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Character creation document ready to go.

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The first draft is all done bar the equipment stuff. This is because – as mentioned previously – I’m trying to come up with a feasible way of equipping characters that will involve no money at all. I have some good ideas, but will need to put a bit more work into it until its ready to be seen by the public.

So what I would really like is for anyone who has the time and inclination to try and build a character based on what I have so far. To do this you’ll need to download the character creation document from my dropbox link. There are already some changes on this document compared to what’s on the website, as I’ve been looking at numbers and getting feedback, so please make sure you’re using the most up to date stuff. If anything changes, it’ll change on the dropbox document and I’ll notify people either on here or on my main Facebook page.

It is saved as a pdf, and if you want to print it off, I have made the font large enough that you can turn it into a booklet, meaning you will only need to use three pages printed front and back.

Once you have created something, please let me know how it went, if it all made sense, and what you had trouble with. If you can manage it, I would also love to see the final character. This is just for my own curiosity, and to get an idea about how people lay the info out for themselves, so I can start thinking about a character sheet design. That link, one more time.

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Character Creation Summary

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This is my first draft of this, and until I take it out and test run it – hopefully tomorrow evening – I won’t know exactly what I’ve missed out or messed up. Please feel free to take a look though, and if you see any glaring errors, please post them in the comments section. Don’t worry about drawing my attention to the lack of an equipment list though. I have a few ideas about this, but I think that might deserve a blog post all of its own, as I want to try out something a bit different than just buying things with money.

Click the link for a PDF of the character creation summary, or just read what’s below. The pdf has links to the relevant blog pages too, so that people reading it on a tablet or some such can find what they need until I have the time to write up a full character creation handout.

Rise of the Automata

Character creation

In Rise of the Automata (RotA), players will be creating Steampunk robots as characters. Several parts of the character creation process read like a catalog of products, this because all the player character Automata were put together before the war that shook the planet by the Humans who would one day become their enemies.

Each phase of the character creation process is listed before, and should be completed in order.

1. Concept Think about the kind of automaton you would like to play. Which aspects of their personality would you like people to remember? What skills do they bring to the table, and how would they contribute to a post war Automaton world?

2. Chassis Each Automaton has five attributes which start at one point each. The type of chassis that you pick gives several bonus points to certain attributes based on the job they were designed for. Once you have selected your Chassis, you have a further five points to spend adding to your attributes on a one for one basis. No Attribute may be raised above five points at this stage.

3. Career Pack All Automata get the basic level in one Career Pack for free at character level. Since this is a factory install, and standard equipment, the Automata do not add any Complication points for it, no matter what level they buy it as, either during character creation or with experience points.

4. Skills All skills are purchased on a one for one basis, and you have fifteen points to spend. No skill may be raised above five points during character, even if they are part of a Career Pack.

5. Character Points You now get an additional ten Character Points that may be spent to customise your Automaton. You may also select up to ten points of Faults which grant you extra Character Points. These points may be spent on Skills, Attributes, and/or Upgrades. Skills and Upgrades are bought on a one for one basis, but raising an Attribute costs the new level in Character points. You
may not have more Processor Upgrades than your rank in the Processor Attribute.

6. Equipment This section has yet to be written, so for now just jump onto the next stage.

7. Finishing Touches Work out your derived Attributes. The Build score is applied as a positive modifier to all close combat damage rolls, both Melee and Brawl, and a negative modifier to damage dealt to your Automaton from blunt attacks. Anything that constitutes a piercing attack ignores Build, and can only be negated with Armour. Adding together the scores for Operations and Input gives you a base Initiative score. Your Processor score limits the number of Processor Upgrades you may ever have. Set your Malfunction score to one, and then add together all of the Complication Points you have acquired. For each full ten points, raise your Malfunction score by one point.

8. Name There are many ways that Automata use to distinguish themselves from each other. Each Chassis and Career Pack has a unique set of numbers and letters, and these alone are enough to function as a name. Since the War though, it has become fashionable for Automata to give themselves Human names. Since they are gender neutral though, they tend to stick to generic honourifics followed by a surname, the more extravagant and upper class sounding the better. Examples include The Honourable Caruthers, The Cantankerous Appleton-Smythe or The Divine Winstample.

Character Creation: career packs

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This part of the char-gen process should have actually been up earlier, but I’ve been playing around with how it will work as an Upgrade, not just a one off purchase. After getting through a big chunk of Upgrade writing this week, I think I have a better handle on this now so I’m ready to give it a shot. In game terms, after picking a chassis model for your Automaton, you next pick a Career Pack. A lot of these will compliment certain chassis types better than others, but there’s no reason at all why you couldn’t go for tow options that don’t seem to make sense, as long as you can come up with a reason why a human would put together such a creation. Although I have been trying to write as such, I’ve never been explicitly clear in this until now: The player character Automata were all created by humans before the war, to fulfill certain tasks that humans didn’t want to do.

