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I’m working on a story-driven game, and I have an aspect of my game I need to create a lore-based explanation for. In this game humans are battling highly advanced robots. These robots are heavily armored, and pack powerful weapons, so ordinary troops haven’t been able to put up much of a resistance against them. But a special force of soldiers with hi-tech gear such as powered armor, energy shields, and more powerful and advanced weapons are able to combat them. The players control these special soldiers. So far, everything is explained neatly and tidily by my lore. But there’s one aspect of the game rules that I’m struggling to reconcile with the lore: players can’t be killed; they can only be essentially knocked out/incapacitated for a while. How can my players' armor protect them from being killed by these robots weapons? A previous idea I had considered that I’ve since rejected is that the players are controlling robots remotely, and this is how they can’t be killed, but, like I said, I think I’ve decided against this idea. I want the character (and/or player) to be there, in armor, not controlling a drone from some bunker somewhere.

Let me lay some ground rules for qualifying answers:

  • There is no magic. This is sci-fi, though I have allowed for things in my story such as portals (traversable wormholes), which are theoretical. Not everything in my story must be exactly scientifically accurate, but it must be science fiction, things that are plausible and generally acceptable within the sci-fi genre.
  • Humans are not immortal. These soldiers can die, but their armor protects them against death from enemy weapons.
  • Their armor makes use of energy shields, which deplete every time they’re hit by the robot’s weapons.
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    $\begingroup$ "players can’t be killed, they can only be essentially knocked out/de-capacitated for a while" How is this different from "The PC's health is reduced to zero, requiring the game to restart or reduce a life count"? Can you explain what a "game rule" is? Is it the policy of the production company to not refer to the status of a PC's health drawn down to zero as "death?" Are we being asked to overcome a political limitation? Questions trying to build worlds based on game mechanics (or company politics) are remarkably hard to answer. We need to know exactly what the source of the problem is. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 17:33
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    $\begingroup$ Also (and I ask this despite my dislike for trying to build world rules to meet the expectations of a story... it's literally not what we do here), please explain exactly what happens to the PC on the video screen. The game reduces some statistic to a point that invokes the quote in my previous paragraph. Do medics pull the PC from the field? Do they disappear only to reappear later? Do they lie there doing nothing until some timer runs out? (Is this really a worldbuilding question?) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH That's more like explaining a game mechanic with in-world reasons, rather than working with the story (talking about a story-driven game is a bit misleading on that point). Otherwise I agree, it's not clear why the commonly accepted video game trope that main characters cannot die isn't enough to justify why they're only disabled. I'm planning to answer with a frame-challenge on that as it very looks like this is gameplay driven KOs, not "cutscenes" ones. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 20:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I couldn't help myself, I had to follow that trope link. That rotten site is blooming addictive, but I think Kal should lampshade the whole issue. "Sarge! I saw that robot stand on your chest and unload an entire magazine of depleted uranium shells into your chest! I can't believe you lived through that!" "Well, son, if this happened anywhere else I'd say it was pure fiction, but I've gotta chalk it up to my firm belief in Glarnak, the god of worldbuilding." $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH For this question, yes. That's because this is asking here on a core 'game' premise which should be set by the game designer in the tutorial, and technobabble-ized in a sentence if you add some in-world feedbacks to it (e.g. : Half-life's very "useful" morphine shots against fractures and internal bleedings 😁). It's especially the case for death and in general harm as it's just too hard to synchronize with the player-controlled events. Your last comment is part of my ongoing frame-challenge, actually. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 9, 2023 at 21:29

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You don't need to explain why

Big frame-challenge incoming, as I'll be saying you don't need an in-world reason. But first, let me answer strictly your question before tackling the underlying issue: If you really do want to add in-world reasons, you only need to throw out some random explanations, and that'll work. I mean, if morphine allows you to still run and shoot with broken legs, and you can revive bleeding out teammates just by giving them your hand1, almost anything will work just fine 😊.

This leads me to my frame-challenge: You don't need an in-world explanation for your game mechanic in the first place.

