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State of the Art

Writing: David Hyatt
Artwork: John Carroll
Like a young eagle who has lent his plume
To fledge the shaft by which he meets his doom,
See their own feathers pluck'd to wing the dart
Which rank corruption destines for their heart.
Thomas Moore, Corruption

As most of you know, we haven't heard much from the Resistance since Peregrine went back into the arcology. Well, the long silence has finally been broken. Hazel got in touch with me yesterday. For those who are tuning in late, Hazel is a resident of the Ork Underground that has been working with the Resistance. She's been helping them to funnel people into and out of the arc. At least that's what she was doing.

Life has gotten more difficult for those in the U since their main tunnel into the parking garage was discovered by Deus. The orks had to seal the shaft, and they lost several good people in the process. Somehow, though, they've managed to make a new inroad into the arcology. If anyone still has doubts about the courage or character of our downstairs neighbors, they'd better not be pointing any fingers on my watch.

The original Shadowland posting on the Ork Underground could be what tipped Deus off to the existence of the passage, so I'm not even going to speculate on how the orks are getting into and out of the arc these days. Certain otaku (you know who you are) could be listening, and I won't allow that information to leak out again.

I met with Hazel in person, and during that meeting she handed over an optical chip that contained new intel from Peregrine. As Perri and others in the Resistance feared, Deus has been pushing the state of the art. The AI has manufactured new constructs that are even more formidable than his first generation drones. He is beginning to produce subverted humans that go beyond the Blues, the Greens, and the Whites. Even the Matrix inside the arcology is being transformed as Deus' children, his own new breed of otaku, begin to assert their power.

The Resistance has still found ways to fight back, however, so if you're considering going into the arcology, you'll pay attention to what Perri has to say.
:: Posted By Captain Chaos on 20 March 2060 at 10:01:46 (EST) ::

Hello Cap. I hope this recording finds you well. I don't have much time, so I'll cut right to the point. The Resistance is in trouble. The shutdown drags on, and there's no end in sight. Our numbers are dwindling. We lose three people for every five we rescue, and of those we liberate, most are more concerned with getting out than with staying to fight. We need new blood, which is why I'm asking that you place this document on Shadowland where others can read it. If there are any shadowrunners out there willing to brave the arc, then send them to Hazel. She'll see that they get inside. We don't care if the runners are motivated by avarice or altruism, as long as they're willing to help us out... even if it's only for a short while. Interested runners should read the earlier intel I supplied when I made my trip outside the arc, and they should read what follows to find out how the arc has changed in the month since I went back inside.

The Constructs

Deus has been creating new constructs to cement its hold on the arc and to assist in its twisted experiments. We thought the medusa and the manta were the worst Deus had at its disposal. We were wrong.

We have had direct encounters with six new types of drones. Three of the six are suited solely for combat. The others function in a support capacity, like the doll and spider.

Shade Combat Construct
The shades are designed for heavy assault and therefore work well with packs of the smaller and faster medusae. The shade is humanoid with a height of approximately 2.5 meters. It has clawed hands and feet, and its joints are extremely flexible. Although it might look humanoid, do not make any assumptions about the shade's movement capabilities. It doesn't move at all like a human. The creature has a wolflike head with glowing red eyes and pointed ears. Again, however, don't be fooled into believing the eyes and ears are the shade's only sensors. It doesn't see or hear like a human either.

The shade's offensive weaponry and its ability to blend in with its surroundings are what make it such a dangerous opponent. The creature's outer skin (including its eyes) can change to any color and can have an amazing range of patterns mapped onto its surface. This ability enables the shade to blend seamlessly into nearly any kind of surroundings. If it needs to lurk in the shadows, it will be jet black. If it is prowling through the jungle near the FunZone park, it can be forest green.

The construct usually accompanies a group of light combat drones and remains hidden while the smaller drones attack. It then launches its offensive weaponry into the fray, and it is this offensive weaponry that is so deadly.

The shade is capable of launching and of remotely controlling small combat spheres. It launches these spheres from sheaths on its arms and legs. Because the shade has complete control over the spheres, which in turn contain sensors that feed information back to the shade, it is capable of using these weapons with deadly effectiveness. These spheres can carry a variety of weaponry. Some are filled with a hyper cocktail, and the shade can shatter the spheres on command to unleash the gas. Others are linked with monowire strands, and the shade can position the spheres to slice open an unwitting opponent. A sphere can also function as an offensive grenade, filled with explosives that the shade can detonate remotely. A single shade can have five of these spheres in the air at once and still control them all simultaneously.

It is imperative if you spot any of these spheres that you immediately find and attack the shade that is responsible for them. Once the shade is engaged, it has difficulty controlling the spheres, since it has to concentrate on protecting itself from a direct assault. A lone shade is usually not difficult to dispatch. Unfortunately these constructs are almost never alone.

