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The twenty-third theme is Automata

Machines that walk like men! We know they were everywhere in the First Age, especially in Denandsor. What wonderous robots haven't we seen yet?

'Waddling Duck' class utility golem - Darloth
Artifact: •
Commitment: none / manse •

Built in large numbers by sorcerer-technicians of the first age, the Waddling Duck is a multi-functional urban utility automata. As the name suggests, its shape suggests that of a duck, although it is nowhere near as elegant. While some of the original models were made with cunningly carved side-panels and an enameled 'beak', as time passed and the task of creating and maintaining this class of device passed further and further down the heirarchy, the excess skill necessary for non-functional ornamentation was lost. Indeed, so simplistic is the waddling duck that some were built and maintained by mere mortals.

In the age of sorrows, most of the surviving examples look rather crude - A roughly cuboid metal box about a foot and a half thick, two feet wide and a foot high, slightly curved and tapered towards the bottom, with two stubby jointless legs projecting from the lower sides. At the front, a carrying tray connected by a thick central rod, usually with some sort of pneumatic or mechanical articulation to enable the tray to change height and rotate. Folded underneath the tray are two small mechanical arms with manipulatory appendages, and these are usually multi-jointed so they can pick up things from ground level and place them on the tray, or vice versa.

This is the limit of the basic capabilities of the unit, but they should not be underestimated. Their comprehension is sophisticated, and they are capable of running essentially forever on ambient essence (with some less sophisticated varients requiring a manse • hearthstone) they can move objects tirelessly, and can lift as much weight as an average mortal even with their small stature. Many come with sleds for dragging large amounts of volume, and given enough time they can move a remarkable amount of material. They were also used for countless other tasks:- holding books at an angle and turning pages for a reader, serving dinner and clearing up afterwards (including doing the washing up if a ladder or somesuch is provided for them to reach the sink), copying texts, taking dictation, acting as guides to tourists, performing dangerous maintenance on larger automata or devices, and many more besides. To further these aims, each unit was typically modified extensively - some sample modifications are given below, and every duck purchased with an artifact rating is assumed to come with one of these upgrades. Another dot of artifact grants all of the upgrades listed.


  • Hover - The duck's legs have been removed, and essence-channelling crystals mounted on its underside, granting it the ability to hover 2-3 feet of the floor. It moves at the speed of a running human (instead of that of a slow walk), and can skim over calm waters (although any model of duck is waterproof and can probably cross by walking on the bottom of shallow lakes or slow flowing rivers) - (hover grants a athletics(flight) specialization of +2)
  • Tentacles - the manipulatory appendages are longer and more supple, designed as either tentacles or long collections of many joints. This gives them greater reach (up to 4 feet) and allows the duck to make clumsy grappling attacks with a die-pool of 4. It can also climb most surfaces with suction-tips, at its normal waddling speed. (grants MA skill of 1, specialised grapples +1)
  • Attractive - although it may not have any extra functionality, this duck was crafted with skill and aesthetics. It probably looks more like a waterfowl than a box on legs, and its tray is likely collapsible into the 'beak' to further the effect. It is likely to be worth more to those with money and taste, and may be studded in gems or enameled in pretty colours. (grants appearance of 3)
  • Toolset - this unit comes complete with a set of built-in tools, accesible by the manipulator arms, which cover everything from cutting down trees to carving stone to acid-etching metal (if provided with a supply of acid, of course). Sadly, the duck trades multi-purposeness for skill, and so has a dicepool of 4 for anything that matters. Noone else can use the tools, but a skilled craftsman can direct the unit to perform work, which results in a -2 dice modifier for that craftsman, but counts as basic tools for nearly anything. Some of these tools have combat ability, but they are not optimized for this, and so have -2 accuracy and defense (resulting in a final dice pool of 2). They typical do around 3L damage, with rate 1, and include things such as circular saws and tiny welding devices. (grants all 5 basic craftskills at rating 2)
  • Voicebox - the unit comes with a sophisticated voice synthesis engine, and can speak any language it has been programmed with. Typically, this is old realm, but units can learn (slowly) and will eventually pick up any language their owner uses often. It should be noted that all units can communicate, but will typically require a brush and ink to do so, and perform calligraphy very slowly. The voicebox allows much more fluid coversation, and a sub-processor upgrade means that the unit will ask for clarification on any tasks of which it is unsure, as opposed to performing whatever it thinks its master meant. (grants a linguistics skill of 2, and wits of 1)

Waddling ducks were usually not strongly fixed to any one master, but can be ordered to be exclusively loyal by anyone who can prove ownership. They are also programmed against causing direct harm, and it requires a difficulty 3 manipulation + linguistics check to form a sufficiently (il)logical and twisty command to step around this, but a smart master could probably issue a standing order making further checks unnecessary. In 'personality', units do differ, but tend to be rather straightforward, sometimes annoyingly singleminded, and often surprisingly observant.

