by Stephen Dedman
Krakens, also known as Triskeles and Tripods, are hunter-killer von Neumann machines, doomsday devices activated in the last throes of the war between two Precursor races. The war was so destructive of both races that little is known about either, but one side seems to have specialized in bio-tech, the other in robotics.
The Kraken were actually created by the biotechnologists, using designs stolen from the robots. They are made of living metal, and when complete, are equipped with nanofacs (pp. UTT21-22) and cannibal nanokits (p. RO69) that enable them to reproduce themselves as well as regenerating. They are programmed with relatively simple orders; their first law roughly translates as "Go Forth and Multiply," their second as "Destroy the Enemy," and their third, "Do minimum harm possible to lifeforms except in defense of yourself and other Kraken."
To the Kraken, anything with a power source equivalent to a D cell or larger, or any metallic construction weighing more than 15 lbs, is automatically an enemy unless it identifies itself as another Kraken. Conveniently, these "enemies" are also the Kraken's "food" -- the building materials for replacement parts or new Kraken. Krakens will automatically attack any large metal object -- spraying it with their cannibal nanokit if it is large enough to be formed into one or more complete Krakens, or disabling it and taking the metals to a cache until it has gathered enough to form another Kraken. They will approach larger "enemies" (300 lbs+) by stealth if possible, and attempt to retreat if they take more than six points of damage. Kraken usually fight singly, though sometimes two or three (never more) may team up to attack a large "food source" such as a vehicle, building, or M-type asteroid: they're designed for commando raids against supply lines rather than all-out assault on hard targets.
Kraken will not ordinarily attack humans -- but few humans realize this, because they will attack robots, cyborgs, people wearing battlesuits or armored vacc suits, or anyone carrying a sufficiently heavy or powerful weapon (e.g. anything with more than 14 lbs metal and/or a D cell or larger -- Heavy Blast Rifles, Military Dinosaur Lasers, Assault Chainguns, etc.). They have also killed people by attacking and disabling their vehicles, especially aircraft, spaceships, and boats. The Krakens' creators used mostly biogadgets, bioships, and other living structures (see pp. BIO105-111), so the Kraken may be unaware that they are endangering lifeforms when they chomp holes in helicopters and submarines.
Intact Kraken won't be found in Warehouse 23, though parts of one (or more) might be -- at least, until they come into contact with enough metal to regenerate themselves completely and escape, in search of food and enemies. Any part of a Kraken weighing ¼ lb or more contains enough nanoids to re-create its entire body in time (27 hours to go from one hit point to fully operational, given enough metal). Putting a Kraken fragment in your safe with your coin collection is definitely a bad idea.
It takes two hours and 14 minutes for a Kraken cannibal nanokit to turn 134 lbs of metal into a Kraken; 378 hours, 46 minutes (about 16 standard days) for a Kraken with nanofac to create and assemble the components to make another Kraken; and 1,136 hours 18 minutes (about 47.5 standard days) for a Kraken to create another nanokit inside its nanofac. A Kraken can also use its nanofac to create extra weapons and defensive equipment such as Pulsar Pistols (40 hrs, p. RO28), Force Shields (30 mins, p. UT77), Personal Force Screens (20 hrs, p. UT78), or grenades (various, p. RO25).
Kraken are designed for Space, Supers, and Atomic Horror campaigns, but they may be useful in other settings.
A Kraken looks fairly harmless to anyone familiar with robots -- a metallic egg with three arms that serve as legs when it's not flying (hence the alternative names Tripod and Triskele). A retractable fourth tentacle-like arm and solar panel -- resembling a black poppy or inverted umbrella -- also sprout from the head when needed, adding to the comic effect. It can, however, bring up to three of its weapons to bear on one target, quickly reducing it to junk.
Brain: Small brain with neural net, hardened, and +2 DX Booster options (.5 lbs, .01 cf, $5,000, 70 points), Complexity 7, 10,000 gig memory.
Sensors: Basic sensors with deaf, microscopic vision, no sense smell/taste, peripheral vision, spectrum vision, telescopic zoom x4, and Three-in-One options (.325 lbs, .0075 cf, $2,000, 88 points).
Communicator: Basic communicator with Long-range radio and Mute options (4.55 lbs, .91 cf, $1,300, -3 points).
Arm Motors: Three ST 13 arms (each 1.3 lbs, .26 cf, $ 1,300, .065 KW). One ST 8 arm with retractable, extra-flexible, and micro-manipulator options (.8 lbs, .016 cf, $12,000, .04 KW, 40 points.)
Thrust propulsion: One reactionless thruster with 5 KW motive power and 100 lbs of thrust with vectored thrust option. (5 lbs, .25 cf, $500, 5 KW.)
Contragrav: Contragravity generator with 150 lbs of lift ($500.75, 10.075 lbs, .2015 cf, .15 KW).
Weaponry: Forceblade (1.5 lbs, .03 cf, $750, LR3); Grav beamer (1 lb, .02 cf, $1,000, LR3); Plasma Torch (4 lbs, .08 cf, $187.5, LR4). Weaponry costs 15 points.
Accessories: Spraygun (1 lb, .05 cf, $50), usually loaded with cannibal nanokit; Suitcase nanofac (30 lb, .6 cf, $60,000); one set of integral mechanical tools (10 lbs, .2 cf, $200), one set each of integral armory and electronic tools (each 2 lbs, .04 cf, $400).
