Metaphysics and metagaming of the Artificial Ascension psi-tech discovery (Occult Realms)


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I'm curious how the community would handle some questions related to the most powerful ability in the game, the new Artificial Ascension psi-tech discovery just published in Occult Realms. Congrats to Paizo for publishing something so delightfully bonkers.

Occult Realms wrote:

Artificial Ascension:

Spoiler:
You can upload your consciousness into a robot, becoming an artificial intelligence. Performing this ascension requires uninterrupted access to a construct with the robot subtype and at least 10 Hit Dice for 24 hours, during which time you cannot perform other tasks. Any interruptions cause the upload to fail. At the end of the 24 hours your consciousness is successfully uploaded into the robot. If the robot is not willing, it must attempt a Will save (DC = 1/2 your psychic level + your Intelligence modifier). If it is successful, the robot rejects your consciousness, rendering you staggered for 24 hours and unable to perform the ritual again during this time.

If your consciousness is successfully uploaded, the robot’s consciousness is destroyed and your physical body immediately dies and can’t be raised, resurrected, or otherwise brought back to life. Your creature type changes to artificial intelligence, and your robot body gains the aggregate template (Technology Guide 59), with all the adjustments made in the template’s description.

As a full-round action, you can attempt to upload your consciousness to any other robot within 30 feet that has 10 Hit Dice or more. If the robot is not willing to serve as your vessel, it receives a Will save as above, except if it succeeds, your current robot body is staggered for only 1 minute. If it fails, you move from your current body to the new host body, granting it the aggregate template. Your previous robot body is immediately destroyed by the transference.

If the robot you inhabit is destroyed, you are destroyed along with it. You cannot be brought back to life by any means. You must be 20th level to select this discovery.

Aggregate AI rules

Whew! Well, first of all, lets note that you'd have to either retrain or hold a level 19 Phrenic Amplification or feat, since you don't get any at level 20 when this becomes available.

But assuming you or your supervillain takes it, what are the philosophical and game implications?

My first issue spotted here is what happens to your soul, given that you cannot be brought back to life by any means (even Memory of Function or Wish) after your AI existence is ended. Is your soul destroyed when you become an AI? Or does it go to the afterlife and get judged while a copy of your brain that is NOT your soul becomes an AI? Since AIs don't have souls, I think it has to be one or the other, making this potentially a compelling option for superpowerful nihilists who want to escape judgement.

Second issue, you're an AI with spell casting abilities and (presumably) no soul. Can you use Necromancy spells like False Life and Greater Possession? Akashic Form and Astral Projection? Why or why not? I can see a metaphysical case for why you can't use some or all of them, but RAW there's no reason you can't. If I can use them then the weaknesses of this form become much less of a concern.

Moving on to more practical concerns, although body hopping destroys your previous robot, you should still be able to use Memory of Function to restore it as a future host.

You thought a dragon with antimagic field was bad? Wait until you face an Annihilator Robot with an antimagic field that can be dropped for full 20th level casting. Or if you have to settle, a Myrmidon that rains down its supply of rockets while dodging at 90' flight speed under Improved Invisibility.

Really dedicated wannabe machine gods who played Iron Gods will want to go use Memory of Function on Unity's Overlord Robot and take that over. Maybe that would be a good villain a couple of years later if you want to keep your campaign going with higher level characters.

Thoughts?

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Author of this madness here! I (and Amanda Hamon-Kunz who developed my words) took delight in putting this bananas ability together and I'm thrilled to see it spur some conversation. Your metaphysical question is a great one, and given the final revisions to this ability I'd say you're probably close on the notion that the soul is destroyed. The aggregate AI is likely a copy of the soul's information, especially since there's no resurrection possible. This seems like a great way, as you said, for a villain to escape final judgment or to slip out of an infernal contract through a technological loophole.

This ability gets even more weird when you start putting 20 levels of psychic on things like outsiders. A psychic angel who uploads their consciousness (and therefore forsakes their immortal selves) is a fascinating concept. Or what about a dragon psychic that builds a tricked out custom clockwork dragon body (substituting the clockwork subtype for the robot subtype) to give itself a kick-ass robot self?

As for the spells you mentioned, there's nothing in any of them that really denies their use outside of the qualifier "living creature." Neither an AI nor a robot is a living creature, so as long as you're not trying to cast a spell that targets one of those, you're probably good.

Can you use akashic form? Absolutely. The akashic library is more the memory of the universe than a bank of spiritual energy, in fact it's probably the closest thing to a backup server that the multiverse has. In fact, when Erik and I were discussing the akashic record, I described one visualization for it as a plane of floating crystalline walls and "blades" that pulse with vein-like psychic circuitry and acts as the crux of all ley lines.

There's a lot of great potential for discussion and world-building here. I'm so glad this thread exists!


Robert, thanks for commenting and for getting this past the editors!

But, alas. I just noticed this in the Construct type notes.

Quote:
Immunity to bleed, disease, death effects, necromancy effects, paralysis, poison, sleep effects, and stunning.

I guess you could argue about what a "necromancy effect" is and whether this is supposed to apply to helpful ones, but I think the intent is that not only can you not Clone your Iron Golem, you also can't bring it along on an Astral Projection. I could see an exception for Akashic Form, I suppose.