Waddling ducks have a 5MM processing core buried in the cuboid body, but it is surrounded by relatively fragile components. They have 7B/4L soak, and 6 health levels before they are rendered inert. Their physical stats are all equivalent to 2, they have intelligence 1, perception 2, and no wits. If social attributes are required, they are typically all 1. Most units have linguistics 1 and no other skills.

Mechanical Model House-Guest - IanPrice
Artifact: ••
Commitment: none / 5m activation

When first created, these automata are simply clay statues with moonsilver articulation, wearing a featureless moonsilver mask. Activating one of these requires Lore and Occult •••+. When activated, the Model House-Guest takes on a random, normal-looking physical appearance according to the subconscious expectations of the person activating it (default Appearance score is 2). The unit will not produce its own clothing, so its master would do well to provide it with some. With a Manipulation + (Larceny or Socialize) roll, it is possible to alter the features of the automaton consciously. Successes on this roll may be spent as follows:

  • 1 success - make the automaton's Appearance •, this is the minimum.
  • 2 successes - add 1 to Appearance.
  • 3 successes - make it look like any person whose Appearance score is the same as its, so long as the Exalt programming it has a sufficiently detailed recollection of that person's features. An Intelligence + Awareness roll may be required to remember a person who hasn't been seen recently, with increasing difficulty depending on how long ago it was and less intimate knowledge in the first place. This process will not grant any special knowledge of changes to that person's appearance while he or she has been gone, either.

The Mechanical Model House-Guest fulfills three basic functions: household servant, pleasant conversation, and reminder of a loved one's face. The Twilight who created the first of these in the First Age wanted a way to see her Lunar husband's face when he was off in some theater of combat; the design was then replicated by others who saw the usefulness of these pleasant and unobtrusive servants.

These automata always have Strength, Dexterity, and Athletics ••. Their Stamina is •••, as is their Resistance; this should be rolled in the normal way for fatigue to determine when the unit will have to shut down for a period of Essence respiration. This is not technically sleep, and the units are not normally known to dream (though there have been incidents of exception involving shattered or botched Sorcery, or sometimes Wyld exposure). Any mental and social Attributes and Abilities possessed by the activating Exalt may be imprinted onto each Automaton if so desired, making these servants rather useful to craftsmen and statesmen to assist in their work. These units are incapable of seduction, though; both psychologically and physically (the former due to the latter), as they are not anatomically correct, possessing no genitalia. This makes many social functions with them awkward. Also, they may never lead a Craft, Lore, Occult, or similar roll (though they can assist others) because these units possess no true creativity (though again, some older units, often exposed to strange phenomena, are said to have changed from this normal state).

As a safety measure, physical combat abilities may not be imprinted on these units. Also, each one comes with a Key Crystal, which is always visible at the nape of the neck. If this is removed, the glistening moonsilver socket is visible. These units cease to function if they leave a one mile radius from their Crystals, as the Key Crystals are their source of Essence respiration for all functions. Upon this cease of function, the unit's memory is wiped and it reverts to its inert state - its memories are encoded on its Key Crystal, though, so if that is ever re-inserted, it can pick up where it left off.

Quick Quick Toymaker - willows

Artifact •••

The Quick Quick Toymaker is a wood-and-silver doll made to look like an angyalka - it has a dozen long fingers on each hand, and it carries a harp with silver strings.

When provided with raw materials, it is capable of building any mundane item at fifteen times the speed of a mortal craftsman, and works as well as though it had Craft 5 and any appropriate Attributes 3. It does not require tools - its automatic fingers are strong, adaptable, and precise.

However, the Quick Quick Toymaker is not inhabited by a human intelligence, and it is not empowered by the fiery spirit of Exalted Essence; this limits its skill and creativity. It cannot create an item without a working prototype to copy. It is able to make significant quantitative improvements, for instance adjusting the size of items, and it can in fact do these beyond the ability of human craftsmanship, but it cannot perform any qualitative improvements, giving objects new functionality. Adjusting a quantitative trait in any direction from the prototype adds 1 to the difficulty of the Toymaker's Craft roll.

