Flexbots - Draft 1 - Playtest Q. Responses Only

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AdamJury AdamJury's picture
Flexbots - Draft 1 - Playtest Q. Responses Only

The Flexbots chapter is now available for download here: http://eclipsephase.com/downloads/transhumanplaytest_Flexbots_may17.pdf

Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft? Did you try them out in actual play with your group? For how many sessions? Using what kind of PCs? Did you crunch some numbers in a marathon character generation session? Or simply read through them with a critical eye?

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules? Is there an endemic problem you think is underlying this rules set? Is this material too complicated for your liking? Is there a specific rules item you think is egregiously broken and needs to be fixed? Is there anything that you simply think *must* be changed?

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules? Is there anything that you absolutely loved? Something that you sincerely think *must* make it into the final version? Anything that really contributes to the game in a positive way? Something that shouldn’t be changed?

Q. 4 – Do these rules make you want to play a flexbot?

Q. 5 – Do the rules on Shape Adjusting answer yor questions about adjudicating this augmentation?

Q. 6 – How about Modular Construction?

Q. 7 – Do you see any issues with the new flexbot morphs presented here?

ScienceGuy ScienceGuy's picture
Flexbot feedback

Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft? Critical eye, with particular thought as to how it will all work in our game (my character's standard morph is a flexbot).

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules? I think the DUR rules probably need adjusting. If I've read correctly, I could construct a person-sized flexbot from 3 core modules (total mass 75kg). If I used 3 fighter cores, I would have 120 DUR! This seems a bit off...

Perhaps DUR should be fairly tightly tied to mass? Or even have mass and physical size defined by total DUR? That way, any very high DUR scores are going to have to be the result of very large morphs.

(this is nice, as it let's you keep the simple DUR rule of adding up all the individual DUR scores)

I'm also pretty unsure about the Repair Hive. Cool toy, but anything that allows rapid damage regeneration in combat will change things quite a lot. I'd recommend ditching this, or swap it for an upgraded form of medichines that fix things faster, but take longer than a combat round to do so.

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules? The rules as a whole are great. The level of detail as to how flexbots work and the well-defined physical descriptions are super-useful. Detail is good here, as it makes the flexbot a lot easier to play and visualise!

I really like the various upgrades that allow me to build in equipment to a flexbot morph (modularised gear mount etc); this really sits well with how I imagine using a flexbot in-game.

I love the visual image of Boomscatter :-)

Q. 4 – Do these rules make you want to play a flexbot? Yes!

I already really liked flexbots, but think these rules really develop them nicely.

Q. 5 – Do the rules on Shape Adjusting answer yor questions about adjudicating this augmentation? Yes, very nicely.

Q. 6 – How about Modular Construction? Yes, very happy with this!

Q. 7 – Do you see any issues with the new flexbot morphs presented here? The "take the best aptitude bonus" rule might lead to some pretty munchkin morphs. Maybe cap total aptitude bonus allowed? (I like the cap idea for all morphs, actually. Represents the limit of transhuman tech - advanced/TITAN tech could go beyond...)


A dedicated 'Scientist' core would be nice :-) (and maybe a few more choices of core in general)

Some kind of sensor module.

Some kind of "smart" armour module.

Armour for synth morphs continues to be applied inconsistently. My understanding is that synths (specifically the flexbot modules here) have an internal armour rating that is innate, and then one can add external armour (light/heavy combat armour, or industrial), which is a kind of synth equivalent of wearing body armour (as it's external and hence bulky). Is this correct? And if so, surely all the modules should have internal armour.

Also (assuming I'm correct), having new armour implants that are "smart" versions of the normal armour would be good, so that said external armour can flex/adapt with the flexbot. In fact, could this be a Utility Cluster?

Not entirely convinced about the use of "cluster" for the non-core modules. I don't find this word very intuitive in this context. "Peripheral" module, perhaps?

