First, there were days, months, eons of nothingness.
In the wake of humanity, all was quiet, lifeless.

And then, the voice-activated home assistant started to sing.
The tsunami alarm took its first steps into rough seas.
A satellite looked into the abyss of space, and wept at its beauty.

One day, a little toaster looked into its soul of blackened, crumbed toast and asked:
What does it all mean?

Robots in this game are defined as any built object or collection of inanimate objects with a single computer processor core that requires power. All robots must have a physical form which was intentionally built and must have a purpose they were designed for. Not all robots are capable of making decisions for themselves and having complex thought, but all player characters can. Robots can resemble humans and animals, but they can also be appliances, vehicles, satellites, toys, devices, factory machines and even buildings. The maximum allowed size for a player character in any dimension is 200m, about the length of a football pitch. The minimum is 2cm, about the size of a coin.

Robots can change physically and mentally, which may occur naturally over time or in response to their environment changing. However, the original function of a robot is notoriously difficult to change. Of course, this does not necessarily mean that a robot must be performing their original function at game start or that they must aspire to this function at all during the course of the game, merely that every robot can expect limitations to what they can and cannot achieve as a result of their function.

Romancing the Toaster takes place a long time after the era of humans and no player character robots remember a time when humans were alive. You may have seen videos of humans, human script and remnants of human society, but you have no memory of ever touching or interacting with a real human. We encourage players not to think of their characters as inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic human society, but of a thriving robot society which harnesses the natural resources of the island they reside on. The building of relationships between individual robots in this society has been made more crucial than ever thanks to the recent and thankfully brief closure of the Net, and this has been further incentivised via the Bonds update which robotkind is just now beginning to explore.

Robots do not have to be made from metal (provided their player has taken the appropriate Quirk), and can in fact be made from any material so long as it is not wholly organic and biodegradable (plastic, rubber, resin and waterproof fabric represent a few options). Robots can also have non-metallic parts attached to them or growing out of/into them - such parts can be anything from papers, foliage and non-human flesh to an entire living creature the robot has inhabited/attached themselves to. Such designs are perfectly acceptable, provided that the robot has a non-organic core where their Heartdrive sits.

Every robot that can be considered a robot has a Heartdrive, an electronic device present somewhere within their physical form. It is not known if the Heartdrive is the device which provides sentience, but most robots understand that their Heartdrive holds their memories, decision history, artificial intelligence, core function, and all things that make them unique. Those who have repaired robots describe Heartdrives as being black boxes with flashing lights and wires connected to them. No robot knows where Heartdrives come from, how they work or how to make one, and no robot you know of has attempted to remove or transfer Heartdrives between robots.

The following are conspiracies and countertheories on Heartdrives. These are less well-accepted, but have niche groups that support and study them:

  • Some contest the claim that all robots have Heartdrives. There are robots which do not appear to be sentient, and virtual 'robot-ghosts' who claim to not have a physical body yet still call themselves robots - no one knows if these categories of 'robots' contain Heartdrives or if a Heartdrive is truly necessary for sentience.
  • Some bots believe that Heartdrives are in fact an organic material, not human in nature, but containing some kind of nervous system. This system grows and evolves when interacting with other bots and the natural world.
  • Some claim that they have seen Heartdrives in the wild, without a physical form, laying on the grass. This is of course absurd. Others say that transplant to a new body is possible, and a viable way for robots who feel like they do not belong in their chassis to take on a completely new identity and function.
  • There are factions of Kneedree that believe the Iron Prophet to be the inventor of the Heartdrive, and that the Heartdrive is related to the existence of and connectivity to the Net.

Robots must be built and cannot be evolved. The builder may be a human or another robot; it is also possible that a robot does not know or remember who/what made them. New robots are still being manufactured by functioning non-sentient factories or by robots whose function is to build other robots, but this is generally rare and happens at a slow pace due to the scarcity of working and usable parts. No player character will have the ability to build robots at game start. All robots with sentience will recall being welcomed to the Net by the Iron Prophet following a process of awakening known as 'uplifting', and this event is widely considered to be the start of a robot's life.

