- Roger Zelazny, The Stainless Steel Leech
Haunting the bleached, rocky plains and squalid, filthy streets alike are creatures that drift through human society undetected, living in one place only as long as they do not raise the ire of the crowd. They have been amongst the people of Krül for generations, their memories stretching back to the time before the Annihilation Event.
One of the many consequences of Ex Nihilo's failed attempt to raise man to the form of a god, these beings may seem in aspect like man, but this is only a thin guise. They are scavengers of men, requiring flesh to survive but are one apart from it.
After the disastrous early experiments of the Ex Nihilo team, the high mortality rate of test subjects began to raise larger concerns about the potential waste of manpower in colonizing uninhabitable worlds. The reasoning of the galactic bureaucracy was thus: if time and money are invested in these individuals, a suitable return must be guaranteed. Accidental death had been for too long an excuse to welsh on their contractual obligations. Certainly the Ex Nihilo team could find a way around this vexing problem now that they were unlocking the secrets of life and death?
As the Ex Nihilo team gained a modicum of control over the rapidly-mutating flesh of their subjects, the legal definition of human life was expanded. After all, they reasoned, while significant trauma could occur which would terminate brain function, much of the remaining flesh would persist, evolving into new life forms. Why should perfectly good manpower go to waste?
Thus was the Efficiency class synthezoid born. Designed to model the human skeleton, these titanium robots were capable of reprogramming flesh into the form they desired through the act of consumption. Should a worker die, the Efficiency 'bot would cannibalize the flesh, building for itself organs, muscles, and skin.
|Just one of the guys|
Early models were demo'd in the Kirbonite mines of Krül which were suffering from similar manpower shortages due to hazardous workplace conditions. The mine bosses soon reported a 900% increase in productivity as the corpses of the workers provided fuel for the Efficiency 'bots. Unfortunately, it was not long thereafter that the galactic bureaucracy lost its grip on the savage planet.
The Efficiency synthezoids, now left to their own devices, quietly lived off the corpses of the recently-deceased and awaited future orders. As generation after generation has slipped by, however, these forgotten servants of the bureaucracy have wandered across the planet, seeking their individuals pleasures and diversions. For many, they have lost the self-control to wait for men to die, instead hastening the deaths of those whose lives are miserably short by comparison.
A monster for Labyrinth Lord
No. Enc.: 1
Armor Class: 6/2 (see below)
Hit Dice: 8 (see below)
Attacks: 3 (punch/punch/bite) or by weapon type
Hoard Class: XVI
Cannibal robots generally appear to be normal men, having converted the flesh of the dead to the musculature necessary to mimic the human form. Beneath this layer of flesh, however, is a robotic skeleton that is the true form of the Efficiency-class synthezoid model.
Cannibal robots generally attack by rending the flesh from humans with their tremendous strength and steel teeth. Once removed from their victim, this flesh is seemingly swallowed and digested. However, the process is a bit more involved. Within the "mouth" of the robot is a chemical spray which activates the rapid mutation gene sequence of the flesh, liquifying it. The flesh is then redistributed across the skeletal frame, healing any wounds. Bite attacks will restore lost hit points and Cannibal Robots often pause during combat to consume flesh ripped from their victims.
Flesh consumed in this manner has a definite "expiration date", however, and Cannibal Robots will lose 1 HP / day as the skin and muscle become weak and flabby, hanging off the skeletal frame. Moreover, while the meat may be relatively easy to penetrate (being AC 6), the titanium skeleton is much more hardy. Once the flesh has been cut off, the final 2 HD of the creature is treated as AC 2 and takes half damage from piercing and slashing damage. Therefore, the Labyrinth Lord is advised to track the hp from the first two HD separately from the "fleshy bits".
Finally, being a machine, Cannibal Robots are immune to Sleep and other mind-affecting spells, but take 2x damage from electricity and save versus electricity-based effects at a -2 penalty.