Throughout the existence of the gaming industry, game mechanics are most of the time akin to premises in worldbuilding: You set the rules, and people will gladly accept them as long as they're entertaining and consistent with the other rules. Then, if it's wanted, game-mechanics are explained in-world by just some techno, magicko- or bio-babble without going further onto it. And it works very well.

How you implement how characters (cannot) die is especially one of the kind which is tolerated by the gaming community. To give you proof of that, see some of these game worlds below that pulled that off very well. I'm quoting examples from more story-driven games for the purpose of building a narrative-intensive game, but it happens virtually everywhere:

  • In most recent occidental RPGs with player parties, you don't die in game battles easily, if at all: The Banner Saga, KOTOR, Mass Effect… No explanation is given for this. In fact, if and when to die is one of the settings you can alter in the Pathfinder and Pillars of Eternity video game series. No in-world explanation there, either!
  • Speaking of RPGs, somehow in Final Fantasy your characters never truly go down even after having been pierced by 10,000 giant cactus needles… Until their dramatic cutscene comes in (e.g., FF7).
  • All recent Elder Scrolls and Fallout have unkillable, essential characters, which is one of their famous trademarks. They will just need to take a breath, even after you fire at them with an atomic rocket launcher. Rarely, they die but resurrect just to annoy you once more.
  • Dripping into horror, the Resident Evil series has a good amount of antagonists who just don't feel like dying yet. Sometimes, the main characters make snarky, almost meta comments about that.
  • All of Telltale-like games' deaths are scripted. Therefore, first, they're not really happening in actual game sequences like you ask1. Then, characters' lives are more tied to the story's needs than the world rules. They live just enough to set a cliffhanger, for instance.

Ok, it was left unexplained with success before, but is it a problem if I do it in my game?

I'll end with a special game which will serve as the conclusion of my worldbuilding+game design advice. In Celeste, the principle of dying and coming back as if nothing happened is not explained at all from an in-world perspective, but it makes the most sense to showcase how Madeline—the protagonist—feels. This is a clear intent of the game designers, something you are told as soon as you change the difficulty3. They tell you they want you to die and fail with a purpose in mind: face the hardships the character is feeling and create one of the strongest bonds you can ever make in games. Explaining it would actively prevent transmitting this feeling: You'll just end up tripping over yourself and go in lengthy but uninteresting details rather than focusing on the game pillars and unique selling point.

That's what makes an excellent, lively-relationship between your game and its world. The most well-made games create game loops, character controls and game mechanics to further enhance the world and story they're depicting. It's so that players don't see the world, they feel part of it.

This means that sometimes you have to allow yourself to not explain game mechanics when it would muddle up (or worse, contradict) the themes and messages you want to explore with your story and world. From the description of your question, this seems exactly like one of the cases where you shouldn't be spending your and your players' time on that.

So understand that most game rules are already-accepted premises you don't always need to explain through the world. Not everything in the world your player will experience need to be fully rationalized, and that's fine actually. Good game worlds don't explain everything about what is happening in the game, because the world is not the game. In fact, good worlds in general don't explain everything to the minute detail, be it for novels, comics or movies. The world shouldn't prevent you from keeping the player characters alive, nor is it always necessary to call for it if this your game-design decision.


1: The list of cooperative games doing this is sooo long. I'll just take a few from my basket: Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, Full Metal Furies, Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Helldivers...
2: I absolutely mean no offense to these adventure/point-and-click game mechanics, but QuickTime Events (QTEs) and single-click cutscenes pale in comparison to the battle system you're apparently designing.
3: As far as I remember, a pop-up appears when you get in the assisted mode to get more jumps or plain immortality.

