Modrons are an animal-like species of artificial intelligences and the primary form of ecology on Zard Prime. On the lower limit of sentience, but still classed as one of the Sentient Races, Modrons cohabit Zard Prime with the Zard.
There is no standard design of Modrons (or of Zard for that matter) but they have been observed to use documentation of real animals and mimicking their form. Like Zard, Modrons can transform into other shapes, but unlike Zard who typically have one or at most two alternate configurations Modrons seem capable of mimicking a wide variety of devices they have seen or otherwise learned about.
The relationship between Zard and Modrons is complex and poorly understood. It appears most likely that the two species are not actually related, but the origins of both (and of Zard Prime) remain unknown. Zard use Modrons as tools, weapons, ammunition and energy cells and seem adept at directing Modrons to take the form and function they require. When questioned about this symbiotic relationship, the Zard who were asked appeared to give it no more thought or philosophical-weighting than other species would to the use of inanimate objects. The Modrons who were asked were ‘unhelpful’ with the inquiries, but very adept at mimicking the approximate look and behavior of the expedition’s pets, and transforming into scientific equipment, scanners and data-pads to assist the researchers. Non-Zard can also make use of Modrons but as yet no non-Zard has shown the same innate ability to control Modrons and their transformations into the tools and weapons that are needed. Unfortunately this relies upon the limited abilities of the Modron to anticipate and/or understand the requirements of their intended user.
Modrons are typically energetic, helpful, playful, have short attention spans and virtually no sense of their own mortality. No specific ‘culture’ has been observed from Modrons but a form of communal memory has been documented in which information is shared among a population of Modrons and the presence or survival of the individual Modron which learned the information is not required. In particular the Modron concept of natural animal life (to copy) is perpetuated in this way.
The standard life cycle for Modrons appears to involve the destruction of a large mechanical object (such as a Zard) by an elder Modron’s detonation. This infects nearby mechanisms with nanomachines, which begin constructing small Modrons resembling (somewhat) the ‘parent’. These will be generated in number, and then suffer a high attrition rate as they are used, killed, or succumb to accidents. Those that survive will grow progressively larger as they incorporate more techno-matter into themselves and self-construct bigger bodies. This process can be retarded without harming the Modron by limiting its access to metals and items of technology.
The largest Modrons develop an increased tendency to transform into items of ordinance, to better facilitate the life-cycle by detonating and ‘seeding’ their target and anything in their blast radius and thus perpetuate the Modrons life cycle. However Modrons are ‘fertile’ from ‘birth’, and can seed the area if they self destruct.
It is observed that Modrons can not seed without detonating, but the reason for this is unknown. Unfortunately the Modrons also have no idea why, and typically need to be informed of where Modrons come from. This is reputedly harder than explaining biological reproduction to a biological child.