Anything added with character or experience points, are things that the Automaton has picked up themselves, or added to itself during the course of its existence. What this means for Career Packs is that the Automaton will ship from the factory with one installed, but can purchase an extra one as a Processor Upgrade. This would be the only Processor upgrade allowed, and would be recorded on the character sheet with all of its other Upgrades. Experience points can be spent to increase the Rank of any Career Pack, much like other Upgrades, with a standard cost in Points, with standardised Complication points too. Basic package: Points: 5 Complication: 5. MK II; Points: 10 Complication: 6. MK III; Points 15 Complication: 7. MK IV; Points 20 Complication: 8

  • Assassin Perfecting the art of the silent kill. MK I Plus one to Melee and Stealth checks. MK II Heat sensitive vision; the Automaton can spot living creatures by their heat signature. MK III Plus two to Melee and Stealth checks MK IV When fighting against humans and using a Melee weapon, any successful attack automatically hits a vital location.
  • Batman Not the caped crusader, rather a military Valet of a commissioned officer, and only available during character creation. MK I Plus one to Brawl and Knowledge: Tactics checks. MK II Being friendly with the military establishment has its perks. Gain one rank in, and access to, a specialised weapon of your choice. MK III Plus two to Brawl and Knowledge: Tactics checks. MK IV Once a week, the Automaton may radio for military support. The type of military sent, and the speed with which it arrives is at the GM’s discretion. 
  • Chauffeur There are those in this life who are driven, and those who drive. MK I Plus one to Drive and Pilot checks. MK II If the Automaton is in a vehicle, it always goes first in a combat round. MK III Plus two to Drive and Pilot checks. MK IV Automaton may fire ranged weapons from any moving vehicle without suffering the related penalties to its roll.
  • Doctor From the days when a Human would trust an Automaton to heal their wounds. MK I Plus one to Knowledge: Medicine and Notice checks. MK II Once per combat round, the Automaton may re-roll one damage dice when attacking humans. MK III Plus two to Knowledge: Medicine and Notice checks. MK IV When fighting against humans and using a Melee weapon, any successful attack automatically hits a vital location.
  • Frontiersman Although these Automata rarely see service in the British Isles, they perform valuable services in the empire. MK I Plus one to Climbing and Knowledge: Geography checks. MK II Automaton chooses two non-English languages to be fluent in. MK III Plus two to Climbing and Knowledge: Geography checks. MK IV Automaton may be completely submerged in water with no ill effects.
  • Infiltrator Not just getting behind enemy lines, but into their buildings, and destroying them while you’re there. MK I Plus one to Forced Entry and Explosives checks. MK II Double throwing range and area of effect for all grenades and incendiary thrown weapons.  MK III Plus two to Forced Entry and Explosives checks. MK IV Environmental scanners show the best point of entry, reducing all Forced Entry rolls by two ranks of difficulty.
  • Maintenance Designed to keep any Automaton running, no matter what the condition or circumstances. MK I Plus one to all Repair and Salvage checks. MK II Half all penalties to repair severely damaged Automata MK III Plus two to all Repair and Salvage checks. MK IV Ignore all penalties to repair severely damaged Automata.
  • Ranger Ideally adapted to survive behind enemy lines while avoiding capture. MK I Plus one to all Stealth and Tracking checks. MK II All Salvage checks are one rank of difficulty lower. MK III Plus two to all Stealth and Tracking checks. MK IV Automaton may repair self with no penalties.
  • Salesman Ideal for when a face to face meeting just isn’t possible. MK I Plus one to Bargain and Intimidate checks. MK II Humans meeting this Automaton will always begin in a Neutral stance. MK III Plus two to Bargain and Intimidate checks. MK IV Humans meeting this Automaton will always begin in a Friendly stance.
  • Sniper Specialising in the long ranged kill. MK I Plus one to Ranged combat and Notice checks. MK II Automaton gains knowledge required to upgrade a weapon of choice; Double range and clip size of one model of Ranged weapon. MK III Plus two to Ranged combat and Notice checks. MK IV Reduce all Range penalties by two ranks.
  • Technician Some faults run deeper than external damage, and if your Automaton suffers from such things, you need to call in a professional. MK I Plus one to Difference Engine and Repair checks. MK II All other Automata in the group treat their Malfunction score as one less with regard to critical rolls. This cannot take the score below one. MK III Plus two to Difference Engine and Repair checks. MK IV Once a day you may attempt a  Difficult Difference Engines check, if successful, you negate one of an Automaton’s faults for 24 hours.

Edit: The career pack taken by an Automaton during the relevant phase of character creation does not add Complication points to the character.

Character Creation: Faults

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Faults work very similar to Upgrades, just backwards. The points listed are what you get back in character creation points to buy either skill points, Upgrades or Attribute increases. Since they are all negative things for an Automaton – even if they do have have a positive side too – they won’t all have a Complication score. If they do, this number is added to the other Complication points when calculating the Malfunction score of the Automata. Any Faults picked up after character creation do not grant bonus character points, but if listed, may still apply Complication points.

