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MK XX Bolo "Tremendous" ("Field Test" by Keith Laumer):

"Allright, Unit DNE of the line. Why did you do it? This is your Commander, Unit DNE. Report! Why did you do it? Now, you knew your position was hopeless, didn`t you? That you`d be destroyed if you held your ground, to say nothing of advancing. Surely you were able to compute that. You were lucky to have the chance to prove yourself."

For a minute I thought old Denny was too far gone to answer. There was just a kind of groan come out of the amplifier. Then it firmed up. General Bates had his cupped behind his ear, but Denny spoke right up.

"Yes, sir."

"You knew what was at stake here. It was the ultimate test of your ability to perform correctly under stress, of your suitability as a weapon of war. You knew that. You knew that General Margrave and old Priss Grace and the press boys all had their eyes on every move you made. So instead of using common sense, you waded into that inferno in defiance of all logic-and destroyed yourself. Right?"

"That is correct, sir."

"Then why? In the name of sanity, tell me WHY! Why, instead of backing out and saving yourself, did you charge? .....Wait a minute, Unit DNE. It just dawned on me. I`ve been underestimating you. You KNEW didn`t you? Your knowledge of human psychology told you they`d break and run, didn`t it?"

"No, sir. On the contrary, I was quite certain that they were as aware as I that they held every advantage."

"Then that leaves me back where I started. Why? What made you risk everything on a hopeless attack? Why did you do it?"

"For the honor of the regiment."

Year 2796, Deng Conflict. Field Test.

Ever since the MK I Bolo of the year 2000, all heavy tank units employed by the USA, and later the Human Concordiat, have had the designation Bolo. Whereas the first Bolo MKI was little more than a Abrams with upgraded electronics, a new 150 mm smoothbore gun, and two point defense gatlings in independant turrets, newer BOLO`s rapidly became ever more powerful and complex.

The MK X of 2235 was the first unit with a Directed Energy main weapon (a laser), and Durachrome armor had been commonplace for several MK`s already. Also this Bolo was the first to be Fusion powered, and only needed directions from only a single human when its preprogrammed battleplan parameters were exeeded.

With the next MK`s of Bolos armnament and size grew, but the first true revolution after the MK X was the MK XX of 2796, which employed enough Neural cirquitry to make it fully capable of independant, intelligent, behavior. Since then the Bolo, already a unmissable and unstoppable force on the battlefield, has become the very essence of warfare. Often gallant, heroic, and frequently given to self-sacrifice for the greater good, the Bolo often was the very personification of the armored knight on his horse.

These mighty machines, never tiring, ever more powerful, ever more intelligent, ever more aware of their importance to the Concordiat, served humanity for over fourteen centuries, right up to the end of the Human-Melconian conflict, which nearly resulted in the extinction of both races. No Bolos were either needed or wanted after that......

With the introduction of the MK XX the Bolo was totally self autonomous. Although most Bolo units had already operated without direct human interaction, except on the batallion level, these were the first Bolo`s that had the intelligence to not only operate independantly on a tactical level, but also on a strategic level. This intelligence also led to them having limited (if not slightly bloodthirsty) personalities. Most Bolos carried a three letter designation, and were given names according to their designation. For example, RML became "Rommel", JKE became "Jake", etcetera.

Still, independant as they were, each Bolo had the ability to carry a single human into battle. This allowed for the possibility to intervene in the battle directly, especially if there was a heightened chance that extraordinary circumstances should occur. Also, it became standard procedure to assign a permanent commander to any single Bolo that had been asigned as a planets "Defense Force". This was often done in the case of small colonies, which were asigned a single older Mark Bolo. Although a single Bolo could seldomly stop a determined invasion, it was a sufficient deterrent to stop any raiders and pirates which might come along. Alone and forgotten, some of these mighty machines can still be found on empty colony worlds, and their deactivation is a high priority. After all, even a old Bolo, with only partial resources, is a tremendous force, capable of incredible feats of firepower.

