I started this as a hypothetical (if I had the power to do what I wanted) new cartoon series. But I've started thinking about trying to establish a RPG game based on the concept. The plan is for players to take on the (pre-generated) roles of the Autobot scouts and their human partners.
G1 was iconic. It introduced characters, concepts and other elements of the lore that are still a part of the Aligned Continuity. And Transformers Prime had some excellent characterization, and great ongoing plotlines. The smaller number of characters allowed them to focus more on the ones they have, but as a 30 minute toy commercial, it was limiting. And larger numbers allow for a wider variety of personal favorites and unique abilities.
So what about a series that combines elements of each? This is what I'm proposing here.
Primus, Unicron, etc. are mythic figures. Primus is the Cybertronian god. Religions don't normally have definitive proof of their validity. Many in both factions believe in Primus. Others don't. There will not be any definitive proof in the early series. Unicron may well be a major element in a later season. The Thirteen – including Megatronus, The Fallen – are historic figures, but ancient. The truth is mixed with legend and myth.
The aligned Continuity origins for Prime and Megatron, and their followers fits fairly well.
Prior to the arrival/reawakening of the Transformers, Earth already faced a major threat. A ruthless terrorist organization named Cobra, bent on world conquest. America (or possibly a NATO or UN coalition) established an elite counterterrorist unit: GI Joe. GI Joe, Cobra, the Dreadnoks, and ARES Industries Iron Grenadiers are all factions within the setting. Their involvement is still a new idea and is not discussed greatly here.
The villains are important. If they are weak, foolish, or not threatening, the heroes can't really shine. The Decepticons have three subfactions: Gladiators, Seekers, and Spies/Minicons. Initially, their base will be the Nemesis, the Decepticon flagship. It sits in orbit, and could allow the Decepticons to conquer the planet if they could gather enough energon to fully power it up. But its orbit is decaying, and keeping it up also requires energon. A major goal for the Autobots will be crippling/destroying it. (15 Decepticons + 4 Minicons = 19 total)
The earliest Decepticons. Megatron's core loyalists. Brutes.
Megatron – Decepticon Leader – Triplechanger: Tank/Fighter-Bomber
The strongest, most powerful of the Decepticons. The TF Prime version pretty well defines what I'm looking at. Charismatic, his troops love/fear him. And sheer power wins his battles. He has tactical skill, but is a poor strategist.
Shockwave – Scientist – HISS Tank
An earlier generation Cybertronian, lacking in emotional programming. He is the most intelligent of the Decepticons and is responsible for repairs and designing new weapons. Both Prime and G1 versions are basically what I'm seeing. Loyal to Megatron, but fixated on his work above the cause.
Scrapper, Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Hook, Rumble, Frenzy – various demolitions/construction vehicles – some with a Mad Max bent.
These Gladiators will eventually be remade by Shockwave into the Combiner Devastator. This group are only held together by Megatron. They fight each other when they get bored. They enjoy tormenting the Fleshlings, and blowing up, knocking down, or otherwise destroying things.
The Seekers are the remnant of a military unit that predates the War. Unique coloration and weaponry/powers, but their uniform basic design.
Starscream – Air Commander – Night Raven Fighter Jet
A gifted strategist, and a former explorer, with some scientific expertise. The Seekers are mostly loyal to Starscream. Starscream is a schemer. He plans to eventually lead the Decepticons, but is not foolish enough to make a straight attempt on Megatron. While he is selfish, and somewhat cowardly, his ability to bring victory ensures his troops will follow him. The Gladiators do so only when Megatron commands it.
Armed with Cluster Bombs and Null Rays.
Thundercracker – Warrior – Night Raven Fighter Jet
Armed with Plasma Cannons (in lieu of the G1 flamethrowers) and the ability to generate a rumbling sound that frightens and demoralizes his enemies. Of all the Seekers he is the most loyal to Megatron, enough to make Starscream suspicious of him (and not without reason).
Skywarp – Warrior – Night Raven Fighter Jet
Has the unique ability to Teleport – which can be used in place of Space/Ground Bridges (replacing Astrotrain from G1 as their long range transport option, but making him too valuable to risk in close combat). The fact he is kept back from the fight makes others – especially the Gladiators hate him.
Slipstream – Warrior – Night Raven Fighter Jet
Thrust – Warrior – Phantom X-19 Fighter Jet
Dreadwing – Warrior – Mamba VTOL?
