Hussars - filling a gap in Iron Empires

Obstacle Limitation. Which, I now notice, doesn’t have any discount associated with it – because it is intended to be applied on the fly by the GM for a failed Tech Resources test. Even though there are examples right beneath it!

So how about this – Obstacle Limitations applied to a trait in tech burning reduce the cost by the value of the Obstacle trait. A Double Obstacle penalty is worth -5 pts.


-5 points – that much, really, for this?:

Anyone who is not the owner/rider of a Hussar who has not practiced with the specific vehicle suffers …double obstacle penalty for all Hussar-related tests.

I guess it prevents sharing a giving piece of equipment with your allies even worse than -3 point “Trait Limitation” does, since they can’t just have the right trait (e.g. whatever-trained) but actually have to spend a building scene or interstitial scene on it. But wow, -5 points is a lot.

Just want to make sure I understand you 100% before I go spending those 5 points.

remember, that’s -5 trait points, not resource points. And it’s a freaking double obstacle penalty! That makes the vehicle a death trap for anyone else aside from its owner.

What happens if a hussar is injured or retires? What the hell do they do with his ride? They train someone on it, sure. What if you’re in the middle of a war?


Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of nastiness I want from this trait: “What do you mean, Maryam was in the mess hell when the mortars hit? Well, is anyone else acclimatized to her mount? Anyone?.. Oh… Okaaaay…Lieutenant Jevis, get in that cockpit now and pray the White Hand that crazy computer takes a likin’ to you real fast. You’ve got – uh – five hours before we sortie.”

double obstacle penalty means two rolls every time you test? or any obstacle penalty is multiplied by two?


Times two for the Ob… a Ob 3 Test (not too bad) becomes a Ob6 Test (very mean!)

Thanks tremendously to everyone who’s commented in this thread, especially Luke Crane and Chris Moeller. I’m going to post the revised design here for any final thoughts you all have before putting it up on the Wiki. My only questions at this point are

  1. have I used the Double Obstacle Limitation appropriately?
  2. Should a Lord-Pilot Hussar be able to buy a Hussar Sled in character burning for 1 rp, or should I continue treating it as an enhanced Assault Sled and thus restrict it to Anvil/Hammer/Forged Lord characters?

Anvil Hussar Sled
Capacity: pilot only

Type: Atmospheric Vehicle (Pilot)
Tech Index: Low index and higher

Tech Resources: Ob 17
Profile: 2
Integrity: 6
Control: 1D
Signals: Automation 5
Sensors: Automation 4
Ordnance: Vehicular (2)
Vehicular Speed: Atmospheric 7
Security: none
Structural Tolerances: Surface, H8. Breach, V1. Damaged, V7. Destroyed, V14.

Technological Traits:

Enhanced Performance
(+1D Skill Advantage: Control, +3 points; +1 Vehicular Speed, +3 pts)
The Hussar Sled is faster and more agile than the standard Assault Sled, with a higher thrust:weight ratio and multiple control surfaces – flaps, tails, and small wings (canards) – that automatically reconfigure for maximum maneuverability at different speeds and altitudes.
These improvements are already factored into the stats above.

Enhanced Signals and Sensors
(+2D to Technological Skill: Signals, +2 points; +1D to Sensors, +1 pt)
The Hussar Sled has an enhanced signals and sensors suite. Most models can be distinguished by prominent whip antennas projecting up and back from the cockpit.
These improvements are already factored into the stats above.

HUDIYD: +2D to Observation
(+2D Skill Advantage: +5 points)
A Hussar sled’s onboard automation fuses data from its surveillance array, navigation computer, and flight controls into imagery projected through the Lord-Pilot’s Crucis neural interface into the vision centers of the brain and superimposed over his field of vision. The unofficial but traditional term for this system is “Heads-Up Display In Your Head,” or HUDIYD (“hyou-deed”).
The standard version, available at Low Index, gives a +2D advantage to any Observation rolls.

(Trait Limitation: -3 points)
Piloting a Hussar vehicle in low-altitude combat mode with its full reconaissance suite active is simply overwhelming to anyone without years of intensive training. Characters without the Hussar Trained trait may not operate a Hussar sled at all, even if they have a crucis.
Hussar Trained is a new trait not listed in the standard rulebook and is associated with a new lifepath, Lord-Pilot Hussar, q.v.

