(article by Daniel Buttler)
(Italics, editing and sidebar by Hound)

Have your players seemed too eager with that orbital weapon you let them get their grubby mits on? Would they rather vaporize the opposition than fight it out like men? Well throw these couple of rules at them...

Super Weapon - Int + Tech based skill. (5x cost)

So, Joe has just managed to link-up with a corporate funded SubOrbital laser platform and rather than destroy it by reprogramming the telemetry for a "slightly" closer orbital path, he`d rather use it on Fred`s house.

Getting In
Most satellites have non-standard interfaces to prevent Average Joe Netrunner from just stepping in and taking over. Understanding even the basic language structure of their command protocols is a major step in the right direction.

(Int + SuperWeapons DIF 16) or (Int + System Knowledge DIF 22) to come to terms with the system. If the roll fails another can be made in D6+1 minutes... if you are willing to stay on-line that long, waiting for Netwatch. Some foreign military satellites use even more bizarre encryption and interface schemes, often increasing the difficulty by up to 5 points, if you actually understand the language they are using (Language: Czech at +5 anyone?).

Next you have to activate the weapon systems on board. For military systems this is a straightforward arming and power-up sequence. For Civilian systems being "adopted" to this purpose it involves activating servos that are normally only used during critical course correction and bypassing all the safety interlocks.

(Tech + SuperWeapons DIF 15) for Military units, Dif 20-35 for civilian satellites. Or you can roll Electronic Security at +10 difficulty if you don't have the right training.

Joe, stat (+9) + skill (+3) = 12, the Ref assigns a Dif 15, Joe needs a 3. He roles a 6, no problem.

Now Joe now needs to target the satellite weapon, pinpointing the location to within a 1/2 mile radius, this takes an Int roll:

Joe, stat (+8) + skill (+3) = 11, the Ref decides this will be quite difficult and assigns a Dif 25. Fortunately, the weapon has a small vid-screen, allowing Joe to look for Fred`s house visually, because of this Fred can add his Awareness (+6) and Geography (+3).

So, stat (+8) + skill (+3) + skill (+6) + skill (+3) = 20. Rolls a 6. Sorted.

In a flash of light everything with 1/2 square mile radius is vaporized with Fred`s house at the epicenter (sorry Fred). Joe is quite pleased, unaware that a fully-armed security team are on their way...

These are just the bare bones rules. In a more advanced game the player(s) might need to crack firing codes, bypass alarms etc... So feel free to add upon what I`ve already written.

Also, when it comes to your players buying the Super Weapon skill, I only allow them to begin with it at level 2. When it comes to improving the skill, I would stop them at level 3/4. This stops them becoming too good with a super-weapon, especially if it is totally within their possession.

Game Masters have to be especially careful to keep orbital weapons in the realm of the netrunner wet dreams instead of routine game play. One good hit could easily change the course of a war (did I hear something about a hit on the Arasaka HQ?). If your netrunners keep trying these kind of stunts, remember the time lag for DeepSpace netrunning or even Near Orbital uplinks - giving the SysOp and CPU plenty of time to trash most runners. I actually recommend including this skill in a chip for players for a single major plot gimmick (or Plot Voucher as they say) along with the players needing to collect the uplink data for the satellite in question and it's actual location so they can aim another satellite's commo rig at it ("what do you mean we have to do a hit and run at the local ESA HQ to get the telemetry data for the satellite?!").
Weapon Platforms
orbital weapons platform?
There are a plethora of orbital systems that were designed as (or can be quickly adapted to) a military role. The outright military weapons sats are damn hard to hack into (usually very secure, and not linked to the global communications net - to hack into one you first have to hack another satellite or commo source to re-route transmissions to the weapons platform), but have very functional weaponry and all the tasty targetting accessories you could ask for (allowing for the use of awareness and geography or area knowledge skills to be used in the targetting).

On the slightly easier to hack section, we have the solar energy - to microwave stations that help power the mudisders that can be "misaligned" allowing for large swathes of countryside to be cooked to a crisp. While these systems are easier to hack, they are harder to activate (not being designed to be rapidly re-aimed) and have little to no targetting systems, so users have to do their homework first on where they want to fire.

or microwave transmitter? images stolen from NASA