This is written by Papyrus91@aol.com.
And again, I've done a few minor touch-ups. The topic of today is the vast
and wonderful world of cybernetics - you know, Robocop, Terminator, Black
Barney, and so on. So here goes.
CYBERNETIC ENHANCEMENT in XXVc, by Phillip J. Reed, jr. (editor
Camelot'94), originally published in Papyrus #16
Throughout the XXVc basic game and (if memory serves) within
the first few novels, the subject of cybernetics is avoided (save
for Black Barney, who I'm still unsure of). Gennies, the genetic
creatures created by man, fill the gap left wide open by the lack
of cybernetics in the setting, though gennies can only go so far.
Well, Black Barney and all the other Terrine mark 1b (Barneys) are
cybernetic in that they have an alloy skeleton (think Terminator and
Wolverine), and have "wrist-daggers" that can pop out from their wrists
(think implanted cutlery, again like Wolverine or the cyberspurs from
the Shadowrun rpg). They're considered more or less unique, and incorporate
technology that's not found in other gennies. Their "father", Remus Wydlin
(former head of Dracolysk corporation, target of a RAM hostile takeover),
is something of a genious.
After all, what happens when a Terran or Martian loses a limb in
combat? Does he grow a new one or just suffer for the rest of
I say let the Martian suffer! Oooops, sorry.
The following is a short collection of possible cybernetic
enhancements useful in the XXVc setting as well as a few brief
notes regarding their use. This information is written for use
with XXVc though with its AD&D2-style mechanics, as Nick Parenti
has pointed out so well in the past, it is also useful with any
RPG system derived from those basic concepts.
Attributes and Realism
It's important to note that this cybernetics system is far
from realistic. Any cybernetic which grants an attribute bonus
is applicable to the entire attribute range and not merely for
the limb or enhancement in question.
Actually, the "No Humans Allowed" supplement to BR takes a slightly
different approach. There' there's no general bonus, but a differentiated
one - if you have a cybernetic limb, you'll get increased damage when using
that limb to attack with, and only when you use that particular limb.
Thus, if you have a cybernetic left foot, you won't get increased damage if
you decide to clobber someone with your fist. Also, there's not necessarily
just a bonus to an attribute - one could also get improved damage from
merely using a cyberlimb to attack, such as 1d8 punching or kicking someone,
or perhaps 1d10. Considering that a monosword does 1d10 points of
damage, I'd suggest 1d8.
For example, a character takes a cyberarm with a +2 to
Strength. Various game systems utilizing cybernetics would, at
this point, rule that the bonus is added only when using that
arm. This system just drops the bonus on top of the attribute,
generalizing its effects greatly.
Instead of focusing overly much on attributes, think of all the neat
gadgets that can be built into a cyberlimb. There's flashlights, comlinks,
grappling hook projectors, knives, flame projectors, computers, tracking
devices, all sorts of projectors and displays, not to mention gillpacks,
toolkits, synthrope spools, tech scanners, bio scanners, translation packs,
and what have you.
Another frequently asked question when cybernetics are used,
is the old "what's powering them?". This system assumes that all
cybernetic components have an internal battery which gives them a
one-year life. This battery can be easily charged from any
starship's drive or other engine/energy device.
For just a "basic" cyberlimb replacement, one might use the old
"bioelectricity" cop-out. Also, one can consider an arm an item powered
by standard powerpacks, giving a cyberlimb a certain number of hours of
operation before the powerpack needs to be changed. Consider utility belts
and so on for examples on battery life.
Yeah, right. These things are almost impossible to find
(thus the high cost) and, even if you do happen to find them,
they'll probably be attached to someone. If you really want to
locate some cybernetics, try contacting the Black Brotherhood.
Of course, I'll warn you now that it's gonna cost more than
you've got. (An arm and a leg? ... Sorry, poor taste. But I just
Also, reclusive scientists, top-notch medical services, and experimental
RAM R&D labs are nice for providing exotica, such as cybernetic enhancements
and scar-generating encounters with mad cyborgs.
