Robots – Commands and Programming

Wasteland Killer

I’ve had some requests for a Robots supplement. I tried to write one earlier, but always got stuck on the details. To get around my writer’s block, I’m going to post some preliminary material online and see if it gels into something more concrete…


Robots can be either programmed, controlled, or wild:

Programmed robots still follow their original instructions, or have been programmed to perform new tasks. They will not deviate from their routines unless commanded to do so by authourized personnel (or if they somehow go wild).

Controlled robots are under the command and direction of a specific individual; they will follow the orders of their controller to the best of their abilities (and within the strictures of their programming). A controlled robot will still obey commands from another individual of sufficient authority.

Wild robots are free-willed, but will tend to follow their original programming out of habit. They are not necessarily hostile and are still susceptible to commands.

(Damaged or corrupted robots may go berzerk instead.)

Commanding Robots

Robots respond to commands and authority.

Robotic units are generally controlled by vocal and/or electronic orders from ‘authourized personnel’. An identity card is the physical representation of authority, in most cases. ID cards are divided into six security levels (denoted from I to VI), with higher levels granting greater access.

Humans and Near-Humans can command a robot by presenting it with an appropriate ID and speaking to it in Ancient. The character can then make a Lore check, subtracting the robot’s HD (and Tech Level penalty) from the roll. A result of 20+ indicates that verbal control is established and that robot will obey – at least for now.

Reprogramming Robots

Once a robot recognizes a character of the appropriate security level, it is susceptible to being reprogrammed to always obey orders from that individual (who then becomes its controller).

Only an Advanced-Tech (or Ancient-Tech) thinker can attempt to reprogram a robot. This is accomplished by spending a day hacking the system then making a Lore check. On a failed check the character simply cannot reprogram the robot at this time. (A particularly bad roll may even provoke a hostile response.) Another attempt cannot be made until a new rank is attained.

Identity Cards

Embedded within each identity card is a microlayer of passive electronic circuits that the robot scans to determine the access code level. It then compares the voice and features of the the person presenting the card, and attempts to verify a match.

However, the databases and registries required for for a secure match were obliterated in the Fall; each robot must make a judgement call to decide whether the bearer of the ID card is indeed authourized. And robots were never that good at judgement calls…

Level I – Citizenship Card: Can be used as proof of identity or to gain access to some non-restricted areas. Value: 10 TU.

Level II – Supervisor Card: Can override a civilian bot’s current activity or gain access to some low-security areas. Value: 70 TU.

Level III – Technician Card: Allows a person to repair a bot or gain access to secure civilian infrastructure. Value: 250 TU.

Level IV – Military Card: This allows the user to attempt to override security bots and access restricted facilities. Value: 360 TU.

Level V – Command Card: Military-grade robots may be commanded and access is gained to high-security areas. Value: 1100 TU.

Level VI – Unrestricted: Possibly mythical, these ID cards have no limitations or restrictions. Value: Priceless.

ID cards are typically colour-coded. However, several schemes were in use before the Fall, and cannot be relied upon with any degree of certainty.

One Response to “Robots – Commands and Programming”

  1. As noted above, only Humans and Near-Humans can attempt to command robots. Mutants will never be authourized, and will even have difficulty when trying to use ID cards to access secure areas.

    Also, note that Thinkers are the only class able to reprogram robots. A lucky thinker could amass an army of synthetic servants…

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