When inactive, the robot looks like a Steelstone arch. Steelstone resembles marble only it is virtually indestructible. The knowledge to work Steelstone was lost thousands of years ago.

When the robot activates, its head becomes visible at the apex of the arch, and it starts moving.

enter image description here

It also extends a retractable claw and cable. We have seen the robots use these cables to lift heavy objects like boulders and crates. They seem to be built for the job.

The only way to activate the robot is using a Saboslogger -- a type of green worm, the size of a punch bag, that dangles from a strand of silk beneath the head.

The Saboslogger seems to act as a pilot, as attaching a worm will immediately bring the robot to life, and attacking the worm will cause the robot to flee or fight back.

That means there is a way to control the robots. If only we could figure out how the worms do it.


1. The robot is magical. In the center of the block is a central core charged with a bit of essence, a bit of its creator, to give it purpose. Linked to this core are veins of crystal, which carry energy, like light and electricity, to and from the core, acting as the construct's nervous system.

2. The Slogger might also have been magically created by whoever created the robots. However we suspect this sort of magic cannot give an animal entirely new abilities. It can only extend and enhance existing ones. So it must have some purely biological ability that the creatures used as their starting point.

3. I appreciate feedback and new perspectives, so don't be afraid to share it!

  • $\begingroup$ Hey I edited your question to remove all the repetitions and some superfluous stuff. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 20 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ I also added a silly little picture! $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 21 at 0:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron: thanks, it looks wonderful! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 21 at 13:39

5 Answers 5


They never "hijacked" anything.

In other words, these bugs are controlling the robot. That means that these ancient constructs can, in fact, be utilized by us now, but only if we understand how these primitive creatures are doing it! I mean, it's one thing for wasps, but this is a carnivorous caterpillar-or something that looks like a carnivorous caterpillar-so how on Earth did this happen?! How can a bug larvae hijack a robot?

When the Old Age Builders first developed the Sabosloggers, they had to solve a number of problems - energy sustenance, wear and tear, and so on. For each problem they found a solution: sometimes a brute force solution (e.g. the steelstone casing), sometimes a magical solution (powering the robot).

But the one problem they had to solve we're interested in is control. How to give the Saboslogger intelligence - or, better, programmability. They did not have artificial intelligence as such.

The ancient mages simple, yet elegant solution was then to blend magic and biology and supply their construct with a central nervous system - a living central nervous system capable of sensorium, taking orders, limited cognition and so on.

And that was the worm.

They took a common worm-like creature that was suitable, and mutated it with magic and biology until they had something that could "possess" a Saboslogger and make it behave in accordance to their will.

Unfortunately, the worm is not the Saboslogger's software - it is yet another piece of hardware. The programming for the worm, the real "software", has to come from a programming construct - the Saboslogger's "remote". Lacking programming, which is lost when the worm dies a natural death, the slug reverts to its default, original biological state... a mindless creature only interested in survival, with an instinct to stay near the unit it's intended to control.

Locate the worm programmer, puzzle out its operation, and you'll be able to bring back all Saboslogger to usefulness - well, after you also learn to appropriately pronounce the Old Tongue used to give orders.

(the "control worms" appear in Orson Scott Card's Wyrm. They also are a gengineered construct of an age four thousand years past).

  • $\begingroup$ Ah, yes, very creative, thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 21 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ Researchers have kinda of done this.. By installing sensors into insects then attaching the insects to small robots, the insect is able to control the robot. See also pigeon guided bombs. $\endgroup$ Mar 21 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ Biocomputers?Biocomputers. Also,it might require unusual wording.. sorta like "for (var count = 0; count < 4; count++)" so rosetta stones wouldn't work, you'd also need a manual. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 15:43

Q: "This is where it gets weird, real fast. Sabosloggers are almost always found with a green worm, the size of a punch bag, dangling from a strand of silk beneath it"

Nerd worms

They look like your everyday larvae, a little bigger, with agile tentacle-like arms up front. They are larvae actually, but their origin (descent) is genetic engineering, during the Old Age.

When the nerd worm retreats in its coccoon, it will emerge as a much bigger animal, the worm will become its brain. This animal, commonly known as Chitine Giant used to serve as a biotechnological war machine. A soldier rode the Giant, the nerd worm would obey his commands via a telepathic link and it would let the Chitine Giant move.

