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Android/Robotic Constructs, inherent advantages, and the "Life" Sphere

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  • Android/Robotic Constructs, inherent advantages, and the "Life" Sphere

    So you're some robot that has Awakened. A deathbot created by the Iterators, possessed by a rogue AI created with Mind 5, which then Awakened. Or some Etherite clockwork automaton which attracted alien energy and developed its own sub-ether wavelengths, forming a mind and Awakening.

    What do you use instead of Life?

    My first thought is that androids and robots would follow all of the rules of human PCs, except they would use Matter as a sort of super-sphere for their own body. Matter would give all of the benefits of Life, such as increasing your physical attributes, "healing" / repairing yourself, transforming and reshaping your components...

    My next thought is that a robot has some advantages over humans, quite big ones, that are innate. They won't drown or asphyxiate. They are immune to all toxins and drugs. They can simply power down if they have no energy source, or are almost irreparably damaged. They don't bleed or age or decay, and their conditions don't naturally worsen. Of course they lack their own natural healing abilities, they are infertile, they can't utilized food or drink or drugs for advantages... but overall I think they're coming out ahead.

    Furthermore, specialized applications of Spheres may be somewhat lacking when used on an android. If someone simply tries to use Entropy to tear you apart on a molecular level, both a human and a robot are in trouble. But if they're using Life to stop their heart, they'll find it's doing nothing. If their application of Mind is backed up by the Psychology and Brainwashing abilities, rather than Computer and Hypertech, then they won't get the best results from their focus. It could still work, but it's an unusual target. And being an unusual target, in my opinion, is a great asset in Mage.

    Lose an arm? Fine. Replacing an arm on a robot is 100% coincidental, and you likely won't even need to use Magick to help with that procedure. Want to make a "clone" you can control with Correspondence colocation? Just... build another robot out of the same stuff and off you go. Want to upload a copy of your mind into a computer for safe keeping? Well your mind is already computerized, you're just moving it from one supercomputer to another.

  • #2
    I'd personally say that you would still use Life. One of the biggest conceptual limitations I often see with people and the Life Sphere is they associate it with typical Biological Life. Life is about Living Dynamic Patterns, whether that pattern is made of pure energy, or mechanical robot parts is irrelevant aside from potentially needing Forces or Matter to assist in the creation or healing of the body.

    Imagine, Combining Prime and Life to create a stable, living form out of Pure Etheric/Quintessential Energy.

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    • #3
      I think it depends on the robot. If were taking about a completely mechanical Construct (Ultron, XJ9, Bender) than sure, but they should probably have several mandatory flaws and a lot of perma-dox. If they are android with living tissue sheath (Terminators, Data, Guri) than I think Life should be the primary "healing" sphere for them.

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      • #4
        Usually healing is all about repairing damage to the body - and I would presume that, the way that most artificial constructs are set up, the Life Pattern is held merely in a sort of container or central component inside the purely artificial body.

        So I'd say, yes, healing simply requires Matter in the case of an artificial, completely non-biological construct. However, this comes with cons as well:
        To heal, you *need* to use the matter sphere, or resort to rather classical feats of mechanical repair - there is no automatic healing over time. Every little bruise you get over time from just walking into something, hitting a limb against something hard? We normally simply heal that. It's everyday life. Our bodies are awesome like that. Not, however, if you are mechanical.

        Also, it could be argued that *if* it is indeed a mechanical construct that is not thoroughly interwovel with a life pattern ( to make matter healing viable ), then actually feeling with the limbs solely depends on sensors installed in those limbs. There is no 'magical' way of feeling with those limbs unless the life pattern is woven through everything ( and thus requires matter + life to heal both parts). That also means that the sensations one feels are quite different - one of the main problems we are facing now with cybernetic implants these days is less about feeling with the hands - we have pressure sensors and the like by now that work surprisingly well - but actually feeling the position of thel imb.

        Our organic limbs feel *themselves*. Their positioning, their bending - we still do not have that with artificial limbs. Of course a magickal construct could have sensors or tech for this, but it is something to keep in mind.