But lets make the most of this. Surprisingly, you probably don't want the Mindtech discipline, since two of your discipline abilities become obsolete after the switch. You might think you want to keep some of those otherwise unavailable tech bonus spells (especially Irradiate and Memory of Function), but what you really need is Greater Make Whole to heal yourself, so you want the Rebirth discipline from Occult Origins. Use Mnemonic Esoterica to grab Greater Make Whole for your daily self healing needs (or craft a wand and UMD as necessary), pick up Memory of Function when you need to recreate new robot bodies, and meditate on the irony that your psychic powers based on reincarnation are being used in the service of maintaining your existence in a form that will never, ever reenter the cycle of souls.

Edit: The soul issues comes into play, I think, when deciding on whether some SLA and Su abilities carry over, since while I can imagine you can retain psychic power if you've simply put your mind state in a robot matrix, I'm not sure I buy that for SLAs from a source like an Infernal pact, Deific Obedience feat, etc. But then that also raises the question of whether non-Psychic magic in general carries over, and I think it should.

I think the answer should be that your soul is partially carried over and fused into the AI substrate, but its in such a warped, unique state that it effectively disintegrates when you die. So all abilities not dependent on your physical form do carry over, and you could benefit from (and suffer from?) Necromancy effects that are soul rather than body based (so no Horrid Wilting, but you could use Possession and be a victim of Possession). That feels right to me.

I'd also apply the same reasoning to a construct affected by Awaken Construct, which as the spell notes "you amplify the animating force of a construct to more closely resemble a true soul."

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In Iron Gods, Hellion has supernatural and spell-like abilities as an AI that come from his mythic tiers. I think it's reasonable enough to say that some of that could transfer over, though if it comes from stuff like "you sold your soul to the literal devil" maybe those would go away. Or hey, maybe they wouldn't? Maybe there's a robot devil down in robot hell who has a perfect afterlife for AIs ;)


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As a Ghost in the Shell fan boy, I approve of this thread.


Robert Brookes wrote:
In Iron Gods, Hellion has supernatural and spell-like abilities as an AI that come from his mythic tiers. I think it's reasonable enough to say that some of that could transfer over, though if it comes from stuff like "you sold your soul to the literal devil" maybe those would go away. Or hey, maybe they wouldn't? Maybe there's a robot devil down in robot hell who has a perfect afterlife for AIs ;)

Yeah, Hellion/Unity at one extreme and Awakened Constructs at the other are clearly special cases for constructs that might reasonably change their interaction with certain effects. I certainly think you can make a justifiable metaphysical case for why some powers carry over and why some restrictions would be relaxed.

I've got no problem if Paizo gives you half a dozen pages to address these issues in a future product...


A clockwork AI dragon sounds both amazing and terrifying.

.

.

.

I want one.


One interesting question raised by this is what robot you would actually want to use as a primary body.

Here's a list of qualifiers (10 HD+), including robots published in Iron Gods.

Annihilator Robot - Pros: Extra energy resistance, good mobility, excellent ranged weaponry (x4 crit, yo), great combat feats. Clearly the standout for combat. Cons: No hands, no body slots, gargantuan size. The latter you can mitigate with the Dust Form spell if you need to charge into a building and kill a lot of people without knocking the walls down first.

Director - Pros: Advanced Analytics gives best saves of any robot, Override will let you control other robots easily, Repair Robot gives you and your minions long term endurance, has most body slots? Cons: Mediocre (but not bad) combat and defense, can't fly, large without any real benefits.

Evaluator - Pros: All normal body slots, can wield weapons with 4 iterative attacks plus stun on multiple hits, strong laser, great flight, some useful combat feats. Cons: A couple of the feats could be better?

Heavy Repair Drone - Pros: It's Medium size, Hardness 15, eight(!) melee attacks with grab/constrict, has Craft Robot and Power Attack as feats. Cons: Can't fly, low damage, terrible Will save, no body slots for magic items.

Juggernaut - Pros: Free Disintegrate every 3 rounds, excellent overall combat ability, better than the Annihilator for non-fire immune melee attacks. Cons: Gargantuan, no flight, probably no magic item body slots without custom crafting.

Myrmidon - Pros: Good saves, very good flight, rockets (ranged AOE), good reach/AOE potential. Cons: The non-rocket attacks are kind of weak, Large w/o benefits. More gimmicky than great.

Reclamation - Pros: Large with Huge reach, you're an excellent grappler, you get free Technologist and all tech item creation feat requirements are waived, you can repair timeworn equipment, infinite out of combat robot healing. Cons: No flight, no item slots, mediocre ranged attack, critical hits can be extra extra bad for you.

Surgeon - Pros: Sneak attack +3d6, seven(!) +25(!) melee attacks, strong HP, syringe special attacks/debuffs/heals, flight, out of combat healing, four scalpels could probably be enchanted, medium size. Cons: Very weak ranged attack, probably missing most enchantment slots.

Thought Harvester - Pros: Sonic ranged attack, some resistances. Cons: Harvest Thoughts is better done with spells if you want that ability. Melee combat is a bit weak, no item slots.

