many weapons you haul, or how much armor you have, any time you meet infantry is not a good time. The average infantryman of 18.104.22.168. carries at least one anti-light-armor weapon (HEAT grenades, LAWs, etc.) While these weapons may not seem all that frightening, infantry in close can manage to find any vehicle's weak spots and worm a round in. Furthermore, you never meet just one infantryman.
Where there's one, there are his mates, and with all that firepower around, a lone tank or PA suit is going to be fatally hit at some time or another.
The best cure for enemy infantry is, of course, infantry of your own.
Optional Morale RuleMost vehicles lost in combat, particularly armored vehicles, are not destroyed outright. In fact, most of them are operable with marginal repairs: some of them sustain only minimal damage, and the vehicle is still combat-capable! It takes an insanely brave vehicle crew to man a damaged vehicle - the vast majority of them bail out once the vehicle's armor has been penetrated.
If a combat vehicle sustains a penetrating hit (Minor Damage or greater), have the crew make a morale check. The vehicle commander makes a Leadership Difficulty +15 roll, modified for the damage (+5 for Major Damage, +15 for Catastrophic Damage). If the roll fails, then the crew deserts the vehicle, bugging out through escape hatches on the side of the vehicle away from combat. If the crew is under fire from small arms from all sides, or knows that they are covered and likely to die if they bail out, the difficulty of the test is 2d10.
This rule makes for a bit less heroism on the part of most NPCs (and some PCs), but Game Masters interested in more realistic tank battles might like to use this rule.
The Bell UH-10 PAPC
Top Speed: 135 MPH Maneuver: 2 ACC/DEC: 15/15 MPH SDP: 250 (Body 12) Crew: 2 SP: 40 (AV 2) Range: 1,000 miles Type: Heavy Helicopter Passengers: None Mass: 10 Tons Cargo: 5 Tons, 12 spaces Cost: 1.85 Million Euro Special Equipment: Auto-pilot and Navigation System, Chaff Dispenser, Ejection Seats, Flare Dispenser, Image Enhancement, IR Baffling, Laser Detector, Light Amplification, Military Radar, Military Radio, Radar Detector, Telescopic Optics, Thermograph. Weapons: None.
With the recent advent of powered armor as a viable battlefield weapon, a problem has appeared: no AV or helicopter is really powerful enough to haul a full squad of PA suits! Even the monster S-M Dragon only carries 4 tons, barely enough for 5 Arasaka Standard-B suits (or 3 Boris suits), and the AV-9 can fit in 2 Militech Commandos. Since the normal U.S. Army PA squad is four 800kg suits and a 1,500kg "Pigman," the Army commissioned Bell to make the new UH-10 Powered Armor Personnel Carrier. Mitsubishi/Arasaka is also selling this carrier under commercial license.
In tight spots where the helicopter cannot land to deploy the suits, the PAs either jump, using their jets or parafoils to slow them, or are lowered by a winch.
Maximum Metal ErrataNo product is perfect; Maximum Metal is no exception. It doesn't have many mistakes, though. These corrections will be included in the text when Maximum Metal goes into its second printing.
Page 10, Sample Notice/Awareness Modifiers: The listing "Spotter doing something else besides spotting" has a modifier of minus 10 (-10), not plus 10 (+10). The "+" is a typo; trying to spot a threat while doing something else is difficult, not easy.
Page 11, Crashes, first column, last paragraph: Change the sentence " … to determine collision Penetration [3.5 points per d10 …'' to " … 15.5 points per d10 … ''
Page 12, Constructing Vehicles: Each crewmember takes 1 space. Each passenger takes 1 space.
Page 29, Arasaka Combat 10: The armament was omitted. This is purely the fault of the author (me). Turrented 7.62mm Minigun with 2 magazines and 40mm cannon with 30 rounds. Reduce cargo to 0 spaces and boost the cost to 100,000 eb. The 40mm cannon is a special light cannon developed for the Combat 10. HVY; 0; NR 8d6 (40mm); 10; 1; ST; 10,000 euro.
Page 31, Arasaka Riot 8: This vehicle carries 8 passengers.
Page 41, AV-9 & UAAV: These vehicles mass 3,400 kg, not 3,400 tons.
Page 49, U.S. M-50 Tank Hunter: The armament was left out of the book. It is: Weapons: Turreted 25mm autocannon, painting laser and 5 Hellfires. HATGM with 19 teleguided/thermal semi-active missiles.
Page 76, Rockets and Missiles, first paragraph: Change the sentence "All of the weapons require the targeting capabilities of at least a HUD-using Reality Interface" to "The following weapons require the targeting capabilities of at least a HUD-using Reality Interface: Light ATGM, Spectre ATGM, Scorpion SAM, Red Knight SAM."
Article publication date: August 1, 1993
Copyright © 1993 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.