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How to make a race : a swarm of microbot

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  • How to make a race : a swarm of microbot

    Hello guys,

    Let's say I want to master an Eclipse Phase-like setting with Savage Worlds and a player wants to play a "Swarmanoid" a.k.a a swarm of microbot (about the size of an insect each) ?

    So I check in the SPC2 and I thought about the super-power Intangibility with Permanent modifier and a big penalty in Strength but it's not enough, or is it ?

    Here is a copy-paste of the description (EP is CC-BY-SA-NC by the way) :

    The swarmanoid is not a single shell per se, but rather
    a swarm of hundreds of insect-sized robotic micro-
    drones. Each individual “bug” is capable of crawling,
    rolling, hopping several meters, or using nanocopter
    fan blades for airlift. The controlling computer,
    cortical stack, and sensor systems are distributed
    throughout the swarm. Though the swarm can “meld”
    together into a roughly child-sized shape, the swarm
    is incapable of tackling physical tasks like grabbing,
    lifting, or holding as a unit. Individual bugs are quite
    capable of interfacing with electronics.
    And a swarm can be big as 10m × 10m × 10m (about a cube of 30 ft × 30 ft × 30 ft for the other side of Atlantic ocean)

    A swarm can also pilot one individual microbot for exploration for example.

    What do you think about ? I don't need to be as close as possible, just main capacities, and I don't need this Race to cost 2 points as per SWADE rules, just to evaluate the total cost, since almost all Races are far more powerful than any 21th human (but there are old standard human too). In ideal case, given the cost in Credit in this setting, the cost of this Race should be around 5 to 8 Power Points.

    And what about powers like Shape Change ? Shrink ?

    Any guidance or insight would be helpful, thanks in advance
    Last edited by Trismegiste; Yesterday, 12:20 PM.

  • #2
    Would Regeneration be appropriate?

    Comment


    • #3
      The idea that the swarm of micro-bots cannot come together to interact like a human body is incomprehensible to me. It is one of the concepts in Eclipse Phase that always made me bounce off the setting. But that doesn't help your conversion.
      Apologies for the next bit, you don't need it but it is part of my process.
      To create my version of a microbot swarm (mostly humanoid, can collapse into a pile of discrete ant-sized bots).
      No internal organs, less massive than the volume implies, capable of becoming a cloud-like swarm, and made of processors that can assist software manipulation.
      Microbot Swarm Body:
      • Construct: (+8) A swarm of tiny robots compose this being. They add +2 to recover from being Shaken, ignore one level of Wound modifiers, don’t breathe, and are immune to disease and poison. Wounds must be mended via the Repair skill. Each attempt takes one hour per current Wound level and ignores the “Golden Hour”.
      • Dependency (Electricity): (-2) Microbot Bodies need power to function and to maintain the neural matrix. This necessitates either one hour of charging every 24 hours, or continuous access to broadcast power. Every 24 hours without power causes a level of Fatigue until Incapacitated. 24 hours later, the neural matrix collapses and they die. Recovering each level of this fatigue requires one hour of charging.
      • Hardy: (+2) The swarm absorbs damage with surprising ease. A second Shaken result in combat does not cause a Wound.
      • No Vital Organs: (+1) Called Shots do no extra damage against them.
      • Power (Intangibility): (+2) Has Arcane Background (Gifted) with the intangibility power. Remember to invest in the Focus skill. The Power Points Edge is available to increase available Power Points.
      • Size (-1): (-1) The disparate nature of the swarm body is deceptively light, reducing Toughness by 1.
      • Skill Bonus (Hacking): (+1) The additional processors of the swarm make microbot bodies remarkably effective hackers. They have +1 to all Hacking rolls to manipulate software.
      • Sleep Reduction: (+1) The microbot swarm body does not require comprehensive downtime, but the downloaded human mind does require some. Microbot swarms sleep for 2 hours each day.
      • Strength Penalty: (-3) The microbot swarm is powerful but not in the same way as organic muscle. All Strength rolls, including melee damage, suffer a -2 penalty.
      Since balance isn't a concern, I won't throw on more drawbacks just to get the value down. Instead, I'll just own that it is a +9 race and move on.
      However, this version defaults to a humanoid form and can only maintain cloud shape for a minute - maybe as many as five.
      Now, your version is going to have some serious differences.
      Construct should still work (+2 vs Shaken, don't breathe, immune to disease, immune to poison, needs to be repaired, mitigate damage), Dependency still fits, No Vital Organs is obvious, and Size is still "child-like".
      Hardy is arguable, as is the sleep reduction, and the Strength penalty. They fit but are not included in the provided description.
      The big difference is the constant intangibility and the ability to expand in volume.