The MK XX Bolo was a truly huge machine, measuring more than a hundred feet long, fifty feet wide, and nearly fifty feet high at the top of its main turret. It looked very blocky, with few smooth curved lines. The entire Bolo ran on four huge tracks, two on each side, like a normal tank, and two more under the body itself. Because of this distribution of weight the Bolo was capable of traversing all but the most difficult terrain unhindered. Even swamps and deserts were of little concequence, as the total weight distribution meant that the Bolo placed about the same amount of weight on a given surface as a average human did merely walking around. And most obstacles were simply run over or shoved aside by the huge mass of the Bolo anyway.....

The energy for the Bolo was supplied by two independant fusion plants, one on each side of the hull. this was backed up with a emergency supply of energy from a powerful capacitor. This allowed the Bolo to operate all weapons but the hellbores for nearly five minutes after both fusion plants were destroyed.

Placed on this huge body was a large turret which held the two Hellbores. Also mounted in this turret were four of the Infinite Repeaters. The other twelve Infinite repeaters were placed (together with a coaxial railgun) in turrets, five on each side of the main body, and two facing aft (the forward battery of the MK XIX had been deleted, because it was found that the placement of the battery weakened the glacis plate.) There they commanded a truly huge field of fire. Located aft of the main turret, in a slight hump, were eight 30 cm breech loading mortars. These were slightly offset to make allowance for the sixteen magazine fed VLS cells of the Bolo`s missile system.

The weaponry of the Bolo MK XX consisted of a large variety of weapons, but none of these commanded more respect than its two 30 cm Hellbores. These mighty weapons were in reality a cross between Plasma and Ion weapons. They fired a short, but intense, fusion hot bolt of ionized plasma at a significant fraction of lightspeed. This incredible feat was accomplished by taking a small ball of frozen Deuterium/Tritium, placing it in the breach of the hellbore, and bringing it to fusion by laserheating it. Meanwhile the bore and the barrel of the weapon were energized with tremendous magnetic fields. When the Deuterium/Tritium ball has been indced to fusion, the resultant plasma was ejected out of the guns bore by its own pressure, and guided along by "packing" it in a bubble of electromagnetic fields, much like Ball-lightning. This also prevented the fusion plasma from dissipating. By the time of the MK XX, this "packing" was of sufficient flux density to provide the Hellbore with the range to engage Starships in medium orbit!

The secondary armnament of the MK XX consisted of sixteen "Infinite Repeaters", four of which shared the turret with the Hellbores, two coaxial with the main weapons, the other two on the sides of the turret, free to move around independantly. The rest of these weapons were located in turrets around the hull. Mounted coaxially with each of these was a electromagnetic railgun. The "Infinite Repeaters" themselves were really heavy ion weapons, drawing their power from the main fusion plant.

Mounted behind the main turret in a slight hump were eight breech loading 30 cm mortars. These weapons provided some excellent indirect fire capability, and were capable of firing a range of different ammunitions. These weapons were supplied by a internal magazine with eight hundred rounds of ammunition. They were often used for support fire, and to hit targets that were not worthy of the Hellbores, but were out of the range of the infinite repeaters or the railguns. Next to the mortars were sixteen VLS cells, firing medium range missiles from a magazine.

The last weapons the Bolo carried were a large variety of fragmentation packs and Small caliber railguns , both for anti-personell purposes. The Fragmentation packs were little more than directional fragmentation mines (much like Claymore mines) that had been mounted in clusters around the entire tank. These mines exploded whenever a enemy soldier came into their range, and showered the enemy with high velocity forged fragments. The 20 small caliber railguns operated on a "gatling gun" principle, and fired dispersed bursts of flechettes. These were mounted casemate style in the sides of the Bolo, and had only a limited arc of fire. All of this did much to disspell the treat of enemy infantry.

