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Cybernetics in Psi-punk

Cybernetics – Cyberware and Bioware

The line between man and machine has been blurred significantly, and in 2096 cybernetic implants are commonplace. Cyberware refers to any machine that is implanted within, or permanently affixed to, the human body. These machines are often designed to enhance ones normal abilities, though occasionally they are used insidiously and might be implanted to track an individual—or worse.

Another form of enhancement is known as “bioware”. Bioware is similar to cyberware, but it represents any sort of implant or enhancement made of organic material and interwoven directly into the body’s natural functions (as opposed to being a separate prosthetic attachment). Bioware can be used to enhance muscle tissues, increase metabolism, improve lung capacity, etc.

Both cyberware and bioware are purchased using Gifts or Wealth. GMs may wish to restrict the total number of cybernetic enhancements a character may have to prevent characters from becoming too powerful for the campaign. A good rule of thumb is to allow no more than 8 Gifts worth of cybernetics in any one character.

 

Example Cybernetics

Below are some example cybernetics to get you started thinking about what possibilities lie in store for your characters. Each will have a suggested cost in Gifts and in Wealth. Generally, a character need only pay one or the other (Gifts or Wealth, not both) unless the GM deems it necessary to pay for both.

Like anything else, cyberware isn’t perfect. Faults may be added to any cyberware to mitigate its total cost, and a rare few may possess only Faults (and therefore grant the character additional bonuses; see Trade-offs in Character Creation.)

 

Aural Augmentation

A special implant in your ears enhances ambient noise and increases your ability to focus on specific sounds. You gain a +1 bonus on Notice checks made to hear noises, and you can perceive frequencies that are above or below the normal human range (sub-vocals, dog whistles, etc.). Unfortunately, you are also more susceptible to sonar attacks and receive a -1 penalty to DDFs versus any attack involving sound, including attacks made with the sonarkinesis power.

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

 

Aural Augmentation, Advanced

Similar to Aural Augmentation, but you have more control over the noise levels you perceive. You may enhance specific sounds and decrease the levels of others, granting you improved perception without the same vulnerabilities. You gain a +2 bonus on Notice checks made to hear noises but do not receive a penalty against sonar attacks.

Cost: 2 Gifts or Superb [32] Wealth

 

Brain Bank

A small electronic storage device is implanted in your skull and connected directly to your neural network. This device acts as a computer hard drive, capable of containing virtually limitless amounts of data. You effectively have a photographic memory, with the ability to store and retrieve data from your brain bank as swiftly as you can think of it (though if your natural brain forgets something is stored, you do not necessarily recall it when needed; you must “actively” search for the data to be retrieved).

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

 

Skill Chip Reader

If you have a Brain Bank, you may install an optional reader that allows you to make use of Skill Chips. These are small devices that can be inserted into your Brain Bank (via a special port on the side of your skull) and accessed to give you temporary knowledge of nearly any skill; they include instruc- tion manuals, tutorials, FAQs, and other detailed information necessary for the skill’s use.

You may only use a single Skill Chip at any time, and swapping out one for another takes 6 seconds (1 round) assuming you already have a replacement in hand. The chips themselves are similar in size and shape to SD cards (you may remember seeing those in a computer museum) and are easily stored in small containers. It takes one minute per skill level contained on the chip to familiarize yourself with the material presented to you and to be able to use the skill properly.

Skill Chips come in levels from Mediocre to Superb and grant you an equivalent bonus on any one skill. For example, you may purchase a Good Vehicles skill chip to gain use of the Vehicles skill at a level of Good. Note that Skill Chips do not enhance your attributes as advancement of a normal skill would and they are never associated with a specific attribute; therefore, when spending Luck Points to reroll a skill, you only ever get to reroll 1 die at a time.

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth for the Skill Chip Reader; individual Skill Chips cost Wealth equal to the skill’s level +1 (Fair [4] for a Mediocre skill, Good [8] for a Fair skill, etc.)

 

Brainwave

A wireless communicator is implanted into your skull and connected to your neural network. You may instantly transmit thoughts to any other person with a Brainwave communicator, though they may not be willing to receive incoming thoughts from you. To force your thoughts into someone else’s mind or to read the thoughts of a transmission that you are not supposed to be listening in on, re- quires a Focus check opposed by the target’s Mind attribute. The target may attempt to force you out again; you must continue to make this check each round you wish to maintain contact.

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

Cybernetic Arms

Your arms have been replaced with cybernetic limbs, with or without accompanying synthetic skin (your choice). Your arm strength is improved, granting you a +1 to your Strength for the purpose of Lifting objects (see Playing the Game for more info) and you are better able to grip and hold objects that you would normally be able to carry. However, this does not confer any benefit when lifting particularly large or heavy objects (since that also requires back and leg muscles). If you also possess the Reinforced Frame and Cybernetic Legs enhancements you may be able to lift objects far heavier than normal for a person of your Strength.

