You are an engineer who can mould their soul, splitting it into two layers, and submerging a piece of machinery within the outer one, and in that process create your own Machine, an offshoot of your Self sustained by your tender care. It loves you as its progenitor. But can it really trust you?
A: Mantling, Trust, Upgrades
B: +1 MD, Strain
C: +1 MD
D: +1 MD
Mantling – during play, you may ensoul a machine of any size and complexity, giving it independent sentience and sapience.
In order to mantle a machine, you need a machine. You may find one or construct one,
which takes a month of work. If playing in a setting where robots are uncommon, you may start with an almost complete machine of any form and up to three times your size that will take two more days to finalise.
Your Machine’s stats are strength, dexterity, wisdom, attack, save, AC, HP, movement, bulk, and the trust it has towards you. Strength and dexterity may not be applicable to certain forms that your Machine may be.
Your Machine is capable of doing anything it is equipped to do and can speak regardless of its form. For example, if it has hands, it can grab objects. More importantly, if it does not have hands or other kind of prehensile appendages, it cannot grab objects.
Mantling a machine splits your HP into two portions – one maintained by you, and the other by what is now your Machine. You may grant your Machine as much HP as you wish, but the lower limit depends on its size – one quarter if it is half your size or smaller, one half if it is approximately your size, and three quarters if it is twice your size or larger.
Both you and your Machine gain HP from leveling as normal, separately from each other.
You may only have one Machine mantled at a time.
When your Machine dies, you are able to regain the HP you have granted it when you mantled it as you normally would regain HP.
When you mantle your Machine, generate its stats according to the following:
Strength – if applicable, 13 plus bulk.
Dexterity – if applicable, 13 minus bulk.
Wisdom – roll 3d6. Modified by the lower between current autonomy and unity (see below.)
Attack – as per the level table. Modified by the higher between current autonomy and unity.
Save – as per the level table.
AC – 10 minus bulk.
HP – as per the Mantling ability.
Movement – 12 plus dexterity bonus minus bulk.
Bulk – If human-size, bulk is 0. If one and a half times larger or smaller compared to a human, bulk is 1 or -1, respectively. Otherwise, bulk is how many times larger (positive) or smaller (negative) the mech is compared to a human. For example, a Machine twice the size of an average human would have a bulk of 2, whereas a Machine three times smaller than the average human would have bulk of -3.
Autonomy – as per the trust ability.
Unity – as per the trust ability.
Cooperating with your Machine:
When you accomplish something through your Machine, use its stats instead of yours.
You have control over your Machine’s actions, but it is the GM’s task to roleplay as it. Alternatively, roleplaying may be outsourced to a different player.
Trust – your Machine can gain or lose its trust in you depending on how you treat it.
Trust is gained in form of either autonomy or unity.
Autonomy – the measure of your Machine’s readiness to leave the proverbial nest of your care and function fully independently of you.
Unity – the measure of your Machine’s will to stay together with you and, honouring the soul you have granted it, meld with you, letting both of you benefit from each other’s strengths, cover each other’s weaknesses, and act together with perfect harmony.
Your Machine gains autonomy when you meaningfully compliment its skills, when it succeeds at something independently of you, and in other situations that make your Machine feel competent or self-sufficient.
Your Machine gains unity when you empathise with it, help it, and in other situations that make your Machine look up to you or feel proud of being affiliated with you.
When a condition for gaining trust is met, roll a d6. On a 1, no trust is gained. On a 2-5, 1 trust is gained. On a 6, 2 trust is gained.
When autonomy reaches 10, your Machine becomes a friendly NPC. Whether or not it stays with the party after you accomplish your current goal together is up to itself. Additionally, you may mantle a different machine.
When unity reaches 10, your machine’s HP pool and yours get summed together. If you would both be hit by the same source of damage, you only take damage once. Additionally, you and your Machine share thoughts and feelings.
Your Machine loses autonomy when it feels dependent on you to the detriment of its well-being.
Your Machine loses unity when it feels betrayed by you
When a condition for losing trust is met, roll a d6. On a 1, 2 trust is lost. On a 2-5, 1 trust is lost. On a 6, no trust is lost.
When autonomy reaches the opposite of unity, your Machine commits suicide. It is lost in the world and sees no reason to continue. You have failed it.
When unity reaches the opposite of autonomy, your Machine leaves you. It hates you and no longer sees value in you. You have disappointed it.
Upgrades – you may upgrade your Machine with the functionalities of various items, including weapons, armour plating, and magic items.
Your Machine has 8 plus bulk upgrade slots.
Upgrading can be done while resting, and takes 4 hours per slot upgraded.
Materials used in upgrades are wood, clay, or metal bolts and/or tablets inscribed with occult insignia, structural material of the same kind the rest of your Machine is made of, and something to connect the upgrade to the rest of the Machine.
Armour plating takes one upgrade slot per point of AC. The materials for this upgrade cost 50g per slot.
An upgrade other than armour plating takes as many slots as the item it is based on takes in an inventory. The materials for this upgrade cost as many gp as the item the upgrade is based on is worth.
Magic item upgrades require MD to be spent in order to be used as if they were regular spells. The materials for this upgrade cost 100gp per slot the upgrade takes.
Strain – starting at template B, the portion of your soul that you have mantled your Machine with is salient enough to be noticed by the fabric of reality.
You may have your Machine spend an MD on any roll it makes, adding the result to that roll.
If your Machine is out of MD, you may strain the trust it has in you by pulling on the soul you’ve bestowed it with, adding a d6 to any roll as per the usual function of the Strain ability. This d6 does not return to your Machine’s MD pool on a roll of 1-3 as regular MD do. This costs one point of both autonomy and unity.
Roleplaying the Machine:
The Machine is 100% a person. There are very many stories exploring whether mechanical entities can be people, the aim of this class is to explore the question that comes after an affirmative answer to the former – what is a mechanical person’s relation with the concept of humanity? The answer will depend largely, if not mostly, on the table’s assumptions about what aspects of human functioning are inherent to the Machine’s predicament, and which it will decide to embrace or reject during its equivalent of lifespan.
Roleplaying the Machine will, for the most part, be identical to doing so with any other character. The only major difference is that the Machine may encounter an emotional/developmental crisis when faced with a situation that highlights its differences from the organic people around it.
Example crises the Machine may face over the course of its existence:
Attachement – does the Machine treat its creator as a parent, a partner, a mentor, a muse, a protege, or otherwise?
Emotionality – can the Machine relate to complex human emotions on its own? What are its views on the concept of feeling?
Humanity – the Machine is a person, but does it consider itself a human or whatever species its creator is playing, an outsider to that very concept, or one caught in between existing definitions? The same may apply to other aspects of identity, notably gender and relation to inherent dispositions.
Society – does the Machine seek to assimilate into a larger community or to stay outside of one? Does it fear rejection from people other than its creator?
Morality – does the Machine view itself as a tool in its creator’s hands or an independent agent? Does it condone its creator’s behaviour?
There are many more inner conflicts that an ensouled machine may go through, and an attempt at providing an exhaustive list would be a fool’s errand. Instead, it is recommended that players and GMs seeking to include the Mantle in play think of how they themselves would like to handle the impact of a self-discovering machine on the metanarrative of the game.