        Also, there is more - there is a high chance an artificial construct needs maintenance, or it degrades over time. Sure, food is not needed, but there is above wear and tear, as well as general maintenance. And of course, if the construct was never meant to be, say, able to submerge into water, falling into the same might literally kill you as the water short circuits everythign and leaves you fried or simply out of commission.

        All in all it highly depends on the nature, type and structure of the artificial body in order to determine all the pros and cons, and wether matter or matter + life is needed to heal.


        All of this is, of course, not even touching the subject of social disadvantages - from simbly being eyed in the way non-humans get eyed, to actually not being able to enter normal society because the artificialness is downright obvious.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Weirdboyz View Post
          I think it depends on the robot. If were taking about a completely mechanical Construct (Ultron, XJ9, Bender) than sure, but they should probably have several mandatory flaws and a lot of perma-dox. If they are android with living tissue sheath (Terminators, Data, Guri) than I think Life should be the primary "healing" sphere for them.
          Here we're talking about a 100% mechanical being, rather than a cyborg or bio-android. I think Permanent Paradox in exchange for innate advantages is probably a fair way of running that sort of thing, you're right.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ambrosia View Post
            Usually healing is all about repairing damage to the body - and I would presume that, the way that most artificial constructs are set up, the Life Pattern is held merely in a sort of container or central component inside the purely artificial body.

            So I'd say, yes, healing simply requires Matter in the case of an artificial, completely non-biological construct. However, this comes with cons as well:
            To heal, you *need* to use the matter sphere, or resort to rather classical feats of mechanical repair - there is no automatic healing over time. Every little bruise you get over time from just walking into something, hitting a limb against something hard? We normally simply heal that. It's everyday life. Our bodies are awesome like that. Not, however, if you are mechanical.

            Also, it could be argued that *if* it is indeed a mechanical construct that is not thoroughly interwovel with a life pattern ( to make matter healing viable ), then actually feeling with the limbs solely depends on sensors installed in those limbs. There is no 'magical' way of feeling with those limbs unless the life pattern is woven through everything ( and thus requires matter + life to heal both parts). That also means that the sensations one feels are quite different - one of the main problems we are facing now with cybernetic implants these days is less about feeling with the hands - we have pressure sensors and the like by now that work surprisingly well - but actually feeling the position of thel imb.

            Our organic limbs feel *themselves*. Their positioning, their bending - we still do not have that with artificial limbs. Of course a magickal construct could have sensors or tech for this, but it is something to keep in mind.

            Also, there is more - there is a high chance an artificial construct needs maintenance, or it degrades over time. Sure, food is not needed, but there is above wear and tear, as well as general maintenance. And of course, if the construct was never meant to be, say, able to submerge into water, falling into the same might literally kill you as the water short circuits everythign and leaves you fried or simply out of commission.

            All in all it highly depends on the nature, type and structure of the artificial body in order to determine all the pros and cons, and wether matter or matter + life is needed to heal.


            All of this is, of course, not even touching the subject of social disadvantages - from simbly being eyed in the way non-humans get eyed, to actually not being able to enter normal society because the artificialness is downright obvious.
            Proprioception, that is, sensing where your body is in relation to itself, is something a robot excels at if it is sufficiently advanced. It models its movements before it carries them out, much as we do, and it also has sensors (proprioceptors) which give feedback and correction to this model, much as we do. If you want your robot to be able to move at all, in an adaptive way (that is, if you want a proper adaptable android rather than a simple machine) you absolutely need to give it these faculties.

            I imagine that a well-designed android would excel in the Mental and Physical Attributes, and suffer in terms of Social Attributes.

            General maintenance, along with healing minor damage, can all be achieved with the Matter Sphere and simple robotics. Many technomages use Nanites, and "repair nanites" don't fall outside of the Mage setting at all. Faster regeneration is listed as an Advantage in Mage, so an ST could simply ask the player to purchase healing nanites since it isn't something robots possess by default, and it lies so far outside sleepertech in 2018.

            Social disadvantages could be enormous; even if an android knows a lot about humans, short of being specially designed for social interaction they will struggle with it. But as long as a PC has Appearance 1 they should look passably human. Not looking human at all is represented by a flaw, which is something a PC might take to pay for some of their advantages.

