The world's premier weapon, man-machines tower over the battlefield both literally and figuratively. Normally between 8 and 12 meters tall, they are a relic of the Old World, again both literally and figuratively. Many man-machines are known to date back to the Old World, with many others having been excavated since. Others have been constructed using poorly-understood and often modified ancient plans.
In terms of quality, man-machines are generally considered to come in one of three types:
- Royal machines are indisputably the highest quality, leagues ahead of any other kind. A single royal machine is enough to deal with a squad or more of lesser machines. All royal machines are, without fail, relics of the Old World. Many are unique, though a number of standardized types have also been identified. In the Warrings States days they were often the mechanical steeds of nobility and kings, the solo protectors of principalities and dukedoms.
- Knight machines are likewise relic of the old world recovered from bunker caches or downed skyships. The difference is that knight machines were once produced en masse; only a relative handful of designs are known but each type has hundreds of copies. Knight machines are also significantly inferior to royal machines in specs and performance. Even though they exist in numbers, attrition and military expansion has mostly limited their use to elite formations.
- Battler machines are the last grade of man-machine, and the only ones built today. With their core systems constructed by dreamsmiths, their frames and most other systems are assembled in factories out of steel, aluminum and other metals. While superficially similar to Knight machines of which they are often patterned off, battler machines are strictly inferior in quality. However, unlike the other types, they can be replaced. The first modern mass-produced man-machine was the Battler type, which soon gave its name to this entire grade of man-machine.
Man-Machines are armed with a combination of fixed and mounted weapons; being effectively enormous metallic men they can wield weapons just like regular infantry can. As such their main armament is generally some sort of field artillery in rifle format, with many having rocket pods and maxim guns bolted to shoulders and other locations. Melee weapons are also common, though modern gun propellants have improved man-machine artillery to a degree that close combat is falling out of favor.
The most powerful weapon available to man-machines is the light rifle; while superficially similar in appearance to conventional gunpowder weaponry, the light rifle and related weapons inflict damage with incredibly focussed light. No weapon built today can remotely compare. Unfortunately, only a handful of dreamsmiths can hope to construct the enigmatic interior components of such weapons.
For all their power, man-machines have limits. The most significant is coolant; while the powerplants in man-machines can generate megawatts of electrical energy seemingly almost indefinately with nothing more than water as fuel, they generate heat. And, unfortunately, the secret of the Old World's technology is lost and with it, the advanced materials they used for heat dissipation. Instead, pale substitutes must be used. While in fact not particularly difficult to produce by today's industrialized world, coolant also breaks down quickly, sometimes in just a matter of hours. All man-machine pilots must keep a careful watch on their heat gauges and coolant levels and withdraw once they get too close to the "red line." This, as much or even more than ammunition limits, imposes a limit on man-machine operation for anything other than royal machines. Of course, for all their power royal machines are not invincible and a handful of them cannot win a war on their lonesome.