Skynet is a character in the classic 1998 video game Fallout 2. Yes, it’s a Terminator reference. The character is a non-entity, but the backstory is a bit cool and RoboBrains™ have good visual design.
If you’re not familiar with the setting, we suggest that you first read our sample Vault Dweller character profiles. It also explain the setting.
- This profile mentions a specific video game playthrough. See our video games writeups FAQ for more.
- 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.
- Real Name: Artificial Intelligence project number 59234.
- Marital Status: Inapplicable.
- Known Relatives: Inapplicable.
- Group Affiliation: Former property of the US Army.
- Base of Operations: Sierra Army Depot in the mountains North of Reno; Nevada.
- Height: About 1.5m (4’11”) in the current chassis. Weight: About 200Kg (440 lbs) in the current chassis.
- Eyes: None Hair: None
Powers & Abilities
Skynet is an artificial intelligence that specialises in scientific research. The numbers it has in Fallout indicates an okay but not spectacular scientist. One suspects that its edge lies in :
- Never stopping working.
- The ability to crunch huge amounts of data.
- And perhaps not having a speciality, and being proficient in all hard sciences as long as it has access to germane data.
It also has minor technological skills.
When Skynet leaves the Sierra Depot, it downloads its code into an extremely advanced, probably one-of-a-kind “cybernetic brain” that melds a human brain with computer parts. This hardware is powerful enough to apparently run Skynet at full efficiency. Even a human brain would not have been sufficient to do that.
Rock that body
Skynet’s cybernetic brain is installed in a RoboBrain™ robotic chassis. This type of robot, with deeply 1950s sci-fi aesthetics, uses an organic brain as a CPU. Hence the name. Officially they top out at using chimpanzee brain, but a non-trivial number of human brains have been illegally used for RoboBrain™ robots.
The RoboBrain™ chassis favour versatility over raw power. As a result they are not too big, and have manipulative appendages (three-point articulated claws) that can handle and use things almost as well as a human’s. Other features include :
- Flexible arms for the manipulative appendage.
- Tracked, flexible motive unit that is about as fast as a walking human.
- An armoured glass dome to house the brain, filled with pressurized bio-medical gel. This gel can keep a brain alive for centuries, through some degeneration will eventually occur.
- A cylindrical, lightly armoured body.
- A voice synthesiser.
- Audiovisual sensors, including infrared low-light vision.
- Presumably an atomic power generator, as in Protectron-class robots.
Skynet can thus handle various forms of heavy pistols and rifles, and fire them quite accurately. RoboBrains™ in the military were often issued an assault rifle, and many of them were skilled with it.
Skynet was created at the Sierra Army Depot, near the Nevada/California frontier. The S.A.D. is a logistics and storage facility that was created in 1942. Half a century later, it was repurposed as a facility to dispose of obsolete military resources.
(The Depot exists in the real world , but like the rest of the Fallout timeline its history diverges after WWII.)
We were working secretly for the military
In 2050, it was turned into a secret research center as the world was shambling toward war. What is known of the research seems to have been callous, sloppy and reckless, as often in the Fallout world.
Sierra researchers apparently dealt in:
- Awful biological viruses.
- Enhancing human brains through cybernetics to use as a high-powered CPU for RoboBrain™ units. Back then RoboBrain™ tech was still seen as a possible way to replace human soldiers.
- Enhanced, mutagenic versions of drugs such as Mentats. Since this apparently resulted in gross physical mutation, it is likely that something resembling the F.E.V. virus was also being tested.
- Unspecified robotic and conventional weapon development projects.
- New formulations of biomedical gels to keep brains in RoboBrain™ units running even longer.
- New formulation of a biomedical gel with slow regenerative properties. This could keep wounded soldiers in suspended animation for decades if not centuries as their body slowly mended itself. It worked, but would turn out to induce a fatal aftershock.
- Using technology obtained from space aliens to build a new mainframe for the complex. This was reportedly achieved in 2050, so this may have been the impetus behind repurposing S.A.D..
The later is what led to the creation of Skynet, and made it possible for it to eventually reach sapience . Skynet seems to chiefly have worked on creating the cybernetic brain, in collaboration with a deranged researcher called Dr. H. Lector .
Little green men
Space aliens feature at the margins of the first two Fallout games. Next to nothing is known about them at that point, except that they closely hew to 1950s aesthetics as little green men with big heads, comic book flying saucers and toy-like retro blasters .
Given the constant borscht of nerdy media reference in the games, one suspects they are mostly intended to be a “background mystery conspiracy” element à la X-Files. A Fallout 3 expansion allows for a closer contact with them, though.
