Thursday, November 10, 2016

Combat Robots

Now that we have aliens worked out, we can look at the other sci-fi staple: Robots! This is a topic I’ve already touched on previously, so it should be fairly easy going to rebuild it. While we’ve adjusted the robot costs since our last iteration, robot stats remain the same, so all we need to do is ponder our previous design and add a little more complexity… if we want it!



The Concept of Combat Robots

Realistically, battle robots would be part of a military infrastructure. Consider the totality of the empire, with its AT-ATs, AT-STs, Star Destroyers, Tie-Fighters, Stormtroopers and probe droids. We might expect to see slaver bots or ramshackle battle bots for Pirates, scouting drones for the empire, and so on.

For this particular iteration, I just want to look at battle bots as a singular force, similar to the battle droids from the prequels. We might envision a civilization, especially a “rogue bot” civilization that exclusively uses battle bots.

I don’t want transhuman themes in Psi-Wars, though, a topic I’ve already discussed. Thus, while robots might be useful, humans (and aliens) will be more clever and tactical, generally speaking: Superior in skill and adaptability if not in prowess. Thus, in a way, they resemble the polar opposite of the Alien Warriors: innately powerful in physique and with a considerable technological advantage, but largely inept skill-wise.

Before, we had standard battle bots, heavy bots, warbots and assassin bots. Battle bots take on the role of generic infantry, heavy bots the role of assault, warbots the role of heavy, and assassin bots the role of recon.

Our standard infantry bots don’t need to change much. They work well as they already are: legions of cheap soldiers who soak up bullets and provide firepower. They’re not particularly well armored (armored well enough that a fist won’t do much damage to them), but they don’t need to be.
Heavy combat bots do present us with some interesting possibilities. At ST 20 and with a weapon mount, they can support even greater firepower than the standard battle bot. They could also sport superior melee weaponry, but Ultra-Tech suggests that “dumb” robots, which our heavy robots are, will simply try to grapple and throttle targets they get close to. Like the infantry bot, their purpose is to march forward, soaking up attacks and laying down withering fire of their own.

The Warbot, with its three weapon mounts, borders on a mobile tank. If we add a force screen (and why not?) it becomes virtually invincible. Of course, we already had all of this before, but we might adjust some of the armaments it has, with a focus on a fire-support role.

Assassin bots are a bit of an odd-man out. They can slip behind enemy lines with superior stealth skill, but they’re a melee-focused robot. This makes more sense for actual assassination. It’s a fine role, but something robots would deploy against civilians. I’d like to expand the recon role to a simple scout bot which transmits its findings back to the main body of troops.

We could add a “strategy bot” to take advantage of tac-net programs and the fact that all robots communicate with one another at all times. They certainly exist in the Clone Wars, but I’d rather leave my robot forces as, for the current moment, “dumb,” plus I'm not entirely sure how best to go about it yet, so let's leave that alone for the time being.

Tactical Theory

Robots, intentionally, present us with few tactical options, but those options differ significantly from the options we explored with other armies.

The standard robot tactic should be to step forward and open fire. They should not take cover, they shouldn’t even bother to defend. If they get close enough to enter melee combat, they might either continue to blast their opponent, or they might grapple their opponent by the neck and attempt to throttle them.

Warbots represent a slightly different tactic. They should hang back and lay down an enormous amount of firepower. Optionally, they could make an excellent assault force, but in the same way that a tank is: It’s hard to kill and it’s unleashing a torrent of firepower.

The scout bot’s purpose is to float around and look at things. I’ve not done much with spotters, but this will definitely be one. By having a dedicated character focused on observation rolls, the scout can uncover “stealthed” characters or traps, and then relay that information back to the other bots.
Finally, the Assassin Bot might serve a similar roll to the recon bot, but in practice it will behave more like a melee version of a commando or a low-ST berseker. Using its vibro-claws, it will step in and harry its opponent. At worst, this serves to distract the enemy while the ever advancing line of bots comes inexorably closer, and at best, it can slaughter ill-prepared forces who had hoped to rely on their cover to survive (such as guerillas and partisans).

