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Made in gb
Dakka Veteran




The Battle Protocols ability of the Kastelan Robots has been pretty consistent since they were added to the game: The unit has three "protocols" it can shift between; the generic defensive upgrade it starts with, and a hefty ranged or melee buff that each comes with a limit on its behaviour (i.e. can't shoot, can't move). This means that if you pick the "right" protocol, you've got a really powerful unit, and if you pick the "wrong" protocol, you've got a unit of Robots that are sat on the wrong side of the battlefield, or can't shoot an enemy that needs shooting. Only the Datasmith (or a Stratagem) can swap protocols, which is why they're a necessary addition.

The Cybernetica Cortex ability used for the Legio Cybernetica in 30k is quite different. It's essentially similar to the Instinctive Behaviour rule from Tyranids; unless you have a Datasmith model (well, the equivalent) within aura-range, the robots revert to their basic, "stupid" programming; they have to shoot/charge the nearest enemy, they can't Advance, etc. 30k's Cybertheurgy allows for targeted robot buffs vaguely similar to Protocols, but it's not really the same thing.

Both these abilities are intended to evoke the flavour of a mindless machine that needs to be managed - but the Cybernetica Cortex is suggestive of primitive robots that need micromanagement to stay on-track, while Battle Protocols is aimed more at the idea of dumb golems that will endlessly carry out the same orders without someone to reprogram them. In lore terms, this is down to the Cybernetica Cortex being retired in favour of Doctrina Wafers.

I'm working on updating the 30k robots - Castellax, Scyllax, Thanatar, Domitar, Vultarax, Vorax, and I'm tossing in UR-025 in there too - for 9e. As part of that I've decided to overhaul the Kastelans/Datasmith to fit a general set of Robot rules, which includes universal Battle Protocols rules akin to Canticles/Doctrina. The goal for these rules remains the same - to convey the feeling of a unit that you, the player, don't directly control. A clockwork toy you wind up and set loose on the battlefield, with only the Datasmith able to redirect it. In other words, Protocols need to a) set a GOAL for each unit, and b) apply ATTRIBUTES which drive them to achieve that GOAL, even if you change your mind later.
  • The GOAL could be implied roles, or directly stated objectives. Battle Protocols are the former; if you go for Conqueror Protocols, the unit is better at charging and fighting, so you've obviously picked a role of "melee linebreaker" for the unit. The latter would be something more like Space Wolf Sagas, which give a bonus for achieving a specific objective in a game.
  • The ATTRIBUTES could be a bonus for achieving the GOAL, a penalty for not doing so, a buff while doing something GOAL-related, a debuff if you don't, or straightforward "you must do this, you can't do this" limits on the unit's behaviour that force them toward the GOAL.
  • I'd also like to make the ATTRIBUTES relatively useful regardless of the unit's loadout (this will be partly down to how each unit is written, as well). If you have a Kastelan Robot unit with all phosphor blasters, no Kastelan fists, you are never going to bother setting the Conqueror Protocol for them. That kind of sucks, as it makes the choice between Protocols less meaningful.
  • I'd also like to make it optimal to just... leave the robots to go off on their own, no micromanagement necessary, if you're confident that you've picked the right GOAL - with backlash/wasted resources if you haven't. In other words, you're rewarded for setting the right GOAL, and swapping Protocols with a Datasmith is a cost, rather than an avenue for fresh buffs - the Datasmith could be doing other things.

  • Right now I've got four basic models for how this might work, and I'm curious to see which you like the look of most - or if you have entirely different ideas in that area. The concepts are:

    Battle Protocols: Pretty much as they exist now; because hey, they work. A set of self-contained buff/debuff combos that you can swap between with a Datasmith. They'd have more emphasis returned to the "debuff" part as restrictions on what the unit can do, and either be expanded to a universal list of six, or each ROBOT unit would have three different Protocols available to them. Example:
    Spoiler:
    Each unit with this ability gains additional abilities depending on which protocol is active for it. At the start of the first battle round, before the first turn begins, choose which protocol is active for each unit with this ability. Alternatively, you can randomly determine one protocol from the table for each unit with this ability by rolling a D6 and looking up the result.