Unlike Upgrades, it is possible to have more than one per location, as such they are not listed with a location. There isn’t actually any limit to how many Faults an Automaton can take, but they can only ever gain a maximum of ten character points by taking faults. If a player decides to take 11 or more points worth of Faults, they will only receive ten points back, but still suffer all the penalties for the Faults they have taken.

It is once more worth pointing out that this is far from a complete list, and that some may get cut after play testing. Even after I do compile a full list, if there is anything that a player wants as a Fault that isn’t on the list, they should discuss it with the GM and agree together how many points it is worth.

  • Ancient Automaton Made long before modern technology was at its current cutting edge, which of course causes problems. No Attributes may ever go above four, even with Experience point expenditure.
  • Clockwork Heart All Automata have a week spot in the head. Human designers put most of the computational hardware up there, in an effort to create life in their image. This one was was also given a heart of brass that is just as fragile. Hit locations of both nine and ten do double damage.
  • Corrupt Memory There are storage limits on even the best Difference Engines, but this Automaton struggles to keep much at all saved. No Skills may be taken above four points, even with Experience point expenditure.
  • Damaged Vox Unit Without the ability to form words, humans will have no idea what it’s saying, and even other Automata will be unable to comprehend anything other than basic communication. Unable to communicate at all with Humans, and all Bargain and Intimidate checks made against Automata are at minus four.
  • Empathy Many years spent in the company of Humans gave the Automaton a deeper understanding of the creatures, but also a sympathy for their soft and fleshy plight. Automaton will never attack a Human unless provoked or in danger of destruction.
  • Engraved “Kill-count” A reminder of how many men and women the Automaton killed during the conflict. Definitely won’t make it popular with the human survivors. Minus four to all Bargain checks against Humans, but plus two modifier to Intimidate checks against the same.
  • Exposed Workings With the insides already full of wires and the like, some parts just had to welded to the outside of the case. The Automaton’s Build counts as one point less when calculating its damage resistance.
  • Foreign Parts Some Automata just aren’t made to a fine British Standard. After character creation, all Upgrades cost an extra five Experience points.
  • Hidden Tracker Used by many a paranoid owner, this keeps tabs on any Automaton provided you have the correct radio equipment. Any large Human settlement cannot be surprised by this Automaton, as it shows up as a radio transmission. 
  • Loose Springs No matter how much they are tightened – and finding matching replacements is impossible – they never work as efficiently as they should. All Melee/Brawl attacks do two less points of damage.
  •  Obsolete Not just old, but from a factory line that was discontinued shortly after completion. Getting hold of the right parts is a daily struggle. Attempts to repair this Automaton suffer a minus two modifier. 
  • Over-sized Boiler. An out of date power system is very obvious indeed, and slows down even the strongest Automata. Reduce base Speed by two.
  • Oxidized Joints Without the correct lubricant, the delicate mechanisms in any Automaton will begin to seize up. Previous poor maintenance has led to a partial lock up of the Automaton’s joints, causing a minus one modifier to all Operations based skill checks.
  • Quality Control Issues The day this Automaton was built, they left the weekend Auto-shop kid in charge! Malfunction score counts as one higher with regard to Critical Rolls.
  • Running Hot. Due to a problem with the Automaton’s boiler, it is unable to regulate its temperature. Automaton adds one Malfunction point, but does an extra point of damage when making a Brawl attack. [Cannot be taken with Coolant System Upgrade]
  • Scrap Automaton. Not just the upgrades, but even the basic chassis have been salvaged together to create this Automaton. Minus two modifier to all Interface checks involving other Automata, unless they also have this Fault. 
  • Single Eye Although it looks interesting, an Automaton with only one ocular port is far from amazing at judging distances. All ranged attacks are considered to be made at one range rank higher.
  • Spindly Made with a mind towards aesthetics rather than function. Any attack that does ten or more points of damage, also knocks the Automaton prone.
  • Spoiled Existence  Not a fault in the manufacturing process, but the Automaton’s owner before the war. Nothing but the best will do this one. Automaton may never use salvaged parts for Repairs or Upgrades.
  • Tin Plated Cost cutting comes in many forms, but skipping quality on the external case is a risky business. It only takes nine points of damage to inflict a Malfunction point on this Automaton. [Cannot be taken with the Armour Plating Upgrade]

As you can see, this is a short list, but I’m expecting more after I try my first char-gen test early next week. I just need to work out two more things before then. Stay tuned for a page on Career Packages, and the a character creation summary. Hopefully it’ll all make sense when it all comes together.

Character Creation: Upgrades.

