As pointed out elsewhere, this is a pretty good place to start when introducing a new system. Although a lot of my ideas are still in need of some refinement, I have a pretty good idea about starting the character creation process, so I thought I’d share it now. This gives visitors to the site something to read to get a better idea of what I’m hoping to achieve, and also gives me the chance to actually get some ideas down in a place where I can easily find them later.

At present I want Rise of the Automata (RotA) to be a fairly simple system.  To get that across I have gone for a very simple stat line of only five base attributes.

  • Build. The Automatons build quality determines not only how strong it is, but how good it is at applying that strength. This means it is the base stat for all strength based skills, as well giving a damage modifier for close combat attacks. It is also used to determine hot sturdy the Automaton is, comes into play when considering damage reduction from attacks.
  • Operations. This determines the reflexes and manual dexterity of the Automaton. Used for all dexterity related challenges and melee combat tests. Also part of the calculation used to determine a base score for initiative.
  • Input. Indicates how well the Automaton process outside stimulus, such as noises and reflected light. The base stat for all skills where awareness is key, and the other half of the formula used to calculate initiative.
  • Processor. Quite simply, how well programmed is the Automaton. In human terms, how clever are they; how well do they store knowledge, and how quick are they at figuring things out. Skills that are based on recall and problem solving use this stat.
  • Interface. Talking to other Automata – and maybe even humans – to convince them of something, uses this stat. Whether by threats, cajoling, or bargaining, all social skills use this stat as a base.

Each attribute will have a base value between one and five by the end of character creation, but where the numbers start are determined by the chassis type the player picks for their Automaton. Right now I have seven chassis types in mind, all adding three extra points each across the five base stats. Imagine each of them to be a blank robot body with certain modifications making them more suitable to a certain role.

  • Defense. Automata designed to serve in her Majesty’s Armed forces, or work for private companies to protect their holdings. Although strength is a desirable after market modification, Operations is the primary boost allowing for better combat performance, with Input being the secondary boost, giving them advantages in reaction speed and situational awareness.
  • Repair. The ultimate Automaton service operative. Not only do they keep themselves running, but are designed to keep other Automata active, even if it means salvaging from their fallen comrades. With a primary of boost to Processor, giving them the edge in repairs and salvage, their secondary boost to Build gives them the brute strength required to lift up and get under malfunctioning bots.
  • Protocol. More than a just a gift for languages, these Automata have top rate Interface boosts allowing them to talk their way into – or out of – any situation. A secondary boost to Input means they will be aware of problems before anyone else.
  • Recon. The smoke stack will be only thing giving this Automaton away as it moves behind enemy lines to retrieve information or rescue a human in distress. A top of the line sensor suite gives it a primary boost to Input, so it can stay clear of trouble, and a secondary boost to Operations means it can move quickly and quietly away, just in case.
  • Manufacturing. Far from glamorous, but the job still needs to be done. A primary boost to Build means this Automaton is suited for working in any hazardous environment, with a secondary boost to Processor meaning it will know how to get the job done.
  • Logistics. The first of the everyman chassis, this offers no primary boost, but three secondary boosts, all useful when wanting product moved to a desired location. Build, Operations, and Inputs all get a boost for an Automaton with a simple job.
  • Service. Another option for the everyman chassis, with three low level boosts, all helpful for an Automaton that just wants to help its human.Input, Programming, and Interactions all useful when you need an job doing well, and the customer leaving with a smile on their face.

Quite simple so far, and from there the player has five further points to assign amongst the stats, as long as none go above five. The Build score is then given as a damage bonus for close combat, and a resistance score for reducing damage received on a one-for-one basis. Adding together Operations and Input gives the base initiative score, while Processor determines the number of software upgrades that Automaton will be allowed at any time.

You may notice that all Automata have so far been referred to as an “it”. This is very much deliberate, as the very nature of these devices means that they are truly gender neutral. They have no need to attract a mate to procreate, and although they understand the concept of the gender in humans, see no way which it applies to them. This has been a full little side affect of having machines as player characters, as it means that i don’t have to worry about playing pronoun games when writing the rule book, and it puts characterisation fully in the hands of the players.

That’s what I’ve got in my head so far, and if you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments section below.