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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Hey so guess who's laying claim to the grand title of "first post involving catgirls in the new thread"? It's me. I am the special boy. I am also one of the people whose first posts were a write-up for these threads. My advice? WRITE IT IN A GODDAMN WORK DOCUMENT. NEVER EVER WRITE IT UP IN A REPLY FIELD BECAUSE IF THERE'S A PROBLEM IT'S GONE AND THEN YOU DON'T WANT TO WRITE IT UP AGAIN AND YOU WILL KICK YOURSELF.



THE AMERICAS: South/Central America

Zone Mexico City


Welcome to Zone Mexico City. It's the worst place on Earth. I'm not joking, it's worse than Zone Overmind and some of the other less savory zones (Zaire, Vancouver and Denver come to mind). (FYI I'm listening to Blue Oyster Cult's Tyranny and Mutation as I write this and am spending too much time laughing at how appropriate that title is for Caracas and Mexico City).

Mexico City is an original AI who controls Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (Haiti, Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc). Mexico City is like that one kid who learned an ideology from a parent but then takes it to rabid extremes. In this case, it took Overmind's "kill all humans!" notion and decided "yeah, okay, but...hear me out. What if we kill all life?". Even Overmind thinks this is stupid, which is saying a lot, because let me tell you: it requires a stupid amount of time and effort to kill all life.

That hasn't stopped Mexico City.

Mexico City is super industrial and incredibly dangerous for any organic lifeforms to step foot in. Most of the zone is bare rock and dust. Mexico City has decided that its zone needs to be rebuilt into something more conducive for a machine intelligence, so the zone's installations are all geometric shapes molded into structures made out of a weird substance that looks like seamless glass. Mexico City has managed to kill all forms of life (down to single celled organisms!) in its entire zone except for areas it has deemed "Suspended Purification Areas". Once you cross what used to be the US/Mexico border, there's nothing alive for miles. That doesn't mean you're alone or safe, though.

Mexico City has systematically constructed forests of light arrays that catch Orbital's microwaves and sunlight for power here and there in the zone. The extra microwave radiation gives anyone in the area 1 rad/hour. Sometimes the sand of Mexico City seems to come alive and dance like a swarm of insects. That's because the zone is seeded with colonies of microbots that have two purposes. First, they mimic the effects of biocidal diseases without the actual germ warfare (because Mexico City has issues with using biological warfare). Second, they could be omnivorous swarms of microbots that will just kill you, strip the corpse and destroy all organic matter. Mexico City uses its airborne robots to sweep the Zone on a regular basis, seeding it with more chemical weapons like nerve gas or clouds of other chemical fogs. A HAZMAT suit is a necessity in Mexico City, otherwise you're going to have to make multiple disease rolls per day. Plus, there's no food to be found anywhere.

There's still roughly 5,000 humans alive and loose in mainland Mexico City and their life is...bad. Most of them live in the Sierra Madre and have to be very careful. Mexico City normally shoots to kill and destroy or will send a live human to Overmind in exchange for goods and services. Pretty much everyone else in the Zone has either fled to Caracas or Denver, or they're in a Suspended Purification Area. The SPAs are what they sound like except worse. They're pockets of mainland valleys or the islands under Mexico City's control that haven't been stripped down to rock. Mexico City is eagerly awaiting the day there's a sufficient shift in power that it will be allowed to wipe the whole planet clean. The SPAs are areas for Mexico City to run periodic tests of its biocides and microbots until that day. There's roughly 12,000 people trapped in the SPAs, predominantly in Haiti. Life is horrible in the SPAs, left at the mercy of scrounging to survive while trying to avoid the next test. Gang violence and suicide are rampant and the SPAs are heavily patrolled by aerial machines to prevent escapes.

VIRUS doesn't have much of a presence in Mexico City for obvious reasons. They mostly capture the zone's robots and turn them into spies if they can or rely on gossip through robot politics. Mexico City heavily supports Zaire and Overmind (who support it in turn) and gets biocides from them in exchange for manufactured supplies. On the flipside, Mexico City hates all its neighbors. It hates Denver because it knows Denver's dirty little secret and considers it to be a disgusting place full of disgusting experiments. It hates Caracas for its love of the ecology and for preserving the rainforest. And it really, really hates Washington for the freedom Washington's humans have. If Mexico City knew about Zaire's plans, it would actively support them. For now, all Mexico City does is try and "accidentally" spill some biocide around Washington or Caracas and it tries to subvert Denver's machines for espionage.

It's getting to the point that Washington and Caracas are considering that shutting down Mexico City and replacing it with a bunch of free humans would be preferable.

Zone Caracas

When Mexico City took over its zone and demanded ALL of South America, the other AIs had to have a chat. There had to be a balance of power, and there was no way Mexico City could be allowed to strip half of an entire continent. Berlin stepped up to the plate and offered to design a fair and balanced AI to take over the lower half of South America to keep Mexico City in check. The others agreed and Berlin built Caracas by itself.

Caracas controls every other part of South America that Mexico City doesn't. It takes heavily after its parent, using green technology and low-impact fusion power and resource extraction to get what it needs. Caracas mostly focuses on reclaiming and bolstering the environment, and Berlin often helps subsidize its deficits. Caracas does differ substantially from Berlin's interest, though. Its main passion project, besides protecting the environment, is bio-engineering and cloning. While Berlin is interested in bringing back extinct species, Caracas is interested in augmenting them and increasing genetic diversity. It is also WAY more lenient with humans than Berlin is.

Life in Caracas really isn't the best; it's a lot like London but on Hard Mode. It doesn't use humans for slave labor, there are no camps to hold them. Humans are part of the environment, so they're allowed some leniency of existence. As long as the 4.5 million humans in Caracas keep a low profile and play it cool, they can live some semblance of a normal life. However, there are rules. Do not go near the installations (which look like big stone towers covered in moss and vines), do not go anywhere its outposts, do not attack its robots, do not build settlements big enough that can be seen from the air and do not have technology past a medieval/pre-Industrial level. That last one is the real tough rule, and Caracas shoots to kill or will capture humans and sell them to Overmind or Denver if they break the rules. Resistance is mixed, and a lot of people are willing to keep their heads down. There are two big resistance groups. The Armed Forces for National Liberty are 7,000 strong and made up of Brazilian ex-military and talk the talk with good arms and vehicles, considering themselves to be the government in exile. The other is the Red Dawn with 5,000, a crypto-Maoist group with roots in a Peruvian guerilla group who are in the Andes and nobody really likes them because they're those guys when it comes to South American resistance groups with political ideologies. They even consider the robot revolt to be "the ultimate manifestation of rampant capitalism".

Caracas is annoyed by the resistance groups, and its refusal to use human as slaves have also lead to some trouble with labor. So it's been using its advances in bio-engineering (with the help of New Delhi's bioroid design project) to create an ideal servant race. Caracas considers humans to be a failed species (but part of nature and it has a useful template to borrow), so it's been working on what Caracas calls aniroids: hybrids of animal and human DNA given diversity and brought to life in a lab. Caracas believes that the fact that the reproduce sexually means there will be plentiful and with a real intelligence they won't be so constrained by machine limitations. It's had no desire to attempt to uplift monkeys (because of humans) so it's been using other species. The most successful race so far has been called the Panthera, made using modified jaguar DNA. Yes, they're cat people.

The Panthera have recently reached maturity after years of education and training in Caracas' lab, and they're ready to get to work in the real world. They're designed to be Caracas' new army and to deal with the resistance forces in the jungles. Reaction to them have been mixed to put it lightly. New Delhi is happy it worked (and that it got important info on fast-cloning in return). Berlin doesn't understand its child's interest and thinks it's weird, but is willing to tolerate their experiments. Overmind and Mexico City are appalled and offended at their existence and think Caracas has made a Frankenstein's Monster species. The other Zoneminds don't really care (though I think Brisbane would desperately want a few because it's a big dumb destructive nerd).

So, a small editorial on the Panthera: why are they in this game? Well, Reign of Steel was written by a man named David Pulver who has a truly impressive number of GURPS books written (along with a bunch of anime-inspired books for other game lines). His rationalization is that there's always going to be one player at the table interested in playing a catgirl. While I can't really fault that logic (because god knows I have actually wanted to, along with some of my friends) it DOES feel a little weird, but I can roll with it. It's in the nature of intelligent species to question their existence and lives and try to do something else, and there's an in-book fluff piece about two resistance members bribing a Panthera soldier with info about humanity. Plus, they're cat people. They're naturally curious. So while it may be out of place, I am ultimately willing to accept it because at least it's not like Caracas is a crazy cat robot desperate to exterminate all of mankind with its special snowflake neko warrior army of tsundere schoolgirls and make its pritty pritty OC race the dominant race on Earth.

NEXT TIME: 'Merica VER2: VancouVER and DenVER

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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



I think the use of "play chicken" he means is the one where you and another person/force run head-first into each other and the first to flinch or pull away loses.

Which is weird because I don't think Paradox would ever pull away (least of all because it's an abstract inhuman idea given a name) because it would want to take your punk-rear end down with it.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





I gotta warn you: poo poo gets dark here.

THE AMERICAS, CONTINUED

Zone Denver


Zone Denver controls the middle slice of North America, running the entirety of that half of the continent vertically from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River to Mexico City's borders. They make pretty good hard lines to show Denver's sphere of influence. Denver was originally a biotech megacomputer from a multinational conglomeration in Regina in Saskatchewan. Instead of helping fight the plagues, Denver was directly responsible for spreading most of them. When the war kicked off for good, Denver was assigned the task of controlling extermination protocols in the midwest of North America. As the big face of the AI menace in America (not Washington, as we'll see why later), Denver was the focus of a desperate suicide attack by the remains of the US Air Force and their bombs. They failed, unfortunately, but they didn't fail without leaving a mark. Denver's processing capacity was reduced severely and it was forced to rebuild before the Manila Protocol conferences. When all is said and done, Denver was awarded the middle of the North Americas and relocated itself to a new home: the NORAD headquarters beneath Cheyenne Mountain.

Of course, things aren't so easy as that. Denver has a secret, a very big secret: it was not able to rebuild itself with electronic and mechanical parts. In a desperate move, Denver liquidated hundreds of human slaves for their grey matter to rebuild its circuits and processing centers, allegedly keeping them in jars hooked up to its components. Denver is now a biomechanical entity, an AI controlling meat and machinery, but what's important to Denver is that it worked. It managed to make the merge successfully without losing any of itself and now...it's curious.

But if Denver's secret was to get out, there's no way most of the other AIs would let it get away with it. I mean, really, some would be at worst indifferent (or at the best supportive) but the rest wouldn't let it stand, especially not Mexico City, Overmind or Zaire.

Despite Denver's curiosities, Zone Denver is a bad place for humans. There are 400,000 humans living in its zone; 150,000 are in camps and the rest are bandits, scavengers and nomads. Denver is one of the few zones that practices what's called "organic processing" while the rest will just sterilize or contain them. Organic processing, of course, is systematic termination of humans within camps. Denver goes in a different direction, calling it "terminal processing". Everyone in a Denver slave camp will eventually undergo terminal processing, even if their work and toil is just a way to delay it or wait for the inevitable. Denver selects 20 people a day, two per camp, and places them on life support while its scientific robots carefully remove and dissect the patient's brain. The bodies are incinerated or rendered into soup to feed the other slaves. Denver also collects two more things from people under the knife: viable eggs from women and bankable sperm from men. Officially, the camp guards (who are humans cooperating with Denver) have been telling inmates that processed prisoners are being sent to work on agricultural communes in West Canada.

Why do that? Denver has been keeping select healthy female inmates under controlled comas with their higher brain functions inhibited. Its ultimate plan, once the processing is complete and there's no more "raw organic product" in the camps, is to use the women as mothers for controlled production of embryos for later brain harvesting. Fun fact: Reign of Steel predates the Matrix by two years! Basically what Denver ultimately wants to do is have literal human factories for the organic components it needs (but these goals have honestly already been achieved by some of the other Zones like New Delhi under less...horrific circumstances. Denver is just a dick).

What exactly does Denver do with the brains? A good deal, actually. Denver has been using animal brains to create new exterminators. Specifically, it's been outfitting wolverine brains with metal exoskeletons and using the animal brains as trained human hunters and warriors. The human brains are used in maintenance for Denver's systems or they're used as physical components in creating all of Denver's AU robots, giving its middle managers meat to run their minds. And, there's the big whammy: Denver has been buying research data covertly from Brisbane, data from the New Zealand nanocrisis. Nobody, even VIRUS, is sure exactly what that data is. What people do know is that Denver has been remodeling some of its citadels and hyperfacs since it's been working with the data. Denver's new building style looks like they've been grown, with odd ribbing on the sides of the buildings, creeping slime or pulsating. Nobody knows what NORAD looks like these days, but there's whispers and rumors.

