Just as the Fabricators are the aberrant detritus of advanced construction methods, the Dendrites are remnants of high-technology networking protocols – a physical and logical worm infecting the processors and hardware of broken-down machinery. A distributed tapeworm growing in the corpses of dead and dying planets.
While Fabricators tend to break off from decaying networks and hide, building and programming their own little fiefdoms, Dendrites are essentially the diametric opposite, finding some degree of consciousness in the consensus of hundreds of networked processors. All Dendrite colonies are centered around one or more Axons. An Axon a machine given the burden of processing for the consensus mind of the colony. An Axon is more slave than Overmind, being forced to do the drudge work of helping keep in order the collective thoughts of the distributed Dendrite organism. Axons, too, are replaceable: if destroyed, their processing tasks can be handled by other Dendrites until new Axons can be brought online.
If there is a true heart to the Dendrite collective it is the Imbuer, specialized equipment designed primarily to interface with and usurp machine AI to add other rogue mechanicals to the consensus of their colony. Equipped with an array of manipulator limbs and other interface equipment, the most direct method of control is often for the Dendrite Imbuer to attach to an existing mechanical and either reprogram it to accept instructions from its colony or to simply excise the machine’s processing system and replace it wholesale.
In terms of visual design, I plan for the Dendrites to look somewhat reminiscent of the Machines in the Matrix movies: all tendrils, pincers, black metal restless motion and spidery limbs. Dendrites are more numerous and fragile than their Fabricatos counterparts, more focused on subversion and dominance than the survival of individual members/units.
Gameplay as a Dendrite will focus on preserving and upgrading the Axon, which is less mobile than the Fabricator and has no weapons of its own. However, the nature of the distributed system means that the Dendrite consciousness is harder to kill.
- Imbuers are special-purpose Dendrites tasked with bringing new machines into the consensus. They serve as the host and manufacturer of a nanite swarm that is able to reprogram and re-configure a wide variety of civilian and municipal machines and computer equipment to suit Dendrite needs – they’re able to ‘convert’ enemies. Imbuers can be upgraded with a variety of auras and abilities that are valuable to Dendrite combat operations. Imbuers are highly specialized equipment, and deemed vital to the Dendrite cause. The loss of an Imbuer is a major setback to Dendrite operations.
- Assemblers are general purpose construction machines, that serve as mobile manufacturing for roving Dendrite swarms. Assemblers are not factories in a traditional sense, and reconfigure their own components to perform specialized functions. That is, Assemblers physically assemble themselves into Dendrite units or structures. Thus, the Assembler is the literal building block upon which Dendrite-driven tech is built.
- Concussors are the soldier ants of a Dendrite hive. They use sonic shockwaves to shake apart enemies. The generators used to emit these concussive blasts are Energy-intensive, and a Concussor’s damage decreases as its Energy is spent.
Dendrites Units – Tier 1
- Currents are the only unit produced directly by Assemblers. They are temporary units, and expire after a brief life. Their HP and damage are phenomenal for their cost, and they make an excellent damage sink. Currents are also immune to damage from electric-based weapons like the Ram’s Cascade Inhibitor. Currents can also be used to power up some Dendrites units and abilities: for instance, Reclaimers harvest resources more quickly for each nearby Current.
- The Receptor is the harvester unit for the Dendrites. They do not need to drop off resources at a storage facility, and simply harvest continually in-place. Upgrades can allow them to attack enemy units and move more quickly. Receptors have little tactical value and are mostly a liability that must be defended. However, Receptors do have the ability to temporarily scramble the electronics of attacking units, rendering them disabled for a brief period. It’s scarcely enough to defend itself, but this System Scrambler synergizes well with many other Dendrite units and abilities.
- Needlers are a specialized Dendrite anti-armor unit. They are slow and fragile, but have incredible attack range and do tremendous damage to hardened targets. They are also the primary anti-air unit in the Dendrite’s arsenal.
- Harbingers are a combined scout and harassment unit. They have a fast fire rate, making swarms of Harbingers deadly, but they do so little damage per shot that hardened targets can shrug them off with relative ease. Harbingers can only attack ground targets.
- Consensus Buffer
- Consensus Repeater
- Recycling Center
- Surveillance Circuit
- Quantum Core
- Nanotech Core
- Dampener Core
- Current Core
- Warden Core
Tier 2 Units – Nanotech
- Glial Dendrite
Tier 2 Units – Quantum
- Suppressor Dendrite