Friday, February 7, 2020

Coalition States Technical Officer MOSs and Adventure Hooks

The CS Technical Officer OCC is perhaps the most diverse O.C.C. in the game. It can cover everyone from the Combat Engineers to the CSNET cybercops to the speechwriters in the Ministry of Truth. While the front-line fighting force is made up of grunts, if they can still fire their weapons, they're going to be thanking a CS Technical officer. Almost every non-combat job, and more than a few combat jobs, are filled by the Technical Officer O.C.C..

The key to the Technical Officer's flexibility is the wide variety of M.O.S.s (Military Occupational Specialties) that he can take. Each M.O.S. represents an area of special training that the Technical officer has had; carried far enough, one could almost call the Coalition Grunt O.C.C. a Technical officer with the M.O.S. of combat infantry, or a RPA pilot someone with the Piloting M.O.S.. Members of the Technical Officer O.C.C. go through basic training just like everyone else, but they are recognized, both by their drill instructors and by the battery of tests that they undergo during training. Those who show aptitude for technical fields are separated out during certain portions of the training and given additional tests. Those who pass are sent to advanced training after basic, where they learn their M.O.S.. Those who fail wind up having to work twice as hard during the rest of basic training to make up for it.

The training for each M.O.S. varies, of course; the training methods used to teach engineers probably won't do much good when you're trying to teach psychics, after all. However, even the most basic instruction usually requires six months to a year to complete, and the more complex fields (such as training doctors) will take at least four years, sometimes more. However, each M.O.S. has at least two training centers; one in Chi-Town, and one elsewhere. The medical M.O.S. is most commonly trained in Lone Star, and the weapons and engineering M.O.S.s have their training schools in Iron Heart. The Computer Specialist M.O.S. recently took a large hit with the secession of Free Quebec; the higher literacy rates in Free Quebec meant that they had a lot more hackers, and thus had a larger pool to choose from (and more of a reason to train cybercops).

Each M.O.S. has a lot of variety within it. Someone with the Communications M.O.S. could be a television anchor, a radioman with a forward unit, or commanding one of the Coalition's laser/microwave communications relay stations. Someone with the Medical M.O.S. could be a Doctor, a Nurse, a Field Medic or a psychiatrist. What level of training someone gets is based, in a large part, on the wealth and influence of their family. While Officer Candidate School is, by law, available to everyone who qualifies, those with connections find it much easier to qualify, and are more likely to be aware of what's needed to get in. Low-levelers who show an aptitude for medicine are more likely to be stationed on the front lines, dealing with trauma cases before being sent back to the doctors (who are almost, to a one, Lofties) in the M.A.S.H. unit or back home. While the Lofties are more likely to be better prepared for the rigors of medical school (since most of them are literate before entering the service, and may have something of a science background), the Coalition also loses a lot of talent to class prejudice. People with great talent but little influence occasionally rise to the more skilled and challenging positions, but more often they become glorified wrench-twiddlers instead of engineers, or a talented researcher might be relegated to data entry. It's one of the many flaws in the Coalition's current system, but those in charge see little wrong with it; after all, they're not being discriminated against.

The selection of five skills normally allotted for M.O.S. training is not enough to cover all the requirement of some of the more specialized fields, of course. For example, while a doctor can get by with Medical Doctor, Biology, Pathology, Chemistry, and Advanced Mathematics, other skills might be needed for her particular field of medicine. She might want Entomological Medicine and Research if she's attempting to find an antidote to Xiticix poison, or Field Surgery if she's going to be working near the front lines. If she's going to study Bionics or Juicer technology, she needs even more skills. Thus, in addition to the 5 M.O.S. skills, a Technical Officer may opt to spend some of his or her OCC Related or Secondary Skills on the various skills available to their M.O.S.; this is usually encouraged, especially in highly technical fields. All M.O.S. skills, taken with either the five selections or OCC Related Skills, get the +15% bonus (Secondary skills do not, as always). Again, the sons and daughters of the powerful have an advantage, here, as their parents may have been able to get them special tutors for their classes, or even gotten them some training before they entered the military. The poor are usually not shut out of such classes when they are in the military, but finding out about them, and registering for them.