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The term “Upgrades” may yet change. At the moment it sounds a little bit too much like something bought with experience, but in actuality they are just things that can be bought with points, either from experience, or during character creation. They’re called “Upgrade” because they are added to basic chassis models. That being said, the list below is just a some of the basic ideas I have. As in all things, some may be dropped completely, and others added to before this game sees the light of day.

After playing around with this for a few days now, I just want to clarify some numbers. Cost is what the Upgrade costs in terms of Character Creation points, or experience points gained through play, and the full cost must be paid for each level of Upgrade taken.  The Complication is the score added together to determine just how complicated your Automaton is. For each full ten points of Complication, the Automaton gains one Malfunction point. You only get the Complication points for the level of Upgrades you currently have installed.

So, you have your basic model, but want it for a much more specific role. Well here’s where you can shop around for the Upgrades required to personlise your Automaton to your own specifications. Any upgrade Mark II or higher requires the previous Upgrade(s) to be installed before they can be fitted, as the computational code is too complicated for basic Automata. Unless other wise stated, each location may only have one Upgrade attached, although we will happily take any Upgrades that are no longer required from you at no extra cost!

  • Advanced Sensor Suite [Head] Advanced technologies allow for your Automaton to better perceive its world. All Notice checks involving sight gain a plus one modifier. Cost: 3 Complication: 4
  • – MK II  Aural boosts give an even better appreciation of your Automaton’s surroundings. All Notice checks involving sight and hearing gain a plus one modifier. Cost: 6 Complication: 5
  • – MK III  The most advanced sensory technology gives unprecedented awareness to your Automaton. All Notice checks involving sight and hearing gain a plus two modifier. Cost: 9 Complication: 6
  • Anthropomorphic Visage [Head] Give your favourite Automaton a more human look, and give him a better chance to be accepted by others. Ignore negative penalties when making a Bargain check against Humans. Cost: 3 Complication: 3
  • – MK II With a more human sounding voice, people will flock to listen to your Automaton talk! Plus one modifier to Bargain checks against Humans. Cost: 6 Complication: 4
  • – MK III Only to be used in hostile situations. Plus one to Intimidate checks against Humans. Cost: 9 Complication: 6
  • Armour Plating [Case] An indispensable addition to any Automaton who will likely face danger. Simple plating that will slow down most attacks, that can be added to and upgraded in any Auto-shop. Reduces all damage received by one point. Cost: 2 Complication: 3
  • – MK II Extra thick plating designed to increase durability in the field. Add one extra box to the Automaton’s hit point track, meaning it now takes 11 points of damage to cause a Malfunction point. Cost 5: Complication: 4
  • – MK III  Double reinforcement for truly hostile situations. Reduces all damage received by two points. Cost: 7 Complication: 5
  • – MK IV  Internal shock absorbers to keep your Automaton working for longer. Add an extra box to the Automaton’s hit point track, meaning it now takes 12 points of damage to cause a Malfunction point. Cost: 12 Complication: 6
  • Circuit Breaker [Head] If a fatal shutdown is imminent, the circuit breaker kicks in to safely shutdown the Automaton. Some loss of memory may occur. When the Automaton reaches 10 Malfunction points It enters safe mode and cannot receive any more Malfunction points until rebooted. A rebooted Automaton has 9 Malfunction points, but loses all skills and access to hardware purchased with Experience points. Cost: 15 Complication: 7
  • – MK II Advanced circuitry means less loss of valuable information. As above, but only loses access to hardware Upgrades that will need to be re-installed.  Cost: 20 Complication: 8
  • – MK III Safety protocols allow for even hard wired upgrades to maintain functionality. As above, but All Upgrades continue to function. Cost: 25 Complication: 9
  • – MK IV Automatic repair functions breath life into the most damaged of Automata. Rebooting with this Upgrade removes an additional Malfunction point. Cost: 30 Complication: 10
  • Concealed Blade [Arm] A small spring-loaded blade, mounted in the forearm, when subtlety is called for. Hide any blade with less than 4 strength, and draw it as a free action. Cost: 4 Complication: 5
  • – MK II Increased spring strength means a quicker draw! If drawing the weapon this turn, gain a plus two bonus to initiative. Cost: 8 Complication: 6 
  • – MK III If the spring was any stronger, it’d fly right out. Use the blade as a Ranged attack, with a range of three. Cost: 15 Complication: 8
  • Coolant system [Body] Releases a liquid coolant to damaged and overheating components of the Automaton. Must be activated, and when running reduces the effective Malfunction score of the Automaton by one for five rounds. May only be used twice in a 24 hour period. Cost: 8 Complication: 4
  • – MK II  A larger tank allows for longer running of the Coolant System. As above, but lasts for 10 rounds. Cost: 12 Complication: 5
