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Robots as Players in Metamorphosis Alpha

by Barton Stano & Jim Ward (Dragon #14)

On the lost star ship, "Warden", there is a small compound located near a ruined city. The inhabitants of the compound are descendants of the radiation disaster that struck the ship. Their distant ancestors had tried to restore sanity to the nearby city, but soon realized that the task was too great for them. They were forced into this decision because of the increasing frequency of mutant attacks upon the compound. The ever-decreasing group was forced into building a small "safe" area from which they could venture out only at need. For years, in their self-imposed isolation, the group tried to learn about the much changed ship and its devices, for huge gaps existed in their knowledge. These gaps were created when their highly trained ancestors were killed before they could pass along their knowledge. Their lack of know-how worried them, for if they had advanced weapons, they could foil any mutant attack. Their need to find out more about the ship was demonstrated when a strange mutated humanoid got through their defense system, So, in an effort to find out what there was to discover about the mutations of the ship and the ship’s lost knowledge, they sent out scouts. They did not want to risk themselves for their fear of mutants was overwhelming. They were instead able to create self controlled robotic devices to do the job.

The robots are equipped with the best equipment they have, but this is not very formidable compared to what they think their ancestors were capable of. They never want to be able to communicate with the device lest some unknown mutant was able to track the robot back to its source. To insure that this never happens the final program was very complete. It states that the robotic unit is to explore the mutant filled ship studying mutants and any discovered devices of the ancients. This information is to be sent back on a one-way radio circuit. The unit was programmed with the combined knowledge of the compound on technical devices and a program block was given it so that it could never approach the place of its creation. These units were sent off and while many of the units were quickly destroyed, some of them gave their creators much valuable information.

Because of the nature of this possible player character, it is recommended that only one player of any group play a robot. One big advantage to the Star Ship Master is that if a robot player is killed the SM can start another robot off in the same general direction with all the knowledge of the old unit. The SM should give every robot player a small amount of technical knowledge, given in such a way that it forces the player to still experiment with many of the possible devices of the ship. These robots are not controlled by bands or other robots.

To set up a player as a robot, you roll no dice. The player is given 115 points for structural creation and 100 power points. The player creates the kind of unit he or she wants with strengths and weakness that only they know about. The structural points are used for the movement factor, computer factor, physical devices, armor, sensory equipment, and weapons. The power points serve to beef up special sections.


These units propel the robot and only one movement device is allowed per robot. The units lose speed when weight is added or damage is taken. The SM should determine what the effects are on movement.

Type of Unit Speed Cost Operational Weight
"Forest" Propulsion Unit 96 KPH (60 mph) 30 Structure Points 500 lb.
Standard Propulsion Unit 48 KPH (30 mph) 25 Structure Points 400 lb.
"Garden" Propulsion Unit 40 KPH (25 mph) 20 Structure Points 350 lb.
Low Propulsion Unit 20 KPH (12 mph) 15 Structure Points 500 lb.
Anti-gravity Unit Height Only 30 Structure Points 900 lb.
Treads (Tracks) 15 KPH (9 mph) 45 Structure Points 1,500 lb.

For every five power points added to a propulsion unit there is an increase of five KPH and twenty pounds of operational weight. In the case of the Anti-Gravity unit, it can raise the robot up to 500 yards; with the addition of five power points it can raise it up to 1,500 yards.


There are basically four different types of electronic brains. Each one is responsible for the controlling of the power relays needed when using broadcast power, the use of the devices the robot is equipped with, and the logic systems needed for travel. The following is a detailing of what each unit does:

Single Logic System: The system will work all the devices with a dexterity of ten. It is able to use only two systems at the same time.

Dual Dependent Logic System: These are two separated computers that must work together to control the entire system. In case of malfunction or damage, one computer can control any one system of the robot. This system is able to use any three systems on the robot at the same time. It gives the unit a dexterity of twelve at all times.

Dual Independent Logic System: This is just two separate systems that are able to use any four systems of the robot at the same time (dependant on the power accumulation capacity). In case of damage it is able to control the robot as the single logic system. It gives the unit a dexterity of fifteen at all times.

