Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Am I My Brother's Maker?

I've run right up against the central tenet of Classic Traveller; which I'm loving more and more as I work with it. CT doesn't even pretend to be able to cover everything. Now if T5 is the equivalent of Ikea, then CT was Home Depot. You built your furnishings from scratch.

I'm trying to introduce androids into the Icy Shores setting and there is nearly nothing to go on in the LBBs or JTAS my primary resources. From the JTAS I get that androids are synthetic but biological beings. I fudged the TLs for robotics already. I won't hesitate to do it again for some cool androids.

Androids have many of the advantages of transplanted human stock story wise. They can be alien but ultimately comprehensible. You don't have to worry about making them too human and of course there is common ground for interaction. I doubt we'd have much to talk about with sentient plasma balls for example.

My Setting:
While modifying human DNA (except to cure genetic disorders), is illegal, immoral, and frowned upon in Terran society several corporations found a way around those pesky government regs. Chimpanzees were genetically speaking very close to humans and provided a template for generating synthetic chromosomes. Computers tweaked the DNA further to arrive at humanoids that were functionally human (and didn't have such rude behavior as poo flinging.) Truthfully they used the chimp DNA to import a number of synthetic genes that were basically tweaked human material.

These near humans were engineered for greater strength and endurance than humans and less intelligence. In a number of ways they were disabled compared to natural humans. For one thing their DNA was truncated removing many of the 'junk' chromosomes. this rendered them more susceptible to radiation damage but they were easier to produce. Their dispositions, after a lot of trial and error, tended to passivity. They took orders well but had little initiative. In most cases this was overcome with intensive training for whatever special situations they might encounter in their occupations.

Androids did have sexual dimorphism but could not reproduce (why have your product give away copies?) In fact they were engineered for zero sex drive and could apply themselves almost entirely to their chosen profession. Many but not all androids had recognition handles: hairlessness, skin markings and coloration, and odd facial features to further dehumanize them and make their status immediately apparent.

Androids generally eat a highly processed food paste due to limited digestion systems (another way to save money.) Eating normal rations can result in nausea or worse. Some androids do adopt to normal food over time.

Needless to say, none of this worked.

Some androids were not passive and intelligent enough to hide the fact. Some androids entered into close relations with their human owners becoming the equivalent of children or companions. Some apparently were able to love. I'm not going to go into love androids. You could probably write a neat game supplement about them but I have a few standards left.

Some androids ran away and went feral so to speak, attempting to like away from human oppression.

A few brand name synthetics follow:
Charon Doppelgangers
CDs are hairless and androgynous. They are regarded as the most intelligent brand of androids. Quite a few people regard them suspiciously and their export is restricted. Owners must have special licenses and undergo training to cope with such models. Many owners disguise their androids to appear human. Oddly the CD models are the most detached and unemotional but this doesn't stop their owners from forming closer bonds with them.

Lagrange Revenants
The Revenants are distinguished by their slightly larger size and a number of hexagon tattoos in strategic places (cheek, back of hands, back of neck.) A few of them have displayed biological urges thought removed. Some are gluttonous or smoke for example (I said I was writing about love androids. Do it yourself.) Revenants are well suited for physical labor and are said to have more personality than most androids.

Lethe Industries Comrades
Comrades are the most high tech androids to date. A unique modification to their brains and several integral cybernetic implants allow their users to blank their memories for anywhere from a few minutes to an entire day. A memory wipe usually causes the android to fall unconscious for several hours and is better done during their sleep cycle. Comrades are usually distinguished by glow tattoos in a variety of shapes and colors.

Crowd Source Inc.
Crowd Source produces the highest numbers of androids in human space. Their 'Crowders' are relatively cheap and can subsist on ordinary food for a few days without illness. They are the most sociable of androids and work well in groups. Crowders are distinguished by their silver eyes. They are also designed to like sleeping or meditation when not working allowing them to forego the space requirements humans need to stay sane.

Model                                    Avg. UPP          Random
Charon Doppelganger           688874              STR/END 2d-1 DEX 2d+1 INT 2d+1 EDU 2d-1 SOC 1d6
Special Abilities: Near total recall. Restricted diet.

Lagrange Revenant               999442              STR/END 2d+2 INT/EDU 1d  SOC 1d3
Special Abilities: Immune to most tainted atmospheres, natural armor equivalent to mesh, does 1d+1 damage with hands. Restricted diet.

Lethe Comrade                     778662              STR/DEX/END 2d INT 1d EDU 2d-1 SO 1d3
Special Abilities: Memory wipe ability, immune to most tainted atmospheres. Restricted diet.

Lagrange Revenant               999444              STR/DEX/END 2d+2 INT/EDU 1d SOC 1d6
Special Abilities: Immune to most tainted atmospheres.

Generally androids have one skill assigned per point of education. Medics working on androids receive  a +1 DM as they are more robust than baseline humans. Androids are created about age 18. They show no signs of aging until they reach '30' when they roll with -2 dm on the aging tables. An android encountered will be age 18+3d6 years old. PC Androids can be run through character generation normally and receive a +1 to survival rolls. An android will cost 1000 cr x  (STR + DEX +END) + 2000 cr. x (IN + EDU). Memory wipe ability adds 10,000 cr. Other abilities add 1000-3000 cr. Androids over 24 are discounted 25% or more. Social Standing is free.

Androids must throw 10+ to avoid a direct order (less clear instructions drop the throw to 8+, 6+ or less) DMs: +Admin, +1 if Intelligence 8+, +1 if age 34 or more.

The Law
Androids have no rights to express themselves or own property. Contrary to popular belief owners must still take reasonable precautions to keep their androids safe. Ordering an android into a potentially lethal situation is only legal if it is to protect human life.  Note that fear and conditioning prevent androids from reporting their owners in most cases and some police don't take anything an android says seriously.

Owners are responsible for their android's actions and any law breaking by an android must be proven to be a matter of malfunction and not following orders.

If androids get enough money or their owners feel magnanimous they can buy or earn their freedom. Most laws are unclear in this regard though the  androids can now own property.

Defective Androids
Despite all the modifications and training that goes into them androids are still living creatures (in all but the legal sense anyway.) Particular attention is paid to an android's obedience. Every android has a quarterly Self Control Report (Secon.) This lists any acts of disobedience or expression. Androids with a lousy Secon typically act out in other ways (graffiti, kleptomania, composing music, developing feelings. A bad Secon report can also lead to discounted merchandise, a bunch of wavers to sign, and adventure hooks.

Androids in Risus
Here are a few android cliches:
Soulless killer (fighting, shooting, stabbing, intimidating, showing not a bit of pity)
Soulless Poet (pondering, debating, psychology, being sympathetic, waxing poetic)
Built to last (surviving in any environment not immediately fatal, brawling, resisting acid/poison/disease)
Older model (negotiating with the masters, scrounging, leadership, spotting trouble, staying in the back)
Model with extras (seductive, tease, manipulation, distraction)
Right handroid (administrating, bossing other androids around, acting mostly human, being obsequious, keeping a schedule/ledger etc, knowing proper protocol, making a tool of an owner look good)