Thursday, October 29, 2020

Androids, Gamma Terra, and GURPS

Our Gamma Terra GM posted a few things about the Tomorrow Men over on his blog, Black Ray Gun.

General posts about our game is under the Tomorrow Men tag.

He put up a long post on Androids.

"Close up, they were still artificial: there was something not quite right. But from a distance – even across the room – you could easily mistake them for real people. Think Star Trek’s Data, or Gary Numan circa 1978."

Hah. Or circa 2020. I saw Gary Numan a few years back in NYC. He is pretty easy to mistake for a human!

I don't know if our GM ran point totals on his androids, but I think having point totals really does help when you're designing mass foes, wether human, android, orc, or whatever. It keeps you in check. The Gamma World androids are pretty over the top - Warrior has physical strength 18, constitution 18, dexterity 18, intelligence 18, charisma 18, and only mental strength is rolled randomly (3d6.) Thinkers have 18 and 18 in intelligence and mental strength and then 3d6 in the others. The warriors are all pretty much Roy Batty, which is an interesting parallel thought given the game predates the movie.

If you did the same with androids in GURPS, your Mark VII warriors would potentially be ST 20, DX 20, IQ 20, HT 20 . . . and just sell back some Will (but not too much.) Or you could say, no, 18s aren't really 18s . . . but we're talking human max (and in 2e, they could have 21s, as could humans.) But in GURPS this is way, way too effective. Going simply off of the idea of "perfect human maxima" comes up with a crazy-expensive foe that most PCs couldn't touch. You'd need to scale it down . . . but to what?

This is where point buy is useful for NPCs. Or at least having a budget. If you suddenly think, well, yeah, warrior androids should have ST 18 or so, DX 15 or so, IQ 13 (at least), HT 16+, plus Immunity to Metabolic Hazards, Combat Reflexes, maybe even Enhanced Time Sense due to their reflexes, some natural DR, Doesn't Eat or Drink, Doesn't Breathe, oh, maybe Pressure Support for underwater and space, etc. etc. you get a staggeringly expensive package. So much so that it's still hard to be a useful foe for PCs unless you use them sparingly, and what's the point of a whole Cryptic Alliance of human-hating androids if you use them sparingly?

I've found it is a little better to set your sights a bit lower, and have a rough budget in mind - or a least, an dea of when too much is too much.

We haven't fought any Mark VIII androids in Gamma Terra yet, but I bet when we do we'll be impressed by their abilities but not automatically run down quite like a literally translated android from Gamma World would would do to us. It's how it should be, and fit how androids were in GW in actual play.

Still, there are other things that GW androids make me wonder. Do they all know everything about pre-Apocalypse tech? Do they automatically know how to use any artifact? Seems reasonable. Are they all of The Created? Did they have a connection with the Apocalypse itself in some way? They don't seem to type to have help back . . . so they might have been (effective) slaves who became free as a result of the fall of civilization.

Do they have incept dates and lifespans? Are they immortal? If so, are all of them from before the war? Can they reproduce? So many questions are really left open by them. Back in the day we just had them show up and fight, because they hate humans and my cousin's mutant armadillo was human enough for them because, why not? But these days . . . I wonder about them. And feel for them, if they hate humans because humans made them self-aware but crippled them in a way the're painfully aware of. It's terrinble to live in fear, but it's also terrible to live without hope . . . and that might be what humans did by making self-aware androids all too human but still not equal to humans.

Hillbilly would sympathize with them. Barbie will just shoot them, though. Barbie is like that . . .

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