Scholar’s Review #67: Titan Robotics
We finally get our hands on the goods. I’ll be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Palladium Books product I was this enthusiastic to cover. I held off reading the RAW file provided as part of the campaign before Palladium Books did their final edit.
Titan Robotics Industries (TRI) is the front company for the secretive ARCHIE-03 sentient super-computer from pre-Rifts Earth. This is no surprise to anyone. What is a welcome surprise is how much worldbuilding and dovetailing this book does with previous publications. The storyline of Archie and Hagan Lonovich has pretty much been a constant thread throughout all the books dealing with North America. With the advent of the Minion War, the dynamic duo is on a mission to save humanity, even if that means making them unwittingly subservient to their directives. We get a huge line-up of TRI products, centered around power armour, robots (duh….), but also a better sense of the Manistique Imperium and their dealings with Northern Gun.
General. The first of its kind, the book is nominally broken down into chapters. No worries though, the formatting follows the Palladium Books standard layout. Small thing, but I’m ecstatic that the Chapters each began on the left-hand page, making the transition to a new section of the book more intuitive. The remainder of the review will be done within this framework.
CHAPTER 1 – INTRODUCTION
Less of a full fledged chapter and more or a primer on Titan Robotic Industries (TRI). With only a 10-page count, it’s a quick read.
History of Titan Robotics Industries (TRI). history of TR, but mostly about current operations. Hidden agenda based on Titan Couriers/Courier Teams, provides typical mission parameters. Neat little introduction on Gunny’s Depots that opens a wild range of adventure opportunities.
Character Options. A list of O.C.C.s typically accepted as Couriers is provided; sorry, no -D-Bees (which should be no surprise, really). It also specifically limits those accepted, the most egregious being Operators and other technically/scientifically trained classes or Techno-Wizards (again, no great surprise).
Talos Program. An introduction to the Syntharoids, robot constructs indistinguishable from a human. Hyper-realistic with circulatory systems and musculature over a lightweight skeleton. Ironically programed without knowledge of their creator or any other Syntharoids that may be employed by TRI, can be used as a Player Character or (more likely) an NPC. They also included the Titan Dispatcher O.C.C., which I thought was a mistake as this should likely only ever be an NPC.
CHAPTER 2 – ARMAMENTS
Titan’s Repair Policy. TRI has HUGELY favourable terms for the customers, even more so for those coming over from NG models. Once caveat: NO SELF-REPAIR or you void the warranty. When I read this section, I immediately thought about Apple’s brand loyalty and business practices to keep their consumers on their platform. The TRI approach seemed very much an analog to that approach.
Gunny’s Depots. A more detailed section on what they are, how they function and what a GM can offer within the adventure to the PCs.
Prometheus Arms. A few weapons from a new manufacturer. These provide a unique over/under design where an S.D.C. barrel is accompanied by an underslung Mega-Damage weapon.
Wellington Industries (WI). As another major manufacturer from the Manistique Imperium, we get a deeper look into their business model. Several juicer chainsaw weapons are provided, along with a series of Mega-Damage ramjet/specialty munitions for S.D.C. weapons. We also see numerous WI weapon entries repeated (8 pages worth), as well as a number of repeat entries for some WI vehicles.
Titan Robotics Inventory
Titan Exclusive Features. A few neat new features found in TRI robots. Also hints at some of the GM Eyes Only part found in Chapter 4.
Titan Equipment. We find a series of entries for pilot body armour and robot weapon systems. I can see the Medusa Overload Cannon being a favourite for Anti-Robot Headhunters.
Titan Robotics – Power Armour. A whole new series of power armour available for purchase.
Flying Titan Power Armour. A revisit to the classic presented in the RUE. Still available and comes with a huge discount on a Wellington weapon of choice. Nice!
Titan Footman Power Armour. An up-armoured, land-based version of the Flying Titan. Discontinued; nothing flashy.
Heavy Titan Power Armour. What’s to say, an up-armed/up-armoured version of the Footman. Also discontinued.
Myrmidon. Heavy infantry exoskeleton (power armour light?) using long E-clips for power (96 hours max). Interesting design and cheap as chips.
Archimedes. For “field engineers and field prospectors.” Comes with a serious sensor suite and a shoulder pauldron tool set.
Hermes. Recon power armour armed with a high-powered plasma ejector. This thing has some serious speed.
