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I have read the Riggers part of the core rulebook, but I am still confused about some aspects of using drones. Could someone help me?

  1. I am more or less sure the Device Rating of any drone is equal to its Pilot attribute, so 3 for most drones.
  2. Half of this rounded up (so 2) is the number of Autosofts any drone can run at the same time.
  3. So a drone can look (Clearsight) and fly (Maneuvering), but cannot at the same time shoot (Targeting). If it tries to shoot, it either must go blind, or drop from the sky, so it is basically useless on its own.
  4. Is there any way to increase this limit to at least 3?
  5. If I use the most expensive RCC without any noise reduction, I can run 6 autosofts simultanously. So now the drone can look, fly, shoot, evade, sneak and defend itself from Matrix attacks. It is bordering on usable, but only as long as I do not use different types of drones (requiring different kinds of programs) and they are all equipped with the same kind of weapons. There goes the versatility.

Am I reading this correctly? Autonomous drones can only do surveillance, while being quite conspicuous; and even if I control them with an RCC, they all must be of one kind?

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

A drone, while kind of squishy, is not totally unable to pat it's head and rub it's tummy (so to speak). An autosoft is NOT needed to actually make a test. It just increases the dice pool. A maneuvering autosoft will give you extra dice to dodge. Much in the same way as shooting for real people as well, you don't NEED an autosoft on the drone for it to fire (4th Ed, I know this was a thing, but I'm not seeing anything in the 5th ed rules that say you can't shoot, dodge, sensor, ect. defaulting). It'll just only be rolling it's pilot (3) minus 1 for defaulting. Two dice. Won't be able to target worth a damn. However, that's why I load up targeting autosofts primarily instead of loading up manuvering ones. You'll just have a problem with dodging shots.

As a rigger, you have to choose what to do for drones. Not only can they load up their own autosofts, they can use yours on your RCC as well. The rules do state that a drone can only use the RCC programs if it doesn't have it's own loaded up, but I think it would be easy enough to handwave letting a rigger disable drone programs to override with RCC programs (talk to your DM, your mileage may vary). So, what I would do is this:

Have three groups of drones: air surveillance, ground surveillance, and support. Air surveillance drones should have a good Clearsight and a good Stealth autosoft (can't remember what the actual autosoft names are). Then, have a Targeting autosoft for them on your RCC, in storage, ready to load up and run when you need it. Do the same with the ground surveillance ones, but I would ready a Maneuver autosoft for them rather then a Targeting one. Finally, for the combat drones, load up a Targeting and Clearsight autosoft and ready a Maneuvering autosoft in case they are going up against things they can't kill outright themselves.

When we get the Cannon Companion or Arsenal book (which I believe is the first splat book slated for release) we'll have a lot better ways to trick out and customize your drones. But for now, use them safely and try to overwhelm opponents. If you can't do this, use your combat ones to Covering Fire and zone control while your actual street sams flank or run away.

First and foremost as a rigger, you are support. Your job is not to blow away targets. It's to light those targets up and inform your group so they can do it that much better. And have autosofts ready to load up into the RCC to get them out of danger.

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I never played SR5, but from my experience in SR4 as player and DM, I'd say that a drone can see without any autosoft, just using its sensors. This seems backed up by SR5 p.183 (emphasis mine) :

Drones attack using their Pilot + [Weapon] Targeting autosoft rating (p. 269), limited by Accuracy. Drones must have an autosoft appropriate to the weapon they are wielding in order to attack. They cannot fire a weapon untrained.

Such limit isn't stated in Sensor attacks in the next page. A drone using its sensors without a Clearsight autosoft would count as untrained. In SR4 there generally is a -1 modifier for using a skill while untrained, but I can't find anything like that in SR5.

So your third point is only partly right.

To answer your question, I'd say no, but in 4e you could use your Software skill to improve or create a new pilot, and your hardware skill to allow your drone to use this more demanding software. The Build/repair skill usage doesn't give threshold for those actions, but you can ask your GM to come with a number.

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