Furthermore, its ability at ornamentation is stunted; while it copies with great precision, somehow the beauty of the things it makes is unmistakably lifeless and without excitement. This reduces the Resources value of any item it produces whose purpose is entertainment or beauty by 1.

Finally, while the Toymaker works quickly quickly, it is not entirely reliable. Whenever it has zero successes on a roll to make an item, it destroys all the raw materials required for that item.

When the Toymaker is unoccupied with making things, it plays a tuneless drone on its harp, and occasionally it will accompany itself by singing, which sound is like the mindless piping of a flute. This music attracts the littlest gods, who will appear around it, flickering in and out of sight, dancing in the air like moths around a flame.

Destiny-Fulfilling Steward - GreenLantern
Artifact: ••••
Commitment: None

As long as Creation exists, a Sidereal's work is never truly done. Whether maintaining relationships in Yu-Shan, manipulating Creation through astrology, or even impacting it through direct intervention, such as in demon hunting activities, a Sidereal is constantly asked to perform many tasks simultaneously. Each of these tasks, while important, are not necessarily demanding of the Sidereal's full abilities and repertoire. For example, while a certain long-term plan might require the maintainance of a certain resplendent destiny, and the maintainance of certain pretexts might require attendance at certain heavenly events, these actions are not truly demanding - merely time consuming. To that end, a certain wise Sidereal contracted out with the god of Automata for a construct to aid in these day-to-day tasks.

The resulting automata, when inactive, resembles an androgynous clay humanoid with a slight silvery sheen to it. Controlled by its starmetal heart, the moonsilver particles infused into the clay allow the automata to change its shape and form into that of any humanoid the owner desires, much as with the Minion of Deadly Touch. Rather than serving as an assassin, however, the Destiny-Fulfilling Steward is intended to replace the Sidereal in as many functions as possible, the most well-known of which is the ability of the automaton to assume its owner's resplendent destinies, allowing a single Sidereal to simultaneously maintain many different identities across Creation. As the automata is merely calling on the owner's destiny, it is unable to make use of the special functions of a given destiny - it may only continue to exist as the identity, maintaining continuity. At the same time, as wearing such destinies is the automata's original design, it does not exhaust the destiny quickly - every two days a destiny is worn by such an automata only subtracts one day from the resplendent destiny's remaining time. A given resplendent destiny cannot be worn by both the Steward and the owner at once - if a situation would arise where both attempt to wear the destiny at once, the owner will be aware of the situation, and can force the Steward to drop the destiny.

Once attuned to, the Steward gains a limited mental link to the owner, allowing it to act and make choices as the owner would, even without direct control. This link also serves to provide the owner with a continual summary of the Steward's actions, ensuring that the owner is made aware of any significant problems or changes in the situation watched by the Steward. Not so much a total mental link as a transfer of memory, Sidereals who make regular use of these automata will find themselves experiencing strange deja vu as they remember events that they never actually participated in.

As the automata's primary function is to replace the Sidereal in many different situations, it's abilities are also fairly fluid. Each automata has a limited repertoire of skills that can be modified to suit each given task. The abilities of the automata are therefore dependent on the identity and role assumed. Once a given identity and role has been assumed for the first time, the abilities available to that role are fixed, and cannot be easily changed.

In the case of an emergency requiring much more than the Steward can provide, the owner can use this link to swap places with the Steward, traversing vast distances in the blink of an eye as the fates of the automata and owner are first merged, then re-separated into their component parts. Activating this power requires 15 motes, and damages the automata. Until repaired, the automata suffers a 1-die penalty on all actions, and is noticeably 'unwell', often gaining a limp, a tick, and other outward signs of illness or infirmity. This power cannot be re-activated until the automata has been repaired, giving the owner no quick way back to his original location.

The Destiny-Fulfilling Steward is a self-powering automata, requiring 1 mote per hour to function, and regenerating 2 motes per hour while powered down (4 motes per hour when in range of a manse attuned to the owner). Assuming a resplendent destiny costs 1 mote, and changing appearance also costs 1 mote. The Steward has an internal reserve of 24 motes.