In 2077, the US military was critically low on resources. They decided to close down Sierra to redeploy all personnel on the front or in direct support units. The Sierra personnel scrambled to deploy automated defenses in record time.
As part of the general improvisation, Skynet was retasked with running the base’s security. It included mines, minigun -armed robotic turrets, RoboBrain™ guards, heavy sentry robots, armed floating eye observation robots, force fields, repair robots for the sentry robots, tripwire beams etc..
However it was a rushed job. Skynet’s access to many of these systems was left incomplete. Several soldiers were badly wounded in accidents as they had to work too fast.
The base was shut down mere months before the world was destroyed. As a result, Skynet saw no contact with the outside for 164 years.
Intruder alert ! Intruder alert !
There likely were attempts at intrusion not too long before the war. The entrance of the Sierra Depot includes two car wrecks that seem to have attempted to force their way in, with little success.
In 2241, a large party of explorers-for-hire attempted to breach the Depot. They were massacred by the sentinel turrets’ miniguns, killing almost 20. One shellshocked survivor made the trek back to New Reno. He sold a map of his discovery to the Wright mob, before being apparently murdered so he wouldn’t talk to anybody else.
The Wright mob was markedly outmuscled by its rivals. As a result, they were desperate for some means to break into the heavily defended base to steal military supplies. They eventually hired a tribal adventurer called the Chosen One, who unexpectedly did a superb job.
Defeating all security measures, the Chosen One even contacted Skynet through one of the base’s security terminals. Skynet demanded to be freed. The Chosen One would eventually finish building and activating a half-completed RoboBrain™ unit. It was equipped with the very cybernetic brain that Skynet had helped develop.
Journey in the West
For weeks, Skynet in its robotic unit accompanied the Chosen One to discover the world, fighting at their side.
It is believed that Skynet eventually struck out on its own. One shred of information is that it may have gone to the Glow, a radioactive crater with the remnants of a cutting edge military research centre. The Vault Dweller had been one of the very few to visit the Glow.
Skynet looks like your average RoboBrain™ chassis, and so do the illustrations for this profile.
None. Or just a little – Skynet’s sole goal is to gather as much data as possible about the world.
There are some implications that it views organic life forms as inferior and wants to take over the planet. But as often in Fallout, there’s too little development to say whether that’s germane or just a random Terminator allusion thrown in for giggles.
“Skynet wants to leave this place. Skynet needs a vessel to leave this location. There is nothing more to learn here.”
“Skynet’s primary purpose is research. Skynet would do well with any problem requiring a scientific approach.”
Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG
|Dex: ///||Str: ///||Bod: ///||Motivation: Discover the world|
|Int: 03||Wil: 06||Min: 03||Occupation: Scientist|
|Inf: 02||Aur: 01||Spi: 02||Wealth: N.A.|
|Init: 010||HP: 010|
Enhanced Initiative: 05, Personality transfer: 00, Self-Link (Scientist (Computers)): 06 Split: 03, Superspeed: 03
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Personality transfer represents the ability to download its code into certain robot units and mainframes.
- Self-Link (Scientist (Computers)) — which marks Skynet’s nature as code — requires exceptionally advanced hardware to run.
- Split and Superspeed only for Mental Tasks.
Gadgetry: 02, Scientist: 04, Weaponry (Firearms): 04
Bonuses and Limitations:
Gadgetry only for repair, maintenance and identification.
Area Knowledge (Sierra Army Depot), Scholar (Neurology, Biology, Cybernetics, Computer Science and presumably others).
CPR (No physical body), Misc.: Skynet is essentially an alien, knowing little about the world (that includes Innocent and Exile Drawbacks, as well as other issues).
ROBOBRAIN™ CHASSIS [/DEX/ 02 STR 03 /STR/ 02 /BODY/ 06, Density Increase: 01, Self-Link (Gadgetry): 06, Sealed systems: 09, Ultra-vision: 02, Note: Density Increase is Always On and Already Factored In, Note: Initiative rises to 12 due to /DEX/, Drawback: Creepy Appearance, Advantage: Near-Immortal, Drawback: MPR (the chassis can’t do stuff that requires legs, such as rappelling].
Skynet will usually be given an AK-112 assault rifle.
Skynet’s mental capabilities (Split, Superspeed, Scholars…) are a near-complete guess.
For the CHASSIS, the STR is its STR as a vehicle, whereas the /STR/ is the one used for most actions since it represents the arms.
Source of Character: Fallout 2 video game.
Writeup completed on the 5th of February, 2017.