Saturday, April 9, 2011

I is for: Ironhead

Iron Man is my favorite Marvel hero. As a kid I liked the usual Batman, Superman, etc., but once I discovered Iron Man he quickly shot to the top. I think part of it is that like Bruce Wayne he's a wealthy playboy type but unlike him he likes it! He's not a tortured soul warped by a childhood event - he enjoys being a superhero! I think that one change makes a big difference and I was happy when the movie captured this pretty well instead of trying to make him a dark avenger. I was also happy that they used the main story from Iron Man 200, one of my favorites. I do like the do-it-yourself superhero concept, and I like to play around with it when I make super-characters. One example of this is below.

The typical power armor guy is either a millionaire that builds his own, has someone build it for him,  or is a guy who works for some government agency that provides the suit. What if none of those were true? What if there was a guy who wasn't a millionaire but was just a regular guy who slowly pieced together his own suit of hero-armor? He would probably be smarter than the average guy, at least when it came to electrical and mechanical stuff and have some creative sparks as well. Sounds like some of the guys who work on cars, especially custom show cars. So what would happen if a talented gearhead decided to take a stand for justice? Well you might get something like you see in the below picture:

That's "Detroit Fury" from the Paul the Samurai branch of the Tick comic family. I'd link to a site about him, but he seems to be internet-swamped by the arena league football team of the same name that played a whole 4 seasons -ah well.

Discussing car-based supers I feel like I should mention The Turtle from Wild Cards here too. Not exactly powered armor and not exactly a car guy but he was a regular guy in most ways and one of my favorite things about that series so I'm dropping him in here. 

But what if the suit was not an actual car, but was just built by a guy who liked to work on cars? You might get something like this:

This is American Ironhead. He's an armored flying hero who can project electrical energy and who has all kinds of interesting gadgets at his disposal. He's not a billionaire playboy so his suit is not as sleek or graceful or high-tech as it could be, but it gets the job done. 

The background concept is that Chip Barris  runs a domestic car-repair and customization business in a not-so-great part of town. He finally got tired of the criminal element in the neighborhood and decided to do something about it. Not being trained in the martial arts, lacking any convenient mutant powers, finding no radiation to expose himself to, and as it tuns out also not the son of an ancient god, he turned to the one thing he did know - how to bend metal. Thinking of it as the ultimate customization project, he finished the Mark I and went into action against the local gangs.

Finding some success he continued his one-man war on crime and continued to refine and develop his armor as well. His identity remains a secret to all but his assistant manager Jose, who helps him work on the armor and covers for him when he has to head out during the hours the shop is open. Chip went with the all-American themed paint job because he prefers American cars to imports and this carried over into his superhero persona.

Chip has refined the armor into the Mark II with faster flight and a new targeting system and better sensors.  There are definite limits to what he can accomplish considering his armor is being built and maintained in a garage by himself and one other person and uses a lot of car parts, but never underestimate the ingenuity of the American gearhead when it comes to solving a problem!

Oh NO! Ironhead is trapped in a cage of electricity! Will he survive?

American Ironhead (Mark II) for ICONS:

Prowess: 4 (Good) While not a martial artist he has been in enough scraps at this point to hold his own against regular guys
Coordination: 5 (Excellent) He has pretty good dexterity 
Strength: 6 (Remarkable) He tries to stay in shape and the suit helps out here as well, boosting his strength just a bit
Intellect: 6 (Remarkable) He's a smart guy and especially good with devices 
Awareness: 4 (Good) He pays attention to what's going on around him 
Willpower: 5 (Excellent) He's a pretty strong-willed guy but he doesn't have any special training or protection

Stamina: 11
Determination: 2

Origin: Gimmick (+2 to one mental stat - Intellect)

Specialties: Mechanics (Expert) +2, Electronics, Shock Punch

Blast - 7 (Incredible) -  Electrical Blast/Strike 7 - Shock Punch

Super-Senses - 5 (Excellent) - Radar, Infra-Red, Enhanced Vision +1, Enhanced Hearing +1, Extended Vision 1
Invulnerability - 5 (Excellent) - Armor Suit
Flight - 7 (Incredible) - Rocket Boots

"One of the guys" - Ironhead thinks of himself as a regular guy, not a super hero or someone with a special destiny. He listens to what regular people have to say, doesn't assume that he knows best just because he has a suit, tries to obey the law as much as anyone, watches TV and goes to work just like everyone else. The super-thing just stated as a kind of hobby, and even though it's grown beyond that it's how he still thinks of it.   