The Armor of the Bolo was nothing if not incredible. The high density Flintsteel armor alone could withstand anything short of a close nuclear blast, but it was overlaid with a ablative Durachrome armor, which consisted of interwoven layers of refractive chrome and ceramics. This armor was both ablative and reflective, meaning it Received less damage from any kind of directed energy weapons.

Backing this up was a mono-permeable anti-kinetic battlescreen. This screen did not only stop all kinetic weapons, it also partially absorbed enemy energy weapons fire, and converted it to usable energy, energy which could be used to bolster the screen, fill depleted emergency capacitors, and to increase the firepower of the Ion cannons.

Many enemies have been defeated by a Bolo without a working powerplant, simply because they continued to fire energy weapons into the hulk, which, although it became damaged the Bolo even further, also filled its emergency capacitors!

This Tank uses modified starship rules for its weaponry and engines. See Revised Starship Rules for Phase World / Three Galaxies for more details.

Model Type: Human Concordiat MK XX Bolo (Tremendous)
Vehicle Type: Continental Siege Unit.
Crew: None, provisions for one commander.

M.D.C. By Location:

30 cm Hellbore (2, turret):300 each (Durachrome armor adds 90)
Infinite Repeaters (4, turret):150 each (Durachrome armor adds 50)
Small Caliber Railguns (20, main body):50 each
Combined Infinite Repeater/35 mm Railgun Turrets (12, main body):150 each (Durachrome armor adds 50)
[1] Tractor Treads (4):500 each
[2] 30 cm Mortars (8):100 each (Durachrome armor adds 30)
[2] VLS Missile system:200 (Durachrome armor adds 60)
[3] Commanders Compartment:1,000
[3] Fusion bottles (2,main body):1,200
[4] Main Turret:1,000 (Durachrome armor adds 300)
[5] Main Body:5,000 (Durachrome armor adds 1,500)
[6] Battle Screen:4,000

Special: Durachrome ablative armor receives only half damage from Energy weapons like lasers, plasma cannons and particle beams.
[1] Destroying one of the treads does not slow down the Bolo. Destroying two of the treads lowers the speed to half of normal. Destroying three treads lowers speed to one fifth of normal, and destroying all treads stops the Bolo. Since all treads are located under or are protected by armor, they are difficult targets to hit and are -2 to strike (does NOT require a called shot)
[2] The mortars/VLS cells are located in the top armor of the main body and are small and difficult targets to hit. Attacker must make a called shot, and is -2 to strike.
[3] In reality this is how much damage needs to be done to the main body for a weapon to hit either a Fusion plant or the commanders compartment through the Bolo`s armor. The Bolo has two fusion plants. Even if both are destroyed, the Bolo still has emergency power. (see special equipment)
[4] Destroying the main turret will also Destroy all weapons located in it. Since the Bolo no longer needs to supply the Turret with power, it can redirect its energy and attention to the remaining weapons. These gain one attack per round.
[5] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will NOT put the Bolo out of commission. Although it can no longer move, it still retains emergency power, and can continue to fire its remaining weapons at half their normal attacks. If twice the M.D.C. of the main body is done to the Bolo, its main processor and emergency power are destroyed, and the Tank is finally silenced. The Bolo itself will be an unsalvageable wreck, and no useful information can be gained from it.
[6] Battlescreen absorbs all kinetic energy weapons like Railgun rounds and explosions, and absorbs half of the power of any incoming energy weapons fire. This is regardless of how much M.D.C. the screen has left. Base regeneration is 5% per melee (200 M.D.C.). See also Special Equipment.

Road Speed: 55 Mph (90 kph), with a 75 Mph (120 kph) Sprint speed for 8 melees. Can only sprint once every 40 melees. Note: The Road Speed is a more or less hypothetical thing for a Bolo, since any reasonably flat surface is roadlike enough for it. The effect of difficult terrain is left up to the GM, but a Bolo can handle almost any terrain, given enought time.
Atmospheric Propulsion: None.
Underwater: The Bolo can use its tracks to travel up to a maximum speed of 30 mph (48 km) across the sea bottom.
Maximum Ocean Depth: 2 miles (3.2 km)
Maximum Range: Effectively Unlimited by drive systems. Has supplies for commander for two weeks.