Essence: (As owner)
Essence Pool: 24 personal, 0 peripheral
Health Levels: (As starting heroic mortal)

Dawn Caste Abilities:

  • Martial Arts: 1

Eclipse Caste Abilities:

  • Bureaucracy: 3
  • Linguistics: 3(Old Realm and two others as appropriate)
  • Socialize: 2

Night Caste Abilities:

  • Awareness: 2 (+2 Being Watched)
  • Larceny: 2 (+2 Imitating Others , +1 Imitating Owner)
  • Stealth: 3 (+2 Hiding Automaton Nature)

Twilight Caste Abilities:

  • Craft: 4 (any one craft), 2 (two other crafts) (+1 Artifact repair and maintenance)
  • Investigation: 1
  • Lore: 3 (+2 Things the owner should know)
  • Medicine: 1
  • Occult: 2 (+2 Automata)

Zenith Caste Abilities:

  • Integrity: 3 (+3 Betraying the owner, +2 admitting automaton nature)
  • Performance: 2 (+3 Masquerading)
  • Presence: 2 (+2 convincing others of false identity)
  • Resistance: 2

Other Abilities:

  • When first taking on a role, the Steward has an additional pool of 10 bonus points to distribute among the various abilities. These bonus points may not raise any of the Steward's abilities higher than the owner's ability in a given area. Raising an ability higher than 3 costs 2 bonus points per point above 3.
  • The Steward can maintain a repertoire of only 10 roles at once. Developing a new role takes roughly one hour of time, and 12 motes from the Steward's reserves.

Slumbering Artificer - DeathBySurfeit
Artifact: •••••
Commitment: 1 mote

Its true name lost since the slaughter of its First Age creator, this colossal automata has slept for thousands of years beneath the desert sands of the South. The enormous essence-gathering nodes that tower from its hunched back are designed to function as guard towers, and the vast span of its shoulders is configured to function as a First Age battle-fortress. Indeed, its present residents have little idea of its true functionality, and even if they did, they'd have little clue of how to awaken it.

Should someone do so, the artificer's head erupts from the desert floor: a brutish looking thing with an elongated, broad-toothed jaw and two massive pearls serving as bulging eyes, it lacks much of the beauty of many First Age devices. It has a strong embedded personality, is peculiarly fond of Solars in all their forms (and will frequently express its glee over their antics in a cavernous, booming voice), and loves to have something to do.

It's certainly an able worker - provided with written designs and a nearby source of appropriate materials (both of which it will wantonly chow down on command), the Artificer's body serves as an enormous factory. It can make anything it has the components for, with a number of successes on its Craft roll equal to successes on the designs submitted. Better, it is capable of producing thaumaturgic or artifact contraptions (though these often require more exotic materials), and works with the speed of a hundred men until asked to stop. The end results are delivered internally to its habitable portion via pneumatic tubes, vomited up or released from hatches underground to burrow their way clear, as appropriate.

In addition to this, the artificer is able to 'swim' through the desert sands at the speed of a fast horse overland (making it an excellent battlefield asset), and can partially raise itself from them; the section beneath its waist is always submerged, but even this brings the fortress section a hundred yards into the air. The artificer is a creature of love, not war, and does not attack things even if commanded to - it is clumsy and dimwitted enough that such would be pretty useless, anyway. It may be damaged only by attacks capable of harming magical materials, and even then is equivalent to an armoured behemoth in its resilience.


Hmm... Well, I was aiming for something short and vaguely cute, like Zeke or those robots from Dark Star. As it is... I rambled. Sorry. It may need rebalancing, or it may not. We shall see.
-- Darloth

Eesh, I'm getting good at killing relays.
-- Darloth

I will admit that I'm working on two right now (and have been for a week). Good automatons take a lot of time, as balancing and providing enough fluff is key. It's very easy to make a bland automaton, which is sad. As a question, is it 'legit' in Relay terms, for me to skip striaght to Artifact 4? I've got something (Destiny-Fulfilling Steward) I could throw down quickly enough, if it's allowed. -- GreenLantern

It's never been encouraged, but if you really want to, you should do it. It's enough that you asked. - willows

You gonna post that level 4 one you mentioned, GL? - IanPrice

Argh!I had forgotten! -- GL

GreenLantern, that's a pretty rockin' automaton; it gives me ideas for Siddies in my campaign and for playing one, which is a key factor for artifact worthiness by my reckoning. Oh! I made a 5-dot one. See if you like it, y'all; I've got a theme in mind if you do. Darloth gets credit for initial inspiration on this one - the (admittedly nonsentient) factory-cathedral in his campaign is the pre-uberised foundation of the Artificer...DeathBySurfeit