"Non-Sponsored" - The Ironhead suit is built from steel and car parts and consumer electronics for the most part. Specific functions of the suit can and do break down at times and fixing damage sustained in a fight can take days. It's not made form some exotic self-repairing material either so the suit does show scars even after it has been repaired.

"Working Man" - Chip runs a shop that's open 5 days a week. he has clients and vendors to meet, payroll to make, and bodywork to do. This cuts into his time and availability to go adventuring. He also keeps his identity a secret. 

AI comes in at 58 points, still a little higher than recommended but not over the top. He has fairly broad abilities but since his strongest powers are 7's, he's going to face some challenges if he runs into seriously high-powered opponents. In Champions terms I would give him a multipower for various electrical attacks including a stun and an entangle and probably a small gadget pool for things he can whip up in the shop. For ICONS a lot of that is going to have to be stunts. Down the road he could add some life support (finally got some decent seals) and some additional area attacks or stuns as well. For some fun I could see a support van and maybe some kind of pit crew to help get him back into a fight faster if he gets hurt or damaged in some way. Just keep in mind that the idea here is that even though it's a power-suit he's not super-strong and not really super-tough - he's on the lower end of the power scale.

He's here for when these don't work
Anyway that's American Ironhead. Too many street-level heroes boil down to martial-arts guy or guy with guns, and I wanted something different. Over time I could see him becoming powerful enough to move beyond street-level adventures but I see him as always being connected to the neighborhood and his business, making him more grounded in the "real world" than many supers are even when they start out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

H is for Howling Griffons

In the early days of Warhammer 40,000 people made stuff up. This is a lot harder to do now in the game as so much has already been created that people tend to paint up armies and characters that have been defined by the writers at Games Workshop. I don't mind finding inspiration in other people's work or ideas but I don't like the slavish copying of characters and lore over and over and over again. So my armies in the Warhammer games tend to originate around the fringes of the background and stem from the early days of the game. This is particularly true of my Space Marines, who are painted in the colors of the Howling Griffons chapter. When I got into the game this is all of the material there was on the Howling Griffons:

That's it - no lore, no famous names, no homeworld descriptions or special powers or psychotic tendencies or any of that other stuff that comes in the modern codexes for special marine chapters like the Space Wolves or the Blood Angels - just a really cool paint job and a cool name.

Now early on my marines were fielded with whatever models I had available. Back then they came in a box of 30 plastic troopers for a decent price and could be supplemented by metal characters and specialist types and some tanks and APC's and light vehicles and special weapons. Those basic troopers are still the core of my force, almost 25 years later.

I added leader types very quickly

Next up were some Dreadnoughts, basically walking tanks crewed by badly wounded marines who are placed inside pretty much permanently. One of them was subsequently modified during a later version of the game to include a bigger gun, which is a custom-crafted thing that I'm still pretty happy with.

Marines have access to super-heavy suits of power armor known as terminator armor. The usefulness of them fluctuates with each new version of the rules but I loved them early on and have used them ever since.

The landspeeder is a light scouting/gunship type vehicle. This is one of the original types - the newer ones look much much sleeker and higher tech but I like my ancient artifact.

Later versions of the game added a variety of tanks for the marines and these are two of the nastiest. When people fear the big nasty gun on one of your tanks it's best to take two of them - it's the only way to be sure.

For some time this was just a random collection of similarly painted troops and stuff. What really brings a force together and starts to generate stories is when you decide on a theme for an army. Once that happens then characters start to emerge and make regular appearances and after a series of battles Force Commander Vorzan finally gets to face off against the Ork Warlord Thrashmangala, Scourge of the Seven Worlds, and either dies gloriously or brings down the beast with the crushing grip of his power fist. Of course he also might die rather ingloriously in one round without inflicting a single hit but that generates some stories too. Playing with a regular opponent or group of opponents and using some persistent characters, the battles soon become a mini-campaign of their own and start to sound much like an RPG campaign with stories of character confrontations, screwy die rolls, unusual abilities, and interesting gear. In fact it's akin to my favorite kind of RPG stories, the ones that arise and develop in play rather than being handed down from on high by the DM - there is no DM, so that cannot happen. It all comes about from players interacting, winning,losing, characters dying or being incredibly lucky or unlucky and it can make for a ton of fun even in between games.

