The majority of the attributes and traits seem appropriate but some changes can be made to make them more in line with those portrayed in ‘Spearhead from Space’. The first thing that appears to be missing it their ability to totally destroy an opponent. I’d suggest that the blaster do [5/7/L).
The blaster can even be used against opponents who are dead, eliminating their body completely. The main reason for this would seem to be to eliminate any evidence of the murder, making the UNIT soldiers think that Ransome had either fled or been kidnapped.
In the case of Hibbert the order to totally destroy him by Channing seems to be motivated as a form of sadistic revenge for Hibbert’s betrayal. Consider that Hibbert is already dead, his body is in their factory and the invasion is already underway. Destroying the body can’t just be a matter of eliminating evidence so unless Channing just wants to tidy the place up there could be more to this.
Total destruction could imply something more than just the physical destruction of the body. The Nestene are energy beings and seem to have an understanding of existence that is hard for corporeal beings to fathom.
It might be that it destroys their ‘soul’ in some sense. Possessing advanced sciences the Nestene may know of ways to restore someone to life past the end of their physical bodies. This won’t be much of an issue to most campaigns except when it comes to time lord characters. Total destruction rules out the chance of regenerating.
The blaster does not appear to be plastic and it maybe that this component is added to the metallic body. Hibbert mentions that Ransome had come up with a design for an electronic doll. Could it be that some of these ideas were used to mechanise the interior of the animated plastic.
The Auton is listed as having the Slow trait, unable to move faster than speed 1. While true that they move slowly in most of the battle scenes it is not due to their legs being made of plastic.
Rather they just don’t have reason to move any more quickly. They can take a sustained amount of gun fire so make not attempt to move out of the way or advance quickly. In such a fight they can afford to take their time, letting their opponent waste their ammunition or tire themselves out.
When required they can move quickly, as seen in episode 3 when Channing gives the Auton an order to withdraw. I would suggest that the Slow trait should only apply during combat. When required to move quickly they can cover 2 areas as per their coordination attribute.
The Autons are sent out to locate the missing meteor units and can sense their location. This should be represented by the Alien Senses trait, giving them +4 to awareness checks when trying to locate Nestene energy.
Metal boxes can make it difficult for an Auton to hone in on a meteor unit. The greater the distance between the energy unit and the Auton the harder it is to find until it can not sense it at all.
Autons also have additional senses. In episode 3 Channing is able to bring up a brain print taken of Randsome. This would seem to have been taken by the Auton that chased him out of the factory. Obtaining brain prints by simply looking at a target is useful ability for an Auton because this information can be used to create facsimiles.
An individual Auton has enough sentience to make tactical decisions and respond to new situations. I’d suggest raising their ingenuity to 2. For example the Auton that chases Randsome has enough sense to stop at the top of the stairs rather than go into the open but not enough to get out of sight when General Scobie arrives until commanded to.
Although never seen Autons must have a way to neutralise a target without harming them. The evidence for this is that they need live targets to maintain their facsimiles, capture Scobie and knock out Seeley’s wife Meg without any obvious injury that Liz can find.
This could be an unseen stun setting on their blaster or a form of suffocation using even just their hands or a plastic sheet they could place on their victims mouth and nose. Having a non-lethal attack available to them means that they can capture player characters without killing them.
In ‘Spearhead from Space’ the Auton doubles are called facsimiles while the rulebook calls them Replicators. It gives them an Ingenuity of 1 but Channing proclaims that the Scobie reproduction is perfect, right down to its brain cells and memories. Following this logic facsimiles should have the same awareness, presence, ingenuity and resolve of the person they are impersonating.
Just how plastic a facsimile is can be a bit confusing. When the facsimile of Scobie attacks him at his house the double appears very dummy like. Later, when the facsimile is impersonating Scobie there is only a slight sheen to his skin.
This would suggest that they take on a more realistic appearance once the subject is captured. Anyone trying to work out if a person is a facsimile should gain a small bonus, ranging from +1 to +4, depending on how obvious their artificial nature is.
Channing and the men who kidnap the Doctor from the hospital pose a problem. They are human in appearance, like the facsimiles, but there is never the suggestion that Channing is a copy of anyone.
His cold, inhuman behaviour suggests that his personality is not modelled on any human. It is also clear that he is in charge, giving the other Autons orders from a distance, yet the main story concerns the Autons trying to retrieve the meteor containing the swarm leader.
The control Channing has over Hibbert is clearly supposed to suggest some form of mental domination. Even a cold stare from Channing is enough for Hibbert to clasp the back of his neck and do the Autons will.
This could be an implant but coupled with the ability to see brain cells I think it makes more sense if Autons like Channing are able to mentally control others. The Hypnosis (minor) and Telepathy traits would cover this ability nicely, allowing Channing to command weak willed humans without saying a word.
Using characters like Channing give the auton forces a figurehead for the player characters to interact with, even though he says they like identity. Channing makes a good villain and his artificial nature means that he could return in your game even though he died in ‘Spearhead from Space.’
When de-activated both the facsimile of Scobie and Channing take on the same blank appearance of normal Autons. This indicates that their appearance isn’t moulded but rather the plastic is shifting to take on that appearance. The Shapeshift (minor) trait would allow this type of Auton to make small cosmetic changes to their appearance (which would explain how they can look less like plastic).
I would class Channing as the same make of Auton as a facsimile but with a unique personality, designed to best lead the other Autons until the swarm leader assumes control.
The Nestene mission is colonisation, something they have done on countless worlds. This means that player characters could encounter them on many different worlds and another attempt to take over Earth might be on the cards.
Channing tells Hibbert he will be spared when the colonisation occurs so ignoring the fact he might be lying this leads to the possibility that they don’t automatically kill the natives of the planets they colonise.
It makes sense that they would use organic life as slave labour. It allows the Nestene to use the resources they need to produce more plastic to continue conquering worlds while the hard work is done by creatures that consume resources the Nestene have no interest in such as food and water while they multiple by breeding. It would be interesting for a group of player characters to encounter such a colony world and help the natives free themselves from the Nestene influence.
Remember that no matter how many times they are defeated the Nestene can never be destroyed.