Saturday, January 31, 2015

31. Universal Tissue

Pet-project of the biohacking branch of the fork hive biohacker Myrmidon, universal tissue seeks to replace organ specialization with a uniform mass of tissue capable of all biological functions. Myrmidon has a vision for a new type of morph, an exoskeleton filled with his universal tissue like a foam. In theory, such a morph would have almost no vital organs and therefore be virtually indestructible. In practice, all of Myrmidon's tissue formulas thus far have run into the "jack-of-all-trades, master of none" problem, and his prototypes are not competitive with similar models on the market, such as Nova-Crabs.

Mechanics

Universal tissue is bioware [High]

Universal tissue acts as structural enhancement for biomorphs and podmorphs instead of synths. However, SOM is reduced by 5.

Friday, January 30, 2015

30. Lycanthropy

The first iteration of the Lycanthropy nanotoxin was a medichine hack. A group of radical mercurial uplifts infected the medichines of the families of Cognite executives. Any hack of medichines is met with rapid and thorough security updates, which rendered that first form unusable, but the mercurials were able to cultivate a nanotoxin out of a culture of infected medichines. This nanotoxin form of the Lycanthropy condition is what is known to transhumanity today.

The nanotoxin causes keratin build-ups in feet and hands as the body attempts to grow hooves, in fingers and toes as the body attempts to grow claws, in lips as the body attempts to grow a beak, and in skin as the body attempts to grow feathers. Worst of all, by most accounts, is the growth of feathers, causing steady pain as they attempt to puncture through skin. The condition has never proved fatal, and is kept in check by medichines, but its slow burn brand of body-horror gives it an over-sized infamy. The toxin has even become endemic in some poor districts of Jovian habs, providing fuel for anti-nano and anti-uplift attitudes.

Mechanics

Lycanthropy is a nanotoxin [Moderate]

Type: Nano Application: Inj Onset Time: Immediate Duration: Indefinite

Those infected by Lycanthropy take 1 SV per day of infection due to chronic pain and body dysmorphia. Medichines prevent progression, but nanophages are required for total immunity.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

29. Swarm Gun

The swarm gun has a deceptively low-tech appearance, like a classic sawn-off shotgun from old media, but with four barrels arranged in a square, and usually an attached smartgun system. The weapon is one of the sole break-action weapons in current use, meaning that the gun opens like a hinge to allow placement of the warheads directly in the ends of the barrels.

Jovian Security often announce their presence with the simultaneous detonation of EMP, Concussion, Overload and CS Gas seekers, many zone stalkers swear by x2 EMP and x2 Plasma seekers as a TITAN warmachine/nanoswarm cure-all and x4 HEAP warheads are a threat to even the most overbuilt of synths.

Mechanics

Swarm guns are wielded with the seeker weapons skill.

Swarm Gun [Moderate]

The swarm gun fires 4 micromissiles simultaneously. All four missiles must be aimed at the same target. An action is required to reload the gun. On a critical glitch, the GM may declare that the simultaneous launch has caused one of the seekers to detonate prematurely.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

28. Crusoe

Currently the most popular member of a venerable genre of interactive entertainment, Crusoe is an open source simulspace game challenging players to survive and build in simulated environments.

A new player will find themselves on an earth-like planet with a multi-tool and engineering and gardening hives. Players looking for a specific challenge can adjust their beginning states with custom morphs, equipment and environments. Common challenges include surviving as a splicer in an old-earth wilderness with no equipment, starting as a synth with only wrist-mounted tools and building your way up to a fusion reactor, and team games challenging players to defend against waves of hostile beings.

Because of the accuracy of the simulation, most things invented in Crusoe can also be built in real life. Crusoe has therefore attracted the attentions of some Argonaut researchers, who have begun a project collecting useful designs and turning them into real gear. Similarly Crusoe is of interest to social scientists, who have run experiments exploring how technology effects social structures and how populations respond to controlled stresses. Gatecrashers have used Crusoe simulations to experiment with approaches for exploration of various alien environments and to test new equipment, and there was a brief fad of Titanian microcorps holding team-building exercises in the game.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

27. Plasticity Treatments

The functions of the brain are not trapped in neatly demarcated areas. Give enough time, the brain will reroute or relearn many tasks, allowing for significant recovery after some brain damage. It is during infancy and childhood that the brain is most plastic and capable of learning at great rates.