Statistical Data:
Length: 105 feet (31.5 meters)
Height: 45 feet (13.5 meters) from bottom of tracks to top of turret.
Width: 55 feet (16.5 meters)
Weight: 14,500 tons (13,000 metric tons)
Power System: Advanced Fusion with 30 year life span.
Cargo: None.
Market Cost: 500 million credits. Not available on the Black Market.

Weapon Systems: Note: Space ranges are given for when the Bolo is used on airless moons and other similar locations.

  1. 30 cm Hellbores (2): The Hellbores are massive plasma weapons. On each firing a small fusion explosion is induced by laserheating a small packet of Deuterium/Tritium to fusion temperatures. The resultant plasma is captured by electromagnetic fields, and directed out of the bore of the weapon, at the opponent. The cannons require a small cooling down period, allowing them to fire once every fifteen seconds. Although the plasma dissipates quickly, the weapons are capable of striking targets in low orbit, and give the Bolo a complete command of its line of sight environment.
    The turret can rotate 360 degrees, and the Hellbores have a elevation of 60 degrees up, and minus 10 degrees. The Hellbores have a -3 to strike small targets like powered armors and normal sized beings. They recieve no penalties for targets larger than 12 feet.
    Maximum Effective Range: 80 miles (128 km) through atmosphere, and 2,400 miles (3,850 km) in space.
    Mega-Damage: 1D6x1000, or 2D6x1000 for a double blast.
    Rate of Fire: once per melee per Hellbore (total of two per melee)
    Payload: effectively unlimited.
  2. Infinite Repeaters (16): A medium Ion cannon, these weapons lacks the incredible punch and range of the Hellbores, but have good range, and are not dependant on ammunition (hence, "Infinite Repeaters"). They are used against lightly armored vehicles, powered armors and for Anti-Aircraft use. One is mounted Coaxially with each Hellbore, two more are mounted in the sides of the main turret (180 degrees rotation, 60 degrees up and down). The rest are mounted in twelve smaller turrets on the hull, together with a coaxial Railgun. Five on the left, and five turrets on the right, and two facing aft. All turrets have a elevation of 70 degrees up, and minus 15 degrees. (The turret can rotate 360 degrees)
    This weapon can be fired linked with the railgun next to it, this counts as one attack.
    Maximum Effective Range: 1,200 miles (1,925 km) in space and 12 miles (19.3 km) in an atmosphere.
    Mega Damage: 4D6x10 per bolt (6D6x10 M.D. for the turreted weapons when fired linked with the 35 mm railgun)
    Rate of Fire: 3 per melee
    Payload: Effectively Unlimited.
  3. 35 mm Railguns (12): These are standard electromagnetic railguns. Twelve of these weapons are mounted coaxially with the Ion cannons in the smaller turrets. The railguns are +3 to strike at missiles. All turrets have a elevation of 70 degrees up, and minus 15 degrees. (The turret can rotate 360 degrees).
    Maximum Effective Range: 625 miles (1,002 km) in space and 6,000 feet (1,830 m) in an atmosphere.
    Mega-Damage: 2D6x10 M.D. per 20 round burst. Can only fire bursts.(6D6x10 M.D. when fired linked with the Ion Cannons)
    Rate of Fire: five per melee.
    Payload: 2000 rounds per cannon, that`s 100 bursts.
  4. 2 cm Railguns (20): These are standard rifle sized electromagnetic railguns. They are meant for point defense and anti-personnel use. The railguns are mounted in casemate style low on the main body, with the barrel hardly protruding from the casing. Five of such casemate mountings are located on each side. Each Railgun has +4 to strike due to a shotgun-like firing pattern. The casemates have a field of fire of 90 degrees, and a elevation of +60 to -30 degrees.
    Maximum Effective Range: 3000 feet (914 m) in an atmosphere and 56.8 miles (91.4 km) in space.
    Mega-Damage: 3D6 per 30 round burst, can only fire bursts.
    Rate of Fire: 5 attacks per melee PER railgun.
    Payload: 600 rounds per Railgun, that`s 50 bursts each.
  5. Automatic 30 cm Mortars (8): These large Mortars are breech loaded from automated magazines, and can fire a huge variety of different munitions. Each of the mortars can fire at a different target, or they can be volley fired at a single target, for maximum saturation. A huge variety of loads is carried, ranging from simple high explosive to active seeker anti-armor rounds.
    (For ease of use, use 155 mm cannon shell stats for damage)
    Mega-Damage: By artillery round type (Go to Battlefield Artillery for Rifts for more information: Fragmentation 2D4x10, High Explosive 2D6x10, Armor Piercing 3D6x10, Plasma 4D6x10, and has a vast number of other type of rounds as well).
    Maximum Effective Range: 5 miles (8.05 km), can fire above fortifications and obstacles.
    Rate of Fire: Each mortar can fire twice per melee, for a total of sixteen firings.
    Payload: Each has a 100 round magazine for a total of 800 mortar rounds.
  6. Medium Range Missile VLS: Located besides the eight mortars are sixteen Vertical Launch System cells for medium range missiles. After firing this VLS is reloaded the same melee from a magazine, and is ready to fire the next melee. Although the missiles can be used for bombardment purposes, most of these missiles are used for anti aircraft and anti armor purposes.
    All missiles can be targeted independantly.
    Mega-Damage: varies with medium range missile type (Go to revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile types (Go to revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
    Rate of Fire: Can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of 2, 4, 8 or 16 missiles at a time.
    Payload: 16 medium range missiles plus 160 reloads.
  7. Fragmentation Packs (80): Twenty of these packs are located on each side of the Bolo`s main hull. In essence these packs are nothing more than directional mines that fire a spray of fragments whenever a enemy soldier comes too close to the Bolo. Although the packs are quite powerful, they have only a limited range, and cannot be reloaded in the field.
    When fired, a pack fires a spray of fragments that effects all targets in a cone 60 meters long and 20 meters wide in an atmosphere (Quadrupled in space).
    Mega-damage: Does 5D6 M.D. to everything in the cone. Targets larger than 12 feet (3.6 meters) tall or across take 1D6x10 M.D.
    Maximum Effective Range: Maximum range is 200 foot (60 meters)
    Rate of Fire: One at a time or in a volley of 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10.
    Payload: 80 packs, not reloadable.

