Jaeger Grav Bikes

Sydney,

I very much like the Hussar Light Infiltration Sled, for a number of reasons. First, it represents the kind of light fast aerial combatant that might actually survive in an environment where there his hostile space superiority. Second, I could see stripped down surplus copies becoming very popular with playboys and smugglers. And it is perfect for a light infiltration vehicle that could pop a fireteam of scouts in and extract them again. Or not even scouts! Imagine an Iron team inserted behind your lines… perfect for heavy commando raids.

I’m still not entirely unsold on the grav-bike idea. Wasn’t there talk about electric motorbikes being issued to american scouts at some-point? I don’t deny that there are problems with the idea, primarily the larger profile, but the ability for scouts to cross a hundred miles of forest below tree-top level in a day might be too much for them to resist, not to mention the ability to instantly ford rivers and ignore ravines and swampland. Terrain that would usually slow infantry to a crawl could be traversed at 60mph. They obviously wouldn’t fight from them, but it I could see them definitely taking advantage of increased mobility… particularly if an infiltration went sour. You’ve got enemy troops fanned out in front of you, searching. Enemy sleds are dropping anvil teams behind you to cut off choke-points. They’ve brought in air assets so you can’t be pulled out by infiltration sled. If you go to ground, they will probably find you. If you have a fast method of relatively stealthy transportation, you might be able to pull yourself out of the trap. Even if the grav bike isn’t approved by the military, if there are civilian versions out there, I could see jaegers buying one with their own cash. Just in case.

You make the bike sound so tempting… but, dammit, you’d show up on sensors. Structurally, even a small vehicle is presumably going to be denser than organic material (otherwise it couldn’t survive the stress of going faster than any living organism can run), so that means forest cover doesn’t help much: The trees may block optical sensors, but they’re just organic matter, so radar, x-ray, and other penetrating-wavelength sensors are going to see right through them and notice a lump of metal (or high density ceramic, or whatever) that is your bike.

Cool discussion, boys. I like the idea of the Anvil Jaegers, and I can see arguments for super-light as well as more traditional transport vehicles. Remember, it’s a big universe out there. Perhaps the Urfan have a taste for Jaegers on bikes, while the more conservative Comoran prefer a GIFV-type vehicle.

Here’s another idea for you experts to kick around: upgraded drop-packs for Iron troops. The Iron’s legs and grav-pack controls could be modified, to allow for long, Hulk-like jumps like Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. This would make Iron very mobile, at a cost in power output that ordinary Iron provides for weapons and other systems (and also requiring some sort of avionics to keep the pilot from smashing into things or falling flat when they land from a jump).

-Chris

Well, If sensors are so powerful and sensitive they can cut through ground clutter like that, you’re in trouble anyway. They’d be able to pinpoint the Hussars in the ground clutter like THAT, because what’s true for a small bike is true for a larger hussar. Anvil and Iron armour would be death traps, since the enemy can detect the inorganic material of the armour so easily, they’ll just keep an artillery battalion knocking about your iron constantly. Personally, I was more concerned with emissions control. God knows what kind of radiation a grav engine gives off and how detectable it would be! But that holds true for hussar sleds too.

Chris, yes there’s more than one way to do this, but it’s fun to argue about it! I, at least, am having fun =) Hmmm… MI jump capability… when yiou first mentioned it, I didn’t like the idea, but it’s been growing on me. I DON’T like infantry flying where they can be seen and swatted, but assuming you used it smart… for gaining access to upper floors of buildings, for crossing rivers and other obsticals, for crossing areas with no cover…

I might rule it can change the infantry’s speed from personal to vehicular, but adds… ob 3 to any infiltration or observation roll you need to make when it’s active.

Not all ground clutter is radar-transparent – e.g. rocks, buildings, hills, ridgelines. In fact, you don’t need to be below it to have it help you; just being next to it adds one more set of blips for the enemy sensor techs (or their AI helpers) to figure out.