In addition to the above enhancements, your arms are capable of withstanding extreme temperatures; you may reach into a fire and pull out an object without getting burned, for example, assuming you don’t catch the rest of your body on fire in the process. You can crush bricks, bend iron bars, and perform other spectacular feats of strength that don’t involve using muscles from other parts of your body. You gain a +1 bonus on ODFs when attacking with a melee weapon.

Finally, you may spend an additional Gift (or Good Wealth) to have a special compartment hidden within one or both of your arms that is capable of concealing a small object (such as a knife, small handgun, grenade, etc.).

Cost: 2 Gifts or Superb [32] Wealth (regardless of the number of arms replaced)

 

Cybernetic Eyes

Your natural eyes have been replaced with purely cybernetic optical devices. When you first purchase this Gift, you may select one of the following options for free. You may spend additional Gifts (or the associated Wealth) to upgrade your cyber eyes to provide additional benefits. Regardless of how many enhancements you have, Cybernetic Eyes only count as 2 Gifts for the purposes of determining the maximum number of Gifts worth of cyberware your character may possess.

You may only use one viewing mode at a time. Switching between modes requires no time to complete and may be done simply by thinking of the mode that you wish to use. If no mode is selected, you view the world as normal for a human with 20/20 vision.

Cost: 2 Gifts or Superb [32] Wealth

  • Computer-Integrated Display (CID): You may wirelessly tap into a computer and view its dis- play through your own eyes. This enhances the display to encompass your entire field of vision and you cannot perceive the world around you while using this viewing mode. This enhancement does not confer any bonus to access a system or use the system once you have connected to it; if you do not have the appropriate security credentials (or if you are not able to crack the system) you may not be able to tap into it. Because the display is wirelessly transmitted through the ‘Net, you may be able to access any available system in the world, regardless of its proximity to you.
  • Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth
  • Heads Up Display (HUD): Your cyber eyes scan the area and provide tactical information about the objects and creatures you see. You can single in on specific objects to get detailed information about their height, weight, density, material composition, relative distance from you,
  • Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth
  • Night Vision: You can see in the dark as if you were wearing night vision goggles. Objects appear to have a green tone and details are not sharp, but you can function normally
  • Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth
  • Thermal Vision: You can see the thermal (heat) signature of anything you are viewing. This may allow you to detect invisible creatures (assuming they are not somehow masking their heat signature, such as through the use of cryokinesis) and other objects or beings that would normally go unnoticed.
  • Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth
  • X-Ray Vision: You can see through most solid objects and view what is on the other  side. One foot of stone, one inch of metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt blocks the effect.
  • Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

Cybernetic Legs

Both of your legs have been replaced by cybernetic limbs, with or without accompanying synthetic skin. You can run faster, jump higher, kick harder, and even balance better (using special self-correct- ing servos). You can bear heavier loads than a normal person of your Strength and gain a +1 bonus to your Lifting capacity (which stacks with the bonus granted by Cybernetic Arms).

You gain a +1 bonus on any skill check made to jump or balance, as well as on ODFs when making attacks with your legs. You can run at speeds up to 30 MPH, though your legs do not confer any special bonuses to sustain that speed indefinitely (you may still need a bionic respiratory system for that).

Cost: 2 Gifts or Superb [32] Wealth

 

Horse Heart

Though not technically the heart of a horse, this bioware enhancement improves the user’s existing heart and circulatory system to give them the endurance of a racehorse.

Horse hearts grant the user a +2 bonus on Athletics checks when performing any action that requires sustained stamina or endurance, such as running a marathon (but not a sprint) or swimming great distances.

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

 

Mind Reader

This implant is most often used for insidious purposes and is installed without the user’s knowledge. By inserting a chip into the wearer’s skull and linking it to his neural network, anyone with the appropriate security credentials can log into the character’s brain from a computer (or other capable device) and read that character’s thoughts. These chips are used for a variety of purposes: corporations spying on their employees, governments spying on their citizens, and back-alley street docs spying on their customers just to name a few. They may also be used for positive effects, such as tracking a lost pet or using an animal to scout an area for its handler, but these uses are far less common.

Cost: 1 Gift or Good [16] Wealth (if used with knowledge and intent); 1 Fault (if installed without a character’s knowledge). Characters may take this as a Fault at Character Creation or a GM may give one to a character without his knowledge during play, in which case the character does not gain a Fault Trade-Off.

 

Ocular Augmentation

Your vision is superior to that of the most keen-eyed individual. Though not as versatile as full cyber- netic eye replacements, these enhancements are made to your existing eyes and help you to see better in most lighting conditions; you can see twice as well at night or under minimal lighting circumstanc- es. You also gain a +1 bonus on Notice checks made to see something. Unfortunately, you are also more susceptible to photokinesis and other light-based attacks and take a -1 penalty to DDFs versus such attacks.