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    $\begingroup$ Rocket to the face? Crushed under a building? A spell that normally explodes you into a fine red mist? How about you fall flat on your face instead, with a nice soundbite of "help me up". After someone reaches out their hand you're right as rain, with just a few scratches. I see no problems there. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 10:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Thank you for this answer! 👍🏻. I guess I might be overthinking this a bit, I just appreciate it when people spend close attention to building a consistent lore that explains some elements of the game, but I guess it does make sense that you don’t have to explain EVERYTHING, and it may be too distracting from the more important details. 👍🏻 $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the very well thought out answer! 👍🏻. I probably will follow your advice and not try to rationalize the rule in my lore. 👍🏻 $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ @KalMadda I'm glad you accepted my answer 🐶. Now don't forget to add the other answers to your box of ideas. This place is full of nice concepts which can be adapted and synergized with various other game mechanics for future projects! $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Ya, definitely, I’m grateful to everybody for all of the creative ideas! 👍🏻. $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 20:51
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Emergency Teleportation

You say portals are allowable. These special armor suits have a built-in feature: they can teleport the user out of the suit and back to a predetermined destination in the event of an emergency. Perhaps the wearer can elect to do this at any time but this is likely frowned upon because the suit is the portal generator, and as such, does not make the trip. The typical use case is that when the on-board systems detect some unsurvivable condition (about to be hit with a tactical nuke, or the next round is definitely going to penetrate the armor, or the user is so banged up that they just need a hospital right now), the user is teleported "home" (likely to a prepared hospital room that is on 24/7 standby for exactly this case).

So "death" is now more of an inconvenience. "Just before the missile hits, there's a flash of light and you find yourself standing in a hospital room." The inconvenience this causes the team can be entirely up to you.

The Paranoia Method

Or take a page from the old Paranoia RPG. Your characters do die, but they are clones. When one dies, the next clone is rolled out. You could have them keep or lose as much as you like in the process -- perhaps their very consciousness is transferred and they lose nothing. Or perhaps there are "nightly backups" and they revert to their last backup state (and skills gained since then are lost). Or whatever. The TV show Altered Carbon basically did this too (although in that show, you didn't necessarily need to go back to your body.)

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    $\begingroup$ You could further expand upon the 'Emergency Teleportation' option as well. Like perhaps once the armor has safely teleported its occupant away it self-destructs to damage any nearby threats (and/or to stop them from being able to salvage and repurpose/reverse-engineer the armor). Vaguely similar to black-box detonation in Nier Automata, except in that case there's no teleportation needing since they're Androids anyways and their memories are just destroyed back to whatever the most recent sync was. $\endgroup$
    – aroth
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 1:46
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    $\begingroup$ It could be both: super soldiers believe they are teleported to safety, but at some point in the game it is revealed that they are clones instead. The suit constantly backs up their thoughts and memories so the next clone doesn't miss a beat and actually thinks it's the original. The suit detonates after "teleporting" its wearer, to get rid of the evidence inside it. Possible reason could e.g. be that engineers could only solve the energy problem for the new MK-II suit by removing the teleporter, and the government/corporation/etc decided to just clone the pilots, as it is actually cheaper. $\endgroup$
    – enzi
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 6:39
  • $\begingroup$ Was going to suggest the Paranoia approach myself. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for these ideas, I like the teleportation idea, that could make a lot of sense! 👍🏻 $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ For the paranoia method, I know it's doing quite the opposite of the question's goal, but cloning is a staple of roguelike/lite games to synergize both story and the genre's core loop (die and retry)., It happens for instance in the Crying suns. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 10, 2023 at 20:56
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For a slightly different style of answer:

Code of Ethics

For robots, destruction of one's physical form is probably a minor inconvenience. Just get a new robot body from the factory, download the latest copy of your core memories onto it, and you're good as new. Ready to rejoin the fight as if nothing has happened.

As such, if the robots have a society with laws and/or expectations around ethical behavior, extreme acts of violence are probably okay. Perhaps celebrated for their comedic impact, even. But tampering with or destroying an entity's core memories, in whatever form that happens to take, would probably be some sort of ultimate taboo. It's just not done.

And for humans, their core memories are an inseparable part of their physical forms. You can't destroy one but leave the other intact. If the robots understand this notion, intentionally killing a human in combat may be an idea so distasteful to them that they just won't do it. They'd incapacitate, but not kill.

