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Autonomous Biomechanical Entity

I read a post on Twitter that stirred the brain to new possibilities:

With only one stat, I scribbled a few ideas trying to make the concept work. Keying in on the word energy, I thought that the player's character should be an android of some kind.

I was also afraid of getting bogged down into endless ability and equipment lists. I was determined to write down the idea and just get to the point.

After a 45 minute sprint, the game became the character creation rules that focused on six simple things:

  • Orientation
  • One Stat
  • One Roll
  • Three Skills
  • Five Things
  • Endless Possibilities

Orientation set up the fiction. To keep the rules concise and prevent veering off into world-building minutiae, I decided that the fiction had to be stated in two sentences. In A.B.E., your character is an artificial life form that can pass as a biological creature. Your character has an overwhelming desire to find its creator(s).

The One Stat became Energy. Everything your character does costs one energy point. Damage can cost more energy. It can be refreshed at certain times. Characters start with 100 Energy and can gain more as they learn more about their history.

The One Roll because rolling d% under, but not equal to, the Energy stat. Early in the game, rolls are easy, but as your character take actions or avoids danger, the rolls because more difficult. It's an elegant little system.

Three Skills began as a large list of skills in multiple categories. There were skills for computers, fisticuffs, tactics, artificial intelligences, magic and many more. There was no way that I wanted to be sidetracked into this much detail.

Desperate for a way out, I remembered a White Star game I ran years ago. I had a friend that was brand new to rpgs. He explained what he wanted his character to be and that he wanted a trademark or gimmick that made him different. I decided on an item his character possessed that had three distinct abilities. However, instead of detailing them, I simply asked that he let me know what those abilities were as we were playing. The rules was that once he explained three abilities, the item was locked to those three. My character was thrilled and that item, a pair of gloves, ended up being the most awesome thing about the campaign.

Thinking back on that item, it became clear: the character is the special item, so let the player determine the three abilities as play progresses. If necessary, the character can start with one. Awesome! Skills boiled down to a paragraph.

Five Things originally began as an encumbrance system and endless equipment lists. I like these lists because they are tiny descriptors of the game world. Like Three Skills, though, I realized that I was getting bogged down again, so a similar rule developed that the character could have only up to five things at any given time. Unlike skills, though, these five things were not permanent. A character could drop an item and never pick it up again, leaving a space for a new thing.

That left Endless Possibilities. It was this section that defined two smaller ideas of parameters and limitations. Parameters set expectations by defining the game world in broad strokes:

  • Is there magic?
  • What technology level is the game world?
  • Are there other A.B.E.s?
  • Is this a human world, mostly human world, or alien locale?

There are more, but the idea is to sketch out, with the players preferably, what this world was like. If they are the only known A.B.E. that is significant to how the character is played. If there is no magic, then part of the game can be the character learning how they were made. The number of parameters should be small as the goal is set the stage for where the action will happen.

Limitations come from the idea that constraint applied to a fiction forces it to become more creative. These should be three to five statements that serve as laws of the land. For example:

  • An A.B.E. cannot intentionally harm a human being.
  • An A.B.E. must recharge itself every ten hours.
  • Magic requires lengthy incantations and expensive materials.
  • Clockwork technology requires a central golden gear to function properly.
  • Time travel can only go forward in time except for the extra-dimensional creatures attempting to deactivate the character.

After typing it up and posting a link to Google Drive, it occurred to me that generated a few game worlds would be fun. I wanted to create something small and streamlined like the rules.

To achieve this, I decided to make Scenario Packs that provide parameters, limitations, and story seeds to allow players to dive into action quickly. They would restate the rules so that each pack could stand alone, but since the entire rules are one page, that doesn't take up too much space.

I'll post more about the Scenario Packs in another post.

Am-Kahir, Alchemist

Am-Kahir spent a few years studying magic under an adequate, but wholly unremarkable teacher. Much of his time was spent creating scrivened versions of simple spells and cataloging ingredients used for various potions, spells, and assorted creations. Through cataloging various potion recipes, Am-Kahir discovered that creating potions and elixirs has more to do with the application of energy to the ingredients instead of us of magic. Eager to research his findings, he left the employ of his teacher and set up his own laboratory.

Although self-taught, Am-Kahir is very skilled in making potions, charms, and amulets. His research has led him attempt acts of takwin, the creation of artificial life. His early attempts followed standard arcane formulas and rites to create golems. However, he quickly moved to other ideas as he considered golems to be possessed and not created.

His experiments with takwin have not been well received by local townspeople. Many fear his 'mad' experiments and complain about the sounds of explosions and scent of sulphur coming from his lab. Although he has more his lab from place to place, he was recently attacked by a mob during one of his experiments. Desperate to defend his life's work, he employed his various creations to defend his property. No one was killed, but city officials expelled him from the city for his use of "unauthorized magicks".

Am-Kahir found a cave that opened to a steep cliff face. He decided that such a location would keep him safe from townspeople and local officials. He then secluded himself to resume his study of artificial life. His first successful creation was a roughly human-shaped mass of rope. Unlike a mindless golem, this creature, called an anthroparion, was able to understand complex instructions, adapt to variable conditions, and learn simple tasks. Encouraged by his success, he hired an assistant, Zemud, to expand his work.

Together, Am-Kahir and Zemud have expanded the initial success to create other anthroparion (parion for short). Their greatest known success is the creation of Wahed, a true anthroparion. Wahed is human in all respects, capable of independent thought, and learning new tasks. Unsurprisingly, Wahed has an affinity for alchemy, though he is extremely poor in social skills.

Zemud, however, is impatient with the time and effort involved and uses elemental spirits to speed up construction. Technically, this means that he is creating golems instead of anthroparion. To this end, Zemud has made a deal with a dao: the dao provides earth elemental spirits, the golems Zemud creates mine for gems.

Am-Kahir (for D6 Fantasy)

Agility 2D
Coordination 2D: sleight of hand 2D+1
Physique 2D
Charisma 2D+2: mettle 3D+2
Intellect 4D: reading/writing 4D+2, scholar 5D
Acumen 2D+2
Magic 3D+2: conjuration 4D

Spells: Cantrips, Countermagic Ward, Glow Stone, Relocate Person, Feast, Stun Senseless, Create Golem, Create Anthroparion

Advantage: Eidetic Skill Bonus +1
Disadvantages: Infamy (R2), blowing up things in nearby towns has not endeared Am-Kahir to local residents or city leaders.
Equipment: A fully equipped laboratory for two persons. Included in the lab are the materials to create at least two true anthroparion, many different types of potions and wards.

Strength Damage: 1D
Move: 10
Body Points: 25

Fate Points 4
Character Points 0
Funds 4D

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