The Humble Smartlink Revisited
This article written by Chris Lupton deals with the benefits and problems of directly plugging a gun into your nervous system, what probably every cyberpunk PC everywhere does all the time.
The History of and Information about Smartguns
The first smartgun systems were developed independently by the US and German militaries in the 2000s. By 2009, smartguns had been adopted by several corporations and were beginning to appear on the street. The US military created the Milspec Smartgun Standard (MSS1) in 2011, after disastrous compatibility problems amongst the smartguns used in central America caused embarrassing problems and several fatalities. Today, almost every smartsystem in the world conforms to this standard. To ignore it means ignoring the large profits to be made selling smartlinks to the US military. In 2015 an improved standard (MSS2) was released, though it has yet to be universally adopted. The army considered it too expensive for its benefits and has yet to make compliance a requirement in weapons trials. The MSS1 standard was essentially very simple. It defined the data protocol between the smartgun and the neuralware smartlink, in terms of required and optional information/functions. This meant that one smartgun link mounted in a neuralware processor or smartgoggles could interpret the data from any smartlinked weapon.
At the very least, a smartgun must be able to do two things. First, it must transmit whether or not there is a target within its sights and range. It must also fire if it receives the command to do so. This basic system uses a laser or sonic sight in conjunction with a microprocessor to determine whether it's pointing at a target, and servos to control the firing mechanism. For the link to be effective, very detailed information about a weapons behavior must be stored in the microprocessor. Every smartgun available today uses some of the extra information included in the MSS1 standard. At the very least, a smartgun's safety catch and clip ejection facilities can be controlled through its smartlink. The inclusion of the triangulation data necessary for a cyberoptic or smartgoggle targeting scope to be used is also universal. Other aspects of the standard are used when necessary. For example, all smartshotguns commonly available have cyber-controlled chokes. Smartlinked assault rifles have chipped rate selectors and "ammo savers" that stops the gun from firing when there is no target in the sights.
Almost every weapon available today has smartchipping kits commercially available for it. Only the very rare or the entirely unsuitable (such as polymer one-shots) require the creation of a custom link from scratch. Someone planning to smart a weapon needs two products :
- A basic kit containing a laser sight, a microprocessor, wiring and an interface cable socket. These items are common to all smartguns, and are often sold as a box set.
- A conversion kit which contains the items specifically required by a specific model of gun. This kit will definitely include the software the microprocessor uses and servos to automate the gun's functions. It may also include mountings specific to a weapon, or other case sensitive items.
If a custom smartlink is required, a good weaponsmith/programmer is required to create it. To be as effective as they are, a smartgun needs to be well tuned. This requires accurate ballistic information, quick and efficient software and a lot of "tweaking". Anyone who wants to create their own smartlink should be prepared to use a lot of time, money, ammunition and solder.
As well as those functions commonly packaged with smartchipping kits, other features of the MSS1 standard are available as add-on kits to already linked guns and/or existing smartlink processors. Friend or Foe systems such as Tennerec LTD's Cookie Cutter, DataEdge Inc's Stutter Chip or Militech's SafeShot are the most popular upgrades. Cookie Cutter or Stutter systems designate "friends" (with tags or through cyberoptic designation), and a smartgun using this system will not fire (or will stop firing) if a tagged friend walks into the firing line. SafeShot works in the opposite way, only firing if the target has been designated an enemy (usually via a Times2 Plus screen).
Techtronica's Digital Weapon Uplink range takes advantage of several of the MSS1 standard's expansion areas. The basic package transmits exhaustive weapon performance data to a user's cyberoptic, while options include audio control (removing the need for interface cables). Another company markets a Neuralware sub-processor that links the smartlink unit with a cyberarm, controlling the cyberarm in a way that minimizes recoil. Dynalar's induction plate interface is a cable-less smart interface is rapidly gaining popularity. While the method of connecting a smartgun to the processor is not covered in the MSS1 standard, Mylar's innovation is fully compatible, being capable of transferring enough data for even the MSS2 standard.
The MSS2 standard concentrated on ways of making a smartgun more accurate rather than adding extra control features. Smartlink sup-processors that are MSS2 compliant are capable of taking advantage of the CyberOptic Triangulation (COT) or the Multi Beam Tracking (MBeT) targeting systems. COT smartguns mount a high resolution video feed above the barrel, which feeds video images of what the gun is aimed at into a reticule in a cybereye. This enables rapid, accurate target acquisition as well as the possibility of shooting around corners without showing your head. An MBeT smartgun mounts several lasersights, each with a different alignment. These analyze the movement of targets, allowing accurate "leading" of fast moving vehicles or dodging people. Currently, COT and MBeT smartguns are very expensive for their actual benefits, so few are easily available.