Power: Power requirement 5.835 KW. Energy bank using rE cell (20 lbs, .2 cf, $2,000, 20 points) with 630,000 KWS stored power. Endurance 29 hrs 59 mins 29 secs if using contragravity and thrust. Retractable solar panel, 5 sf (2 lbs, .04 cf, $300) provides .4 KW during daylight.
Subassemblies: Four arms (three near base, radial symmetry; retractable arm in head); head with full rotation.
Arm Design: First arm houses ST 13 motor, Plasma Torch, and armory tools (.38 cf). Second arm houses ST 13 motor, Grav beamer, and mechanical tools (.48 cf). Third arm houses ST 13 motor, Forceblade, and electronic tools (.33 cf). Retractable arm houses ST 8 motor and spraygun (.066 cf).
Head Design: Houses sensors, retractable solar panel, and retractable fourth arm (.1135 cf).
Body Design: Houses Brain, communicator, rE Cell, Contragravity, Reactionless Thruster, Suitcase nanofac, and waste space for head rotation (2.1942 cf).
Surface Area (with solar panel retracted): ST 13 arms 4 each; retractable arm 1.5, head 1.5, body 10, total surface area 25.
Structure: Living Metal (45 points), Light frame. (12.5 lbs, $2,500.)
Hit Points: ST 13 Arms 6 points each; retractable arm 2 points; head 1 point; body 7 points. Total 28 points.
Armor: DR 22 Metal (8.25 lbs, $165, LR2, 100 points); radiation shielding (12.5 lbs, $125, LR6, 10 points); sealed ($250, LR6, 20 points); thermal superconducting (1.5625 lbs, $1562.5, LR3, 10 points).
Statistics: Design weight 133.4625 lbs (.0667 tons), volume 3.5647 cf, price $94,690.75. 6'3" tall when walking on hands. Body ST 66, arm ST 13 or 8 (179.5 points); DX 13 (30 points); IQ 11 (10 points); HT 13/28 (105 points). Air Speed in contragrav-assisted vectored thrust flight (with arm retracted) 86.6, can hover (45 points). Legality rating 3. Point cost (without software): 152 points.
Software: Armory/TL13 (Beam Handguns)-14 ; Astrogation/TL16-; Beam Weapons/TL13 (Force)-16 , (Flamer)-16 ; Brawling-13 ; Combat Reflexes ; Datalink; Electronics Operation/TL13 (Sensors)-16 ; Flight-14 ; Force Shield-12 [1/2]; Force Sword-14 ; Free Fall-14 ; Full Co-ordination/2 ; Guns/TL13 (Flamethrower)-15 ; Mechanic/TL13 (Robot)-16 ; Prospecting-16 ; Scrounging-17 ; Stealth-13 ; Tactics-15 . [158.5 points].
Space: Metal Fatigue. The heroes are on a starship when it receives a distress call from a party of xeno-archaeologists in the jungles on the low-iron planet Ngorongoro. Ngorongoro is a restricted world because of the Precursor ruins, which these scientists have been exploring, and its dangerous wildlife. The scientists' pick-up is due in a month, but the distress call informs the PCs that a Precursor robot has attacked their base, destroying their perimeter defenses, aero-jeep, food processor, and vapor canteen. The only human casualty so far has been Dr. Lee, who shot at it with their laser rifle -- now also missing.
If the PCs try to rescue the party, they'll have to run the gauntlet of Kraken who've already left the planet en route for the asteroid belt, find a clearing large enough for a landing area, and hack their way through the jungle until they meet up with the scientists. The more heavily armed and armored they are, the more likely they are to be attacked by the Kraken; the less they wear and carry, the greater the risk from the local wildlife. After they rescue the scientists, they'll have to escape from Ngorongoro without taking any Kraken with them to wreak havoc on populated worlds -- assuming the robots don't cannibalize their ship en route.
Supers/Atomic Horror: Steel Life. Chen, an absent-minded gadgeteer, discovers the head and arm of a Kraken. A day later, it's fully restored and has begun eating his car. By the time the PCs are alerted, Kraken are devouring a junkyard, and have to be stopped before they spread out to attack nearby railway bridges, airports, and military bases. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous weapon manufacturers are determined to capture one in working order -- at any cost.
Fantasy: The Sword in the Stone. A fortified monastery is threatened by an oncoming well-equipped Megalan force -- Heavy Cavalry, Heavy and Medium Infantry, and a few Iron Golems. Local legend has it that the late great geomancer Skeyn trapped a mighty demon with an Entombment spell a century before, but warned that if the demon were to see sunlight again, it would regain all its powers. The demon (a Kraken) was said to be able to fly, breathe fire hotter than the hottest forge, cut through stone, and crush the hearts of heavily armored men with a silent spell from 30 yards away -- but to have never harmed a monk, woman, child, or unarmed man.
The PCs are ordered or paid to unleash the demon -- which requires them find the spot where Skeyn entombed the Kraken, dig a tunnel allowing it to escape, and lead it into the path of the Megalan force. They may still need some way to protect them from wolves, bandits, and Megalan scouts.
Article publication date: March 5, 2004
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