Two forms of warfare dominated the battlefields in the early years of the 21st century.

Drones – remotely piloted vehicles – commoditized the battlefield. Guided by operators hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away, these drones removed the risk of death from battle, while still accomplishing the objectives set by their military – or, later, corporate – superiors.

Insurgents – small bands of irregular but highly trained fighters – could blend into the civilian population, using cities as cover, vanishing into the crowds. With limited numbers and firepower, insurgencies quickly learned to do whatever was necessary to win an asymmetric war – including sacrificing themselves in suicide attacks.  By the middle of the century, a synthesis of these two forms emerged.

Human drones. Corpses, reanimated and augmented by cybernetic implants, and guided by elite teams of remote operators. Anyone could be killed and turned into the perfect weapon, a bespoke killing machine optimized for a particular situation, a particular target.

Ideal, disposable weapons for the shadowy corporate conflicts and geopolitical chaos of the mid-21st century. The operators of these drones reminded themselves that however human their tools seemed, they were just meat machines.


In drone, one player plays the drone – a cybernetically reanimated corpse, memory erased, designed for the mission at hand.

Three other players are the operators – remote console jockeys, there to guide the drone through its assignment, and keep it under control. Both sets of players draw their actions from the same pool of dice, forcing them to work together – and as the game progresses, the dice pool gets tighter and the hostile Gamemaster gets more firepower to throw at them.  It’s a collaborative cyberpunk dystopian psychodrama – with lots of guns.

Status: In playtesting

3 Responses to “drone”

  1. Tim says:

    Will this just be one shot games or is there a possibility of campaign play? What about multiple teams working together?

    • Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan says:

      Each mission is self-contained, but you could run a linked series. Operator teams are pretty fluid, so you could have the two players play the same Operators as last time, and have the Drone player and one Operator player swap roles each time.

      Multiple teams aren’t an option I’ve yet explored; there are rules for two drones/three operators in the playtest draft, though.

  2. ruemere says:

    (hopefully a valid tangent)

    What would be a source of in-game satisfaction for the players?

    In case of more typical RPG it’s about characters of differing skill sets solving challenges and roleplaying their individualities. Here you have a team of professionals, with personalities subdued by intensity of their task, doing a constant brainstorm. However, it’s never a Star Trek-level crew where members of a team can and do act separately, because in this game it looks like it’s about a team that vies for control over a single body…

    For example, as cool as the premise sounds, and I really like the dark vibe, both Nick of Time (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113972/) and Killer7 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer7) are one-man shows. Replacing protagonists with team-managed drones would probably switch the focus of the experience from working on a mission to resource management.

    So, here is the question rephrased, what is the intended appeal, a selling point for the players, for this concept?

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