Early on I decided that my marine force was based on a strike cruiser, a type of ship the space marines use for patrolling and rapid response. They aren't battleships but they are the ones out on the frontier watching for and responding to trouble. This gave me an excuse to fight any and all opponents and keep a coherent narrative for myself as they could all be encountered while patrolling a frontier, from Space Orks to rival marine chapters. Later the game added rules for Drop Pods which can let marines deploy directly onto a battlefield without marching overland from a shuttle landing first, which is very cool.

I should say that I actually have two different marine forces. This came about because frankly Howling Griffons are a lot of work to paint. That quartered color scheme tales a lot of extra work to keep clean on a miniature and it's all got to be done by hand one at a time. It was taking me forever to do and I wanted another marine force I could paint in a hurry (the traditional way to basecoat grunt marines in mono-colored power armor is to spray them, do the guns, the eyes, and maybe one other spot, and they're done) so I started working up another force as well. Now it became even more important to differentiate them from each other and so Captain Tiberius Kirk was born.

Marine Captain Tiberius commands the strike cruiser "Inceptum" which is on a 5-year patrol of the spinward frontier of their domain. He is assisted by his able command crew of Senior Librarian Sproch, Chief Techmarine Scottus, Senior Chaplain MacKoy, and his squad leaders Sullus, Chekorov, and Uhrus.

If trouble is discovered on a planet the typical response is that the terminator squad led by Tiberius teleports down while the jump squad deploys nearby and the rest of the troops including the dreadnoughts Captain Pike and Captain Garth make an orbital insertion via drop pod.

So yes I've ripped off one well-known sci-fi universe to use in another sci-fi universe but it's a lot of fun even if the other person doesn't get it. It gives me a good strong theme to use when planning my games and when adding to the force. As a ship-based mobile reaction force that deploys mainly by teleporter and drop pod it also contrasts nicely with my other marine force, which is an armored column of tanks and APC's, basically an all-vehicular force. Each has it's own personality and they play very differently from each other.

I haven't posted a lot about miniatures games on the blog mainly because I've been playing them less over the past year or so, but there are a lot of similarities to RPG's. This includes everything from creating characters and recounting stories to the relentless march of new editions and new books full of supplementary material. It's familiar territory to say the least.

Characters: Like Icons 40K rates things on a 1-10 scale but there tends to be more concentration at the low end than in Icons mainly due to the nature of the game, so this isn't necessarily good for a straight up conversion en masse, but what if a single space marine was sucked into the warp and deposited on earth:

An Imperial Space Marine for ICONS

Prowess: 6 (Remarkable) Marines are genetically enhanced, trained from recruitment, and do nothing but fight and meditate their whole lives. Leaders would be higher.
Coordination: 6 (Remarkable) Maximum human capability 
Strength: 6 (Remarkable) Maximum human capability
Intellect: 4 (Good) They're smart but tend to react more from training and experience, plus their education on anything but war is limited
Awareness: 6 (Remarkable) Maximum human capability + years to decades of experience
Willpower: 7 (Incredible) Genetic enhancement + training + indoctrination + psycho conditioning means they are very difficult to control or corrupt. It's not impossible (see Traitor or Chaos Marines and the Horus Heresy) but it's difficult

Stamina: 13
Determination: 3

Origin: Transformed (+2 to one stat)

Specialties: Weapons (Guns), Weapons (Blades), Military 

Blast - 6 (Remarkable) - Bolt Gun - shoots physical ammunition
Life Support - 4  (Good) - Power Armor - No breathing, no pathogens, no toxins, immune to vacuum
Invulnerability - 6 (Remarkable) - Power Armor 

"For the Emperor" - Space Marines are fanatically devoted to serving their emperor. Separated from the Imperium by time, a marine would attempt to get back and would also look for threats to the future emperor that he could deal with now. 

