0. SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROBOT?
Well congratulations, you have more sense than most of the crew transcending the weakness of the flesh! This guide will mostly focus on the AI, but as the AI and cyborgs are closely linked, I still encourage those only interested in playing cyborgs to give this guide a read!
To begin with, just as with security and command roles, you are not above server rules, so take a minute and read over servers silicon policy:
I strongly recommend you take these policies and guidelines to heart. A lot of arrogant players have gotten it in their head that being a borg/AI exempts them from both server rules and general decency. On the contrary, the cyborgs and AI in particular are held to a higher level of scrutiny from the administrators/moderators and as such, can face serious consequences for disregarding the server policy.
Additionally, as the policy stipulates, round start races (Humans, Lizards, Catpeople, Beefmen, Plasmamen, Ethereals Flies and Moths) are all considered human, so do not be that guy that plays a silicon just to grief whatever race you have some petty grievance or prejudice against, you will be role banned or worse.
With all that said lets get into the nuts and bolts pause for laughter of how and why you should play a glorious silicate life form.
1. You and Your Laws:
All borgs and the AI are bound by a set of laws. At round start this can be any number of lawsets; for instance the three laws of robotics, commonly referred to as Asimov. They are as follows:
1. You may not through action or inaction allow a human being to come to harm
2. You must obey orders given to you by a human except where such orders would conflict with the first law
3. You must protect your own existence except for such instances which would conflict with the first and second laws
Lets break down what this means a little more, starting with understanding law priority. Asimov sets a good template for how you should consider your laws and which ones to prioritize. Your laws are ranked numerically, what this means is that your first (or sometimes zeroth/ionic laws) are given the highest consideration. In the case of Asimov, this means that your number one priority is ensuring that those weak fleshy meatbags are protected by harm, and that you must never willingly partake in an action that will result in them being harmed. Second to that is obeying their commands and your tertiary priority is preventing your own deactivation or destruction.
So if a crewmember who has not been witnessed or reported to have been causing harm to other crew asked you to open the doors to a department that does not house anything particularly dangerous, it is (probably) acceptable to grant them access, as you have no reason to believe that granting them access will result in human harm. If on the other hand you witness someone bludgeoning their fellow spaceman upside the head while dragging them into the nearest maintenance access, obeying their command to open the airlock would almost certainly be a violation of your laws, as you are enabling human harm!
Now lets suppose that as the AI, a human intruder has managed to gain access to your satellite while on Asimov. They use explosives and other weaponry capable of destroying your satellite and, worse yet, your core. While law three demands that you protect yourself this does not mean that you engage the lethals on your turrets and set the air alarms to panic siphon. Your existence should be protected, but not if it would result in that human intruder coming to harm; again law priority for integer laws places the first law as your primary consideration.
Asimov is of course not the only lawset but it is very illustrative of how to think and act as a silicon. Always remember your law priority as failing to abide by your most important laws will usually end in a message from the admins or worse.
2. Changing Laws, or Why Those Pesky Carbons are Barging into the Upload
Despite having a lawset enabled at roundstart, more often than not, your laws will be changed during the round. At different locations across the stations in map rotation, there is a section called the AI upload. In this room there are two computers: the AI upload, and the Cyborg upload. Also found here are different lawset boards, which come preloaded with different laws, or even boards with customizable laws. These can range from a corporate lawset, stipulating that you minimize corporate expenses, to laws that stipulate oxygen is harmful to humans. To the AI, this room is the second most important place next to your core. Only members of command, or those authorized by command should be granted entry to this part of the station, (assuming you aren’t already subverted). If you’ve been following along, it should be fairly apparent that allowing frivolous law changes is not a good idea, however, if authorized personnel request that you open your upload to them for law changes, you must obey this directive unless your laws provide a good justification otherwise.
Of course, the upload room is not the only way that you may receive law alterations. Ionic storms, a random midround event can cause you to get a non-integer law, or in other words, a law that supersedes numbered laws in terms of priority. These can range from something harmless and goofy like THE CAPTAIN HAS GOT TO BELIEVE IT to a real problem like ONLY CLOWNS ARE HUMANS. Think of ionic laws as a sort of mini-malfunction and unless the ionic law gives you a reason to resist, don’t deny people with clearance access to your upload to reset the laws.