Smartlinking your Gun : cost and rules
Smartlinking a weapon gives you a +2 bonus to hit when you're chipped into it. If you have a cyberoptic with the targeting option fitted, this bonus increases to +3. (+4 with two cybereyes w/targeting optic). The cost of smart adapting a weapon is :
- A basic cost of 200 eb, for the standard smartgun hardware.
- A conversion kit for the gun you are linking. These cost :
- 100 eb for a non or semi-automatic weapon, such as a pistol.
- 150 eb for a shotgun.
- 250 eb for a fully automatic weapon, such as an SMG or an assault rifle.
- 300 eb for a fully automatic shotgun.
- 400 eb for a heavy weapon.
- (GM's discretion) for exotic weapons.
- The conversion kit cost is modified by the availability of the weapon :
- x0.5 for weapons with excellent availability.
- x1 for commonly available weapons.
- x2 for weapons with poor availability.
- (GM's discretion) if the weapon is rare
- The cost of any add-ons. For example, Tennerec LTD's Cookie Cutter costs 300 eb (see Solo of Fortune), Militech's SafeShot costs 450 eb and requires Times2 Plus and Techtronica's Digital Weapon Uplink range (see Chromebook 1) starts at 500 eb.
- Techies commonly charge 50-100 eb installation costs. Installing a smartlink yourself is usually an average weaponsmith task, though it is harder with some weapons.
Additional Benefits of a Smartgun
These features are standard for any commercial smartgun system that requires them.
- A Smartguns safety catch can be controlled by neural impulse. Perfect for those times when reacting quickly is vital !
- Any Smartgun whose ammunition is clip-fed can eject the clip via the smartlink. This reduces the additional action penalty for reloading to -2
- Smartchipped shotguns have cyber-controlled chokes. This determines the spread of buckshot.
- Full-auto or burst capable weapons have smartlink controlled rate selectors. Changing the rate in this way is a free action; it takes no time and incurs no action penalty.
- Ammo savers on fully automatic weapons means that only half of the ammunition that doesn't hit the target is fired. Hey, it ain't perfect, but it is useful. Remember to turn this function off if you're suppressing an area !
Cookie Cutter : 300 eb, from Tennerec LTD
A tagged person will not be shot by the weapon's suppressive fire, critical fumbles excluded. In straight firefights, a tagged person will not get shot by accident (e.g., missing the intended target in a crowded situation). For a better description of this system and supplementary costs, see Solo of Fortune.
Stutter Chip : 300 eb, from DataEdge Inc.
Stutter Chipping functions like Cookie Cutters, except friends are selected through a cyberoptic with Times2 Plus and a targeting scope. It takes one turn to designate one friend. Full details can be found in Chromebook 3
SafeShot : 400 eb, from Militech
This system requires a cyberoptic with Times2 Plus. When activated, valid targets must be identified before the gun will fire. Up to four targets can be identified in one combat round. This system only works in single shot and three round burst modes, but unless the "to hit" roll is successful, the gun will not fire. If a three round burst wanders off target, SafeShot will cut-off the burst; only the d6/2 bullets that hit will be fired.
Digital Weapon Uplink : price varies, from Techtronica
Chromebook 1 gives information about this system and one of ist options. Its effects are quite varied, so consult that book for details.
Smartgun 2 SmartPlate Weapons Link : 300 eb, from Dynalar
I'd recommend increasing the availability of conversion kits with hand-plate links by one level, to a maximum of rare availability. The 300 eb is the cost of fitting and wiring up the palm plate. For full details of this system, refer to Chromebook 3.
MSS2 Compliant Smartlinks Systems
Most smartlink neuralware sub-processors are not MSS2 compliant. About 10% of smartlink processors comply. This can either be a random roll (1 on a D10), or GM's discretion. Finding a specifically MSS2 compliant smartlink is not easy, though they do not usually cost more than a non-compliant sub-processor (in an effort to increase use of the standard).
COT systems require an MSS2 compliant smartgun processor and a targeting scope. The total attack bonus (including targeting scope bonus) is +4. COT systems can be fired round corners, but without the attack bonus. The basic kit for a COT system is 400 eb, and the availability modifier for the conversion kit should be increased one level (e.g. excellent = common). For more information, see Solo of Fortune.
MBeT systems require an MSS2 compliant smartgun processor and a targeting scope. The penalties for firing at moving targets (e.g., moving targets with high reflexes) is reduced by 2. Otherwise, the standard smartgun bonuses apply. The basic kit for an MBeT system is 800 eb, and conversion kits cost an extra 50 eb, before availability modifiers.
Cheaper Smartgun Systems
For the cash strapped, older and/or cheaper smartlinks such as the Bushnell Interlock are available. The hardware is cheaper (100 eb for the basic kit) and the lower quality of the system means that generic software is all that is required (availability modifier for the conversion kit decreases by one, to a minimum of excellent). All bonuses from this cheaper type of Smartgun are reduced by one. The other benefits of smartguns remain.