            I could imagine an Android PC being an Etherite (clockwork perhaps, mechanical and ingenuitive focus), Virtual Adept (focus on AI and the mind), NWO Agent (a prototype Black Suit which you can mass produce, highly controversial and considered unmutual by some Adamites) or Iterator (focus on mechanical perfection and development).

            Matter, Data or Mind could be Primary, depending on the concept. They should have some kind of Wonder built into their design for optimum results. Their Paradigm is built around the idea that humanity's genius is the source of all answers. Alternatively, they could be animistic, with a focus on the machine spirit and the nature of humanity, working with Glitch or The Machine or The Man.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

              Furthermore, specialized applications of Spheres may be somewhat lacking when used on an android. If someone simply tries to use Entropy to tear you apart on a molecular level, both a human and a robot are in trouble. But if they're using Life to stop their heart, they'll find it's doing nothing. If their application of Mind is backed up by the Psychology and Brainwashing abilities, rather than Computer and Hypertech, then they won't get the best results from their focus. It could still work, but it's an unusual target. And being an unusual target, in my opinion, is a great asset in Mage.
              If being an "unusual target" had some sort of effect Ecstatics would be practically immune to the mind sphere.

              Lose an arm? Fine. Replacing an arm on a robot is 100% coincidental, and you likely won't even need to use Magick to help with that procedure. Want to make a "clone" you can control with Correspondence colocation? Just... build another robot out of the same stuff and off you go. Want to upload a copy of your mind into a computer for safe keeping? Well your mind is already computerized, you're just moving it from one supercomputer to another.
              So much no, you are a state of the art sleeper defining bit of technology. You are at least as complex as something made out of flesh so no, its not 100 percent cooincidental outside the sanctum you were built in.. at which point so is growing new arms and crap.

              Building another Robot is AT LEAST a wonder effect so.. yeah I'm not seeing how this is any easy. And I can't even run Android apps on my Iphone the "you can upload your Reality bending AI to any super computer" is.. at least as much a magickal effect as uploading human brain scan.

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              • #8
                Purple paradygm Life deals with any kind of organism. Your construct must be able to repair itself, to grow, to eat some kind of food. As a ST i would even allow given the right paradygm, Life sphere to alter social groups

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lian View Post

                  If being an "unusual target" had some sort of effect Ecstatics would be practically immune to the mind sphere.



                  So much no, you are a state of the art sleeper defining bit of technology. You are at least as complex as something made out of flesh so no, its not 100 percent cooincidental outside the sanctum you were built in.. at which point so is growing new arms and crap.

                  Building another Robot is AT LEAST a wonder effect so.. yeah I'm not seeing how this is any easy. And I can't even run Android apps on my Iphone the "you can upload your Reality bending AI to any super computer" is.. at least as much a magickal effect as uploading human brain scan.
                  I disagree on the first point; if someone is trying to turn you into dust, but doesn't realize you're *actually* a body of light, then it won't work. They're trying to do something that doesn't apply. The same goes for trying to stop a beating heart if someone doesn't have one (they're a Vampire, a human charmed to live without a heart, or a robot who just looks human), or trying to read someone's mind if their mind isn't what you expected; say if their mind was bound in a computer rather than a brain. That isn't to say that you couldn't read the android's mind, it's just that your first attempt wouldn't work since you'd be trying to do something the wrong way.

                  That second part, however, I agree with fully! I'd made a mistake in assuming that being mechanical meant that you could treat your own body as though it were sleepertech; an android mage ISN'T sleepertech! Such a PC is enlightened tech, and therefore needs to master Matter and Prime where someone else would need Life and Prime.
                  Last edited by 11twiggins; 06-18-2018, 01:56 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RandyRando View Post
                    Purple paradygm Life deals with any kind of organism. Your construct must be able to repair itself, to grow, to eat some kind of food. As a ST i would even allow given the right paradygm, Life sphere to alter social groups
                    Well no, you can play a construct which is just an AI with no devoted body. Or a construct which is a golem. Or a construct which is a robot. Or a construct which is a clockwork automaton with a crystalline brain, which oscillates in perfect harmony generating thought from mere etheric wavelengths pulled from the universe itself. All of these are potential constructs which can possibly Awaken within the Mage setting. Now an ST might not allow the AI since it lacking a devoted body complicates matters, being too powerful and not powerful enough at the same time. They might dislike the golem idea since it makes social interaction and working with sleepers tricky. They might not want you to be an android or made of gears. That's fine. But it's possible, RAW, and some STs will be fine with some of them.

