Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Nuts & Bolts #126 - Hacking the Cypher System - P.E.T.S.

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One of the big features that Predation is likely to sell books on is its Companion dinosaurs. I think that's great because it obviously a cool idea that catches the imagination of a lot of folks. I think it's also great for the Cypher System in general because I think the companion rules are pretty fun and a nice addition to the continually expanding tool set that is the Cypher System.

It doesn't take a lot of effort to reskin the dinosaur and upgrade names to something that suits your campaign world. It could be various fantasy type creatures for a Gods of the Fall game (or something more D&D-ish if you prefer), or it could be strange aliens in a game world similar to Avatar (the blue people one, not The Last Airbender one).

For my money though I think that these could also make great robotic companions, or as I am wont to call them: P.E.T.S.

That's Personal Electronic Technical Servants. Small drone-like but semi-independent robots that would fit great into a science fiction game. These could be small recon bots, larger combat models, or even semi-sentient and autonomous "vehicles" that can carry a rider or act on their own. Unlike a game of Shadowrun where only the rigger has drones, everybody (or nearly so) in a setting with P.E.T.S. would have one to help them out and act as a companion. In fact people find that even though the limited AI of these drones sometimes misinterpret their commands, they are more than worth having around because the personalities they develop over time make people bond with them as they would a dog or cat.

In such a setting the need to roll to "convince" your P.E.T.S. to do what you want is a result of the stock AI needing to learn it's owners vocal and non-vocal queues and signals. When fresh out of the box these AI tend to get easily confused by the unconscious signals a human makes without realizing. Over time however the AIs better learn their humans and become less prone to confusing mixed signals.

It's not a very big hack, but I thought I'd share the paradigm shift.