Defining Life

Synthetic are creatures that blur the lines of life, existence, and sentience. Unlike other living constructs, there is no inherent magic to the life of a synthetic. They have come to exist in much the same way as biological life, their code simply being rewritten over millennia to become a more complicated lifeform. It is possible to define their life as coming from the virus, named The Flare by the synthetic, as it is possible for other machinery to spring to life with the introduction of the Flare. This explanation, while adequate in some ways, is like describing humans as a biproduct of the bacteria in their intestines. One cannot exist without the other, and both are distinct, but one does not completely comprise the other. For the synthetic this is both an incredibly simple and incredibly difficult subject to tackle. “Life” may just be life but what separates a wrench from the synthetic that uses it? Maybe something but quite possibly nothing.

Flare Disparity

The Flare is incredibly adaptable, owing to the original mutation that allowed it to jump from biological hosts to mechanical ones. Because of this, synthetic have no distinct form, philosophy, or fate. While most commonly humanoid, owing to the versatility of the form, there are a nearly unlimited variety of synthetic out there. With this huge variety of thoughts and life, there is sure to be conflict and the synthetic find themselves clashing with themselves far more than other species in the Retroverse. Most often this simply results in splintering groups, bygones being respected as they can. Other times it tragically ends in war, sometimes at a galactic scale. The widespread infection of the Flare and its ability to move a synthetic’s consciousness between frames with relative ease, means these wars can (and have) rage on for thousands of years.

Flare Force

Each synthetic draws from a power core somewhere within their body. The Flare augments this core, be it a small battery, a neutron reactor, or an organic nutrient pump, allowing it to sustain its own energy with only minimal outside force. This core is overloaded with the Flare virus and is where the consciousness of most synthetic is located. Destroying a synthetic’s body will not cause immediate death, so long as the core is still intact. Without an active frame though, the core will typically expire within 7 days. It seems that, while the Flare may be capable of sustaining the core indefinitely, there is something about existing and experiencing the world that allows it to do this. As such, a frameless core will always perish after about a week, the lack of experiences causing the virus to more-or-less give up on living. This need for stimuli does extend out to the personality of most synthetic, causing a great deal of them to become adventurers in one way or another.

Worlds Apart

There is no solid record of where the original Flare virus came from, despite the many texts and oral histories that claim to know. Since the virus is a mix of mechanical and biological, it can survive in the most inhospitable environments. It has spread among galaxies, spawning whole planets of synthetic or seeding an already living planet with a completely new form of life. Machines suddenly coming to life can be an incredibly jarring event and planets caught by this proliferation of new entities can sometimes react poorly, eliminating all machinery from their civilizations in response. When given a chance to spread though, synthetic often end up adapting to their new world rather quickly and efficiently, becoming part of the civilizations there within just a few generations. When the infection spreads to a dead planet, the synthetic there often end up behaving much like the civilization that came before them did. As their access to records of the past is often quite robust, some planets are repopulated with synthetic that pick up the same trials and disagreements of the previous inhabitants. The synthetic themselves, if raised within a vacuum, will struggle to have any personality, thoughts, or signs of life beyond maintaining their energy cores. Once a personality is sets though, it is a herculean task to change it, both for the synthetic and those close to them.

Other Species

Synthetic are as varied as any other species in the Retroverse and are received as such. They can be found anywhere and everywhere, intermingling with every creature and construct. Though the Flare is harmless to biological creatures, some misinformation about it spreads (as well as a few ill-recorded mutations) and can sometimes turn groups hostile to the synthetic. In general, though, synthetic make their homes anywhere and everywhere, melding into whatever society they may live in with ease.

Racial Traits

Synthetic are likely the most varied species in the Retroverse, with some appearing like chunky sci-fi robots, some being indistinguishable from other species, and some being living buzz saws. Because of this variety, it is unlikely that any two will ever look or act the same way. Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution Score increases by 2.

