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View Full Version : A semi serious discussion about procreation.


verytired
2013-09-01, 07:55 PM
Hello all,

I wanted to kick an idea around somewhere, and here seemed a good place to do it. I am running an Rpg with my boys about transformers, and I wanted to flesh out the background and history of it all for them. The premise of the story is that quintessons occupy cybertron, and have brainwashed the populace into thinking that they are mass produced machines. So, at some point in the game, the boys characters will find out the transformers are not manufactured, but come into being in some other way.
But what way could the transformers reproduce that fulfills the following criteria:
1) can be subverted by the quintessons for their nefarious needs,
2) is not mystical (I am trying to keep things like sparks and the matrix out of the game for as l can)
3) and most importantly, doesn't introduce the concept of robot boning to my 8 and 6 year old boys. That should be number one actually: no
Robot boning.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated, cheers peeps.

Notabot
2013-09-01, 08:10 PM
Transformation Cogs seem to be a big thing lately in the show and the comics I've been reading. Maybe a couple TFs each donate a portion of their cog, thereby giving "genetic" material to the protoform. And to keep it from just being a casual thing but something that requires a bit of commitment, it can take a while for the cog to heal, so the donors can't transform for a while. Quints found a way to copy the process without donors, or they have a far of captives that are harvested for their material.

Denyer
2013-09-01, 08:47 PM
Sparks don't have to be mystical -- it's "just" encoding data as light.

Cliffjumper
2013-09-01, 10:30 PM
OH! OH! How about when a boybot and a girlbot love each other very much...

That should be number one actually: no Robot boning.Awwww :(


But yeh, fully agree that sparks don't have to be some sort of magic robot heart but can simply be incredibly high technology. I always liked the idea (cribbed from various sources) that sparks were somehow distributed to Cybertron from the Matrix where they were then put in Transformers; when the Transformer then dies said spark goes back to the Matrix adding the knowledge and experience gained during its' life to make the Matrix/Primus stronger for the big confrontation with Unicron.

You could sort-of run further with that if you subscribe to the "Primus is a dick" theory (remember what an arse he was in the US comic?) and posit that Primus/the Matrix maaaaaybe put Megatron's spark out there with conquest and the like built in to speed up the whole process, because nothing fuels knowledge and experience like a great big ****ing war. So Primus makes his children predisposed to perpetual war so that when Unicron comes a callin' he's all the more powerful.

On the other hand the Transformers could just be idiots squabbling on their silly little world when they could be out improving themselves and the universe by peaceful means, rather like a certain bunch of carbon-based lifeforms on a planet that is often visited by Transformers for no statisically clear reason. SATIRE.

verytired
2013-09-01, 10:56 PM
Sparks don't have to be mystical -- it's "just" encoding data as light.

Yes... Yes, it's just sparks always come from some kind of mystical source. The matrix, matrix flame, vector sigma: it makes the whole thing of procreation dependant on external sources, and would thoroughly limit colonisation of other planets. I was trying to think of something cybertron isms could inherently do amongst themselves. Isogamy is kind of appealing, or cross pollination?

I kind of like what IDW are doing with sparks in More than meets the eye, but it still feels a bit mystical, what with the super super one percenter sparkseaning some tf's are inherently better than others...

Denyer
2013-09-01, 11:58 PM
Given the right equipment I don't see any reason why sparks can't be cloned, used as the base for a divergent personality (with or without memories from a donor), "mixed" with one or more others to encourage certain traits, etc.

The reason official writers have shied away from this is that it's potentially unbalancing to the narrative (and to drama) if characters can back themselves up or quickly raise armies... but it doesn't have to be. Being able to create sparks is irrelevant without the other resources to build bodies. "Good" characters wouldn't want to bring new life into a conflict, and "bad" ones wouldn't want too much competition or armies ready to revolt. It may be considered in poor taste to load "new" sparks with too many pre-written memories (and whilst skills could be "taught" in advance, experience is still important) and in many instances they'd be second-class citizens.