Extended multitasking module that spans multiple modules?

Thought: can modules be constructed using the new morph creation rules? If so, that would be handy...

LatwPIAT LatwPIAT's picture
Q. 1 – How did you review the

Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft?
Critical eye.

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules?
Flexbots are much too powerful. The most pressing problem is that with a flexbot's DUR being the sum of its Modules, and no Module having a DUR of less than 10, a six-Module flextbot (as per the description in the bore book) cannot have less than 60 DUR; the core book flexbot has 25 DUR.

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules?
The rules for using multiple cyberbrains, sharing Egos, switching between cyberbrains, the use of cortical stacks, etc. are well-designed, interesting, sensible and appear to be balanced.

Q. 4 – Do these rules make you want to play a flexbot?
The exploration of the possibilities of what a flexbot can be or do has gotten my mind churning with ideas and a desire to play as a flexbot. However, I don't have a desire to play a flexbot with the rules as they are now; I'd want a system that better fits my mental image of a flexbot, and a system that is better balanced.

Q. 5 – Do the rules on Shape Adjusting answer your questions about adjudicating this augmentation?
The rules on Shape Adjusting answered my questions on how the augmentation worked. They did, however, not give me the answers I actually wanted. (A more detailed critique is in the other thread.)

Q. 6 – How about Modular Construction?
The rules largely answer my questions. However, what they don't do is answer my questions on how long time it takes to install and move around a Module. For example, if I have five Modules connected in a quadruped configuration, how long time would it take to transform into a snake-like configuration? Likewise, how long time does it take to stick a new Module onto an existing flexbot?

Q. 7 – Do you see any issues with the new flexbot morphs presented here?
See #Q2 on DUR.

Most synthmorphs, unless they're dedicated to being general-purpose (Synth, Steel, Takko), don't get more than two +5 bonuses. (see Slitheroid, Xu Fu, Gargoyle, etc.). Flexbot, being flexbots, are most certainly not dedicated to being general-purpose, and should hence not receive more than two +5 bonuses.

Yet again, a morph with +10 to an Aptitude. Getting +10 to an Aptitude is not something that should be possible for a morph without heavy dedication. The Ghost can get +10 to COO because its a morph dedicated to infiltration and precise shooting. The Flexbot is already dedicated to being a flexbot, so it shouldn't be able to get a +10 bonus without major sacrifices in some other areas, and only then if it makes sense that a flexbot has that role.

Based on their general description in the core book, the sample character in Sunward, Cores like the Beekeeper and the description on this page as well as this illustration, the flexbot is primarily a manufacturing machine used for construction and repair jobs, especially those involving fine manipulation or adaptability. To that effect, I think combat should not be a field where a flexbot should be able to excel.

For example, with the Fighter, I'd suggest getting rid of the Aptitude bonuses and hovercraft mobility system, while keeping the weapons mounts and armour; the sacrifice you pay for the heavy armour and weapons mounts is that you don't have as much power to devote to hovercraft systems or dedicated Aptitude-enhancing hardware.

See notes on Beekeeper. Additionally, the Engineer is almost entirely just a normal Flexbot with Aptitude bonuses, which is, mechanically, uninteresting, since it means that there's no interesting tradeoffs in choosing an Engineer over a Yeoman. For that reason, I'd recommend cutting the Engineer entirely, or redesigning it from the bottom up to actually be more of an Engineer morph. (Wrist-Mounted Tools, modularized gear suited for engineering work, etc.)

See notes on Fighter regarding +10 COO. Slashing the Aptitude bonuses and having it just be a flexbot morph that uses its adaptability and Chameleon Coating to infiltrate would probably help.

See notes on Fighter regarding +10 bonuses. Also, there's no reason whatsoever to use a flexbot for infosec or communications purposes; it's simply not a morph suited to that kind of thing. I'd recommend simply dropping it.

Utility Clusters
"Form Factor" is not explained in the rules.