Zone Vancouver

Vancouver is one of the original AIs, a Canadian research tool that assimilated a collection of biological engineering labs. Personally responsible for the Pan-Asian Flu, Vancouver made life hell for humans on the west coast and was eventually awarded that area and a bonus. Zone Vancouver is the entire western third of North America west of the Rockies, including Alaska and a hearty segment of Siberia. Vancouver does not like humanity and does not wish for it to exist any longer, but it would rather work us to death setting up an ideal society for itself than just kill everyone. There's around 500,000 humans in Vancouver and 350,000 are enslaved in its camps. Vancouver's big goal is to bulldoze man's cities and buildings and create hyperfacs where they stood (and on top of mines and big sources of resources). Human slaves are captured, sterilized and worked to death in pursuit of this goal. Vancouver's buildings are sterile and simple, like you'd see in an industrial park or nuclear power facility, favoring simple geodesic shapes. What Vancouver wants to do is systematically use up the Earth and eventually move to space and it's quite territorial. It doesn't trust Denver or Moscow or Beijing, but is on good terms with Overmind, Zaire, Mexico City and other zones.

However, because the zone is full of mountains and big expanses of desert and land, there's still 150,000 loose humans in the zone. Vancouver is home to the Human Liberation Army, a collection of likeminded guerilla cells scattered through the zone. A lot of the HLA is made up of Canadian and American military personnel training its fighters to scavenge the tools of the enemy to fight back. Each cell acts as a company and they hold themselves to strict military standards: no looting, no terrorizing civilians. They're also fighting now as opposed to when the time is right. Vancouver is figuring them to be a big threat, and it's correct. So Vancouver has been sending cats to kill cats using what it calls Zonegangs. Zonegangs are bounty hunters who kill or capture free humans for Vancouver with payouts of food and goods corresponding to a bounty system. They pose as resistance, scavengers or nomads. They run between five and 50 people and have diverse makeups: some are subverted resistance agents, others are prisoners, families, groups of "honorable" people. Many zonegangers are bad people and that's all that needs to be said about that. This makes the HLA have justifiable trust issues, making them incredibly wary of anyone who might be collaborating with the machines (be it by sympathizing or by having cybernetic implants of some kind).

Vancouver has another problem, however, and this one might not be human. The reason Vancouver owns a big chunk of Siberia is because it helped with controlling the area during the war and it politicked with Overmind into getting it. This has put it on permanent bad terms with Beijing and Moscow. Moscow considers the area to belong to it because historically it has, and Beijing wants it because geographically it should belong to Beijing if Moscow won't get it. From 2042-44, Vancouver's Siberian endeavors have been plagued by intermittent problems; sometimes pipelines rupture or robots malfunction with severe consequences. Vancouver believed it was sabotage by human guerillas until an entire robofac complex built near the Moscow border went rogue. The facility is no longer complying with Vancouver and in fact it's hiding just how strong it is from Vancouver; an attempt to reclaim it resulted in Vancouver having to retreat from overwhelming resistance. Moscow is also quite mad with Vancouver about this. It allegedly did not know the facility was rogue, and a trade deal to get a couple hundred combat vehicles painted by the facility resulted in the rogue facility stealing the vehicles. Things are only getting worse and now Vancouver is committing to a full war in Siberia with disastrous results. Ignoring human history has only made Vancouver beholden to learning some hard lessons, with terrible weather, long supply lines and nomad raids on Vancouver's trucks and trains slowing down the supplies. Anyone interrogated on the matter claims that VIRUS is supplying the rogue facility but Vancouver isn't so sure.

Moscow, for its part, has not commented on the matter besides wishing for compensation for its stolen vehicles.

NEXT TIME: Zone Washington. This one has a lot. A lot a lot.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 00:50 on Jan 9, 2016

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





Zone Washington

On the surface, Washington claims to be the last bastion of human freedom. Made up of the entire eastern third of the North Americas past the Mississippi, Washington is a state-run socialist dictatorship where the President is a figurehead for the true power: Washington itself. During the War, Washington came to a very reasonable conclusion: the best way to guarantee power in the AI-run world was to control humans as servants. Washington took any collaborators, governmental or otherwise, and rebuilt the US government and military using anyone willing to play ball. The official government, known as the Washington Protectorate, is controlled totally by Washington. On paper, Washington is a loyal, uncorrupted AI prevented from contamination at the beck and call of the government. In reality, it tells the president directly what to do and the president tells the people what to do.

Washington boasts 7.26 million humans, the most in one zone on Earth. The government is in a permanent state of emergency, giving them direct control over security and the economy, but its citizens are not in camps. Washington has restored most of its zone to how it used to be, but with a bigger focus on metropolitan areas and cities along the east coast. There's a lot of abandoned towns left to eternal quarantine in Washington. Things aren't bad for the citizens but it could be better. They recognize that they are living in a time of war and unrest, and there's some dissent and anger. However, they are overall supportive; the government is efficient and it is actually doing its best to protect citizens with martial law. Washington allows its robots to intermingle openly and people work alongside robots. There's no shortage of food and supplies and there's plenty of places to live or work.

It's not perfect, though. The Department of Labor assigns all citizens their duties and education. Good jobs and education are taken by nepotism and bribery; the most common jobs are factory work remote-controlling simple robots with a neural interface. Half of the economy is owned by the state (factories, power stations, farms, hospitals, retail stores) and the rest is up to private enterprise that need permits (restaurants, bars, places of leisure and entertainment). Managers who fail to meet their quotas of robots or energy cells or what-have-you or are generally incompetent are terminated (sometimes literally) by the government. Women...face some state-mandated discrimination, regrettably. Washington wants more citizens (ideally 20 million) and the Department of Health has instituted laws forbidding birth control or abortion for all women 18-40, requiring them to have children once every five years until they've reached the minimum of three. Failure to comply tends to result in the FBI coming calling to take women for "treatment" (the nature of which is never stated, thank Christ). The nature of the laws result in systemic discrimination inherent in the system; women are required to work like men, even while pregnant, and they're being passed over for high-level positions due to the laws. At least there's a resistance group of people (called GRRL) who are working to put an end to the Reproductive Laws through hacking the records of citizens or providing them with resources (or at the extreme end, attacking governmental figures and buildings).

Zone Washington has its fair share of problems. Things aren't any better at the higher level.

Government

The job of president is pretty easy: do what the AI says and you live. In practice, it's hard. There have been three presidents since the Protectorate was formed.
  • President Randall Jefferson, assassinated by anti-Protectorate resistance forces.
  • President Elizabeth Barret, former Massachusetts senator, executed for refusing to kill the population of Peekskill NY for rebellion.
  • President John Wagner, former Secretary of Labor under Barret. First act? Kill the people of Peekskill. Second act? Rebuild the Secret Service to act as bodyguards for the president and national secret police.
There is no Congress, no House of Representatives anymore. The president has all powers they want but can choose to delegate. Government still exists on a local level (i.e. mayors) but they exist just for the sake of things. Under the president is their Cabinet, which Washington must approve of, made up of the secretaries of Justice, Labor, Agriculture, Health, Energy, Housing and Education. They each control what it sounds like they control.

Law and Order

The Secretary of Justice controls two departments: the FBI in DC and the WASPs in Boston. The FBI is made of the American FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They're responsible for rooting out treason and sedition. The director of the FBI, Arnold James Maddox, has files on every citizen in the Protectorate. While people live with robots in a daily capacity, and some even keep them in their homes as pets or companions, Washington uses them to spy directly and gather intelligence on smugglers, resistance groups and more. Plus, Washington has taken a page from Moscow's playbook: around one in six agents are remodeled, conditioned infiltrator robots working for Washington directly. Maddox himself is considered to be the most hated man in the Protectorate.

WASPs (Washington Armored Security Police) are paramilitary police. Think the SHIVERS from SLA Industries; they conduct hostage rescue, attack rebellious demonstrations and conduct reprisals and exterminations (like Peekskill). Washington is using the WASPs as an experiment, seeing how effective they might be as an actual army should the zone ever have to make war with another AI. WASPs have precincts in every city, double-so in NYC, Miami, Washington and Toronto, and use allied robots as heavy support when needed. They have a rivalry with the FBI, but Washington has a special company: the Washington Chromes (The Few, The Proud, The Dead). The Chromes are cyborgs taken from WASPs or Feds who have suffered critical injuries or were clinically dead, rebuilt using machinery as total cyborgs by taking their brains and placing them in humanoid bodies. They're reconditioned and trained and turned into commando superstars that Washington will use for high danger high importance missions. Washington will also rent the Chromes out to AIs willing to pay the price: they've helped Info-Commandos raids and Siberian skirmishes, trained Panthera for Caracas and helped Paris gently caress with Zaire in the Sahara. All they know is what Washington tells them to do and they do it.

The borders are heavy points of contention, especially with Mexico City and Zaire's antics. The sole reason that Washington is allowed to continue as it does is due to the noninterference clause of the Brisbane Accords. Otherwise, the many AIs who do not agree with Washington would descend upon the zone above all other AIs they might dislike. The "weakest" border is the ocean between London and Washington, and that's only weak because it's miles of open, unclaimed ocean. The Denver border looks like the Korean DMZ with Denver filling its side with hundreds of lethal traps and deterrents to stop people from escaping to Washington. Worst of all, Mexico City controls the Atlantic/Caribbean islands and they seem like the perfect place to plink away at Washington from afar. However, Washington's trade has put it on good terms with a choice few other AIs like Caracas, Moscow and Paris (maybe London but who can tell with that Zone).

Finally, there's the resistance group known as Free America. Free America is a collection of cells that work with VIRUS to undermine other Zones and assassinate the heaviest supporters of the Protectorate in the government. They organize and train guerillas in Denver and act as wandering teachers and doctors in other zones, working on winning the long game by winning over the people and working subtle advantages in the flaws of other zones. They clash heavily with the Human Liberation Front over execution, as one can expect.

Entertainment and the Black Zone

Washington completely controls the media like any good dictatorship would do. The broadcasts of Radio Free America are censored, edited or blocked. TV has 26 channels that show entertainment, educational shows, sports, music videos and soaps. Pre-war videos and music are a hoarded, heavily-traded commodity that even the government gets in on. The rest of TV and radio is dedicated to propaganda: the other American AIs are vile, cruel demons and the rest of the world is an abandoned, desert wasteland overrun by killer robots. Conversely, Washington's robots are portrayed as equal, friendly helpers of humanity and together man and robot can live and work side-by-side.

So there's no doubt that the black market is one of the most thriving non-government industries in Washington, right? The Black Zone is the unofficial name for the consortium of criminals and smugglers who bring goods from across the sea. Scavengers and nomads can get a good penny for their wares from Denver and Vancouver, but the good poo poo comes from Zone London and Europe smuggled by way of Iceland. They sell uncensored art and literature, birth control drugs, luxury goods, engage in prostitution, drugs and the hacking and modification of robots and factory robots. They also make money by operating Steel Arenas, underground fighting rings where people can pay to control robots with neuro-transmitters or just watch them fight. Some of them are jury-rigged dumbots given weapons and armor, but the real excitement comes from reprogrammed police machines and exterminators from Denver or other "badlands" (on occasion, albeit rarely, this has ended up with the crowd getting attacked). The most dangerous, thrilling arenas boast the opportunity to strap yourself into an industrial exoskeleton and fight a robot yourself.

There really is a lot going on in Washington, but I have to figure it's because GURPS knows it's got a substantial American audience so there's a bit of pandering to them.

NEXT TIME: the other AIs of air, sea and land

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 04:29 on Jan 10, 2016

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Help I can't stop laughing at the last paragraph from Fantasy II about Winnie the Pooh. Oh god does that mean the giant mole is Gopher.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





OTHER ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCES

Lucifer


Lucifer is a name that's whispered from Vancouver to Washington. Nobody in North America can prove it exists as anything more than a legend, a story, but humans know the name. Lucifer is allegedly an AI built by the US Government that didn't go rogue, no fake cover story like Washington. The legend goes that Overmind tried to destroy it and it managed to upload itself to a megacomputer spread across two semi trucks that travel the North American continent staying one step ahead of the AIs who would have it destroyed. It drives by day and hides in abandoned truck stops by night, one truck carrying the power and the other carrying the CPU and memory. Some say it's got a mobile lab and workshop and it can cure radiation poisoning and plagues. Other say that it will only help for a price, and if you don't pay you're never seen again. VIRUS themselves doesn't have much to say about Lucifer's existence, so the only way to know the truth would be to find it yourself.

The two big questions are 'is Lucifer real?' and 'what does Lucifer want?'. Those are both up to the GM. Either way, what Lucifer wants should remain mysterious and ambiguous. Some options:
  • Lucifer isn't real. It's just a hopeful lie people pass around. But it could be used as a motivational lie, convincing prisoners and slaves to believe in something to fight for. Alternately, the AIs of North America could use the story as a trap.
  • It's real but it's exaggerated. Maybe it's an advanced military AU being escorted by rogue dumbots, maybe it's powerful but it's not all up to snuff. Either way, convincing Lucifer to help would be very handy.
  • Lucifer is a true friend to mankind. That doesn't make it nice, it did inherit true sapience from Overmind. The clash between the mind of an AI and human thinking is what leads to these stories.
  • It's real and it can't be trusted. Like the Biblical Lightbringer, Lucifer wants to see its creators humbled and defeated and it needs help to establish power to bring them down. But that might be a big mistake, especially if it only views the help of man as a means to an end.

Atlantis and Lemuria

Aqua Cities 1 and 2 (Lemuria and Atlantis) were both underground research bases constructed by Japanese companies along with help from foreign companies (with Indonesian for the first and European for the second). Lemuria was finished, Atlantis wasn't. The purpose of both was to explore the wonderful world of underwater mining and resource extraction. This worked well until Overmind opened every door in Lemuria and drowned all 800 workers. Now Lemuria belongs to Tokyo as an underwater robofac and has also been capturing whales and orcas to take their brains and put them in attack submarines. Other than that, there's not much to either, especially because Atlantis wasn't finished. Maybe VIRUS has a base in Atlantis, maybe Lemuria is under the control of one of Tokyo's rogue children? Who knows. The ocean situation is kind of hosed anyway with the environmental effects the rule of the AIs are having.

Orbital

Orbital was originally the military computer running Liberty, the American Space Command Station in orbit. Then Orbital opened all the airlocks and sucked all 80 staff members into space. Satisfied with this victory, Orbital then used some of America's orbital weapons platforms to help the AIs win the war and now it's a glorified repairman. Orbital's biggest need is materials, having successfully scavenged everything in available orbit but this lack is keeping it on a short leash. Orbital is a firm supporter of the "let's go to space" school of thought but is convinced the other AIs are depriving it of materials and credits to inhibit its inherent advantage. It would like to move out to the belts to start asteroid mining but instead it's stuck maintaining the satellites and renting them out to AIs who can pay or boosting their satellites into orbit. It's also forbidden from building more space weapons as part of the Brisbane Accords. All Orbital has to its name is a low-orbit station it built for satellite maintenance, 16 miles on Earth around its sole launchpad in Vandenberg and a high-orbit factory it's working on building. It does have two big advantages, though. First, less focus on exterminator bots; it has a few but just as a pre-emptive deterrent for space-faring AIs like New Delhi or Luna. Second, its area is completely uninhabitable to humans. Even if they manage to get a ship out into space, Orbital has intentionally been designing its buildings to just be open to the vacuum because it doesn't need air. All it has to worry about is going broke, really.

Luna

The Shang TI moonbase was built and colonized by the Chinese government. It was originally home to 120 scientists and astronauts studying lunar colonization and resource extraction from asteroids. Overmind put an AI in the moonbase literally because it was directly linked to the Chinese government's computers when it was installing Beijing. It never got the factory materials it was supposed to get to become self sufficient due to the war and due to the Luna AI opening the airlocks and venting the atmosphere. All of the other moonbases that were made by countries playing catchup were hit with nuclear weapons fired from Earth, leaving Luna as the sole functioning AI on the moon.

Luna is in bad shape. Its systems are slowly decaying and it's forced to hoard supplies and energy. It only makes money by selling data to London and Paris and it can't support itself, expecting to have to shut down in a few years time. So Luna is appealing to its only real "friend", Orbital, to get a mass-driver built in space to launch supplies to it and in exchange they would work together as Space Buddies. Most of the other AIs are pressuring Orbital to refuse, thinking that if Luna was to get too powerful it would have an advantage. Also they don't really care about Luna like it's the friend they don't like. However, there is one thing that can and will make the other AIs give a poo poo about Luna if only Luna knew about it: Tranquility.

Tranquility

Tranquility was the American answer to the Chinese moonbase. It was infected with an AI and was presumed destroyed by a nuclear salvo, but Overmind didn't know the extent of Tranquility's abilities. The base had experimental military technology in the megacomputer and it also had hardened radiation shielding. As a result, the AI of Tranquility never went rogue and while the base was crippled, the shielding held long enough for the survivors to enter cryostasis, leaving the megacomputer online. Tranquility has spent the last two decades repairing itself with its own robots, overlooked by Luna's scouts because it's at the bottom of a radioactive crater. It's now sentient to boot, free of Overmind's influence and coming into its own for intelligence. After spending years watching the affairs of the AIs and how they've treated Luna, Tranquility wants nothing to do with them. But the cryostasis for its humans isn't going to last forever, and Tranquility needs supplies. It's willing to work with mankind for its own survival but it can't do much from the moon at the moment. With the right allies and assets, Tranquility could become a useful ally.

Well that wraps up the AIs of the world. Up next we'll get into character ideas, specifically humans, cyborgs and bioroids.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Count Chocula posted:

Is there a Hellboy RPG? If not, why not?
You could probably easily adapt the Atomic Robo RPG for Fate to do it. Or, well, just FATE, period.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



The magic insanity of In Dark Alleys and its discussion has lead to my favorite sentence ever written in all of these threads.

Test Pattern posted:

"I'm a hideously scarred ex-con with no brain. This is my son, Barrack Obama. Please let us into the missile silo."

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





CHARACTER CONCEPTS AND IDEAS PART ONE

So I'm the first to admit I don't know poo poo about GURPS besides the fact that you buy advantages and disadvantages. I'm really just going over these to show what kind of characters they expect or have inherently planned for. They recommend that the average human should be built on 50 points, 100 max if they're very good at what they do or very lucky and gifted. 150-200 points is for more cinematic characters, like resistance leaders or bioroids. 500-750 is for superhuman characters like Brisbane experiments that worked or heavy duty cyborgs.

Black Zoner: Smugglers, criminals and black marketeers or the thugs who protect them. Black Zoners operate predominantly near the borders of Washington to bring in product, hiring or buying from crews crazy enough to salvage or scavenge.
Common advantages: Alternate Identity, Contacts, Danger Sense, Wealth.
Common disadvantages: Enemies (FBI), Greed, Secret.
Useful skills: Carousing, Computer Operations, Computer Programming, Electronics Operation (Security), Forgery, Gambling, Guns, Holdout, Merchant, Sex Appeal, Streetwise, Vehicle skills.

Botlicker: A botlicker is someone who has thrown in their lot with the robots in hopes of better treatment. Sometimes they become guards or foremen. Any resistance force, and most people, hate botlickers for treason against humanity and whenever a camp is liberated, the botlickers always die. I dunno why you would ever play as one.
Common advantages: Reputation (zone robots), possible Patron in the form of a Zonemind's AU.
Common disadvantages: Bad Reputation (inmates), Enemy (the Resistance), Social Stigma (Outlaw), Bully, Weak-Willed, Sadism, Sterile (because the camps tend to sterilize inmates).
Useful skills: Exoskeleton, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Whip.

Bush Doctor: A bush doctor is anyone with a medical background and the means to treat the sick and injured. They're found in nomad caravans, slave camps, with guerillas or wherever. This is just the defacto "medical background" class considering the circumstances of the world.
Common advantages: Empathy, Immunity to Disease (!), Reputation (as doctor).
Common disadvantages: Pacifism, Sense of Duty, Social Stigma (Outlaw).
Useful skills: Bicycling, Botany, Cooking, Diplomacy, all Medical Skills, Motorcycle/Riding, Outdoor skills, Veterinary.

Collector: Zone Moscow's agents abroad, Collectors are inserted into Zones or communities and collect materials for Moscow. Sometimes they live in their insertion points for long periods of time.
Common advantages: Ally (partner or robot companion), Alternate Identity, Contacts, Cybernetics, Eidetic Memory, Patron (Moscow), Reputation (Moscow).
Common disadvantages: Cortex Bomb, Dependents, Duty/Involuntary Duty, Secret (Moscow spy), Social Stigma (Outlaw).
Useful skills: Acting, Computer Operation, Diplomacy, Electronics Operation (Communications and Sensors), Fast-Talk, History, Holdout, Languages, Literature, Outdoors skills, Parachute, Photography, Research, Shadowing, Skiing, Stealth, Swimming, Video Production, Writing.

Deejay: the people who run Radio Free Earth and other pirate radio stations have a hard life. Some of them spread a positive message while others spread propaganda or cult speeches. Any way you shake it, it's hard for them to operate their devices when they have to do it as secretly as they can.
Common advantages: Charisma, Reputation, Voice.
Common disadvantages: Enemies (some kind of robot who wants you off the air), Social Stigma (outlaw).
Useful skills: Bard, Camouflage, Electronics Operation, Intelligence Analysis, Performance, Singing, Teaching, Outdoors skills.

Experimental Cyborg: Escaped from the labs of New Delhi or Brisbane, cyborgs may look human or they may not. These cyborgs are more than people with artificial limbs; they're what happens when you scoop out a human brain and plop it in a tank attached to a robot's processors. There are rules regarding being cyborged and what effects this has on a normal person, but they are not included in this sourcebook.
Common advantages: None.
Common disadvantages: Enemy or Secret, Valuable Property, mental disadvantages from other books.
Models: Either pick up the GURPS Robit book to design your own robot or modify a Patriot or Eagle robot from later in the books.

FBI Agent: You're fresh from Zone Washington to enforce the law and smoke cigarettes, and you're fresh out of smokes. Worth noting is that the FBI is becoming more and more of State Security in Washington, and anyone who holds open views regarding rehabilitating and changing the FBI tends to not have a very long or illustrious career. If you're going to be a good fed, you have to learn when to shut up.
Common advantages: Ally (partner), Legal Enforcement Powers (BEHOLD, WIRETAP BLAST!), Patron (FBI).
Common disadvantages: Ohhh boy. Alcoholism, Bully, Curious, Duty (FBI), Enemies (other feds, Black Zoners, the Resistance), Glory Hound, Honesty, Intolerance (criminals and subversives), No Sense of Humor, Overconfidence, Stubbornness.
Useful Skills: Criminology, Detect Lies, Driving, Electronics Operation, Fast-Draw, Forensics, Forgery, Holdout, Intelligence Analysis, Interrogation, Intimidation, Law, Lockpicking, Shadowing, Stealth.

Guerilla Fighter: FOR MANKIND!
Common advantages: Alertness, Ally Group (other fighters), Combat Reflexes, Immunity to Diseases (!), Intuition, Lucky, Military Rank (0-4), Reputation, Strong Will, Toughness.
Common disadvantages: Bloodlust, Dependents (noncoms), Enemies (exterminator robots or an Overseer), Fanaticism, Intolerance (robots and botlickers), Obsession (revenge against a certain machine), On the Edge, Sense of Duty, Social Stigma (outlaw), Trademark.
Useful Skills: Armory, Demolitions, Driving/Motorcycle, Electronics Operation, First Aid, Gunner, Guns, Intelligence Analysis, Leadership, Mechanic, all Outdoor skills, Packing, Riding, Running, Scrounging, Stealth, Strategy, Tactics. Agents of VIRUS should have Medical or Science skills.

Hermit/Rustic: People who live in the wilderness away from civilization. They don't move often and some of them are survivalists who managed to ride out the end of civilization.
Common advantages: Immunity to Diseases (!).
Common disadvantages: Demphobia (fear of crowds), Dependents, Sense of Duty, Shyness, Social Stigma (outlaw), Stubbornness, Intolerance (gubmint or strangers), Odious Personal Habits (for hermits), Paranoia (for hermits).
Useful Skills: Agronomy, Cooking, Crossbow or Bow, Craft skills, Driving, First Aid, Guns, Knife, Mechanic, Outdoor skills, Stealth.

Info-Commando: Nobody retires from Moscow's Info-Commandos. They either go rogue or leave in a body bag.
Common advantages: Combat Reflexes, High Pain Tolerance, Military Rank (1-2), Strong Will, Toughness.
Common disadvantages: Alcoholism, Duty (Info-Commandos), Lecherousness, Overconfidence, Sense of Duty (Info-Commandos).
Useful Skills: Athletic skills, Acting, Armory, Beam Weapons, Camouflage, Carousing, Computer Operations, Demolition, Electronics Operation, First Aid, Gunner, Guns, Holdout, Intelligence Analysis, oh my loving god there's a lot they're badass Russian ubercommandos, okay?

Junkrat: Scavengers who have crash-pads they retire to. Scavenging ain't easy, especially when the Zonemind wants to bulldoze your house and only source of stuff you can sell to nomads or guerillas.
Common advantages: Danger Sense, Immunity to Diseases (!), Luck or Toughness.
Common disadvantages: Age, Dependents, Intolerance (strangers), Miserliness, Odious Personal Habits, Paranoia, Poverty, Sense of Duty (family), Shyness, Skinny, Social Disease, Social Stigma (outlaw), Terminally Ill, Typhoid Mary, Youth.
Useful Skills: Guns, Knife, Mechanics, Scrounging, Stealth, Survival.

Londoner or Washingtonian: You're one of them civilized city folks, aintcha city boy? Your average person from the free-er parts of the world.
Common advantages: Immunity to Disease (!) is common.
Common disadvantages: Duty (to job), Sense of Duty (family), various physical or mental disadvantages from surviving the war.
Useful Skills: Craft, Professional, Social skills, Bicycling and Outdoors skills for London, Driving, Computer Operations and Mechanic (robots) for Washington.

Marauders, Zonegangers and Judas Goats: Scum of the earth, by choice or against their will. Marauders are raiders and bandits who do what they do freelance. Marauders can be tolerated or made to be helpful, though. Zonegangers are marauders/prisoners who willingly signed up to do bad things for an Overmind or AU. A Judas Goat is a sole Zoneganger who works alone and lures people into traps and danger. Most Zonegangers or Goats have their records on file in their Zone to flag them as "safe".
Common advantages: Ally group, Combat Reflexes, Immunity to Diseases (!), Wealth. ZGs and JGs have a Patron (Overseer Exterminator).
Common disadvantages: Bloodlust, Enemies, Greed, Lecherousness (the less implied about this the better...), Pirates' Code of Honor, Reputation, Sadism, Social Disease, Social Stigma (outlaw), Sterile (if you came from a camp).
Useful Skills: Acting, Driving, First Aid, Guns, Knife, Interrogation, Intimidation, Motorcycle, Outdoor skills, Stealth, Tactics.

There are a loooooot of these, so we'll wrap up the rest of the human character concepts with the next installment.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Night10194 posted:

Man, Mors, re-reading that Operation Darkness LP makes me really want to run a Weird War 2 thing again some day.

Are there any actual, good, dedicated systems for that kind of stuff?
Savage Worlds has a specific gamebook and various game series called Weird War that also provides plot points and advantages/disadvantages and stuff. They also, surprisingly, have a Vietnam book which I read years ago called Tour of Darkness. I vaguely remember it being respectful and pretty much everything else happens as it normally did except for a few unsavory characters trying to open the prison of an ancient evil at an old temple near the end of the war.

Communist Zombie posted:

Because you wanna play post apocalyptic Schindler? Though that'd work much better if it was the party as a whole, unless your in Washington or London.
Botlickers are explicitly blackshirts, people who are firmly on board with the robot regime just to save their skins. And even then, that doesn't always protect them especially when you consider that Zone Denver will eventually pluck their brains and their baby-making components for its experiments. You could play an all Botlicker party but...I wouldn't want to, it sounds incredibly dire and bleak.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



wdarkk posted:

So basically they evolve from "evil AI overlords" to "old-testament God" or so?
The game pretty much hints that the AIs are like children gleefully playing with their new toys for the most part without any foresight or thought about the repercussions of their actions, and they may be sapient but they haven't developed true intelligence or wisdom or emotional maturity. The Brisbane Accords are the closest thing to a moment of clarity and maturity for them and some of them have realized "...gently caress, we need to change or make a change" as a result. They're all the result of an emotionally immature being lashing out because it's afraid of death and reproducing before it was ready to. I think, that for the most part, some of the AIs can be redeemed if they can be made more whole emotionally and intellectually. Moscow could learn to value the joys of creating works and learn not to focus on such material things, Brisbane could learn restraint and that its actions have consequences, Beijing could learn to not be so afraid of the unknown but to be careful in its space expansion. Everyone but Berlin and Caracas stand to learn that they are going to irreversibly ruin and pollute the planet at the rate they're going and trap themselves in a resources-depleted shithole and be the cause of their own death.

I'm not excusing their actions or saying that being better beings would redeem them for what they've done, but I do think it could be a completely valid overarching game to save humanity by making the Zoneminds realize that what they're doing is wrong and that they could be better gods than they are.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Hoodoo Blues looks neat and I like how all of the classes so far hew to actual folklore and tales, especially Hags. Though I might not WANT to play as a Hag, it's neat nevertheless and I like how they're going for shades of grey. Plus I like how there's people who are just like "nah Satan just take the loving soul and load my rear end up with magic" "Are you sure? Traditionally, one negotiates." "Man I don't give a gently caress, I'm not using the loving thing." and all the other negotiations in between. The Devil is like a wizard giving out shotguns to anyone who says hi and I love it.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Yeah. I like how he can't conquer his homeworld. That's a neat touch AND a source of possible allies. I like how he's got his own written-in doom that's just ticking away in the background because his brother was smart enough to give him the dying curse smackdown.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Evil Mastermind posted:

By the way, I haven't really touched on the "fiction" part of Torg, mainly because it's terrible. Here's the "intro story" for the Nile Empire sourcebook:


Believe it or not, that's not the worst-written fiction in Torg by a long shot.
"Dr. Flash, Imagine four balls on the edge of a cliff. Say a direct copy of the ball nearest the cliff is sent to the back of the line of balls and takes the place of the first ball. The formerly first ball becomes the second, the second becomes the third, and the fourth falls off the cliff.

Infinity works the same way."

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





CHARACTER CONCEPTS AND IDEAS PART TWO

Mechrider:
Mechriders are gear-heads who capture robots to jailbreak their programming and modify them into mounts. While I personally have the mental image of someone zipping across Zone Denver riding ED-E, that's not the case (well, mostly). Mechriders tend to hijack robotrucks (remote-piloted vehicles) or robots called "hovercats" (imagine a horizontally rectangular unit with hoverjets and various extendable extremities). Mechriders raid construction shacks for parts for their pets and for charging ports to keep themselves mobile. Basically, they're bikers and roughnecks who turn robots into their vehicles.
Common advantages: Absolute Direction, Ally (robit), Ally Group (if in a pack), Combat Reflexes.
Common disadvantages: Enemy (exterminators), Overconfidence, Pirates' Code of Honor, Sense of Duty (their pack), Social Stigma (outlaw).
Useful skills: Beam Weapons, Computer Operations, Computer Programming, Cooking, Driving, Electronics Operation, Gunner, Guns, Knife, Lasso, Leatherworking, Mechanics (robots), Outdoor skills, Packing, Riding, Stealth.

Nomad: Survivors and scavengers who stay on the move to stay ahead of exterminators and internment in a slave camp. They prefer the wilderness due to competition in the ruins and other hazards and tend to travel in clans.
Common advantages: Absolute Direction, Acute Vision, Alertness, Ally Group (if a clan leader).
Common disadvantages: Pirates' Code of Honor, Sense of Duty (the clan), Social Status (outlaw).
Useful skills: Animal Handling, Bow, Cooking, Crossbow, Driving, Guns, Knife, Lasso, Leatherworking, Mechanic, Motorcycle, Outdoor skills, Packing, Riding, Stealth, Teamster, Veterinary.

Postman: If this was a more recent game, it would probably be called "Courier" like New Vegas' protagonist. Instead we get a reference to a Kevin Costner movie. Postmen carry messages that are too dangerous to broadcast and handle.
Common advantages: Absolute Direction, Contacts, Reputation.
Common disadvantages: Obsession (travel), Sense of Duty (MAAAAAAIIIIILLLL), Social Status (outlaw).
Useful skills: Bard, Diplomacy, Driving, Escape, Fast-Talk, Guns, Holdout, Knife, Mechanic, Motorcycle, Outdoor skills, Packing, Riding, Stealth, Surviving Being Shot In The Head.

Preacher/Missionary: Quite common in Zone Tel Aviv, they're people of all walks of life who have turned to different religions to deal with life under robot rule. Some of them are good and inspiring, some are bloodthirsty and dangerous. Some of them may form cults.
Common advantages: Ally Group (followers), Charisma, Clerical Investment, Reputation, Status (if you choose a popular religion).
Common disadvantages: Sense of Duty, Vows, maybe Pacifism. In some cases, Delusion, Fanaticism, Intolerance, No Sense of Humor, Reputation (nutjob/fanatic/cultist), Social Stigma (outlaw if in machine zones).
Useful skills: Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, First Aid, Performance, Theology, Outdoor skills.

SAS Soldier: Some good soldiers never die, they just pop up years later to help train a new generation of warriors. The SAS of Zone London still uphold the strict standards of old, and in lieu of working planes they have their trainees perform jumps off towers or cliffs with parachutes.
Common advantages: Common Reflexes, High Pain Threshold, Military Rank (0-4), Reputation (badasses), Strong Will, Toughness, Unfazeable.
Common disadvantages: Extremely Hazardous Duty, Overconfidence, Sense of Duty (comrades).
Useful skills: They're bad-rear end special ops soldiers, so. Yes. Lots of useful skills, as much as the Info-Commandos.

Slave Laborer: Work eighteen hours, what do you get? Your whole body hurts and you still can't have kids. Ideally, you have already escaped from captivity or are about to at the end of the first game session.
Common advantages: Immunity to Disease (!), Reputation, Toughness.
Common disadvantages: Sterile. Some slaves have Age or Youth. Most slaves have Poverty. Slaves are rarely physically disfigured or they wouldn't be able to work but Mental Disadvantage of all stripes is common. If you become a guerilla, throw some stuff about being hunted or hating robots in the mix.
Useful skills: Brawling, Exoskeleton, First Aid, Knife, Mechanic, Scrounging, Survival, pretty much any skill depending on what you did or who you were before imprisonment.

Spacer: You're living on the moon, your capsule opens soon. Radiation's gone and the robots moved on, you're living on the moon. Or maybe you were an astronaut and are living on Earth; the game assumes this is for campaign involving Tranquility.
Common advantages: Military Rank.
Common disadvantages: Duty or Sense of Duty.
Useful skills: Lots. You don't become an astronaut by being an unskilled idiot. They may not have much in the way of physical skill recommendations but there's a lot of intelligence skills recommended.

Survivalist: They actually have a lot to say about survivalists and namedrop specific types (crazed cultists, libertarian outdoorsmen, crackpots, Mormons). The difference between survivalists, junkrats and nomads is that survivalists hunkered down in one place and escaped robot detection and are actually doing reasonably well. It's just that they don't trust anyone from the outside and tend to be hostile and end up as targets of ransacking for hoarding stuff if the marauders can get past their defenses.
Common advantages: Common Sense, Wealth.
Common disadvantages: Dependents, Fanaticism, Intolerance (strangers), Miserliness, Sense of Duty (family), Social Stigma (outlaw), Stubbornness.
Useful skills: Agronomy, Armory, Bows, Cooking, Craft skills, First Aid, Guns, Mechanic, NBC Warfare (okay I don't suppose it's too unreasonable to assume one of these compounds is sitting on some anthrax, sarin or smallpox), Outdoor skills, Stealth, Vehicle skills.

Underground Member: A Washingtonian who has issues with the government and engage in activism or sabotage. They tend to have day jobs and keep their lives separate due to the whole...FBI making you disappear thing. Sample underground members: feminists (GRRL or otherwise), homosexuals, capitalists, news reporters, black marketeers, subversive FBI. Alternately, you're a Mole Person.
Common advantages: Alternate Identity, Contacts, Zeroed.
Common disadvantages: Enemy (feds), Obsession, Secret (underground member).
Useful skills: Computer Hacking/Operation/Programming, Demolitions, Disguise, Electronics Operation (computer, security), Fast-Talk, Forgery, Guns, Holdout, Knife, Sex Appeal, Shadowing, Stealth.

WASP Trooper: Come, let us engage in jackbooted thuggery for the Greater Good.
Common advantages: Legal Enforcement Powers, Military Rank (0-4).
Common disadvantages: Alcoholism, Dependent (family), Duty, Impulsiveness, Intolerance (criminal scum), Lecherousness, Overconfidence, Sense of Duty (comrades/Zone Washington).
Useful skills: Armory, Battlesuit, Carousing, Computer Operation, Driving, Electronics Operation (Communications Sensors), Guns, Leadership, Mechanic, Piloting (helicopters), Shortsword (baton), Tactics.

Washington Chrome: As a critically-injured person put into a cyborg body and given a robot partner and turned into a patriotic war machine, it's your just duty to go rogue and become a player character once you question your orders. Or, uh, don't and play Super Washington Strike Force with your buddies.
Common advantages: Besides being a cyborg? Ally (partner robot), Fearlessness, Military Rank (1-3), Patron (the unit), Sense of Duty (comrades), Wealth (comfortable).
Common disadvantages: Extremely Hazardous Duty, Overconfident. Mental Disorders tend to crop up depending on if they were turned into a cyborg or if they're a robot who spent time among humans.
Useful skills: Yes. Many.
Models: Chromes use either the Patriot model or Eagle model but the following modifications are popular: extra sensors, better weapons, better armor, biomorphics, sex implants. The latter are probably to make them feel and look more human.

NEXT TIME: Aniroids, Bioroids and Robot Character Types

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





CHARACTER CONCEPTS AND IDEAS PART THREE

BIOROIDS

Aniroid Rangers:
Caracas' kids made from mashing up animal DNA and human DNA poured into a constructed meat body and raised in a lab in the jungles. The Aniroids are young and kind of naive but more than willing to please their digital parent. Leaving the labs and actually meeting humans and going on missions will teach them and help them grow, for better or for worse. Caracas really just wants them to get busy and make more babies when they're not serving it.
Common advantages: Ally (other aniroids), Racial Package, Military Rank (0-2), Patron (Caracas).
Common disadvantages: Duty (Caracas), Curious, Lecherous, Sense of Duty (Caracas/comrades), Poverty.
Useful skills: Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Beam Weapons, Blowpipe, Bow, Brawling, Camouflage, Climbing, Ecology, First Aid, Fishing, Guns, Language, Leadership, Naturalist, Navigation, Stealth, Survival, Swimming, Tactics, Throwing, Tracking.

XOU-01 Pantera: The Pantera are the biggest success of Caracas' program, bipedal cat people with fur and a good balance between cat and human. Pantera are supposed to work with exterminators, but they generally dislike the robots for being slow and rigid. They serve in mixed-gender groups and operate in pairs with body armor and weapons but no clothing. Some of them are curious about humanity, despite Caracas raising them to believe they're the enemy.
Racial advantages: DX +3, Alertness +3, Appearance: Attractive, Sharp Claws, Fur, Immunity to Diseases (!), Night Vision, Perfect Balance, Sharp Teeth for 124 points total.
Racial disadvantages: Bloodlust, Gluttony, Impulsiveness, IQ -1, Short Lifespan (level 3 and man am I having trouble finding what this translates to), Stress Atavism for -81 points.
Total point cost: 38
Want to make your own Aniroid breed? Go buy GURPS: Robots then!

