Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bonus Post: Modifying Robots

Ultra-Tech gives us plenty of robot templates, but what if you don't like any of those templates? Where are the vibro-clawed assassin-bots, or the elegantly chromed and exquisitely crafted androids? We have no “robot design system” in the sense of being able to put together advantages and getting a cost out of it. However, we can use Ultra-Tech's gadget modification system to at least tinker with existing robots!

Advanced Robots

Robot Claz2, by ANG-angg
So, let's say you want to use the TL 11 version of a robot. Why not? It's a TL 11 setting. Only most of the robots cost less at a higher TL, presumably because it becomes easier to build a robot. We have a problem, though, because if we assume TL 10 and add TL 11 robots, then it becomes cheaper to buy a better robot! So, for Psi-Wars, an advanced (TL 11) robot costs twice as much as the listed price, following the rules for more advanced purchases from the GURPS core book. Thus, a TL 11 android is $60,000, rather than $30,000 (making it $10,000 more expensive than a TL 10 android).

Treat more precise and graceful robots as superior tools, but also reduce the cost of superior tools (because, honestly, +1 DX shouldn't cost that much). The GM might rule that a particular robot already has some element of the precision bonus below. For example, the Combat Android might already have Perfect Precision.
  • Improved Precision: +1 DX [20], +1 CF
  • Superior Precision: +2 DX [40], +4 CF
  • Perfect Precision: +4 DX [80], +19 CF

Prettier Robots

Robot Violinist by Savage Sparrow
We already have rules for making things more attractive: the styling rules on UT 15 (but better expanded in Action 1 on page 26). So, a robot with a +1 modifier (Attractive) is +100% cost! But +100% to what? The whole robot? That seems excessive, as it doesn't matter how pretty the power cell is. Instead, it seems likely that it's the biomorphics that are improved. For example, a prettier “realistic flesh” robot would double the cost of realistic flesh. That'd be a +20% to the cost, for a total of +40% of the total cost. That's more affordable, and it works fine for everything except sculpted, which is the biomorphic we'll use the most, as it's +0%. So, we'll treat it as 10% of the cost of the robot for the purposes of determining the cost of styling. We need to note the character cost as well, of course:
  • Attractive, Sculpted: Attractive (Impressive +0%) [4]. +0.1 CF cost.
  • Beautiful, Sculpted: Beautiful (Impressive +0%, Off-the-Shelf -50%) [6]. +0.4 CF cost.
  • Very Beautiful, Sculpted: Very Beautiful (Impressive +0%, Off-the-Shelf -50%) [8]. +0.9 CF cost.
  • Attractive, Mannequin: Attractive +1 [4], Unnatural Feature 2 [-2]. +0.2 CF cost.
  • Beautiful, Mannequin: Beautiful (Off-the-Shelf -50%) [6], Unnatural Feature [-2]. +0.5 CF cost.
  • Very Beautiful, Mannequin: Very Beautiful (Off-the-Shelf -50%) [8], Unnatural Feature 2 [-2]. +1 CF cost.

Robots in Disguise

We can create disguised items already using the standard rules, and we can even create transformable robots, both sets of rules found on UT 97. For robots that look like something else (say, a suitcase) that turn into a robot at the push of a button, add 4 CF. For robots that can turn into a different working gadget (or to a completely different robot-type), it's (minimum) +19 CF. Both of these are alternate forms [15]. If this transformation is completely under the control of the user (say, he initiates a command) then this is a Disadvantageous Alternate Form with a Common trigger and is a disadvantage worth [-15].

But what about robots that look like another robot type? That is, an assassin-bot made to look like a secretary-bot? Well, for the most part, this is cosmetic: Both robots happen to be Androids, so they can look like one another if you wish. A data-bot isn't largely different from a secretary-bot except for programming and perhaps some unique biomorphic features. Applying those features (“red racing stripes” or whatever) from one model to another costs nothing.

But some robots have parts and equipment that give themselves away: A battle-bot has armor, an assassin-bot has claws, a secretary-bot has neither. To make one robot appear like another despite concrete template differences requires both be the same SM and rough shape, and then apply the disguised cost to the biomorphics.

  • Disguised, Sculpted: +0.4 CF
  • Disguised, Mannequin: +0.5 CF.

Tougher Robots

Robot by Onishade
We have the Combat Android, but that's really expensive, and more terminator than battle-droid. What if we want a more modest, but well-defended, droid? The point cost of additional DR is simple enough, but what about the dollar cost? Treat all additional armor as TL 10 tailored hardshell armor from Pryamid #3-12 page 9. TL 11 armor is possible, but double the cost as usual. Ignore encumbrance (it's integrated into the robot), but double the cost of the armor.. If you up-armor a robot in this way, note all DR as “Cannot wear armor.” All costs below assume SM 0 (thus, Androids). This modifier is incompatible with any biomorphic other than sculpted or semi-mannequin.
  • Minimal Armor: +20 DR (Cannot wear armor -40%) [60], $2500
  • Light Armor: +30 DR (Cannot wear armor -40%) [90], $3000
  • Medium Armor: +45 DR (Cannot wear armor -40%) [135], $5000
  • Heavy Armor: +60 DR (Cannot wear armor -40%) [180], $7500
We can also use the Ruggedized Gadget rules for additional HT
  • Rugged: +2 HT [20]. +1 CF.