M.O.S.: Communications
It is this character's job, not only to maintain clear lines of communications, but also to repair any fouled communication equipment in the field, and to deal with any interference (natural, paranatural, or artificial) that might be fouling communications. Those with high M.A.'s and P.B.'s may also be considered for various "news casting" jobs with the Ministry of Truth, be it delivering the nightly news, field reporting from the front lines, or man-on-the-street interviews. One of the Emperor's speechwriters is often a member of this M.O.S..

Available M.O.S. Skills:
Communications (any)
Basic Electronics, Computer Repair, Electrical Engineer
Disguise, Imitate Voices/Impersonation
Mathematics: Advanced
Computer Operation

M.O.S.: Computer Specialist

The Computer Specialists of the Coalition States maintain the Coalition Intranet, and serve as programmers for the various robotic systems within the States. Because of the Coalition's strict literacy laws, many are engaged in programming graphic and audio interfaces for the various Coalition computers. Since few are allowed to read, but many need to be able to use computers, most computers make use of simple icons and verbal prompts to guide the user through the system. Move the cursor over one icon, and the system tells you that this icon leads to the audio messaging service, or perhaps to the central consumer catalogue. Still others stay active in the Coalition's Intranet, keeping it free from hackers and cyberjackers, or even monitor the internal security systems of the megacities.

Because the Coalition doesn't maintain enough control of the land to keep a network of land lines, most of the Coalition intranet is maintained through laser communications towers. These communications towers are, obviously, the responsibility of those with the Communication M.O.S., but there are usually computer specialists at these towers, as well, to help keep the systems running.

Cybernetics Note: More than 95% of all members of the Computer Specialist M.O.S. have a basic headjack installed; the Coalition military provides these free of charge. Those who wish to purchase additional cybernetic devices can receive the following at 25% of the normal cost (the military pays the rest): Optic Nerve video Implant, Fingerjack, Computer Virus Carrier*, Computer Hacker Encoder*, Computerized Telephone Jack*, Internal Comp-Calculator*, Signal Booster*, or an Internal Computer (see below).

M.O.S. Skills:
Literacy: Techno-Can
Computer Operation
Computer Programming
Mathematics: Advanced
Computer Repair

Available Other Skills:
Cryptography, Laser Communications, Surveillance Systems, T.V./Video
Basic Electronics or Electrical Engineer
Artificial Intelligence
Cyberjacking, Research

*From Rifts: Japan

M.O.S.: Engineering
These men and women are the gearheads of the Coalition. Not only are they the boys in the motorpool, trying to get another patrol out of a cranky and near-crippled SAMAS, but they're also the men and women who design new weapons, vehicles, and equipment for the Coalition States. Once their period of enlistment is up, many go to work in the private sector, working for companies which have exclusive contracts with the Coalition States.

Available M.O.S. Skills:
Electrical (any)
Mechanical (any)
Mathematics: Advanced
Jury Rig

M.O.S.: Medical
This M.O.S. is common to doctors, nurses, and medics within the Coalition military. Medics are stationed on the front lines, usually part of an ordinary unit, charged with not only emergency field procedures, but also with setting up blood donation systems when artificial supplies run out. Doctors, of course, are the surgeons who work in the rear, either in a permanent enclave (such as the many military and VA hospitals in the States themselves) or in M.A.S.H. units. Nurses generally assist doctors, or deal directly with the patients on a day to day basis. Note that the modern-day gender bias which assumes doctors to be male and nurses to be female is not present in the military of the Coalition States; while doctors are automatically officers (and usually come from Lofty families who could afford their schooling), nurses do not have the same privileges. Many with the Medical M.O.S. also work within Lone Star. Those with psychic healing powers are often funneled into this program, though others wind up in the Psychic M.O.S., as well. It is worth noting that few with the Medical M.O.S. begin a private practice once out of the military. They are not prevented from doing so, but the health-care system of the Coalition States is state-run, leaving little room for independent practice (save for those who are willing to work illegally, or have contacts in the upper levels of society).