    Each protocol has one or more Permission effects that offer benefits to a unit, and one or more Restriction effects that penalise or limit the unit. When a protocol is active for a unit, all of these effects will apply to it.

    1 - Conqueror Protocol
  • Permission: You can re-roll charge rolls made for this unit.
  • Permission: Each model in this unit has a Weapon Skill characteristic of 2+.
  • Permission: Models in this unit do not suffer the penalty to hit rolls incurred for firing Heavy weapons against a unit they are in Engagement Range with.
  • Restriction: Each time this unit moves, it must finish that move at least as close to the closest enemy unit.
  • Restriction: At the end of your Charge phase, if a unit with this ability is eligible to declare a charge, it must declare a charge against the closest eligible enemy unit.

  • Modular Protocols: Battle Protocols, except you build your own by picking an upside and a downside, for greater flexibility. Example:
    Spoiler:
    Each unit with this ability gains additional abilities depending on which Battle Protocols are active for it. At the start of the first battle round, before the first turn begins, choose which Battle Protocols are active for each unit with this ability. Alternatively, you can randomly determine the initial Battle Protocols for each unit with this ability by rolling a D6 on each table and looking up the result.

    Each unit always has two active Battle Protocols; one Permissive Protocol that offers a benefit to the unit, and one Restrictive Protocol that limits the unit’s behaviour.

    Permissive Protocols
    1 - Conqueror Protocol
  • You can re-roll charge rolls made for this unit.
  • Models in this unit have a Weapon Skill characteristic of 2+.


  • 2 - Explorator Protocol
  • Each time this unit Advances, do not make an Advance roll. Instead, until the end of the phase, add 8" to the Move characteristic of models in this unit.


  • Restrictive Protocols
    1 - Detainment Protocol
    This unit cannot make a Normal Move, Advance, Fall Back, or declare a charge.

    2 - Predation Protocol
  • Each time this unit moves, it must finish that move at least as close to the closest enemy unit.
  • At the end of your Charge phase, if a unit with this ability is eligible to declare a charge, it must declare a charge against the closest eligible enemy unit.


  • Programmed Behaviour: The most radical departure; when you set up the unit, you set down a marker. The unit can only move toward that marker, it can only shoot toward that marker, it has to charge toward that marker. You've given it a goal, and now it's headed there until a Datasmith tells it to stop. This is purely a debuff ability, so it would come with a cost reduction, baseline stat improvements, and/or extra Datasmith boosts. Example:
    Spoiler:
    Each unit in your army with this ability has a program marker associated with it. Program markers are not units and cannot be targeted, attacked or destroyed. When measuring to or from ambush markers, always measure to the centre of the marker.

    Placing Program Markers
    The first time you set up each unit with this ability on the battlefield, you must also set up that unit’s program marker as a fixed marker or a reactive marker.
  • Fixed marker: Select one point on the battlefield and place that unit’s program marker on that point.
  • Reactive marker: Select another unit on the battlefield; now, and each time the selected unit finishes a move of any kind, place your unit’s program marker anywhere on the battlefield within 1” of the selected enemy unit. If the selected unit is destroyed (or otherwise removed from the battlefield), your unit’s program marker remains in place as a fixed marker.

  • If a unit with this ability is destroyed, remove its program marker from the battlefield.

    Limits of Programming
    Each program marker has the following effects on its associated unit:
  • Methodical Approach: Each time a unit with this ability makes a move of any kind (excluding pile in and consolidation moves), it must finish that move at least as close to its program marker.
  • Target Priority: In your Shooting phase, each time a unit with this ability is selected to shoot, models in that unit must target either the closest eligible enemy unit to its program marker, or any eligible unit within 12” of that unit.
  • Onslaught Engrams: At the end of your Charge phase, if a unit with this ability is eligible to declare a charge against an enemy unit that is within 3” of its program marker, it must do so.