Phoenix Combat Construct
The phoenix is the most devastating aerial drone we have ever encountered. Like the shade, it usually accompanies lighter combat drones. The main body of the drone is roughly batlike in shape, consisting of a lenticular central shaft with two fanlike wings attached. This "mother drone" is surrounded by a swarm of smaller bats, each capable of emitting an aerosol spray from pores on its wingtips. The larger bat can then ignite the sprays to create flame attacks. The smaller bats can move with incredible speed, and the phoenix can synchronize their movement to create incredible formations.

Essentially the phoenix is capable of molding flame into whatever shape is best suited for its attack. The range of this ability is phenomenal. The phoenix can move the smaller bats into its main body to create a fireball. In addition, we've seen it create flat sheets, bolts, and long thin ribbons of flame.

In order to defeat this drone, you must target the main body. If this portion of the system is incapacitated, the smaller bats will self-destruct. Do not waste your time on the smaller bats. The phoenix has an ample supply of the smaller drones, and it can continue to emit more to create the flame effects it needs. When undeployed the bats sit on top of the wings of the main body, where they go to refuel before being launched once more.

Gorgon Combat Construct
The gorgon is a modified version of the medusa. It is twice as large as its smaller cousin and much more deadly. Like the medusa, the gorgon has four legs, two arms and two prehensile tails. It is covered in cilial fur. The gorgon has fineblade claws on all limbs, and it can unleash an electrical discharge to incapacitate its prey. Unlike the medusa, the gorgon is jet black in color. It also has a distinct head that is covered in cilia.

As if the medusae weren't bad enough, the gorgon has the following additional abilities. It can spray a freezing gaseous mixture from its mouth. This spray is a very long-ranged attack, and the gorgon will frequently emit a continual stream of the stuff while it is engaged in combat. Because the gorgon is immune to the effects of its own spray, we have found that the outer skin of an incapacitated gorgon can make an effective shield against this attack.

The gorgon can also project a high-pitched and potentially crippling sonic wail. Unless you come equipped with sound dampers, this attack can be devastating. Thankfully the gorgon cannot scream while it is unleashing the gas. Also, the scream seems to require much of the gorgon's concentration. It will usually only engage in this tactic if it has the element of surprise.

Typical medusa packs usually have a single gorgon in command. If you find yourself engaged by such a pack, target the gorgon first. Because it sometimes directly commands the medusae in combat, the destruction of the gorgon can confuse the medusae for a few seconds... and sometimes a few seconds is all you need.

These constructs are incredibly dangerous. Do not engage in combat with a gorgon unless there is no other alternative.

Starfish Support Construct
The starfish is a smaller and smarter version of the spider drone. It is radially symmetric and usually has between four to six limbs. Like the spider, the starfish's arms are completely configurable and can hold anything from grippers to saws to specialized weaponry.

The starfish contains a pouch for holding tools or accessories that it needs to complete the task at hand. Unlike the spider, the starfish is fairly intelligent. When confronted with unexpected situations it has greater adaptability. This drone will even engage in combat when cornered.

These drones also communicate more effectively than the spiders do. They can be quite dangerous when encountered in large groups. Unless you're dealing with a small number of these critters, I strongly recommend staying away from them.

Centipede Support Construct
The centipede is another support construct, like the spider and the starfish. A single centipede drone actually consists of several linked segments, each of which use cilial "feet" for propulsion. The construct's processing power is divided among its segments, and it is capable of decoupling segments at will as needed.

Individual segments can communicate even when not connected, and this makes centipedes nearly impossible to kill. The moment you strike one, the centipede simply dissolves. Its segments run off in every direction. Eventually the centipede will reassemble itself, or the segments will be absorbed by the remaining centipedes that might be present.

Segments vary in size and function, but they follow the same general rules as the spider and starfish arms. In other words they're highly configurable. A segment's primary purpose can be anything from propulsion to processing power to construction work. Segments can have small tools attached to them just as with the other support drones.

The centipede is typically deployed in areas where fine motor skills are required. Its small size and the delicate nature of its tools make it ideal for such work. This drone is relatively harmless. If you leave it alone, it is unlikely that it will cause any trouble for you.

Plasm Support Construct
The plasm is the most technologically advanced piece of engineering we have seen from Deus to date. It is a highly flexible nanotechnological distributed computing system, which has the capability to form itself into an incredible variety of shapes. It consists of long-chain polymers suspended in a viscous liquid. Nanites ride the polymers and make up the "brain" of the creature. Nanites on the same polymer can communicate through electrical pulses, and for cross-polymer communication they use the electrolytic liquid as the communication medium.

As required individual nanites can glom together, either on the same polymer or on different polymers. In effect the plasm entity can connect its polymer chains as it sees fit, and it can thus mold itself into whatever shape is necessary. It can ooze through the smallest cracks to escape an adversary, or it can form a portion of its body into a club, which it can use to bludgeon its prey.