A comparable literary reference is found in the First Formic War. Humans were attacked by an alien race with a hive-mind kind of setup, where only queens have sentience and independent agency and the workers/drones are just mindless, expendable shells. They initially assume that humans work the same way, with all the billions of people on the planet just being drones while the human queen is hidden away somewhere. Eventually they realize that every individual human is a "queen", and are appalled at themselves over the number of humans they slaughtered, because killing queens is not done. They're so ashamed of their own actions that they retreat back home and more-or-less allow the pursuing, angry humans to (nearly) xenocide their species.

Similarly, Predators show some sense of ethics in that they won't engage an unarmed target with ranged weaponry and generally want their kills to be "sporting". A robot with a safely-backed-up consciousness could understand that there's no way for a human opponent to permanently kill it, and might therefore decline to permanently kill a human opponent. Because fair is fair.

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It's not that they can't be killed, it's just not the robots' top priority. There might be a few reasons why the robots don't specifically try to kill the super soldiers.

It's easier to disable than destroy the gear.

Outright destruction might be too difficult or incur too much collateral damage. There may not be a real need to kill the person inside a suit of power armor if you can disable the suit itself with an EMP or something similar. If battles are fast-moving, robots may just leave disabled suits where they lay, since by the time they recover the fight will be over or have moved elsewhere.

Super soldiers are worth more intact.

Soldiers in this elite organization have intelligence the robots want to get their hands on. The armor and weapon technology may be more advanced than what the robots have, in which case the robots may try to capture technology intact rather than destroying it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Along these lines, the powered armor may be so heavy / so thick / so protective it is virtually indestructible - but once it has taken enough damage, the internal power source is offline and unable to make it move anymore with what little reserve power remains being shunted to life support. The PC is essential frozen, encased in armor too heavy to move with muscle power. Safe and unharmed, but unable to move. $\endgroup$
    – Kirt
    Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 2:17
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Brain backups

Realistically, anything that's going to destroy your soldier's armored equipment and energy shields is also going to turn the human inside into a red pulp. It takes no more effort for the robot to kill the soldier than to kill the soldier's equipment. In fact, it's more plausible that the robot would kill the soldier by knocking the squishy human parts around inside the armor, but fail to destroy the armor itself.

So if you want the soldier to be there in person but survive the experience, you can suppose that their experiences and memories are constantly being uploaded to a server room somewhere. When the soldier's body dies, these experiences are used to print a clone of the soldier and load them with the memories of the soldier. (Or try a more gruesome/dystopic route: home base isn't able to print a clone of the soldier, it just overwrites some random test subject's brain with the soldier's new memories, so that random test subject effectively becomes the soldier.)

Or psionic mumbo jumbo

I know you said no magic, but science fiction worlds often do have a loophole for stuff like telepathy. Perhaps the soldiers have learned how to telepathically transmit their whole consciousness to possess someone else's body when the soldier's previous body dies, taking over that body as their own and continuing their mission.

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Ejector Seats

Players get catapulted from the battlefield once they come close to death, immediately removing them from the battlefield. They can drop in a safe distance with a parachute afterwards and have time to recover. Some anti-gravitational emergency suit might mitigate the downsides of being turned into a living projectile.

It overlaps with JamieB's answer, but I wanted to include this starker alternative.

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titanium bathtub.

The A-10 warthog was built with a heavily armored cockpit, and a lightly armored everything else. Making the whole thing heavily armored would make it immobile so you jut armor the part with a person in it. Disabling the vehicle is much easier than killing the pilot (now with a plane this often also kills the pilot but that's is because it is an aircraft). Powered armor should be designed in the same way, preferably with enough safety features to keep the pilot alive, things like crash pads or airbags or even crumple zones. the idea is you can super-armor the cockpit and rely on energy armor everywhere else because energy armor is more or less weightless. If you tried to make the whole thing as durable you make it to heavy to move.

If the enemy really wanted too they could kill the pilot after the suit is disabled, but they would be wasting a lot of ordinance for little reason punching through the armor. They are out of combat either way. This could even help your game since your antagonist can threaten pilot cockpits (pods?) to get someone to surrender. But at the same time this could be a Geneva convention violation so a rare villainous thing.

