During the development of Aliens & Asteroids, one of the cool things that came up was the development of drones for the Technician. The best part is that you don’t even really have to be a Tech to have one — any character with the right Traits can create and manage a drone as well, but so far we’ve not had any drone-wielding Commanders, Medics, or Space Marines!
Essentially we want drones to be cool little packages of technology that can be built, customized, taken apart, and used for everything from combat to bomb disposal, reconnaissance to surgery, and well beyond. Initially, drones may not seem all that useful, but as a character levels up, they can become quite complex.
Let’s look at locomotion, for example. Initially I pondered these things to run on little wheels or tracks, sort of like a Roomba. But what if they could fly, had legs (like a spider or a dog), or the ability to climb walls on tiny suction cups or magnets? Pick one and likely you’ll run into a situation where another type of movement would come in more handy.
We had a case where a character had a tracked drone that essentially tossed it out an airlock at its destination and aimed well enough to make that little trick work, but it might have been better if it had some sort of fuel-based thruster. But that then brings in all sorts of questions about the type of fuel, how long it lasts, etc.
And then there’s the matter of other Traits or abilities. In another instance, our Technician built a drone that included a sample collection apparatus. We decided it was a bit like a tiny airtight space that could be used to gather various things such as rocks or biological samples. During a combat, another Technician was flying a tiny drone (like a snitch from Harry Potter) around and our PC managed to “catch” it using the sample collection traits of his drone.
Well, he didn’t know that the little drone had a self-destruct, so when it was captured, the other operator simply set it off like a bomb, essentially destroying the PC’s toy. It was a sad day, but a creative outcome to an insane number of potential variables.
When you add in the idea that you might be able to purchase upgrades, or build them, and then use those to expand a drone… there are very few limits to what a roboticist could accomplish.
We’ll have a pretty good list of drone Traits for players to choose from out of the box, but I am excited to see what creative players and referees come up with.
If you could build a drone for use two centuries from now, what capabilities do you think it would have? Let us know in the comments!