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Engine Heart is a pen-and-paper RPG set in a world where small household robots are the sole remaining heirs to the planet. In some role-playing games you might take on the role of a wizard or an elf battling the forces of evil. In this game, you play a sexbot or an empty vending machine searching for soda cans to sell to the human corpses around you.
Engine Heart provides examples of:
- After the End: The game is set after the human race has disappered. Exactly how all the humans disappeared is never explained, and is presumably left up to the Programmer to decide.
- Artificial Intelligence: The game makes a distinction between robots, which are mobile, and A.I.s which are more intelligent and housed in buildings. Unfortunately, the A.I.s that remain alive tend to become dictators.
- Cute Machines: Every player character in the game.
- I Love Nuclear Power: In keeping with the Bradbury-themed tone of the book, robots have the option of being nuclear-powered. This removes the worry of having to ever recharge, but if a nuclear battery is overtaxed it will explode and destroy everything in the area. If the explosion is somehow avoided the battery will reset in a few minutes.
- In the Future We Still Have Roombas: Given that all the players are assumed to be playing robots designed for specific purposes like washing cars or cutting lumber, a Roomba is a perfectly acceptable character concept.
- Robo Speak: Some robots can communicate with wi-fi, but all robots can talk to each other with a speaker and a microphone.
- Scavenger World: One of the game's main themes is the breakdown of human infrastructure. Finding a working charging station to plug in and recharge your battery can be an adventure in itself.
- Shout-Out: The opening vignette features the same Sara Teasdale poem as Ray Bradbury's There Will Come Soft Rains.
- Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: Not all robots in this game are equally smart, and there are four different kinds of intelligence.