                    And said constructs don't need to be able to grow, repair themselves, and eat food. A golem might be powered only by the magick which created it. A clockwork automaton might need someone to wind them up every week to work optimally. A robot might need to replace their batteries. Being able to heal yourself is an innate advantage of playing as a mortal in the WoD, but not *all* Mages are mortals, since constructs can Awaken.

                    Life does deal with any sort of organism, from dinosaurs to fungi to sick humans to cacti. But it doesn't effect social interaction directly, that's the domain of Mind. Life might be able to effect social interaction indirectly; making a member of the herd more aggressive by controlling their hormones, making an animal more successful socially by boosting some secondary sexual characteristic through transformation, that sort of thing.
                    Last edited by 11twiggins; 06-18-2018, 02:18 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

                      I disagree on the first point; if someone is trying to turn you into dust, but doesn't realize you're *actually* a body of light, then it won't work. They're trying to do something that doesn't apply. The same goes for trying to stop a beating heart if someone doesn't have one (they're a Vampire, a human charmed to live without a heart, or a robot who just looks human), or trying to read someone's mind if their mind isn't what you expected; say if their mind was bound in a computer rather than a brain. That isn't to say that you couldn't read the android's mind, it's just that your first attempt wouldn't work since you'd be trying to do something the wrong way.
                      .
                      Those are not the same thing. A mind is a mind. It works on all manner of creatures that have minds. Now Life should totally fail if you are trying to cause a heart attack into a hologram or robot but that's not Mind. Just like if I want to cause a heart attack in a garou I need life and spirit.. but if I want to cause them to Frenzy.. mind will work.

                      If you need "computer programming" to possibly understand how to use Mind to effect a Mechanical construct Mage then by that same token Technocratic Paradigms would be completely hindered interacting with Mystic creatures, they don't "understand" how they work so the Mind sphere would be useless here.. and Ecstatics who are all about changing theirown mind and perceptions would be equally protected.

                      This is not the case though.

                      Unless you are going to make an argument that his mind is only effected by forces and then I'm going to argue I can still effect human minds with life and forces so.. Mind sphere is itsown thing.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lian View Post

                        Those are not the same thing. A mind is a mind. It works on all manner of creatures that have minds. Now Life should totally fail if you are trying to cause a heart attack into a hologram or robot but that's not Mind. Just like if I want to cause a heart attack in a garou I need life and spirit.. but if I want to cause them to Frenzy.. mind will work.

                        If you need "computer programming" to possibly understand how to use Mind to effect a Mechanical construct Mage then by that same token Technocratic Paradigms would be completely hindered interacting with Mystic creatures, they don't "understand" how they work so the Mind sphere would be useless here.. and Ecstatics who are all about changing theirown mind and perceptions would be equally protected.

                        This is not the case though.

                        Unless you are going to make an argument that his mind is only effected by forces and then I'm going to argue I can still effect human minds with life and forces so.. Mind sphere is itsown thing.
                        A mind is a mind, but different kinds of minds work differently. If someone's "mind" is a bunch of 1s and 0s forming a simulation of a personality, and you think you're influencing a normal human mind, you might falter. It's analogous to finding that someone doesn't have a heart, instead having a cybernetic pumping engine which you'd need Matter/Life to interfere with.

                        You don't *need* computer programming to brainwash an android, but if you're using abilities to make your magick easier and it turns out that those are the wrong abilities, then you shouldn't modify difficulty surely? So someone who tried to brainwash an android with techniques which are specifically human (exploiting a bias/fallacy which is hardwired into human neuropsych but not Artificial Intelligence) might find that their effect doesn't work very well (no difficulty modifier from the Ability roll, for example). However if they were to try again with some other ability which actually did apply to the pattern they're targeting, they could still find some advantage.

