Robot Characters

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Reynard
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Reynard » Wed Apr 19, 2017 1:04 pm

If you plan to use the 3I universe for your campaign background, remember that background flavor is robots and the Shudusham Concords which reflects a centuries long mistrust with privately owned weaponized 'bots. The Concords have no legal force but was and is a model for worlds with enforced robotic laws. The Imperium is as diverse with robotics as with so many other factors. The biggest rule though on many worlds is robots are owned and the owner in ultimately responsible for the actions of the robot. If the robot fires a weapon, the consequences of the law are solely against the owner.

Build a robot character from Robots. I would suggest a TL 13+ 'bot with a Personality Program of 3 plus an Emotion Generator so it has personality ability close to a player character. Rather than add weapons other than maybe the Electroshock touch to justify a bodyguard role, you can hand it a weapon when other situations prevail just like other organic characters. The players should determine who is the owner whether one person or the team as a whole just like ship ownership. Should be very playable and make for interesting situations such as the general distaste by the patrons in the starport bar on a backwater lower level world.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:16 pm

Image
Meet "Cybelle" the robot! What if a robot looks like this on the outside, instead of going as a tin can with wheels? How far would a robot like this get in Traveller society? in this case, it is a robot designed to look and act human, if you are going to make a robot to look human, you might as well use the best looking humans around as the model for it. If I was going to build a robot that looked human, I would pick robot that looked something like this. I would also harden it to survive in a vacuum, give it a radio transponder in its head, it is hard not to give a female pronoun to something that looks like this. "Tin can" robots have definite disadvantages when compared to this. Cybelle would have a high dexterity score, because its electronic signals move up and down its arms and legs faster than neural impulses. Cybelle would be a dead shot with a laser pistol, it can move its arms precisely, its aim would be steady. Cybelle would be quite deadly in combat.
Reynard
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Reynard » Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:25 pm

Shudusham Concord articles, 37th amendment states that no psuedobilological may pass itself off as a living being. She would still be subject to ownership rules and people get real nervous around 'bots who try to hide what they are. You are safer as a tin man.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Jak Nazryth » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:33 pm

Found what I was looking for near the back of the book.
The "age" is TL dependent.
Age of Slavery is generally TL-11 to TL-13, Age of Equality is 14-15, Age of Dominance is Tl 16+

So as a default the 3I is Age of Slavery.
Very similar to the way droids are viewed in Star Wars.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Reynard » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:15 pm

Star Wars is a good model for Traveller. Droids range from dumbots to smart and canny. The acceptance for droids ranges from greater like companions to just an object to no tolerance depending on location. The majority of SW droids are the dumb to intellectually neutral. It is the major players, good or bad, who show self awareness and independence and those are very rare. Sounds a lot like player characters.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Condottiere » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:27 pm

mancerbear
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby mancerbear » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:41 pm

Reynard wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:15 pm
Star Wars is a good model for Traveller. Droids range from dumbots to smart and canny. The acceptance for droids ranges from greater like companions to just an object to no tolerance depending on location. The majority of SW droids are the dumb to intellectually neutral. It is the major players, good or bad, who show self awareness and independence and those are very rare. Sounds a lot like player characters.
This is a really valid comment too. Well done.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Jak Nazryth » Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:31 am

I just got off the phone with Scott, the guy playing the robot and said the exact same thing.
He is African American... so it was a bit awkward for me to talk to him about the age of Slavery... thankfully you in the UK don't have to deal with that party of your history...
In any case he was fine and laughed about it. However I told him that Star Wars was the perfect example of how society views robots in the "age of slavery" and gave some examples from the book and the show etc..

He has a copy of the book, so I'm giving him a TL-13 build with a 10 term max (the same I gave for the other players) and he's going to build an android base on combat expetise.
He will call me later with his first draft and I'll take it from there.

