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I'm running a GURPS game based on Space Station 13 and I'm trying to build a template for the AI player character from that game. The AI in SS13 resides in an immobile box with no directly connected servos at all, but it can operate any electronic device that's part of the space station it is a part of.

So even though the AIs body is just a featureless cube with a screen on the front, it seems a bit odd to give it No Manipulators; it can manipulate things all over the station, just not physically. Am I thinking of this the right way?

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Related: How do I build a non-biomorphic AI? – DuckTapeAl Jan 16 at 18:30
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes, it has No Manipulators. It's connected into a network where it can remotely access manipulators, but it has none of its own, personally. Consider what happens when it for some reason can't access the network: does it have manipulators now? No, the No Manipulators disad would assert itself, and in a SS13 scenario that might be very relevant at some point!

Consider an analogy to an uplifted, neurally-jacked salmon. It has No Manipulators, but its network resources and authorities might give it things it can remotely manipulate, possibly nearby such that it's almost like having manipulators. Still, it inherently has No Manipulators and should benefit from the disad's points, since it's relying on its “equipment” (the network-connected stuff in the station) and its computer-use skills to have remote manipulators. And as we all know, gear is more easily lost than limbs!

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GURPS models quite a few things very well, but an AI that doesn't live in a traditional 'body' isn't one of them. In GURPS, your body and your mind are inextricably linked (at least at character creation), and your point value is based on a combination of what your mind and body let you do. Because of this, GURPS is very poor at modeling 'infomorphs' that are AI minds that control various electronic devices. There have been several attempts to make this work, but they all work orthogonally to the normal build patterns of GURPS.

That said, here are some tips and options that I think will solve your problem.

Probably don't give it No Manipulators.

No Manipulators means that you can't affect your environment physically with any kind of precision. If you have access to an engineering bay that has precision tools, or if you can command a robot to pick stuff up for you, you don't have No Manipulators. Only use this disadvantage when you have no way to physically effect your environment more precisely than, say, pushing something around with your head.

Also, if you do give it No Manipulators, it probably has a Mitigator. Since it has access to manipulators outside of itself, but it can presumably be removed from those manipulators, you can model them the same way that you model a sight-impaired person's glasses, or a person with No Legs that has prosthetic limbs.

Consider not modeling the 'AI' part of the character at all.

One thing that many GMs run into when doing super weird things in GURPS is that the modeling system has limits, and doesn't give you many tools for breaking out of those limits. If what you're going for is a character with the exact same benefits and drawbacks as the AI in SS 13, it might be easier to just list out those abilities and limitations, and use that as the 'character sheet' for the AI. At one remove from this, you could take that list of benefits and drawbacks and try and come up with a point value for it, and use that list as a racial template.

Use the Cybershell template from Transhuman Space.

There's a template in Transhuman Space - Changing Times called the Microframe/Mainframe/Macroframe template, which models an AI that lives in a non-moving computer. This template is as follows:

Attribute Modifiers: ST-10 [-100]; HT+2 [20].

Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: HP+8 [16]; SM -3.

Advantages: Damage Resistance 5 (Can’t Wear Armor, -40%) [15]; Doesn’t Breathe [20]; Machine [25]; Telecommunication (Cable Jack; Sensie, +80%) [9]; Telecommunication (Infrared Communication) [10]; Telecommunication (Radio; Sensie, +80%) [18]. Perks: Accessory (Computer) [1].

Disadvantages: Cybershell Body [-15]; Increased Consumption 4 (1/2 hour endurance if detached from power) [-40]; No Legs (Sessile) [-50]; No Manipulators [-50]; No Sense of Smell/Taste [-5]; Restricted Diet (Very Common, electrical power supply) [-10].

I'd suggest modifying the No Manipulators to more correctly model the actual manipulators available to your AI. This is probably a solid enough template to give you a good start.

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Your answer is better in most ways but I'm going to have to accept SevenSidedDie's because ultimately it's the more correct one; you seem to have assumed that the AI has remote connection to physical manipulators, which it doesn't (I did say, "can manipulate thing all over the station, just not physically.) – Schilcote Jan 21 at 14:28

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