In an RPG context, the ability to back up minds gives a video-game-esque edge to things... if they **** up they can be rebuilt into other bodies, possibly losing an appropriate amount of equipment and influence.

verytired
2013-09-02, 07:31 AM
Transformation Cogs seem to be a big thing lately in the show and the comics I've been reading. Maybe a couple TFs each donate a portion of their cog, thereby giving "genetic" material to the protoform. And to keep it from just being a casual thing but something that requires a bit of commitment, it can take a while for the cog to heal, so the donors can't transform for a while. Quints found a way to copy the process without donors, or they have a far of captives that are harvested for their material.

I like this: I can kind of equate this with plant cross pollination or mushroom... Whatever the hell it is mushrooms do, isogamy? Kind of leafs to an evil quintesson greenhouse, captured transformers being harvested for materials and such. The only question for me is how transformers cross pollinate...

inflatable dalek
2013-09-02, 10:47 AM
I'd say that a good argument could be made for Sparks not being mystical at all, however the characters might dress it up with their faith. It's that old advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic thing. Primus and Unicron can just as easily be viewed as super advanced aliens who have had a religion built up around them by their creations, with sparks as nothing more than especially sophisticated programming.

I've always found it interesting that Bob Budiansky (and presumably it was all him as the cartoon didn't introduce Vector Sigma till the second season) seems to have thought that just having them be sophisticated robots wasn't enough, there had to be something specific about them that made them "Alive" in a way any other automation wouldn't be.

Terome
2013-09-02, 09:59 PM
I like what Cliffjumper says for my Marvel brand Transformers but let's try this from another angle:

*cracks knuckles*

Across the board, sparks seem to be a lot more than a heart and something less than a soul. They seem to contain the memories, skillset and traits of the robot - damage or changes to the spark can affect any of these properties. Now, sometimes Transformers have CNA. Whatever this is, it seems to contain a blueprint of the Transformer it is inside of.

What I propose is that sparks are a CNA 'factory,' the way a ribosome is a protein factory. It processes raw material taken from the environment to form components of the robot body. Different kinds of spark are compatible with different strings of CNA commands. Energy efficiency and the limitations of the materials (whatever they might be) mean that no spark can produce all of the components that can be coded for with CNA. This is why a Transformer has certain hard limits on alt-mode, size, ability and even personality. Brain modules have been developed to give some versatility and work-arounds to these limits but they are, again, not absolute.

A sufficiently damaged spark will be fatal to the Transformer because the turnaround of these components is fairly high. There is some variation in individual metabolism but the mechanisms that supply the machinery with the byproducts of energon will degrade quickly. When those are no longer being produced by the spark, the functions of the body will shut down one by one. The last process to go is the capillary network of fibre optics that give the outer cuticle its colour.

That is all well and jake but let's get to the real matter of where it is that sparks come from. Plant life is an apt comparison because Transformers, like plants, have an alteration of generations. The shape-shifting robot form we are most familiar with is the sporophyte - it contains a full set of genes (the information in CNA) and it, in turn, produces the gametophyte.
The gametophyte generation is something even stranger than a shape-changing robot. It is nothing more than a small, discrete change in the overlapping fields of the spark. Some permutations are set to 'receive' and some are set to 'broadcast.' The likelihood of one or the other permutation arising (or the two co-existing) is frequency-dependent. A 'broadcasting' spark will send random packets of its CNA information to whichever spectra it can tap into. A 'receiving' spark will turn any such signals it comes into contact with into CNA within itself. When enough CNA has been gathered from information in the environment, the spark will undergo mitosis.

A daughter spark is more often than not a jumble of contradictory or repeated or incomplete instructions that would have great difficulty sustaining a robot body. Most are self-terminated or surgically removed. Transformers, being an artificial species, are designed so that administrative oversight over spark transmission would mean that suitable combinations could be arranged by a third party. But that third party has disappeared and so the laws of evolution have asserted themselves. For even though only a fraction of daughter sparks are viable, the daughters of those daughters are slightly more viable, and the daughters of those...

By the time the Quintessons and their administrative oversight return to manipulate their creations, selection, mutation and gene flow have produced 'wild' Transformers young for the first time in millions of years. Immune to the Quintesson control programmes, they alone can unpick the mysteries befalling their ancestors and reveal the true nature of Transformer reproduction.