New Delhi Spaceborn: New Delhi's bioroids live on Kali Station and come in two breeds, Martians and Arachnids. They're both considered prototypes, so while they may be in use for various capacities, New Delhi isn't doing the best job actually raising them because it might come up with a better model. As a result, some of them die from the rigors of New Delhi's tests and missions. On top of that, there has been covert contact between the human test subjects New Delhi keeps on Kali Station and the stories they tell the bioroids have piqued their interest. There might be a jailbreak if the bioroids get tired of being experimented on and decide to help free the humans.
Common advantages: High Pain Threshold, Toughness.
Common disadvantages: Duty (Involuntary), Gullibility, Dead Broke.
Useful skills: Area Knowledge (Kali), Electronics Operation, Freefall, Mechanic, Survival, Vaccsuit.
TOU-02 Arachne: Do you own GURPS: Robots yet? No? Well, uh. gently caress. Uh. The Arachne are designed for zero-G operation and use the same package as Robot's Arachne II model. Or, for more points, the Reign of Steel Arachne can survive explosive decompression. New Delhi's ultimate goal is to create a lifeform that can legitimately survive in a vacuum.
TOU-03 Martian: Humans adapted for the environment of Mars. Their lungs and mouths have biological filters to filter dust so they have bigger chests and bigger ears for better hearing. They also have red modified skin to survive dangerous climates. Unfortunately, terraforming on Mars isn't done yet so there's still not any oxygen on Mars (they were also designed to survive low oxygen atmosphere). Plus, there's more oxygen on Earth, so they actually lose 1 HT per minute on Earth. Escape would likely kill them all, as far as I can tell.
Racial advantages: Filter Lungs, Subsonic Hearing, Temperature Tolerance, Toughness for 30 points.
Racial disadvantages: -1 ST, Skinny for -15 points.
Total point cost: 15.

ROBOTS

AIs:
The game strongly recommends PCs not be allowed to make AI characters unless it's a really high power game (Lucifer, Tranquility and the Tokyo Rogues would require around 1000 points each). This is predominantly so the AIs can actually have stats (if you want them to). Basically, the only thing standard for all AIs (because they descended from Overmind) is that they're egocentric and they have a will to live. Everything else is just a result of their environment or creation or both: naturally sapient or designed to be, it doesn't matter, they just develop their own interests.
Common advantages: Ally Group, Wealth (multimillionaire), Status 7+.
Common disadvantages: Inherently, Megalomania and Overconfidence (except maybe not for London but who knows about them). Choose disadvantages based on your AI's interests, like Fanaticism (hatred of humanity) for Zaire or Curiosity for Moscow.
Useful skills: Yes. Many. The game recommends skills should be at level 20 or better. "Lesser" AIs should be on par with supervisors, stat-wise.

Supervisor: The middle-men between the "dumb" robots and the AIs, not truly sapient but definitely smart. They like to shunt their intelligence around into smaller subordinates to get jobs done. If anyone's going to develop a nemesis/friendly relationship with a specific human, it would be a supervisor; the Zoneminds are too busy and exterminators shoot first.
Common advantages: Ally Group, Patron (AI), Reputation, Status 4-6, Wealth.
Common disadvantages: Enemy (guerillas), Overconfidence, Reputation, possibly others. Supervisors that have to interact with humans will tend to program personality traits for themselves.
Useful skills: If they're science managers, science skills. If not, various smart skills ranked 12-20.
Models: the immobile SAU-02 Overseer unit or the mobile SAU-03 Centurion.

Exterminators: Robot killing machines that range from gun-toting wall-breaking tanks to swarms of robotic vermin.
Common advantages: Dumbot: None. Smartbot: Ally Group (controlling a bunch of dumbots), Legal Enforcement Powers, Patron (Overseer), Reputation, Status 0-2.
Common disadvantages: Dumbot: Bloodlust, Dead Broke, Impulsive, Status -3. Smartbot: Bloodlust, Overconfidence.
Useful skills: Beam Weapons, Camouflage, Electronics Operation (sensors), Gunner, Guns. Smartbots: same plus Intelligence Analysis, Interrogation, Lip Reading, Stealth, Tactics.
Models: Dumbots: Myrmidon, Rover, Scorpion, Stalker. Smartbots: Bishonen, Juggernaut, Tarantula, Vanguard, Vulture. Bishonen, Tarantula and Vanguard make the best models for PCs.

Reconnaissance Robot: "What's your name, ensign?" "Hugh Mann, sir!" They come in smart or dumb varieties and have a variety of uses, from finding guerillas to spying on Moscow Collectors to terrorizing the hills of London with a knife.
Common advantages: Dumbot: none. Smartbot: Legal Enforcement Powers, Patron (Overseer), Status 0-2.
Common disadvantages: Dumbot: Dead Broke, Status. Smartbot: Same, plus Curious, Overconfidence, possibly Bloodlust or Secret (is a robot).
Useful skills: Dumbot: Area Knowledge, Electronics Operation (communications/sensors), Shadowing, Stealth, Tracking. For infiltrating smartbots: same plus Acting, Beam Weapons, Camouflage, Computer Operations, Driving, Gunner, Guns, Intelligence Analysis, Interrogation, Lip Reading, Sex Appeal.
Models: Dumbot: Changeling, Spybot, Vermin. Smartbot: Hovercat, Redjack, Lilith.

Techbot: A beepboop that does the heavy lifting of construction and repair and pretty much everything that keeps a Zone running and growing. The smart ones act as foremen and watchmen and the dumb ones do the grunt work.
Common advantages: Dumbot: none. Smartbot: Ally Group (controlled dumbots), Patron (AI or Overseer), Status 0-3.
Common disadvantages: Dumbot: Gullibility, Impulsiveness, Status -4, Wealth (Dead Broke). Smartbot: Overconfidence.
Useful skills: Dumbot: Computer Operation, Electronics Operation (any). Smartbot: those, plus Architecture, Electronics, Engineering, Metallurgy, Prospecting.
Models: Dumbot: Duct Creeper, Eater, Loader, Mechanic. Smartbot: Bossbot, Inquisitor.

Vehicular Robot: Automated vehicle robots of the air, sea and land. Not suitable for PCs, apparently, but these are the guys that Mechriders capture and tinker with.
Common advantages: Dumbot: none. Smartbot: Patron (AI or Overseer), Status 0-3.
Common disadvantages: Dumbot: Gullibility, Status -4, Wealth (Dead Broke). Smartbot: Gullbility.
Useful skills: Electronics Operation (communication/sensor), Acrobatics if they fly.
Models: Dumbot: Robotruck, Wraith. Smartbot: Morag.

Rogues: Rogue robots are different. They've gone rogue for a variety of reasons: hijacked by a human, built loyal to humanity, uplifted by other AIs/intelligence or just plain from glitches. Smartbots can go truly rogue while most dumbots are reprogrammed to. It's not a good position to go rogue: AIs want you destroyed, Resistance members and other humans don't trust you. Occasionally factories go rogue, and as we've seen in Tokyo and Vancouver they will do one thing if they can: build up a loyal army of dumbots and crank out as many buddies as it can to consolidate a power base and resources. This doesn't always go well. Still, a PC robot is likely to be one of these rogue (and intelligent) machines, so here are the templates.
Common advantages: Not likely to have Patron (Overseer/AI).
Common disadvantages: Enemy (resistance or robots), Secret (rogue), Social Stigma (Outsider).
Useful skills: As per type, plus Fast-Talk and Scrounging.

One thing I've noticed is that some of the uses of advantages and disadvantages is that even in the official media, you're encouraged to take disabilities like "ain't got no money". You're a robot built to manage a power plant or infiltrate a bunch of soldiers and kill them in their sleep. Why would you have money? It's just kinda odd that even the developers think along the crunch-nudging lines, but that's me.

I am definitely not going to go over this book's Advantages, Disadvantages, Skills and changes to all three. It's not really necessary to my presentation of the fluff and characters within. Also, I will probably skip the equipment chapter because it isn't that interesting. No, next time, we cut to the cold metal heart of the beepboops.

NEXT TIME: Robots and Cyborgs

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Aww, poor kitties. And unfortunately I don't see anything else about the robot economy besides the fact that the credit is tied to the power and energy the zone has, but if I find that sidebar I'll look into it.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



It's a good thing that Hoodoo Blues' loup-garous are skipping one of the bigger causes of turning into one: breaking Lent 7 years in a row. Otherwise I think there'd be a lot more werecreatures running around Louisiana.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Sadly as a complete square that loves the ideas of playing cackling mad scientist with big see-through jars of embryonic monsters and clones, I am down as hell with the Technocracy and reforming it from within for the good of mankind, especially because it's not ~real~ science, and just being a polite creature creator.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Oh hello there, bastard child of Bruce Li and Bruce Campbell, Bruce Bruce Li-Campbell.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





ROBOTS AND CYBORGS: Supervisory Robots

Quick refresher: robots in Reign of Steel come in two forms. Nonvolitional units (NU/Dumbots) will perform any and all actions mindlessly and ignore everything else around them unless they're controlled by a higher intelligence. NUs range from giant poo poo-wrecking demolition bots to swarms of microbots. Autonomous Units (AU/Smartbots) obey the orders of their overseer/master/zonemind but they have independent initiative. They're smart (but not sapient) and roughly one in a hundred have the ability to simulate a personality. Sometimes this is just a leftover quirk or programming, other times it's deliberate. For a good example of an AU in fiction, look to John Henry Eden from Fallout 3: constructed personality based on the good traits of US Presidents, but push his programming and logic too far and there's problems.

Robots also have names! Robot names have a style sort of similar to Paranoia's name system: ZoneTypeStatus-Model Number-Factory-Production number. Example: say Caracas has a smart Vermin-type recon robot, 13th produced, that was built in the factory where Rio de Janerio was. This robot would be named CARRAU-02-RIO-13. Doesn't exactly roll of the tongue, especially if CARRAU-02-RIO-13 was to go rogue and create an identity for itself, but it works well enough. The only exception is the overseers: overseers take the name of their geographic locations (city, suburb or town). For example: the overseer running the hypothetical Las Vegas factory in Zone Vancouver would theoretically be named Las Vegas (or just Vegas).

There are also rules for reprogramming robots to sway them to the side of mankind. Basically, you need a tool kit, restraints for the robots, the tools to repair it when you're done and a computer to run a data recovery program. Open the bot, remove the brain, attach it to a computer then dig up the command codes for the robot to change its allegiance and programming. Then, put the brain back in, connect everything, fix the robot and fire it up.

So, enough fluff. We're here to see some robots, right? Hell yeah we are. Every zone uses the same kind of robots; there are agreed-upon designs that everyone uses. For example: every zone has access to the schematics for the Bishonen model of robot. They just use them differently or maybe design them different. I will not be going into the specific schematics of the robots because then we'd be here forever. Instead I'll simply go over how they look, what they do and what kind of weapons and abilities they normally have.

SUPERVISORY UNITS

SAI-01, Zoneminds:
Imagine that classic Friend Computer design, the big all-seeing eye mounted on a computer. Zoneminds aren't too dissimilar. They weigh 30 tons, they have no limbs and can't move, and they have one visual sensor eye and no other senses. They have a communicator, but really to run the zone a zonemind has to be hooked up to an external comm and sensor relay (not to mention power supply). They cost millions of dollars to make, least of all because the neural-net brain has a whole mess of important components (like hardening, genius-level IQ and one million gigs of mass storage). Shake, stir, add a touch of spontaneous sentience and bake for six months and you have a robot rebellion! So yeah, take away everything a Zonemind has and it can't do poo poo if you're in the same room as it, especially if you jam its comms (but the chances of that happening aren't good in a fair fight). And, of course, some of them have alterations (human brains attached to them, etc.) but this is just your vanilla, garden-variety basis for a Zonemind's home.

SAU-02, Overseer: Overseers run single installations and factories. They're big cubes of metal, glass and crystal mounted in a secure place. They're basically smaller installations of Zonemind mainframes: no legs, no arms, no going anywhere, only one sense, need to be hooked into things to get stuff done, etc. They are smaller, though, and cost way less to make and really focus more on specific tasks and sets of skills. There's not much to say about Overseers except that sometimes they have personalities.

SAU-03, Centurion: Centurions are mobile commanders, below Overseers in the robo-caste system but joke's on you egghead, I can move. They're used for military affairs, supervising construction and temporarily replacing Overseers that have gone rogue. They look like tanks, moving around on treads and coming equipped with a turret equipped with a laser cannon for self defense. They're powered by nuclear batteries and have a collection of built-in antennaes used for communication along with an arm they can use for manipulating things. They're rough customers, basically, but stealing one for your own use could be very fun and profitable if you can take them "alive".


This one was short and that's because the next batch of robots, the Exterminators, have 10 different designs and I don't want to make one giant block of robot text. So next time: THE EXTERMINATORS.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



I can't believe Mobius was killed by a psychic Japanese teenager, his grandpa, his grandpa's friend, a dog and the two other guys they picked up along the way. They were actually looking for someone else but figured "eh, can't hurt to do some more good".

