Last week, we defined Drones in Psi-punk and took a look at the Hound, a drone designed to be an expert tracker. This week we’ll dive a little more into the mechanics of Drones so you can see how they operate.
To keep things simple (and our sub-systems from getting out of control), we treat drones like vehicles, with a few exceptions. This is great if you’ve already read through the Psi-punk core book and are familiar with how vehicles work. There isn’t much new to learn or memorize. Here’s a snippet from the Drones text:\
Treat drones as vehicles (see page 65 of the Psi-punk core book) to determine their Traits. Drones have all the same Traits as other vehicles, but they aren’t designed to be piloted or carry passengers. Drones have the following differences.
Size: Most drones are Mediocre (-1) Size or smaller.
Handling: Ordinarily, you would add a vehicle’s Handling Trait to your Vehicles check to determine how well you drive or pilot the machine. Because you don’t pilot a drone, simply treat the Handling Trait as its own Skill if you need to determine how well the drone maneuvers. That is, roll the drone’s Handling check and don’t add any other character skills.
Weapons: Don’t add your character’s Combat skill to the drone’s Weapons Trait when attacking. Simply treat its Weapons and Size Traits as its ODFs unless it has Gifts which alter this Trait in some way.
Cost: Drones aren’t designed to be passenger vehicles and are more compact. Their Cost is equal to the sum of all Wealth Modifiers -16. All else being equal, a Superb  Cost vehicle would be a Great  Cost drone.
Because they’re designed to move and act on their own, drones are less expensive than vehicles. They’re smaller, typically lack the ability to carry passengers, and they don’t add anyone else’s Combat Skill to their Weapons Trait when attacking. These factors help mitigate their cost, which is good because even with a -16 Wealth modifier they can get quite expensive, as our next drone example illustrates. Note that this is an extreme example.
ODFs: +0; DDFs: +4
Size: Poor (-2)
Speed: Great (+2)
Handling: Great (+2)
Weapons: Great (+2)
Gifts: Cloaking, Collapsible, Dodge, Silent (Area), Sneak Attack, Spy Cam
Cost: Wonderful 
The C47 Prowler is a diminutive assassin bot designed to disable enemies before they are aware of its presence. It’s the best at what it does, but it’s also the most expensive.
C47 Prowlers are capable of performing combat maneuvers and taking different offensive postures (see pages 87—89 of the Psi-punk core book). A typical approach and assault by a Prowler might look like this:
- Enter a room while collapsed. Its size is reduced to -4, which increases its DDFs to +6 and improves the Difficulty for its Cloaking Gift from Wonderful (+4) to Extraordinary (+6).
- Approach a target silently and virtually unseen.
- Expand back to original size to regain the ability to attack. This decreases its Cloaking Difficulty to Wonderful (+4) and its DDFs to Wonderful (+4).
- Assume aggressive posture, improving its ODFs to Great (+2) and its DDFs to Great (+2).
- Attack the unaware opponent using a sharp melee attack. If the target is still unaware at this point, it gets to add its Handling trait to ODFs, increasing them to Wonderful (+4). Because the target is unaware and the attack is a melee attack, the Difficulty to hit the target is Abysmal (-3) and the attacker does not get a chance to defend.
- The total effect is +4 ODFs versus a -3 Difficulty.
- If the target doesn’t keel over incapacitated or dead with the first strike, the Prowler can attempt to sneak away and collapse again to hide from what will certainly be a search from the victim and their allies.
The C47 is one of the most expensive drones in the book. It showcases virtually everything an attack drone might offer.
If you noticed, there are a lot of Gifts listed in its description which aren’t found in the Psi-punk core book. Next week, we’ll take a look at some new drone-specific Gifts. Stay tuned!