Thus, in effect, the tactic of the army is a slow, persistent advance, as seen in the Phantom Menace, laying down a withering hail of fire and ignoring any losses that they might suffer.

Skill Level Theory

We know what skill level Battle Bots have: Skill 12, or DX+2. This is consistent with low-skill professionals, and will do for our infantry bots. And for the rest? I propose the same, but “the same” in this case involves DX+2, and heavy combat bots are DX 13 and Warbots are DX 12. Skill 12 with their associated combat skill is low to impossible, putting both of these at skill 15. This seems high, but we’ll pair it with unimaginative tactics. The Assassin Bot should also, ideally, be skill 15 (to make up for the inefficiency of melee combat).

Technological Detail

Our previous version of Bots just used existing weapons. We can do better, though, catering to specific robot capabilities. Before we go much further, we should talk about armor and support tech.

Armor and Supporting Technology

Robots come equipped with their own technology. All robots have “burst” radio communication with a range of 10 miles. Most robots also come equipped with Hyperspectral vision, which grants +3 to vision rolls. While technically combat robots and assassin bots can wear armor, we’ll skip that, as DR 60 is plenty (already the equivalent to better than a light combat hardsuit). Where templates come equipped with further benefits, they’ll be noted in the stat-blocks. I will treat the Accessory Computer as granting access to a HUD and targeting software, just to see how it looks. Thus far, I’ve been treating a HUD as +1 to gun skill (effectively “free” standard targeting software). For this, let’s give them +2 instead of +1.

It should be noted that the warbot can store up to 160 lbs of gear inside its internal payload, which seems a perfect place to put either a radar system or a force screen. A light force screen (DR 200) weighs only 25 lbs, so should fit in their nicely.

Blasters

Battle Androids and Heavy Combat Androids both carry their blasters (we can equip Heavy Combat Androids with a weapon mount, but I’m loathe to do so, even though I believe I already did: they’re scary enough).

The standard battle droid is ST 13, and the only thing it carries is its gun, meaning it has a little over 30 lbs of encumbrance that it can take on without being slowed down. We should see what a gun using those values looks like! A 9d blaster rifle is about 32 lbs (counting its D-cell pack) and, if we make it reliable (the perfection of robotic manufacture), we get a cost of $70,000. Incidentally, the robot itself only costs $60,000. Together, they’re coming close to $150,000 which suggests they’re not that “expendable” at all. Thus, it might make more sense to equip them with smaller, cheaper blasters, but we’ll leave this as is for now.

A heavy combat android is ST 20, giving him an encumbrance of 80. The imperial semi-portable gatling blaster is perfect, clocking in at 70 lbs and ST 20. We could also imagine a “semi-portable blaster cannon,” similar to the one that’s already in Ultra-Tech, but let’s see what we can do with a single-shot weapon! The net result is a somewhat disappointing 12d, which is identical to the one listed in the book, which is actually too good for what comes out of the standard system. Still, not a terrible design: it can take out up to 200 points of DR, which means it’s a threat to quite a few armored vehicles and, on a lucky shot, might even damage a tank.

The same weapons will work for the Warbot. It has a lifting ST of 40, giving it a total encumbrance of 320. It already has 25 lbs worth of force screen, and we can give it up to 3 weapons. Two heavy-combat android scale weapons will clock in at another 140 (and we’ll store the E cells in the internal payload). The 100mm MTML (from Pyramid #3-37) clocks in at another 140 lbs and requires ST 25, which we have. As great as that is, it has only 4 shots, which means it’ll run out quickly in a major battle, and two MTML missile launchers (for 8 missiles total) weighs too much. Instead, I’d like to take 2 MLAWs, for a total of 12 missiles (64mm is plenty). If we go for an even heavier semi-portable blaster cannon, we go with 6dx3 single shot cannon for ST 27! Just too high, but 17 damage is right on the nose, so I’m going to use that and round it to 6dx3, because that’s easier. That gives us a robotic tank with 260 DR, twelve 64mm missiles and the ability to penetrate up to 300 DR with its main cannon.