Orion. A power armour specifically engineered for sniper missions at elevation. Not sure I buy the design concept, but that main weapon is…. seriously questionable.
Apollo. A newer, up-armed/up-armoured version of the Flying Titan. Air superiority role, though I doubt it would compete with the CS SAMAS and their ilk.
Athena. Meant to be deployed in tandem with the Archimedes. It’s a well-rounded unit.
Triton. Competition for the underwater power armour market.
Nemesis. An anti-demon model with a 20mm cannon firing specialty ammunition that would put some serious hurt into any demon.
Ajax. Specifically tailored for anti-Xiticix warfare. Comes with some serious area-effect (anti-swarm) weapons.
Titan Robotics – Robots. They put the “robot” in robotics (pun intended).
Titan Reconnaissance. The smallest and sleekest, on the market over 20 years now. These things are FAST, and now benefit from WI weapons designed for these smaller robots. In all honesty, can anyone claim to have remembered these things even existed? How many can claim they actually looked to the back of the RUE for these things?
Titan Exploration. The “goldilocks” version of the trio, with room for four passengers and ability to bear the same WI weapons as the Titan Recon Robot. Your whole party could fit inside this thing while moving from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B.’
Titan Combat. The big bruiser of the trio, while not cutting edge in terms of tech or design, the main weapon can be swapped out for any of the eligible systems. Not the most domineering of the robots our there, but it does the job.
Titan Heavy Combat (a.k.a. Super Titan). Discontinued by TRI. One of the failed robot systems that caused a stir in the market for being too good at its job. Bristling with weapons with extended ranges.
Titan Assault. Discontinued by TRI. One of the failed robot systems that caused a stir in the market for being too good at its job. A heavily armoured close combat bruiser.
Titan Rapid-Strike. Discontinued by TRI. One of the failed robot systems that caused a stir in the market for being too good at its job. Highly agile, mobile and a decent heavy hitter.
Daedalus. A versatile robot primarily designed for construction; can do combat in a pinch. Mostly meant as a support robot used in corporate outreach to build markets (pun intended).
Hephaestus. This field engineering robot comes with a telescoping midsection for added reach (doubles total height), and capacity to carry up to 12 additional technicians, engineers and operators. Not a combat heavy hitter by any means.
Minotaur. Urban combat is a thing, and this robot comes with a plethora of anti-personnel weapons. It’s an odd design, and certainly not going to compete with the combat models.
Pallas. Resembling the Athena Power Armour, it is the modernized model expected to one day replace the Titan Explorer. Can also carry four additional personnel.
Argus. Long-range reconnaissance robot with Panoptes drones. The main weapon leverages the drones to get a combined +5 to Called or Aimed shots, at 1.5 miles (2.4 km)….
Panoptes Drones. Short entry on the drones. Sensor suite extraordinaire.
Hyperion. A dedicated fire support platform, bristling with missiles and laser cannons.
Helios. Armed with a fearsome 76mm gun from the pre-apocalypse era, and a chassis with all the right stuff. A solid entry, for sure.
Atlas. Designed from the start to be a combat robot, it benefits from the interchangeable weapon mount on one arm (Chimera Weapon Mount) and several supporting weapon systems. Comparable to the UAR-1 Enforcer or the IAR-4 Hellraiser, so it’s in good company. Note: Artwork of the Atlas was chosen for the foil cover of Titan Robotics.
Erebos. Designed for assault and siege warfare, this thing is the defensive lineman of the lineup. Heavily armoured and armed, it has a surprising versatility and agility.
Kronos. A bruiser of an anti-demon variant, with specialty ammunition firing weapons that will pulverize demonic foes.
Chiron. Meant to field with Ajax Power Armour, this anti-Xiticix bruiser comes packing some heavy weapons non-Xiticix targets won’t like either.
CHAPTER 3 – TRI PUBLIC INFORMATION
History of TRI. From the very outset, TRI has been steeped in mystery; nobody knew the location of the TRI factory or the source for their sudden efficacy compared to other models in the market. In an effort to escape NG products, Manistique Imperium signed for dozens of robots and eventually became host to TRI’s public headquarters. The relationship has developed much like the one NG has with Ishpeming, or Triax with the NGR.
