Monday, December 16, 2019

Wiki Showcase: Redjack Robots

The final part of my military doctrine is, of course, robots, as I've previously discussed.  I had three major military-industrial "sets," and this completes the set with Redjack robots. As with ARC, I wanted to focus on "military" robots and these robots tend to stretch that definition a little, as they represent robots that assist in war more than directly fighting (with the exception of the Dredgecat, which is supposed to help at non-combat stuff, but ends up helping a lot in combat).

Redjack seeks to support asteroid miners, belters, colonists and aggressive entrepreneurship (but never space piracy!), as such, their doctrine focuses a lot on self-sufficiency and independence.  Most of their weapons double as tools, most of their vehicles can be customized and optimized for whatever specific task the owner wants, and their robots fit similar roles. Redjack robots learn to take care of themselves so you don't have to.  The downside is that they're (mostly) a bunch of surly cusses, with a few having darling hearts of gold.

You can see Redjack Robots here.


Redjack Robot Personalities and Upgrades

Broadly speaking, the first thing I wanted when I started working on Redjack Robots were independent and resilient robots. Robots that break down easily, run out of power quickly, and need made-to-spec spare parts ordered from a specific factory won't work for some belter who's out in the asteroids for months on end.  So, as I paged through quirks and disadvantages, I noticed themes emerging:
  • Redjack robots would always try to make sure they had enough spare parts and energy cells "just in case" (Kleptomania, gluttony, hoarding, etc)
  • Redjack robots needed to tolerate long periods of isolation (anti-social tendencies)
  • Redjack robots needed to be versatile and creative (playfulness, pranksters, etc)
The net result, unintentionally, was the worst of Bender crossed with Choppper from Rebels, but it makes sense (there's actually a lot of logic as to why Bender is the way he is; alcohol, in the very least, is a fuel for Bender, hence his need to drink it all the time).  This got me to thinking about the classic foil for such a cynical, sarcastic character: the innocent sweetheart robot, the one who gives children flowers. This also makes sense if you accept that Redjack would prefer to make "dumb" robots to "non-volitional" robots, because a robot with slave mentality makes for a poor servant to an asteroid miner, but a robot that's gullible but still takes initiative is less of a problem. Paired with their natural inquisitive nature (representative of their natural creativity and intuitive personality archictecture) and it made sense.  All that was left was to talk about how they influence one another, because it's inevitable that the sweet robots grows more cynical around the cynical robot, and the cynical robot gains a reluctant compassion around the sweet robot.

Unlike with ARC, where I could see "stock personalities," I felt the nature of Redjack and it's approach meant that every robot would be, naturally, unique.  So, rather than give your robot a stock personality, you take -10 points in disadvantages from your preferred personality type.  This, of course, takes too long for people who just want to grab an ally and go, so I've created 4-5 personality types for each.

For safety protocols, Redjack customers can't accept the stricter rules that Syntech and ARC put on their robots.  A robot that refuses to protect its master during a pirate raid is unacceptable, as is a robot that rats out its master while smuggling "because it's truthful."  So, in part and parcel with their natural creativity, Redjack robots have flexible morals.  This gives them a bad reputation, but the one thing they never lose is their loyalty to their master.  This fits with the source material: irascible or lovable robots don't ever really lose their affection for that primary person in their life, and it serves as a bedrock for the rest of their evolution of personality.  In a sense, this makes them the safest of the robots: they might shed the last of their Honesty and Pacifism, but they'll never stop loving you.  Even if they show their love by stealing less of your spare power cells than everyone else's.

Redjack Chassis

All Redjack robots have one-eye, and Cannot Speak (beep).  Despite their intelligence and creativity, they tend to look more like tools, even if they act more like people.  They have some upgrades that mitigate these, such as an upgrade that gives them disturbing voice rather than Cannot Speak.  They also have access to space movement (as they often operate in space), sensors (I noticed that I was giving each robot chassis the option for an ultra-scanner, so I just gave it to all Redjack robots as a generalized upgrade), and a broad computer brain slot for anything they wanted, reflecting their versatility.
The Crankshaft began life as the first draft of the Hobnob, who evolved into something cuter and more humanoid, because ARC prefers physically appealing robots who act and behave like humans.  But a lot of the ideas behind this first draft made sense: small size to fit down shafts, telescoping, flexible arms to reach machine parts in hard-to-reach areas; the ability to change its hands into tools, a torch or a fire extinguisher, etc.  All of these would prove invaluable to a Redjack tech-bot who favored function over form.

The final major addition were those hideous, gnashing teeth. I'd rather give them to the nightmarish Dredgecat, but they just make too much sense for a Crankshaft.  The Crankshaft's job is to help you maintain your ship or your starfighter, and unlike the Hobnob, it can't expect that you'll have the necessary parts just lying around.  Thus, they need to be able to machine parts on the fly, hence their internal mini-fac, and to supply their mini-fac, they need some means of converting scrap into, ah, raw material. Hence the teeth.

Their name came from me looking at car parts, finding that, and going "That's perfect!" It was so perfect I looked around to see if there were other robots called "Crankshaft." It turns out there is one in a movie that didn't really make much impact, thus you're unlikely to have heard of it.  If you have, this isn't an homage to that robot.

The Rumbler-Model Logistical Bot

I got the initial inspiration for the Rumbler from "Mangle," a robot in a terrible kid's who about fighting robots on Netflix.  The idea here was a robot who picks things up and moves them around tends to be very strong and thus good at smacking over robots around.  I found the idea interesting, and so it's design eventually turned into "Things you can do with lots of Lifting ST."  I tried to draw on the idea of things like the Jaws of Life, but in humanoid-robot form, like the ability to secure itself against a door, and then slowly pressure it open.  This resulted in several perks.

The primary role for a Rumbler is loading cargo onto and off of your ship, hence "logistics."  It also serves well, though, and search-and-rescue and construction, hence its various skills and talents.  Originally, I had the vibro blade and nail gun (manifestations of the Ultra-Tech "Power tools" entry) as an upgrade, but changes to ST made the Rumbler much cheaper, so I folded them in.

"Rumbler" is a reference to the sound they'll make when ripping open doors, but it's also a reference to Endless Legend (which has ogres called "Rumblers,") and to the original inspiration of Mangle: they "rumble" in the sense that they're good at brawliong.

The Dredgecat Mining Robot

Finally, I knew I wanted some sort of mining robot.  Once I had the "banger-bots" for my vehicles, inspired by Starcraft's Spider Mines, I thought it might be neat to have a robot that could coordinate with them.  Thus, the Dredgecat (a name inspired by cobbling together various construction vehicular names) would be some sort of strange-looking robot equipped with mining lasers, plenty of armor, and able to synch up with banger bots to command them and coordinate on, er, demolitions.

Naturally, all of this makes for a hideously effect combat machine.

My only real concern with Dredgecats is that they'll look too much like the eventual robots that the Traders get; this holds for most of the Redjack robots, as Redjack and the Traders both occupy a similar niche: space equipment and space robots.

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