Triple Semi-independent Logic System: This is the most complex of all the robotic systems and allows the unit to use any six systems at the same time. If power is available it is usually able to repair itself and it gives the robot a dexterity of eighteen. This system greatly increases the ability of the robot to figure out ancient devices (judges’ option as to the total ability).

For every fifteen power points added to the computer unit, it is able to use one extra built-in robotic system (over and above the norm for the unit). For every ten power points added to the computer unit, it is able to add one to the robot’s dexterity (up to eighteen).

Type of Unit Cost
Single LS 10 Structure Points
Dual Dependent LS 15 Structure Points
Dual Independent LS 20 Structure Points
Triple Semi-independent LS 25 Structure Points

Physical Devices

All of these parts are located in the trunk of the robot.

Lead Shielding: Robots have a base ten mental resistance and a base ten radiation resistance. One of these shields raises both scores by four points. Each shield weighs fifty pounds.

Lights: These are two moveable lamps that can be used to dazzle enemies.

Quills: These are six inch steel quills that can be located anywhere on the unit. There are fifty quills per set and five of them can be launched if ten extra structure points are spent. These spikes have a range of fifty yards and a weapon class of three.

Boxes: A robot may have up to four of these eight cubic foot exterior boxes. Each comes filled with 100 computer power points and 100 structure repair points. This is the only way a robot may get spare parts in its beginnings. Always keep track of how many points are left in each box.

Radiation Detector: This device is effective up to loo meters and can determine intensity levels.

Water Proofing: A robot is normally water-proofed to twenty feet of water; with ten extra structure points it is good for ten extra feet of water.

Resistance to Heat & Cold: A robot is normally resistant to temperatures of -40 degrees F to plus 120 degrees F. Every five points of structure increases that resistance on either side up/down five degrees.

Single Grasping Claw: Twelve meter (39 feet) extension, with a lifting capability of 100 kilograms (220 pounds).

Light Tractor and Repulsion Beams: They are able to hold or repel masses of up to 90 kilograms (200 pounds) with a range of 3 meters.

Insecticide and Herbicide Sprayers: These have a range of twenty meters and the effectiveness is up to the referee. For every ten added structure points given this item, there are twenty shots above the normal thirty.

Type Cost
Lead Shielding 20 Structure Points
Lights 5 Structure Points
Quills 10 Structure Points
Box 15 Structure Points
Radiation Detector 5 Structure Points
Water Proofing 5 Structure Points
Single Grasping Claw 20 Structure Points
Tractor & Repulsion Beams 30 Structure Points
Sprayers 30 Structure Points


An armor type must be chosen; only one may be used.

Class Cost
Armor Class One 50 Structure Points
Armor Class Two 45 Structure Points
Armor Class Three 40 Structure Points
Armor Class Four 35 Structure Points
Armor Class Five 30 Structure Points
Armor Class Six 25 Structure Points
Armor Class Seven (Lots of bare wire) 20 Structure Points
Armor Class Eight 15 Structure Points

Note: The duralloy shield will not aid in a robots armor class or the use of other types of armor.

Sensory Equipment

The use of these is the only way a robot can sense the world around it. The repairing of any of these units costs two structure points. The taking of any of these units not only costs the stated structure points; they also take ten power points per system.

Sense Cost
Vision as a human 5
Heightened Vision as the mutation 10
Hearing as a human 5
Heightened Hearing as the mutation 10
Smell as a human 5
Heightened Smell as the mutation 10
Touch as a human 10
Heightened Touch as the mutation 15
Analyzer: if given a small sample of soil, living matter, or the product of living things, it can tell the effect it has on that matter with its systems. Detecting radioactive ground or poison material are its best functions 15
Voice: This is the only way a robot can communicate with others 10
Infra-red & Ultra-violet spectrum receivers 15
X-ray unit with a range of three yards 10

Weapons Systems

There are two types of weapon systems: one that uses structure points and one that uses power points. The wave type weapons need power points and are treated like mental attacks with a mental resistance of thirteen normally.

Structure Weapons Systems

Slug Ejector: Fires ten slugs per melee round with each doing two dice of subduing damage. It comes with 200 slugs that are reuseable. 100 extra slugs may be acquired for ten extra structure points.

Radiation Beam: This is a base ten radiation emitter. It is useable every three melee rounds unless it is the only structure weapon. In this case it can be used every other melee round. The intensity can be raised one level for every five structure points added.