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Robots have already won, they don't plan around humans

In your world, robots are the dominant species and mostly only care about other robots.They arm themselves to battle or police other robots and have weapons designed for that purpose. The good thing is that as a human, you don't have circuits and what would destroy or fry a robot will only stun or paralyse a human (with the appropriate gear).

You could later introduce a special force of robots that have human oriented weapons that would kill, to add some pressure for the last stretch of the game.

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Disabling machines

The soldiers can't move the suit on their own. When the shields are overwhelmed, the suit will redirect power from mobility to the shields. The soldier will fall over with suit and all, unable to move. They are protected by shields, but out of the fight. Robots will prioritise enemies that are a threat. This will mean they leave all soldiers alive until all are downed. After they might kill, or if that's better for your story capture them.

Neutralising enemies is often the goal of combat. Killing is effective, but not efficient in many ways. Destroying supply lines, blinding people and more are all great ways to neutralise without killing in war. Robots will understand this better than humans, trying to neutralise enemies and not necessarily killing them.

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The combat suit is remote controlled

Even in modern military we are moving towards remote control drones both to preserve life and because it can be cheaper to deploy drones. Drones can be smaller if they don't have to fit a pilot and cheaper if you don't have to build in the infrastructure required to keep a pilot alive. In your future sci fi world drones may also offer advantages such as being able to travel through radiation or perform maneuvers with high G force that would kill a human.

Thus it's only natural your future military doesn't put humans in the suits. Keep your highly trained elite pilots alive to pilot a drone another day!

If you want to do that approach a few sci fi lore tid-bits you may want to include as well.

FTL comms?

Light speed puts a limit on the viability of current drones since being to far away limits the responsiveness of pilots who have to wait for telemetry to come in and their responses to be sent out. You may need some level of FTL to allow drones to be controlled from far enough away to be viable option in your world.

Of course the pro of FTL comms is that you can pretty much make up how they work entirely. Perhaps there is a limit on how far they function that requires your fleet to be close to the drone and thus still be in danger? Maybe there are ways the enemy can interfere with them allow foes that mess with your UI or stun your drone? You can hand wave anything about how such comms work to suit the setup you want in the game.

Why not AI?

In reality such future weapons would likely be AI driven rather then human drive since AI can manage better responsiveness, better aim and reflexes etc. Easiest hand wave here is that you are fighting machines precisely because AI went wrong and the military is sticking to human drive machines so more rouge AI driven kill machines don't end up attacking them. Here are plenty of other reasons for not using AI.

Why are drones humanoid?

Assuming the super suit you have designed still looks vaguely like a human you may want to explain why it looks that way if there is no human inside. The standard explanation for this is usually some variant of mind to machine interface. Your pilot interfaces with the machine in such a way that it feels like their body, they move it's weapons by moving their arms etc. To keep the mind to machine interface from getting too confusing your drone has to be vaguely human shaped so it will map to their brains idea of how a human body should work. IE humans are use to moving as humans so your drones have to be humanoid.

Keeping stakes high

The one down side to such a system is it can make the stakes seem kind of low. If humans are in no danger why do your characters care? Why haven't they sent out millions of these drones to destroy their enemies etc? To some degree Tortliena answer applies here, this is just standard gaming tropes and your gamers will be willing to accept it without difficulty. Still you can add a little stakes.

  1. These drones are Expensive. Sure the pilot didn't die, but the lose of even one drone is a significant financial lose. The military can only build so many because of how advanced and difficult to make they are and they don't take the lose of them lightly. This puts some stakes since a lost of a drone still matters, and explains why there aren't hundreds of these things deployed. Maybe have some high level military guy chew your player out every time they die for loosing valuable military resources?