Now, after all the flashing neon and bright lights of hype,
I present a few cybernetic components/enhancements for use in
your XXVc (or system-related) campaign.
Cyberlimb: A pretty common enhancement, these are most often
used by those poor souls who have seen their original limb either
disintegrated or ripped off. The basic cyberlimb costs 2500cr.
For an additional 1000cr, you can purchase a hydraulic-powered
limb which grants a +2 to Strength. A Dex+2 cyberlimb is also
available for an additional 1500cr beyond the base cost. A
Str/Dex+2 limb is also available, but you'll end up paying 500cr
beyond the combined totals.
Cyberscreen: Why wear smart clothes with an ECM package when
you can just have the defensive abilities implanted within
yourself? Sure, it costs 3500cr, but the protection is worth it.
This little gadget operates in the same manner as the ECM
package detailed on p.27 of the XXVc Technology Book.
Enhanced Senses: This includes such things as cybereyes,
implanted hearing magnification, and any kind of vocal
modification. The types of enhancements are limited merely by
the imagination of the gamemaster and players. Each sensory
enhancement costs 1000cr, though the gamemaster may set a higher
cost for special enhancements (such as laser eyes).
Internal Armor (light and heavy): Not nearly as protective
as the real armor available to XXVc patrons, internal armor is
undetectable to the naked eye and can be combined with regular
armor types. The light version costs 3000cr and has an AC8,
while the heavy version costs 5500cr and has an AC4. When
combined with regular armor types, the internal armor's AC should
be subtracted from the regular armor's AC (in effect, treating it
as an AC modifier, similar to a Dex AC modifier).
Organ Replacement: This enhancement is most often taken by
people suffering from a terminal disease though a few have chosen
this cybernetic modification for the simple desire to swim in
space. A character so modified is assumed to have not a single
original vital organ, instead there is a mass of plastic tubing
and copper wiring filling the body. They can survive in space,
their internal organs identical to those of a Spacer (see
Characters & Combat p.30). Of course, since their skin hasn't
been enhanced, it's necessary that they wear a space suit in
order to be protected from the freezing cold of space. This
operation costs 15000cr.
Actually, here I have to disagree. The Spacer is a cybernetically enhanced
gennie, true, but that's because of the metallic covering a Spacer receives.
The internal organs of a Spacer is not a tangled mass of plastic
tubing, copper wiring, datacrystals and molecutronic chips. It's an algae
culture, and some other fancy things - which would be abundantly clear if one
just read the entry on the Spacer gennie in, what, Characters & Combat. The
organ replacement described here is more similar to that which the head of
Mechina (a Firm dedicated to rebuilding humanity through cybernetics)
has done to himself. His stats can be found in "No Humans Allowed", together
with a description of the nature of his modifications.
Weaponry Attachment: Intended for a cyberarm, the weaponry
attachment is an external connector for any one-handed weapon.
The weapon is fired by thought alone, an action which increases
the character's chance to hit with the weapon by +1. The
weaponry attachment costs 5000cr, plus the cost of the weapon and
ammunition. For an extra 6000cr, any small weapon may be
concealed within a cyberarm. A concealed weapon takes one full
combat round to conceal or reveal. The weapon may not be fired
Possible Use in an AD&D2 Campaign: It's easy to lay the
blanket term of magic over the cybernetic enhancements described
above, possibly even making a few of them magical items to be
found during an adventure. Magical surgery could implant any of
these items, creating characters as strange as anything they
could ever encounter on an alien world.
The DM could even go so far as to take a few of the more
standard magic items found in a typical campaign and rework them
just slightly. The Gauntlet of Strength which slowly replaces
flesh with steel, ensuring the gauntlet could never be removed,
would be an odd magic item (especially for the finder). What
about the Cloak of the Manta Ray which permanently attaches
itself to the wearer, falling off only when the wearer has been
killed? Magic rings, once slipped over the finger, could
disappear forever, becoming a permanent spell-like ability of the
wearer instead of a power inherent in a ring.
When adapting material, it's best to keep a wide open mind.