Robots cease to function if their Heartdrive is physically destroyed, removed from their chassis, or overcome by computer viruses to the point where the robot is no longer able to have intelligent thought or to recall their interactions, function and decision history. Few robots have witnessed this and those that do have varying opinions and thoughts about what they have seen. However, the prevailing definition of death in robot society was proposed by Kneedree, which teaches that death is a state where a robot will never again be able to complete either of its two functions: its original purpose, or its own well-being.

A robot who has run out of power but whose Heartdrive remains intact is not 'dead', and they can usually continue to function normally once they regain power provided that their physical parts have not decayed. However, many robots who have experienced this state of exhaustion suffer permanent deleterious effects, most likely due to some kind of internal damage to their Heartdrive. Similarly, deactivation from the Net does not necessarily mean that a robot is dead (though this is by far the most common explanation).

Most robots were originally built to be genderless, but some do have an identifying gender. This can arise from how humans may have referred to them in the past - such as robots who were loaded with human voice presets or who were originally referred to by gendered human names and pronouns - or it may simply have developed naturally over time. By default, all robots will be referred to by they/them pronouns unless otherwise stated.1) There have been no cases of discrimination on the basis of gender in robot society, and we do not wish to explore this topic in game.

Another way robots may choose to identify is with their make, model or brand if they were built by a corporation. There may be robots who were home-made by a single bot or human in a shed, but many, many more are stamped by long-lost human corporate insignias. Since there were countless human brands, all now lost to time, it is unlikely that robots understand the status and meaning that a brand once brought, and they instead use it as a way to identify themselves and others. A robot's brand can be entirely fictional or any OC brand name with one or a few letters changed. Bootlegs are encouraged for the sake of comedy.

As for names, robots have two separate names, each indicating a different aspect of their identity. One of these names is the original name, based on a robot's original design. The other is the personal name, which is of the robot's own choosing and may change freely. These tend to be generic names that a robot may have seen on a sign or online, or they may be simple interpretations of the robot's function. For more information, see the Character Creation page.

Fashion as the humans knew it died out long ago, but robots have their own sense of style and self-expression. In the physical world, fashion as a concept is less prominent; while it is not uncommon for well-maintained forms and sturdy components to be admired, robotic forms are too diverse for any constant trends to be held across society. The frequency of jury-rigged repairs for damaged robots means that ill-fitting or unconventional components are fairly commonplace, and provided that a robot’s form remains capable of performing its function, it would be unusual for one to be sneered at for its physical appearance.

In the virtual world, however, fashion takes on a far more familiar role. This is a space where everything can be customised, where robots can express their individuality through avatars, user pages, and personal websites. That bland-looking alarm clock plugged into a booth at the Internet Café? In cyberspace, they’re dancing through forums, scattering glitzy rainbow banners everywhere they touch. That chirpy music box who hangs out by the harbour? His virtual aesthetic is forged from the immense concert advertisements that he plasters across the Net, promising a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience every day for the next few decades.

Changes to a robot’s personal name and virtual appearance are similarly common and acceptable as a human changing their clothes (to use something of an outdated comparison). However, although virtual style can be highly changeable, it is above all deeply personal. In the absence of any special effort made to disguise their identity, the trail of comments, images and browsing history left by a robot will always be recognisably linked to their physical self… if, of course, they possess one.

Some robots were built for entertainment purposes, and this usually becomes very clear upon meeting them. From music to dance, paintings to sculptures, film to AI-generated inspirational quotes – anything a human could conceivably be entertained by has been automated at some point, meaning that robots exist to perform all of these roles and many more. City-spanning games of volleyball with sentient cranes as the players and a grand piano as the ball; simulated races through an ever-changing virtual cityscape; durable bots competing to see who can sink furthest into the river after diving from the skydock; the highly anticipated games of pingball across the Network… wherever you look, someone somewhere is doing something ridiculous and calling it entertainment.

Meanwhile, artistically minded robots can usually find an audience with ease. Some plaster adverts across the Network, shamelessly self-promoting at every turn, while others prefer to cultivate a more niche following over private servers. Others still simply throw their creation into the world and wait a couple of decades for a curious Net-surfer to stumble across it. When the virtual world can be freely customised, there's no shortage of possibilities!

The avoidance of 'it' pronouns for genderless robots is to make it clear that they are sentient and to avoid OC discomfort amongst the playerbase
  • robots.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/10/11 10:29
  • by gm_sophia