  2. Feeling your body be destroyed isn't fun. Assuming you used a mind-machine interface you can use that as an excuse to explain why destruction of the machine their mind is currently inhabiting may not have positive effects on the pilot. Maybe pilots can still die from the mental trauma alone at times, and it just happens the player manages to escape each 'death' without this trauma. Still he doesn't know for sure the next death will be survived, and may risk suffering long term harm from deaths so he still has good motive to avoid it.

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This is going to be a rather similar answer to @Tortliena - but from a slightly different perspective:

In any form of Combat, random shit happens and people can die. Whether it's undiagnosed underlying conditions or plain ol' bad luck. Hell, people die when exercising or just living their life.

The more you try and explain away your rule, the more you are going to have immersion issues. I mean, we can accept that someone who is wearing armor and shot with a .223 round can get knocked out. But when you have heavier weapons, it becomes increasingly hard to justify and make it consistent.

Afterall, if a super soldier in Power Armor is merely knocked unconscious from a direct hit from an Anti-Tank gun/laser/missile/thing - then why is the tank destroyed, but not the super soldier? Why wouldn't they use that same level of protection for the Tank?

Then my next thought was to do an Ethics type system - where the Robots don't like to Kill - but the problem there is again - randomness in Combat.

Essentially:

If it's a Core game mechanic - simply state that it is. E.g. 'The combat suit keeps them alive, but will put them into a Coma for critical wounds' and leave it at that.

Any attempt to further justify or add realism into it, is opening Pandoras box of 'Whataboutism'

For example - say that the Armor has an active protection system of nanobots that will detect incoming fatal levels of energy (laser/projectile etc.) and intercept it before it hits the soldier, but sometimes the energy dissapation knocks them out - then some smart-arse says 'but what if there were multiple shots at the same time by your killer robots and overwhelms the system hmmmm'

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The robots don't have a concept of a biological organism controlling a machine

  1. The designers of the power armor know this, which is why they designed the power armor to be a great weapon against them.
  2. The robots recognize two classes of threats; 1) other robots, and 2) biological organisms. The robots are very good at dealing with these threats and use weapons tailored to each situation. They assume wrongly that the power armor is only a robot and don't use weapons on it that would be lethal to humans.
  3. The robots could kill the organisms inside if they only knew which weapon to use, and the suits are built to protect the humans inside (like in a secondary protective shell) from weapons that are mostly good against machines so that they aren't collateral damage.
  4. Once the power armor is disabled the robots consider it dead and leave it/capture it/etc. and eventually the human can repair/reboot/or whatever it to come back (as this is the intent of the power armor).
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The suits could be fashioned out of parts of robots, some rare and special models that are leaders (or sort of demigods) among the robots and worshipped by them. Humanity paid a hefty price to take these robots down, and since they are built in ways that human engineers can't yet fully reproduce, they were turned into suits for human soldiers – which conveniently explains their rarity. Robots are affronted by humans wearing the corpses of their former leaders, they are loath to combat them, but do so in order to disable and recover the suits.

It would be sacrilege for the robots to further damage a suit once it's safely out of combat. They just have to recover it and store it somewhere, the human inside will die in a manner of weeks or months anyway, so they don't have to crack the thing open to kill the wearer.

Of course this means that while humans survive, they would be captured. If only one goes down, it's no problem as the rest of the squad can recover him (and the robots won't finish that pilot off), but if the entire squad goes down, there must be some reason why the robots can't carry them off. Or, rescuing a bunch of captured pilots could be part of the game.

If the religious/human angle to robots' behavior isn't desirable, it could instead also be some hard-coded rule. Command units have to be protected by all other robots at any cost and if downed, are to be recovered. All damage to them must be avoided. If humans steal a command unit, the unit is to be incapacitated and recovered, the unit is not to be damaged only to terminate the human inside, as it will die off quickly anyway.

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In some old fantasy book, the main character went through terrible training where he died multiple times. But they somehow cloned him, so he could continue.

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Super Soldiers Aren't Normal Humans

Sure they may look a lot like people, but just as much work went into creating these unstoppable soldiers as did thier power armor. They have been genetically modified to have a wide range of super human abilities, not the least of which is being able to recover from gapping holes blown in through thier guts, regrow severed arms, etc.