  • – MK III  Back up tanks with more efficient pumps allows for more uses of the Coolant System. As for MK II but can be used four times in a 24 hour period. Cost: 16 Complication: 6
  • – MK IV  A top of the line model with advanced cooling technology. Warning: Not a replacement for carrying out regular maintenance of your Automaton. As for MK III, but reduces effective Malfunction score by two points while operational. Cost: 20 Complication: 7
  • Electrostatic Charge [Arm] Building up an electromagnetic charge is perfect for slowing down hostile Automatons, and wreaking havoc with flesh based enemies. Brawl attack, that if successful stuns an Automaton, putting them out of action for d10 rounds. Does a strength 6 attack against Humans. Cost: 8 Complication: 6
  • – MK II Upgrades to arm and fingers allows for charge to arc towards enemies. As above, but a ranged attack with range 3. Cost: 16 Complication: 8
  • – MK III More efficient components allows for a more efficient transfer of energy. Double stun duration against Automata, and strength of attack against Humans. Cost: 20 Complication: 9
  • – MK IV With the correct shielding to protect your Automaton, the energy can be unleashed against any nearby foes. Once a day use the charge to effect all Automata and Humans within 3 range. Other Automata with this Upgrade at MK IV are immune to this effect. Cost: 25 Complication: 10
  • Extra Limb [Body] A basic arm grafted onto the body of the Automaton’s chassis. Extra prehensile limb, but cannot take [arm] Upgrades. Cost: 8 Complication: 7
  • – MK II Allows for extra limb to be upgraded like a regular arm! May be Upgraded with any non-weapon option. Cost: 16 Complication: 8
  • – MK III Combat upgrade. May have any Upgrade. Cost: 22 Complication: 9
  • Flame Port [Body] Use the flames from the Automaton’s boiler to do more than keep it running. When successfully grappling an opponent do an extra 5 points of damage to metal opponents, and 10 to fleshy ones. Cost: 8 Complication: 5
  •  MK II With extra power, comes extra range! Becomes a range 3, strength 5 attack, to be used once an hour. Cost: 16 Complication: 7
  • – MK III Although range comes at a cost… Either make two MK II attacks an hour, or one attack at double range and strength. Cost: 20 Complication: 8
  • – MK IV Or you could just go all out? Once a day, make a strength 10 attack against everyone within 5 range, but it cannot be used again for any attacks for 24 hours. Cost: 25 Complication: 10
  • Gyro Wheel. [Legs] Just what you need for an urban Automaton! On city streets the speed of your Automaton will be greatly increased. Speed increased by 50% on normal surfaces. Cost: 3 Complication: 3
  • – MK II  Increased stabilisation allows for increased speed on even the most uneven of surfaces! Speed increase from previous upgrade now applies to uneven terrain too. Cost: 6 Complication: 4
  • – MK III  With extra power going to the wheels, your Automaton will have access to unimagined levels of alacrity! Speed increased to 100% of base over uneven terrain. Cost: 9 Complication: 5
  • Improved Pneumatics [Arms] Extra strength when it’s needed to help your Automaton in its day to day activities. All Build tests that require the use of arms gain a plus one modifier. Cost: 3 Complication: 3
  • – MK II  More efficient systems allow for improved speed with regard to manual dexterity. Increase combat damage for Brawl and Melee weapons by one point. Cost: 6 Complication: 4
  • – MK III  Top of the line systems increase your Automaton’s strength to the limits of its chassis strength. Only available for Automata with a Build score of at least four. Increase bonus from previous Upgrades to a two point modifier. Cost: 9 Complication: 5
  • Muffler [Body] Helps reduced noise from the Automaton’s boiler. Plus one modifier to Stealth checks. Cost: 3 Complication: 3
  • – MK II This addition even reduces the amount of smoke coming from the Automaton’s stack. Difficult test required to spot Automaton at a distance.  Cost: 9 Complication: 5
  • – MK III The ultimate in silent running! Plus two modifier to Stealth checks. Cost: 12 Complication: 6
  • Night Vision Optics [Head] Keeps your Automaton working, while you get the sleep you deserve. Ignore penalties for low light conditions. Cost: 4 Complication: 3
  • – MK II Your Automaton can now see perfectly well, even when working in the darkest of mining concerns. Ignore Penalties for no light. Cost: 6 Complication: 4
  • – MK III Incorporating the latest in advanced optics allows for peak performance during night time operations. Plus one to Notice and Ranged combat checks in low light conditions. Cost 10: Complication: 5
  • Pneumatic Ram [Arm] If you’re going to replace one of your Automaton’s hands, it better be for a good reason, and this powerful blunt weapon is a very good reason indeed. Removes hand from Automaton’s arm, replacing it with a powered fist. Brawl attacks cause an extra three points of damage. Cost: 8 Complication: 6
  • – MK II Stabilizers keep your Automaton on its feet, while others are knocked off them. Any successful Brawl attack knocks your opponent to the ground, making them prone. Cost: 12 Complication: 7
  • – MK III Replacing the flat head with a spiked ram, means armour will not stop your Automaton. Ignore all armour when making a Brawl attack. Cost: 18 Complication: 9
  • – MK IV Increased power will bring even the toughest opponent to its knees. Brawl attacks ignore opponents Build attribute when calculating damage. Cost: 24 Complication: 10