Capture Nets: These nets have a weapon class of 5 for hitting and do no damage when striking but do entangle anything they hit. There is a 1-40% chance that there will be no movement for the next three melee turns after being struck. It takes a torch a melee turn or a human three melee turns to get rid of the net.

Sonic Blast: This is the same as the mutation and useable every three melee turns.

Selective Sonic Blast: Using a parabolic reflector this system can focus the sound in a three feet area.

Heat Generator: As the mutation

Physical Weapons: Swords, maces, axes and the like are built into a tentacle of tentacle or claw. These weapons have a base strength of twelve. The addition of ten power points raises the base strength by two. Power Bolts: These bolts are treated as a heavy crossbow. There are ten with the system and they are reusable. The firing rate is two per melee round.

Power Weapon Systems

Paralyzation Wave: This wave is as the mutation mental paralyzation with a range of twenty yards.

Force Field: This system is the same as the mutation in effect, but it takes five dice of damage. When overloaded it is forever useless. For every additional five power points a die is given to the shield.

Repulsion Beam: As the mutation with the force field dice.

Magnetic Control: As the mutation

Weapon Type Cost
Slug Ejector 10 Structure Points
Radiation Beam 10 Structure Points
Capture Net (1) 10 Structure Points
Sonic Blast 10 Structure Points
Selective Sonic Blast 15 Structure Points
Heat Generator 10 Structure Points
Physical Weapon 5 Structure Points
Power Bolts 15 Structure Points
Paralyzation Wave 15 Power Points
Force Field 15 Power Points
Repulsion Beam 20 Power Points
Magnetic Control 15 Power Points

Damaging of Robots

Every robot should start out with eighty hit points. It takes damage just like any other mutant. For every drop of one-fourth in the number of hit points there is a loss of one-fourth of the robots body functions. The player makes a list of the order of the functions that will be lost before the total destruction of the unit. For every piece of lead Shield added on add ten hit points.

Along with the concept of damage to robots is the need to figure in the effect of fatigue on the machine parts. After four weeks away from the compound, a robot must start expending five structure or power points a week to maintain its trim. If this is not done then the referee rolls every day with a 5% chance that the unit will suffer a system that breaks down.

Computer Malfunction Table

% Malfunction
1-15 Movement System Damaged
16-23 Tentacles or Claws
24-34 Weapon System
35-65 Trunk
66-95 Power System*
96-100 Unit Logic System

*Roll again to determine where the system is located.

Repair Table

Percent Damaged Time Needed for Repair Cost in Structure
or Power Points
1- 10% 1 Hour 5
11-20% 2 Hours 10
21-35% 2.5 Hours 15
36-49% 3 Hours 20
50 - 79% 3.5 Hours 25
80 - 96% 4.5 hours 30
97 - 99% 10 hours 30
100% 5 days 50

A player might wish to not spend points on fixing a unit, but merely jerry-rig the system. In this case the ship master rolls a percent secretly to determine how long the jerry-rigging works. A system may only be jerry-rigged twice.

Repair Duration

1 Day 1-10%
1 Week 11-35%
30 Days 36-89%
Permanently 90-100%

NOTE: Illusion generation, mental control, life leech, mental transparency, death field generation, and de-evolution do not work on robots.

There are several robotic features that are built in. They are: water proofing, three, four foot long tentacles having claw-like fingers at the ends, broadcast power pick-ups, one-way radio transmitter, and an innate resistance to electrical shock.

NOTE: In the case of Anti-gravity system, it is necessary for the unit to push itself in leaps. This causes it to travel at about the same speed as a human.


“Forest” PU 30 (SP) 80 (PP) Speed 176 KPH
Triple (S-I LS) 25 (SP)
1 Box 15 (SP)
Vision 5 (SP) 10 (PP)
Hearing 5 (SP) 10 (PP)
Power Bolts 15 (SP)
Armor Class (7) 20 (SP)
“Garden” PU 20 (SP) 60 (PP) Speed 100 KPH
Dual ILS 20 (SP) 30 (PP)
1 Box 15 (SP)
Heightened Vision 10 (SP) 10 (PP)
Armor Class 6 25 (SP)
3 Physical Weapons 15 (SP)
Capture Net 10 (SP)

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