  • Cybernetica Programs: Last and probably weirdest - effectively Space Wolf Warlord Traits, with "Sagas", for each unit. Pick an objective, get an associated bonus/downside, get a benefit and swap (or don't) to a new program when you complete that objective. Could also work differently; it might just offer a downside, but give a permanent bonus each time you complete it, like those Space Marine/Chaos Space Marine Warlord traits that give permanent bonuses for killing enemy CHARACTERS.
    Spoiler:
    Each unit with this ability has a specific Program which it carries out during the battle. Each Program has an Objective which the unit can complete, and is associated with a Permission effect, which offers a benefit to that unit, and a Restriction effect, which penalises or limits it. If a unit completes the Objective associated with its Program, then at the end of that phase it performs the Codeburst associated with that Program.

    Before the battle, determine the Program for each unit from your army with this ability. You can either roll one D6 to randomly generate one from the table below, or you can select one. Each unit’s Program must be noted on your army roster; if you wish to randomly determine a unit’s Program, simply write ‘Random’ on your roster.

    1 - Program: Elimination Protocol
  • Objective: An enemy MONSTER or VEHICLE unit is destroyed as the result of an attack made by this unit.
  • Permission: Each time a model in this unit makes an attack, add 1 to the Damage characteristic of that attack.
  • Restriction: Each time this unit makes an attack against an enemy unit (excluding a MONSTER or VEHICLE unit), subtract 1 from the hit roll.
  • Codeburst: One model in this unit immediately regains up to D3 lost wounds. Then, randomly determine a new Program for this unit, or select the Elimination Protocol Program.


  • Thoughts?
       
    Made in us
    Shadowy Grot Kommittee Memba






    ...Sorry, I'm not trying to be boring, but it does seem like GW is adding a lot of 'psychic power but not psychic power' type abilities into the game through prayer type powers.

    What stops you from just, recreating the 30k cybertheurgy powers as a 'roll a d6, on a 2+ it works on a 1 you roll on the mishap table' ability for units with the CYBERNETICA CORTEX keyword, and then giving them a basic Instinctive Behavior type rule for when theyre not within range of a CYBERNETICA CORTEX unit?

    me personally, I would make the powers granted from Cybertheurgy more potent than the powers granted by the kastelan robots' abilities, but with the loss of some flexibility as each CORTEX unit can only know so many Cybertheurgy rituals and with the added risk that they fail/the buffing unit dies/they might roll on a table and punch your own dudes.

    "I can't believe all these tryhard WAACs out there just care about winning all the time when it's supposed to be a game for fun!!!!!!! Also here's my 27 page essay on why marines are OP and Orkz should get a bunch of OP rules so I can win more games

    -the_scotsman"

    -ERJAK 
       
    Made in gb
    Lord of the Fleet






    London

    "Roll a D6 and it goes off on a 2+" mechanics are very boring IMO.

    I think the second choice is the most preferable, the third option looks cool and is more thematic, but I can imagine a number of weird rules interactions that may result from such a system.

       
    Made in gb
    Dakka Veteran




     the_scotsman wrote:
    ...Sorry, I'm not trying to be boring, but it does seem like GW is adding a lot of 'psychic power but not psychic power' type abilities into the game through prayer type powers.

    What stops you from just, recreating the 30k cybertheurgy powers as a 'roll a d6, on a 2+ it works on a 1 you roll on the mishap table' ability for units with the CYBERNETICA CORTEX keyword, and then giving them a basic Instinctive Behavior type rule for when theyre not within range of a CYBERNETICA CORTEX unit?

    me personally, I would make the powers granted from Cybertheurgy more potent than the powers granted by the kastelan robots' abilities, but with the loss of some flexibility as each CORTEX unit can only know so many Cybertheurgy rituals and with the added risk that they fail/the buffing unit dies/they might roll on a table and punch your own dudes.
    No need to be sorry, it's a solid suggestion. The main reason I'm not going that route, and instead sticking with the "powers" being baked in to the robots, is that I like the dynamic of robots being inflexible but powerful units that you need to actively reprogram to use in different roles. That's also why I'm avoiding "instinctive behaviour" bubbles in general; that just makes them something you need to babysit, which is a very different dynamic.

    The other reason I'm avoiding Prayer-style Cybertheurgy is that I really, really can't stand the whole "roll a D6, on a 3+ your character gets to do the one and only thing you actually included them for" mechanic that's showing up on PRIESTS now. Thank god it didn't show up on any TECH-PRIESTS in AdMech.
       
     
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