I'm pleased that this Module means flexbots can be further specialized towards construction jobs. However, as I noted in the other thread, there seems to be no reason for it to have nanoswarm hives, since moving things at the nanoscale is the least possible efficient way to dig ditches.

Fluff-wise, it seems inconsistent that Multitasking cannot both be used for instant forking and needs a cortical stack to function, yet can be used with a ghostrider module, and is dedicated hardware for a Core. As written, it seems unlikely that a ghostriding Ego or an Ego sleeved in a Core should be able to take advantage of the Multitasking augmentation. Additionally, there's no real explanation given for how or why the Grimoire can grant a +20 bonus to Interfacing.

In general, while I like the idea that there are special-purpose, dedicated Utility Clusters, the Grimoire does not represent anything interesting for Flexbots in that regard.

See notes on Fighter. Additionally, since per the rules a Flexbot always uses the Speed of its slowest module, a Fighter equipped with Longbows cannot gain the +1 Speed from the Longbow, making this cyberware superfluous. (The +10 REF can be granted by Adrenal Boost instead, from a purely mechanical perspective. I'm, however, not entirely convinced that you should be allowed to gain the advantages of Adrenal Boost unless all the Modules has it installed.)

As Modules go, this is rather boring, since its just a normal module with a modularized Coverts Ops Tool and a skill bonus. The former could just as well be handled as an aftermarket modification and purchased as gear, and the latter seems to not actually help the morph much with stealthy things. Additionally, since the Picklock doesn't have Chameleon Coating, a Rogue with a Picklock mounted cannot use its own Chameleon Coating to hide.

@-rep +2
C-rep +1

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
I've tried hard to get my

I've tried hard to get my head around these rules, but they've been giving me a headache. I want to stop and move on to another playtest. I've tried to make my response clear and presentable, trying to avoid making a wall of text.


Q. 1 – How did you review the material in this draft?

Critical Eye.

Q. 2 –What’s the most critical problem you’ve identified in these rules?

Aptitudes and flexbots (p. 03) - I don't quite follow how a bunch of modules connected to each other is supposed to give aptitude improvements for all connected modules. I'm under the impression that aptitude improvements are the by product of good hardware and extra processing power. When I read the current rules, I keep having a munchkin moment where I consider connecting a high quality module (very good aptitude maximums and bonuses) to a million poor quality modules (poor aptitude maximum and aptitude penalties) so you can run over a million egos with very good aptitude maximums and bonuses. In other words, the impression I'm getting is that one good quality module (for aptitudes) makes all the other modules good as well (regardless of their original qualities). I wouldn't have a problem if one module could take aptitude bonuses from one module to another.

Combined Flexbots, armor, and durability (p. 04) - I'm confused about this as well. A heavily armored module might be impossible to damage by enemies using their fists, but if you combine that module with enough modules with poor armor, suddenly the combined flexbot has armor weak enough that enemies with fists are a very real threat. From what I understand, that tough module can be destroy as the flexbot it is part of (which has weak armor) can recieve enough damage that it can be disabled or destroyed, and there is a point in time that separating from the flexbot would transfer enough damage to that the module that it would get disabled or destroyed anyways. (by the way, I'm deliberately ignoring the amount of durability the combined flexbot might have if it were to combine with enough modules to get that much of reduction in armor).

Connectivity (p. 04) - I'm confused about this bit. Are modules connected to form the flexbot somehow not under control of the primary ego? I've been getting the vib that the primary ego, the one that is supposed to be controlling the general movements of the whole flexbot (like walking or punching something), is supposed to be control over the whole thing but this section implies that it is not. Out of curiousity, what would happen if you connected a bunch of flexbot modules together in such a way that a number of the modules serve as arms and legs to the flexbot? Do you have to remote control or jam the modules to pick up a can of pop or to sit down?