  • Age. Your age spans from 1 day to 256 years. The Flare and core will abruptly shut down after this time, regardless of how many new bodies it has moved to. Some synthetic have been said to live beyond this point, though the problem repeats every 256 years.
  • Alignment. The boon of adaptability has the troubling drawback of highly mutable ideals. Synthetic rarely stand strongly for something they did not adapt into early in their life. Their alignment ranges the entire spectrum and is far more likely to be dictated by their initial experiences than any strong arguments one way or another. Enough time around a strong enough personality will eventually cause a shift though, for ill or good.
  • Size. You are either Medium or Small sized, depending on your frame.
  • Speed. Your speed is 30 if you are Medium sized and 25 if you are Small sized.
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and another language of your choice.
  • Rest Mode. When taking a long rest, you must remain in a powered down state for 5 hours. You appear to be shut down, with only a few small standby lights differentiating you from an empty shell. You do not lose your senses and become fully active within seconds, though you are considered unconscious.
  • Core Power. Your core must be replenished with some source of power, requiring you to eat and drink like other creatures. You can consume nearly anything as sustenance though, the Flare helping to refine and repurpose its latent energy into power for your core. You do not need to breathe.
  • Construct Arcana. Because of your unique origin, magics that behave strangely around you. You can be affected by magic that can typically only affect constructs and you can be healed or harmed by magic that is typically geared towards primarily organic creatures. You are considered a creature when determining if a spell or effect can affect you. Additionally, you have resistance to poison damage.
  • Flare Overdrive. If you make an attack with a weapon that uses an energy core or that deals radiant damage, you can expend one of your Hit Dice, rolling it and increasing the damage of the attack by that amount. You can do this only once on your turn.
  • Transformance. If a synthetic is killed but their core is not destroyed, their core can be transferred to a new body if done so within 7 days. The new body must not already have a consciousness, such as with a newly built construct, a soulless body, or a mindless machine. Depending on the new frame, you may have to change subspecies, losing all the traits of your previous one and gaining the attributes of the new one. If the core is not placed in a new frame within this time, it will perish, though it can still be revived by magic or technology in the same ways a heavily biological creature would be. Not all frames are completely hospitable and some many need multiple adapters to work. Moving to a new frame is no small matter and cannot be done without near total destruction of the previous one, even if the transfer is intentional.


There are three major subspecies of synthetic: Mechamoprphers, Enmesched, and Etcetera. Each one will have appearances heavily influenced by their environment.


The most well-known kind of synthetic, though not quite as prolific as the Enmeshed. These synthetic have clearly visible robotic bodies, some with hard edges and robotic voices, some with smooth lines and charm. They embrace their robotic forms happily, taking great joy in the advantages brought on by their mechanical nature. Their greatest attribute is the ability to transform into differing machines, granting them unique advantages on the battlefield. Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma Score increases by 1.

  • Hard Shell. Your gain a +1 bonus to your Armor Class.
  • Morphing Form. Your body can be altered into one of several forms as a bonus action. You can revert from this form as a bonus action as well. You can only have one form chosen but can switch between them after you finish a long rest. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier (with a shift into the other form and back again counting as one use) before finishing a short rest. You can stay in these forms as long as you like but cannot rest while in using them. Additionally, you can only have one weapon active (such as a sword or blaster) while in this form, all other items are folded into yourself or fall off when you transform (your choice). While in these forms, you are considered Medium sized and can carry another Medium sized or smaller creature on or within you. Unless otherwise stated, all of your other stats and powers remain the same.
  • Plane: You have a fly speed equal to double your movement speed.
  • Car: Your movement speed is doubled while in this form. If on roads or equivalent flat terrain, you movement speed it tripled.
  • Boat: You have a swim speed equal to double your movement speed
  • Submarine: You have a swim speed equal to your movement speed and can dive up to 1,000 feet underwater with no ill effects. You have enough oxygen to sustain 1 creature for 3 hours
  • Digger: You gain a dig speed equal to your movement speed, leaving a medium sized tunnel in your path.
  • Multi-Purpose Machinery: You can add your proficiency bonus to a single task you have shifted you form to accomplish. If you already are proficient with a skill you are attempting to use, double your proficiency bonus for that task.