"Space Marine" - Marines are typically called in as the next to last resort as they see all problems as military problems and are not concerned with collateral damage or casualties. They are a relatively fine instrument  in the 41st millennium somewhat akin to 2nd millennium special forces, but they are not dissuaded from direct action by things like hostages.

This example of a marine comes in at 54 points, not terribly overpowered compared to a random roll character. There are specialist marines that might have specialties in Electronics or Mechanics and leaders would have a higher level of Military and combat training. One time-lost marine could be fun in a superhero campaign but they might better serve as a plot hook if you have some players who are interested in the 40K universe. Perhaps some Supervillain has opened a gateway to M41 and is attempting to bring through some Tyranids for nefarious purposes. The marine will recognize these and can warn the heroes of the threat they represent. This could lead to an awesome fight against swarming hordes of bio-engineered alien monstrosities with an effort to close down the gateway before a bio-titan steps through, taking the threat to a whole new level.

Wrapping up, Space Marines are super-powered humans from the future in hi-tech power armor, making them a natural fit for a supers game, a fun diversion for a D&D game, and an interesting addition to a horror game. They might also be fun in a light or comedy game as ultimate straight men.

Final wild idea: Federation scientists, searching for a solution to the Borg problem, open a portal to somewhere else. This somewhere else happens to be the 40K universe.
Referee: Borg, tyranids, tyranids, borg. I want a good clean fight.
Also: Chaos possessed borg cubes. Discuss!

Anyway, that's enough about marines and 40K for now. Next up, a double character weekend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

G is for: Ghostbuster

Yeah, it was a pretty big deal.

You know what it was, you know the story, you hopefully know it was good. Both my parents AND my kids like it, which tells me there's at least a moderate timeless quality to it. I loved the movie and it had some spillover effects. That Commodore 64 game was pure awesome:


I was also playing and running a fair amount of Champions at that time so naturally...

I had originally thought of making him an antagonist for some player heroes who were searching out a ghostly adviser, sort of a supernatural punisher type. I wanted him to be a grim, tough-talking hunter of spirits, probably Dirty Harry as Ghostbuster, mainly because I thought that would be funny. Instead I ended up playing him in about 3 sessions of a very short campaign. One of the bad guys in that one liked to phase through walls and to save his bacon in a fight so my powers were pretty handy. I tried to play him as the grim batman-esque type but I'm not sure how well it went over, I think it just confused people.

Looking him over he looks like a Champions II era character, mostly because of that Reflection power.  Stat-wise he's alright but that OCV/DCV of 5 is terrible - he needs some levels at the very least. Against any decent kind of supervillain he's not going to do well at all, and I'm not sure how I did anything back when except that our homemade villains were all over the place power-wise so maybe that's the key.  I would pull some of that Strength (20? Really?) and Con (also a 20 - what was I thinking?)

Looking at the disavantages, well, I can't remember who F.A.L.C.O.N. was but we were very fond of acronyms back then. The only one I remember is and organization of supervillains named LA.O.S. which stands for Law And Order Sucks. It was an organization of 3rd-rate not-too-bright bad guys (maximum intelligence was 10, which only the leader had as he didn't want anyone smarter than him trying to take over). Moving on...doesn't like to be hit OK... dependent girlfriend... secret ID... susceptible to Flash attacks? What, is he an albino or something? Not sure what was going on there, it should be a vulnerability not a susceptibility but OK.

Powers are interesting. the big flashy one is the Nuclear Accelerator and if I was doing it today I might try and work in an entangle effect as well but back then we liked to blast things. Infrared, radio, flash defense, life support...OK. FInd Weakness - that would certainly help in combat. Some skills, OK. Now it gets weird - Invisibility, Force Wall, Reflection - That's a bit of a change from the early concept. Invis helps with the Batman/Punisher thing but he appears to have stolen Iron Man's gloves at some point because he can do some interesting things there. Those look like something added in play or after being played. I vaguely remember using the force wall as a containment vessel to catch enemies as well as a defensive barrier so maybe that was part of it. Regardless I would have to clean this up in a rework today.

GB didn't have a vehicle although if I had used him more he might have ended up with his own version of ECTO-1 because Champions II included vehicle rules. It's a shame I never put that together.