Now, certainly a big vehicle is going to be more detectable than a small one (all else being equal, e.g. stealthy design, ground clutter) – but a big vehicle will also have a better chance of surviving being detected. There’s a kind of U-shaped curve, where survivability is

  • high for light infantry because they’re hard to see even though they’re easy to kill, and
  • high for heavy armor because it’s hard to kill even though it’s easy to see, but
  • low for light vehicles because they’re much easier to see than infantry and much easier to kill than heavy armor.
    In Iraq, the 2.5-ton Humvee, even the uparmored versions, is sitting unhappily in the bottom of that U-bend. Even the lightest “armored fighting vehicles” – the 12-ton, Vietnam-vintage M113 tracked transport, and the 19-21 ton Stryker wheeled transports and scouts – do vastly better.
    In the Iron Empires, obviously, we don’t have real combat data, but I’d suspect that a grav bike would be in that miserable middle.

Now, a grav pack, that’s a different story, if you can make it substantially smaller (i.e. less detectable) than a motorbike and still give a mobility advantage. Eyeballing the grav pack Trevor Faith and the other Iron troops were carrying in Faith Conquers, they actually look damned heavy, but then those were for Iron: Troops in Anvil or Jaeger armor could get away with a lot less.

I’ll ponder how to Burn this up. It’d be some kind of Vehicular Speed or even Atmospheric Speed stat for the wearer, coupled with strict limitations on how much you can use it and how visible you make yourself when you do.

Oh, I agree about the ground clutter… but Hussar sleds are going to have as much of a problem.

And I’d personally shift the grav bikes a bit further up the U. A proper hummer equivelent would be a lightly armoured grav-car. What I’m thinking of is basically a grav-pack you sit on with stearing vanes. You mentioned the Iron grav packs are miserably large and heavy… I haven’t gotten a chance to read Faith Conquers yet (my local shop only had Sheva’s War). So instead of a portable one you wear to jump short distances, you have a full sized one that you sit on and stear. There are some fairly significant differences between this concept and the deathtrap-hummers.

Hummers are armoured. This isn’t. It doesn’t pretend to be able to withstand enemy fire. The rider wears armour, not the vehicle.

Hummers are closed vehicles. This isn’t. While that can be an advantage sometimes, practically, since a hummer’s not going to stop enemy fire, it just makes it harder to bail-out of.

Hummers are meant to be fought from. Well, not really, but the provision is there for fighting from them. They have armour (insufficient), can carry anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers, and heavy machineguns. A grav bike trooper is more like a dragoon… he dismounts at first sign of hostile presence. And yes, infantry mounted in hummers are supposed to dismount too, but it’s far harder.

Hummers, though light vehicles, are about twice as long, three times as high, and three times as wide as what I’m envisioning.

Motorcylce troops were once popular in regular armies.* Any idea why they fell out of vogue? Anyone have any sources they can point to?

-L

*Anything goes in an irregular force.

IIRC, they tended to suffer from the problems of both horse cavalry and motorized units combined… they were more or less restricted to fairly good terrain, needed lots of fuel, were horrifically vulnerable to ambushes and rifle/machinegun fire, couldn’t carry heavyish weapons, needed a lot of maintenance… Most of this holds true for grav-bikers… except the restriction to good terrain. That makes it a whole new ballgame, IMHO.

Now, BICYCLE troops are still used in some places, I believe. Good way to move lots of people a fair distance cheaply without using any fuel.

Also, remember that when you give every trooper on his own mount (horse, bicycle, motorbike), you’re making a much bigger demand on him than saying “okay, hop in back of this truck/halftrack/APC.”

It’s not just the training required: It’s the fatigue of being at the controls all the time. This is a big deal! Combat troops are always, always exhausted, even on exercises, let alone in wartime. I remember being at the Army trials that led to the selection of the Stryker, going where I wasn’t supposed to go thanks to a friendly contractor, and when he knocked on the back of his company’s candidate vehicle and opened it up, most of the infantry squad inside was asleep. Can’t do that on a bike.