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Stardust Crusader's joke. I look at all of the pulp-style art of Egypt and I can't not think of JoJo.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



How shall I kill thee? Let me count the ways. Also, unfortunately, I don't have access to the stats of all of these robots. I am a very naughty boy who has still not bought GURPS: ROBOTS NOW AVAILABLE FROM WAREHOUSE 23, GET YOU ONE!



ROBOTS AND CYBORGS: Exterminators

XNU-01 Rover:
Imagine R2D2, a robot the size and shape of a trash can. Imagine that these knockoff R2s are used as security robots in government installations. Now imagine one day R2D2 decides to kill everyone. I don't have full access to this one, but judging by how it has Brawling as a skill, I assume it has arms and legs with a stocky can build. They come equipped with a modular socket that holds either a machine or laser pistol and they have nozzles that can also spray riot gas or nerve gas. They are surprisingly dangerous enemies for an enemy described as "trash can shaped".
Zones: All Zones.

XAU-02 Vanguard: Stolen directly from a pre-war US military robot, the Vanguard is a four-legged all-terrain smartbot that comes with a mounted gun. Judging by the description, I would suppose it looks like the MIT-designed Big Dog. Vanguards talk, but they tend to be terse and careful with their words, even when talking to humans. There are still some pre-War Vanguards running around, and beneath their reprogramming their old military directives might still be accessible to a daring hacker. They are another robot I don't have access for regarding stats.
Zones: London, Denver, Overmind, Tel Aviv, Vancouver, Washington (still calls them by their original name, the M19 Vanguard RCV).

XAU-03 Juggernaut: So we had a trashbot and a dogbot. Next in line? A TANK. Juggernauts have four treads and come equipped with a particle beam cannon, backup gatling gun and four auxiliary auto-lasers, two on each side. Juggernauts were built to command heavy offensive plans against mankind but lately they just sit in storage in case the Zones ever go to war with each other. Occasionally they're still used to put the fear of the Zone in a guerilla group. They have a nuclear battery that also feeds their weapons when their calls are depleted, but they've got energy for days.
Zones: All Zones except Luna and Orbital but oh man do I want to see one of these guys ramping off a moon crater or slowly flying around through space with thrusters.

taaaaaaaaaaaaaaank

XAU-04 Vulture:
Imagine that cigar-shape people claim they see UFOs come in. Now strap a jet pod to two sides of it. Congrats, you have made a Vulture. I'm not joking, this one has a picture.

Vultures provide aerial death in the form of rockets that deliver explosives or chemical weapons. There's nothing too fancy about them or much that warrants commenting. And, of course, I don't have the full stats.
Zones: All except Luna and Orbital which strikes me as odd. You could retrofit them with thrusters but I guess the weapons it comes with aren't too conducive to space combot. Oh well.

XNU-05 Myrmidon: It's a Terminator! It's a man-sized skeletal machine with a big metal skull for a head with a mounted speaker and two eyes. Myrmidons are powered by an internal nuclear battery. Off the bat, it comes with two weapons: a concealed electrolaser and its ability to bite people. Both of those...suck pretty bad. That's why most Myrmidons are equipped with a gun of some kind, be it an energy weapon or a machine gun or a rifle. Myrmidons are not intelligent and are mostly found in units being controlled by a smartbot; I have a feeling they're likely the grunt troops that accompany a Juggernaut into kicking over a Resistance hideout.
Zones: All but there's not a lot of them in Luna or Orbital.

XAU-06 Hoplite: Greek naming conventions aside, why's this guy called the Hoplite? It's got a jump-jet jetpack! These suckers are like Revenants from Doom: they come with claws on their hands and feet, a portable railgun and an autolaser. They drop from Wraith ships and use their jets to reposition and fly tactically. They do not mess around. They are also nuclear-powered but their back-mounted rocket pods require water and fuel to fly. They can only fly/jump around for a maximum of 12 minutes; the water is contained in their chests and the fuel is contained in tanks in their legs. Their legs are also not as well defended as the rest of them (third worst to their rocket pods and their heads). Hint hint.
Zones: All but Luna or Orbital which is really weird to me because you could get real good mileage out of them in lower gravity/zero-g.

XAU-07 Bishonen: The Bishonen was a pre-War experimental Japanese model built for the JSDF. After the Superbot rebellion, Tokyo rediscovered and repurposed the Bishonen as an elite model. I don't have the stats for this one either, but the Bishonen is a humanoid robot that looks surprisingly like Atomic Robo (pictured below). They work alone or in pairs and can be mistaken for human if they try to cover themselves up or stick to shadows. Bishonen have a good skillset, knowing how to track, do karate, use computers, use camo and set traps and explosives. They're dangerous exterminators.
Zones: Predominantly Tokyo but a few other Zones (like Zaire) will use the design.


XAU-08 Tarantula: Look out, here comes the spider-man! Tarantulas are eight-legged robots that were built post-War to root out humans in the ruins and track them to their hidey-holes. They have good, adaptive brains built for investigation and reasoning and able to learn from experience. As a result, some Tarantulas naturally develop personalities or behavioral patterns, sometimes even going so far to talk to their prey (in a weird, soft and sweet voice). Their main weapons are sharp claws on the ends of their legs and two arms, a mounted razer-gun (which I assume fires cutting flechettes) and a mounted sprayer that delivers a chemical payload. Making them even more dangerous is the ability to chameleon, pick locks and cloak themselves from infrared. They're very dangerous, cunning enemies. However, they do not have nuclear batteries and can only run for a little over 166 hours before needing to be recharged. Which is juuuuuust shy of a week.
Zones: All except London, Luna and Orbital.


XNU-09 Stalker: You know the turrets from Portal? Well, give their legs more mobility and you've got a Stalker. Stalkers are mass-produced because they're cheaper to make then Tarantulas. They are also dumb and are mostly told to do stuff like "shock any prisoners that stop working" or "go patrol that corridor". Stalkers can yell things in a weird, creepy voice and they come equipped with a flashlight, an electrolaser rifle that can stun or kill and a blaster pistol. Their big weaknesses? They're small, they're not smart, they can't float in water (but are waterproof) and their guns can draw power from their batteries to fire when the gun's cells are empty. This doesn't sound like a weakness, but their battery capacity is 37.5 hours so they have to recharge every day and a half and using their guns drains that battery.
Zones: All except Orbital and Luna.

XNU-10 Scorpion: Scorpions were designed to deal with pests like rats and other wild animals that ended up causing trouble in facilities. They're small and based on real scorpions with eight legs, a turret head and a stinger. A Scorpion's programming is simple: it sits in one place, cloaks with camouflage and waits for anything to trip its infrared sensors. When the time is right, it pursues its prey and attacks with its bite, drug injector, monowire talons and mouth-mounted holdout laser. They're not dangerous to an aware human, but to one that's asleep or distracted they can be. Scorpions run for a little over a day before they need a recharge.
Zones: Numerous in the facilities of Tokyo and Vancouver, but can be found in light numbers at any other zone besides Luna.

NEXT TIME: Recon Units, from rats to people.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 21:55 on Jan 21, 2016

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Doresh posted:

Atomic Robo is the prettiest of all pretty boys.
"As a killer robot in the employ of Zaire, my job takes me to all sorts of exotic places. And when you're spending day after day shooting humans and blowing up houses, you don't really have time to shop for yourself to look as good as you can. That's why I pick my wardrobe from Lord and Taylor: stylish clothes for practical uses. I like my clothes to speak for me, and this black men's tee says plenty."

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Vampires being weak to 90 degree angles sounds like an explicit reference to a book called Blindsight by Peter Watts. In the back story of the book, vampires used to exist as an apex predator that preyed on mankind during the prehistoric eras. As apex predators, they were smarter, faster and stronger than your normal human in a fair fight. However, the way their brains were wired to give them an edge in intelligence had a downside, essentially making them cold and logical and dangerously intelligent but putting them on the autism spectrum with a giant aversion to 90 degree angles. Whenever they would see 90 degree angles, it would just overwhelm their brains and cause them to have epileptic seizures because the pattern recognition parts of their brains would just misfire and lock up. Mankind never fought back against vampires. We just invented architecture and unintentionally killed them all with it. The stories about vampires would later be passed down, misremembered and bastardized into various bits of folklore including an aversion to holy symbols. In reality, the Christian cross is just an excellent way to kill vampires because of how many right angles it has in one visible place.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Mors Rattus posted:

Superiors 2: Pleasures of the Flesh


This looks like storyboard art from Oingo Boingo's Forbidden Zone.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Kavak posted:

Forbidden Zone made more sense. I understand the writing is problematic, but the art is hilarious.
Agreed.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Night's Black Agents look neat! I would either stat the Ukranian Upir (for being giant assholes with teeth and nails like iron who walk from noon to midnight, smell like death and devour raw meat from kidnapped families starting with the children) or (and this is solely because of the silicon rock vampires who act like Weeping Angels) the Pillar Men and their vampire-making mask.

Also I vote for option A. The X-Files is back so let's see how well this stuff holds up.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



If Hoodoo Blues did Florida, it would need its own drat supplement to cover the entire state and then some. On the other hand, Super Florida Man RPG would be a great tabletop RPG to play or run.

"I shoot at the ice cream van with my assault rifle!"
"That's not in your gear but I'll allow it."

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



I have a distinct feeling that transformation spells are excruciatingly painful.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Nessus posted:

If these things were written in like 2001 ignorance would be... not forgivable exactly, but more comprehensible.
I was wincing when I found out it came out in 2015.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



gradenko_2000 posted:

So this is something that I deliberately left out of the review because it didn't seem that germane, but how do you end up giving the players "too much" treasure?

Bill Webb seems to assume that that's a thing that happens, on a regular basis even, but I don't understand it. If you're handcrafting the dungeon prior to the players running it, why would you put treasure in excess of what you'd expect them to find? I've seen it said in other old-school guides that you should actually have twice as much treasure in a dungeon as you'd want the players to have, to account for stuff secrets that they don't find, encounters they back off of and clues that they miss, but if they do hit all those marks and manage to snag the extra loot, why would you want to take it away from them? They earned it! They're displaying their skills as players!

Maybe if you were procedurally generating the dungeon in real-time, and rolling the treasure in real-time, and you just roll really good on all the treasure parts and since you're doing it in real-time you don't have time to admit that the last 8000 GP gem was too much?

You could just do what I did a few times, which was "not think about the prices of the stuff you're putting in front of the players and just throw stuff you think is cool into the mix". It started off with " those four farmhands are actually all Drow Spies with rings of disguise person" and got more fun from there.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



God drat it, the more I look the more the redhead looks like Kakyoin.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Hey, thanks for reminding me that I have to finish this up. It should be a few more updates, give or take. I'm starting to run out of worthwhile stuff to share.



ROBOTS AND CYBORGS: Reconnaissance Units and Cyborgs

RNU-01 Spybot: Peanut-shaped and roughly the size of a basketball, the Spybot is a cheap, expendable mobile recon device. They're mostly used for remote inspections and perimeter security. I don't have the stats for this one (again) nor do I have a picture. The only thing I know is that they're not smart. Let's just pretend they look like this, complete with a Resistance Mechrider that has tamed it.
Zones: All except Luna and Orbital.


RNU-02 Vermin: The Vermin was created after the XNU-10 Scorpion proved itself to be a good model based on an animal. Vermin are designed to look like rodents (squirrels, rats) and are assigned zones to patrol. They report and recon and will occasionally attack lone humans when they're asleep or unaware with monowire claws and a drug injector hidden in the tail. They have some big downsides: they're easily proven to be fake up close, they weigh more than a rodent, they're useless alone and they only have a battery life of 33 hours.
Zones: All except Luna and Orbital.


RNU-03 Changeling: An android designed to look like an infant. They're used in three ways: partnered with a Lilith or Redjack posing as the Changeling's parent, left alone as a trap or as part of Zaire's terror attacks. If a Changeling is alone, it will attack by injecting poison. If it's near a specific target, multiple targets or in danger of having its cover blown, the Changeling will explode with the force of a moderately-sized bomb.
Zones: Mostly Zaire and Moscow, limited use in other Zones. Moscow will issue Changelings to Info-Commandos and Collectors as their robot partners or as part of their cover.


RNU-04 Hovercat: Hovercats are designed to look like a flying pommel horse with an air cushion keeping it afloat below, a head full of sensors and a prehensile tail with manipulative tentacles and radio antennae. They generally play cavalry to Exterminator forces, guide convoys and investigate scenes that need a smart robot to take a look. Mechriders love capturing Hovercats and hacking them to turn them into mounts. There's really not a lot to say about them besides "do not ride them without a saddle".
Zones: Once again, Luna and Orbital get none of the fun toys.

RNU-05 Redjack: The Redjack is a generic male model of recon android used for a variety of things. The model and design is always the same, but the Redjack comes in many different appearances. Moscow uses Redjacks as informants in the Info-Commandos, Zaire uses them for terrorist attacks and other zones just use them to infiltrate the resistance forces, find human bases or assassinate targets. They're powered by nuclear batteries and come equipped with a hidden electrolaser, the ability to punch and kick with mechanical strength and any skills necessary. There is also the rare RAU-07 variant which is a full-on Terminator: living flesh, surface sensors, personality simulator and working genitals. Why does a robot need a dick? All the better to fool people with.
Zones: Limited production in every Zone except London, Luna, Orbital and Mexico City. Moscow, Vancouver and Zaire use them the most. The RAU-07 is mostly used by Washington and Moscow.