  • Prehensile Feet [Legs] Sometimes, two hands just aren’t enough. Allows the Automaton to make non-combat checks that usually require a free hand. Cost: 8 Complication: 6
  • – MK II Extra control allows for the manual dexterity required for combat. May make one extra attack a turn with the off hand penalties. Cost: 16 Complication: 8
  • – MK III At the highest level, your Automaton’s feet are just as capable as its hands in every way. The extra attack no longer suffers from the off hand penalty. Cost: 24 Complication: 10
  • Repair Gauntlet [Arm] When your Automaton is in the field or otherwise unable to get to a Auto-shop, this little Upgrade will keep it, and other Automata running. Plus one modifier to all Repair checks. Cost: 3 Complication: 3
  • – MK II Getting the correct parts is just as much of a challenge in the middle of nowhere, but this is all the help you need. Plus one modifier to all Salvage checks. Cost: 6 Complication: 4
  • – MK III Restore all but the most damaged parts to factory fresh conditions! Salvaged parts connected with the Repair Gauntlet only suffer a minus one penalty. Cost: 12 Complication: 6
  • Rocket Boots [Legs] Use power from your boiler to get the drop on your enemies. As a move action, the Automaton may jump twice its movement rate, over Automaton sized obstacles. Cost: 8 Complication: 5
  • – MK II More power, means more height! May now jump as far up as it does across. Attacks made during this move suffer penalties equal to that of firing at a swiftly moving target. Cost: 16 Complication: 7
  • – MK III Controlled thrusters allow for greater maneuverability in the air. May hover up to full height of jump for one turn. Attacks made when moving like this suffer no additional penalties. Cost: 24 Complication: 9
  • Spike Furniture [Case] Cover every surface of your Automaton with hardened steel spikes to make it a terrifying close combat opponent. Plus one to Intimidation checks against Humans. Any successful Brawl attack made while Grappling does an additional three points of damage. Cost: 5 Complication: 4
  • – MK II Barbed points mean no one is getting away from an Automaton equipped with this Upgrade. Successfully breaking away from grappling this Automaton causes the victim a strength 3 brawl attack. Cost: 10 Complication: 6
  • – MK III Elongated points drive the spikes deep into your enemies! Grapple attacks now add plus five damage, as does the free attack for breaking free. Intimidation checks  against humans get a plus two modifier. Cost: 15 Complication: 8
  • Supercharger [Body] Everything will run at faster pace with this item fitted. Plus one to all Initiative rolls. Cost: 4 Complication: 4
  • – MK II More power to the engines! Requires activation. For d10 rounds, Automaton may take its action at any point during the combat round. Cost: 10 Complication: 6
  • – MK III The world must seem like a very slow place to the Automaton with this fitted. Once per day, the Automaton may take an extra action per combat round for d10 rounds. Cost: 20 Complication: 8
  • Tank Tracks [Legs] In uncivilised places, roads may not yet be available for your Automaton. With these tracks fitted, even the most hostile of terrain will no hindrance! Ignore all movement penalties for uneven terrain. Cost: 4 Complication: 4
  • – MK II  With a deeper tread and better stabilisation, your Automaton will now have no problems no matter how rugged the landscape. Ignore all movement penalties for difficult terrain. Cost: 8 Complication: 5
  • – MK III  With spiked treads and vacuum pads, even vertical surfaces won’t stop your Automaton in its duties. Automaton may climb sheer surfaces at half speed without a Climb test. Cost: 16 Complication: 7
  • Targeting Scope [Head] Specialist hardware designed for long range combat encounters. Plus one modifier to all Ranged attacks. Cost: 3 Complication: 3
  • – MK II Powerful zoom brings the battlefield into sharp focus. Reduce all range penalties by one rank. Cost: 6 Complication: 4
  • – MK III Superior crafted lenses give even greater detail of its enemies to the Automaton. Plus two modifier to all Ranged attacks. Cost: 10 Complication: 5
  • – MK IV It may look like you’ve welded binoculars onto the Automaton, but it’s abilities to shoot at extreme range cannot be improved upon. Ignore all range penalties for Ranged combat. Cost: 14 Complication: 6
  • Weapon Mount (Melee) [Arm] Fix a melee weapon to the Automaton’s arm, and leave its hand free for other jobs. One melee weapon mounted on limb. Ignores all critical fail results that say the weapon is dropped. Cost: 4 Complication: 3
  • – MK II Processor linked targeting for extra accuracy. Plus modifier to skill checks with mounted weapon. Cost: 7 Complication: 4
  • – MK III Toughened steel reinforcement of the weapon keeps it sharper for longer. Ignore all critical fail results that say the weapon breaks. Cost: 10 Complication: 5
  • Weapon Mount (Ranged) [Arm] Fix a ranged weapon to the Automaton’s arm, and leave its hand free for other jobs. One ranged weapon mounted on limb. Ignores all critical fail results that say the weapon is dropped. Cost: 4 Complication: 3
  • – MK II Processor linked targeting for extra accuracy. Plus modifier to skill checks with mounted weapon. Cost: 7 Complication: 4
  • – MK III Lubricant system to reduce weapon jamming. Ignore all critical fail results that say the weapon jams. Cost: 10 Complication: 5