Combat Robots

All the following minions have been created in such a way that they'll fit on two sides of an A6, so you should be able to print 4 per page. I have greatly reduced their complexity even further, so that most characters are virtually identical. Note that the listed tactics aren't the only moves possible, just a helper for some of the more complex actions these characters might undertake, though most robots won’t bother with another other tactics than those listed below.

Light Combat Android
ST 13 HP 20 Speed 5
DX 10 Will 10! Move: 5
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 10 FP NA SM +0
Dodge NA
Parry NA
DR: 20




Heavy Blaster Rifle (12):
9d(5) burn sur (Acc 10, Range 1300/3000 RoF 3, Bulk -6)

Skills: Pilot (Contragravity)-10, Savoir-Faire (Military)-10, Soldier-10,

Traits: Heartless Machine; Sense of Duty (Master)

Notes: Robot; Implacable and will not negotiate and cannot be reasoned with, frightened or intimidated. Has 10-mile range communication and Hyperspectral Vision (+3 to vision checks). Has built-in HUD and targeting software (+2). May not take cover, defend or use clever tactics. No Encumbrance

Light Combat Android Tactics

Relentless Advance (14): Move 1 step forward and make a hip-shot attack with Heavy Robot Blaster. Success hits random hit location. You may not defend.

Throttle (9): If you are in melee range, abandon your weapon and make an All-Out (Determined) grapple for the neck. If you have grappled your foe, begin to strangle him with an All-Out Grapple (+2): Roll 15 vs the better of your opponent’s ST or HT. Success inflicts the margin of success as crushing damage (all damage past DR is multiplied by 1.5). Your opponent dodges at -1. Robot resists attempts to break free with effective ST of 18. You may not defend.

Heavy Combat Android
ST 20 HP 20 Speed 6.25
DX 13 Will 10! Move: 6
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 12 FP NA SM +0
Dodge NA
Parry NA
DR: 60



Heavy Gatling Blaster (15): 9d+2 (5) burn sur (RoF 16, Range 1500/400, ST 20, Bulk -10)

Skills: Pilot (Contragravity)-12, Savoir-Faire (Military)-10, Soldier-10,

Traits: Enhanced Time Sense; Heartless Machine; High Pain Threshold; Sense of Duty (Master)

Notes: Robot; Implacable and will not negotiate and cannot be reasoned with or intimidated. Has 10-mile range communication and Hyperspectral Vision (+3 to vision checks) and Discriminatory Hearing (+4 to hearing checks). Has built-in HUD and targetting software (+2) May not take cover, defend or use clever tactics. No Encumbrance

Heavy Combat Android Tactics

Relentless Advance (20): Move 1 step forward and make a hip-shot attack with Semi-Portable Gatling Blaster using full RoF 16. You may divide the attack among multiple targets. Success hits random hit location. You may not defend.

Relentless Suppression Fire (9): If you have no targets, move 1 step forward and make an All-Out (Suppression Fire) attack using full ROF 16. You may not defend.

Throttle (12): If you are in melee range, abandon your weapon and make an All-Out (Determined) grapple for the neck. If you have grappled your foe, begin to strangle him with an All-Out Grapple (+2): Roll 22 vs the better of your opponent’s ST or HT. Success inflicts the margin of success as crushing damage (all damage past DR is multiplied by 1.5). Your opponent dodges at -1. Robot resists attempts to break free with effective ST of 18. You may not defend.

