Kronocalypse Design: In Our Own Image

Kronocalypse features two races created by humans rather than any sort of natural process: the clockwork automatons of the Steam Age and the genetically engineered replicants of the Cyber Age.

When I was brainstorming iconic races for all the ages, I also decided I didn’t want any of them to occupy the same niches. After I decided to include automatons as an iconic steampunk race, I consciously decided not to include androids in the cyberpunk era. Robots still exist, by they are more like the mindless drones that we have today than the fully sapient robots you find in much of science fiction.

I still wanted an iconic race other than humans, so I took a nod from what I consider the paragon of cyberpunk films, Blade Runner. Rather than creations of metal and circuits, these flesh and blood beings are programmed through their DNA and grown in artificial wombs.

In many ways these two creations represent two face of the same coin, the dark and light sides of humanity’s ambition. The Steam Age is humanity’s golden hour, when they are the masters of the world. They believe anything is possible, even creating “life” from cogs and springs. The relationship between creator and creation seems simple. Automatons seem happy with their lot in life to aid humanity, and humans treat their creations much like children.

By the Cyber Age, humanity’s ambition has turned to arrogance. They continue to play god, but now it is primarily for commercial gain rather than scientific curiosity. The relationship between creator and creation has darkened. Humans view replicants as property, to which they owe nothing, and which they can dispose at their whim. Replicants, as intelligent feeling creatures, naturally resent this. Many are simply to powerless to doing anything about it, but others rise up or escape.

Mechanically the automatons and replicants are quite different. Automatons have many of the classic construct traits, such as the bonus to recover from Shaken and immunity to disease. However, I felt other construct traits, like not suffering wound penalties, was a bit too powerful, and really fit something like a golem better than a mechanical man. After all, if you bash a clock a few times, it will have trouble keeping time. Thus I labeled them as “fragile constructs,” so they don’t possess all the construct’s advantages.

Replicants as flesh and blood creatures, do not possess any construct traits. Instead they are very similar to humans, but more so. To reflect their genetic engineering, I decided to let them start with a stat boost two any two Abilities.

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