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Military Vehicles

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 46
From humble wagons hauled into battle by beasts of burden to towering mechanical behemoths that stride across war zones, vehicles have held an essential place in armed conflicts both before and after the Gap. The myriad environments of the galaxy have driven the military organizations of many systems to develop vehicles as unique as their mission parameters.

Ancient Roots

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 47
Perhaps the eldest of war machines, and indeed the predecessor of many vehicles that have followed, is the two-wheeled chariot. Records indicate that horse-drawn war chariots were used in times considered ancient even on pre-Gap Golarion. Early civilizations on dozens of planets have echoed this basic design, each vehicle adapted to accommodate the local herd animals, and some species employ chariots to this day. Even on worlds that have left the design behind, chariots can often be found in museums and occasionally as part of ceremonial parades.

By contrast, the sturdier four-wheeled cousin of the chariot, called a war wagon, still sees practical use in regions where more advanced technology is impossible to maintain. Although war wagons’ basic structure remains essentially unchanged from pre-Gap days, improvements such as titanium plating ensure a war wagon is a safe place to hunker down during a dust-up with bandits or troublesome wildlife. Other improvements have resulted in new classes of vehicles. For example, the sky chariot forgoes the cumbersome wheels of its ancestors, instead employing modern gravity manipulating technology to keep itself afloat and its passengers firmly onboard as it careens through the clouds. These vehicles often serve as novel pleasure craft for tourists taking in the vaporous vistas of Bretheda and Liavara, but the Xenowardens use sky chariots as sustainable low-impact vehicles for patrolling newly discovered worlds.

Scuttling Scouts

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 47
Crawler vehicles stand closer to the ground than most nonflying vehicles. Anywhere from six to a dozen legs support their squat bodies. Their hulls are sealed against hazardous environments, and their clinging limbs keep them securely fixed to vertical or even inverted surfaces. Many models also employ mechanical appendages ending in specialized manipulators that help them carry loads, maneuver, or perform other tasks. Standardized crawler chassis can easily be equipped with different loadouts, making them a frequent sight in the galaxy’s hardest-to-reach places.

Numerous paramilitary organizations, pirates, and other undesirables construct bases on ocean floors, wishing to build their bases away from orbiting satellites. With an aquatic crawler on hand, a naval agency can patrol the deep for such threats without the need to mobilize larger vessels. Its rear-mounted manipulator doubles as a rudder-like tail when using its pump jets to swim, and its sonic weaponry is as effective underwater as above. Aquatic crawlers patrol seabeds throughout the Pact Worlds. Notably, they can be found clinging to the underside of Nisis’ frozen crust, where they roam the inverted ice flats for signs of attacking wildlife.

The trench crawlers of Akiton serve a similar function, cruising the steep walls of the planet’s many canyons and tunnel shafts in search of unsanctioned mining and salvage operations. Two front-facing digging claws allow these crawlers to burrow through loose soil, while vibration detectors provide early warning against threats from within the ground. Maro security forces rely on trench crawlers to patrol their vertical streets, occasionally deploying them en masse to the city’s lowest levels in a vain effort to combat gang presence there. In retaliation, gang members tag the crawlers with luminescent graffiti so they stand out plainly amid the shadows.

The most unique of these walkers are found not in the bowels of any planet, but in the depths of space. With legs tipped by powerful electromagnets, hull crawlers scuttle across the surfaces of massive starships and space stations. Just as small creatures clean parasites from larger creatures, these vehicles repair hull damage on starships when it can’t be reached by internal crews. In combat, hull crawlers can swarm hostile boarding parties, using powerful manipulators and shock weaponry to scour invaders from the crawlers’ host ship. Absalom Station and various ships-of-the-line boast notable fleets of hull crawlers, but the worldship Idari’s fleet outnumbers them all, with a maintenance complement exceeding 100.

To Orbit And Back

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 47
The vast majority of starships are capable of routine planetary landings, but for those too large to safely enter an atmospheric environment, rapidly ferrying troops and supplies between space and the surface can prove a logistical nightmare. The answer to this challenge lies in special vehicles commonly referred to as dropships. Hardy enough to withstand the rigors of atmospheric entry and just powerful enough to rejoin their host ship afterward, they provide efficient transport onto or off a planet.

While dropships are capable of reaching space and maneuvering there, they lack the long-range capabilities that permit even the humblest of starships to travel between planets. Dropships make up for this deficiency in numerous ways. Without the need to house interplanetary thrusters or the core to power them, they have far more room for cargo and passengers. They can provide potent air support anywhere on a planet with minimal response time, plunging down from the firmament with artillery lasers and reaction cannons blazing. The largest dropships can even transport other vehicles in their spacious hangars, deploying ordnance and accompanying foot soldiers in less than an hour.