Warbot
ST 25 HP 40 Speed 5.5
DX 12 Will 10! Move: 5
IQ 10 Per 15

HT 10 FP NA SM +3
Dodge NA
Parry NA
DR: 200/60




Semi-Portable Blaster Cannon (15): 6dx3 (5) burn sur (RoF 1, Range 2700/8000, ST 25, Bulk -10)

MLAWS (HEMP) (12): 6dx8 (10) cr inc + 8d cr ex [3d cut] (Acc 3, Range 750/30k, RoF 1, Shots 6, Bulk 8)

MLAWS (HE) (12): 6dx5 cr ex (Acc 3, Range 750/30k, RoF 6, Shots 1, Bulk 8)

Skills: Savoir-Faire (Military)-10, Soldier-10,

Traits: Heartless Machine; Sense of Duty (Master)

Notes: Robot; Implacable and will not negotiate and cannot be reasoned with or intimidated. Has 10-mile range communication and Hyperspectral Vision (+3 to vision checks) and enhanced move 1, allowing it to move 10 yards per second, and Super Jump 1. Also features targeting Radar. Has built-in HUD and targeting software (+2). DR 200 comes from a force screen and is semi-ablative. May not take cover, defend or use clever tactics. No Encumbrance

Warbot Tactics

Relentless Advance (18): Move 1 step forward and make a Sighted All out Attack (Determined) with the weapon-mounted Semi-Portable Gatling Cannon. If successful, hit a random hit location. You may not defend.

Lock-On (12): Take an Aim Action (announcing your target) and roll to lock on. If success, you may Ready the missile next turn, firing it at your intended target. It attacks on its own with its own skill of 18.

Scouting Drone
ST 3 HP 3 Speed 5.5
DX 10 Will 10! Move: 10
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 12 FP NA SM -4
Dodge NA
Parry NA
DR: 15



Holdout Blaster (12): 2d (5) burn sur (RoF 3, Range 130/500, ST 3, Bulk -1)

Skills: Forward Observer-12, Observation-12.

Traits: Heartless Machine; Sense of Duty (Master)

Notes: Robot; Implacable and will not negotiate and cannot be reasoned with or intimidated. Has 10-mile range communication and Hyperspectral Vision (+3 to vision checks), flight and enhanced move 1, allowing it to move 20 yards per second. Has built-in HUD and targeting software (+2). May not take cover, defend or use clever tactics. No Encumbrance

Scout Drone Tactics

Zap! (10): Move up to 20 yards and make a Move and Attack (-2) with holdout blaster. Strike a random hit location. You may not defend.

Situational Awareness (15): Make a Concentrate maneuver and make an Observation roll. You can attempt to spot hidden opponents, or sudden changes in the battlefield.

Spotting (12): Make a Concentrate maneuver and make an Observation roll as a complementary roll to an ally’s aimed attack.

Assassin Bot
ST 13 HP 20 Speed 6
DX 13 Will 10! Move: 6
IQ 10 Per 10

HT 10 FP NA SM -4
Dodge NA
Parry NA
DR: 5




Vibro-Claws (15): 2d+1 (5) cut, 1d+1 (5) imp, C


Skills: Running-12, Stealth-15, Shadowing-12, Tracking-12,

Traits: Computer Brain (Physiology), Chameleon +8 (Extended: Infravision), Gullible (9 or less), Heartless Machine, Sense of Duty (Master), Tactical Programming

Notes: Robot; Implacable and will not negotiate and cannot be reasoned with or intimidated. Has 10-mile range communication and Hyperspectral Vision (+3 to vision checks). May take cover, defend or use clever tactics. No Encumbrance.

Assassin Bot Tactics

Vanish (23): At the beginning of a fight, an assassin bot will attempt to vanish and get the drop on his opponent. Roll Vanish (ignore modifiers for stealth at the beginning of a fight). Success means he may attack one opponent “from behind.” It may not do this at any other point in the fight.

Vibro-Frenzy (15): Make an All-Out (Double) attack against one or two targets. Your opponent(s) defend normally. You may not defend.
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