Available M.O.S. Skills:
Medical (Any; Holistic Medicine and Sea Holistic Medicine is rare, but not unheard of).
Science (Anthropology, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Chemistry: Analytical, Marine Biology, Mathematics: Advanced, Xenology only)
Computer Operation, Research
W.P. Knife

M.O.S.: Psychic
This M.O.S. is substantially different from the others. First of all, while other M.O.S.'s have psychics within them, every member of this M.O.S. is a major psychic. Rather than learn a host of skills centered around a certain activity, they instead learn to harness and make use of their psychic abilities, developing them into something of use for the military. Many of these people serve in the "Astral Patrol", flying over and around Chi-Town and interdicting against those who do not belong, or serving as messengers to forward units who are beyond the reach of conventional communications (by using a combination of Astral Projection and Telepathy to pass on information).

Members of this M.O.S. automatically gain the benefits listed for Coalition Military psychics in Psyscape, just like any other military psychic. Unlike other M.O.S.'s, they do not have a list of skills to choose from. Instead, they receive Lore: Psychics and Psionics with a +15% bonus, and have none of the usual penalties associated with being major psychics with an OCC; their energies are put into learning to be psychics, instead of those other four M.O.S. skills.

In addition, their training means that their Base ISP is equal to their M.E. plus 3D6+6, and they get 1D4+3 ISP at each level of experience (instead of 1D6+1). Also, instead of choosing new skills at levels three, six, nine and twelve, the character may instead increase his psionic potential (he can, of course, choose new skills if he wishes). He may learn a new psychic power in one of the three minor areas where he already has existing talent (i.e. someone with only healing abilities could only learn a new healing power, but someone with both physical and sensitive powers could learn either a physical or sensitive power) at the cost of one skill, add 10 ISP to his base for one skill (in addition to the amount rolled for increasing a level), or he may choose to add a single super-psionic power in exchange for two skills (the Coalition tends to funnel these psychics into powers of broad use, and tends to frown upon those who learn powers like Psi-Sword or Telekinetic Acceleration Attack; no official punishment, but they tend to find their advancement slowed slightly). The character will never be more than a major psychic, no matter how many powers he develops.

M.O.S.: Technician
Technicians cover a wide variety of people. For the most part, they are the administrators of the Coalition, keeping humanity running smoothly on a trail of electrons, or serving as personal secretaries to the Emperor and other high-ranking military and civilian personnel. Others work in experimental fields, performing experiments at the behest of civilian scientists at Lone Star. Many more work in data analysis, research, and even teaching military history and citizenship in state-run schools. The Coalition even employs some to locate and run mines to provide them with raw material.

Available M.O.S. Skills:
Cryptography, Performance (trust me, teachers need Performance).
Basic Electronics, Computer Repair, Electrical Engineer
Basic Mechanics
Read Sensory Instruments
Science (Any)
Computer Operation, Computer Programming, History, Language, Law, Literacy, Lore (D-Bee, Demons and Monsters, Faerie, Juicer, Indians, Magic, Psychics & Psionics, Religion), Mining, Mythology, Photography, Prospecting, Research, Salvage, Writing.

M.O.S.: Weapons
Weapons Technical Officers are the people who not only keep the CS running, but are also likely to be in charge of any crew-served weapons that the squad might be carrying, as well as being responsible for many of the jobs usually reserved for the Combat Engineers; emergency bridging, demolitions (when an EOD specialist isn't available), defensive fortifications, etc.. Unlike Engineering Technical Officers, who share some of these duties, those with the Weapons M.O.S. are far more likely to be out on the front lines, dealing with problems as the occur, rather than in the rear with the gear.