Soundwave – Intelligence Commander – Reconnaissance Jet
Technically one of Megatron's old Gladiators. Loyal to the cause over Megatron. Will back Starscream's play and seek to sell it to Megatron if his leader is too consumed by ego to see the big picture and the Seeker's plan will further their goals. The Minicons are loyal to him.
Laserbeak and Ratbat – UAV drones/birds of prey - Reconnaissance experts.
Ravage – drone ground scout/panther - Stealth reconnaissance.
Reflector – Tablet/Flying squirrel – Electronic Intelligence
Like the Decepticons, the Autobots have subfactions. (20 Autobots) The Scouts will be the ones most likely to be a part of a plot where humans are involved. Warriors – some or all – come into play when a fight is imminent. And the Headquarters personnel will usually be supporting characters.
Optimus Prime – Autobot Leader – Semi Tractor (with Trailer)
Prime has pretty much always been iconic, and doesn't change here. The difference is he is less a battlefield commander, and more the leader of an entire people. He will let his commanders do their jobs. But if Megatron is involved, he will be there.
The trailer is normally just a means to transport slower or weaker Autobots with heavy protection. But a later version (designed by Wheeljack) might be an armor upgrade – not unlike how the G1 Ultra Magnus toy worked.
Ironhide – Bodyguard/Security Chief – SUV
Old and slow, Ironhide is responsible for protecting Optimus and the defense of the Ark. Ironhide is very gruff, and grumbles a lot. But he is Prime's closest friend, and would gladly die for him.
Ratchet – Mechanic – Ambulance
Based on the Prime version, but more of a doctor and less a general scientist.
Wheeljack – (Mad) Scientist – Sportscar
Based on the G1 version. An inventor, who builds both practical (and a number of impractical/failed) devices.
The warriors are the Autobot's frontline soldiers, and are sent in to combat the Gladiators or Seekers.
Prowl – Tactical Commander – Police Car
Like Starscream, was with the military before the war. Good at winning battles, but not as good at the big picture as Starscream. This means both sides can technically win the same engagement.
Bulkhead – Warrior – Humvee (Heavy Combat Model)
Sideswipe and Sunstreaker – The Twins – High end sportscars
Sunstreaker is vain and more concerned with his finish.
Kup – Warrior – Pickup truck
Oldest. Has vast experience, and may be a little senile.
Hot Rod – Warrior – Sportscar
Youngest. Impulsive, overconfident. But noble. Has the makings of a natural leader – though he is the most junior of the Autobots.
Arcee – Warrior – Convertible Sportscar
Skyfire – Seeker – Long-Range Heavy Jet
The Autobots Intelligence gathering arm, these 'bots work closely with the humans, and have friends among them. They are partnered with liasons from an elite counter-terrorist unit dedicated to defending human freedom from a ruthless terrorist organization: G.I. Joe.
Jazz – Intelligence Director – Sportscar
Another old friend of Optimus. Much more social than librarian Orion Pax in the old days. He has missed those days, especially the music. Built with heavy sonics/speakers. Partnered with Craig “Rock 'n Roll” McConnell (E5 Machine gunner).
Bumblebee – Nonthreatening compact car (if there were one with an insect name that would be the choice, maybe a Prius?)
A younger Autobot, born during the war. Enjoys the opportunity to do something useful without being directly involved in combat. Partnered with Steven “Spike” Witwicky. (E4 Mechanic).
Hound – Civilian model Convertible Humvee
Wishes he were human, and considers Earth his home now. Prefers to avoid combat. Has a Holographic projector, capable of creating large illusions. Partnered with Andrew “Footloose” Meyers (E4 Infantry)
Mirage – Spy – Astin Martin
On Cybertron he was a part of the upper crust of society, and used to the finer things. He longs to return to Cybertron and his old way of life. Has Invisibility and a number of other built in gadgets. (Sort of a combination of G1 Mirage with the alt mode and powers of Quickshadow from Rescue Bots to make a sort of James Bond). Partnered with Courtney “Covergirl” Kreiger (E4 Cavalry)
Chromia - ??? - Motorcycle
I'm not sure on this one. I want a female, but if there is a motorcycle, why isn't Rock 'n Roll partnered with that Autobot?
Undetermined Sixth Autobot scout/spy
Additional Joe partners (probably):
Nicky “Tunnel Rat” Lee (E4 EOD)
Robert “Grunt” Graves (E4 Infantry Trooper).