Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Cybernetics

Well, well, well… it’s about time to deal with cyborgs. I have worked out psionics and mysticism in ways that I’m pleased with, and that fit with the rest of the system well without creating a major subsystem to track. That’s one of the biggest concerns with bringing in disparate elements to the core system: that the new element will require a fundamental change to the rules or will force the creation of a new sub-system in order to allow its inclusion.

Enter cyborgs, stage left.

The easy fix for cyborgs is to say that a cyborg gets a pool of bonus character points to spend as desired. This is the simplest, and also my least favorite, option. It doesn’t bring any flavor or uniqueness to cybernetics if they do exactly what going up a level would do.

However, if we go to the other mechanic – clout – and built from there, we end up with some cool possibilities. I’ve endeavored to avoid using gear to upgrade your natural attributes and traits. It’s in the best interests of the game (it seems) if you can’t get the same stealth bonuses from a camouflage suit and a pair of high-tech boots as you can from training.

Cybernetics should, on some level, supersede that thinking.

So let’s say that each cybernetic device you link grants a +1 shift in a circumstance… here are five examples of cybernetic upgrades:

- Cybernetic Arm (50 Clout). Take a +1 die shift to Body rolls when using upper body strength; this includes rolls to force or bend objects, for melee damage rolls, or for Feats to break free of binds or constriction.
- Cybernetic Leg (50 Clout). Take a +1 die shift to Body rolls when using lower body strength; this includes rolls to lift or shove, for melee damage rolls from kicks, or for leaping rolls.
- Cybernetic Eye (50 Clout). Take a +1 die shift to Spirit Feat rolls to notice things requiring vision; you have night vision to 6 cm (as per night vision goggles); take +1 to the range rating of all weapons you use.
- Cybernetic Weapon (as per weapon +10 Clout). Hard-wire a weapons system directly into your exoskeleton. However, you are allowed to purchase weapons rated one die higher than your Body; with Body D6, you may upgrade weapons requiring up to Body D8.
- Cybernetic Armor scales from +1 to +5 Invulnerability: +1 (10 Clout); +2 (25 Clout); +3 (50 Clout); +4 (100 Clout); +5 (175 Clout). You can upgrade armor, so moving from +3 to +4 rated armor costs 50 Clout (since you already spent 50 Clout to get to +3).


Or… we could say that cybernetics give you a bonus die to add… this way, you could scale your cybernetics bonuses with increasing value. The cybernetic device, when it applies, gives you a second die to add. Even if we just go with designations of Lite (D4) Medium (D6) and Heavy (D8), we could have:

A cybernetic arm gives you the bonuses as outlined above. A lite arm (30 Clout) gives you an additional D4 (added to your Body roll) in the situations outlined above; you could upgrade this to a Medium Arm D6 (50 Clout) or a Heavy Arm D8 (100 Clout). This keeps things from scaling too crazily, but gives a greater variety to your options for cybernetics. All of the other options above would work in the same ways.

This last option is slightly more complex, and does use a sub-system with 2 dice, but I’m already using such a system for vehicles and larger creatures anyway, so it’s not a new system, just a re-purposing of one that will show up in other places…

Lastly, I think that as a cyborg, you can elect to take some risks in order to get more clout. The rules will assume that the whole thing is hardwired to your central nervous system, meaning that your body powers the suit, or that the power systems are so ingrained as to be inaccessible by foes. However, you can elect to have a power system that can be overrode, disabled, or temporarily shorted. You have three different levels for power source options:

- Internal Power: As above.
- Minor External Power: You supplement your cybernetic systems with external power packs and batteries. By taking a Minor external power source, you get 50 bonus Clout points to use in purchasing cybernetic systems. Your source can be shorted for D6 rounds (DT 12) or overrode/disabled entirely (DT 22).
- Primary External Power: Your power primarily derives from external power packs and batteries. My taking a primary external power source, you get 100 bonus Clout points to use in purchasing cybernetic systems. Your source can be shorted for D6 rounds (DT 8) or overrode/disabled entirely (DT 18).

A foe with an advanced communications kit (or comparable technology) may, once per encounter, use 1 turn to attempt to short, override, or disable your cybernetics. If the foe scores one success (DT 12 for minor external power source; DT 8 for primary external power source), the foe disables all of your cybernetic systems for D6 rounds as your pack re-powers. If the foe scores a critical success (DT 22 for minor external power; DT 18 for primary external power), the foe can EITHER disable your cybernetics entirely for the rest of the encounter OR can elect to take total control of you for D6 rounds. An electrical surge can also short out your systems as above…

Whew… I think we’ve solved cybernetics! I’m giving you air knucks right now (do NOT leave me hanging here).