Plasm is extremely difficult to combat with conventional methods. Because the plasm is a distributed network, if it is broken apart or separated into multiple entities, each can still function independently, albeit with somewhat reduced effectiveness. Many smaller plasm entities can sometimes be even more dangerous than one large entity.

Extreme heat and cold are the most effective weapons against these constructs. Liquid nitrogen can shut down the system, and similarly intense heat, such as that from a portable laser, can disrupt the matrix. In general, the best tactic against plasm is not to fight. It cannot move very quickly and is typically used as a defensive measure in a small space.

The Rules

Many of the rules mentioned in this section depend on the previously described rules for Deus' constructs (see p.80, Renraku Arcology: Shutdown). Any rules in RA:S that apply to Deus' drones apply to these drones as well. The shade, phoenix and gorgon are all equipped with BattleTac FDDM modules for indirect fire.

Construct Table
Handling Speed Accel. B/A Sig. Pilot
ED Initiative
Shade 2/2 40 8 3/4 (6) 8 4 4 4 4 2 6 + 4D6
Phoenix 1 (5) 90 (180) 10 3/4 6 3 4 4 4 3 6 + 4D6
Gorgon 3/3 80 10 3/4 (8) 8 5 6 5 6 - 10 + 4D6
Starfish 2/2 30 6 3/0 8 2 3 3 3 - 6 + 3D6
Centipede 2/2 15 5 2/0 10 2 2 3 3 - 4 + 3D6
Plasm 2/2 15 5 variable variable variable variable variable variable - 8 + 2D6

The shade is built with smart materials, drive-by-wire and structural agility. It is programmed with Clearsight 3 and Sharpshooter 4 autosofts. The drone's structural agility adds 2 to its Pilot Rating for Handling tests.

The shade is capable of shooting small spheres at its opponent. The effects of the spheres vary. Treat as a grenade launcher attack for attacks involving explosive spheres or gas-filled spheres. Two spheres linked by monowire should be treated as a normal shot attack. A shade can make two separate sphere attacks in a single Complex Action.

The shade can expend a Complex Action to position its spheres and to line up its sights on a given target. Reduce the Target Number for any attacks involving those spheres by 3. Treat this effect like a slightly better version of the Aiming action. The same rules for disrupting the bonus to the TN apply.

The phoenix is an aerial drone built with drive-by-wire, smart materials, and structural agility. It adds 2 to its Pilot Rating for Handling Tests. The phoenix is programmed with Clearsight 3 and Sharpshooter 3 autosofts.

The phoenix uses its smaller helpers to create devastating flame attacks. It can execute a ranged attack (similar to the Flame Projection critter power) with a damage code of 10M. The area of effect equals 1 square meter (1x1). The phoenix can choose to lower the damage code of the attack by 2 in order to increase the area of effect. For example, the phoenix could lower the damage code to 8M to cover 4 square meters (2x2). Targets resist this attack using 1/2 Impact Armor.

The gorgon is a lethal opponent. Like the medusa, it is built with smart materials, drive-by-wire, structural agility and hydraulic leg jacks. It is programmed with Clearsight 5, Implant Weaponry 5, and Sharpshooter 4 autosofts. The gorgon adds 2 to its Pilot Rating for Handling Tests.

The gorgon has all of the capabilities of the medusa (p. 81, Renraku Arcology: Shutdown). It also has the following additional attacks.

The gorgon can emit a high-pitched sonic scream. Treat this attack as the Sonic Projection critter power, and substitute a rating of 8 for the creature's Essence.

The gorgon is also equipped with a sprayer that dispenses a spray of a freezing gaseous mixture. The attack covers 15 x 15 x 5 cubic meters. Spraying the cloud is a Complex Action, and it cannot be used in conjunction with the sonic projection attack. Anyone caught inside the cloud resists 10S damage. Half impact armor is used in the resistance test.

The starfish drone has several limbs, each of which has a Strength of 8. The damage code for an attack should be determined on the basis of the tool attached to the arm. All melee attacks are made with +1 Reach. Starfish are equipped with Implant Weaponry 4 autosofts, and with whatever additional autosofts are appropriate given their assigned tasks.

The centipede drone is incapable of attacking an opponent. If struck it will instantly scatter its individual components over as wide an area as possible. Any hit on an individual component automatically destroys the component. For the purposes of determining damage, distribute the damage evenly over individual components and then (after dissolution) treat the individual segments as separate centipedes. Like spiders and starfish, the centipedes are programmed with the appropriate technical skills that they require for their assigned duties.

The plasm distributed system varies widely. Ratings should be assigned based on the relative size of the plasm. The drone should always be slow-moving, but if it has more material to work with, then its attacks should be more devastating.

Plasm usually forms bludgeoning weapons when making attacks. Apply the appropriate damage code and reach modifiers based on the size of the plasm. Plasm will also sometimes attempt to engulf an opponent. Again, the GM should use his discretion when assigning damage codes for the attack as well as target numbers for the Strength test should the runner be unfortunate enough to be engulfed.