Perhaps they would be used for things other than prolonged warfare then?
For the hit-and-run raids and tactics these gravbikes seem fairly perfect.

If you’re going to hit and run, the problem isn’t the hitting, it’s the running, because by that point you by definition have lost the advantage of surprise. So you need to be able to do one of these three things:

  1. run like hell: in BE, that’s Atmospheric-scale speed. Or Space-scale speed, with your own covert ops Hammer standing by to take you off-planet altogether.

  2. have armor to survive getting hit while you run: In BE, that’s Vehicular-scale damage tolerance.

  3. have somewhere close by to run too: an urban area with friendly civilians who won’t inform on you, or maybe just a good tunnel network – I think a “planetary fortress” like Hotok would probably consist mostly of huge networks of tunnels with hidden entrances, as if the Death Star had been built by the Viet Cong. (Post on that forthcoming, sometime.)

A grav bike has a shot at doing (1), although you’d really want a closed cockpit to deal with air friction at high speeds (so you don’t, y’know, get blown out), which makes it less of a “bike” and more of a one-seat aircraft – but it’s still going to be a less efficient way of moving people at speed than a proper transport aircraft with multiple passengers (e.g. my Infiltration Sled design).

It has no shot at (2), because it’s not armored.

It has a shot at (3), since it’s smaller and easier to hide than a grav tank – but it’s still a lot harder to hide yourself plus a bike than it is to hide just yourself. Especially vs. radar and other penetrating wavelengths: Your body is radar-transparent and X-ray transparent except for a few kilograms of bones; ceramic body armor is radar-transparent, and while it shows up on X-ray, it’s still only a cluster of small objects adding up to 30 kg (for current US Interceptor Body Armor); metal weapons and metal body armor are radar-reflective, but again relatively small objects weighing at most a few tens of kilograms with hard-to-detect radar returns (unless you’re talking Iron).

A grav bike’s going to be at least as heavy as the guy riding it, presumably. So that’s a 120-200 lb / 60 kg to 90 kg mass that’s all X-ray-reflective and probably all or mostly radar-reflective – i.e. Profile 0 to Sensors, at least, like Iron. If you’re taking a modern-day bike as your model, googling “‘Harley Davidson’ weight” got me figures in the 300-400 lb / 180-220 kg range. That’s an order of magnitude more radar-reflective mass than a normal infantryman’s equipment.

I’m not saying a grav bike is not worth Burning up. In fact, it’s probably got a wider applicability than the Infiltration sled or even Jaeger armor: Police, military police, paramilitary forces, anyone who needs to patrol wide areas with relatively low threat en-route.

But it’s still a specialist tool, and in real combat it’s stuck in that ugly low bend of the survivability U-curve.

Now Chris’s idea for a Heinlein-esque “jump troop” pack, that interests me more, because it adds little injections of mobility at critical moments – crossing a ravine when the bridge is out, assaulting a building where the enemy has booby-trapped the ground floor – without adding so much mass. You’re still in that high-survivability left-hand side of the U-curve.

Hmm. Well, for 1) I can’t really see them going faster than high vehicular. They aren’t airplanes, and are supposed to be threading their way through canyons, not outracing aircraft. But also remember, their pilots are going to be wearing armour, and it would be trivial to arrange it so that the armour locked onto the handlebars and seat. That way you get a cockpit… it’s your armour! Remember, anvil armour is EVA rated. It’s going to be able to take high speed winds without too much trouble. And yes, the infiltration sled is a much more efficient method of moving people,

  1. Yeah. If you get hit with a vehicular weapon, you’re dead. But so is normal infantry.

  2. Well hopefully, you aren’t deployed so far in front of your lines that you can’t make it back. That’s bad planning, not the tool’s fault. As for the fortress world concept… interesting. Thinking of the Bugs in Starship Troopers, personally. And it makes an interesting point about the vaylen… their main impetus for invasion is to gather more hosts. Deny them the hosts by forcing them to bombard the planet into ash, and kill a few of their hosts… it’s a net loss for them. Uneconomical.