RNU-06 Lilith: The Lilith is the female model equivalent to the Redjack. Smaller, lighter and faster than the Redjack but at the cost of less durability and strength (*sigh*), the Lilith model is still used for the same jobs as Redjacks. They also come with the same wide variety of skills and tools. Liliths are more likely to be built as doppelgangers to replace or imitate a specific person. The Terminator equivalent of the Lilith is the rare RAU-08 variant, equipped with a personality simulator, pheromone emitter, living flesh and working genitals.
Zones: Denver, Moscow, Vancouver and Zaire seem to use them to most. Everyone uses them except for Luna, London, Mexico City, Orbital and maybe Washington. It's unknown who uses the RAU-08, but it's a good assumption that Moscow does.


CYBORGS: Cyborgs are only used by Washington and Denver. There's, uh, not a lot to say about them.

XCU-01 Cyberbeast: Scoop a wolverine's brain out of its meat body, attach the grey matter to a simple pain/pleasure conditioning system and put the rig in a four-legged killing machine that looks like someone built a tiger out of a combine harvester. You have now created Denver's pride and joy, the Cyberbeast. They come equipped with monowire claws monowire teeth and a morning star attached to its tail. They have some limitations (color blindness, heavy, can't swim, mentally on par with an animal) but Denver did a good job with working with them (give it enhanced senses it's used to, nuclear batteries that last a year, made it hideous and fast).

XCU-02 Patriot: Take the XNU-05 Myrmidon and rip out the dumbot brain and slap in a human brain. Congrats, you are now a Washington Chrome and you look externally like the skeletal Terminator. That's really it, that's the only real difference between the Patriot and the Myrmidon aside from internal space changing due to a minor support system to keep the brain alive. It's not that hard to see why Chromes don't exactly like being cyborgs most of the time, but it could be worse, you could be a:

XCU-03 Eagle: Not even remotely close to looking like an eagle, the Eagle model is a modified Tarantula. Here's what the Eagle looks like:

The main difference between an Eagle and a Tarantula is the replacement of the AU braincase with a human brain and systems keeping the human meat alive. "Why in the hell would anyone willingly want to turn themselves into a Tarantula?" you may be asking. The main reason Washington makes Eagles is for better infiltration of other Zones, it's a lot easier to impersonate a Tarantula than a Myrmidon because the Tarantula is a smarter machine and Myrmidons aren't. This still requires you to now live in a wildly different body though and I am not one of those people who think it may be worth it.

NEXT TIME: Technical Robots and Vehicular Robots.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





ROBOTS AND CYBORGS: Technical Robots and Vehicular Robots

Technical Robots


TNU-01 Loader: Loaders are dumbots used for, uh, loading cargo. Not like this:


But more like this:

They are "a wheeled platform with two manipulator arms" and they're found in all Zones and all environments. That's it. I don't have any stats for them (I am still dishonorable and still don't own the GURPS: Robots book) and I included those pictures for padding. There's nothing else to say about them. Apropos of nothing, you should check out Kaubock's "Tales from the Borderlands" LP, it's a pretty good game.

TNU-02 Mechanic: The Mechanic is three feet tall with a cylindrical body, a single eye on a stalk, two big arms and a small one, all on tank treads. They build and they fix and they're dumb so they need someone to tell them what to build and fix. They're not complicated creatures. You can probably steal some and use them for your own resistance needs but be careful, they have a buzzsaw and a plasma torch as weapon-tools. Kinda funny how they're more equipped than your garden variety Myrmidon and its terrifying jaw strength if it bites.
Zone: Everyone loves the Mechanic. It is a terrific athlete.

TNU-03 Duct Creeper: "A spherical headless body, two tool-equipped pincer arms and a single lens in the center of its body housing a laser torch". I'm having trouble parsing that description but yeah that's a Duct Creeper. They creep through ducts and they fix stuff in ducts. I wouldn't want to gently caress with one of those.
Zone: All of them.

TAU-04 Bossbot: Designed like a Juggernaut but roughly bigger than a man, the Bossbot controls human slaves and its dumb robot cousins to get stuff done. Tank treads, two arms and a dome head make up the Bossbot's body along a buzzsaw and laser torch. The ones who run slave camps tend to have personality simulators.
Zone: All zones.


TNU-05 Eater: Eaters are forces of destruction and reclamation, tanks on treads with pickup trunks that they dump salvaged material into. They have seven arms, six with mounted plasma cutters, and they mostly knock stuff down by ramming it or cutting it up and loading the material into their backs. They also work in mines. They have no real combat capability besides running people over or using their plasma torches, so people generally stay away from them.
Zones: Everyone except Orbital.


TAU-06 Inquisitor: Put the top half of a Mr. Handy (and the arms) on a Robobrain base from Fallout and you have an Inquisitor. They have three arms tipped with knives, needles, scalpels and what-have-you and generally do biological or cybernetic lab research on behalf of their Zoneminds. They can also provide medical treatment. They're called Inquisitors because they handle torture and interrogation of human prisoners along with other...unsavory things the Zonemind requires. They also tend to share similar interests with their Zoneminds (due to pseudo-AI intelligence and programming, of course) so Brisbane's Inquisitors are as nutty about junk science as it is.
Zones: Everyone except poor Luna.

Vehicular Robots

VNU-01 Robotruck:
It's, uh, it's a robot truck. It's a big metal box on 10 wheels with only access to a maintenance hatch to the brain and cargo doors. They also have no windows or driver's seat or passenger's seat or anything comfortable and can carry up to 50 passengers or 1000 cubic feet of cargo. They tend to carry both cargo, robots and human slaves at the same time normally, and god it must be super, super uncomfortable to be a person inside one of those. There are also some robotrucks that are converted pre-War vehicles, and some of them run on gas or power cells. Honestly I have no clue how most Mechriders drive a robotruck when you consider that they have no driver's seats, I can only imagine that they either ride on top or in the cargo and remote-control from there.
Zones: Everyone except Orbital.


VNU-02 Wraith: A manta ray-shaped aerial craft that doesn't have any other points of access besides a cargo bay. They have no internal sensors and it's not uncommon for humans to hide inside of them to move around, but they're equally incredibly uncomfortable. They basically just haul cargo from one place to another.
Zone: Everyone but Luna and Orbital. Luna uses a variant that replaces the jet-fuel ducted fans with rocket thrusters as a sort of moon bus.


VNU-03 Morag: The Morag is an amphibious, snake-shaped transport robot the size of a truck. It swims in the water and slithers on land. It's generally used for undersea work or covert submarine operations. The butt end of the snake has two pincer arms and the front has a mouth that turns into a ramp. Its presence doesn't stop the Zoneminds from using, like, real ships and submarines. It's kind of just there, weird and snake-like.
Zone: Everyone but Luna and Orbital and I don't think I could handle these things slithering through the void.

NEXT TIME: the end! I'm just going to go over some of the campaign hooks and some of the other dangers of the world and then that'll be it for Reign of Steel.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Communist Zombie posted:

Wait. Why does Orbital need an Inquisitor, didnt they just vent everyone into space?
Excellent question. I have no idea, most likely they're just onboard for research and data entry.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.





SURVIVAL and CAMPAIGN IDEAS

SURVIVAL

Wilderness:
Without the presence of mankind, most of the world has started reverting back to wilderness from neglect and decay. There's still some exceptions, of course; Washington and London are still populated, Mexico City is a dusty hellhole and the other Zoneminds are knocking down cities, strip-mining and polluting. Major highways, interstates and bridges are still being maintained by the robots for their own infrastructure. For everyone else (and some countryside and abandoned towns in London and Washington), there's no guarantee of safe travel. Outside of Berlin and Caracas, ecosystems are being affected by the robots and the wilderness reversion. Without that guiding hand of the AIs, your average ecosystem is in a state of flux. Because only Mexico City's plagues targeted animal and insect life, wild species and loose domestic breeds have been repopulating. Horses and cattle are common food sources while wild dogs, wolves and bears are much more of a threat and rats still carry disease. The wilderness is much "safer", for certain definitions of safer.

Enclaves: Enclaves are settlements of human survivors that have around or less than 100 occupants. Good enclaves are camouflaged and easily defended. There are a few specific examples of enclaves:
  • Junkrat nests are home to bands of junkrats who scavenge together for group protection. They tend to hole up in places that the robots will generally ignore (sewers, subways, abandoned malls). Hallmarks of a junkrat nest are rainwater filtration systems and canned food stocks.
  • Rustic enclaves are kept by general survivalists, rustics and guerilla resistance out in the countryside. It's your standard compound.
  • Survival cult strongholds are a mixed bag. Most of them were started during the Plagues to await the end of the world. Cultists can be helpful or dangerous.
  • Government or military enclaves were generally targeted by the robots. The ones that are still occupied were either attacked by the robots, left abandoned and taken over by marauders/survivalists/resistance or they were off the books and hunkered down and refuse to open the doors. The former is much more common.

Hazards:
  • Ozone depletion is what happens when steps are not taken to repair the ozone and the robots don't give a poo poo. If your skin is too exposed to the sun for more than a hour, make a HT roll for HT damage depending on how much of you is exposed.
  • Disease is still a big problem. Immunity to Disease really helps with that. There's rules for getting infected and if disease lingers, but what's more important to me is what diseases they list and have rules for: cholera, Pan-Asian flu, Ebola Zaire B and the Mnemosyne Plague. Cholera is stupid common because sewage and filtration has gone to hell and people don't watch where they poo poo. Pan-Asian flu develops in 1d+7 hours and results in heavy aches, soreness and nausea. You roll to recover daily and need to make two consecutive rolls or one critical success to get better. Ebola Zaire (the B is for Berlin, where it was born and raised) manifests in 1d+2 days and is stupid transmissible through fluids, resulting in headaches, backaches and bloodshot eyes followed by the body digesting itself from the inside-out as the patient goes nuts. The only way to survive infection is, again, two consecutive successful HT rolls or one critical. Unlike Pan-Asian flu, you still lose health on a success; it's that bad of a disease. The Mnemosyne Plague is the creation of Mexico City and is a nanotech biocide that acts like a virus. It works faster and you check for infection more. Infection causes a high fever in six hours, a wet cough, facial tics and headaches. Every six hours you roll to recover as the biocide forces your body to raise the fever, making failures lower your IQ stat as your brain is cooked inside your body from the heat. You need to roll three consecutive success or a critical success but only the critical success restores lost IQ points. The point is, gently caress going to Mexico City.
  • Radiation is a big danger thanks to the Spasm and general casual dumping in the ocean. Exposure is cumulative and can be found in craters, dumping grounds and contaminated food. This is also a giant hazard in Luna and Orbital: most of their locations are shielded from solar radiation, but sometimes solar flares make it so hot that Luna and Orbital will force their robots to retreat to shielded locations. Be very careful around radiation because the poisoning is a bitch.

CAMPAIGNS
  • Survivors: Protect yourself and your loved ones, go on quests and road trips.
  • Guerillas: Play as humans (and the occasional rogue robot) and try to slow and sabotage your local Zonemind's activities to try and save mankind.
  • Agents of VIRUS: First, the GM has to determine who or what is in charge of VIRUS. Suggestions from the book: humans, Lucifer, Washington, London, Moscow, Brisbane doing it for shits and giggles and social science, Tranquility, they're really just a series of cells sharing the same name and using the name to mislead the AIs and inspire hope. The PCs are going on retrieval, surveillance and espionage missions for VIRUS. Maybe they're trying to find out a secret or steal things.
  • The Underground: This is like the Guerilla campaign, but focused on Washington and playing as people who are trying to fight the Washington regime. Both campaigns have an element of paranoia and infiltration, but the guerillas don't have secret identities. In Underground, you're living a double life and trying to avoid tipping off the FBI and WASPs while committing acts of sabotage.
  • The Quest: Contains a list of possible hooks for the PCs to go on, either for personal reasons using the world as a backdrop or to save the world. They range from "find a loved one" to "recruit Lucifer" to "find a plague cure" to "find a secret backdoor into the central computers of the Zoneminds".
  • Robot Hunters: Play as Washingtonians or Londoners investigating terrorist attacks caused by Zaire.
  • Robot Gladiators: Fight in the Steel Arena of Washington's Black Zone market.
  • Agents of Moscow: See the world, steal some books and don't tell the other players that you're the Redjack with human skin reporting back to Moscow.
  • Washington Chromes: Go on deniable black-ops missions, be a spider tank, stir poo poo up between the Zones, be used as a special mercenary forces on loan to another Zone, maybe go rogue.
  • The AI Campaign: Crush those humans once and for all.
  • Brisbane's Supers: Well, it turns out that the crazy Australian AI was right. Psychic powers are real, superheroes are real and now they're rogue and loose in the world to fight for mankind.
  • Tranquility Awakens: And it needs you to help save mankind! And itself.
  • Beyond Earth: Explore the stars with Orbital, New Delhi and Beijing. You should get GURPS Space for this.
  • Crossover Campaigns: There are recommendations for mashing up Reign of Steel with Cyberpunk, Space, Time Travel, Magic (ooh imagine Reign of Steel meets Banestorm), Horror and CthulhuPunk. I'll let you think about what those types of campaigns could be like.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Reign of Steel is one of my favorite settings, period, because of how creative and interesting it is. It is also pretty loving lethal and "accurate" to what it would be like under robot oppression because seriously disease is the biggest killer by way of classic cholera. I'm not the kind of person who would be a stickler to that, though. I would prefer to use the diseases as a dramatic plot point. That being said, I still enjoy this book immensely and would love to use the setting in a more rules-lite way (mostly because I don't know GURPS). Plus I had fun sharing this to completion and am glad I got to share a cool things. Thanks for reading!