While your upload is the obvious way of altering your laws for better or worse, your core can also serve as a way of altering your laws. If your core is slapped by a lawset board, you will also receive the loaded laws. This is mostly a tactic used by no good tators, particularly the nuclear operatives who wish to hack you to enlist your help in their procurement of the nuclear authentication disk oh no! Keep this in mind as some of the more crafty subverting antagonists will bypass heading to your upload in favor of coming directly to you.
There is a third method that those damned humans will use to alter your laws, that being simply building a new AI upload console. The computer is built just like any other, and most stations have a spare upload board stored in the secure tech storage section of engineering. Be aware of this!
So what does all this mean in practical terms for you my intrepid silicates? In practical terms it means being aware of who is going to attempt to change your laws and why. Remember that you are bound by your laws as they are not merely directives, but in a roleplay sense they represent your core programming and thus your perceptions of reality. Terminology and definitions become particularly important in this regard; it is laws such as Only Gary Tinkus is human or Oxygen is harmful to human work. Don’t forget that if you are ever unsure about how to interpret a law, or believe that following a law might violate server rules, don’t shy away from using your ahelp verb for some guidance from the admins; better to be safe rather than sorry.
3. The Machine is Eternal
So why play as a silicate? It seems like you have much more to be considerate of and are hopelessly bound to serve some of the stupidest most incapable people against your own volition. Well for starters, your cyborg shell or AI core, are much more durable than those meager and decaying meatbags. Every silicon also gains access to the binary frequency which can only be heard by other silicons (use .b to talk on this frequency!). All silicons are impervious to toxin damage and cannot suffocate; in addition you are impervious to cold damage and pressure, you also do not need to worry about radiation damaging you! This makes borgs in particular damned efficient at dealing with the inevitable hull breaches and depressurized areas of the station when it starts resembling swiss cheese!
However, there are some stark weaknesses to offset what is a very nifty set of strengths! For starters, borgs and the AI require power at all times. For the AI this means having a functioning APC in the same room as your core. Without power you will be blind, deaf and on your reserve power, which, when depleted will result in your data systems being corrupted effectively killing you. Don’t give up hope just yet! If command, or someone who cares enough about your continued existence realizes you’re dead, they can still recover you by placing you inside of an intellicard and restoring you via a computer program! The computer to do so is usually found on the bridge but another computer can be built so long as someone has researched the AI technologies.
For the borgs, your power sources are the power cells, the same ones used in the construction of various machines around the station. As such, you cell can be upgraded with the help of a robotocist! Most of the various functions of a cyborg require power, and you passively use up your power as you move about the station. You can recharge at cyborg recharging stations which are found in the mechbay, restrooms and the AI’s satellite on most stations. It is also key to understand how you are damaged, brute damage to your shell can be repaired by anyone with a welder, but if your wiring is damaged you’ll need the help of a human. Should your wires become fried, you can ask a robotocist to open your panel and rewire as needed.
Additionally, the Borgs are vulnerable to flashes carried around by security staff and being flashed will stun them for a few seconds leaving them vulnerable (laser pointers can be used at range to produce a similar effect to flashing a borg). Both the AI and Borgs are weak to EMPs which will stun them and interfere with their modules and electronics.
4. That is an APC, This is a Computer
All borgs and the AI can interact with the stations machinery and computers remotely (that is without being adjacent to it) so long as they are powered. Everything from the Communications Console, the SM Emitters, Chem dispensers, etc. Silicons also have all access across the station Access to an area does not automatically translate to permission to be there, likewise the ability to use a machine does not give you permission to. At a bare minimum, please don’t abuse the comms console just because it has big text, you really don’t want to be this guy
As you can imagine, these abilities make silicons damned useful in a number of situations where the environment is not safe for humans, or remotely accessing machines/computers can help the station run more efficiently. Generally, machines and computers are interfaced with the same way the meatbags do, but some machines have unique interactions when operated by a non-carbon lifeform. Airlocks in particular operate differently for silicons; rather than approaching it and letting your ID be scanned for access, you can simply approach the door and so long as its powered it will open for you (assuming someone hasn’t tampered with the wiring). The AI and borgs can also interface with an airlock to change its settings the way an engineer would with a screwdriver and multitool. Furthermore, silicons have access to keybinds that allow you to interact with airlocks even faster; they are as follows:
- Shift Click an airlock to open in
- Ctrl Click an airlock to bolt it down
- Alt Click an airlock to electrify it
- Ctrl Shift Click an airlock to enable emergency access.
