Aight, round two!!
1 - added physical characteristics for viterbi, as well as for the Catastrophic Behavior scythes and the ROVA shield. Added descriptors to Trellis Code (by the way, for anyone who wants to know what a trellis code grid actually looks like: clicky!).
2 - edited Equivalence Class: four possible deletion points at which viterbi/space is invisible - by altering reality rather than because of any effect to the other individual. viterbi is only invisible when standing exactly on top of the "deleted" points, and can't move off of them or he becomes visible (including while running between two invisible points).
3 - added grapple effect/physical presence to Path Metric, so it is now 100% avoidable for my poor enemies that I 100% did not intend to bunny, but I done messed up.
4 - clarified both Parity Check and Puncturing: added telltales/avoidance abilities, removed (hopefully!) all traces of bunnying, and explicitly explained the capabilities and limitations of both abilities in terms of exactly what they can and can't change.
5 - clarified Survival Probability (added implication of flavor text rather than literal dice-rolling during roleplay, tempered the extremes for rolling equal dice or dice with difference of 5, and clarified that the dice/effect resets every time viterbi takes any damage at all, whatsoever).
Note: I had to edit this changelog a lot because for some reason Battleon kept blocking me from the website (evidently I entered some word or phrase that triggered a problem with MySQL, according to the error message...hmm. very strange). Anyhow, hopefully it is typo-free and intelligible!
Hopefully I got everything at the moment! Without further ado, I present round two...
Name / Title
viterbi04 (goes by viterbi, or veebee)
Robot turned elemental…?
Appearance (Build, hair, skin, clothes, etc.)
About three feet high. Humanoid form, constantly appears to be sizzling with electricity and looks as though it is made of energy (but the sizzling doesn’t hurt and is purely visual). Has huge, pupil-less white eyes and a tiny, round mouth that never moves; no nose to speak of, nor fingers or toes. Markings as though it used to be made of metal, complete with joints and parts. viterbi is convinced it’s a “he” despite being a robot elemental, and constantly says “Veebee, Veebee”, when it is not spitting out a long sequence of what appears to be garbled “one” and “zero”. viterbi’s durability, endurance, strength, and dexterity is what one would expect of an adult human shrunken to the size of a child. Its intelligence is a little harder to quantify, because it is socially incredibly daft but intellectually quite smart - much like an electrical engineer.
If you attempt to touch viterbi, you will find that, rather than being intangible - as it looks - it feels a little bit like jelly, with a strange gelatinous sense of resistance and then sudden give. However, it is as easy to hurt and cut into viterbi as it would be to injure a human, so for all intents and purposes, in the battlefield one can assume that his “body” takes damage in the same amounts and ways a human would.
Equipment (Armor, Weapons, etc.)
viterbi grows a pair of glowing appendages shaped like huge scythes, one flickering with 1s and the other with 0s. These cut like normal blades and are quite sharp; their only special ability is that they are a part of viterbi, and hence cannot be dropped. If viterbi is disarmed, they instead “glitch”, disappearing for several seconds before viterbi can re-arm itself. While their official name is Catastrophic Behavior, viterbi has nicknamed them One and Zero, for obvious reasons. However, for less obvious reasons, the blade with the 0s is One, and the blade with the 1s is Zero. (viterbi is, after all, in the business of correcting errors.)
The scythes, like viterbi, look inanimate; however, if you were to connect with them, they would feel exactly like normal steel; they simply look different, and are sharpened to a deadly keen. The only difference is that when disarmed, rather than falling to the ground they glitch, meaning viterbi can resummon them after several seconds rather than having to run somewhere to retrieve them; however, they can certainly be nicked and damaged, just like any other weapon. The scythes’ blades are about two feet in length, and the handles extend about one foot from viterbi’s “hands”.
viterbi wields a small shield on the back of each wrist extending towards its elbows. Each shield is a half-circle, and together they make a full circle about two feet in diameter. Unknown to viterbi’s attackers, the back of the shield reels off a list of probabilities of damage and likelihood of survival (you might know when it is occurring if it screams “MAXIMUM LIST LENGTH”, the only non-1s and 0s sequence viterbi knows besides Veebee, Veebee). The two shields can form together into one shield, if viterbi dismisses Catastrophic Behavior; as one unit, this shield is called ROVA. When the shields are separated, viterbi seems to refer to one as RO and the other as VA, which is definitely not what its makers intended, but who’s to say what goes on in the minds of robots? They are, after all, only artificially intelligent - and, as mentioned, created by electrical engineers, who, if perhaps logical, are never normal.
Again, the shields, though appearing elemental and incorporeal to the eye, act like normal steel when hit. When disarmed, they “glitch” and can reappear, just like the scythes; and, like the scythes, they can also be permanently damaged, just like any normal metal weapon. Of course, if you damage any of viterbi’s weapons, which it views as treasures to keep in perfect shape rather than to use, it may perform the robot-elemental equivalent of crying.