Sensors & Special Equipment:
Has all the normal sensors and equipment of Robots and Armored Vehicles in Rifts plus the following special features.

GM Note: To properly play a Bolo it should be given a very chivalrous personality, but at the same time a sufficiently bloodthirsty one. A Bolo from the Books is best likened to a Knight of Old: a chivalrous and bloodthirsty lout who could be friendly, polite, and self-sacrificing, even (especially) when actively engaged in sowing death and destruction.

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[ Beyond the Supernatural®, Heroes Unlimited®, Nightbane®, Ninjas & Superspies®, Palladium Fantasy®, and Rifts® are registered trademarks owned by Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books Inc. ]

[ Bolo, Hellbore, Concordiat, Deng, and Melconian are all Trademark and Copyrighted by Keith Laumer. ]

[ Excerp from "Field Test" is Copyright 1990 by Keith Laumer. ]

This writeup is dedicated to Keith Laumer, a great writer who is no longer with us. He gave us Bolos, Retief, Little five-eyed sticky fingers (Groaci), and a myriad other great characters in his wonderful stories. Science Fiction is not the same without him: a piece of the Golden Age left when he died.

Image is drawn and copyrighted by Talis D. Merrill (taalismn@pop.tiac.net).

Writeup by Mischa (E-Mail Mischa).

Formatting and Minor Revisions by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Rifts Conversion Copyright © 2000, Mischa. All rights reserved.