With a cycle of plasticity treatments, these great learning and adapting abilities can be regained no matter the age. A tailored retrovirus followed by a short round of hormones allows the brain to once again rapidly adjust itself to new circumstances. The treatment has become popular with those attempting to learn new suites of skills, adjust to new morphs or otherwise adapt themselves to long-term, radical changes. The cost, however, can be high. Memories formed before the treatments began slowly become unintelligible to the newly altered brain.

Mechanics

Plasticity treatments are bioware [Moderate]

Plasticity treatments halve the time necessary to learn new skills, acclimate to new morphs and more (at the GM's discretion), but at the cost of many pre-treatment memories.

Monday, January 26, 2015

26. Society of the Words of Gods

In the wake of the Fall, transhumanity is scattered, isolated and traumatized. With so many searching for stability and community and lost in the post-singularity world, cults are springing up like weeds.

The Society of the Words of Gods is one of the most isolated and closed-off communities in the outer system, for one reason. The Society speaks only one language, a unique language, believed to train the thoughts of those who speak it. The cult uses memory editing, skill suppression and deep learning psychosurgury to teach the faithful the Words and to remove their ability to understand any other languages. The faithful thus lose their ability to communicate with the rest of transhumanity, and the Society becomes their whole world.

The Society was founded by Alexander Haywood and his seven disciples. Haywood claimed to have been taught the Words by a powerful alien being he contacted via a radio observatory at which he worked. The being promised that the Words would transform those who spoke and thought them, preparing them to live among gods. Haywood recorded these sessions, but no one other than himself and his disciples have ever heard them.

The Society has no formal organization, but in practice can be divided into four groups. The lowest on the totem pole are the potentials, those who are proving themselves to the Society and who retain their old languages. The next (and largest) group are the faithful, who have undergone psychosurgury to learn the Words and have all other languages removed. The highest public figures are Haywood's seven original disciples, who have the most natural grasp of the Words and administer the psychosurgery raising potentials to faithful. At the apex is Haywood himself, although he has not been seen for two years. Whether or not he remains alive, and if so, the nature of his life, remains a mystery to all but the disciples.

The Society lives in a tight tin-can complex maintaining an isolated orbit between Saturn and Jupiter. They seem entirely self-sufficient, and do not respond to hails, even in an emergency. If their habitat has a name, they have not shared it with outsiders.

Plot Hook: Firewall has been working a sleeper agent into the inner circle of the cult, and have recently received a fragment of the signal Haywood intercepted. Based on that fragment, they now believe the signal is of genuine alien origin. The cult's mythology storngly suggests exsurgent, TITAN or alien manipulation, so Firewall needs the PCs to retrieve the full signal by any means necessary.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

25. Deja Vu

A godsend to the labor markets of the inner system, deja vu allows workers to repeat repetitive tasks without boredom or stress. Because of the influx of unskilled infugees, and despite the established industry of AI design, it has become economically favorable (at least in the inner system) to employ egos based on their basic intuitions and instincts, as opposed to learned skills. A typical ego is competitive in such tasks as pattern recognition (especially those involving faces) rapid character evaluations and arbitrary sorting problems.

The deja vu mental modification simply prevents the transfer of memory from short-term to long-term, while simultaneously interfering with the ego's sense of time. As a result, the ego cannot become bored and will not realize how much time has passed, allowing them to repeat a task for an indefinite length of time. Often, the mod is paired with a psychosurgically enforced focus on the presented task.

For example, an infugee might be indentured to spend 3 years in the wide-angle camera of a hotel lobby. This would render most egos insane, but with deja vu, the ego is simply told to watch for a small set of faces, and after a few minutes, they find that three years have passed and there indenture completed.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

24. Fork Hives

The restoration of contact with Synergy and the revelation of their new group-mind sent shock waves through transhuman and also exhuman society. Gestalts and group minds had long been a holy grail of exhuman research, but attempts to link different minds had resulted various levels of failure. The only other successful group mind were those that linked alpha forks of the same person, instead of different individuals.

