Drone Rigger: A Critical Analysis

As every Dumpshocker knows full well, pre-made characters from the Shadowrun 4th Edition corebook are more or less shit. Usually more. Of course, they may look interesting on paper, but once you grab them by the throat, slam them against the wall hard and line up against even the characters from “Sample Characters Archive” thread (to say nothing of UmaroVI’s “Archetypes” which are so minmaxed I’ve explicitly warned my players that if I see one of these at my table, they get fed to Shedim), they just fail. Horribly. But let’s see the details first.

Race and Attributes

Yeah, race is pretty important here. So, the Drone Rigger is a dwarf. WHAT THE FUCK. No, seriously (I’m starting to talk like my SR character). You’re building a second-line character that should react quickly and you’re going with A FUCKING HALFER?! That’s 1 very valuable Reaction point up the ass, exchanged for more Strength (useful pretty much only for melee Street Sams), more Body (OK, that one’s pretty useful for not being shot to shit) and more Willpower, which is pretty fucking much the only thing directly useful to a rigger (well, when someone trashes your jumped-in drone, it’s nice to not pass out like a pansy, right?).
With that out of the way, let’s focus on attributes. Riggers, being riggers, don’t rely on their attributes often. When they do, it’s mostly Intuition (for Matrix initiative), Logic (for hammering your fucked-up drones back into shape) and Willpower (when someone’s trashing your jumped-in drone and you want to avoid the headache). Now, let’s look at this. As I said, racial bonus to Willpower might be pretty handy, right? WRONG. Drone Rigger has to be the most fucking spineless halfer out there – so fucking what he’s got +1 to Willpower, if his Willpower is, wait for it, THREE?! Come on. Our team’s Elf Shaman is rocking FIVE, and she needs it as much as a rigger (Drain soak, a very shamany thing, as much as jumped-in drone damage soak is a riggery thing if not more). But then, rigger doesn’t always have the opportunity to just let the bots out and command them from the safety of his armored riggerhammock. Sometimes, he needs Reaction and Agility too, just for starters. Body? Sure why not, when you get a point for free you can go and plunk 10 BPs on another one, that’s where you can wear a decent armor and don’t get slowed by it. And so the Drone Rigger does. But, 4 Reaction. That’s softcap for a Dwarf. Sure, you can wire that, you even SHOULD wire that, but even for a second-line character it falls a bit short. Heh heh. Then, 4 Agility. For second-line, that’s okay. I’d be worried if you showed up packing (and believe me, anyone without the Magician quality SHOULD be packing) and had only 3 Agility to show for it. Now, on to skills.

Skills

I’m not going to go into Knowledge Skills, those are free and you can assign them as you like. But, Actives still count. First, two Mechanics skills at the shocking level of TWO. You have a shitload of drones that require maintenance and occasional sharp whack with a hammer when someone shoots them up and you’re barely out of Critical Glitch County in repair skills. That and if the onboard weapon systems decide to take a shit, you can’t fix them at all (no Armorer). Great going, Hammerbanger.
Next, Automatics skill. Used pretty much only when you’re fucked and forced to run around while not being a drone, it’s one of those skills that requires shittons of points spent on it. You get itchy trigger finger and switch your bullet hose to burst fire or, god forbid, full auto, and your pools ain’t worth shit. Seriously. One short burst and you’re in Critical Glitch County, two and you’re digging yourself deeper. If you really need something shooty, maybe you should try a sporting rifle? It’s cheap, it has more range than anything the street scum are packing (unless someone was retarded enough to sell them a crate of assault rifles) and you might even hit someone with one without too much effort.
Electronics skill group. WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT?! It’s not something you need, at least not maxed out. A Drone Rigger has NO programs that would require any of these four skills, barely uses Hardware and that’s it. Now, he has NO Electronic Warfare, a CRUCIAL skill for everyone who either needs to hijack signals or avoid having his own signal hijacked. To say nothing of using the Scan and Encrypt programs from the Drone Rigger gear.
Gunnery is useful when you’re commanding drones. Hell, at four you can tear some serious ass even when limited to issuing commands (if you shelled out for some good drones), having a James Bond car with a hidden LMG also can be considered.
But… LOCKSMITH? Why the fuck would you need Locksmith? Just because you have Hardware skill, it doesn’t mean you should be even the secondary B&E guy. Also, six dice is a pretty shitty pool. It’s barely out of Critical Glitch County, unless you’re packing some top-notch B&E gear with its own bonuses and shit. Just give it up, shorty.
Perception. With seven dice, it’s best to slap some helpful gear on that. It’s cheap and it’s really fucking useful. Do it, bitch, before some half-forgotten Nissan Jackrabbit parked on the edge of a roof gets knocked the wrong way and falls on you.
Now, Pilot skills. All right, I understand that you always wanted a fucking A-10 Warthog but all you got are pissy little drones. You still can pull a loop-the-loop with them. If need be, you can even make them shoot someone. Don’t expect great effects, but they’re there. And you never know when you’ll have to steal a helicopter or some other flying shit. As for cars, I don’t have anything against it either – you always need to wheel your shit somewhere, and sometimes your crew consists of deadbeat punks who can’t even afford a scooter, so driving those things is always handy. Finally, anthroforms – because sometimes you just have to do it doggy-style. This one is used either with your Command program or the drone’s Pilot, so if you compensate there, three points should be enough.