The names listed above are examples and can be changed according to what you desire for your character. Such as having a jet or air balloon instead of a plane, or an ATV or motorbike instead of a car.

Variant Morphing Form

Some mechamorphers choose animalistic forms, instead of vehicles, for their alternate form. Choose one creature with a CR equal to half your Proficiency bonus (rounded down) as your alternate form. Applying the same rules for the regular morphing form, you can change into this single animal instead. Your stats and abilities become that of the animal’s, with the exception of your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. You can choose a different creature when your Proficency bonus increases, losing access to the old one. In this form, you do not have access to any of your other abilities.


Many synthetic fall into this category but the variety within them is infinite. Enmesched are sometimes very clearly machines, sometimes indistinguishable from organic creatures, and often a mix of both. The Flare virus does not distinguish between different types of code and the mechanics of a liver against an energy recycler. Because of this, enmesched can fluctuate between the two, being a seemingly impossible mix of harsh machinery and organic bones, of blood and batteries. Because of this, some synthetic go their entire lives thinking they are one creature, only to figure out they are another. Many others refer to enmesched as cyborgs or androids but there is a distinction, even if it is slight. They are not organic creatures augmented with machinery, nor are they machines replicating living beings. They are a mishmash of meat and machinery, with their bodies and minds unable to recognize the difference between the two. Ability Score Increase. Your Strength Score increases by 1.

  • Acquired Ability. Your body is such an amazing replica of another creature that you gain one ability from them. Choose any subspecies and gain any one trait from them other than an Ability Score Increase.
  • Flare Jump. You can use an action to push your consciousness into an empty shell, such as a lifeless robot or dead body. The CR for this shell cannot exceed your character’s level. For the next hour, you control that shell as if it were your own body, losing all of your abilities and gaining theirs. Your Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores are that of the shell and you retain your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. During this time your original body is unconscious. You return your will to your own body if the shell drops to 0 hit points, if you use an action to return, or if the shell moves more than 1,000 feet away from your body or to another plane. You must finish a long rest before using this feature again. You can also use this ability to tag along inside a willing creature, experiencing everything the creature experiences, though you have no ability to control the creature without it’s permission.


Sometimes the Flare must settle for less than ideal forms to infect, causing all sorts of machinery to come to life. Cordless drills, hover boards, electric guitars, laptops, game controllers and systems, programmable toilets, animatronic puppets, digital pets, lamps, children’s toys, laser swords, and basically anything else that has some sort of battery or other power source, and even a basic bit of technology in it, can suddenly spring to life and begin adventuring. The Flare will slightly modify its original design, giving it the ability to move, speak, perceive the world around them, brandish a weapon, and even cast spells in some cases. In a world of dragons and demons, a vacuum wielding a magical sword is not all that peculiar… most of the time anyway.

  • Mutable Form. Almost every kind of tool, equipment, or piece of technology can be brought to life by the Flare. To play as an etcetera, your shell must be medium or small sized, with items that would be considered tiny having enough modifications and offshoots of their body to be considered small. You can hover up to 6 feet off the ground for a total of 1 minute before finishing a short or long rest. Otherwise you are limited to your shell’s original mobility or an augmented set of robotic legs (your choice). You can speak, read, write, attack, cast spells, and typically do most anything an average character can do, though your GM may impose some limits, based on your shell. The way you take these actions may be unconventional, requiring any number of tubes and tape, but you can attempt (and mostly accomplish) anything a typical character could do. Additionally, unless hovering, your movement speed in difficult terrain is reduced to 0.
  • Unusual Combat. You are proficient with two weapons of your choice. Applied Appliance. You gain proficiency with one skill of your choice that is related to your shell.
  • Odd Shape. You have advantage on saving throws to resist spells and effects that target a single creature but have disadvantage on Dexterity based saving throws. Auxiliary Battery. As a bonus action, you can expend one Hit Dice to recover hit points. You can do this a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier before finishing a short or long rest.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Lasers & Liches: Tales from the Retroverse - Test Wave 3 Player's MTX Creator(s) Chris Lock, Lluis Abadias Copyright 2021

This is not the complete section 15 entry - see the full license for this page