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

 

Ocular Augmentation, Advanced

Your vision is enhanced well beyond that of the normal human range. You can see three times as well as a normal human in dark or dim conditions and your vision is never washed out in bright light. You gain a +2 bonus on any Notice check made to see something but do not suffer a penalty on DDFs ver- sus light-based attacks. You are also immune to the effects of flash grenades and similar attacks.

Cost: 2 Gifts or Superb [32] Wealth

 

Olfactory Augmentation

Your sense of smell has been enhanced in such a way that you can detect even the slightest scents. You gain a +1 bonus on Notice rolls made to smell something and can track a creature (even an invisible one) by scent. Unfortunately, you

are also more susceptible to pungent odors and take a -1 penalty on any check made to resist the effects of being sickened by smells.

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

Olfactory Augmentation, Advanced

With this augmentation, even a bloodhound would be jealous of your ability to sniff out fine details. You gain a +2 bonus on Notice rolls to detect smells and may track creatures (even invisible ones) by scent. Like a camel, you can close your nostrils to prevent harmful substances (such as dust and sand, but also airborne contaminants and foul odors) from permeating your nose. You gain a +2 bonus ver- sus scent-based and airborne attacks.

Cost: 2 Gifts or Superb [32] Wealth

 

Reinforced Frame

Titanium has been grafted directly into your skeleton and the muscles in your torso have been significantly enhanced to help you bear heavy loads. Your ability to absorb damage is greatly increased and you can support the weight of a semi-truck without collapsing (assuming your legs and arms don’t get crushed).

You gain a +2 bonus to DDFs against Physical damage and, if you sport both Cybernetic Arms and Legs, you can lift enormous amounts. You take no penalty when lifting objects twice as heavy as your normal Lifting weight, a -1 penalty for objects weighing three times your Lifting weight, a -2 penalty for objects weighing four times as much, and finally a -3 penalty for objects weighing five times your normal maximum Lifting limit (see Playing the Game for more on Lifting Capacity).

Cost: 3 Gifts or Superb + Great [48] Wealth

 

Rhino Skin

Your skin has been reinforced by a biochemical process, making it incredibly resistant to ripping, tearing, burning, and freezing. You gain a +1 bonus to DDFs vs. weapons that would pierce or tear the flesh (such as firearms and swords, but not clubs) as well as attacks from fire- and cold-based sources. Rhino Skin may be added to Cybernetic Arms and Legs as well as normal body parts. As an added bonus, you no longer have to worry about paper cuts!

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

 

Titanium Knuckles

It’s going to hurt them more than it hurts you. Titanium has been grafted to your bone, increasing the hardness and durability of your hands and fists. This enhancement is too subtle for others to notice unless they’re in the process of feeling your wrath.

In addition to any obvious benefits of having titanium bones, you gain a +1 bonus to your ODFs when attacking someone with an unarmed attack, or a +2 bonus if you are Specialized in unarmed combat.

Cost: 1 Gift or Great [16] Wealth

 

Voice Synthesizer

With this implant, you are capable of altering your voice to mimic that of virtually any noise or any person. Altering your voice to sound like a different, non-specific person requires no effort on your part; you simply state that you are doing so. Attempting to mimic a specific person’s voice requires that you first be familiar with their voice (at the GM’s discretion) and then attempt a Great Act, Bluff, or similar skill check. Characters familiar with that person’s voice may make an opposed Mind check to recognize even the most minor inconsistencies and they may receive a bonus (or penalty) to this check based on exactly how familiar they are with the person.

Cost: 2 Gifts or Superb [32] Wealth

 

Gutterware

Not all cyberware is created (or installed) equally. Some ‘ware, known derogatorily as “gutterware” for its inefficient and occasionally hazardous nature, is barely worth the chrome it’s made of. Gutterware comes in three basic varieties: cheap, illegal, and cheap and illegal. It is most commonly installed by Street Docs and other operations that aren’t entirely on the up-and-up. Usually, gutterware is either a discounted version of premium cyberware (such as last decade’s model or a designer knock-off) or illegal ‘ware that’s been tampered with.

Because illegal ‘ware is, for obvious reasons, unregulated, it is very likely that any ‘ware installed without sufficient Rank or license will be gutterware.

Game Masters should use their best judgment when a player purchases new cyberware to determine whether or not the new parts should be gutterware. Consider the amount of money the character is willing (or able) to spend on ‘ware, the potential legality of the ‘ware, and where he acquires it. If the character isn’t a registered citizen in a city which requires registration, for example, he probably will need to find a Street Doc or some other seedy character to install it for him, since going to a traditional clinic is out of the question.