The jump pack is a very neat idea, and I like it. I’m just not sure how to handle it. Perhaps… have you played WH40K? You know the Harlequins? They have grav-belts that let them dance across battlefields in rediculous bounds. You don’t need something that will totally negate your inertia or weight, just something that will reduce your weight. Not quite sure how to handle it, though.

Mike. It’s money to mouth time. Burn one up so we can take a look at it.

-L

Luke’s right. In the millions of human worlds, someone, right now, is riding grav-bikes into battle. Remember, someone thought the Brewster Buffalo was gonna be the worlds’ greatest fighter. There’s plenty of precedent for military hardware that is ill-concieved, but cool (including walking tanks, dammit!).

Burn it!

Chris

I’m not sure I did this right… if I enhance the 1d control advantage listed in the template to 2d, do I pay 2 or 5 pts? It was built off the Grav Sled template

Grav Bike Low Index
Capacity: 1 Pilot, 1 Passenger
Tech Resources: 0b 4
Profile: -1
Integrity 3
Control 2D
Signals None
Sensors Tools
Ordinance None
Vehicular Speed Atmospheric 5
Security none
Surface H5 Breach H8 Damaged H11 Destroyed H13

Degrade speed to 5 -4 pts
1d Piloting advantage 2pts
While not as fast as most true aircraft, grav bikes can still acheive a top speed far in excess of any true ground vehicles and are among the nimblest of vehicles.

Integrity -1 -2pts
Profile -1 1ob Obstical to sensors 2pts
Although they contain large amounts of ceramics and contain detectable grav-plates, that’s all they are. Small, light, and made mostly of high dencity plastics and light metalized ceramics, grav-bikes are notoriously hard to detect on sensors, making them a favorite of military forces, law enforcement agencies, and criminals across the galaxy.

Also, I was thinking about the grav pack. It feels like an enhancement to me, but I’m not exactly sure how to burn it. I suppose it lets you test pilot when you normally wouldn’t? that is, it lets you test pilot when you have nothing to pilot =P

Chris… your point about the buffalo is well taken =) I may burn up a truely terrible walking tank for reservists to use!

Hi guys,
this is super-cool shit, but I have just one quick idea:

If the main opposition to the grav bike is how easily sensors can find it, why not create specific environmental conditions negating that disadvantage? So far, this discussion hasn’t really touched on specific environments, same with the hussars thread, so obviously you guys are assuming Earth-normal conditions. But there are millions of worlds out there (as Chris keeps reminding us), and some of them will be pretty freakin’ weird.

The grav bike is going to be a popular option on a world where detecting them is no easier than detecting people on foot. This could be any number of different conditions - the ground being littered with metal (natural or man-made ruins), bizarre silicon-based lifeforms, or just carbon-based life that incorporates metallic growths, or perhaps hicks-field-emitting vegetation that must be cleared before sensors can scan the ground, constant low-lying magnetic gas, or any other pseudo-science you want.

Just a thought.

Hey, that’s pretty neat.

Rules stuff:

I think you cheated yourself out of a 4-point discount for downgrading Signals from “tools” to “none,” but you might want to put that back, honestly – even police bikes today get radios!

Otherwise, it all looks good. I think you costed the second level of Control bonus right. You have a good hack for decreasing profile (treat as Ob to enemy Sensors). Treating decreased Integrity as buying down Tech Stat: Forte at -2 points per -1 Integrity is sensible.

But there ought to be some kind of categorical limitation or worse for the fact that the rider can be targeted without having to shoot through the hull first. Not sure how to cost that.

Then again, you could assume there’s a transparent but blast-resistant canopy that slides back and covers the rider – something like a fully enclosed version of Kaneda’s hot bike from the movie Akira, which someone apparently made a real-world version of.

Plus, I’d add

“Can’t hit the broad side of a barn” (Categorical Limitation: -1): A grav bike is not a stable firing platform, even at low speeds. Grav bike riders may not use any personal weapons for the Direct Fire action in Firefight until they dismount.

