Rifts: The IronWorks K9 Robot Dog

   Today it’s a Racial Character Class for Rifts – the IronWorks K9 Self-Reproducing Guardian and Tutorial Robot Dog. They were the creations of “Forge”, a psi-artificer, who decided that – however well-appreciated they might be – individual heroics were never going to make a very big difference in the deplorable state of the multiverse in general and Rifts Earth in particular.

   Their basic programming was fairly straightforward; they were to gather and share with each other (and presumably with Forge) information (with a particular stress on magical, technical, and psychic information), to protect sapient lifeforms that were willing to live in peace with each other from natural dangers, dangerous nonsapient lifeforms, and sapient lifeforms which were not so inclined, and to raise and educate sapient children who were willing to live in peace with other sapient lifeforms. Secondarily, they were to provide general assistance in developing and maintaining a civilization, to protect and reproduce themselves, and to be generally helpful.

   In the interests of “slipping in under the radar” – and getting themselves well-established before any opposition could develop – the K9 series was usually introduced as “pets” and distributed as free gifts for children. More than one village was quite shocked to discover that the “pack of dogs” that trailed around after the kids was quite capable of holding off a sizeable supernatural or military assault and was quietly providing a full education for their charges. The K9 model is also often willing to accompany well-intentioned adventurers in preemptively dealing with various menaces.

   Out in the world, they eat metals and radioactives to supply raw materials, can make minor modifications to themselves (coloration, silver-plated claws [no modifications – except against a vampire], and hair pattern), “grow” their own mini-missiles (any type desired, including variants like silver-fragmentation, takes four hours per missile), and can breed. Whether out of necessity, or out of a quirky sense of humor, Forge mimicked basic canine patterns; they compare programs, pups “nurse” (drawing electrical power, raw materials, and programming), “grow” (through self-repair and expansion of their neural net), and so on.

   When concealing their true nature, they often wear very low grade (around 15 MDC) armor, flea repellers, and packs, simply to help conceal their real nature.

   When last heard from, it looked like this particular experiment was going pretty well; the species was spreading rapidly – and was proving quite effective at reducing the level of general chaos. Any party might hook up with one – or find one coming along without them even being aware of it.

   IronWorks K9 Self-Reproducing Guardian and Tutorial Robot Dog R.C.C.

  • Full natural appearance as vaguely wolfish/ St. Bernard type mutts.
  • 550 MDC.
  • PS 40, PP 26, PB 17, IQ 28.
  • 300 MPH run, 20-year nuclear power pack.
    • Teeth inflict 4D6 MD and six of them are injector systems with a 10-dose capacity; they may inject whatever they’re individually loaded with.
    • Claws inflict 3D6 MD
    • Particle Beam (in the mouth); 6D6+6 MD
    • Two forward-pointing, shoulder-mounted, snap-out mini-missile launchers. Three shots each, singly or in volleys of 2, 4, or 6.

   Basic Features include: advanced robot optics, targeting sight and combat computer, telescopic vision, optic searchlight, radar, bug, and motion detectors, micro-radar, modulating voice synthesizer and sound analysis computer, wide band radio receiver and transmitter with scrambler system, advanced audio system, tactile sensors, expanded memory, secret compartments, molecular analyzer (Sense of smell; 98%, chemical analysis; 80%, tracking, etcetera), a gyrocompass, and an expanded memory. Sadly, paws make lousy hands, although they can extend a pair of light waldos (not useful in combat, 35 MDC) for fine manipulations.

   Unique Features include: a Cloaking Field (which conceals the fact that they’re robots from most instruments), a Vernulian Energy Field (a 150 MDC force field that recovers ten MDC per hour and can be used to protect other creatures if they’re within six feet), nano-technological self-repair systems (restores 5 MDC per hour, will eventually reconstruct them from anyting down to -150 MDC), computer interface capability, a 60-point energy reserve (used to temporarily boost other systems, electrify the exterior [equal to a neural mace, costs one point per minute], permit short [1 point, -2 on strike bonus] and long [4 points, -5 to strike] particle beam bursts, and to power external items. It recharges one point a minute under low demand conditions), and a gravitic modulator (allows them to adjust their weights to run on virtually any surface, permits incredible leaps, and is usually used to adjust their weight to conceal their robotic nature and negate prowl penalties. It can also be used to increase their weight up to a maximum of about three tons. That can make it truly unpleasant to have one land on you).

   Programming: They’re highly advanced “Neural Intelligences” with General Military, Physical, Pilot, Pilot Related, Basic Espionage, and Technical, programs, as well as one of choice – most often the Electrical or Mechanical program. They are able to grow and learn, and use the “Borg” table – gaining 2 skill selections at level 1, 5 more at levels 3, 7, 11, and 15. They are sentient, cooperative, communicative, and tactically skilled – especially at operating as a pack.

