Author Topic: NS-17 Security Drone: Beware the wrath of Robo Gabby  (Read 165 times)

Liam's Ghost

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NS-17 Security Drone: Beware the wrath of Robo Gabby
« on: 11 April 2024, 21:44:11 »
NS-17 Security Drone (Standard)

Mass: 5 tons
Movement Type: Hover
Power Plant: Omni 25
Cruising Speed: 140.4 kph
Maximum Speed: 216 kph
Armor: Starslab-1
     2 Small Laser
Manufacturer: Bowie Industries
     Primary Factory: Terra
Communication System: CBR CommSat
Targeting & Tracking System: Halo 901
Introduction Year: 2750
Tech Rating/Availability: E/E-F-F-F
Cost: 75,167 C-bills

  While small scale drones were designed to handle primarily other man-sized targets, there was still a need to protect facilities against larger and more threatening foes. The next step up from the small scale drone was the NS-17 Security Drone, sometimes simply known as the "security robot" or more colorfully as the "Robo-Gabby".
  The later nickname is not very far off the mark, as the NS-17 is effectively an autonomous variant of the Gabriel light attack vehicle, with the pilot's compartment replaced with a robotic control system and other relatively minor changes that, at best, make it fairly easy to distinguish at a glance from its progenitor. As mentioned, the bubble cockpit that originally housed the pilot is absent, replaced with a curved plate of armor which protects the NS-17's computer core. The turret mount also replaces the Gabriel's single medium laser with a vertical stack of two small lasers. Though these weapons arguably make the NS-17 less effective against larger units, the SLDF was of the opinion that having two smaller weapons rather than a single larger one would make the vehicle more effective against groups of infantry or light vehicles, which were considered the NS-17's primary target. Internal modifications also saw the Gabriel's original powerplant swapped with an Omni model (this same engine much later gaining fame in another light attack hovercraft, the Savannah Master). Though the new fusion engine didn't provide any more power than the original VOX powerplant, it was a simpler design that required much less maintenance, ideal for a vehicle intended to operate at isolated postings. A similar reasoning saw the NS-17 equipped with standard armor plate rather than the ferro fibrous compound used by the Gabriel, redistributed in a slightly more even layout that doesn't favor any particular side of the vehicle. While this meant the NS-17 wasn't resistant to a medium laser or autocannon from any direction, it was anticipated that armor protection was sufficient for the sort of opponents the vehicle was expected to face.
  The NS-17 would never be deployed as widely as small scale drones, if for no other reason than its motive system and general design prohibited operations in hazardous or airless environments, but it would still be deployed across both the Inner Sphere and Periphery, not just to defend isolated outposts, stockpiles, or research stations, but also as autonomous picket vehicles around Star League military bases, SDS ground batteries and control stations, and Castles Brian. Impressed with the performance of these vehicles, the SLDF would also conduct experiments using the NS-17 as scouting elements for line SLDF units, though this would be abandoned due to the vehicle's susceptibility to battlefield ECM.
  The NS-17 would have a front row seat to the fracturing of the Star League, and no matter what its original designers had intended for the design, would be deeply involved in the fighting from the first attacks against Star League outposts in the Periphery to the liberation of Terra and beyond. Some of the heaviest use of the drones as anything other than security or perimeter defenses was seen on Terra itself at the start of the Amaris Coup. While the Rim Worlds Republic was able to subvert the SDS network and thoroughly infiltrate Terra's defenses, the many thousands of security drones on Terra had weren't part of a single centrally controlled network (unlike the SDS) and as surviving SLDF troops were able to retain control of hundreds of drones as they went to ground. Reprogrammed by skilled and highly motivated technicians, the NS-17 would see heavy use by insurgent groups on Terra (as well as the rest of the Hegemony) throughout the war as a scout and fast raider.
   The wars that followed the breakup of the Star League were not kind to the NS-17. Kerensky's exodus left numerous Star League facilities behind for the Great Houses to fight over, many of them protected by drones like the NS-17. Often lacking the appropriate passcodes to bypass or deactivate the automated defenses of these facilities, house troops or ambitious scavengers would instead have to plow through these defenses, destroying countless virtually irreplaceable robotic drones. And even in those rare cases that one side was able to take a facility and its defenses intact, this facility would inevitably fall prey to that side's enemies hoping to seize it for themselves. The majority of drone units would be destroyed during the first succession wars, and the ones that survived primarily did so through obscurity, with their designated outposts either hidden away from prying eyes by the Star League or simply forgotten in the chaos. As time passed, the NS-17 became best known as silent guardians of long forgotten Star League caches, and one of the many hazards a would be prospector might face on his quest for riches. In time, as generations of scavengers and fortune hunters cleaned out most of the old Star League outposts still found within the Inner Sphere, encounters with these drones became fewer and fewer, until eventually years or even decades would pass between discoveries. Today, you'd be forgiven to think the lostech well in the Inner Sphere had truly run dry, though the odd event like the discovery of a cache on Mars in 3090 suggests the Star League still has some leftover secrets to find.
  Of course, beyond the Inner Sphere is a different story. The Star League had explored well beyond the accepted boundaries of the Inner Sphere, and their successors have found Star League outposts of varying types as far out as twelve hundred light years from Terra, with everything from research outposts, to storage caches for resupplying expeditions, to entire chains of automated HPGs stretching back to the Inner Sphere to facilitate communications. The shear volume of space the Star League may have covered is almost inconceivably vast and poorly recorded in surviving records, and what has been discovered is likely only the tip of a very large iceberg. It is out in this vast expanse that the NS-17 still seems to linger on, silently guarding outposts long forgotten by their creators.