GMs may also feel free to be creative; the character likely doesn’t know he’s having faulty hardware installed, so the GM may secretly make a note about the new gear and apply its Faults without the character’s knowledge!

 

Faults

The key difference between gutterware and normal cyberware is that it always contains at least one Fault. Any of the cyberware outlined in this chapter, as well as any other cyberware you create, may be designated as gutterware if it contains some Fault or drawback.

As usual, applying a Fault to anything with a Gift will mitigate its cost, making it cheaper. Gutterware offsets both the Gift and Wealth costs of cyberware by a certain amount, but the cyberware’s initial cost still counts toward the maximum number of cyberware Gifts a character may possess (8).

For example, Cybernetic Legs cost two Gifts. By applying the “Faulty Servos” Fault the legs would cost only one Gift but would still count as two of the eight total cyberware Gifts a character may possess.

Finally, some Faults may potentially be “bought off” during gameplay. Either the character finds someone to fix the faulty equipment (at which point he would remove the Fault) or receives an upgrade that repairs or replaces the issue. This may be done either by purchasing a new Gift with Build Points or spending the appropriate Wealth at a later time. In either case, the characters must find the in-game means to make the repair or upgrade.

 

Example Gutterware Faults

Below is a list of example Faults that can be applied to nearly any piece of cyberware to make it gutter- ware. Feel free to develop your own and remember to use common sense when applying these Faults; not all Faults are appropriate for all types of gear.

Alloy

Most cyber-limbs are crafted from titanium because it is light, durable, and grafts easily to bone. Your ‘ware was crafted from some lesser alloy that isn’t as ideal. You gain all of the benefits the limb offers, but any time you would take an Incapacitated wound from a single physical attack you risk having the limb break. A broken limb imposes a -1 penalty on all physical checks until it is repaired (costing at least a Mediocre amount of Wealth and assuming you can find someone to fix it). At least it came cheap.

Wealth Modifier: 1 Fault or Good [-8] Wealth

Antipsi

Your gear was probably developed by someone who hates mentals and contains components that alter your psychic abilities. You must always reroll a single + result any time you activate a psionic power. This Fault is never beneficial; its antipsi effects are limited only to disrupting the user. This Fault should never be applied to characters who do not have innate psionic powers.

Wealth Modifier: 1 Fault or Good [-8] Wealth

Faulty Servos

Your legs don’t work quite like they’re supposed to. You do not gain any skill or attack bonuses that would otherwise be granted by the use of Cybernetic Legs, but you still gain the increased Lifting Capacity and movement speed.

Wealth Modifier: 1 Fault or Good [-8] Wealth

Government Issue

You probably don’t know it, but this ‘ware belongs to the government. Its serial numbers have been filed off, but the hack who installed it failed to remove its tracking chip. Government agents may come looking for you if they ever suspect their gear has been stolen and you’re probably not at liberty to discuss how their ‘ware wound up in your body.

Wealth Modifier: 1 Fault or Good [-8] Wealth

Short Circuit

One piece of cyberware has a short circuit that causes it to randomly malfunction. Whenever you roll 2 blanks on any check involving that piece of gear, it simply ceases to function for a short period of time (usually just a few seconds, or long enough to apply to a single check). This may result in the loss of vision (if using Cybernetic Eyes), loss of arm or leg control, the inability to access a skill chip temporarily, etc. The GM may spend one of his own Glitches to trigger the short circuit (see Game Mastering for more about Glitches).

Wealth Modifier: 1 Fault or Good [-8] Wealth

Unshielded

Your gear hasn’t properly been shielded from electrical currents, causing you to take more damage from electricity-based attacks. Electricity damage has a +1 bonus against you. Additionally, if a single electricity-based attack would cause you an Incapacitated wound, the GM may spend one of his Glitches to cause your gear to further malfunction, applying the Short Circuit Fault to that equipment.

Wealth Modifier: 1 Fault or Good [-8] Wealth

Streetware

Some cyberware is so low-grade that it doesn’t warrant the cost of a Gift. This gear, known as Street- ware for its common nature, doesn’t count against the limitations on the amount of cyberware a user’s body can hold (subject to GM approval). These enhancements are usually cosmetic and they can often be installed with relative safety by Street Docs and low-rent shopping mall operations.

Most of this ‘ware is too insignificant from a game mechanic perspective to warrant an entry of its own, but some common examples of streetware include:

  • tongue enhancements that add flavor to nano-food
  • animated tattoos (pre-programmed or altered at will)
  • eye or skin color changes
  • skin textures, such as scales, fur, or glitter
  • horns, hooks, tusks, or fangs
  • programmable LEDs installed on the head (a.k.a. “case lights” or “dome lights”)

Streetware usually does not cost characters any significant amount of Wealth. If a player character wishes to have their streetware grant a game mechanic bonus, consider whether or not it should be traditional cyberware or gutterware instead.