Heck even the computer game included vehicle options

I know there was a Ghostbusters game from West End and I have no doubt it was funny but I never owned it, read it, played it, or saw it used in play. I should probably find one on Ebay. I doubt I could get anyone to play it but the Apprentices might be strong-armed into it.

I also remember (and liked at the time) the earlier Saturday morning series with the very similar name that covered a similar theme:

It was very much a kid's show and I'm not telling anyone to go look for the DVD's or anything but the wiki is here if you want to check any fading memories of this show.

I'm not going to do an ICONS writeup here because I don't think there's much to it. Normal human stats, a blast power with bind or paralyze, and some detection abilities, at least one specialty in Occult, and there you are.

Anyway that's a fun little trip down memory lane. I'm not sure that any RPG campaign nowadays cries out for Ghostbusters (unlike, say, giant shapeshifting robots) but it could be a fun addition as a patron or source of information in a Supers campaign at least. I hesitate to think how they might fit into an Unknown Armies game or Cthulu Now but those might be fun too.

Tomorrow: A completely different topic from today.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

F is for: Formshifters

To the tune of the Transformers cartoon theme...

The Formshifters!
Robots from the sky!
Always more to buy!

fight a conflict to destroy 
the evil forces of
the Destruct-O-Trons!

Yeah it's kind of dumb but when I came up with it for a project back in high school it seemed to me to be the apex of parody. We had to do something involving an advertisement and parody and we had to present it live in class. The Transformers were getting fairly popular so I took a small plastic robot and a 16oz hammer and proceeded to "Formshift" him after singing something like the words above. For the rest of that year I drew little parody ads involving action figure robots and hammers and phrases like "realistic battle damage". Hey, no one else combined robots and tools for their presentation! It was pretty memorable because the hammer came out about a half a second before it hit the robot so there was a surprise factor there too. 

Anyway, that really wouldn't bear mentioning on a gaming blog except that I was also fleshing out a world for my on and off Champions campaign and even though Transformers was kind of after my time by a bit (it was more of a little brother kind of thing) I thought the idea of a band of shapeshifting alien robots was not a bad addition to a superhero campaign so the Formshifters (less the hammer) made the jump from my head to the Hero System. I worked up some stats, a backstory involving the Motorbots versus the Destructotrons that was a complete ripoff of the Transformers background. We then proceeded to not play Champions again for at least 5 years.

So later we're playing around with another superhero campaign and looking through my old notes I decided that my players would get a kick out of the old Formshifters adventure arc. I dusted it off, updated it to 4th edition Champions, reworked the background, and then we ended up playing something else.

Another buddy in college decided to run a Champions game. I heard about it second hand and decided to make up a new Formshifter. I showed up with "Countach" the super-fast robot who could turn into a Lamborghini and it turned out he wanted to run a gritty street level game and my silly robot was really not a great fit. I made a new character. For all of the 3 sessions the campaign lasted, he was great.

A year or so later there was a GURPS Supers campaign in the works so I wrote up a Motorbot leader for it complete with transforming robot followers and it lasted all of two sessions.

Flash forward again a few years, Mutants and Masterminds, blah blah, same thing.

(As you can see, even though I haven't played a ton of characters recently due to DM'ing most of the time, even when I was playing more there were a lot of false starts. If we had played at least 10 sessions of every campaign we started I would have a ton more stories and characters than I actually do.)

Eventually, I started playing City of Heroes and this let me FINALLY play the leader of the Motorbots, Maximus Alpha. 

Maximus Alpha - Leader of the Motorbots
Maximus is a Brick/Tanker type of character - big, tough, strong and strong-willed. In Hero terms he had a strength of 70 and was pretty much the strongest of the 'bots. I also gave him 1d6 of Unluck because it always seemed that he was getting into trouble. Other Motorbots include:

Pit-Stop - the medic Motorbot

Pit-Stop was one of my early write-ups from the first Champions notes set. He's a retired racer who went into medical science after his racing career was over. I see him as a healer, protector, and ranged attacker when it comes to combat, and no he doesn't look like an ambulance in car form - he looks more like a stock car or Can-Am racer.