Bucephalus Effect
(Double Obstacle Limitation: -5 points)
Each Hussar sled is so complex, and the interface with the pilot’s brain is so intimate, that a individual pilot must acclimate himself or herself to a particular vehicle before flying it. Occasionally a particular Hussar sled will just not “take” to a particular pilot for no clear reason. Lords-Pilot Hussar almost always name their “mounts” and, in candid moments, tend to insist that they have personalities; regular grav sled pilots tend to think Lords-Pilot Hussar are nuts.
To acclimate to a particular Hussar vehicle, a character must have the Hussar Trained trait and make a Pilot test against an Obstacle of 2. Observation, Recon, and Grav Sled-wise are acceptable FoRKs; another Hussar serving as an instructor may Help. Spending less than eight hours on the acclimatization test increases Ob to 3; spending less than one hour increases Ob to 4.
Success on the acclimatization test means that particular character may operate that particular Hussar vehicle normally. Failure means that character suffers a double Obstacle penalty for all tests related to that particular vehicle – including any second attempt at acclimatizing to it! “Sorry, sir, it just doesn’t like you.”

Pilot only
(Categorical Limitation: -1 point)
The Hussar sled has a nearly form-fitting cockpit with room for one pilot – wearing ballistic armor or Anvil, but not Iron – and no one else. Unlike the Assault Sled (or any of the other standard vehicles except the Attack Sled), it can carry one person and one person only.

No cargo
(Categorical Limitation: -1 point)
The Hussar sled has no room for cargo. The pilot may wear ballistic armor or Anvil, carry a sidearm (i.e. a Close Combat category weapon), and stow a survival kit or similar briefcase-sized object. There is no room for anything else.

NOTE: Availability in Character Burning
In order to purchase a Hussar Sled, one must have the Anvil Lord, Hammer Lord, or Forged Lord traits. Just being a Lord-Pilot Hussar with the Hussar Trained trait is not enough, any more than being a Lord-Pilot Hammer entitles you to your own spaceship! (This is an addition to the rules on p. 112).

The trait is essentially the same:

Hussar Trained (Die Trait: 5 points)
In the Iron Empires, Hussars are the elite pilots of heavily armed, heavily armored reconaissance machines. Hussar-class grav sleds can reach areas too distant for infantry scouts and survive missions too dangerous for recon drones and lightweight spy planes. Their primary function is to locate enemy threats and weakpoints, serving as cavalry to Iron-clad heavy infantry. They also pursue fleeing adversaries, raid supply lines, escort less nimble Assault Sleds, and, when necessary, rapidly reinforce a crumbling area of the front. (Routine support to infantry is provided by the same Assault Sleds that transport them).
Piloting a Hussar sled requires years of training, a Crucis interface, and hours or days of acclimatization to a specific “mount.” Although they fly above the mud of the battlefield, Hussars are part of the Anvil, not the Hammer, and go out of the way to emphasize their allegiance to their fellow “groundhogs.”
Restrictions: Must have the Corvus and Crucis trait.

Reimagining the vehicle also let me focus the lifepath much better – note the revised list of skills, in particular the revised order of importance:

Lord-Pilot Hussar
Time: 5 yrs
Resources: 1
Circles: 1
Stat: +1 M
Skills: 7 pts: Pilot, Observation, Vehicular Weapons, Recon, Signals, Tactics, Sensors, Concealment-wise
Traits: 2 pts: Corvus and Crucis, Hussar Trained, Groundhog
Requirements: Armiger, Court Armiger or Magnate

NOTE: Lord-Pilot Hussar is considered equivalent to Lord-Pilot Anvil when fulfilling requirements for subsequent lifepaths, with the following exceptions:

  1. Unlike Lord-Pilot Anvil, Lord-Pilot Hussar does NOT allow the “Stormtrooper” lifepath (which presumes infantry experience).
  2. Unlike Lord-Pilot Anvil, Lord-Pilot Hussar DOES allow the “Scout” lifepath in the Anvil setting and the “Anvil Pilot” lifepath (both of which normally require “Soldier”).