TRI Corporate Mindset. Something separating them from NG, TRI’s approach is not market dominance, but customer loyalty and quality products. They boast a smoother aesthetic than NG or the CS, aiming to sell more product to arm humanity in its self-defense. They have also been targeting small kingdoms, adventurers and merc companies along the East Coast in a sort of “first mover” market strategy. There is neat little section that develops the background for TRI, giving a nice little hook for GMs in adventure possibilities. As one would expect, there is a security wing to TRI (not unlike NG). The Courier Network is detailed in a way that makes sense.
TRI Showrooms. Described and illustrated like any car showroom, just with much (much) higher ceilings), LOL. There are descriptions of the various levels and areas, as well as details on the specific showrooms of Kingsdale, MercTown and Old Bones, as well as the headquarters in New Cedarville. Two factories are situated in Manistique proper, as well as New Cedarville, but everyone knows the majority are manufactured elsewhere, and people are curious. We get a nice breakdown of the TRI market strategy and how they are received in North America.
Manistique Imperium and TRI. Manistique gets fleshed out a little, though only over the span of a couple of pages. I really felt this a missed opportunity, especially given the eight pages of reprinted material earlier. They could have done something very similar to World Book 33: Northern Gun 1 and provided a fully fleshed out description of the Imperium.
CHAPTER 4 – TITANIC SECRETS
For GM’s Eyes Only. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this *is* for GM’s eyes only, right? Right… To review with a very (VERY) broad brush, it dives into the history and surveillance of TRI overlords into the world of Rifts Earth: both inhuman invaders along the Eastern Seaboard, and the human nations of North America, as well as an eye on the other continents. Technological secrets, the Shemarrians, security, a web of deception, how they deal with threats and rivals (e.g. Republicans), and what the Minion Wars mean for it all.
CHAPTER 5 – ADVENTURE
Without giving away too much, this section finally details a key question: how does the information gathered get transmitted back to Archie-3? There are a series of eight adventure prompts, each relatively easy to fold into any current campaign or create a new adventure from scratch. There are some useful notes on infiltrating TRI, followed by eight pages of encounter tables for those that try (e.g. Titan Showroom Interior – Day, Titan Showroom Interior – Night).
Megaverse of Opportunities. A series of “what if” scenarios present alternative timelines that a GM can choose to run with.
CHAPTER 6 – ROGUES GALLERY
It would not be a Palladium books product without a list of NPCs now, would it? There is some interestingly annoying repetition of artwork from earlier in the book for the NPCs, a choice that could have been avoided. Android Infiltrators are provided as a quasi-OCC, ostensibly for the GM to have something to work from in creating their own version of the agent. Some quick stats demonstrate the various forms of android drones roaming North America, some of which I thought well-done.
Initial Assessment (8/10). My initial impressions were that this book provided a similar feel and detail to that of World Book 33: North Gun 1, which bodes VERY well. The imagery of officials in a suit and tie (the modern uniform that replaced the suit of armour) strutting across North America to chase down business leads is fantastic. Integration of TRI into the Manistique Imperium was a nice touch, and as a “near-peer” to Northern Gun, it gives Manistique the boost to keep it from getting completely overshadowed by Ishpeming. And by boost, this book is a tech-lovers dream. With a dozen power armour entries and eighteen robot entries, there’s a lot here for the budding Robot Pilot. The dynamic of TRI is well developed, including how where and how it makes its products and delivers them to market, albeit some of them a bit of a stretch (e.g. the St. Lawrence route).
A few quibbles though. There are eight pages I felt were wasted on reprinted material that should have been used to develop the Manistique Imperium more. More subtly, I found the book gave the sense that North America benefits from much more integrated infrastructure (e.g. interstates still existed, GPS/satellite communications still exist). This second point is better explained in the GM section, but not quite as far as I would have gone.
The artwork throughout is something that deserves a highlight as well. While there are several reprinted pieces, the book features illustrations by Steven Cummings, of which there is no shortage of fantastic pieces. There is a standout two-page spread with six TRI robot/power armour models, but my personal favourites are the Athena and Gyges Stealth VTOL. That said, there was also a subtle yet frustrating number of repeated images. Taking a very slight hit for the aforementioned issues, otherwise this book did a bang-up job! Titan Robotics products gives off a vibe very akin to the Apple iPhone kind of “walled garden” of technology, which was fun. The book provides the GM with copious adventure ideas, while Players will have no shortage of fancy new tech to play with.
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