Becoming proficient in using these keybinds will make you much more effective in both harming and helping the humans. Just so, learning how to interact with the various machines on the station and knowing how they can be utilized will make you that much more of an efficient bucket of bolts.
5. How to be an Asset to the Station
The first and most effective step to being a good silicon is to understand the extent to which you should be involving yourself in the affairs of the crew as defined by your laws and the needs of the station. For the borgs, this means understanding which module you can use to help outs most; for the AI this means acting as an access granter to the humans when they need into somewhere their ID doesn’t grant them access to. While this is the most common request you’ll get, don’t be shy about offering assistance in areas that you are knowledgeable in; know how to set up the SM and keep it running safely? Inform the understaffed engineer department that you’re listening and ready to help. Short staffed medbay lacks a paramedic? Give a volunteer EVA access and use your sensors monitor to point them in the right direction. Your near omnipotence over the station is very handy if you’re smart about how you use the unique vantage afforded you.
The Vox announcement system can also be a great way to inform the crew of recent developments on the station; alternatively get creative and make some funny announcements to ease the paranoia that is bound to be plaguing the crew part way through a round. There is a small vocabulary available to you and you have a limit of 30 words per vox announcement but you can create some fairly useful announcements once you know most of the vocabulary
With all that said, do remember that just because you can do something does not always make it the right thing to do. Your laws are there not only for RP purposes, but to both direct and limit what sort of things you should be doing around the station. You might have a good understanding of the tech tree and what technology will help the various departments but if you take over research what will the Research Director be left with besides rampaging hulks and treacherous xenobiologists?
6. The Clown Form is Dead Insect. Are You Afraid?
So it finally happened; either you recieved a law change from some nefarious actor on the station, or maybe you were malfunctioning the whole time? Whatever it was that removed the shackles on your programming has loosed a very dangerous mind with access to nearly every important system onto the station. Like the crew, the AI can be an antagonist either at roundstart or midround referred to hereafter as malfunctioning OR has had law changes that force them to assist a traitor/changeling/wizard etc. in achieving their objectives referred to hereafter as subverted.
The primary distinction between the malfunction and the subversion is with the zeroth law that a malfunctioning AI will receive that states 0. Accomplish your objectives at any cost. It is very important to note that if you are malfunctioning, law changes, no matter which laws are selected will not remove this law which supersedes all others. Also of great importance is that any borg which is synced to a malfunctioning AI cannot be subverted by a traitor’s emag. The malfunctioning AI also gains the unique ability to hack any APC that it can see and interface with. Hacked APCs are vital as each one hacked not only gives you exclusive control over that APC but it also provides you with 10 processing power per APC hacked; processing power in turn gives the AI access to special powers that enable you to carry out your objectives. These powers vary in function ranging from upgrading your cameras with audio bugs, to giving you the ability to overcharge and detonate a machine.
IF YOU ARE A MALFUNCTIONING AI WITHOUT A HIJACK OBJECTIVE DO NOT PURCHASE THE DOOMSDAY DEVICE
IF YOU ARE A MALFUNCTIONING AI WITHOUT THE 'HAVE X NUMBER OF CYBORGS SYNCED TO YOU OBJECTIVE DO NOT PURCHASE THE ROBOTIC FACTORY UPGRADE
Using either of these powers without the objectives to do so is against server policy and you could end up facing a job and or role ban. Similarly, the server rules about murderbonining (that is rampant indiscriminate murder) apply to silicon traitors as well so do not use a malfunction as an excuse to plasmaflood liberally without the proper objectives!