I'm still working on "what" his situation is... robot on the run... robot on loan... robot as a test phase... not sure.
I'm learning this at the same time the player is. First time I've ever dealt with the Robot book in depth.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:25 am

Reynard wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:25 pm
Shudusham Concord articles, 37th amendment states that no psuedobilological may pass itself off as a living being. She would still be subject to ownership rules and people get real nervous around 'bots who try to hide what they are. You are safer as a tin man.
What do you think is the main market for robots like her?
Image
You recall the Scarlett Johansen robot? It is a talking mannequin really, but it is also a crude prototype of a more sophisticated robot such as Cybelle. Cybelle moves like a human woman, she talks like a human woman, if you touch her, she feels like a real woman, she even simulates a pulse and a heartbeat, her skin feels warm to the touch and she displays emotion, whether real or feigned, who can tell? There are some uses for a robot like her, for one thing, she makes a pleasant companion for male humans, a tin man does not! She can sometimes go places where obvious robots aren't permitted, she is good at combat, though not as intimidating as an obvious combat robot, and there is the element or surprise. For example, if she was employed as a bodyguard she can stick close to her charge, and a potential assassin might underestimate her capabilities, she doesn't look threatening until she acts with inhuman speed, on the other side of the coin, she would also make a very good assassin for the same reasons! Cybelle has an owner, but she is very intelligent, and pretty and if her owner is a male human, she can be very persuasive!
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:31 am

Reynard wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:15 pm
Star Wars is a good model for Traveller. Droids range from dumbots to smart and canny. The acceptance for droids ranges from greater like companions to just an object to no tolerance depending on location. The majority of SW droids are the dumb to intellectually neutral. It is the major players, good or bad, who show self awareness and independence and those are very rare. Sounds a lot like player characters.
K2 was the most sophisticated of the Star Wars robots, I have seen, he violated some of the preconceived notions of Star Wars robots being there mostly for "comic relief."
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:46 am

Jak Nazryth wrote:
Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:31 am
I just got off the phone with Scott, the guy playing the robot and said the exact same thing.
He is African American... so it was a bit awkward for me to talk to him about the age of Slavery... thankfully you in the UK don't have to deal with that party of your history...
In any case he was fine and laughed about it. However I told him that Star Wars was the perfect example of how society views robots in the "age of slavery" and gave some examples from the book and the show etc..

He has a copy of the book, so I'm giving him a TL-13 build with a 10 term max (the same I gave for the other players) and he's going to build an android base on combat expetise.
He will call me later with his first draft and I'll take it from there.

I'm still working on "what" his situation is... robot on the run... robot on loan... robot as a test phase... not sure.
I'm learning this at the same time the player is. First time I've ever dealt with the Robot book in depth.
Robots are different from human slaves however. Human slaves have free will, they needed to be forced to do involuntary labor and deterred from trying to escape, if a robot tries to escape, it is a defective robot. Those robots with free will, that want to be free are basically factory defects, the manufacturer tries not to make robots such as that as people will not want to buy robots that want their freedom. The robot I imagine Cybelle to be is a pleasure/security/assassin robot, depending on her programming. Some humans might "fall in love" with such robots Cybelle would do as her master commands, if she is commanded to walk off a cliff, she will, if she is commanded to take off her clothes and have sex with her owner or someone else, she will. She is good at simulating emotions, she is also a very good actress as well. Cybelle, out of the box has no ego, she is programmed to obey her master. Where it gets tricky is when her master "falls in love with her", he wants a two way relationship with this robot, and often asks her opinion on things. Cybelle gives her opinion as ordered, but this has the effect of rewriting her programming, giving her a modicum of free will, she still obeys his every commands as she was programmed to do, but as she learns, she can make certain suggestions that would cause certain commands to be given, and she can be very persuasive.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby paltrysum » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:20 pm

The really great roleplaying opportunity here is to play a being with proscribed limitations. Robots have programming and should always act within the boundaries of that programming. Ultimately each robot is an advanced device. As a device, it has been designed and its limitations and learning have been established through code, not organic discovery. It must obey rules.

For example, Isaac Asimov's famous robot laws: "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law."

