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phoenix240

Westworld's Hosts in Hero System terms

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I might be (probably am) over thinking this but I've been torn about representing them as Automatons or full characters. Physically, they seem to feel (and act to avoid) pain and most discomfort and can be 'killed' by relatively low end attacks; they even bleed to death though it takes more blood loss than needed to kill a human. But they appear to be fairly easily repaired and "brought back online/back to life" from anything but catastrophic damage with properly skilled repair. From what I recall, human level blows don't effect them much but Killing Attacks (guns/knives, etc) seem just as effective against them as flesh and blood creatures, 

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You can do it the complicated way or you can do something like, physical complication - falls unconscious when BODY reduced to 5 or below, remains unconscious until BODY raised/healed above 5.  I might have a triggered simulate death talent (No conscious control) to go along with that.

 

That means you dont have to worry about resurrection etc. or the conditions on the Regeneration.  Simply taking the BODY down the requisite amount leaves them inert and looking as if they are dead.  Overwhelming attacks leave them trashed beyond repair.

 

Doc

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My take is that it probably depends on what you want out of it.

 

I haven't seen the new series, but I the classic movie, the rogue Gunfighter was pretty much unstoppable when not following his programming to "play dead".

 

However, if you want to game out the role-playing sequences there's no reason not to play it straight, but use ratings that only apply in that situation (i.e. when the simulation says you're dead, you're dead) but run with totally separate "real world" ratings. If the robots are interacting in the "real world" they'd have ratings appropriate to the situation.

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Without spoiling too much the final episode showed that many of the hosts attributes can be changed on the fly via software settings.  Setting pain reception to minimum appeared to approach the level of Automaton No Stun.

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Well there are a few issues here and unfortunately the show doesn't really explain things too well. 

 

First there are two types of Hosts. The old ones that are robots with skin covering them (basically like Terminators) and the newer ones that are more like Replicants from Blade Runner, but to be honest both types seem to react the same to injury and damage from what we've seen so far. 

 

The bigger question (to me at least, and this may only apply if you are planning on running a game set in a Westworld setting) is how do the weapons work? 

 

My person feeling is that the Hosts actually don't "take damage" from being shot with a gun from inside the park, rather they are built to mimic what damage from being shot would be like, probably with tiny micro-charges under their skin that explode when they are shot. The reason I think this is that we've seen Humans shot by the same gun as a Host in the same fight, in fact one shot right after the other, yet to the Humans the effect is only like getting hit by a paintball but to the Host standing next to him/her shot by the same gun it causes "normal" gunshot damage. To me that means that the "bullets" in the gun are fake low-velocity slugs that turn to powder when they hit a target and it is the Hosts body that produces the damage to mimic a gunshot where the "bullet" hit them. 

 

I can't see any other logical reason why Humans shot by the same gun as a Host suffer no real damage. You might say that all the clothes the humans wear in the park are super bulletproof but that seems too risky for the park to allow, since a random bullet might miss a target and hit a human in the head, hand, etc... killing or injuring them. Plus we've seen Humans going around naked/topless so that would also mean it can't be the clothing that is bulletproof. So I think that the only logical explanation is that the guns in the park are all fake and that it is the Hosts that are built to "self-damage" when they are hit. 

 

If this is true, then it opens up a lot of possibilities that the damage we see the Hosts take is pretty much all cosmetic in most cases, made to look bloody and deadly, but easy to fix overnight in the repair shop. Its all "movie magic/special effects" in a sense. 

 

Obviously knife wounds and blunt force trauma (head crushed by rock) cause more significant (possibly permanent) damage, but if I remember right we only saw one Host that was so badly damaged (from blunt force trauma to the head) that it was irreparable. Even Hosts shot at point blank range to the head were repaired by the following day, and this is partly why I believe the damage they take is mostly fake and the injuries they sustain mainly for show and part of their programming. 

 

This obviously all applies only to the guns that are part of the game/park. It is shown that the security guards are using real guns with real bullets that can really damage/kill the Hosts and Humans. 

 

Now the real question raised by the show is how to explosives work in the park. We've seen them used a lot, but the only time a Human set one off we see that it had to be authorised by the park control centre (in real time) and they allowed/triggered the explosion themselves, ( I assume after making sure no Humans were close enough to be hurt in the blast or by shrapnel.) but still that is a massive amount to control the park has over every aspect to the game world and makes you wonder if a Host wanted to set off an explosive close to a human and no authorisation was given by the control centre then would the explosive not go off? Are all the explosives just as fake as the bullets? So the dynamite isn't really dynamite, just a fake substance made to look like it and lighting it with a match would do nothing unless the control centre triggers it to explode. 

