Gaming Steampunk TTRPG

Dev diary – Automata rules

Now that I have the combat rules for The Aether Throne more or less complete in a draft format, I am considering if they stand up to solo/GM-less play.

To run combats in this mode, enemies need some kind of AI/automata rules. I’ve seen these work well in the boardgame space (with the likes of Descent and Imperial Assault), so I’m exploring this route and testing it to see if it works.

Here, for example, is the stat block and the automata procedures for a bog-standard mook armed with a sword:

Sword agent

Fortitude: +1 Dexterity: 0 Wits: 0 Charisma: 0

Harm-limit: 7 (wounded 3, injured 5)

Target Number to Hit: 12

Armour: none


Strike: (sword): +2, harm-2, critical: bleed

Action points (AP): 2


Whilst AP > 0:

  1. If the sword agent is in a range band with the cover modifier, roll 1D20 + harminflicted
    • 11+: Take cover (2 AP)
  2. If no adventurer(s) is in the same range band as the sword agent, move one range band towards the nearest adventurer(s) (1AP)
  3. If unengaged and in the same range band as an adventurer(s), engage with the adventurer with highest Fortitude (1AP)
  4. If engaged with an adventurer, roll 1D20
    • 1-10: strike (1AP)
    • 11-13: disarm (2AP)
    • 14-16: feint (2AP)
    • 17-19: target (2AP)
    • 20: hold (2AP)
  5. Go to 1

The intent here is that automata-controlled enemies will act in a relatively logical manner based on their abilities and the environment they’re fighting in.

These procedures will get more complex when enemies have more than one ability (e.g. an officer agent, armed with a sword and a pistol, and who also has an aether invocation and a healing tonic or two up their sleeve).

But for now, this is enough to run a test and see if it:

a) works; and
b) isn’t too confusing

Onwards and upwards!

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