Nowadays, the Chitine Giants and most nerd worms live in the wild, as fat, slow ant eaters. Their nerd worm offspring roams around and loves to play with robots.

On the Old Age battle field, nerds would capture enemy robots and take over control. Nowadays, the nerd worms are still very familiar with their environment. It likes to play and practice with Saboslogger robots. The way it controls its motoric system resembles the nerd's future, where its brain and tentacles will control the Chitine Giant's body. The Saboslogger robot is a much simpler construct, actually. Almost all of them became damaged in the old age already. So if you see one moving around, there will be a nerd worm playing with it.

How to control the Saboslogger yourself

You could try the nerd worm's telepatics, but keep an eye on the sloggerbot if you try that.. the nerd may misunderstand your commands and the Saboslogger may start to act hostile.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Hmm, yes, I like this! It'd work very well for my setting! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 21 at 13:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Mostly because as magic and science gets utilized, I see biotechnological constructs being used against the eldritch, if that makes sense.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 21 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Alendyias thx.. except for the telepatics, no magic was needed. If I can, I prefer to avoid it. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Mar 21 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ So there is the giant, and the worm is the giant's brain and tells the giant what to do -- and there is ANOTHER guy who also sits in the giant and tells the worm what to tell the giant to do? Is that right? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Mar 23 at 17:44

About Tingleflies and Sabosloggers' design flaw

I came up with a three ideas of electrokinetic insects (i will call all of them Tingleflies due to the tingling sensation electrical impulses they emit would induce in humans, but of course feel free to change this name, i just don't want to say insect all the time) and one broad explanation, why they are able to control Sabosloggers (Although there is a more detailed explanation of this process for every insect).

Sabosloggers' design flaw

This one will be short. Either retractable cable is conductive to electricity and not isolated enough from nearby energy-carrying crystal veins, enabling tampering with electrical impulses inside Saboslogger or there are tiny gaps in this mechanism giving direct access to crystal veins with the same result.

1. Backward Compatibility with Tingleflies

If Sabosloggers are based off of biological principles I see no problem with their "software" also being inspired by nature, for example: Species of eusocial insects akin to bees that communicate by exchanging electrical impulses through specialized organs on their abdomen, instead of physical movement (dancing). It is possible that ancient mages studied Tingleflies, understood their "language" and found it useful as a simple and precise way of instructing golems on what they have to do. Fast forward from Old Age to Now and there are quite a few potential outcomes, although I find evolution of a new caste of Tingleflies most feasible. Representatives of Guardian Caste or maybe Pilot Caste (if the word "pilot" is known to the people of Dracoriri) are exceptionally big Tingleflies without wings, encased in thick and durable exoskeleton with long and feathered tails that wrap around Saboslogger's cable and are used to pilot it. The "How ?" is already answered, both Sabosloggers and Tingleflies use the same language. Tinglefly Pilots don't have wings due to sedentary life, are very big due to huge stores of fat needed to produce electrical impulses strong enough to control the Saboslogger. Pilots may even be neotenous, what would explain their larvae-like appearance. They protect Tingleflies' hive from danger, maybe even carry those hives on Saboslogger's back. If people want to use Saboslogger in this scenario they just have to decipher Tingleflies' language, not the easiest task, but dobale in my opinion.

2. Tingleflies' nesting site

This version of Tingleflies is inspired by wasps from Braconidae family (read about them on wikipedia, I'm not going to copy paste it here) with one change, they don't have stings but organs that produce electric charge used to stun and/or kill prey, those organs in less developed form are also present in their larvae. Some Tingleflies started putting caterpillars infested with their eggs inside Sabosloggers' claws or even Sabosloggers themselves due to their indestructibility. With huge amount of food, natural selection, a lot of time and a bit of magic, larvae could evolve basic instinct of piloting Saboslogger as a team using their electrical impulses from inside the poor caterpillar. Because this trait is advantageous and uses existing organs it could proliferate throughout Tinglefly species and relatively soon all larvae would be able to do this. This method of nesting would give Tingleflies advantage but also limit their population due to limited number of Sabosloggers, although it is a sustainable strategy because Sabosloggers can be used for nesting seasons ad infinitum, and when one set of larvae matures the Saboslogger is ready to be used by next one. If people want to use Sabosloggers in this scenario, well... I'm unable to come with a way they could learn to directly do that, although they could use chemicals to control behaviour of Tinglefly's larvae, most probably make them docile or aggressive and not much more.