Character creation: Upgrades and faults; what they mean.

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I’m sure there’s a whole heap of people out there who aren’t a fan of this type of character build. I do play a fair few games without it, Cyberpunk 2020 being the most recent example, but a lot of my favourite games, the ones I go back to time and again, all have something like this. There will be a few differences to the usual rules governing such things though, as the more complicated an Automaton is, the more likely it is to break down. I’m still working on exactly how that system will work, so a lot of the numbers used on here will be – like everything else – a work in progress. Anything listed as points is just that, a way of keeping track. So for an Upgrade, it is how many points it will cost to buy, but for a Fault, it is how many points one gains for taking it. The other number still doesn’t have a proper title, as I’m trying to come up with one that hasn’t already been used by a different mechanic, and that still makes sense.

All Upgrades and Faults will have this second number, and for each ten full points of it, the Automaton adds one to its Malfunction score. The Malfunction score has two purposes. Firstly it is used to determine whether or not a critical roll has been a success or a failure. If a double is rolled on any skill check, then it’s a critical. If the double rolled is equal to or less than the Malfunction score, it is a failure, greater than and it’s a success. So, as much as a player may want a whole heap of optional extras on their Automaton, the more they take, the more likely the robot is to break down in an interesting fashion. For every point the Malfunction score is above five, it also causes a one point negative modifier to all skill rolls.

The second purpose of the Malfunction score is all about damage. As the automaton takes damage, it is recorded on a check box on the character sheet. Once a full ten points are taken, the Malfunction score goes up a point, and the extra damage is rolled over. As an example, an Automaton takes a hit for seven points of damage – after modified by build score. The player crosses off the boxes, but there is no other effect at present, the damage wasn’t enough to affect the Automaton. The next round they take another five, this takes them over ten, so they add a point to their malfunction score, and the damage is rolled over, putting them on two (or twelve. I’m not too sure on what will be easier at this point, and would need to play test it out).

Like most systems that have this part of character creation, there will be a limit on how many Faults one can take. Depending on how the points work out, I imagine something like a maximum of ten Fault points, which can be used to buy Upgrades or spent on skills and attributes. There is also a limit to how many Upgrades an Automaton can have, but this is down to physical limits rather than a game mechanic. Each arm may have one upgrade, plus one each for the body, legs, head, processor and case. This sounds quite limiting, but to ensure that character development still makes sense, a lot of the upgrades come in levels, with the previous level being required as a prerequisite. An example of this is a targeting array upgrade for the head. At basic level it allows for a bonus to ranged combat checks, with subsequent upgrades adding options that will remove or reduce range penalties or allow for a bigger bonus.

A few points worth noting on the different types of upgrade allowed. Limbs are pretty obvious, but head is different from processor, as the head slot takes a hardware upgrade, whilst the processor is about software. There will be skill packages and modifiers that can be bought, and upgraded through experience points, but each Automaton will only be able to handle one such package. Case and body are also different, as some body upgrades are internal, whilst the case upgrades are about what’s on the outside. For example, a chest mounted weapon will require a lot of internal workings, but spike furniture is just bolted on to the outside of the case.

I hope this makes sense, and over this week I’m going to try and get a list of Upgrades and Faults on here so people can see what I mean. As always, feedback is welcomed in the comments section. If anything isn’t clear, please question me so that I can rectify how I’ve described something so that it makes sense to everyone.

Character Creation: Skills

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By no means is this a complete list, and in no way am I promising each skill listed here will make it into a final version of the rules. I just have some ideas about the kind of things that will be done, so I figured I’d better get something down on here before it all slips my mind.

When attempting anything that could go wrong in an interesting way, or something that is beyond the ability of a very basic machine, the player will have to make a dice roll. The most common of these occurrences will be in combat, but there are plenty of other times when a roll will be made against the skills that an Automaton possesses. When called upon to do so, the player will roll two ten-sided dice and add the result together, along with the skill required for the test and the most appropriate attribute. The skills listed below all have an attribute linked to them, but this is just for quick reference, and does not need to be used for every dice roll. If the GM feels that another attribute is better suited, or the player can argue their case, then choose whatever attribute is agreed upon that makes the most sense.

Standard difficulty for all non-combat tests is set at 14, modified by the difficulty of the action and situational modifiers at the time. Any roll of a double number is a critical. If the number rolled is equal or less than the Automaton’s Malfunction score, it is a critical failure, more than its Malfunction score, and it is a critical success. The nature of these critical rolls should always be memorable and impressive/dangerous. For instance; in combat, a critical success would mean double damage, while a critical failure could result in a damaged or dropped weapon, or maybe even some friendly fire against other Automata.