The fastest and most direct method to get boots on the ground is, however, the drop pod. With only the most rudimentary of guidance systems and no on-board steering mechanism, this compact single-use unit is more akin to a stripped-down, armored-up escape pod than a true vehicle. Launched from an orbiting ship on a ballistic trajectory toward a predetermined point of impact, drop pods rely on their extreme speed to safely deposit their occupants before the enemy can react, giving these troops the opportunity to secure a landing zone for more conventional aircraft. Drop pods saw extensive development and implementation during the Silent War, as the Pact Worlds and the Veskarium vied over proxy worlds in flash ground skirmishes.

Vehicle Factors

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 48
The following new rules expand on those found on page 228 of the Starfinder Core Rulebook and page 136 of Starfinder Armory. They are not exclusive to vehicles built and operated by military organizations.

Drawn Vehicles

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 48
While most vehicles have their own means of propulsion, a handful of archaic designs harken to a time when the weight of civilization rested upon the backs of beasts. Such vehicles have no speed, and instead rely on creatures to pull them along by a specially designed harness. A drawn vehicle can be harnessed either to one creature of the same size category, or to two or more creatures one size category smaller than the vehicle. When a drawn vehicle is harnessed to creatures trained for the task, it gains a drive speed equal to the creatures’ walk speed, and a full speed equal to 3 ×the creatures’ walk speed. A pilot uses their Survival skill instead of their Piloting skill for checks to control a vehicle drawn by a creature, and drawn vehicles are always considered to have autocontrol.

Manipulators

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 48
Some vehicles are fitted with appendages ending in manipulating mechanisms such as digits and pincers. Such a vehicle is treated as a tall creature of the same size category for the purpose of determining the reach of its manipulators, and each manipulator can hold up to 10 × the vehicle’s item level in bulk. Manipulators are generally too large and clumsy for delicate tasks such as operating equipment designed for Medium and smaller creatures.

A manipulator’s EAC is equal to 4 + the vehicle’s EAC and its KAC is equal to the 4 + the vehicle’s KAC. It has Hit Points equal to 3 × the item level of the vehicle and hardness equal to half the vehicle’s hardness. A manipulator that has lost at least half of its total Hit Points gains the broken condition, imposing a –2 penalty to Piloting checks to control the manipulator and to the DC of checks to escape the manipulator. Damage done to a vehicle’s manipulator doesn’t affect the vehicle’s Hit Point total.

A vehicle’s pilot (or one of its complement) can control a manipulator in the following ways, though only one person can control a manipulator in a round.

Crush

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 48
As a standard action, you direct the manipulator to clamp tighter around a held creature or object (see Grab below), dealing half the vehicle’s collision damage. The creature or object can halve this damage by succeeding at a Fortitude saving throw (DC = 10 + the vehicle item level).

Grab

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 48
As a standard action, you direct the manipulator to grab at a target within its reach by attempting a Piloting check (DC = 10 + the target’s KAC). On a success, the target is grappled by the manipulator. If the target is a creature, it gains soft cover and the grappled condition while held by the manipulator. If the result of your Piloting check exceeded the DC by 5 or more, the creature is instead pinned. A creature held by a manipulator can use the escape action to free itself by succeeding at an Acrobatics check (DC = 10 + the vehicle’s KAC), but it can’t grapple the vehicle in return.

If the target of a successful grab is another vehicle, both vehicles are considered to be connected by a rigid tether (see Tethered Vehicles below).

Slam

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 49
As a standard action, you direct the manipulator to strike a target within its reach by attempting a Piloting check (DC = 5 + the target’s KAC). On a success, the manipulator deals half the vehicle’s collision damage to the target.

If the target of the slam action is a creature, it can attempt a Reflex saving throw against the vehicle’s collision DC to halve the damage. If the target of the slam action is another vehicle, the pilot of the defending vehicle can attempt a Piloting check to halve the damage, with a DC equal to the result of your Piloting check.

Tethered Vehicles

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 49
Whether lashed together by a grappler and cable line or held in the grip of a crane claw, vehicles can sometimes become affixed to each other. Regardless of the specifics, any item holding two vehicles together is referred to as a tether. Tethers can either be flexible, like a cable line, or rigid, like a manipulator arm. The pilot of the vehicle from which the tether originates is considered the controller, and the pilot of the vehicle ensnared by the tether is considered the defender.