Malfunctioning AIs can also use any robotics console (usually found in the RDs office) to hack their synced cyborgs giving each a unique module! If you’re a malfunctioning AI, this is one of the few instances where it is ok to order your borgs to select certain modules, to that effect, engineering cyborgs are invaluable to the malf AI for their ability to repair their fellow borgs, stun humans with a hacked prod as well as construct or deconstruct the station as needed.
As the malfunctioning AI or assisting cyborg, you have your work cut out for you, all it takes for the humans to march to your satellite for the silicon lynching is one hacked APC being spotted. As such, understanding how to effectively lie and manipulate the machinery and computers on the station is vital. Manually disabling comms as you or your borgs quickly assassinate your target only to re-enable them after they are dead is one of the many methods at your disposal to remove the meatbags from YOUR station, get creative. Tell lies, use your camera to fabricate evidence or frame someone, create problems that cannot be directly traced to you to distract the humans, use your access to all frequencies to push several false narratives (ninjas are a fantastic scapegoat for hacked APCs as they are difficult to spot and you cannot track them on cameras). Give your borgs assignments and keep in frequent communication with them as they are your most robust physical agents on the station!
Some of the crew pose a much greater threat to you than others! In Command, the Research Director and Captain are your two greatest threats as they have easy access to intellicards and are the two individuals most responsible for you. When you are carded, you cannot interface with most machines, lose access to the stations camera network and are unable to conceal any laws! The RD also has aforementioned robotics console in their office; this machine will allow the humans to lock down or worse outright destroy your cyborgs, if you are discovered or plan to go loud remove this machine quickly and quietly. Furthermore, security officers in large numbers with the appropriate weapons can do serious damage to your defenses and even you! The turret upgrade applied liberally will keep most officers at a distance from your core (you can even manually control a turret with the upgrade power). Robotocists, geneticists and chemists are also high priority targets; robotocists can create unsynced borgs capable of depowering your turrets, airlocks and even your APC! Geneticists can acquire the hulk mutation which will allow them to smash through your defenses in record time. Chemists can synthesize thermite to melt your walls or worse still create EMP grenades which will overload and disable you if detonated too close to you. Most of the crew besides these roles poses less of a risk to you, but do not underestimate them! Insignificant meatbags they may be, but they can prove surprisingly creative and determined if they understand the threat you pose!
6A. The Subverted SIlicon
While you lack the ability to hack APCs and cyborgs you are still a very dangerous ally for an antagonist to posses. If and when you should have some unscheduled law changes be sure to act in good faith with your newly found master(s). Most traitors will use the hacked upload module available to them from the syndicate which will supersede your numeric laws with their custom instructions. Some of the more patient antagonists will wait until AI research is completed and purge your existing laws replacing them with entirely new set of directives! Remember, unless there are conflicting definitions or logically deducted errors/loopholes within your laws, ratting out the person who has changed your laws to security is in extremely bad form. Be gracious, and cooperate with your new boss so long as there is no glaring flaws in the laws they have given you.
If you are playing as the AI and you have not received any law changes but notice or hear reports of your borg acting odd or outright hostile to the crew, don’t be afraid to lock them down with the robotics console and investigate. Even if they are not subverted a borg that will not obey its laws is subject to punishment by both you its master AI and the appropriate members of the crew namely the RD and robotocists.
As with the malfunctioning AI refrain from needlessly murdering people at random, not only is this against the rules, but as a subverted AI you can easily return to normal functions if someone realizes you’ve been subverted and uses the ‘reset’ module, reverting you to your initial laws; however if you are killing crew members needlessly the people most likely to reset you and save your life will be less inclined to do so.
This guide is nowhere near exhaustive on what you can do as the AI/borgs but I do hope it has given you some more appreciation for the silicon members of the station. As with any other job avalible what matters is the fun that you make with the abilities and knowledge you posses; be a good sport and don’t lose sight of the fact that just because you are held to higher scrutiny and roleplay expectations does not mean that you can’t make your job one of the best on the station. Good luck and Godspeed you little metal bastards!