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Concept art for a protectron robot in Fallout 4

Generic Protectron robots


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game
  • This profile features tabletop RPG mechanics about the video game’s gameplay – see our video games writeups FAQ for more
  • This profile features non-canon hypotheses about in-game events and mechanics – see our video games writeups FAQ for more

Context

The Fallout video games series (1997-present) takes place in an over-the-top post-apocalyptic setting. It mixes a Mad Max aspect, 1950s atomic horror conventions and various “after the Bomb” influences.

For a primer, see our sample Vault Dweller (the Player Character  in the first Fallout game). DC Heroes players can also refer to the generic deathclaw entry for scale explanations.


Powers & Abilities

Protectrons are clunky humanoid robots, perhaps 5’6” in height. They are slow and ungainly, but seem about as strong as most men.

They are equipped with light lasers (one in each hand and reportedly one in the head), but they can only use one at once and their fire is neither particularly powerful nor particularly accurate (though it’s not terrible either).

Protectrons were never meant to be combat monsters – they are more akin to mechanical security guards and patrolmen.

Many have survived the Wasteland on their own for centuries, though – but they manifestly don’t look or smell edible, attacking them isn’t normally worth it (unless one knows how to extract their batteries before they burn out, and even then this is modest loot), and one assumes that their laser fire scares away most animals.

They are tactically inept – they just walk slowly toward the hostiles, never deliberately take cover and open fire from too far away to have a decent chance to hit.

I, protectron

Protectrons have an artificial intelligence, and either a voice synthesizer or (more likely) a repertoire of pre-recorded phrases. Their speech is context-appropriate but comes in a synthetic monocorde and they can only follow simple, rigid procedures.

Fallout 3 - Protectron police robot and its pod

These robots have some sort of wireless communication capability (much like wifi) to query nearby servers feeding them with information – and to report. This is now mostly useless as very few hotspots remain.

They can also be equipped with small ordinary equipment for their mission, such as a scanner to remotely read employee badges or a device to inspect metro tickets.

When not active, protectrons can be stored in a maintenance pod.

Method acting

The US National Archives employed protectrons as tour guides, programming them to emulate the personalities of famous historical figures.

By the 2270s, one such protectron’s programming had degraded to the point that it believed itself to be the person it was imitating, 18th-Century American politician Button Gwinnett , exhibiting the mannerisms and behavior to match.

Fallout 3 - Protectron police robot near a ruined road

Some tour guide protectrons were programmed with more generic personalities such as Primm Slim at the Vikki and Vance Casino in the Mojave Wasteland.

Primm Slim’s normal programming simply included speaking like a stereotypical western lawman while conveying historical and recreational information regarding the town of Primm, but under certain circumstances additional protocols in Slim’s programming could be triggered to make him assume the actual role of a law enforcement officer.

Likewise, back in the Capital Wasteland, the protectron dubbed “Deputy Weld” was given a cowboy hat and programmed to speak like a cliché Old West sheriff – but this was a much simpler job that relied on uttering some stock sentences.


History

Protectrons are a class of robots that seems to be cheap but reliable security patrollers. They were used by the police for routine patrols, but also by various public and private companies.

For instance the Washington, D.C. metro system used protectrons as ticket inspectors, and the Super-Duper Mart retail chain owned protectron guards (especially for after hours security).

Though their AI is far from formidable, they can also be programmed to do other repetitive, simple tasks and some heavy industry plants bought a protectron workforce. This may have been a consequence of the wartime draft.

Protectron workforces also show up in the Pitt and numerous Mojave Wasteland locations, indicating that their use for menial labor was widespread. Protectrons that were employed as labor rather than security still possess the standard weaponry suite.

Fallout 3 - Protectron robot in Springdale

Many protectrons are still up and running more than two centuries after the war. Since Fallout features tiny atomic generators that can provide energy practically forever, one assumes that protectron run on those. This would also explain how they withstood centuries’ worth of radiation – shielding works both ways.

It is thus not rare to see a protectron patrolling the Capital Wasteland and shooting at random small animals, as it has no understanding that its patrol route as long since reverted to ruins and wilderness.

In the Capital Wasteland, most protectrons were apparently built by RobCo – the equivalent of IBM at its height.


Description

Protectrons are reminiscent of Robby the Robot , and do clunky mechanical noises when moving.

They are usually painted to match the organisation owning them — for instance a black paint job with a white POLICE 911 inscription on the front, like old police cruisers.

Being old-school robots, protectrons always give status updates and state their intentions out loud.


Personality

Protectrons fight to kill and only seem equipped with lethal weapons. The shoot people with lasers even if the infraction is being in the metro system without having a ticket.

That might be their actual programming – pre-War American society in Fallout was remarkably callous and violent. Or it might be an unintended consequence, such as :

  • Programming that degraded over time
  • Less-than-lethal weaponry that long since broke down while the lasers are much more durable
  • Fallback programming as the protectrons cannot receive orders, request backup, signal that they are apprehending a suspect, etc. as their entire infrastructure is offline
  • Martial law programming, or even some sort of poorly-tested emergency clause intended in case of Communist invasion

Quotes

“Move… along… please.”

“Do… not… attempt… to… flee. Justice… will… be… administered… fairly… and… swiftly.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Generic protectron

Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Programmed
Int: 01 Wil: 01 Min: /// Occupation: Robot
Inf: /// Aur: /// Spi: /// Resources {or Wealth}: N.A.
Init: 003 HP: 000

Powers:
Self-Link (Gadgetry): 04, Laser beam: 04, Radio communication: 03, Sealed systems: 03

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Radio communication only for the equivalent of wifi
  • Sealed Systems only protects against radiation

Skills:
Accuracy (Laser beam): 03

Advantages
Life Support (a protectron’s atomic generator can keep it going for centuries)

Drawbacks:
MPR (Protectrons have no sense of touch, taste or smell), MPR (movement speed is 0 APs)


Protectron guides

Tour guide protectrons programmed to emulate personalities will have Artist (Actor): 02 and an Expertise relating to either the general character type or specific person they are mimicking.


Design Notes

The game stats represent a heavily-modded version of Fallout 3.


By Sébastien Andrivet and Roy Cowan

Source of Character: Fallout video games

Writeup completed on the 24th of December, 2014.

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