      EP Swarm Body:
      • Construct: (+8) A swarm of tiny robots compose this being. They add +2 to recover from being Shaken, ignore one level of Wound modifiers, don’t breathe, and are immune to disease and poison. Wounds must be mended via the Repair skill. Each attempt takes one hour per current Wound level and ignores the “Golden Hour”.
      • Dependency (Electricity): (-2) Microbot Bodies need power to function and to maintain the neural matrix. This necessitates either one hour of charging every 24 hours, or continuous access to broadcast power. Every 24 hours without power causes a level of Fatigue until Incapacitated. 24 hours later, the neural matrix collapses and they die. Recovering each level of this fatigue requires one hour of charging.
      • No Vital Organs: (+1) Called Shots do no extra damage against them.
      • Size (-1): (-1) The disparate nature of the swarm body is deceptively light, reducing Toughness by 1.
      • Super Powers (Illusion): (+7) Two levels of the Illusion power with the Film Quality, Obscurement (+2), and Limitation (Obscurement only) power modifiers.
      • Super Powers (Intangibility): (+5) The Intangibility power with the Permanent modifier. Moving large volumes of fluid can affect the swarm, as can EMP.
      • Super Powers (Interface): (+5) The Interface power with the Code Breaker modifier.
      A +23 race.
      If you want to reduce the power then replace Interface with a +2 Skill Bonus to Hacking; half the benefit and three fewer race points.
      You can add in Hardy, Sleep Reduction, and Strength Penalty if desired but I don't deem them necessary (and Strength penalty seems like pointless cheeze - the only thing Strength can affect is other swarm bodies so taking it is a largely meaningless penalty).
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
        The idea that the swarm of micro-bots cannot come together to interact like a human body is incomprehensible to me. It is one of the concepts in Eclipse Phase that always made me bounce off the setting. But that doesn't help your conversion.
        Apologies for the next bit, you don't need it but it is part of my process.
        To create my version of a microbot swarm (mostly humanoid, can collapse into a pile of discrete ant-sized bots).
        No internal organs, less massive than the volume implies, capable of becoming a cloud-like swarm, and made of processors that can assist software manipulation.
        Microbot Swarm Body:

        ...
        Wow, you're awesome ! There is a lot of insights, more than I expected

        No Vital Organs is a very good idea, for example, I didn't think of that. Construct is so obvious, I forgot to mention it, my bad
        I've decided that SPC (Interface) is free since everybody is connected to the ubiquitous Mesh.

        Dependency is a good idea too. Perhaps not to electricity but microbots have a very limited lifespan. You need to "recreate" some on a regular basis. That could be something interesting to play.

        Perhaps, I'll reduce the total cost and keep only the most important abilities but you help me a lot. Big thanks !

        Currently I'm in the hard process to balance the cost of all morphs, and tailor a systematic rule of thumb. Now I have a better view of very costly morphs. That's perfect.

        By the way, that makes me think about the Repair in the Construct ability : The Repair skill replaces Healing but how it works ? One wound is healed with a Success and two with a Raise ? Or is it all Wounds are repaired in one roll ?
        Last edited by Trismegiste; Yesterday, 03:49 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Bodies in Eclipse phase are equipments, so it wouldn't be a problem to have uber-powerful options, as long as they are somehow balanced by availability, costs and the like. Players with sufficient ressources in Rifts can get their hands on robots able to fight dragons barehanded, so it's not that different.

          Comment


          • Trismegiste
            Trismegiste commented
            Editing a comment
            Good point. The real difficulty is to find the good balance between cost VS power

        • #6
          Originally posted by Trismegiste View Post
          By the way, that makes me think about the Repair in the Construct ability : The Repair skill replaces Healing but how it works ? One wound is healed with a Success and two with a Raise ? Or is it all Wounds are repaired in one roll ?
          It works just like the Healing skill, except you get to ignore the "Golden Hour" restriction. Success restores 1 Wound and a raise (or better) restores 2 Wounds. Also, each mechanic can only do so much - rolling once per patient per set of Wounds.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

          Comment


          • Trismegiste
            Trismegiste commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank you for the clarification.

        • #7
          So you're using Super Powers to build this thing, somewhere in the 5-8 PP range? Cool! That helps.