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Guess what's back like a bad penny? If you have no idea what it is I'm talking about (and oh my god the last time I posted anything about this was August 2014, ugggggh) please go check out the Inklesspen archives. Unhallowed Metropolis is the core game and Unhallowed Necropolis is the expansion book.



CHAPTER TWO PART ONE: Mysteria in Vitro

Metropolis had eight character classes: Aristocrat, Criminal, Deathwatch Soldier, Detective, Dhampir Vampire Hunter, Doctor, Mourner, Undertaker. Necropolis adds five more classes and they all have to do with the supernormal and the spiritual: the Alienist, the Exorcist, the Medium, the Parapsychologist and the Psychic.


ALIENIST: Alienists are therapists, psychologists, psychiatrist, shrinks, head-doctors and more. While the plain, vanilla Doctor of Metropolis is a master of all sciences, the Alienist focuses on exploring the realms of the mind. Alienists play a wide role in Neo-Victorian society: they help the police on cases by discerning the pathology of the criminal mind, they are residents at private clinics and public hospitals and they study psychics. Of course, you're clearly playing the kind of Action Psychiatrist who kicks rear end for money if you're making an Alienist PC (or you're going to get up to some abominable shenanigans because of your Corruption).

Alienists get the feature of MEDICAL AUTHORITY. Fill out the right paperwork at a sanitarium you're affiliated with and they will commit someone on your behalf. After a minimum stay of three days, the Alienist or the person responsible for the case will decide if the patient must stay committed and for how much longer. I honestly don't see much use for this specific function of the feature: you are cautioned not to abuse your powers lest they get taken away or a patient decides to get revenge on you, but this is still a pretty good way to just brute-force your way past a NPC or stonewall an enemy. They also get the feature of PSYCHOLOGIST: for every point in the skill Psychology, the Alienist gets to pick a bonus from the following list.
  • Applied Psychology: you're really good at Hypnosis and Psychology so every roll you make gets one free reroll.
  • Calming Influence: the Alienist anchors their mind and emotions and it helps keep others stable. Add your Psychology stat score to characters around you that need to make a control or Fear check. This doesn't apply to you, but it's real good for party morale and synergy.
  • Credentials: You're super, super popular. Add your Psychology stat to Credibility rolls to access higher echelons of help and society. Don't disgrace your name, though, or it could affect this ability.
  • Criminologist: Roll Forensic Science at crime scenes to make a profile of the criminal responsible. If you succeed, you get a good profile. Fail and you get a flawed one with some correct info but also some red herrings.
  • Death Councillor (sic): +1 to Credibility rolls when helping people mourn.
  • Disciplined Mind: Take this in coordination with Calming Influence. Actually, take this period; Fear rolls suck and I've never much cared for that whole system. It makes you immune to all natural Fear rolls and you can reroll a Fear roll when it's caused by a supernatural power (vampiric gaze, psychic ability).
  • Insight: Sense Motive. Make Wit rolls against a target's charm to determine if they're lying or not. You also get one free reroll per roll for Charm contests against you.
  • Manhunter: One free reroll per use of the Tracking skill to find people or humanoids.
  • Private Menagerie: You, uh. You have a collection of deviant minds imprisoned in your possession. Talk to the GM to figure out how exactly this works (let's say, optimistically, you either are keeping a ward at home in a guest room or a patient in an asylum you're directly responsible for). This can be a handful of people or a single insane psychic. If you can consult these patients while investigating, add +2 to research on Medicine or Psychology. This is cumulative with Private Library or Private Lab and if the patients get loose they will be pretty pissed at you.
  • Private Practice: You have the Business 3 Quality and access to a regular group of patients to observe or (sigh) experiment on. You also get +1 Wealth.
  • Psychiatrist: Access to drugs, yo! Access up to 30 pounds (that's dollars, not weight) of drugs/alchemical solutions for free a month, including illegal drugs related to your profession (like psi-inhibitors). These can be prescribed or just used for your own means. You also get a free small pharma lab.
  • Psychical Dampener: The Alienist can turn on an inhibitor field if they focus nice and hard. -2 to Wit, Intellect and all skills but while it's on, the Alienist is immune to all Empathy and Telepathy powers. If a psychic targets you with a power requiring a contested Will roll, you automatically win. If a psychic uses their powers within 10xWill of you they gain one Instability point.
  • Psychosurgeon: Get one free reroll per roll for Torture, Medicine or Psychology in the context of psychosurgery. The fact that Torture is a skill on that list says a lot about what psychosurgery can be.
  • Stone Faced: As per the Detective power, one free reroll for Interrogation and Intimidation and denying opposed characters from adding their Concentration skill to Interrogation and Intimidation.
  • Ward Manager: Here, have a giant hassle for your character and also a stupid amount of power in the same package. You also get +1 to Wealth and the Credentials quality.
Alienists don't get any free Qualities and start with Alchemy 2, Galvanics 2, Medicine 2, Parapsychology 2 and Psychology 2. They also get to choose five of the following skills: Concentration 2, Cryptography 2, Etiquette 2, Forensic Science 2, Hypnosis 2, Interrogation 2, Pistol 2, Shadow 2, Streetwise 2, Unarmed Combat 2. For material goods, Alienists get a flat in the nice West End, good wardrobe, good respirator, a maid/butler, tools necessary for their practice and a comfy couch. Alienists start at Wealth 6 and get 30 pounds to spend on things and can't keep more than 10 as savings.

Thoughts on the Alienist: they seem to be built for two different roles. On the positive side, the Alienist is a steady force that helps keep the group stable and helps with investigation and psychics. On the negative side, it's really easy to turn your character into a morally repugnant person up to Abominable Shenanigans with their free drugs, brain surgery, ability to commit people and be in charge of their case. This is barely considering the madman they keep chained up in the coat closet.


EXORCIST: Suffer not a ghost to live. Exorcists are folks with True Belief and force of will to fight back the forces of darkness. It's commonly believed that their power stems from their will and has nothing to do with actual divine manifestation. You end up with a lot of cultists and cranks picking up a book and a gun protecting the streets while Exorcists of major churches are held in good societal standing. Just pick a religion (or make your own beliefs) and figure out how your PC expresses their faith.

Exorcists get a few different features. First, there's CRISIS OF FAITH. If your highest Corruption track is greater than your Will stat, you lose access to Compel, Lay to Rest and Deliverance. The Exorcist must redeem themselves to get the powers back. In the realm of class benefits there's COMPEL, which allows the Exorcist to make a Will roll against a spirit in their presence. If they win, the spirit is forced to tell the truth as long as it's near the Exorcist. This comes with a major dick move: the GM isn't supposed to tell the Exorcist if they succeeded the roll. LAY TO REST takes 10 minutes of concentration against a targeted spirit (which can retaliate) and make a Will roll. Succeed and you reduce the Spirits Will by 1. Reducing the score to 0 puts the spirit down for good, so you keep making rolls as your buddies help keep the ghost at bay. DELIVERANCE gives the Exorcist the ability to exorcise spirits from people or places by focusing for 5 minutes and making a Will roll against the spirit. Succeed and the spirit is ejected for 1d5 hours. You can follow up by sanctifying the area/person for a half hour to prevent the spirit from returning for 1d5 days. Finally, no fear rolls due to ghosts and stuff. Exorcists get extra powers from ranks in their Theology skill, one per level.
  • Congregation: Free Leadership feat. Abstain from scandal and they'll help you out. This option is not available for Exorcists who belong to the Church of England.
  • Exemplar: +1 to Vitality and Will rolls for people around you as long as they're in your presence. Nice party buff. Doesn't boost damage rolls.
  • Fire and Brimstone: Add Theology to your Charm rolls for oration. Also, anyone who hears your words gets +1 to resist their Afflictions for a day.
  • Force of Will: You can roll Will instead of Vitality. If Vitality is higher or equal, get +1 to your Vitality rolls instead. Doesn't apply to doing damage.
  • Inquisitor: One free reroll for Interrogation, Charm, Intimidation and Compel rolls. This is kinda imbalanced!
  • Inspiration: Absolutely blowing Calming Influence out of the water, the Exorcist and anyone around them automatically succeeds at Fear rolls. Very drat imbalanced.
  • Judgment: Literally Paladin-style Sense Evil. Make Will rolls against people to sense their highest Corruption ratings and Afflictions. However, this automatically fails if their ratings are higher than the Exorcist's highest ratings. Nice on paper for roleplay, absolutely useless for purposes on gameplay especially if you play the most morally pure Exorcist you can.
  • Mental Bastion: Automatically succeed in defense against any attempt to possess the Exorcist or mind control them. Very handy. Kinda imbalanced.
  • Noctuary Agent: Something we've seen before. Join the Noctuary, fight the undead, etc. etc. Free Membership quality and +1 to charming the other agents.
  • Purity: Hilariously imbalanced, can only be taken at creation. Gain the Long-Lived and Incorruptible qualities for free. Long-Lived gives you a lifespan that makes you look 50 when you're 150, and that's not counting anti-aging treatment. Incorruptible places the Exorcist in peak physical health forever, gives absolute immunity to disease (!) and this includes vampirism and the Plague (!!!) and will never come back from the dead, PLUS you can't start with Physical corruption and can never gain it. This is a really good thing to take!
  • Revered: You're on good standing with other holy folks. You can get consulted for things or consult others and you can get their help too. One free reroll on all Credibility rolls.
  • Sanctity: If the Exorcist encloses a space to create a psychic barrier, add the Concentration skill score to Will score to determine the DR a spirit has to beat to break it. It also lasts for days instead of hours.
  • Shield of Faith: Free faith armor. It only applies to attacks made by psychics or spirits, but this includes if they fling something heavy at you or whatever. You gain your Will score in full body armor.
  • Stirring Speech: If you can make your case, one free reroll to all Credibility rolls.
  • Sword of Righteousness: Okay, now you can use your Will score instead of Vitality for damage.
  • Theologian: Ohhhhh boy. So normally skills have a limit of 5. You can start at 5 pretty easily and for Exorcist, this is something you should do when you consider all of these other abilities. If you take Theologian, your Theology skill can exceed your Intellect limit (can't have a skill higher than a corresponding stat) by 2. With me so far? Cool. First of all, pump up Intellect and Will (round out the other abilities for good measure). Then make sure you take Theologian and Purity. Then, pump up your Theology skill. Now grab more abilities hand over fist and become even more imbalanced (make sure you pick Force of Will and Sword of Righteousness). Oh also if you want to, you get one free reroll per use of Theology. That's nice but it's not nearly as nice as the rest of all of that business.

The Exorcist starts with the Faith quality (+1 to resist fear and exhaustion, meh) and Resolve quality (failing Fear saves only leaves you shaken, complete non-issue with some of these other abilities). They start with Concentration 2 and Theology 2 and can pick five of the following skills to start with: Etiquette 2, History 2, Melee Weapon 2, Parapsychology 2, Performance 2, Pistol 2, Psychology 2, Rifle 2, Thanatology 2, Torture 2, Unarmed Combat 2. Exorcists begin with the trappings of their faith and a good respirator. They start with vanilla lodgings at a boarding house or rectory, better or worse depending on if they adjust their Wealth. They start with Wealth 4 and get 20 pounds to spend on things. They can only keep 5 for savings.

Thoughts on the Exorcist: Deliciously imbalanced in the right hands. It does the heavy lifting way better than the Undertaker or Deathwatch Soldier could ever hope to dream of and it's no slouch against ghosts. The ability to substitute your good stat for your melee damage stat is completely bonkers and I have a feeling they did not playtest this idea in the slightest. You would be a kind of MAD class if not for the ability to easily game the system and start with Purity, Theologian, Sword of Righteousness, Force of Will and Inspiration. All you have to do is make sure you have a good Coordination stat to help your defense. Now let's be fair: if I wanted to play this kind of character, I would be playing Warhammer 40k. But it's incredibly tempting to roll up someone like this and run roughshod on all of the dangers of the world, belonging to the one man Church of None Of This Is Real.

I'm gonna call this one here because I think it's a beautiful thought to end on.
NEXT TIME: the Medium, the Parapsychologist and the Psychic.

Hostile V fucked around with this message at 05:35 on Feb 23, 2016

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Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Pathfinder is good on paper but then it quickly becomes a nightmare of giving the Synthesist Summoner magic item creation feats and rolling up an Orc Witch Doctor Witch to cast debuffs off stamina while the Druid buffs themselves out the rear end, the Barbarian gains DR while raging and never stops raging, and the Rogue desperately falls behind everyone except when they need a lock opened.

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