Throughout the ages, various creative minds have formulated visions of animate machines. In antiquity, Jewish tradition described a type of clay humanoid called a Golem. Greek mythology referenced a creature called Talos, a man made from bronze. These machines were created with magic and not science. 3rd century engineer Yan Shi created automatons. Samarangana Sutradhara, a Sanskrit treatise by Bhoja (11th century), also referred to making mechanical autmomata. In Renaissance Italy, Leonardo da Vinci sketched plans for a humanoid robot around 1495.
When I wrote the World of Gaianar role-playing game, I wanted to create a type of entity that was a blend of magic (like golems) and science (like robots). Constructs can be made from any materials and do not require a lot of internal mechanisms (like a golem). They do, however, have to be programmed (like a robot).
Constructs are created by Mathematicians by way of the Theoretical Engine spell. Once activated, Constructs typically obey their creator and will not turn on their creator (unlike the fiction pulps). Constructs do not need to eat or sleep, nor do they tire. They all have the ability to regenerate and will eventually recover from any injury that does not completely destroy them. Sentient Constructs may even get more powerful through experience. Constructs are very durable. They basically keep functioning until they are destroyed.
Constructs are technically immortal. However, an abandoned and forgotten Construct will eventually become ossified. This is essentially a kind of death. An ossified Construct will keep all of its memory and capabilities but loses the ability to update its programming or learn new tasks. Ossification usually sets in after a few centuries of neglect. Constructs in active societal roles (such as a college professor or therapist) are far more resistant to ossification, whereas a lone Construct patrolling an abandoned factory for centuries on end is quite vulnerable to becoming ossified.
Most Constructs are not self-aware. They are typically designed for specific tasks, such as sentry duty, hauling heavy equipment, janitorial tasks, and other repetitive drudge work. Ordinary Constructs may have the ability to speak, but they not have the ability to think outside the limited parameters of their duties. Such entities do not have any more civil rights than a car tire or a calculator. 80% of Constructs are of this variety.
Aside from ordinary Constructs (sometimes referred to "appliance" Constructs or "single-function" Constructs), there are three other varieties: semi-sentient, sentient, and super-sentient. Semi-sentient Constructs have the equivalent self-awareness of a smart dog. 15% of Constructs are semi-sentient. A few Constructs (4.9%) are fully sentient. In accordance with the North Point Charter of Rights, sentient Constructs have the same civil rights as flesh-and-blood humanoids save one: they cannot hold elected/appointed public office in which the duration is “life”. Killing a sentient Construct carries the same legal penalties as killing a flesh-and-blood humanoid. Sentient Constructs have the title “Kai”. Thus a sentient Construct named “Iris” would be called “Kai Iris” must like a man named Jones would be called “Mr. Jones”.
Super-sentient Constructs are exceedingly rare (0.1% of all Constructs). These machines have intellectual capabilities that far outstrip that of most sentient humanoids. Super-sentient Constructs can think/visualize in higher dimensions, easily solve the most staggering of mathematical equations, and often arrive at philosophical/ethical conclusions that might seem wholly alien to most sentient humanoids. Moreover, Super-sentient Constructs are wise enough to hide their nature (usually under the guise of a sentient Construct and not a super-sentient Construct). The difficulty faced with super-sentient Constructs is the constant frustration of dealing with humanoids and other machines that are inferior to them in nearly every way.
Constructs are often designed to look humanoid in some fashion. For example, a security drone might look like a suit of armor, whilst a low-level guard for a farm might look like a scarecrow. However, Constructs may be created in the form of non-humanoids. For example, a Construct may be shaped like a truck, an assembly line machine, or a starship. It may be a control panel in a power plant. It could be a furnace for an apartment building.
Akalla Class Constructs
There also exists a extraordinarily rare variety of Constructs known as "Akalla Class" Constructs, named after Kai Akalla - the first known Construct of this type. Akalla-class Constructs can never be made on purpose. They are always the result of an accidental (and non-repeatable) deviation in the manufacturing process or simply the result of an accident. Akalla-class Constructs have two properties that ordinary Constructs do not possess: First, they generate orders of magnitude more energy than even the most high-level sentient Construct; Second, their minds operate on a level that even the most brilliant mortals cannot comprehend. An Akalla-class Construct could generate enough power to light up a small city. Moreover, Akalla-class Constructs natively think in nine dimensions. To an Akalla-class Construct, solving a Feynman diagram is as easy as a high school student solving for X in "X+3=7".
There are only a handful of Akalla-class Constructs known to exist. Gaianar has thus far gotten lucky in that none of these Constructs hold values that are opposed to sentient biological life.
One of the hypothesis concerning an Akalla-class Constuct's creation is that somehow a living soul is intercepted into the Construct's physical form at a critical point when the incoming soul would have been been incarnated into a newborn baby. Of course, babies don't know anything whilst experienced souls know everything about every life they have ever lived. This necessarily means that the creation of an Akalla-class Construct means that somewhere newborn baby is stillborn. This means that Akalla-class Constructs are also living Constructs.
All Constructs innately know Machine Language. Additionally, Constructs almost always know the primary language of its creator.