At least all the extra disads give you points to buy your Signals tools back and maybe buy the speed back up – if you have a bullet-shaped bike with a canopy, it’s pretty streamlined.

Sydney,

Grav sleds don’t begin with Signal Tools, unless I’m very much mistaken, and I was kinda assuming this would be the stripped down version. People can use headsets or cell phones… if they want signal tools, they can buy them separately =P

I’m not sure I want there to be a canopy, part of my concept for this was to have the pilot able to bail out at any time. Perhaps a limitation that it only takes 1 extra success to hit the crew, and the damage is applied directly to the pilot? I’d give that -2… it reduces a very obscure obstacle by 2, and doesn’t require a breach result?

Rather than preventing them from using personal weapons, I’d probably simply add add an obstacle to any opportunity shots they take while on a bike. +2ob? Also for -1 point? With those points, I probably would buy a piloting and or sensors avatar. Limited autopilot, and can be signaled to navagate it’s way to you!

And johnstone, I do like the way you think. Grav bikes in sewers and lavatubes ftw!

EDIT: These stats are a rough draft; please use the final versions on the wiki.

You know you’re obsessed when you wake up at 5:30 am with an idea for a grav bike and can’t go back to sleep. Curse you, Luke! Curse you, Chris! Curse you, Mike! Damn you all to hell!

The added irony is once I looked at what I’d written (sitting on the toilet lid with only the mirror light on to avoid bothering my beautiful wife, who as I’ve mentioned looks significantly like Lady Sheva but, I am sure, not as much as Chris’s wife does), I realized that I’ve been listening so intently to Mike that I had Burned up his idea of the grav bike, and he’s been listening so intently to me that what he Burned up a few posts ago is my idea of a grav bike. Cool/creepy.

So I’ve cleaned up both, and now we have two distinct pieces of technology: an enclosed-canopy vehicle, which shows up on Sensors; and what amounts to a grav plate on a stick with handlebars and a seat, which doesn’t.

Broomstick Bike
Type: Device
Cost: Resources Obstacle 3

Atmospheric Speed: 1
(Technological Stat: Atmospheric Speed, +6 points)
While its lack of streamlining makes it slower than enclosed-cockpit grav vehicles, the Broomstick Bike is faster than any ground-based vehicle.

Bucking Bronco: +1 Ob to all Direct Fire actions and Close Combat actions
(+1 Obstacle Limitation, -2 points; affects additional skill, -1 point. Total: -3 points)
The Broomstick’s rider can use personal weapons – even wielding them two-handed for a moment while the autopilot takes over – but it is hard to aim from such an unstable platform.
by Sydney Freedberg from a design by Mike [last name here]

Bullet Bike
Type: Atmospheric Vehicle (Pilot)
Capacity: pilot only
Tech Index: Low index and higher
Tech Resources Ob 4
Profile -1
Integrity 4
Control 2D
Signals none
Sensors none
Ordnance none
Vehicular Speed Atmospheric 7
Security none
Structural Tolerances: Surface, H5. Breach, H8. Damaged, H11. Destroyed, H13.

Agile: +1D to Control (for a total of 2D)
(Skill Advantage, second die, +2 pts)
Light and responsive, the Bullet Bike is one of the most agile vehicles available.

Small target: +1 Ob to enemy Sensors rolls
(Obstacle Limitation to enemy, +2 pts)
The Bullet Bike is large enough to show up on Sensors, but just barely: A regular grav sled or even a suit of Iron has a much larger mass and energy signature.

No Sensors tools (-4 points)

Room for one (-1 pt)
Not a kilo to spare (-1 pt)

Derived from Grav Sled (p. 553}
Designed by Mike [last name here] and Sydney Freedberg

Regarding Signals… when it has a None for signals it means that it does not provide enough utility/power for controling a battlefield or pushing through jaming. not that it does not have a radio and a tuner… after all when not killing the worm we just know these guys are joy riding, listening to tunes and making wise cracking radio transmissions!

The bikes are the Awsome.