Available M.O.S. Skills:
Basic Electronics
Mechanical Engineer
Weapons Engineer
Military (any except Military Etiquette*, Parachuting, Ship to Ship Combat, Space Defense Systems)
Body Building and Weight Lifting
Weapons Systems
Mathematics: Advanced
Computer Operation
Undersea Salvage
WP (any Modern).

*Still available to them as a OCC Related/Secondary Skill, at the normal bonus of +5%.

New Cybernetic Device
Internal Computer: This computer is implanted into the character's body, and is about on par with the PC-3000 hand-held computer (minus the micro-printer, though one can be attached through a jack port). Unless the character has a headjack or optic video nerve implant, or is willing to use external plug-in devices, the computer must be implanted either in the character's forearm or thigh, so the screen can be seen and the keys manipulated. Otherwise, the system is usually installed in the character's stomach, hip, or pelvis, with an external port to access disks.

Cost: Varies according to the system. A system implanted into an artificial arm or leg costs 5000 credits. Those implanted into a living arm or thigh cost 10,000 credits. Those implanted internally, and accessible by headjack, video nerve implant, or external plug-ins cost 7500 credits. A plug-in monitor will run 500 credits, or 750 if mounted on a headset; 100 credits for a keyboard/mouse combination.

OCS: The Academy at Missouri
For the last 20 years, the Coalition Military Academy (simply called The Academy, as there is only one, though some have talked about opening a Naval Academy on Lake Michigan) has been headquartered in Missouri. The Emperor initially wanted the Academy to be within Chi-Town itself, so as to better watch the candidates and keep the instruction under his personal control, but his aides suggested moving it to Missouri. Not only does this provide the illusion of independence, but it also provides a much better setting for the Academy, near the confluence of the Missouri and Chariton Rivers. The area is still partially wild, but the distance from most civilization keeps them free from distractions, and the influence of New Chillicothe keeps the Academy free of most dangers. The occasional danger which slips through provides the cadets with both excitement and live-fire testing.

To enter the Academy, one must be 100% human; no psi-stalkers, no mutant animals, no master psychics, and no humans with visible mutations. Also, the candidate must be a native born citizen of the Coalition States, and must either gain the recommendation of their commanding officer (in the case of active duty enlisted personnel) or gain nomination from a respected veteran officer (who is not a relative). All candidates are intensively mind-scanned on at least three different occasions, including examination of their aura. The candidate must demonstrate literacy, and must have received the proper authorization for that literacy. Also required are skills in Mathematics, a rigorous physical, and marksman qualification on at least two different weapons (or demonstrated Elite skills in at least two power armor or robots, and the Weapons System skill). These things are very rare for anyone raised in the lower levels of Chi-Town, and it is difficult for most ordinary soldiers to gain a literacy dispensation. Since the only way to enter the Officer Corps for most soldiers is by entering the Academy, the Academy is very much the province of the rich and powerful in the Coalition States.

The Academy is not the only way to become an officer; All doctors, for example, are given officer's rank, and it is possible, through promotion, to rise from buck private to Lieutenant or even General. The Academy, however, trains leaders. The instructors at the Academy seek to support the patriotism and dedication that the cadets have already displayed, and at the same time teach them leadership, science, history, and the modern (and selected classic) literature. Candidates are hardened, both mentally and physically, and graduate far above where they went in. Those who wash out of the program usually return to the ranks, but are not allowed to return to OCS without scoring at least 10% higher on their entrance exams in all categories; physical, academic, and marksmanship.

Upon graduating from the rigorous three-year program, one advances immediately to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, or one grade if they attend OCS after becoming an officer by other means.