  The first prototypes for what would become the NS-17 were simply standard Gabriels with the cockpit replaced with the robotic control system. Though never fielded operationally, they proved the concept at least was sound.
  Even after settling most of the design features of the NS-17, there was still some debate over the primary armament, and prototypes mounting the original medium laser from the Gabriel, as well as models mounting a small pulse laser would also be trialed. While the medium laser had the advantage of superior range, and the small pulse provided improved anti-infantry capability, in the end the SLDF settled on the twin small lasers as the best compromise of capabilities for the unit's role. The great houses that would attempt to clone the NS-17 during the early Succession Wars would tend to disagree, with the majority of these vehicles instead mounting the single medium laser.
  The only standard variant operated during the NS-17's original service life removed one of the small lasers to mount a remote sensor dispenser in an armored box on the back. These variants were used to maintain remote sensor networks deployed around some Star League installations. These variants were rare even during the vehicle's heyday and today they are practically unheard of.
  The Great Houses would make some attempts to replicate the NS-17 after the fall of the Star League, achieving some success until sources of appropriate powerplants gradually dried up. Though manufacturing quality and components could differ wildly, these homebrewed examples were generally comparable to the NS-17 variant mounting a medium laser, and the concept would later be revived by the Word of Blake in 3075. Their NS-24 model largely returned to the original plans first drafted by Bowie during the Star League era, but replaces the standard armor with heavy ferro fibrous, providing additional protection to the nose and turret, and carries an extended range medium laser as its sole armament. Though designed for swarming attacks against larger enemies, the Word of Blake never devoted the resources necessary for large scale production of the vehicle, and it would only see large scale use once, at the battle of Devil's Tower during one of the last stands of the Blakists. The damage done to the Bowie plant in Chicago effectively ended production of the NS-24, and whatever examples the Republic were able to recover were scrapped shortly after Terra was liberated.

Type: NS-17 Security Drone
Technology Base: Inner Sphere (Advanced)
Movement Type: Hover
Tonnage: 5
Battle Value: 111

Equipment                                          Mass
Internal Structure                                  0.5
Engine                        25 Fusion               1
   Cruising MP: 13
   Flank MP: 20
Heat Sinks:                   10                      0
Control Equipment:                                  0.5
Lift Equipment:                                     0.5
Power Amplifier:                                    0.0
Turret:                                             0.5
Armor Factor                  16                      1

                          Internal   Armor   
                          Structure  Value   
     Front                   1         3     
     R/L Side               1/1       3/3   
     Rear                    1         3     
     Turret                  1         4     

and Ammo                       Location    Tonnage      
2 Small Laser                   Turret       1.0     
Smart Robotic Control System     Body        0.0     

Download Record Sheets: Beyond the Periphery here: There you can find most of the variants of the NS-17 discussed in this post (The original prototype and the NS-24 are coming in the next update, I swear!)

Author's Note: The "Security Robot" originally appeared in the first edition of the Mechwarrior RPG, and the standard model of the NS-17 is an attempt to bring that original into compliance with modern rules. Making it an actual robotic unit was the easy part, as the vehicle is so small that the smart robotic control system can just be dropped in without taking up any mass. Making it rules compliant was a little trickier. The original version was six tons and had a movement rating of 12/18, but it was also written before hover vehicles had a required minimum engine mass, so the stats made it come out a half ton overweight. To make everything fit, you can either raise the mass to eight tons or reduce it to five tons, but in both cases you suffer from engine inefficiency, the minimum engine size means you can make it go faster than 12/18 without paying any more tonnage.
  Obviously I ultimately decided on going down to five tons and giving it the faster engine, but I wasn't initially comfortable with it because I felt like I was just recreating the Savannah Master. It was only later well after I had finalized the design and incorporated it into the book that I'd realized what I'd actually done was recreate the Gabriel. And, well, that actually makes sense from a fluff standpoint.
  So long story short the obvious similarity to the Gabriel hovercraft that might have seemed like a clever idea and use of fluff was entirely accidental.
Good news is the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show an immediate latency of 44.6 years. So if you're thirty or over you're laughing. Worst case scenario you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you've forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.

(indirect accessory to the) Slayer of Monitors!


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Re: NS-17 Security Drone: Beware the wrath of Robo Gabby
« Reply #1 on: 12 April 2024, 18:54:41 »
With a fusion engine, a Medium Laser is ALWAYS the better choice...