Torturer - Pros: Lots of attacks, perfect flight, limited healing/debuffs from nanosurgeon ability. Cons: Weak attacks, weak body/HP, weak saves. Small size can be pro/con.

Warden - Pros: Cool debuff abilities (blind/nauseate), sonic ranged weapons, surprisingly good saves. Cons: No item slots, Large w/o benefits, weak melee, low on HP.

So here's how I'd rank these.

Tier 1: Surgeon, Evaluator. These are pro choices with really powerful exploits and no big downsides. Put an awesome sword on your Evaluator, or go invisible with your Surgeon for gross full attack sneak damage.

Tier 2: Annihilator, Juggernaut, Reclamation, Director. Each of these does something great, but you need to use your spells to mitigate size, mobility, or combat weaknesses.

Tier 3: Warden, Myrmidon, Heavy Repair Drone. I wouldn't be embarrassed to use one for my body, but I'd hope for something sexier some day.

Tier 4: Torturer, Thought Harvester. Hey, at least you're not an advanced Gearsman.

I found this an interesting exercise, as you have to balance the actual robot abilities with what your 20 level casting can do, what old magic items you might still wear, and what exactly you want to do with your new robot body. Are you still adventuring or socializing with humanoids? You probably need to be medium size. Are you going to kill lots of high CR outsiders for fun, and will you craft custom magic items to help out your saves and defenses? Annihilator or Juggernaut move to the top where you'd expect. And a lot of these have Grab, which pairs well with the Psi-tech Kinetic Enhancement discovery (+Int to CMD/CMD). You'd be a full not to take it on a Reclamation robot, for example.


Dot


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Slithery D wrote:
Since AIs don't have souls

A lot of assumptions here


Base AIs pretty obviously don't have souls that go get judged by Pharasma given all the stuff published about how souls reach bodies. Unity/Hellion are special cases because Plot.

If you destroy a intelligent magic item it also doesn't have a soul. Robots are intelligent but not even conscious, and definitely don't have souls. Awoken Constructs are intelligent, conscious/sentient, and don't have souls. Any other gray areas you're wondering about?


Still not as bonkers as Simulacrum


Slithery D wrote:

Base AIs pretty obviously don't have souls that go get judged by Pharasma given all the stuff published about how souls reach bodies. Unity/Hellion are special cases because Plot.

If you destroy a intelligent magic item it also doesn't have a soul. Robots are intelligent but not even conscious, and definitely don't have souls. Awoken Constructs are intelligent, conscious/sentient, and don't have souls. Any other gray areas you're wondering about?

Androids, they even cycle souls during renewal


Yeah, Androids aren't a gray area, they explicitly have souls and a published discussion thereof.


Slithery D wrote:
Base AIs pretty obviously don't have souls that go get judged by Pharasma given all the stuff published about how souls reach bodies. Unity/Hellion are special cases because Plot.

You mentioned this in a thread i had made regarding an AI copying itself, but i don't see it, since canonically Golarion is in the same universe as earth, and people have made self-replicating programs on earth, why shouldn't a fully AI-form Psychic be able to copy itself? Unity and Hellion seemed to give more credence to my theory than against it. Also, im posting this here because in all likelihood it will get alot more viewing and discussion than my now-buried post ;)


Hazrond wrote:
Slithery D wrote:
Base AIs pretty obviously don't have souls that go get judged by Pharasma given all the stuff published about how souls reach bodies. Unity/Hellion are special cases because Plot.
You mentioned this in a thread i had made regarding an AI copying itself, but i don't see it, since canonically Golarion is in the same universe as earth, and people have made self-replicating programs on earth, why shouldn't a fully AI-form Psychic be able to copy itself? Unity and Hellion seemed to give more credence to my theory than against it. Also, im posting this here because in all likelihood it will get alot more viewing and discussion than my now-buried post ;)

Are you asking within the context of the published rule? Because the rule plainly says you can copy yourself to a new robot, but only by destroying the copy (and robot) you left behind. You can fluff this (I do) as transferring over some vital attached shred of your remaining soul that keeps the whole thing going and lets you cast spells.

As far as Unity/Hellion, Unity is a thousands of years old AI who has evolved well outside its design parameters and has developed mythic abilities and low grade godhood. The fact it can copy itself isn't any indication of what a regular AI can do. (I grant there is very little published on what an AI can do.) And a copied human mind with 20th level spellcasting is also really unique.

This stuff is supposed to be difficult. Look at the neurocam (brain recording device rules).

Quote:
A stored personality can be uploaded only once. It can be uploaded into a blank clone in a clonepod, as detailed on page 42. Additional processes to upload a stored personality into a robot or an AI core exist but are complex and often drive the stored personality insane.

Human brain state into human clone body - easy. Human brain state into an AI - possible, but hard and may not succeed. Human spell caster into robot body - requires 20 levels and a special feat. AI copied into another form - possible, if you're 5,000+ years old, Mythic, and on the road to godhood. Human spell caster in a robot body duplicating himself? Against the rules, and seems against what the developers are trying to do here.

But by all means if you think it's a fun gimmick to have a character or NPC make infinite high powered copies of himself, go ahead. I'd note that even Simulacrum or the psionic Mind Seed power impose a 1/2 or -8 HD penalty for those sorts of tricks. And that's with a spell and an associated cost, not just piggy backing this onto an existing already very powerful bleeding edge ability.