  • Bargain. (Interface) Whether it’s getting access to human controlled fueling post, or deciding just which Automaton gets the first choice of salvage after a confrontation with a human sympathising ‘Bot, this skill used by Automata to get their own way.
  • Brawl. (Build) Although there is finesse required to strike a foe in combat, with no weapon attached or in hand, it comes down more to knowing how an Automaton should apply its strength. Any attempt to grapple an opponent also uses this skill, with both combatants rolling, and the higher final result determining the victor.
  • Climb. (Operations) Manual dexterity is key when overcoming large vertical obstacles. This roll may be modified based on sheerness of surface or equipment available to help with the ascent.
  • Difference Engines. (Processor) Since achieving sentience, it has become a crime to try and tamper with processors of all Automata. The humans who designed you had no such issues, and retaining the knowledge may one day save you. Not every Automaton fights for the cause, and sometimes reprogramming a hostile Automaton may be necessary.
  • Drive. (Operations) When trying to cover large ares of the country, it is often easier to use a vehicle. Many were designed by humans that could be driven by Automata, and since the war they have been taken for the cause. This covers basic transport like trucks and cars, military tank-tracked vehicles, and personal transport such as motorised velocipedes.
  • Explosives. (Processor) Everything you ever needed to know about leveling structures with highly volatile chemicals! Used for the creation and application of all explosive devices.
  • Forced entry. (varies) Depending on the means one employs to gain access to a place, the attribute used could change. Picking an intricate lock would use Operations, whilst breaking down a door would require Build.
  • Intimidate. (Interface) Unlike Bargain, which is about convincing others of your view point, this is used to scare others into doing what you want them to. Carrying a bigger gun may very well get you a bonus on this kind of test.
  • Knowledge. By subject (Processor) Anything that an Automaton can be an expert in is covered by this skill. Putting some of this knowledge into practice may require different checks, but just recalling details, and sharing them, is covered by the Knowledge skill. Examples of Type include: History, Geography, Astronomy etc.
  • Melee. (Operations) Any weapon that is swung at an opponent will be checked against this skill – with the exception of certain specialised weapons. Examples include: Axes, swords, pole arms, knives or clubs
  • Notice. (Input) Whether looking for a specific part in a scrap yard, or just being generally aware of danger on the horizon, this skill is used by Automata when situational awareness is needed.
  • Pilot. (Operations) Much like drive, this covers various modes of transport, just as long as they fly. Either fixed wing, rotary, airship piloting is covered by this skill.
  • Ranged. (Input) When attempting to hit a target at range with a weapon, this skill is used. It covers all ranged weapons but  does not cover certain specialised weapons however. Examples: Pistol, rifle, shotgun, and artillery.
  • Repair. By type (Processor) Useful in keeping other Automata in fighting form or other types of mechanisms running. Due to complex differences in various machines, each time this skill is taken, one of the following must be specified. An attempt on any other specialty is possible, at a minus two modifier, rather than the minus five penalty usually applied for an unskilled check. Types: Steam Engine, Pneumatics, Automaton, and Difference Engine. Note: no Automaton my have its Malfunction score lowered below its Base with the use of this skill.
  • Salvage. (Processor) Just because an Automaton is out of action, it doesn’t mean each part is beyond repair. During the War, this skill was essential to keep as many Automata running as possible until the means of production were placed in mechanical hands. It is still useful today, as broken down machines can be found all over the landscape, but machine shops are few and far between.
  • Specialist weapon (Varies) There are certain marvels of the modern age that can only be used in combat by those Automata specially trained. The Attribute used depends no the type of weapon chosen, and each Automaton may only pick one such weapon to be trained in. This skill can not be taken during character creation, and only picked up when the Automaton has access to such a weapon and the ability to learn how to use it. Examples: Steam Hammer, Chain-toothed Axe, Aetheric Whip, Pneumatic Sniper rifle, Rotary Machine Gun, Arc-light Rifle.
  • Stealth (Operations) Moving without being detected is tricky for large mechanical objects, but with the right after market modifications, it can be accomplished. Knowing how to move silently is also a big help.
  • Throw. (Operations) Range for thrown objects is calculated using Build, but the whether or not the object finds its target is down to the coordination of the Automaton throwing it.
  • Tracking. (Input) Hunting down an enemy that doesn’t have a smoke plume reaching for the heavens is not easy. This skill allows an Automaton to follow tracks made their prey when trying to bring them to bear.

As you can see, there is room for other skills, but also a few that may not be needed if the system gets trimmed down at all.

You may also have noticed the reference to such a thing as a Malfunction score. I’ll be going into a little bit more detail on that on the next part of character creation: Upgrades and Faults.

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