For the second week of Solo Gaming Appreciation Month, we’re to turn a board game into a driver for another RPG. This is good, because trying to wrap my head around and playing WorldKiller would be a rather tough challenge. Instead, I’ll play a sci-fi game using the setting of WorldKiller as the basis… Which one though is a huge question. One I already know the answer to: Shifter Bots.
To briefly sum up what Shifter Bots is, it’s an OSR/Black Hack-style game based off Transformers. It’s made by Thunderegg Productions. If the name’s familiar, that’s because they’re behind Kaigaku and the Exodus System. I decided to pick this game over Exodus’s Sci-Fi edition due to the fact that, while reading up on the rules and lore behind WorldKiller, I recalled the battle of Yavin IV in the climax of A New Hope and I had thought of Unicron, a planet-eating Transformer whose alternate form is a giant planet akin to the Death Star.
And so it has come to pass that I stat up my character, Destrox, along with his leading officer, Domix, as the two robots that lead an invading force over to a distant planet, all while two other robots, Outrider and V-Duster, struggle to protect it.
Let the battle begin.
The two leaders of the Cogdroid invasion force, Domix and Destrox, set their sights upon Earth. Standing forth to protect it are two of the Camtrons assigned to Earth.
“This is it, Destrox! Once we destroy those meddlesome Camtrons, Earth will be ours to command!” Domix sneered as his army came forth. Destrox also smiled. Today, he’d settle the score with V-Duster after he tried to alter his programming.
“DIE, CAMTRONS!” Destrox flew right towards the two Camtrons.
“Here they come!” Outrider flew ahead of V-Duster as he attacked. He plunged his plasma dagger into Destrox’s gut. While sparks flew, Destrox chuckled and placed his Worldkiller Blaster right at his gut.
“You’ll have to try harder than that!” Destrox pulled the trigger on his Worldkiller Blaster and blew a hole right in Outrider’s gut.
“OUTRIDER!” V-Duster went to aid Outrider as Domix blocked him.
“Can’t let you do that, Dusty.” Domix slashed at V-Duster. No one was injured, though they were both deadlocked.
We end our scene here and things seem to go our way.
[Scene Roll: 1]
The forces haven’t shown up yet as Destrox steps in to finish off Outrider. (He rolled a Crit) Before V-Duster’s eyes, Outrider’s body slowly faded away as the blast of the Worldkiller.
“OUTRIDER!” V-Duster glares at Domix as he just gets stabbed again.
“Learn your place, scrap!” Domix said… Only for him to notice that his sword didn’t pierce his armor.
“No… YOU learn your place, scum!” V-Duster fired off his miniature laser beam at Domix’s chest. It tickled his gut.
Another event that goes our way.
[Scene Roll: 8, no scene event]
The reinforcements come. While there were only two Cogdroids, their strength was unimaginable. Among the reinforcements were Outrider and V-Duster’s brothers, Blitz Rider and K-Wagon. Both of them bore witness to the destruction of Blitz’s brother and both ran to attack the bot responsible for his death. (Destrox rolled a Fumble while dodging one of them) They were merciless in their attack, the two synchronized with their slashes. Destrox stood no chance except by using his Worldkiller Blaster at close range, something that would be laughably suicidal.
But, in times like these, dying in battle means glory for their lord, Mekanikhan.
With a cry of barbarian-like rage, Destrox pulled the trigger. The two weren’t as brash as Blitz’s brother and they dodged out of the way, only for the beam to hit Earth. Every Shifter Bot watched in horror as the beam struck the surface and unfolded into a sphere that engulfed a small continent. When the dust settled, there was a large circle of glass. Whatever valuable resource the Cogdroids desired, whatever precious lives the Camtrons swore to protect, they were all wiped away by the presence of the Worldkiller.
“Destrox! You fool!” Domix looked away just to see that V-Duster was about to shove a laser scalpel into his neck. Domix noticed his haggard attack (he rolled a fumble) and seized the opportunity, impaling him with his sword. Of course, it wasn’t lethal, but it was enough to stagger V-Duster enough for Domix to attack the two Camtrons. His charge gave Destrox the much-needed chance to attack K-Wagon, slightly damaging him with the blast.
K-Wagon, horrified with the devastation that Destrox wrought on Earth, simply… gave up. He shifted back to his vehicle form, a replica of a stagecoach that he found at a Wild Western-influenced theme park, albeit with added rockets at the back, and went down to the glass to find anything worth salvaging.
Blitz Rider, however, tried to sneak up on Destrox, only to be blindsided.
“Join your brother!” Destrox shouted as he unloaded a blast at Blitz Rider. The recoil pushed him back, further than he had intended. He flew, like a shooting star, away from battle.
“Destrox… You fool!” Domix realized he was soon to be outnumbered. Smasher and Crusher, their elite guards, were busy taking care of some of the other Camtrons. He, however, had to take care of two Camtrons. While they were busy grieving, they put up a valiant fight.
Scene end… Things aren’t going our way.
[Scene Roll: 1, another altered scene]
With no more sign of reinforcements, Domix realized he was outnumbered. The best he can do is to command Smasher and Crusher to defend him. However, they were too involved in their combat to help, let alone pay attention.
And so Domix had to fend for himself… Only for him to be stabbed in the back.
“This is for Outrider, you son of a…” Blitz realized too late that he stabbed him right in the core. Destruction was imminent for him unless he was fast enough. Suffice to say, he was. Domix exploded as his remains would shower onto the Earth below like meteorites. The two turned their attention to the brutes. Knowing they were outgunned, Smasher and Crusher disengaged and ran off.
V-Duster looked at Earth and the glassy surface that was once Japan… They won, but at what cost?
And that wraps it up for Shifter Bots. I like the simplistic system, as well as how easy it is to stat up NPCs. You don’t. Instead, there’s a chart that corresponds to what hit die they have, what damage they would inflict, and even the kind of character that would have that hit die. Defending against their attacks is basically rolling to dodge and they all have a set amount of damage.
There’s also an interesting gameplay mechanic I hadn’t touched up on due to the setting of this game, but basically the more battles the Shifter Bots make or the more they stand out (i.e. a tank in the middle of a city), the more likely they are to attract the attention of other people. This is pretty cool, since it reminds me of how the Transformers films handled something like this. Levelling up is also interesting, as it’s akin to how you level up skills in Call of Cthulhu. Roll a D20 and if it’s higher than your stat, you increase it by one.
Overall, this is a pretty fun game to play, and I’m tempted to play it again… But for now, I just want to answer one question that might be on your minds:
Where did Destrox go?
Two dwarves embarked on an excavation at the Ruins of Pelgar. Rumors were said that a meteorite had hit the mountain side and that it contained a metal far more precious than mithril. These two were the first to unearth the meteorite and discovered what it truly was:
An iron giant. This was a far greater find than any metal! The elder of the dwarves took out his pickaxe and began to chip away… Only for the giant to open its blood red eyes and stare down at the dwarves. It took its large, metal club, and pointed it at the two.
They didn’t even react as the blast from the Worldkiller incinerated them.