Multiple egos and beta forks (p. 05) - I was reading that it was not possible for someone to create a beta fork or lower on the fly and then give it control over a module. It says you need to detach the module and then upload the beta fork to it so it could do its own integration tests and stuff. Why is this so? There is no mention that you need to do the same with alpha forks of yourself.

Integration and removed modules (p. 06) - It isn't clearly spelled out, but I assume that merely removing modules does not cause integration tests? It may be a minor point, but if adding modules causes integration tests, then shouldn't the reverse be true?

Device AIs (p. 07) - It mentions that device AIs can't perform skill tests or assist in skill tests. I'm confused. Understandably, an AI can't do much to physically help an ego controlling a flexbot if it doesn't have a body to use itself, but can't AIs do purely mental or mesh related stuff? I mean, thats kinda the point of ghost rider modules to carry extra egos so you can get extra stuff done.

Shape changing and limbs (p. 08) - Is the flexbot truely unable to take any action with a limb that is changine shape, or could it be used at some penalty like a -30 modifier?

Repair Hive (p. 16) - I'm a little bit confused about this one. A medichine nanoware augmentation can repair a synthmorph faster than what a repair spray can. The only purpose I can guess for this module is to carry around repair spray to repair other flexbot modules (it hasn't been established that medichines can repair other flexbot modules, so I'm assuming that they can't).

Squishbot (p. 17) - If the flexbot is now made out of soft, squishy, easily moldable materials then would there be a chance that the flexbot would have some sort of armor limit? I'm assuming that a soft squishy body does not make good armor.

Q. 3 – What’s the best part of these rules?

Its nice to have more information and rules for flexbots. However, I feel I've ended up with more questions than answers.

Q. 4 – Do these rules make you want to play a flexbot?

A little bit. I'm considering character builds.

Q. 5 – Do the rules on Shape Adjusting answer yor questions about adjudicating this augmentation?

I have many questions still, but I think I have a good idea as to what shape adjusting can do. Much of the stuff on p. 9 is quite helpful.

A problem I am having is I have only the vague idea of what smart materials are, and a vague idea of what a flexbot is. Some where along the lines for this book, I read stuff about smart materials being able to self repair and change shape. That has given me the impression that smart materials are some sort of smart liquid, something that can function like a device and need not pool at the bottom of a container. It could very well take complex shapes (like a humanoid form) and move using those shapes.

Unfortunately, I feel I might have the wrong idea for the Eclipse Phase game. That might be too advanced for the setting, and I can't rule out that flexbots are really a lot of small simple robots that have the remarkable ability to link together strongly to form bigger robots.

Also, everytime I read through this playtest, I keep thinking that flexbots should have some trait or augmentation that should allow the flexbot to shape change between in 1 or more forms faster than normal. It aught to allow the flexbot to be able to function (maybe not fully shape shift leading to some cosmetic errors) in a certain way very rapidly. I'm kinda thinking that if a flexbot is streamlined, that it might have its limbs melded into its body in such a way that it can extend its arms from its body as a quick action (and lose the streamlined bonus at the same time) to enable it to grab objects immediately.

Q. 6 – How about Modular Construction?

I still have many problems with it. I'm trying to figure out what you were trying to do.

The whole system for handling armor and durability feels out of whack. You can in theory destroy a super heavily armored module with weak weapons by allowing it to combine with a lot of poorly armored modules so the combined flexbot is poorly armored as well. Also combining many modules can quickly produce a flexbot with immense durability (which might be fine if it that is one of their perks, since they might not have as many single points of failures as a human would).

The whole mess regarding multiple cyberbrains, egos, and aptitude bonuses are also out of whack. The bonuses and aptitude maximums problably shouldn't easily be copied by other modules. I think the key factor in determing aptitude stuff is the hardware or available processing power to enable good aptitudes.

Q. 7 – Do you see any issues with the new flexbot morphs presented here?

Many. I can't seem to wrap my head around what you were trying to do or what they are supposed to be.