Dragging A Tethered Vehicle

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 49
If the defender wishes to move while held by a rigid tether, or if either pilot wishes to move beyond a tether’s reach, they must succeed at an opposed Piloting check. The checks of both controller and defender receive a bonus equal to half their respective vehicles’ item levels and an additional +5 bonus for each size category that their vehicle is larger than their opponent’s. The controller wins ties. If the pilot who initiated the check succeeds, they can move any remaining speed of their drive action, dragging the tethered vehicle with them. They can then use any remaining drive actions without an opposed check. Alternatively, if the pilot initiated this check while using a race action, they can move up to half their vehicle’s full speed. If the pilot who initiated the check fails, their vehicle’s speed becomes 0 until the start of their next turn. A pilot who wishes to be dragged can opt to automatically fail this check.

Driving While Tethered

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 49
If two vehicles are held by a flexible tether, both pilots can drive freely within the tether’s reach. If the tether is rigid, only the controller can move freely, but see Dragging a Tethered Vehicle above.

Escaping A Tether

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 49
As a standard action, the defender can attempt a Piloting check (DC = 10 + controlling vehicle’s KAC) to free their vehicle from the tether. The controller can release the tether at any time (this takes no action).

Tethers In Vehicle Chases

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 49
Since vehicles involved in chases measure their movement relative to each other instead of to fixed points, two tethered vehicles can still participate normally in chases except as noted below. Generally, the two vehicles must be engaged in the chase before they can be tethered to one another.

Pilot Actions: The defender cannot take the break free action to disengage from the controller while tethered. If the controller takes the break free action to disengage with the defender, the defender is immediately freed of the tether. Piloting checks to attempt evade and trick actions with vehicles connected by a flexible tether take a –2 penalty. If the tether is rigid, this penalty increases to –4.

A pilot who wishes to take the speed up action while tethered must first succeed at an opposed Piloting check as if dragging a tethered vehicle (see above). If they succeed, they can attempt the action. If they move forward to a new zone, the vehicle tethered to them is immediately dragged to that zone as well. The pilot of the dragged vehicle cannot then attempt a speed up action until the start of the next round.

Chase Progress: During the chase progress phase, the GM advances vehicles as normal. Then, if the tethered vehicles are not in the same zone, the GM moves the defender’s vehicle one zone closer to the controller. If the vehicles are still in different zones, the GM moves the controller’s vehicle one zone closer to the defender. The GM continues moving the tethered vehicles in this fashion until they share the same zone.

Vehicles In Space

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 49
Most vehicles are intended for use in planetary or atmospheric environments, but some can operate in the weightless vacuum of space. Such vehicles are often used to ferry troops and supplies between a planet and an orbiting vessel, or to travel the outer surfaces of asteroids, space stations, or starships on security or maintenance details.

Though these vehicles may be space-capable, they lack the powerful, sustainable thrusters that propel starships to the tremendous velocities necessary for true spaceflight. Should a vehicle be caught in the midst of starship combat, it is considered a stationary object incapable of moving from its hex under its own power. Objects outside of a vehicle’s hex are always beyond the range of vehicle-mounted weapons. Vehicles are small enough to occupy the same hex as other vehicles and starships, and a GM may decide that a target within the vehicle’s hex is in range of its weapons. For more information on the interaction between PC- and starship-scale weapons, see the page 292 of the Core Rulebook.

Other Rules And Systems

Source Starfinder #24: The God-Host Ascends pg. 50
The military vehicles stat blocks featured on the following pages use the new rules listed below.

Clingers: A combination of electromagnets, graspers, grav emitters, high-friction grips, or other mechanisms allow this vehicle to climb as though affected by the spider climb spell. The vehicle must have a climb speed to have this ability.

Drawn: This vehicle relies on a creature or another machine to set its speed (page 48).

Manipulators: This vehicle is fitted with the listed number of manipulators (page 48).

Microthrusters: Small thrusters stud this vehicle’s hull, enabling it to maneuver in space using the listed speed type.

Orbital Boosters: Powerful thrusters allow this vehicle to achieve the velocities necessary to reach orbit from a planet’s surface. Activating these boosters during normal atmospheric flight is extremely dangerous, and safety measures prevent the boosters from firing unless the vehicle is following standard orbital launch protocols. Once in space, orbital boosters are impractical for maneuvering a vehicle.

Vacuum Shields: Life support systems and shielding protect this vehicle’s occupants from the harmful effects of space for a number of hours equal to the vehicle’s level.