Droidchangers: Fight or Die by Andy Moonowl
Warning! Review may contain spoilers!
Droidchangers was known as Mechanoids for a short time in the competition
Droidchangers! Robots that aren’t obvious robots! Bah bah bah bah bah! This gamebook is a bit like that. It’s a robot adventure set on a distant planet. You are to rescue your little robot friend, find the key he has and use it to reactivate Omicron Delta. Most importantly, you get to be a robot that can turn into a vehicle of your choosing.
I choose a truck, for obvious reasons. I’m also trying hard not to use the word “transform”, as no doubt does the author. I believe this is to avoid any sort of copyright infringement. The gamebook was breifly known as a much more catchy title of Mechanoids before being changed later, perhaps because of similar issues. It is a bit of a shame – it seems noone owns the generic fantasy creature menagerie so we can all write generic fantasy adventures, yet robots that can turn into cars are pretty tied up in franchising.
“Remember how your friend Wheedle’s disappeared?”
How could you forget? The little green microbot – half your size but twice your adrenal fluid – was always getting into messes too big for his two-wheeled frame.
Andy Moonowl is a Windhammer regular, and is a big fan of exotic dice. This one is no exception with my truck being a d20 and you get to roll lots of stats when creating your character. Some of the stats seem quite interesting so I’m eager to get started. There’s also a time stat so I shouldn’t mess about either. However there are quite a few rule to get through before the adventure starts. I haven’t seen them before and they are fairly complex, so this one is going to take a bit of investment.
You play a Factroid, a vehicle-robot hybrid that experiences quite human emotions, like anxiety, morale and humour. The world is well realised, with each location you visit having a rich history and information about its inhabitants and geography. This is also done well – an opening paragraph surrounded by  indicates you accessing your memorybanks – the Factroid equivalent of Wikipedia.
There are some nice touches in this gamebook. Maps are made with circuit diagrams. Your robot body takes damages to various areas, causing you to lose stats or turn to walking mode. As a truck I feel suitably powerful and more like a steamroller. Unfortunately the scenario didn’t really inspire me, and I think the dice rolling is its biggest downfall. Combat is not as exciting as it should be as it is is too dice heavy and there is too much looking back at the rules and checking the body part that is damaged; then having to find the consequences of this. At one point I had to roll for each of my 20 body parts. It was too much – the mechanics would be better automated and maybe this would work better as an app.