 

The only other solution to these problems that I can think of is that everything we've seen so far on the show is in a "the matrix" like virtual world so it is all programmed so that bullets and explosions don't hurt the Players, but only the Hosts. But that would be such a horrible twist/copout that it is not worth even thinking about. 

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Thanks for the suggestions. It seems like I probably was overthinking it. While I wasn't intending to run something in the actual Westworld setting I was considering a similar themed park staffed by artificial hosts in another campaign and the ideas from the show were stuck in my head. 

 

Regarding the weaponry, I got the impression that the bullets fired safety projectiles (insert technobabble here) since I recall some guest being shot but only having some bruising and the wind knocked out of them, perhaps controlled by identification systems in the guns. But mostly it was done by programming. Host either always miss or are too slow to get off a shot when facing Guests or hit non vital/lethal area/protected or in the extreme situations (the Guest walks up, puts the gun against their head and dares them to shot) they just can't pull the trigger. 

 

In a game I guess I'd just give them a Physical Limitation: All attacks against Guests are Stun Only/Pulled Punches along with some OCV/Dex penalties against Guests to reflect their limited programming and the Park's systems (they do appear to have an amazing degree of control and surveillance over the park). 

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I think the guns and ammo given to guests and hosts is also 'smart'. Guests can take guns from hosts. Programming can dial back the amount of 'gunpowder' used when targeting another guest. But like all things this can be deactivated. Example: The man in black is happily surprised when he is finally hit with a full power bullet in the shoulder in the last episode. It appears that the safety software is at least partly'network' dependent for both weapons and hosts and there is at least one hidden/second network.

 

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I think the guns and ammo given to guests and hosts is also 'smart'. Guests can take guns from hosts. Programming can dial back the amount of 'gunpowder' used when targeting another guest. But like all things this can be deactivated. Example: The man in black is happily surprised when he is finally hit with a full power bullet in the shoulder in the last episode. It appears that the safety software is at least partly'network' dependent for both weapons and hosts and there is at least one hidden/second network.

 

 

I could see the bullets being "smart" so that they can do either STUN or KILLING Damage when they hit a target, but not sure about the guns firing them being "smart", as people and Hosts shooting could miss a target and the bullet hits a different Guest/Host standing behind them and the bullet would still react doing the correct type of damage.

 

Good point about the Man in Black being shot at the end, I assumed the renegade Hosts were using Park Security guns which can hurt/kill both Guests and Hosts, but maybe it is a programming change that Ford implemented when he started the new story. This does make sense since Dorlores was able to kill him with her normal in-park gun. 

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Going from some 'behind the scenes' info that has come out, I'm leaning more towards Hosts would be written up at as regular non-automatons with some higher base characteristics and Limitations to reflect their nature (subject to programming, characteristics limited by programming etc). The newer models are described as being anatomically identical to human and purely biological aside from their brains including biological functions (aside from the ability to bear and sire children). 

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Delores completely ignores several gunshots in one of the recent episodes, so I would lean more towards automaton - with some hosts having complications that make them react as typical humans to injury, despite being mechanically capable of ignoring said injury.

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I wonder if the effects and changes seen in the series can be explained by spending XP? 

 

The hosts have have been gaining XP for 30+ years, but keep getting reset so they could never “spend” it. But now depending on how “awake” they are and how much they remember they can spend that XP. 

 

Dolores spent it on “takes no stun”, access, etc... while Mauve has spent it on higher INT and mind control, access, etc.... 

 

that at is why they are growing so powerful so quickly because they’ve had tons of XP saved up. 

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Eh, sure, but these are robots at their core - even the biological ones.  So their physical construction is at least part of why they can resist damage and injury.  They are programmed to react to injury the way a person would, but clearly Delores is able to switch that program off. 

 

Just my opinion, naturally.

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Recent episodes make it clear that Automaton is definitely warranted for Hosts.  Those that have not yet awakened do still act as though they have STUN, but I think the best way to go about this is to define them as Automatons and give them a psych lim "behaves like it has STUN".  That gets us around the whole not-dead problem.

 

Of course, the hosts are developing new abilities all the time; it's going to be hard to keep up.  ;)

 

As for the guns, the director is quoted as saying that bullet velocity is reduced when fired at a guest versus a host (when things are working they way they're supposed to).  The intelligence would then have to be in the gun, but it's still not explained in detail how this is achieved if they're still using gunpowder.  (IRL when you try to slow down a bullet in the gun, bad things happen to the gun and its operator.  Maybe you could vent some of the exploding gases?)  In a recent episode, the bullet seemed to just evaporate when it hits a guest; I could see WW guns doing something to a polymer bullet to desolidify it on firing and turn it into a simunition.  Either way, the default is real gun; when the control center was shut down, all guns became real.

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