Bubble Head

 I ain't got time to make it pretty, but I've got time to force it up on you. Hell, I'm still on phone, so I don't know how big that image is gonna be. 

Bubble Head

Some poor bastard who's had a parasitic prototype of a military grade cyber augment forced upon him by some unknown party (Vitulus Aureus lab technicians) and some how made his way back into the general public. His actions and consciousness might not be his. 

The gimmick here would have been (players never met Vitulus Aureus "representatives") to teach the players to shoot the glowing red spot that was the Drone Control Unit on the figure's head. Rough, but not impossible, if they didn't get it. Quick and rather easy if they did. Which would have been good, because the system would have turned up on robotic tanks later. 


Huh, okay, yeah. That was not the best time to be gone. 

There are questions, naturally. I will see if I can address them. 

When addressing puzzles, players typically have three options:
  1. Fuck Around and Find Out
  2. Use Knowledge
  3. Run Away

This methodology can apply for component enemies, though with more aggressive results as the "puzzle" will not want to be interacted with or will be trying to interact with the players in a less than friendly manner. 

While usage of a Component enemy is relatively the same as a normal creature deployment, a small amount of effort must be engaged in by the game master/game designer. Namely, as the GM would describe a puzzle in detail, so too must they offer greater detail to the players than "bandit in leather armor." Communication is key here. Care must be taken to ensure that every non-secret piece of the puzzle is provided. Likewise, when the PC attacks or otherwise interacts, the GM should ask "how are you attacking and what are you targeting"?

"The frail, lithe figure stands his ground, though his eyes are ever distant. Upon the top of his head, lording over the figure, a cybernetic sensor array glares, unblinking, forever judging. A heavy shield composed of polycarbonate fullerene drifts quietly on micro fusion monojets tucked within its carapace, lurking hungrily around the figure as though a dog preparing to defend its master."

Here the description has noted the three main pieces: the meat body (just sort of there), the DCU (above the meat body, and suggested to be separate from), and the shield drone (circling the meat body). 

So what are the potential ways the players interact with it? Let's look:

Fucking Around and Find Out
The answer is not always on the character sheet, nor is it always in the GM notes. 

What if we shoot it?
Probably the opening move. The shield intercepts and the attack is absorbed.

What if we shoot it again?
Honestly, you might get lucky and do enough damage to the shield to break it, leaving the Meat Body defenseless.

What about an area attack? 
Probably gets through the Shield's protection. You're attacking an Area, not the Meat Body (pedantic). Also the shield can't really stop gas, can it? EMPs might also screw the system up.  
What if we break the monojets of the shield?
Hey! Now you're thinking. Damaging the jets probably slows the shield down, offering a "x in 6" chance of the attack getting through, where x is the number of monojets destroyed. 
What if we shoot the sensor array on top? 
It's not part of the Meat Body, so is unprotected. Then the Shield stops receiving information and the Meat Body is unprotected. 

What if we shoot the gun? 
Technically not part of the Meat Body and unprotected. It probably breaks. 

Using Knowledge
You HAVE been leaving lore around the dungeon, right? 

Remembering the post-it note on the discovered schematics complaining about how the Z-axis alignment was misaligned on the Shield orientation. 
Probably means the DCU at the top is unprotected. 

Remembering the Command word mentioned in the inner office email from the hacked system. 
Yelling it probably deactivates the system.

The game mechanics offer multiple ways of gleaning information not typically given in descriptions. 
Try using those to see if something else is available.

Remembering that one episode of Burn Notice where he used a thick wool blanket to trick a motion sensor. 
I wonder if that actually works?

Run Away

Honestly, how is this your problem? Run away and let someone else deal with it. 

Attacking a creature using it's weakness (werewolves, silver) is a stripped down form of this. Players know to use silver and/or Wolf's Bane on Werewolves because of previous Knowledge, and well known Fucking Around and Finding Out. The Werewolf's healing factor/damage reduction is simply a component of the beast, which is deactivated using the weaknesses. 

Yes, yes, it's not a terribly complicated puzzle, much like that first lock in the first dragon tomb you encounter in Skyrim, but it's there to ease you into it. More complicated examples to (possibly) come. 

As the enemy can (and should) attack your character sheet, this is similar to attacking theirs. It makes combat a bit more strategic, and certainly better than the boring "I shoot it." round after round after round. 

If it helps, "Bubble Head" can been seen as a collective name for three individual entities working together in symbiosis: 
  1. The Drone Control Unit: Programmed to protect the Meat Body, but not itself, via orders given to the Shield. Sits above the Meat Body, like a malicious hat. 
  2. Shield Drone: Only knows the world through data provided from the DCU. Only wants to protect the Meat Body. And only the Meat Body.
  3. Meat Body: His name used to be Greg and he enjoyed bird watching. Now it's Unit #136 and he enjoys carrying out the violent orders of his handlers. 
The Shield Drone does not stop attacks against the Drone Control simply because it is not the Meat Body. However, without the Drone Control it can not receive input and goes offline. 



  1. How would a player shoot the bubble head if the drone intercepts all attacks against it? Does it roll opposed checks against attacks on the bubble head or something?

  2. Excellent question!

    "Bubble Head" can be taken as a collective name of three entities working together (The Control Unit, the Shield, and the Meat Body). The Shield is programmed to protect the Meat Body and only the Meat Body, using input from the Control Unit. No Control Unit means no input, means no protecting the Meat Body.

    As I'm in a parking lot at the moment, I have this weird example most easily at hand: It's as if a bicycle on a roof rack of a car was commanding a floating surf board to stop shopping carts from hitting the car. If a shopping cart moves towards the car, the bike sees it and tells the surf board. The surf board stops it no problem. If a bored, stressed nerd blogger somehow picks up a shopping car and throws it at the bicycle, well, the bike is watching the ground, not the air, and gets hit by the cart. After knocking it off the car, suddenly nothing is telling the surf board what to do anymore and it roams off, to seek it's fortunes elsewhere.

    Basically, the Shield does not protect the Control Unit simply because it is not the Meat Body.

    The Bubble Head is not a "refined" example of the brewing idea in my head, but more of a starting point to get thoughts down to build upon.

  3. Just happened to look back and see your response. I got it now! Good stuff, I'm definitely going to find a place to use this. Thanks for taking the time to explain