Bonuses for completing OCS:
+1D4+4*1000 Experience points (representing the experiences gained during training; Game Masters who wish to play out time in OCS should ignore this bonus).
+1 to M.E.
+2 M.A.
+1 P.S.
+1 P.E.
+5 S.D.C.
+1 to hit with Coalition ranged weapons systems (excluding thrown weapons)

Additionally, the character receives five of the following skills (or +10%, if the skill is already known):
Basic Electronics
Basic Mechanics
Robot Combat: Elite (Coalition Robots or Power Armor only)
Navigation, Read Sensory Equipment, or Weapons Systems.
Anthropology, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Mathematics: Advanced, or Xenology (North American D-Bees)
History, Lore: D-Bee, Lore: Demons and Monster, Lore: Magic, Lore: Psychics and Psionics, Research or Writing
W.P. Heavy Energy Weapons, W.P. Heavy Weapons, W.P. Grenade Launcher.

Those who are in the Academy rarely have free time to go on standard missions, but many training missions can be developed. Most common are missions wherein one cadet is placed in charge of the "unit", and must face "D-bees" or "enemy power armor" (actually Coalition trainers dressed in captured armor and power armor). The mission objective may be to capture a certain percentage, destroy a village, or reinforce an outpost that is under attack. Often, strategic and tactical ability is tested by giving the cadets a chance to plan their attack strategy (in progressively shorter periods of time), then changing the circumstances mid-mission. Such training missions are exceptionally dangerous for the cadets. To prevent serious harm (or costly damage to material), most of their MDC weapons are disabled, though the C-12 Heavy Assault Laser Rifle and CP-40 Pulse Laser Rifle are frequently issued so the cadets may defend themselves if necessary, while the S.D.C. settings can be used in mock combat. Of course, missions can go awry; the location of the Academy is well-known, and several training missions each year are interrupted by outside forces, especially the nearby Federation of Magic.

Adventure Ideas for Coalition Characters
A good number of all technical officers will be assigned to small outpost communication outposts. Their responsibility is to maintain a laser communications tower beaming information into Lone Star, Missouri, and Chi-Town. All told, there are perhaps 30 people at the post; 4 Dog Boys, 1 Psi-Stalker (or Psychic M.O.S. Technical Officer), 15 Grunts, 5 RPA Pilots, and 10 Technical Officers (3 Communications, 2 Weapons, 1 Engineering, 1 Computer Specialist, 1 Technician, and 2 Medical). The post commander is usually a Captain, and a technical officer with the Communications M.O.S.; only 5% will have gone to the Academy. Both the Grunts and RPA groups will be commanded by a Lieutenant, and the psychics by a warrant officer.

The base itself is three levels; a second floor armory and mechanics bay, a ground-floor motor pool and communications control center, and underground barracks. Otherwise, there is a 10 foot tall wall around the entire base, and a 200 foot tower with four to ten communications arrays. Each array can send and receive both laser and radio signals, but are also exceptionally vulnerable; most will be destroyed with only two hits from mini-missiles, and the nature of the outposts means the arrays have to be highly visible from several angles.

Outposts like these are in constant danger. While substantial aid can usually be in the area within 30 minutes from New Chillicothe, the outposts are lightly defended enough that a determined band of mercenaries or bandits can inflict severe damage, or even destroy the base, before that aid can arrive. These systems are vital to the coordination of Coalition forces, and the backbone of the Coalition intranet; if more than 10% of these are knocked out, then the Coalition will begin to have trouble with their communications grid; more than 25%, and the system will be badly compromised. However, with more than a hundred of these scattered about Coalition territory, and another 50 outside the Coalition's borders (in places like Oklahoma, Indiana, Ohio, and into Minnesota and Wisconsin) the Coalition cannot afford to defend them more heavily, even given their importance.

Adventures around these bases can include a raid by anti-Coalition forces, or a sweep and clear mission against the enemies of humanity who are interfering with communications. Since many of these stations are out in the wilderness, dealing with the locals, both human and D-Bee, becomes an important part of day-to-day activities. The Coalition troops may be called upon to find a missing child or escaped murderer, or perhaps become pawns in the struggles between two human communities. Depending the distance from Coalition territory, supplies can also become an issue; while most stations are re-supplied each week, nearby conflict or technical problems can mean that the base goes much longer.

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