This article was written with particular vehicle miniatures in mind. The author uses the old scale Heavy Gear walker miniatures as Combat Walkers for Stargrunt in the 25mm scale. These miniatures are about the right size in scale for a single-pilot vehicle. These "Mecha-style" vehicles often have weapons and equipment outside the main armour, either held in one of the "hands" or strapped to the back, mounted on a shoulder or leg, etc. The style is very common to combat walkers as depicted in Anime/Mecha style art, and as such is applicable to a wider range of models and miniatures than those produced by Dream Pod 9 for Heavy Gear.
Combat Walkers have several advantages to their design. Perhaps the main advantage is the ability to carry greater firepower than a conventional armoured vehicle of similar size, because the mounting and aiming mechanisms (their "arms") are part of the basic vehicle structure and because the weapons are carried outside the main hull. In some cases, the weapons are interchangeable, and the Walker pilot can choose from several different weapons, with the "arms" grasping the required weapon from a rack or mount on the back or leg.
According to the Vehicle Design rules in the Stargrunt II rulebook (page 31 - 32), a standard armoured vehicle may be fitted with 5 Capacity Points worth of weapons, equipment, or troop carrying space per Size Class of the vehicle. A size 2 vehicle, for example, has 10 Capacity Points for equipment and weapons.
Turreted weapons with wide arcs of fire take up a considerably larger amount of space than non-turreted weapons. A turreted weapon takes up three times the weapon size class in Capacity Points, while a fixed mount weapon requires only two times the weapon size class in Capacity Points. A turret mounted RFAC/2 would thereby take up 6 Capacity Points, making it impossible to fit this weapon system on a size 1 vehicle.
The "Heavy Gear" style combat walker design seems ill suited to this design methadology. These vehicles clearly cannot carry any infantry (they have room for only one pilot), but due to the nature of the design, greater flexibility in weapon and equipment capacity requirements should be considered.
For example, these vehicles have "arms" and a rotating waist as part of the basic vehicle structure. These mechanisms provide what is in effect a turret for weapons without taking up internal volume or detracting from carrying capacity. The weapons themselves are carried externally, requiring less internal space. As such, "turret mounted" weapons on these vehicles should cost less Capacity Points than the equivalent weapon on more standard armoured vehicles. However, there should also be a limit to the maximum size of weapon available for Combat Walker mounted weapons. As the weapons are mounted "off center" and the vehicles walk rather than roll on wheels or tracks (or a stable gravitic platform for grav vehicles), weight and balance would be a concern. A size 2 Combat Walker could theoretically mount a size 5 fixed weapon (10 capacity points), but if carried on one of the arms, the vehicle would be very poorly balanced. In addition, for game balance reasons I suggest there should be a limit to the maximum size weapon carried on a Walker.
These rules enable Size 1 and 2 Combat Walkers to carry a larger weapon load than equivalent size conventional vehicles, but places a strict maximum limit on the weapon classes carried.
Combat Walker Capacity for Weapons and Systems
Size 1 Combat Walkers
Capacity Points: 5
Maximum Weapon Size Class: 2
Size 2 Combat Walkers
Capacity Points: 10
Maximum Weapon Size Class: 3
On either Size 1 or Size 2 Walkers, each "arm" can carry only 1 weapon.
Weapon Capacity Point Costs
Size Class 1 Weapons: 2 Capacity Points
Size Class 2 Weapons: 4 Capacity Points
Size Class 3 Weapons: 6 Capacity Points
"SAW" type infantry support weapons: 1 Capacity Point
Vehicle Mounted Automatic Grenade Launcher: 2 Capacity Points
Heavy Flame Thrower: 2 Capacity Points
Also, GMS systems have "non-standard" space requirements:
GMS-L: 3 Capacity Points
GMS-H: 5 Capacity Points
In addition, shoulder mountings can carry 1 "SAW" type weapon "for free", including SAW, Multiple Launcher Packs (MLP - same as that found on PA) and single shot GMS/L tubes (may be used once during the battle, otherwise acts exactly the same as a standard GMS-L).
As with other vehicles, ECM, fire control, guidance systems, decoy launchers, smoke dischargers and other similar small external fittings do not require Capacity Points.
Arcs of Fire:
There are two ways to account for arcs of fire for this type of vehicles, and either is appropriate. Choose whichever suits your sense of aesthetics for these vehicles. The first is to allow all "arm" mounted weapons a 360 degree Arc of Fire (the arms themselves allow a 180 degree Arc of Fire to the side, and the waist can rotate 90 degrees in either direction, allowing a total coverage of 360 degrees). The second ignores the waist rotation, so arm mounted weapons have a 180 degree Arc of Fire to the side they are mounted on. In addition, all "shoulder" mounted weapons have a 180 degree Arc of Fire to the front only. In my gaming experiece, arc of fire on these type of vehicles rarely is rarely an issue and we generally do not worry about it, but either of these methods provides a simple justification for a GM to make a ruling on line of sight if necessary.
The main drawback to this design methodology is that the exposed weapon systems are more likely to suffer damage in combat than equivalent systems on more conventional armoured vehicles.