Qualities

Aptitude: Pilot Aircraft? Seriously? Because instead of spending 8 points you decided to spend fourteen, you mathematically ignorant midget?! Giddafuckouttahere. That and “Weak Immune System”? Is this shit even legal, a naturally hardy Dwarf that catches every fucking flu out there? You got the fuck outta here, good, don’t come back, you sniffling runt! Oh, and “Low Pain Tolerance” – what is THIS bullshit?! Your drone gets shot up, your dumb ass gets jolted and suddenly you’re fucking useless, because everything hurts you so much you can’t do shit, you fucking hypochondriac. I’m not even mentioning allergy to gold, and moderate at that. Do you know what quality hardware connectors are plated with? That’s right, you fucking moron, gold. You’re a self-proclaimed machine wizard and you can’t even touch the fucking things without getting a rash all over your shorty ass.

Gear

Finally, we’re getting to what’s really, really wrong with this thing. Two hundred and fifty fucking grand mostly flushed down the shitter. First, cyberware. Cybereyes? For someone with a natural thermal vision? Those would be good only if they offered any Perception enhancements, but guess what, they fucking don’t. You could have duplicated all that shit with goggles, saved money and essence, and even put a Perception enhancement in those bitches for good measure.Then, Reaction Enhancers. FUCKING REACTION ENHANCERS. If you don’t understand what’s wrong with them, I will punch you in the face twice, or shoot you four times, just so you get the fucking hint. Did they shove them up your ass and connected them to your nervous system from there? Dear god, any dumbass gangbanger on cram is going to hand your ass over to you. And a shot of cram is only ten nuyen these days. Finally, Touch Link. Do you even need that shit operating in AR? One fine day, someone’s gonna crack that lovely Stealth 5 you keep running in background and send you an AR Bubba The Love Troll Grope-O-Matic. In the middle of combat. Have fun then, pendejo. But, let’s leave the cyberware and move over to the rest.
First, you’ve paid rent for two months of living in a place large enough to stash your shit in and safe enough that nobody is going to suddenly break in and steal it. Okay, different strokes, I can manage with a joint above a machine shop. But, your gun. It’s a SMG. The cheapest there is. Sure, if you fold out the stock, your first burst won’t end up in the fucking ceiling. The second one will. And TEN fucking spare clips – you serious? You’re not going to be paradropped over fucking Amazonian jungle, you don’t need that much ammo. If it turns out you need – loot something off the first dead goon you stumble upon. It’s called “good practice.”
Armor Jacket? ARMOR FUCKING JACKET?! That’s 1 Agility and 1 Reaction up the ass just because your shit is too heavy. Ditch it before someone throws you an offer you can’t dodge and the CSI scrapes little bits of your halfer ass from nearby walls.
Next, goggles with an Image Link. Excuse me, are you fucking retarded, dipshit? You have fucking cybernetic eyes, with Image Link built in, and you need fucking GOGGLES on top of that? Jesus fucking Christ, if my IQ is half my height, yours is too, all the more.
Autopicker with no rating. Who put that shopping list, your fucking grandma? AND lockpick set on top of that. It’s even less useful than a sponge hammer with a marshmallow handle.
Electronic fucking Warfare autosoft. What. I just can’t comprehend it. Apparently my bullshit filter got seriously overflowed, because I really, REALLY can’t understand why would you dump a very useful skill on a fucking drone that can be shredded with one good shot, well, maybe two. Even something so stupidly simple as jacking a drone or crashing the deck of the idiot controlling it is way beyond you. And that’s only the start.
Finally, drones themselves. Four useless iBalls. Four Kanmushi bugs that can be useful, if they keep to the ceiling, where people don’t look. But TWO Lockheed aerial recon drones? That can’t hover?! Yeah, sure, let them out over South Central and watch Billy Bob shoot them down with his ole double barrel, and that’s after he’s had three beers. Fucking brilliant. You’ll be picking pieces of those things scattered over a mile. Two Nissan panzerdoggies packing LMGs, now, getting there, but considering you can’t give each of them more than one attack order each round, they’re good for show but not much else. And, finally, two Nissan assault robo-copters. Makes me wonder where you’re going to stash all this shit and if your commlink can even handle it.
Also, where the fuck are your papers? You’re driving a fucking truck, owning a bot armed to its fucking titanium teeth and somehow you don’t even have a fucking SIN to show for it, much less a driver’s license. Once you get pulled over, you’re getting a trip to the precinct in the fucking trunk, and then a cell with yeah, you guessed it, Bubba The Love Troll. Nice going.

Oh, yeah, that reminds me… There was this dumb-ass dwarf rigger named Desmo. All of his friends went into a warehouse, he stayed outside – I don’t know, to keep the engine running or some such bullshit. Of course it was an ambush – once the idiots inside tripped the alarms and got a whole bunch of heavily armed mercs closing in, the dwarf didn’t even notice them. Apparently he was too busy in VR to avoid getting brained like a bitch. And you’re just as stupid.

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