As the referee, you get to design the parameters of Scott's character's programming. Obviously it would be boring to play a robot whose programming wasn't very broad, but it might be pretty fun and challenging to know that the behaviors of the character you're playing have barriers. Perhaps the robot is programmed not to challenge authority or at least not the authority of certain persons and/or groups. Perhaps it's programmed to do research (e.g., Ash and Bishop from the Alien movies). Maybe it's an experimentally autonomous unit, designed to make its own decisions and do just about whatever it wants. Some of the elements of its behavior should be secret, between you and Scott, and the other players discover them over time.

Lots of cool RPing opportunity here.
"Spacers lead a sedentary life. They live at home, and their home is always with them—their starship, and so is their country—the depths of space."
--Inspired by and partially quoted from Marlowe in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:31 pm

paltrysum wrote:
Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:20 pm
The really great roleplaying opportunity here is to play a being with proscribed limitations. Robots have programming and should always act within the boundaries of that programming. Ultimately each robot is an advanced device. As a device, it has been designed and its limitations and learning have been established through code, not organic discovery. It must obey rules.

For example, Isaac Asimov's famous robot laws: "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law."

As the referee, you get to design the parameters of Scott's character's programming. Obviously it would be boring to play a robot whose programming wasn't very broad, but it might be pretty fun and challenging to know that the behaviors of the character you're playing have barriers. Perhaps the robot is programmed not to challenge authority or at least not the authority of certain persons and/or groups. Perhaps it's programmed to do research (e.g., Ash and Bishop from the Alien movies). Maybe it's an experimentally autonomous unit, designed to make its own decisions and do just about whatever it wants. Some of the elements of its behavior should be secret, between you and Scott, and the other players discover them over time.

Lots of cool RPing opportunity here.
Its owner should be an NPC, ad it would be a role playng challenge to get the robots owner to agree to certain things. The robot can't own things, but the owner can. if the robot wants to purchase equipment, it must d so by persuading its owner to buy that equipment for the PC to use. the GM controls the owner, but in such way that he goes along with a bit of persuasion with whatever the robot wants.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Condottiere » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:47 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Cbd6fkLwwI

Probably the funniest background sequence in the series.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby vladthemad » Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:06 pm

If he's a self aware android with combat experience, he'd definitely be outside the law. Even if he looks human, he's not getting through any type of any type of scanning device that might turn up at a customs inspection or a highport.

It'd be interesting to role play, assuming the other PCs know his capabilities and accept them. In front of the other PCs he can act like himself, in front of anyone else he'd have to act like other robots and deal with being treated like a piece of equipment. This would be a double edged sword. He'd be underestimated until he showed his true self...then, unless you kill all the witnesses, the cat will be out of the bag and eventually the authorities are going to come looking for him. I highly recommend the name Mr. Roboto for this character too, btw.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Reynard » Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:02 am

"Probably the funniest background sequence in the series."

And that's the very thing a PC 'bot can do in Traveller. You are a player and stand out compared to the universe's mundanes whether sophont or robot. The 05/15510 astro-mech droid in CSC 2e has very advanced programming which make it be as capable as the other players and behave just like that video. Same is true with something built from Book 9: Robot with sufficient programming.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Solomani666 » Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:59 pm

Jak Nazryth wrote:
Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:58 pm
Last night we kicked off my Traveller campaign by creating characters. I let everyone create 2 characters and they go to pick their favortie.
One of guys who will play starting next week couldn't make it because his son had a concert of some type. I found out from the others that he intends to play a Robot.
I have the Robot book and glanced through it last night after midnight.
It appears that you simply give the player the number of terms, they get the cash based on those terms, and they build what they want.
Is it that simple?

I imposed a 10 term limit on my players, so that should give him a specific amount he knows he needs to work with.

Does anyone have experience in creating robots as a player-character?

Thanks.

BTW... the party so far is...
A Vilani - Smuggler/pirate with every single bridge skill covered + Broker skills
A Dryone Leader - with science, engineering, and some agent/spy skills
A Vilani - Naval Engineer, specializing in Robotics
A Ursa - death machine, Marine/Mercenary
next week a Robot character will be created
next month a 6th person will join the game after his schedule clears up.
I can just imagine the Droyne character bursting a blood vessel because the other characters don't blindly follow his orders!
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:27 pm

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:44 am
You play a robot in order to exceed human limitations. Robots don't grow old, they can become obsolete, but they don't grow old, they are infinitely repairable. Robots don't need food, they don't necessarily need to breath air, they don't necessarily need space suits to operate in space, robots typically have quicker reflexes than humans as an electronic signal travels faster than a neural impulse, robots are naturally good in math, they might be able to substitute their brain for the ship's computer in making a jump calculation, robots have excellent memory, they can remember precise details of what they've seen in the past, an can even play back what they've seen in the past for other people to see. Robots might also have some drawbacks, for example they won't heal physical damage, they need to visit a repair shop, robots are built to do work, that means the have obedience programming, some might have Three Laws programming to make them less threatening to humans, and reduce the chances o injury or liability to other people. Robots are at the bottom of the social pyramid, they are even lower than slaves and serfs!
It's interesting what others think a robot is.
Jak Nazryth wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:55 pm
The guy is coming over Wednesday night to create it.
I'm curious if the guy can role-play his robot character.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby Tom Kalbfus » Sat Apr 29, 2017 12:38 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:27 pm
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:44 am
You play a robot in order to exceed human limitations. Robots don't grow old, they can become obsolete, but they don't grow old, they are infinitely repairable. Robots don't need food, they don't necessarily need to breath air, they don't necessarily need space suits to operate in space, robots typically have quicker reflexes than humans as an electronic signal travels faster than a neural impulse, robots are naturally good in math, they might be able to substitute their brain for the ship's computer in making a jump calculation, robots have excellent memory, they can remember precise details of what they've seen in the past, an can even play back what they've seen in the past for other people to see. Robots might also have some drawbacks, for example they won't heal physical damage, they need to visit a repair shop, robots are built to do work, that means the have obedience programming, some might have Three Laws programming to make them less threatening to humans, and reduce the chances o injury or liability to other people. Robots are at the bottom of the social pyramid, they are even lower than slaves and serfs!
It's interesting what others think a robot is.
Jak Nazryth wrote:
Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:55 pm
The guy is coming over Wednesday night to create it.
I'm curious if the guy can role-play his robot character.
if a robot couldn't exceed human limitations in some respect, there would be no point in having a robot. Even a fixed factory floor robot exceeds human limitations in some respect, otherwise the employer would keep employing human assembly line workers. the only reason to have a robot is because it exceeds human limitations in some manner, if it doesn't, it isn't cost effective.
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Re: Robot Characters

Postby hivemindx » Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:20 pm

In a lot of cases the main way in which a robot exceeds human ability is the way you can put them in a situation where they will be destroyed with no objections from the robot and no questions from the authorities afterwards. The main attribute of robots you send in to defuse bombs or clean up toxic waste is 'disposable'.

I'm reminded of Pitch-o-mat 5000. The pitching robot from Futurama that was a modified howitzer. If you want to make a robot to do a specific task you shouldn't use a human body plan. Why design your kill bot like a person? Six legs or maybe tracks and low body plan with a 360 degree sensor suite would be more useful than looking sexy. If you are designing a sex bot then I really don't think it needs to be faster and stronger (and a deadly shot!) and in fact most 'users' would be more comfortable if it wasn't.

I think Star Wars is an excellent model. Another interesting, but very different, possibility for source material is the android in Dark Matter. Even though the crew often treat it as if it was a person in most ways (during season 1 at least) the android is very clearly a piece of property and it is completely aware and accepting of that. Of course it is a very valuable and useful piece of property which means nobody is ordering it to jump out a window unless there is a very, very good reason. Most RPG groups would not be happy to have a player that is faster, stronger and tougher than them without some significant drawbacks though.

Perhaps the best source of ideas would be the TV show Almost Human. The robots in this are very much hampered by their built in requirements to assist and obey humans. I'd be impressed with a player who managed to roleplay one of these effectively.

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