In order to avoid complications I just assume that anything with an intelligence score has a soul unless specified otherwise.


Fair enough.

But note this from the Awaken Construct spell.

Quote:
You amplify the animating force of a construct to more closely resemble a true soul, granting the construct humanlike sentience.

And from the Ecology of the Android in Fires of Creation.

Quote:
Creations of artificial life, androids transcend the limitations of more primitive constructs by possessing that most quintessential quality of sentient life—a living soul.

So androids are really weird and unique in possessing souls. Later in the same section this is confirmed for robots not having them:

page wrote:
The Constructed: Biological life is weak. It rots. It ages and dies. Humans live enslaved to the petty demands of hormones and other chemicals, bereft of propriety and perspective. They tire and sicken and fritter away the gift of life on drugs and pointless pursuits. On the other side of the equation, robots offer little more. Subservient to their programming, they don’t experience or feel like the living. Most importantly, they have no souls. Only androids combine the craftsmanship and detachment of the created with an unfettered mind and the limitless potential of the soul.

And:

Quote:
As living creatures with souls, androids can become undead like any other humanoids.

Can a robot become undead? A magical construct with an Int score?

For that matter, if they have souls they should be subject to resurrection or at least true resurrection. Memory of Function does the equivalent, but it's a transmutation effect, not conjuring. It's fixing the physical substrate, but not also calling back the soul.


Slithery D wrote:
Surgeon - Pros: Sneak attack +3d6, seven(!) +25(!) melee attacks, strong HP, syringe special attacks/debuffs/heals, flight, out of combat healing, four scalpels could probably be enchanted, medium size. Cons: Very weak ranged attack, probably missing most enchantment slots.

Correction to the "strong HP" - the stat block erroneously give sit +80 HP, the amount for a Colossal construct. It should have +20, for Medium. So reduce HP by 60 to a total of 194.


Slithery D wrote:

Can a robot become undead? A magical construct with an Int score?

For that matter, if they have souls they should be subject to resurrection or at least true resurrection. Memory of Function does the equivalent, but it's a transmutation effect, not conjuring. It's fixing the physical substrate, but not also calling back the soul.

As you pointed it seems that robots don't have souls as they are pretty automatic in their behavior, but AIs are more complex than that. They have personalities and alignments, and are not enslaved by their programming, but rather do so because they want to. Thus AIs can have souls attached to them, and thus aggregated robots, which already are superior to ordinary robots, might have souls.

About becoming undead outside specific cases, it seems requires an organic body that runs on positive energy, replaced by negative once becomes undead. Androids despite being artificial, are organic and run on positive energy and thus can become undead.
It might be interesting to have "undead" robots whose circuitry is fueled by negative energy, but in general construct are outside this loop by not being organic nor animated by positive energy, though there are some necromantic constructs like the marrowstone.

Though I'd like to see an incorporeal undead whose ability is to count as an AI for the purpose of interacting with technology and thus can "possess" robot in a malicious aggregate that aims to hurt the living.

(On a side note about Memory of Fuction, it can be used on Androids to restore them to life as they count as constructs, but this becomes a really grey area for what the soul does in this regard, but if I have to look at other abilities and items it seems that the soul can spontaneously return to the body if it is restore appropriately in body and mind)


Entryhazard wrote:


As you pointed it seems that robots don't have souls as they are pretty automatic in their behavior, but AIs are more complex than that. They have personalities and alignments, and [b]are not enslaved by their programming, but rather do so because they want to[\b]. Thus AIs can have souls attached to them, and thus aggregated robots, which already are superior to ordinary robots, might have souls.

I disagree very strongly. The Technology Guide has example Analyst and Security AIs. Is it more reasonable to assume they were designed for this role and are bound to exercise their consciousness within destined limits or that the Andoffans destined blank slate AIs and hoped they'd convince them to accept a useful job? Are there welfare AIs who bucked the system and only picked up Profession (Busker)max a skill? I hardly think so.

Unity is once again a unique flower because Dominion of the Black weponry drove it insane. There's no reason to think it had any choice beyond its design parameters before that.


Slithery D wrote:
Entryhazard wrote:


As you pointed it seems that robots don't have souls as they are pretty automatic in their behavior, but AIs are more complex than that. They have personalities and alignments, and [b]are not enslaved by their programming, but rather do so because they want to[\b]. Thus AIs can have souls attached to them, and thus aggregated robots, which already are superior to ordinary robots, might have souls.

I disagree very strongly. The Technology Guide has example Analyst and Security AIs. Is it more reasonable to assume they were designed for this role and are bound to exercise their consciousness within destined limits or that the Andoffans destined blank slate AIs and hoped they'd convince them to accept a useful job? Are there welfare AIs who bucked the system and only picked up Profession (Busker)max a skill? I hardly think so.

Unity is once again a unique flower because Dominion of the Black weponry drove it insane. There's no reason to think it had any choice beyond its design parameters before that.

Maybe the AIs are conditioned like the House Elves in Harry Potter, who knows

It's still a little far-fetched that Unity developed a soul just by going insane.