As for being able to die, perhaps there is something about how the robot weapons work that specifically triggers or aids thier regeneration. Cut thier arm off, and they bleed out just like anyone else, but those robots LOVE thier plasma weapons. But as devastating as these weapons are, they tend to cauterize wounds as they happen preventing the super soldiers from bleeding out. This cauterization leaves the soldiers stable enough for thier regeneration abilities to have time to work.

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Plot Armor

Your protagonists canonically don't die.
That seems to go naturally with the plot right? If they died the story wouldn't be about them. Anthropic Principle says that this is the specific soldier that made it all the way through the war without a killing blow inflicted.

Killing blows just never quite land. Their grandfather's wrist-watch in their breast-pocket deflects the fatal bullet. The shot missed everything vital and they could be patched up and get back in the fight after a little convalescence.

That's not to say they have any supernatural ability to avoid death, this is simply the timeline where death never found them.

In game-terms, if you die, you restart from an earlier save and try again until you get it right. If you finish a battle and you've "lost" some soldiers, they're not dead, they're just in recovery. They'll be fine in a few days/weeks/months.
You don't need to explain it, though you might make a nod to the astonishing good fortune of your soldiers. If they used to be mercenaries, you could crack the joke that they're "Soldiers of Fortune"

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Because the big bad robot controlling AI has a hard coded rule against killing descendants of it's programmers/humans with red hair/humans with technology above a certain level/...

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No threat? No need to harm them! Focus on the danger!

In a war, do soldiers destroy only military vehicles or all vehicles on enemy ground? - Only military vehicles, cause they may be used against them! If your soldiers gear is badly damaged, it either disables itself to go into a "harmless" state or can't fight anymore and is harmless. So: Why should robots shoot sheep when they can shoot wolves instead? Mice won't do any damage, wolves do! Focusing on the wolves is logical and needs to be done to win the fight. The sheep may be ignored while the dangerous wolves are still roaming.

This enables multiple game mechanics:

  1. You need to rescue your teammates. Leaving them behind is the same as killing them. If you can reach them, you can drag them to safety and "repair" them
  2. Perhaps you can use some kind of stealth mechanics by hiding/dismounting your weapons or playing dead
  3. You may pass robot barriers by walking by in disguise without weapons, which enables sneaky missions or assassinations
  4. Your enemy robots may learn in later game that even downed/unweaponized soldiers are harmful soldiers and shoot them nonetheless. Higher difficulty!

Also, robots may be tasked to kill humans, but your soldiers in their armors aren't humans, they're malfunctioning robots or just some unknown threat. Eliminating human threat is a normal thing in robot world, as well as ignoring anything unimportant that's not human and not shooting. Robots don't got infinite ammunitions as well.

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Robots use EMP weapons for special forces

Special forces are so heavily armored that they require electrical motors to move. Robots switch to electro-magnetical weapons (EMPs) to disable the special forces. The players fall to the ground, but are still protected by their heavy armor. There is not much more the robots can do about forces that use these extra tough armors than to temporarily disable them.

Players are then rescued from the battlefield by support shuttles that lifts them away to safety.

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Force Field Failure

When the energy shields in the super soldier's suits absorb too much energy, they fail and "pulse" out an energy burst that just happens to knock out the wearer.

It's really annoying, and the engineers have been trying to fix it / shield against it forever, but it's way better than getting shot, so everyone runs with it.

Once they're down, they aren't a threat, so the robots ignore them.

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Protecting against friendly fire

Robots hate friendly fire. Your robots have designed their weapons so that they don't destroy their compatriots on the battle field. Their weapons are very effective against humans and their machines, but the most they can do to their fellow robots is shut them down for a while.

Your special forces have power armor built from the scraps of an enemy robot. It is incredibly hard to kill those things, so this robot armor is rare. But because robots cannot kill other robots, they cannot kill your special forces. They can only cause them to power down for a while.

If you're an exceptional robot hunter, you make a stockpile of scraps from your kills. You never know when a non-robot risk might damage your armor.

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