Unlike the neo-synergists, it is inevitable that a fork hive will dissolve the individuality of its members. The fork hive begins as identical copies of the same mind, after all, and the lack of barriers is a powerful counter to divergence (although it is not impossible.) The degree of independence forks can develop is based upon latency and bandwidth in communication. As the link is degrades, divergence increases. Forks that remain within close contact (within the same habitat or city) are kept so similar as to be the different trains of thought of one individual. Forks venturing further will begin to diverge, as the total mind-link gives way to frequent short-term memory and emotional updates, or even long-term, biographical memory only.

In the long term, a fork hive will slowly diversify from a single shared mind into an ecosystem of egos. If a hive seeks to be in multiple places at once, it must accept the divergence that distance causes. A mature hive might consist of multiple groups, with divergence occurring on the scale of the groups themselves. 10 forks in Valles-New Shanghai would have a strong enough connection to prevent all divergence and can be considered one person with incredible multitasking abilities. All of those forks would a looser connection to the group in Olympus, who are themselves tightly bonded. The relationship between groups is closer than that of typical individuals, but loose enough to allow for divergence, imperfect cooperation and even competition.

This growth of diversity of egos is considered by some exhuman thinkers to be not just acceptable, but highly advantages. A tightly bonded hive is like a species, with a limited set of thoughts and attitudes. A diverse hive is like an ecosystem, with many both complementary and competing thoughts and attitudes. Species, they point out, often go extinct, but ecosystems have the resilience of diversity.

Friday, January 23, 2015

23. Centaur

Picture a robotic, mythical centaur, then replace the human portion with a an upright weapons/sensor turret. Now picture it sprinting across the desert at 40km/h, firing its machine-gun with useful accuracy. Now picture them running in packs.

Rooted in the quadrupedal robots of the early 21st century, the centaur (or its derivatives, variants and ancestors) has been a common sight on the battlefields of the mid 21st century onward as a cost-effective supplement to conventional ground forces.

The centaurs quadrupedal movement allows for a powerful combination of fast sprinting with agility over rough terrain. The centaur can move at up to 40km/h over even ground, and still makes 30km/h over difficult ground.

Post-Fall, centaurs and centaur-variants are used by the Martian Rangers, Jovian Republic and any habitats with sufficiently wide hallways. They are most commonly paired with a soldier or another centaur.

Mechanics

Centaurs are robots [Expensive]

Movement Rate: 4/40 Max Velocity: 40 Armor: 14/12 Durability: 40 Wound Threshold: 8 Mobility System: Walker

Enhancements: 360 Degree Vision, Access Jacks, Enhanced Vision, Light Combat Armor, 2 Weapon Mounts (1 Swivel with Rail Machine-gun, 1 Swivel with Seeker Rifle with HE minimissiles)

Notes

Inspired by the image Big Dog by Long Ouyang.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

22. Aquila

The aquila can be found watching over Martian ranger patrols, zone stalker convoys and gatecrasher pioneers. It has been found invaluable to those expecting combat on the surface of atmospheric planets, where the drone can be sent up to shadow the patrol, providing fire support when necessary, firing its autocannon down on designated targets.

An aquila is typically contacted only through laser link so as to minimize the possibility of hacking. Against physical attack, it relies first on its reduced signature and chameleon skin, ideally  remaining unnoticed until firing. After firing its presence becomes obvious; it is programmed to rapidly and semi-randomly relocate after every salvo. Still, an attack by dedicated anti-air weapons will usually be successful, and aquilas have short careers. It is a testament to their usefulness that they are still considered a worthwhile investment.

The body of the drone is a sharp rhombus with a centrally mounted autocannon, with hemispherical coverage. The thrust vector system allows the drone to hover, rapidly switch direction, and most importantly, retain its stability while firing.

Mechanics

Aquilas are robots [Expensive]

Movement Rate: 8/40 Max Velocity: 120 Armor: 8/8 Durability: 40 Wound Threshold: 8 Mobility System: Thrust Vector

Enhancements: 360 Degree Vision, Access Jacks, Chameleon Skin, Enhanced Vision, Reduced Signature, Laser Link,1 Weapon Mount (Swivel with Rail Autocannon with the equivalent of HE minimissiles)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

21. Autocannons

On constant overwatch along the TITAN Quarantine Zone, mounted on Barsoomian technicals and Consortium drones, and sometimes even wielded by over-sized exosuits in blood-sport broadcasts, the autocannon has maintained a role on the transhuman battlefield. Autocannons are especially useful in countering the many armored threats of the transhuman battlefield: vehicles, exosuits and synths.