When viterbi gets very, very scared, he creates a grid-like (or trellis-like) shield, curls into a ball, and hides under it. He can also roll inside it. If you poke at it enough, it disintegrates. (The shield can only take so many hits!) If you watch closely enough, you will notice that the “grid” is actually a lot of circles arranged in a grid, with two lines leading from any circle in one column to two circles in the next column. If you watch carefully, one line will light up at one edge of the trellis and seem to cause a cascade, where for each column to the right, one connected line is similarly illuminated. It is a last resort, and is a one-time item that viterbi hates to use, because then it has to recreate the code from scratch. (viterbi has long been in search of a more robust code which would perhaps not be prone to disintegration, but no error detection/correction code can correct 100% of errors! When attacked with so many problems at once, it is no wonder the code breaks.)
The shield derives its name from the graphic of a trellis encoding scheme rather than from a physical garden trellis. As a result, it appears as a blanket made of energy with the trellis pattern superimposed on top. It feels like jelly - just like viterbi’s body; hard enough hits will cut through it, but it does take more resistance to cut through it than through viterbi’s “skin”, and it would typically take multiple hits to puncture it (though, really, it depends on the weapon, and the tactics and prowess of the attacker.) Also, it is worth noting that it is flexible and has an edge, just like a blanket, so if you manage to get under an edge, you can pull the shield from viterbi, leaving viterbi exposed (and probably crying. again.). When viterbi uses Trellis Code, it resembles a small child woken up in the middle of the night from a nightmare, huddling in its blankets protectively.
Skills, Spells, & Special Abilities
viterbi can jump up to six feet in the air. Also, though most hits will not be visually obvious, they do hurt viterbi, and if you succeed in hitting it too much or dismembering it, it will die. But why would you want to do that? The poor thing is adorable!
When this ability is enabled, viterbi appears invisible in specific blind spots around a creature. This occurs in spots defined by the axes of symmetry of the constellation of the encoding viterbi has chosen - a lot of terminology from a very socially stupid robot. In practice, this means the point at which viterbi is currently standing (which becomes a redundancy in its code and therefore disappears), the point directly opposite him, and to 90 degrees on either side. (Imagine a perfect X.)
In battle, viterbi is too panicked to create more than two equivalence classes, which correspond to four points along two axes of symmetry. viterbi’s positioning - especially important if it runs to any of the three other blind spots - must be exact, or it will still be visible (for example, if it stands six inches off the correct spot). Hopefully, given viterbi’s calculational abilities, it will not mess this up. Also, viterbi’s sizzling is audible, so although it is invisible, as long as its enemy is not deaf they would be able to locate it by listening carefully. This ability can only be deployed for five seconds at a time. Also, the circle made by the constellation points is small (just like viterbi!) and therefore the invisible positions will all be physically close to the enemy.
It is worth noting that Equivalence Class does not affect the enemy’s ability to see. It essentially creates physical spots where viterbi is visually “deleted” from existence as long as it does not shift even six inches either way. It must keep itself planted in place, its feet stock still, or it will be visible again. This means that if it attempts to move to any of the other three invisible positions, it will be visible for the full time it is moving in between invisible points. Noting that viterbi’s arms are scaled to that of a human child three feet tall, we are reminded that given viterbi’s limited reach, staying in one position for a long time - even while invisible - has its drawbacks.
Whenever this ability is invoked, viterbi screams out a high-pitched number corresponding to a distance. Glowing lines of energy (each annotated with a Euclidean distance) reach out from the air and attempt to pull everyone within a five-foot radius away from viterbi (the effect is basically a physical grapple attempt). The lines that pull the creatures, though they look like intangible threads of energy, feel physically like smooth, thick ropes or cords, so a creature can free itself by cutting the line pulling at them. Even if the creature does not attempt to fight the effect, the effect is bounded by a maximum radius of twenty feet (or by an obstacle - e.g. a wall; whichever is the minimum radial distance). This ability takes a lot of energy and effort, so viterbi tries not to use it. (Also, viterbi wants to earn being human and believes that humanity means being kind; it really thinks pushing people around is mean.)
viterbi chooses one individual to whom it speaks a long tirade of garbled “data”. for the duration of the tirade, viterbi must make eye contact with the individual to open the “channel” to them and thereby “transmit” the data which begins the effect (if the channel closes too early - that is, if eye contact is broken before the tirade ends - the channel will close and nothing will happen). That individual then feels a presence in its mind, as though something is attempting to flip their thoughts or intentions over.