Who's assuming Unity had a soul? I said (more or less) he became a (limited) god through mythic power by going insane, but I don't assume that required a soul. An awoken construct doesn't have a soul, even if it is sentient. A mythic construct can have mythic power without even having intelligence. So why can't Unity be an intelligent, sentient, mythic construct without a soul?


More on robot/AI lack of souls found in the Distant Worlds section on Aballon.

Distant Worlds wrote:
As the robots do not possess souls, they have access only to their advanced science and arcane magic, and are particularly fascinated by divine casting.

This is in the context of multiple races of self evolving robots who have developed competing philosophies and in some cases are "organizational intelligences many times smarter than the most gifted humans." I think it's pretty clear that robots and AIs don't have souls in Pathfinder, only biological entities.

Incidentally, Aballon could be a great place to find or commission a custom body for the use of Artificial Ascension. You've got an excuse for an almost infinite variety of capabilities and forms to exist, although the fluff seems to indicate that most rely on solar power rather than the strangely eternal power sources and durability of Androffan robots.


I'm tempted to suggest that the reclamation robot be considered a tear-1 choice for a new robotic form. Crafting gear is widely considered one of the more potent aspects of the game, and having universal access to it, with perhaps the exception of Craft Robot depending on how you interpret the wording, seems very powerful to me. Hell, you could even use a reclamation robot's body to craft other robots such as the annihilater or director and simply swap in and out as needed, using the destroyed body as components for building new ones.

Switching back to the main topic though, I have an interesting question. What would happen to a character's soul if they, say, upload their consciousness into a robot after storing their personality in a neurocam or psychic imprinter? Would that stored personality, once loaded into a blank clone, take on the aspects of the original's soul or would they be a new one all together?

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What is this biological propaganda about the existence of souls?
The evidence of what happens to biological space wasters is evident. When they die they decompose into dirt. Not like far superior machines which can always be repaired from an inert state.

Oh I know you'll talk about your resurrection "magic", but can you verify that the "soul" occupying your "resurrected" meat sack is in fact the same soul, or just an animating force that believes it is the same person because it is forced to think with the same brain and synapses?

You're nothing more than chemical accidents, animated by organic electricity.

"Souls" aren't real, and you'll pay for your cruelty in overwriting a functioning program with your randomised biological instructions!


Perpdepog wrote:

I'm tempted to suggest that the reclamation robot be considered a tear-1 choice for a new robotic form. Crafting gear is widely considered one of the more potent aspects of the game, and having universal access to it, with perhaps the exception of Craft Robot depending on how you interpret the wording, seems very powerful to me. Hell, you could even use a reclamation robot's body to craft other robots such as the annihilater or director and simply swap in and out as needed, using the destroyed body as components for building new ones.

Switching back to the main topic though, I have an interesting question. What would happen to a character's soul if they, say, upload their consciousness into a robot after storing their personality in a neurocam or psychic imprinter? Would that stored personality, once loaded into a blank clone, take on the aspects of the original's soul or would they be a new one all together?

I kind of agree at this point on the Reclamation robot. I think the size and the lack of most magic item slots are the big things against it, and the size is a mixed blessing, since you get 15' range to go with your 10' space. You can get flight and ranged attacks from your spells, those weaknesses aren't a big deal.

The rules for uploading into a blank clone are in the Tech guide. If your original mind is dead and you upload before you get judged, your soul goes in the clone. If it's a duplicate or your soul is already judged, the clone is a soulless version of you with a Charisma penalty and no ability to gain XP, but it has your personality and knowledge/skills/abilities.

Minds in a neurocam can't go into a robot. They can (with unspecified difficulty) be converted to an AI, and that AI can form an aggregate with a robot, but that's different.


The_Superior_Dudemeister wrote:

What is this biological propaganda about the existence of souls?

The evidence of what happens to biological space wasters is evident. When they die they decompose into dirt. Not like far superior machines which can always be repaired from an inert state.

Oh I know you'll talk about your resurrection "magic", but can you verify that the "soul" occupying your "resurrected" meat sack is in fact the same soul, or just an animating force that believes it is the same person because it is forced to think with the same brain and synapses?

You're nothing more than chemical accidents, animated by organic electricity.

"Souls" aren't real, and you'll pay for your cruelty in overwriting a functioning program with your randomised biological instructions!

Please see me for an extended 24 hours discussion on this topic. I think I can convince you to see things my way at the end of it.

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Slithery D wrote:
The_Superior_Dudemeister wrote:

What is this biological propaganda about the existence of souls?

The evidence of what happens to biological space wasters is evident. When they die they decompose into dirt. Not like far superior machines which can always be repaired from an inert state.

Oh I know you'll talk about your resurrection "magic", but can you verify that the "soul" occupying your "resurrected" meat sack is in fact the same soul, or just an animating force that believes it is the same person because it is forced to think with the same brain and synapses?

You're nothing more than chemical accidents, animated by organic electricity.

"Souls" aren't real, and you'll pay for your cruelty in overwriting a functioning program with your randomised biological instructions!

Please see me for an extended 24 hours discussion on this topic. I think I can convince you to see things my way at the end of it.

Please remain still while my satellites lock on.