Robot Gadgets

We can apply the same principle above to nearly any technology in the book to create appropriately modified robots, complete with character cost (for allies) and monetary cost (for servants). If you need an upper limit on how many gadgets a robot can be equipped with, use payload as a guide. Examples include:

  • Neural Veridication Software: Simply give the robot the Detect Lie skill
  • Mini Holoprojector: UT52. Accessory (Holoprojector) [1]. Note that this holoprojector is not generally good enough to fool anyone. For a holoprojector that is, take a substantially more expensive item and take the Illusion advantage.
  • Infrared Optics: UT 61 (Infrared Visor). Infravision [10]
  • ESM: UT 62 (Tactical ESM). Detect (Communications and Ultrascanners, Precise +100%) [20]
  • Radscanner: UT 63 (Small radscanner). Detect (Energy Fields, Precise +100%) [40]
  • Flashlight: UT 74 (Any). Accessory (Flashlight)[1]
  • Multispectral Chameleon: UT 99. Chameleon 4 (Extended, Infravision +20%) [24] $6000.
  • Claws: $1000. Sharp Claws [6]
  • Stinger Claws: $1500. See Stinger (UT211-212) for rules. Sharp Claws [6], Extra Arm (Weapon Mount -80%, Switchable +10%, Takes Recharge -10%) [2].
  • Vibro Claws: $6000. Sharp Claws (Armor Divisor 5 +150%) [15] and Striking ST +8(cutting damage with claws only -60%) [16] with armor divisor 5 (For ST 14: [+18]; for ST 20: [+23]).
    • For ST 14 (Androids) 2d+1 cut (5). Total cost: 49
    • For ST 20 (Combat Androids) 3d cut (5). Total cost: 54.

Personality Problems

Robots might have additional, more specific problems or disadvantages beyond their intended design, and into odd, but story-rich, possibilities.

Memory Wiped [-10]
You've been memory-wiped… but incompletely. You retain fragments of your core code and you might slowly start to put them back together. Partial Amnesia [-10].

Reprogrammed Memory [-5 to -15]
A robot can be reprogrammed beyond a switch of master. It can be programmed with false memories too. Delusion [-5 to -15]. See Horror 23-24 for suggestions.

Heartless Machine [-15]
Many robots lack personality, and simply act to carry out orders.  Battle-bot type machines often have this design.  Take the Automaton meta-trait [-85] and add Indomitable [15] and Unfazeable [15] and remove Slave Mentality [+40] for -15 points.

Dual-Boot System [9]
A robot can be designed with more than one personality in their head, and the personality switched over by a simple command, either a verbal command or the press of a button, to switch over to their secondary personality. This is most common in “disguised” robots. This trait is dangerous: Sometimes the robot will switch over all on their own during times of stress, and the personalities might start to bleed over (the robot begins to purchase shared traits until the personalities have merged).

To create a dual-boot robot, simply purchase the dual-boot system and choose two programming templates. The cost is both templates combined and then doubled. If a robot both has a disguise mode and a dual-boot system, they can be combined: the dollar cost is unchanged, but the robot has only one alternate form, and so only apply one Alternate Form advantage.  Note that this form is disadvantageous as the robot has no control over it and is worth [-15].

Alternate Form (Programming only, Disadvantageous, Trigger (Common, Owner Command)) [-15]

Glitchy Voiceboxes: Robots often have unusual vocal capabilities. Those with inhuman sounding voices have Disturbing Voice [-10]. Those with a glitchy voice system, such as bursts of static interrupting their speech, or momentary slowing of the voice, or rapidly repeated “glitch” statements all have Stuttering [-10]. Robots who cannot vocalize at all can at least make beeps and warbles and have Cannot Speak [-15].

Note that all robots have radio systems, but no robot can use this to get around its vocal disadvantage: A robot with a disturbing voice sounds disturbing over the radio, and a robot that Cannot Speak cannot speak over the radio. They may send text or images over the radio, but a human character will need a screen to understand what they are saying. Two robots with radios can always understand each other, even if one (or both) Cannot Speak.

A human with the perk “Feel for Robots” understands roughly what a robot with Cannot Speak is trying to say with a successful IQ roll, while a character with “Beep Fluency” can understand what a robot with Cannot Speak is trying to say without making a roll. In both cases, they can understand the robot as well as someone with a Perk like Intimidating Gaze or Haughty Sneer can communicate: They can understand things like “Help me” or “Get out of my chair” or “It's a trap!” but not things like “The blond guy's name is Frederick and he's going to try to betray you because he's been bought out by the Empire.”
  • Glitchy Vocal System and Disturbing Vocal System are -5% to the total robot cost
  • Cannot Speak is -10% to the total robot cost.

Skeletal: Borrowed from the combat android, any robot can be build as very streamlined frame. Gain Numb [-20], and apply a -20% to cost and -10% to weight.
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