                        It's like trying to use Life on a plant that looks like a fungus. If you use your fungus specialization in your Abilities, you can't expect that to work out since you're wrong about what you're looking at in the first place.

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                        • #13
                          + No need for oxygen
                          + No susceptibility to pathogens
                          + Lacks certain Life related targets like a heart or cellular metabolism
                          + No aging, potentially immortal
                          + May use Matter as a sort of "super-sphere" for their own body; all the normal benefits of Matter, plus it can be used to repair and improve the construct's form
                          + Various natural advantages (best represented with Merits, high Attributes and the Advantages/Enhancements traits) depending on the type of construct
                          + Doesn't necessarily rely on sleep or rest
                          + Negative conditions don't necessarily progress or worsen; a damaged limb on a robot, for example, doesn't necessarily lead to them "bleeding" to death
                          + Many "Death" situations for mortals simply lead to a construct pausing, hibernating or shutting down. For example, "starvation" cannot kill a robot, as its components don't require energy to continue to exist, only to function

                          - No innate healing, must be repaired
                          - Naturally infertile
                          - Social and psychological issues
                          - Potentially viewed as an object by fellow Mages, may even be property
                          - Often needs a precise power source
                          - May have some natural weakness which can be exploited (best represented with Flaws and low ratings in certain Traits)

                          Happy to update with new suggestions!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                            + No aging, potentially immortal
                            Machines break down. Especially hightech ones. Though if you want to use it as an excuse to buy unaging its a thing.


                            + May use Matter as a sort of "super-sphere" for their own body; all the normal benefits of Matter, plus it can be used to repair and improve the construct's form
                            + Various natural advantages (best represented with Merits, high Attributes and the Advantages/Enhancements traits) depending on the type of construct
                            Probably a custom Merit



                            + Doesn't necessarily rely on sleep or rest
                            + Negative conditions don't necessarily progress or worsen; a damaged limb on a robot, for example, doesn't necessarily lead to them "bleeding" to death
                            + Many "Death" situations for mortals simply lead to a construct pausing, hibernating or shutting down. For example, "starvation" cannot kill a robot, as its components don't require energy to continue to exist, only to function
                            While you could use these to justify various merits, I would say each of these can be disproven if you don't want those merits.

                            1. Maintence. Just look at Robocop(the original) he had all sorts of down time. yes He had organic parts but the idea is still there. They shut him down for a bunch of time to do maintenence.

                            2. Ripping off an arm could be a serious hazard to a machine, unless its built to lose limbs, coolant could be lost. Wires could be exposed. There's all sorts of justification for why if you incapacitate them they could be "dying"

                            3. I've had cars "die" in the winter. They are FAR less complex than a Reality bending Android. They are litterally the most complex and finicky piece of machinery on the planet. They might say.. not be waterproof. OR if they run out of power and don't get regular maintence can't be repaired.. there's all sorts of justification for specialized flaws. The idea that machines will innately be tougher than people is questionable, I mean you can build for it.. but you will have to build for it.


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post


                              And said constructs don't need to be able to grow, repair themselves, and eat food. A golem might be powered only by the magick which created it. A clockwork automaton might need someone to wind them up every week to work optimally. A robot might need to replace their batteries. Being able to heal yourself is an innate advantage of playing as a mortal in the WoD, but not *all* Mages are mortals, since constructs can Awaken.
                              Totally, however, if they don't grow/repair/eat energy *by themselves*, the construct is not made out of life pattern. They are matter pattern.




                              Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                              Life does deal with any sort of organism, from dinosaurs to fungi to sick humans to cacti. But it doesn't effect social interaction directly, that's the domain of Mind. Life might be able to effect social interaction indirectly; making a member of the herd more aggressive by controlling their hormones, making an animal more successful socially by boosting some secondary sexual characteristic through transformation, that sort of thing.
                              Indeed, but there are some corner cases where the border between Mind and Life is more than blurry.
                              Is a placebo pill purely mind ?
                              Are hormones purely life ?
                              Will a created internet meme be *real viral* without life sphere ?



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