Bot-Rod, the younger hot-headed Motorbot
Bot-Rod is newer than the others and I wrote him up originally to use as the hook character discovered by the PC's who are then dragged into the Formshiters War adventure in the campaign. I've always thought of him as more of a hand to hand fighter than some so his City of Heroes incarnation has a lot of fancy moves with bladed weapons. The fiery aura is there mostly because I thought it looked cool and fit the character. If you're going to have a flaming paint job then why not have flaming powers as well?

Having a themed all robot group in a superhero MMO is pretty fun and I've even talked a few friends into joining it. "Motorbots - formshift and move out!"

Glock Supreme salutes Maximus
My backstory concept, modified many times over the years, is that there is a civilization of intelligent robots out there somewhere. One of them started experimenting in ways the others found abhorrent and he was eventually expelled from their society. Searching for a technologically developed remote yet secure place to work he eventually discovered earth and landed there in the 1960's. Not all of the Formshifters were comfortable with simply unleashing their problem child on an unsuspecting and blameless universe so they assigned Maximus Alpha to recruit a small band of fellow bots and track their renegade down and verify that he was behaving himself. If he was not then they were to silence him and any of his experiments that were hanging around. This means Maximus is not just a benevolent do-gooder here to protect people - he's mainly here to kill a villain and stop whatever he's working on, while keeping a low profile with the natives.

Now to help keep that low profile when the Motorbot strike force arrived in the 1980's they used their formshifting power to take on the appearances of some of the most common mobile objects on the planet - motor vehicles. This lets them move among human society without detection or suspicion and is an excellent disguise for what would otherwise be a 20' tall robot. The problem is that once a Formshiter takes a form, it's either temporary or permanent. A temp form takes some effort to maintain and goes away if the bot goes unconscious. A permanent form has no overhead but cannot easily be changed without a lot of energy and some special equipment available only back on the homeworld. Since this was likely to be a long-term assignment the Motorbots permanently took on the forms of the vehicles they saw when they arrived. Unfortunately they cannot change to a newer form and as time passes this is causing them some problems as their once-anonymous shapes now stand out among the 20-30 year newer vehicles around them. "Hey there's a really clean 88 Vette outside" is not conducive to stealthy observation. "Car nuts" are a constant problem for them. 

The leader of the Destructotrons is Gigatronic, a large fighting robot who after seeing a lot of friends blown up in combat wanted to find a way to fight without risking real Formshifter lives. His experiments involved imbuing lesser forms of robotic life with a rudimentary intelligence or programming and he also did some experimentation on using parts from different robots and even destroyed Formshifters to cobble together some devastatingly effective though monstrous combat machines. These prototypes horrified many other Formshifters to the point they exiled him, casting him out for his explorations into the forbidden. 

Arriving on earth Gigatronic used his superior technology to integrate himself into human society and began his experiments all over again. Early on he had to steal technology and funds and for a time used a scrapyard as his secret base. From cars to military phase-outs this scrapyard business gave him a lot of raw material. His first step was to create some lieutenants and for the first generation he used some reanimated Formshifter bodies that he recovered from a battlefield on his way out of the robotic colonies. For a second and third generation he has used earth-native technologies boosted by his own improvements. With the rise of the internet his advanced technology has allowed him to expand into many businesses as a human presence is no longer required. He has created several corporations and makes a ton of money legally now, something the Motorbots are unaware of. They think of him as a deranged criminal, but he is really a scarred combat vet determined to find a solution to some of the problems he faced. That doesn't mean he is not a bad guy - he's willing to kill to make that happen - but it's not quite as black and white as the Motorbots would like.

As far as using the Destructotrons in a game there are all kinds of possibilities. Gigatronic is focused on advancing his craft but he does have lieutenants. There is tension between the first generation, who think of themselves as "real" formshifters, and the later generations who see them as delusional half-measures clearly inferior to the newer generations. Even between the second and third generations there s tension as the second generation (created in the 70's & 80's as microprocessor technology took off) is somewhat technologically inferior to the third gen bots (created in the 90's and oughts). Older Motorbots might recognize some of the first gen and might have fought alongside them in some old battles but assumed they were killed years ago, giving them a mystery to solve and a personal stake in things. A third-gen once discovered might laugh at a Motorbot trapped in a 25 year old body form. Many of the newer gen bots have no knowledge of the homeworld and no attachment to it - they are earth natives and this is home. The primary motivation for them is either knowledge (like their creator) or power (a side effect of their combat orientation) - some of the more common villain motivations like money or women or fame do not really apply to them. Not all of them have to be thrilled about the low profile policy of G-tron either, and may long for openness, especially in a world of supers.