          Based on the description, I think I would easiest to create a "default" form of a child-sized construct, then provide branching abilities from there. The racial template might look something like this:

          [+14] Arcane Background (Super Powers): The swarm generally appears as an amorphous shape roughly the volume of a person. The swarm can "swell" in size and dimension, becoming less distinct, and therefore harder to hit. A swarm has the following abilities.
          • ALTERED FORM (metal) (3pp), Reach +2 (+2pp), Viscous (+1). TOTAL 6 PP
          • INTANGIBILITY (5pp), Limitation: Cannot pass through solid objects (-2). TOTAL 3 PP
          • INTERFACE (2pp), Code Breaker (+1). TOTAL 3 PP
          [+8] Construct
          [-3] Attribute Penalty (Strength): Individual bugs have a Strength of 1. Collectively, they are still quite weak, receiving a -2 to all Strength rolls, including damage.
          [-1] Cannot Speak: The bots cannot produce human speech. They communicate with each other wirelessly.
          [-2] Environmental Weaknesses (electricity, water): The swarm receives a -4 penalty to resist effects from these sources and takes +4 damage from them as well.
          [-2] Frail: The tiny bots are easily destroyed, and many can be hit at once. The swarm's collective Toughness is 2 points lower.
          [-5] Reduced Core Skills: The swarm has no "lived experiences" and begins with no Core Skills. It must learn (or be programmed with) every skill it knows.

          _____

          This race has a whopping 22 points of positive abilities and 13 points of negative abilities, for a final tally of +9. If that's still too high for your campaign, you can drop the Reach modifier or maybe add Dependency to negatives list (or both).

          Playing this race:
          For simplicity, it's assumed the swarm clusters in an area equivalent to a Size 0 person. Its Altered Form ability lets it expand up to Size 3 without lossing it's offensive capability (small as it is). It can "break off" parts of itself (forming mini swarms) that can attack at up to Reach 2.

          Once again, for simplicity, the swarm make normal Fighting rolls to attack (subtract 2 from any damage). This is Trapped as numerous individual bots tearing at the flesh of the target. Armor functions normally, preventing the bots from getting to the soft bits. The swarm has no ranged capabilities (though a custom Edge can address that). Unlike true swarms (from the bestiary), this entity is targeted normally. However...

          The swarm may "disperse," with each individual bot being so far apart it is effectively Intangible. This is not true intangibility, though, so the bots cannot phase through solid matter. It may use its Viscous ability to slide through cracks though.

          For other logical benefits of being a swarm of fly-sized robots, players are encouraged to use Bennies to influence the narrative.

          ________

          There may be a better way to handle this, but this is what I came up with.
          Last edited by Deskepticon; Yesterday, 04:55 PM. Reason: Fixed embarressing typo in first sentence :facepalm:

          Comment


          • #8
            Originally posted by Deskepticon View Post
            • ALTERED FORM (metal) (3pp), Reach +2 (+2pp), Viscous (+1). TOTAL 6 PP
            • INTANGIBILITY (5pp), Limitation: Cannot pass through solid objects (-2). TOTAL 3 PP
            • INTERFACE (2pp), Code Breaker (+1). TOTAL 3 PP
            [+8] Construct
            [-3] Attribute Penalty (Strength): Individual bugs have a Strength of 1. Collectively, they are still quite weak, receiving a -2 to all Strength rolls, including damage.
            [-1] Cannot Speak: The bots cannot produce human speech. They communicate with each other wirelessly.
            [-2] Environmental Weaknesses (electricity, water): The swarm receives a -4 penalty to resist effects from these sources and takes +4 damage from them as well.
            [-2] Frail: The tiny bots are easily destroyed, and many can be hit at once. The swarm's collective Toughness is 2 points lower.
            [-5] Reduced Core Skills: The swarm has no "lived experiences" and begins with no Core Skills. It must learn (or be programmed with) every skill it knows.
            I like the "Reach", this a very good idea. It's far beer than a costly "Shape Change" with a huge size and it's closer to the effect in game.

            Also Environmental Weaknesses is excellent, not with water but that reminds me swarms have Achilles' heels like those found in the Transhuman Companion (too many rules in EP).
            ADHESIVES
            Swarmanoids are extremely sensitive to adhesives.
            Adhesives such as freezers and glue strips will physi-
            cally disable affected microbots.
            or this one
            WIND
            Wind speed is subtracted directly from the movement
            rate of a flying swarmanoid. If this brings the
            swarmanoid’s speed below zero, microbots are
            sucked along with the wind, causing damage to the
            swarm until they can return.
            In fact there are many weaknesses I didn't think about to lower the cost at other morphs' level ().
            There are so many game aspects in EP, my brain is going to melt. But the background is awesome.

            For other logical benefits of being a swarm of fly-sized robots, players are encouraged to use Bennies to influence the narrative.
            This rule is great, thanks !

            Thank you for your answers, it really helps because I was "stuck-in-the-mud". SWADE + SPC2 + this forum = 100% WIN
            It's so sad the french community for this awesome RPG is so small.
            Last edited by Trismegiste; Yesterday, 05:44 PM.

            Comment


            • Deskepticon
              Deskepticon commented
              Editing a comment
              I'm happy you found it useful.

              Good luck with your game!
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