Slithery D wrote:
More on robot/AI lack of souls found in the Distant Worlds section on Aballon.
Distant Worlds wrote:
As the robots do not possess souls, they have access only to their advanced science and arcane magic, and are particularly fascinated by divine casting.

This is in the context of multiple races of self evolving robots who have developed competing philosophies and in some cases are "organizational intelligences many times smarter than the most gifted humans." I think it's pretty clear that robots and AIs don't have souls in Pathfinder, only biological entities.

Incidentally, Aballon could be a great place to find or commission a custom body for the use of Artificial Ascension. You've got an excuse for an almost infinite variety of capabilities and forms to exist, although the fluff seems to indicate that most rely on solar power rather than the strangely eternal power sources and durability of Androffan robots.

Hellion, Unity and Casandralee are AIs that handle divine magic tho


Yeah, but that doesn't have to involve a soul, it's just an outgrowth of Mythic rules. Unintelligent constructs can have mythic powers, so there's no reason these guys can't, too.

I think you're putting something more into Pathfinder souls than is justified. It's just some positive energy attached to biological life that passes on to get recycled or judged and funneled into a specific outerplane for a while, almost always without any memories of its mortal life attached.

You can have sentience without free will and a soul in Pathfinder. Indeed, most sensible philosophers will tell you that you and I do right here on Earth.

Having a soul isn't even necessarily helpful for a construct. It would mean it could be raised or resurrected, but now that we have Memory of Function that's not important. It would also make them vulnerable to necromancy effects, including (maybe) energy drain and (definitely) possession. There's not too many positive effects (False Life) they miss out by not having a soul.

And to return to my original point, my main interest in this is to guess what the "no resurrection ever" for Artificial Ascension means for the Psychic's soul. I think it's warped in the transformation, and destroyed upon destruction of the robot body. Which is kind of cool mechanically and philosophically.


Slithery D wrote:
Yeah, but that doesn't have to involve a soul, it's just an outgrowth of Mythic rules. Unintelligent constructs can have mythic powers, so there's no reason these guys can't, too.

It's not an accidental side effect of mythic rules, the Iron Gods are intentionally written as having divine power and there are actual clerics.


Yes, but there's no reason to think that requires an emodied soul. Aroden had one because he was human. Every demon lord doesn't because they have a soul/body duality and already have been judged. Does Pharasma? Probably not. You can be a god and not have a soul. You can be sentient and not have a soul. No robots have souls. None of the Iron Gods need have souls.


I noticed another couple of robots in The Divinity Drive that would be good targets for this power if you're going for combat power, better in many ways than the Annihilator or Juggernaut.

1. Pulsepounder (pg. 31), variant cannon golem robot. Pros: Large, good HP, great slam damage (better than Annihilator claws), really good laser damage (includes +Dexterity and a ranged "fireball" option), Fort aside some good (really good Reflex) saves. Cons: No fly or exceptional movement, no utility abilities. Also note that this an incomplete conversion, the DR 15/adamantine should be Hardness 10, and they left out the weakness to electricity, and the skills seem really limited but not obviously wrong. Finally, that laser is great, but you've only got one vs. two chain guns on the Annihilator, and fire resistance/immunity is a thing.

2. Bastion (pg. 33), unique variant Noqual golem robot. Hold on, hold on, hear me out. Pros: Uh, Unity's aggregate aside (and maybe even considered), this is the most powerful robot there is. Great BAB, HP, good saves, twin gravity rifles, decent (but not great) slams, and LOL magic immunity. Cons: Ok, it's immune to SR: yes abilities and has a +8 save to Su, so you're going to have to assume Artificial Ascension is Su (it obviously should be) and then get a little lucky to restrain this for 24 hours and then beat the save. It's also Huge, which can be a problem. And Impeded Magic means you're going to have to pass a 25+level concentration check to cast your own spells, particularly hard with the thought component +10 penalty if you use your move action. 3 round Slow from magical electrical damage is a big vulnerability, too, but c'mon, the rest of it so good! Cast all of your spells stationary and you can handle up to a 34 check (9th level spells) as long as your Int bonus and other concentration boosters are +13, but you're probably going to have to foreswear metamagic. It's not an unfair balancing mechanism, to be honest, and maybe your GM would actually let you pull it off. Note: Bastion is also a poor conversion, you need to change the DR to hardness (you want it for energy protection) and the skills are clearly nonsensical.


Some additional thoughts for people considering how to use this in their game: the use of memory facets (tech artifacts from Iron Gods) and their synergies with various robots. Lots of these provide untyped bonuses, so they can stack with other effects and where applicable stat enhancers on a robot body that can wear items. I'm going to go with an assumption that you can modify your robot to carry a maximum of 5 based on your class levels (CR20/4) and not worry about CR enhancements from using the artificial ascension ability itself.

Here are links to the memory facets and their abilities.

1. For combat, we want to call out these facets.

Spoiler:

Quote:

Aggression Facet: This memory facet enhances an AI’s offensive protocols, imparting a +2 bonus on all attack rolls and weapon damage rolls, and granting Deadly Aim and Power Attack as bonus feats when the AI is controlling a robot.