To try and wrap this up I don't see this necessarily as a complete campaign unless all of your players want to play giant robots. I see it more as one possible story arc within a Supers campaign set primarily on modern or near-future (or near-past for that matter) earth. The player characters would encounter a transforming robot (probably a D-tron committing a crime of some kind), start looking for more of them, find more of them (probably the Motorbots as much of the D-trons are using native earth tech and harder to detect) leading to conflict (either through mistaken identity or interference with a mission) and more investigation of who and when and what and possibly taking sides. You also could flip it around and have Gigatronic asking for help to stop these alien assassins sent to kill him, especially if he has had positive contact with the heroes previously in the campaign.

Anyway there are a lot of possibilities here for several sessions of campaigning and then it could be resolved and the campaign could move on. For a future appearance using some old friends from this run there are possibilities as well. Who were the Formshifters fighting out there? Maybe one day it's time to find out.

One more thing:

Maximus Alpha, Leader of the Motorbots for ICONS

Prowess: 8 (Amazing) He is a combat veteran and hand to hand is his thing
Coordination: 6 (Remarkable) For such a big bot he is surprisingly agile, even graceful 
Strength: 8 (Amazing) He is the strongest of the Motorbots
Intellect: 6 (Remarkable) Not a genius but not easily outwitted either 
Awareness: 5 (Excellent) Years of experience mean he's canny and difficult to surprise
Willpower: 9 (Monstrous) His indomitable will is perhaps his defining characteristic, even more than his size and strength

Stamina: 17
Determination: 1

Origin: Unearthly (+2 to two stats)

Specialties: Leadership (Expert, +2), Military

Blast - 5 (Excellent) - Big Motorbot energy pistol. He prefers fists anyway.
Life Support - 4  (Good) - No breathing, no pathogens, no toxins, immune to vacuum
Invulnerability - 5 (Excellent) - It takes a fairly big gun or a fairly strong robot to hurt him, but he's not truly invulnerable
Transformation -8 (Amazing) 18-Wheeler from the 1980's, one particular form only! (Effective Super-Speed of 4 in this form)

"Ultimate Leader" - Maximus can, has, and will again sacrifice everything to complete his mission but he does have a moral code and would not consider blowing up the earth as an effective solution to his problem. His preferred solution would be to engage his enemy in one on one combat and beat him, settling the issue once and for all.

"Stubbornly Curious" - Though he does have a mission to complete, earth is his first extended exposure to alien life and despite his instincts he is almost insatiably curious about humans, their society, and their history and culture.  

"Glory-Hogging Martyr" - despite his hi-tech nature Maximus sees hand to hand combat as the ultimate expression of a warrior. He knows he's a badass and seeks to prove it in almost every confrontation. He leads from the front and heads for the biggest enemy target. Even if he is aware the enemy is trying to trap him he sometimes charges in anyway, confident he can take their best shot and still come out on top. He is more than happy to sacrifice his body or even himself if he thinks it will save his people or complete his mission. This has not always worked out well in the past and some of his followers cringe when it's brought up but he cannot be dissuaded from this approach - it's just part of his personality. 

"Giant Alien Robot that Looks Like a Truck " - He's about 25 feet tall in robot form and looks like an 18-Wheeler from 25 years ago in the other. Both of these can cause problems and frequently do. 

Maximus is pretty high powered at 68 points but he sets the upper limits for the Motorbots. Most of his followers would run in the 6-7 range for physical stats and the 4-6 range for mental. Gigatronic would have similar physical stats to Maximus but would flip the Intellect and Willpower scores. D-Trons would have higher physical stats and more combat powers but lower mental stats.  All Formshifters would have similar levels of Life Support and Transformation, with the D-Trons actually being a Transformation 9 due to their use of actual earth tech parts. 

Never know who you'll run into at these parties