Dancing Robot Warriors

A Creative-Commons-licensed creature race for use in science fiction settings.

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This video is the inspiration for this whole worldbuilding.

Stories written in this universe:

The following content is licensed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution license, version 4.0. If you want to use this idea, take it with my blessing, as long as you credit me somehow.

The Coördinated

The Coördinated are a race of mechanical beings. They’re composed of numerous subsentient systems that coordinate to emergently create the body and mind of any particular Coördinated being. If a Coördinated loses coordination, they will experience increasingly distracting levels of pain-analogue, and eventually literally fall apart.

Physiology

An average coordination level for a Coördinated will result in better-than-human abilities in acrobatics, athletics, dexterity, and stealth. Sustained periods of coordination lead to a gradually increasing base coordination level, which in turn grants buffs or boosts to sppeed, agility, stability, fashion, intuition, and other vital characteristics.

Because of the coordination buffs, Coördinated will find a body plan that allows them to best integrate and coordinate with the society they find themselves in. In a setting with a non-Coördinated population that is predominantly humanoid, Coördinated will take a humanoid body plan, matching body plan, size, weight, limb layout, and sensory details. In a society with a mixed population of humanoids and non-humanoids, Coördinated will adopt whatever body plan allows them to best act in coordination with society. This could be a humanoid body plan, one that matches the predominant non-humanoid body plan, or one that is in between. Because of the ease of socializing with other Coördinated, Coördinated will prefer body plans already adopted by other Coördinated in the area.

Role in Society

In a society of mixed Humans and Coördinated, Coördinated will take on those tasks which are suited to ordered, uninterrupted repetition or are suited to beings with higher agility/dexterity/stealth/athletics/etc. Some example professions:

Morality

Because a lack of coordination is a major threat to a Coördinated’s personal existence, and therefore the existence of their species, their morality is aligned along the Coordinated/Uncoordinated axis. An action that is coordinated is better than one that is not.

Conflicts of coordination imply a lack of coordination. Here’s some examples of how lack coordination can be rectified:

Meditations upon gamification

Because the player is a normal person in this deterministically random world, they’re going to be within a standard deviation of coordination-normal for most of the game. Higher ability levels of player characters see the world like a rhythm game: just keep the groove to keep dancing through the world, killing tasks as they progress.

The player travels from town to town, participating in dance competitions like how human children compete with their Pokémon. You buy resources, trade with traders, hunt big animals, defend towns, gain power-ups, and all the usual open-world things. This game might not even have a plot, but it does have a schedule and a rhythm.

Random encounters could be beasts or other Coördinated or humans. if you encounter another dance-capable entity, you can dance with them for a chance at boosting both your abilities. Coördinated are pretty good. Some humans are amazing; most are terrible. Animals are generally bad at dance, but there’s that one roaming deer that gets it. You’ve told everyone not to kill that deer because you hope to breed a better-coordinated population in the area.

Each character has a dance style, which derives primarily from that character’s equipment:

Group dance-a-thons come with multipliers: If you thought you got a good rush off of having a nce dance with the last village’s dance instructor, imagine the sheer anticipation-trepidation of walking into a town and seeing a horde of your people, all kinda fiddling around and warming up. The town mayor sashays up - themself a skilled dancer, and over the course of a quadrille with the captain of the guard and another Coördinated, they brief you about the savage dragon who’s been raiding the sheep farms in the valley, and would you be willing to join them in a raid? There’s a dance party beforehand to get everyone buffed beforehand.

But as the dance kicks off, chaos strikes! The Dragon is a Grinch and hates loud noises, and has come to break up the party. The loss of coordination as the dragon lands offcenter in the middle of the climax of the dance causes critical coordination loss to half the party, and they fall apart. Another 34% of the party are too uncoordinated to help, and it’s down to the 2.2% who were already two-or-more standard deviations above baseline coordination to carry out the attack on the Dragon.

Fortunately, there is a script for how this sort of combat goes. If there wasn’t, the Coördinated wouldn’t have survived this long as a species. Because players don’t know the script, there’s all sorts on on-screen cues: what buttons to press when, where to move, etc. It’s the same overworld action cues, but instead of moving through the woods, this time the moves it suggests are appropriate to that.

On character customization

Of course, players have the option to customize their characters’ appearances, but because of the nature of the Coördinated physiology, players should be guided towards appearances that suit the situation. Game devs may want to suggest to players that the player reconfigure some aspect of their clothing or appearance to better suit a situation.

This would extend to clothes. Characters with matching outfits have better interpersonal coordination, where interpersonal coordination is mechanically reflected through fudging of inputs to keep the players’ actions in tune and in time, within the bounds of network lag.

Some players may desire a “just fix it for me” button or checkbox, to allow their clothes and appearance to change to suit the scene.

On interface

The player would need several UI widgets not typically depicted in third-person or first-person games: