Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Robots as Spaceships: Scaling Costs

So far, we've been playing around with a SM+0 robot, and extrapolating all the costs for systems much smaller than the creators of spaceships ever intended. This method works, but we can make this simpler, while doing so gain many more options for robot sizes. Many otherwise similar robots will differ mainly in size and gear tacked on at the end. Rather than buying systems at the size the spaceship will be, we will build the spaceship at an easy to calculate abstract size, and then scale it to the size that we need.

While this is being presented as part of the robots as spaceships series, this is a tool I've been using for a long time when building spaceships. It simplifies table look-ups, and gives us a lot of power and flexibility we can use to build spaceships that aren't exactly on the SM benchmarks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Robots as Spaceships: Robot Attributes


A robot is in a weird classification somewhere between a vehicle and a person. This makes them tricky to handle in a lot of RPG's, and Gurps is no exception. One of the hardest challenges is that both characters and vehicles ST and HP, but characters get DX, while vehicles have handling. In this post, we're going to explore how to make machines into characters. We essentially do this by separating the AI pilot from the vehicle they are driving.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Robots as Spaceships: Nitpicking the Gunbot

original at https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2015/01/30/marine-corps-considers-new-unmanned-tank-micro-drones/
How does the Gunbot measure up to everything else?
In the last post we created a Gunbot Mark I, a 200 lb autonomous tank built with the spaceships system. We made four tweaks, to get there, extrapolating size and adding an onboard computer to be the AI. So now we have our beautiful little robot, and we're ready to test him against the other robots in gurps, as well as some humans, to see how his stats measure up.

Most of the comparisons will be about other combat robots weighing from 100 to 300 lbs. Robot is a diverse term, and machines engineered for different purposes will have different statistics. By focusing on combat robots, we will hopefully be comparing apples to apples, or at least apples to pears. Size also makes these comparisons more valid: size has a large effect on most of a robots statistics.

I'm going to talk about the flaws in spaceships a lot. Don't interpret this as me disliking spaceships. I love the series. That's why I'm using it as the base for these robots. Spaceships is the starting point for this system, if you don't own the books, you won't get much out of these posts. If I did not believe in its basic structure, I would not try to improve it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Robots as Spaceships: A Simple Gunbot

What do you know? The army is working on one too!
Last post we talked about why we're undertaking this project, and what our starting point is. Our next step is to build the simplest war-bot we can imagine. The Gunbot Mark I is an SM+0 vehicle that carries a weapon into battle on treads. Its essentially a miniature tank with an AI on board. We will start building it with spaceships, and discuss the obstacles as they come up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Spaceships: How Tough Should Armor be?

In preparation for my robots as spaceships project, I built a "Tank Bot", a small tracked vehicle meant to carry a gun into battle. I was surprised that the famed "Eggshells with Hammers" paradigm didn't go away. My SM +0 robot had 60 lbs of TL 8 armor that gave it a paltry 10 DR. I came to the conclusion that armor as described in spaceships doesn't just not scale well, its not strong enough even without scaling. It doesn't protect the spaceship, and it doesn't compare well to the numbers given in High Tech, Ultra Tech, or even Low Tech. Here, I'm going to discuss what the damage reduction on the armor types given in spaceships should be, by doing a book by book comparison of how the spaceship's numbers compare to the armor in High Tech, Ultra Tech, and yes, even Low Tech.

We're going to show that spaceships armor is weaker than it should be, but more importantly, we're going to find out how strong it should be.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Robots as Spaceships: Theory and Systems

spacecraft spaceship by  https://www.svgrepo.com/svg/217230/spacecraft-spaceship
GURPS has a lot of templates for robots and drones, scattered in various products and series.  Reign of Steel features menagerie of robots meant to hunt down and kill humans. Ultra-Tech presents robots with an aim for utility, from a simple porter to the bizarre bush robot. Transhuman space dazzles us with a  bewildering variety of shells for purposes both general and niche, exotic and everyday. But none of them have a "system" for building robots and drones. Either a book has a template for that size and shape of robot, or you build the template yourself. Sometimes tweaking a template will get good results, but more often than not I find myself needing things very different from existing templates.

Robot 1 by Diversity Avatars. http://www.iconarchive.com/show/avatars-icons-by-diversity-avatars/robot-01-icon.html
Now, the fact that Gurps lets you make up stats in an intelligent manner is awesome. The book advertises "Anything you can Imagine", and I love that promise. But I still feel that there is room for a robot design system. Something between a handful of templates and the wide solution space of building from scratch.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Invasion of the Hawfax: South America


The Haxfax live in South America, sharing a border with Columbia,Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. These countries greatly benefit from their new neighbors and trading partners, and the Hawfax  changed the political landscape here like nowhere else.  

Balance of Power:

The Hawfax try to keep their neighbors balanced with one another. Their support and rising mineral prices produced a strong Bolivia capable of defending its territory against its neighbors. Brazil has not grown at the same rate as Bolvia or Peru, though it has hardly 'suffered'. Its lost rubber industry is replaced by a rich if irritable trading partner with an appetite for bauxite and who prefers to run goods down Brazil's rivers rather than the Andes railways.