   War Dog Combat Armor: Similar to Borg armor, this suit pays little attention to niceties such as weight, the total coverage required by an SDC being, and fine-tuned environmental features. Instead, it concentrates on durability. The armor takes advantage of the unique nature of it’s wearer’s by adding a small selection of electronically-controlled weapons systems. Net Total; 300 MDC, Prowl -10%, +1 attack, provides mounts for two major and two minor weapons systems. Major weapon housings have a MDC of 50, small ones of 40. Destroying all weapons will negate the +1 attack. Increases the user’s energy reserve to “200 points” – and extends the range of the particle beam from 1200 to 2400 feet, although it does cost an energy point to use this feature.

  • Possible Major Weapons: Mini-missile Pod (24, fires 1, 2, 4 or 6), Laser (6000 Ft range, 3D6 MD, Single/Short/Long Bursts -/1/4 energy points), Mass Driver (Payload; 60, single-shot flechette rounds, inflicts 2D4x10 MD, 6000 Ft range, 1 energy point per shot, aimed only).
  • Possible Minor Weapons: Chemical Spray (as per Rifts book, PG 240. Double capacity, may be loaded with flammables to act as a flamethrower, 4D6 SDC and ignites things), Grenade Launcher (Payload; 20, 1200 Ft range, burst of 4 may be used to “cover” an area or to do more damage, uses normal rifle grenades), Minigun (designed to spray micro-flechette rounds around as fast as possible. It can be most annoying. 30D6 SDC damage. Most flechettes miss anyway – hence sweeping an area simply divides up the 30 dice among eligible targets. 200 Ft range, pay- load of 40 bursts. Exotic ammunitions (iron, silver, and so on) operate without penalty), Stake Driver (payload 45, fires thin (wood, silver, whatever) shafts. 800 Ft range, 3D6 SDC damage, may fire a “burst” of 3 shafts, all of which roll to hit separately. Commonly used for anti-vampire missions – and so are usually fitted with pop-out anchors which make them nearly irremovable).

   As usual for the K9-Guardian robots the direct link between the weapons and their neural-computer “nervous system”, allows them to apply their usual bonuses with these weapons.

   Here are sample statistics for a pair of them at level four:

  • Skill Percentages: Radio (Basic, 98%), Mathematics (Basic, 98%), Climbing, Swimming, Gymnastics, Computer Operation, Photography, Read Sensory Equipment, Weapon Systems, and Navigation, (All at 94%). Detect Ambush, Intelligence, Detect Concealment, Cryptography and First Aid, (All at 80%). Also Hand to Hand/Expert at level eight.
  • Read/Speak; American, Spanish, Euro, Dragonese, and Techno-can, all at 94%.
  • Pilot; Automobile, Hovercraft, Airplane, Motorboat, Ship, Helicopter, Trucks, Jet Aircraft, -Fighters, and -Packs, all at 94%.
    • With the Electrical Program: Computer Repair, Electrical Engineer, Robot Electronics, and Basic Electronics, all at 94%. Also has Biology (30+5*L)%, Pathology (40+5*L)%, Chemistry (45+ 5*L)% – and M.D.B. In Cybernetics (Physician and Bionics Surgeon, see PG 28). Boxing and Advanced Math (60+5*L)%.
    • With the Mechanical Program: Aircraft Mechanic, Weapons Engineer, Robot Mechanics, and Mechanical Engineer, all at 94%. Also has Tracking (25+5*L)%, Cooking (35+5*L)%, Boxing (Special bonuses, Q.V.), Prowl (25+5*L)% – and Automotive Mechanics (25+5*L)%. Demolitions and D. Disposal, both (75+3*L)%.
  • Combat Statistics: 5 Attacks, Strike; +11, Parry; +14, Dodge; +15, Roll With Punch; +4, Initiative; +5. Automatic Parry, Critical on 18, 19, or 20. Maneuvers; Bite 3D6 MD, Claw 3D6/6D6 paired, Particle Beam 6D6+6, Shoulder Block (1D6+25 SDC. Victim loses initiative and one attack), Overbear (Basically it jumps on you – and turns up the weight. 8D6 MD, victim loses initiative and one attack – unless over 100 tons), and Kick for 2D6 MD. Short/Long bursts do 1D6x10+20/3D6x10+30 but are only +9/+6 to strike. Sadly, the power reserve is limited.
    • Their bonuses apply to all their “natural” weaponry.
  • MDC: Main Body; 550, Legs 300 each, Head 250. Destroying the head eliminates the particle beam and jaws, but only reduces bonuses by 1/2 (quite a lot of their sensors are in their main bodies). It won’t stop them.
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