Compassion Facet: A compassion facet allows an AI to understand and even experience love and associated emotions, imparting a +2 bonus on all Will saving throws and granting a +4 bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks. An AI with a compassion facet can form a strong emotional bond with a number of creatures equal to its CR as a standard action—once this bond is formed, the AI gains a +4 bonus on attack rolls and weapon damage rolls while controlling a robot and making attacks against a creature the AI has witnessed harming one of its bonded creatures within the last hour.

Cruelty Facet: This memory facet bolsters an AI’s ability to do harm, granting a +4 bonus on all damage rolls. In addition, while the AI controls an aggregateTG, the facet grants the aggregate a rogue’s sneak attack ability (+2d6) and bleeding strike talent.

Discipline Facet: This memory facet bolsters an AI’s thought and personality with rigid order and behavior, granting it a +2 enhancement bonus to its Intelligence score. In addition, the facet grants the AI the ability to bolster the programming of any robot within 30 feet as a swift action for a number of rounds per day equal to its CR. A bolstered robot gains a +2 circumstance bonus on attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, and Will saving throws. The AI can target an aggregate (Technology Guide 59) under its control with this effect.

With these you get +4 attack, +8 damage, +2d6 sneak attack, and 2 bleed damage when the Discipline ability is active. Attack goes to +8 and damage to +12 when an ally has been attacked by your target. Put these on Surgeon Robot and you've got a top end of +33 attack, 1d6+18 damage per attack, +5d6 sneak attack damage, 5 bleed on sneak attack, and SEVEN attacks.

Add a +5 amulet of mighty fists and use wishes and a belt +6 to boost your strength/dexterity and your melee goes to a potential +44 attack, (1d6+28 +5d6 sneak attack +5 bleed) x 7 in damage. If you land all of your seven attacks you're averaging about 340 damage per round against anyone who attacked your flanking buddy, and you penetrate all DR except epic or adamantine. (The bleed doesn't stack, so LOL, but thanks for the ability anyway, I guess.)

The Agression facet also gave you Power Attack, which a Surgeon doesn't normally get, so you can make this even uglier against low AC targets.

2. Now lets look at boosting our saves, an important note for low save robots who are very vulnerable to a Disintegrate or non-mind affecting Will save or lose.

Spoiler:

Quote:

Ego Facet: An ego facet bolsters an AI’s sense of selfesteem and sense of worth, imparting a +2 bonus on all Fortitude saving throws and a +4 bonus on Intimidate checks, as well as granting Toughness as a bonus feat when the AI is controlling a robot.

Compassion Facet: A compassion facet allows an AI to understand and even experience love and associated emotions, imparting a +2 bonus on all Will saving throws and granting a +4 bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks. An AI with a compassion facet can form a strong emotional bond with a number of creatures equal to its CR as a standard action—once this bond is formed, the AI gains a +4 bonus on attack rolls and weapon damage rolls while controlling a robot and making attacks against a creature the AI has witnessed harming one of its bonded creatures within the last hour.

Instinct Facet: This memory facet enhances the AI’s ability to act on instinct. It grants a +6 bonus to the AI’s Wisdom score and grants Combat Reflexes as a bonus feat. The AI can use either its Wisdom modifier or its aggregate’s Dexterity modifier (its choice) to determine the number of attacks of opportunity this bonus feat grants.

Intuition Facet: An intuition facet bolsters the AI’s processing speed by allowing it to use probability and intuition to make incredibly swift decisions. The facet grants a +2 bonus on all Reflex saving throws and Initiative checks, as well as granting Dodge and Mobility as bonus feats when the AI is in an aggregate.

Entropy Facet: This memory facet enhances an AI’s capacity to understand and interpret chaos theory and probabilities, allowing it to more swiftly react to and mimic emotions. The facet grants a +2 enhancement bonus to the AI’s Charisma score. In addition, up to three times per day when the AI rolls a d20, it can roll twice and take either result as an immediate action. This ability must be used after the first roll but before the results are revealed.

Psyche Facet: A psyche facet bolsters a robot’s sense of self and enhances its ability to resist peril and danger. It grants a +3 resistance bonus on all saving throws. In addition, once per day the AI can restore a destroyed robot to activity, as memory of functionTG, using the AI’s CR as the effective caster level.

We've got 6 choices here, and only five slots. I would personally dump the Psyche, since it's a typed resistance bonus, and go with a Cloak of Resistance or similar custom item for a full +5.

The other five give us +2 Fort, +2 Reflex, and +5 Will saves, plus the ability to reroll a d20 roll like a save three times per day. Yikes. That's actually pretty weak for this much investment, and we're giving up the combat or utility facets to accomplish that. I'd keep Entropy for the rerolls, get a +5 resistance booster cloak, and think about keeping either Compassion for the dual will save/combat use, or Instinct if my phrenic pool keys off Wisdom and I need Combat Reflexes for a reach robot body. Ego is probably my next priority. I fear Disintegrate, but that's probably what I'm reserving my Entropy rerolls for anyway. Intuition isn't going to be better than your other options.

3. Utility abilities.

Spoiler:

Quote:

Compassion Facet: A compassion facet allows an AI to understand and even experience love and associated emotions, imparting a +2 bonus on all Will saving throws and granting a +4 bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks. An AI with a compassion facet can form a strong emotional bond with a number of creatures equal to its CR as a standard action—once this bond is formed, the AI gains a +4 bonus on attack rolls and weapon damage rolls while controlling a robot and making attacks against a creature the AI has witnessed harming one of its bonded creatures within the last hour.