Have you considered an infantry equivalent to the Hussar? Elite armoured light infantry, like rangers or SAS? Perhaps call them the Jaegers, to follow the Hussar theme, and give them heavily modified anvil amour with similar observation benefits to the Hussar. I’m not sure if it should be a Lord Pilot thing, nor if it should require Corvus and Crucius, primarily because I don’t want to eclipse the Iron and Anvil armour that’s already available. But light, fast powered armour with infiltration and observation bonuses, and possibly a big railgun or laser sniper rifle might be very fun. Because no amount of vehicle based scouting is really comparable to a man on the ground. Especially if that man is in stealthy armour and has a silent anti-grav bike. Ooooh….

Elite light infantry? Just add some tech traits to Iron. A bonus to stealth and even better sensors…

Anvil are elite light infantry. They get the +1D to Observation and everything.


Yeah, Anvil plus good training, souped-up laser rifles, and some nice Devices (e.g. something to cancel out the -1 to Infiltration) would get pretty elite. I wouldn’t base “elite light infantry” off Iron because there’s nothing light about it; it’s not for sneaking around in, it’s for killing the hell out of people.

I was reading Anvil as standard high quality infantry. I wouldn’t call them light infantry, because they aren’t optimized for infiltration and observation. While they get a bonus to observation in the contact phase, if they have a helmet on they also get a penalty. The book also states that “It is the de facto protection for the majority of soldiers in the Iron Empires.” on page 542. That doesn’t so much say elite to me as standard issue in well equiped armies. I’m thinking of something that is similar to iron, in that it’s high tech and specialized, but that goes in the other direction. It might have Iron’s Avatar, Foam Reservoir, Integral Targetter, Fusion Pack, Power Assist, Sheilded Com, and Targetter, but wouldn’t have Hardened and Sheilded, Massive, or Constrained View. It would only be AT 3 or even 2. Light, fast, stealthy armour designed for infiltration, observation, and elimination of select hostile targets.

Mike, Iron can be customized in any number of ways, depending on the preference of the owner or fabricating guild. I’d say, design your recon version of Iron and come up with a guild that’s famous for constructing it. It would be “Tabriani Iron” or something like that. I think that’d be very cool and in the spirit of the IE.


The problem you’ll have with Iron is that it’s detectable by Sensors, like vehicles, whereas Anvil-armored infantry are not. Now, it’s still Profile 0, whereas the smallest vehicle is Profile 1 and most combat vehicles are Profile 2, so Iron’s a lot harder to detect than vehicles, but it’s also a lot slower – +1D to speed does not a cavalry arm make.

So the current rules would make “recon Iron” an unhappy compromise between light infantry, who are the same speed as Iron troops but don’t show up on Sensors at all, and vehicles, which are more visible on Sensors than Iron but are also a lot more mobile. If you want fast, heavily armored recon, go with the Hussar or something like it; if you want stealthy recon, go with Anvil armor with extra specialist tech.

Thanks to everyone for all your input. I’ve posted the final version of the Hussar vehicle, lifepath, and trait on the Wiki –

I ended up relenting on Character Burning costs and made the darn thing available to characters with the Hussar Trained trait for 1 rp. The whole “cavalryman and his noble steed” analogy got to me, and I don’t think it’s abusive munchinkism. (Hey, your GM can always disallow it).

If anyone thinks I’ve overstepped, please smack me down accordingly.

I ended up relenting on Character Burning costs and made the darn thing available to characters with the Hussar Trained trait for 1 rp.

Us Hussar Wanna-be give out a loud Huzzah!

Just remember, boys: Every day you fly high is a gift from the Hammer, but nap-of-the-earth is something they can never take away from you. So keep your eyes open and your altitude under ten meters, and if you clip a few trees, hell, that’s why the front of the sled is pointy, innit?

You all might want to visit the wiki…





Chris, Luke, I am blown away. That looks beautiful. I am profoundly pleased you guys considered my idea – once it had gone through the wringer of “peer review” and been refined by advice from you two, Mike (Countercheck), and Jason (Khelek) – worthy of this treatment.

Thank you.