3. Cliche parasitic Tinglefly(Tingleworm)

Caterpillar-like organism able to control electrical impulses inside bodies of small animals by attaching itself to their spinal cord with small spikes or fibres, but staying mostly outside their body (A bit like Symbiotes from C. M. Kosemen's "All Tomorows"). The parasite would control body of it's host but not the brain, which would make them terrifying for any sentient species that could host them. Host body would be used basically as a mecha for a parasite to gather food and protect itself, forced to eat and drink by it's new user. Movement of the body would most probably be very inept when controlled by parasite, but it does not care about it's host, so if host would fell ill or die parasite would just try to jump the ship before it happened. As before, fast forward, sprinkle some magic and we have a species that can use electrical impulses to control Sabosloggers as de facto extension of their bodies, the same way their ancestors used small animals, but now host is an indestructible machine. This scenario could be pretty bizarre, as parasite uses it's own senses to control host, mating displays of Sabosloggers are not impossible (yes, I'm thinking about parasite using Saboslogger to perform a mating dance as a proof of it's piloting prowess), because with this powerful host parasite has resources and safety to evolve more intelligence and more sophisticated behaviour. But as in scenario two, their population is limited by the number of Sabosloggers.

Ending thoughts

I sorted scenarios from my most favourite to the least, but i like all of them. I didn't specified it, but the basic mechanism of emitting electric impulses is the same in all three scenarios, emission through some kind of fibres surrounding retractable cable or crystal veins, also impulses are created by biological means, which are only supported by magic. Feel free to ask questions. Hope i helped.

  • $\begingroup$ Very good, thank you! Its logical, creative, and indeed very helpful! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Mar 21 at 13:42

The How and Why

1) Really long proboscis: In the same way how moths fertilize orchids, the worms could have really long extendable tongues/penises that they insert inside a tiny crevace within the robot. The worms don't necessarily have to know what they are doing, it could just feel really good. The robot may activate and run entirely on sub routines without needing further input from the worm. It is also possible the worm can run advanced functions by continuing to interact with the robot.

2) Insect empowerment: What if the robots were created for the insects... Some sort of pro-mother earth-orientated Superbeing gave insects the power to operate these advanced magical robots. 'The meek shall inherit the earth' style thinking. Since creatures like worms are entirely instinctual, giving them robots is like arming nature itself.

OR alternatively... they weren't always worms. Maybe back during the age when these robots were created, their operators were more obviously sentient creatures. Then over time, due to reliance on awesome robots, they de-volved into the minimum required unit to initialise the machine into action


DNA Scanner

The robots were built during the war between the Builders and the Intercessors. The robot has a DNA scanner so if a builder touches the robot it comes to life; but if an intercessor touches the robot it either ignores the touch, does an automated self-defense sequence, or self-destructs.

The Builders lost the war and as punishment they were devolved into pathetic slug-like creatures. The Intercessors then blasted off into space and were never seen again.

The devolution did not change the part of the DNA that the robot scans. So the robot is still activated when touched by a slug. When this happens the robot detects a Builder and turns on in basic mode.

Basic mode is in case a civilian climbs into the robot. In basic mode the civilian does not get control. Except maybe to open the doors or use the radio to call for help.

The slug does not control the robot either. It only activates the robot.

In basic mode the robot protects the civilian and other bystanders. If there is no danger it will resume its transportation route. This leads to weird results since the robot selects a route according to roads that no longer exist. They have been found "wandering" in forests and cities, along the bottom of lakes, walking head-first into stone walls for decades at a time, and trying to pick up large objects like wagons and boulders and oxen.

This is not advanced mode. Advanced mode is different. It happens when the robot detects its assigned pilot. Then the pilot gets full control. They can say where to go, what to pick up, and use the weapons. They can use the radio to listen to any channel.


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