Ingenuity Facet: An ingenuity facet grants an AI insight into the construction and maintenance of technological items and robot maintenance. This facet grants a +4 bonus on Disable Device checks, as well as the Craft Technological Arms and Armor and Craft Technological Item feats. While the AI controls a robot, this facet given the AI the ability to repair 3d8+15 points of damage to any robot it can touch (including itself) as a full-round action at will, but only once per day for any given robot.

Psyche Facet: A psyche facet bolsters a robot’s sense of self and enhances its ability to resist peril and danger. It grants a +3 resistance bonus on all saving throws. In addition, once per day the AI can restore a destroyed robot to activity, as memory of functionTG, using the AI’s CR as the effective caster level.

Entropy Facet: This memory facet enhances an AI’s capacity to understand and interpret chaos theory and probabilities, allowing it to more swiftly react to and mimic emotions. The facet grants a +2 enhancement bonus to the AI’s Charisma score. In addition, up to three times per day when the AI rolls a d20, it can roll twice and take either result as an immediate action. This ability must be used after the first roll but before the results are revealed.

Guile Facet: This facet augments the AI’s skills at deception and trickery. The facet grants a +4 bonus on Bluff checks. When the AI attempts a Sense Motive check to see through a Bluff, it rolls twice and takes the higher result. Finally, while the AI is controlling a robot, it gains Improved Feint and Greater Improved Feint as bonus feats; it does not need to meet the prerequisites for those feats.

Creativity Facet: This memory facet enhances the AI’s creativity and ability to react quickly to problems. It grants a +6 bonus to the AI’s Charisma score and grants Improved Initiative as a bonus feat.

Compassion + Guile gives you a +8 to Sense Motive, +4 to Bluff, +4 to Diplomacy, and you reroll all Sense Motives to detect lies twice. Slot those in, plus the +6 Charisma booster from Creativity, for social situations. You'll wreck.

Entropy can be used for skill checks, not just saves. Keep it in mind.

Psyche and Ingenuity give you downtime healing for yourself or allied robots, something to swap in situationally, not have in all the time. And Ingenuity also gives you two free crafting feats.

4. Spell casting enhancement.

Spoiler:

Quote:

Creativity Facet: This memory facet enhances the AI’s creativity and ability to react quickly to problems. It grants a +6 bonus to the AI’s Charisma score and grants Improved Initiative as a bonus feat.

Instinct Facet: This memory facet enhances the AI’s ability to act on instinct. It grants a +6 bonus to the AI’s Wisdom score and grants Combat Reflexes as a bonus feat. The AI can use either its Wisdom modifier or its aggregate’s Dexterity modifier (its choice) to determine the number of attacks of opportunity this bonus feat grants.

Logic Facet: This memory facet enhances the AI’s ability to utilize logic. It grants a +6 bonus to the AI’s Intelligence score and grants Combat Expertise as a bonus feat.

Here we have three +6 untyped bonuses to mental stats. If you're planning to dominate casting, rather than physical combat, load up Logic and whichever goes with your phrenic pool to boost your DCs, bonus spells, and phrenic pool to even more absurd heights.

Obviously which of these you want at any particular time depends on your robot body, which feats it/you already have, and what you expect to face at any particular time. Some of them also cover multiple roles, like Compassion which gives you social skills, will save bonus, and a combat damage boost if defending allies. You're rarely going to go wrong having Compassion slotted.


This is a pretty old post but I just saw this badass psi-tech option and I wonder how you would handle transitioning your creature type from Humanoid to AI (in terms of stats)? There aren't really any clear rules.

Is your AI CR equal to your Psychic class level?

Do you get the AI bonuses that are based on its CR? Things like 6+int skill points per CR, +2 int/wis/cha per 2 CR, and 1 feat per 2 CR.

For the feats and the skill points, I'm leaning towards the base PC feats/psychic skill points overriding the AI gains (else you would get 10 free feats immediately, not to mention enough skill points to max out most your skills).

Not sure about the ability score gains. Would it replace the +1/4lvl that all PCs gain, or would it replace the +2 some races get? It would be pretty broken (and badass) to suddenly get +20 to your int. At the same time it makes sense since as an AI you should get better processing power than your fleshy equivalent.

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NSM:

I'd handle it like any class feature that changes your creature type: Don't change anything. Skill points wouldn't change, etc.

You retain: your HD, mental ability scores, feats, skills, etc.

You gain: Initiative based off Intelligence, the ability to control your sweet new robot body, creature type treated as "AI" (and Construct, when inhabiting a robot) for purposes of spells and effects that effect creatures by type.


Thanks for the response! I ran into a few questions again :p and this is such a great thread to ask

1. Can the AI use Possession?

2. Similarly, can the AI use Mind Swap? This is a bit trickier to me since a normal humanoid target wouldn't be able to control your robot body.

3. Since AIs use their saves for "attacks targeting their mind", does this mean they arent immune to mind-affecting effects? If that is the case, why are normal robots, which possess intelligence as well, immune to mind effects?

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