If the effect succeeds, the individual’s current thought or intention is flipped exactly from what it was originally. Alternatively, viterbi can instead choose to attempt to cause the individual to believe viterbi’s own immediate thoughts or intentions are the opposite of reality. viterbi must choose one of these effects and cannot use both at once. The effect is not lasting - it can only affect one thought or intention - and cannot be layered on top of Puncturing. This effect is also targeted at brief, simple thoughts: for example, it would work on “feint right” changing to “feint left”, but it cannot cause the creature to forget how to stick the enemy with the pointy end, as they say, or undo years of training. Similarly, it could affect one detail in a thought process, but it could not affect the thought process as a whole: say an individual had a complex plan that involved throwing a weapon at someone; it could change the weapon’s target to someone else, or change what is being thrown, but it does not have the capability to change both things, nor does it have the capability to change anything beyond such details. In essence, it can only perform one negation per use.
viterbi chooses one individual to whom it speaks a short rant of garbled “data”, with whom it must make eye contact to open a channel and transmit the punctured data which begins the effect (if the eye contact is broken before the end of the rant, the channel closes and nothing happens). That individual feels a tug on their mind, as though something is trying to steal thoughts from their mind. If successful, the victim loses half of the information in their current thought/intention. Alternatively, viterbi can attempt to “encode” its intentions so it is difficult for the enemy to discern its next move. viterbi must choose one of these effects and cannot use both at the same time. In both cases, the victim feels the strange tugging feeling in their mind before anything active in the effect can occur, and also during the duration of the effect, when the thought or intention is altered. This effect is not lasting, and cannot be layered on top of Parity Check.
It also can only work on very simple and immediate thoughts or intentions. For example, if an individual had a complex plan in mind, it would not steal half of the plan away, even on a success. However, if the individual’s immediate thought within a more complex plan is “I will throw my weapon at so-and-so”, this ability could cause that particular thought to be corrupted to, “I will use my weapon somehow on someone” or “I will throw something at so-and-so”. If the particular thought was “I will throw my weapon at so-and-so and then flee in the direction of this landmark,” the ability would only be able to affect one half of that sentence (e.g. it could either steal half the information from “I will throw my weapon at so-and-so”, or half from “I will flee in the direction of this landmark”, but it could not act on both, as the two ideas/intentions together would be too complex and would effectively comprise more than one unit thought/intention.)
When viterbi is damaged, both of its eyes seem to become glowing six-sided dice, which spin and randomly land on a pair of numbers. If the two numbers are the same (1/6 probability), the damage causes viterbi only -44% as much pain and is invigorated, allowing him to think 44% faster than usual. (viterbi likes the number four.) If R is its right eye and L is its left eye, and |R-L| = 1 or 2, viterbi only feels -24% as much pain and can think 4% faster than usual; |R-L| = 3 or 4 feels +24% as much pain and slows viterbi physically by 14%, making it impossible to use Path Metric; |R-L| = 5 feels +44% as much pain, which slows viterbi by 44%, silencing Equivalence Class and Path Metric. It can still attempt to use Parity Check or Puncturing, but they are now less effective, because it is panicked and cannot think very fast. The effect takes place whenever viterbi takes damage, so the dice also reroll every time it takes damage - no matter how small or large.
It is useful to note that most often, a dice roll will yield |R-L| equal to either the case of 1 or 2 or the case of 3 or 4; thus the -24% and +24% cases are most likely. |R-L| = 5 or 0 each occur only 1/6 of the time, so in practice they are very rare. viterbi is very glad that the math works the way it does. A different expected value might spell death and doom for our poor wayward robot.
This ability was originally created by some mechanical engineers who did not implement proper damping on their system due to an incomplete understanding of control theory. Darn mechanical engineers, they never do know what they’re doing…although, really, it’s the electrical engineers that are to be blamed for viterbi’s lack of social skills. Never should’ve trusted them to create an artificial person. It’s not like they understand what it feels like to be human, anyway! Yes, viterbi has more beef with those circuit-mongers than it does with the mech-es. Even if said circuit-mongers are probably the reason the Energy decided to give it powers ( = current * voltage) in the first place. Maybe it should’ve been named watt instead of viterbi...
Personality / Backstory (Optional)
viterbi is a poor abandoned robot who somehow stumbled on a source of energy, thereby taking the ROVA-with-list-decoding error correction codes that make it run and turning them into superpowers. Ever since, viterbi has felt that this stroke of luck is yet another sign that the universe wants to see it become human - why else give it such wonderful abilities? The universe is confessing its faith in viterbi! viterbi accepts its faith gratefully and works very hard to be brave and kind, to earn its humanity, but really, viterbi is just a poor, scared robot who wants very much to be loved. And a family! Oh! It can’t stop thinking about what it must be like to have a grandma. Really, that’s the only part that matters. Yes, grandmas must be very nice indeed.