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Remote Control and Jamming

The following rules clarify, expand upon, and supersede the rules for remote control and jamming shells. “Shells” in the context of this specific rule refers to any morph, bot, vehicle, smart animal, or gear that is equipped with puppet sock augmentation.

Shell Aptitude Maximums

Non-morph shells are normally designed to be operated by AIs. Unless otherwise noted, they are assumed to have an aptitude maximum of 20.

Shell AIs

Most shells (excepting smart animals) come equipped with an AI operator. For robots and vehicles, this is a bot/vehicle AI. This gives them a base REF of 20, with 10 in all other aptitudes (unless modified by the shell). For smart animals with a cybercortex or mesh inserts, this is an animal keeper AI. Keep in mind that AIs have an aptitude maximum of 20 and cannot default on skill tests.

Control Modes

The three modes in which a shell may be given remote commands are: autonomous mode, direct control, and jamming. Each is detailed below.

Autonomous Mode

In autonomous mode, the shell operates on its own. The operator AI performs all actions, though it also responds to commands (issued either verbally or via a communications link from an authorized entity). Issuing commands via a communications link is considered a mental action. A shell in autonomous mode:

  • Uses its own Initiative and Speed to determine when and how often it acts.
  • Uses its own aptitudes and aptitude modifiers. (Reminder: vehicle/bot AIs can’t default on skills.)
  • Uses its own skills.
  • May be given specific instructions with a Quick Action to perform any Quick, Complex, or Task Action. If given more instructions than it can perform in a single Action Turn, it will continue to carry out instructions on subsequent Action Turns unless the controller issues new ones.
  • May automatically be given simple, one-sentence standing orders such as, “Guard me and my allies,” “Prevent anything from passing this doorway, using deadly force if necessary,” or “Kill anything that enters a perimeter with a radius of 10 meters from our present position.” Issuing such orders is a Quick Action. If the shell isn’t busy performing any specific instructions, it will revert to its standing orders.
  • May be issued more complex standing orders, up to an arbitrary length and level of detail. Orders that are complex enough to confuse a transhuman might require the AI to succeed in a COG x 3 Test or get some parts of the order wrong or confused.
    To bypass confusion, a character can program the AI with complex orders by succeeding at a Programming Test with a timeframe of 1–120 minutes, depending upon the complexity of the instructions (gamemaster’s call). It’s recommended that the gamemaster make the Programming Test in secret for the character crafting the instructions. On a failed test, the gamemaster should record the actual die roll and give the option of expending Moxie only if and when a situation arises where the AI’s flawed instructions would become an issue. As with simple standing orders, it will revert to these orders if not following any specific instructions.

Multiple shells in autonomous mode may be commanded simultaneously with the same Quick Action as long as they are receiving the same instructions. Different instructions would require separate Quick Actions.

Direct Remote Control

A directly controlled shell is operated remotely via a communications link. The operating character manipulates the shell via an entoptic interface, much like a video game. The shell’s AI goes on standby, stepping in as necessary when the teleoperator is not in direct control. Issuing direct commands via a communications link is considered a mental action. A shell under direct remote control:

  • Uses the teleoperator’s Initiative. This is not modified by Initiative penalties suffered by the shell, such as from wounds.
  • Uses its own Speed. If its Speed is higher than the teleoperator’s and if it has standing orders, it can operate in autonomous mode for any Speed actions remaining after the teleoperator acts (still using the teleoperator’s Initiative). Reflex boosters, neurachem, and other augmentations that increase the teleoperator’s Speed in their own morph do not apply to the shell’s Speed. If the teleoperator’s Speed is higher, they may use their extra Speed actions as normal with their own morph or to directly control a different shell, but they cannot directly control the same shell with those extra actions.
  • Uses the teleoperator’s base (ego) aptitudes and skills for all tests. No aptitude bonuses apply (including the teleoperator’s own morph and the shell). The shell’s aptitude penalties and maximums apply. The shell’s wound penalties also apply.
  • Takes a −10 penalty to all tests, with the exception of Knockdown Tests, which use its own SOM.
  • Uses the teleoperator’s Pilot skills for movement, dodging, and melee tests. Note that if the controller lacks relevant Pilot skills, such as Pilot: Anthroform for a bipedal pod morph, they must default to their base REF aptitude.
  • Use the controller’s Gunnery skill for ranged combat tests. If the teleoperator lacks the Gunnery skill, they must default to their base INT aptitude.
  • Requires the teleoperator to expend the same type of action that would be required of the shell when following instructions. E.g., the teleoperator must expend a Complex Action to instruct the shell to perform a Complex Action, and so forth.

Multiple shells in direct control mode may be commanded at once with the same action as long as they are receiving the same instructions, are close together (within a meter), and are acting in concert. Different instructions or separate circumstances (such as being in different parts of the same room) would require separate actions. Characters with augmentations or other bonuses that provide extra mental actions each Action Phase (such as multitasking or mental speed) may directly control more than one shell at once with different instructions.

Jamming

A jammed shell is operated remotely via a communications link. The teleoperator subsumes themself in a VR simulation of the shell’s body and sensorium, suffering a −60 modifier on Perception Tests and physical actions involving their own morph. Though this offers a finer level of control than direct control, it is still a simulated experience and not as intensive as actually sleeving into the shell. Jamming is considered a mental action. A shell being jammed:

  • Requires a Complex Action by the teleoperator to engage or disengage from jamming mode.
  • Uses the teleoperator’s Initiative. While jamming, the teleoperator’s Initiative is reduced by any Initiative penalties suffered by the shell (such as from wounds).
  • Uses its own Speed or the teleoperator’s, whichever is lower. The AI is subsumed when the operator takes control and can’t act independently use its own actions even if it is faster. Reflex boosters, neurachem, and other augmentations that increase the teleoperator’s Speed in their own morph do not apply to the shell’s Speed. If the teleoperator’s Speed is higher, they may use their extra Speed actions as mental actions, or even to directly control a different shell, but they cannot directly control or jam the same shell with those extra actions.
  • Uses the controller’s Climbing, Flight, Freerunning, Free Fall, or Swimming skill for movement tests (not Pilot skill). For example, a teleoperator jamming a winged morph uses Flight. Jamming a groundcraft uses Freerunning skill, and so on.
  • Use the teleoperator’s normal Combat skills for all combat tests.
  • Inflicts the teleoperator with 1d10 SV if dumped from the shell while jamming.