Booty And The Beasts, Part VI: Robots
(A quick note… some readers seem to be having word wrap troubles with this article… I’ve check on 3 different browsers and it looks fine on all of them to me, and there don’t seem to be embedded control characters or mismatched formatting codes or whatnot. If anyone is still seeing wrap issues, please let me know OS and browser you’re using, thanks.)
And now… the end is near… and so we face… the final cur (screeeee!)
Nah, we still got the “Booty” to go.
But this is the finale of the monsters. From egg people to mingo snails, from womb lice to galactic dragons, you have seen a glorious sampling of the many wonders offered by Erol Otus, Paule Reiche III, and the rest of the gang at Fantasy Art Enterprises. We finish up with a look at robots. Not “living constructs” or “steam golems” or anything like that, but robots — clanking, whirring, buzzing, robots. Also killing. Did I mention killing?
This kind of blend of out-and-out sci-fi with pure fantasy, without any feeble excuses like “elementally powered trains” or “spelljammers” or whatever, was one of the hallmarks of “first wave” gaming. (“Old School” has too many contradictory meanings, it seems.) It was part of the very earliest versions of D&D — the Temple of the Frog in Blackmoor probably opened the floodgates — and it showed up again at times, such as the astoundingly classic “Expedition To The Barrier Peaks”, but it faded pretty quickly, and it’s rare to see it nowadays in its rawest form, unencumbered by such trivialities as “logic” and “internal consistency”. (There was a vaguely defined but widely shared assumption among a lot of older gamers that Your D&D World was just this world, you know, in orbit around some sun, and there was a galactic empire out there, and every so often some high-tech doodad would land in D&D World, and that’s where all this came from. Gnomish tinkers and the like came much, much, later.)
Before we go on to the descriptions, remember the Three Laws Of D&D Robots:
- A robot must always kill a PC, and not permit, through inaction, a PC to live.
- A robot must misinterpret the orders of a PC so as to enforce the First Law.
- A robot must preserve its own life, unless doing so would keep it from fulfilling the First and Second laws.
(Seriously, my semi-regular DM back in High School was a big Larry Niven fan, and any time you found a semi-aware high tech item and tried to get it to do anything, he pulled from “The Soft Weapon” and had the thing decide that any show of ignorance on your part was proof you were unauthorized and it would then kill you. If that failed, any time the thing was damaged, it would go mad and try to kill you. You may have heard nightmare stories about “wish lawyers”, but such player-vs.-DM battles of wits and wording over wishes (today’s post is brought to you by the letter ‘w’) had nothing on our efforts to get a robot we found in one of his games actually work for us.)
Read on for Robots!