Too large to be considered personal weapons by any but large synths and exoskeletons, autocannons are typically mounted on vehicles or as fixed emplacements. They are usually operated either remotely or by on-board AIs. Along the TITAN Quarantine Zone they are also commonly Faraday caged to prevent hacking.

The stats given are for autoncannons loaded with AP rounds, which is their most common loadout. Autocannons can also be loaded with a variety of warheads, which are treated as minimissiles.

Mechanics

Kinetic Autocannon [Expensive] DV: 3d10 + 7* AP: -14*  Firing Modes: BF, FA Ammo: 100
*or as minimissiles.

Rail Autocannon [Expensive] DV: 3d10 + 9* AP: -16*  Firing Modes: BF, FA Ammo: 100
*or as minimissiles.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

20. Smarts

Not to be confused with smart dogs, smarts are the result of a century-long selective breeding program. The project was begun in the 21st century as a means of investigating intelligence. Researchers bred mixes of the most smartest dog breeds, then began a breeding program aimed solely at increasing their performance at special, dog-oriented IQ tests. Dogs scoring above average when tested at 8 and 12 weeks bred the next generation, resulting in a steady increase of measured intelligence.

The program itself never deviated from selective breeding, but they provided the basis for a great deal of genetic engineering. Smarts provided much of the fundamental research allowing for smart animals, uplifts and mentons. Samples of every dogs genome were kept and maintained, allowing researchers to track the genetic basis for the changes they were seeing. Smarts themselves were ultimately supplanted by the smart animals and uplifts they spun off, but the project is nonetheless maintained by the Titan Autonomous University.

Plot Hook: Not all of the genome records of the smarts program made it off Earth. A reclaimer data miner has uncovered the location of a hardened server that may hold the complete records. The data would be worth a small fortune in rep or credits to several hypercorps, the argonauts or the Titanian Autonomous University, but the players must retrieve it first.

Monday, January 19, 2015

19. Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence is a property of many animals, especially marine life. Injecting symbiotic bacteria allows bioluminescent patterns to be applied almost exactly like tattoos. The mod has become particularly popular among cetacean uplifts and those who spend their time in dark environments.

A new form of art in the black oceans of Europa and Ceres is bioluminescent performance dance. Aquatic morphs of all kinds dance in the dark, with only their glows visible, forming complex patterns of movement and color.

Mechanics

Bioluminescence is bioware [Low]

Sunday, January 18, 2015

18. Translucent Skin

Old-hat for scum swarms but a hot new fashion on Mars, the translucent skin biomod does exactly what it says. Rendering the skin translucent (although somewhat milky) exposes muscles, fat, and a few bones. Other versions also render fat and muscle translucent, so as to show the organs. The mod has become popular among many athletes as a way to show off their musculature and among bodypunks to show off cyberware and unusual organs.

Mechanics

Translucent skin is a biomod [Low]

Saturday, January 17, 2015

17. Feedback Cortex

The feedback cortex is the newest cyberbrain peripheral from Cognite, with rumored exhuman collaboration. The goal of the cortex was to allow conscious modification of one's own ego, a goal that was achieved, albeit with significant downsides.

The feedback cortex will first make an alpha fork of your ego. Then, you are required to perform the desired psychosurgery on the fork. A specialized AI will observe your work, as well as taking before and after ego snapshots and use this information to duplicate the surgery.

Many bioconservatives have criticized the feedback cortex, arguing that the requirement of prior skill in psychosurgy and doubled time-spans makes it preferable only for those who cannot go to professional psychosurgeons. Why wouldn't someone be able to go to a professional? Either because of the extremeness of their isolation or of the desired procedures. Therefore the product can only intended only for exhumans and singularity seekers, and should be outlawed. Persistent rumors of exhuman involvement in development suggest they may not be wrong.

Mechanics

The feedback cortex is cyberware [High]

The feedback cortex can only be used by cyberbrains or infomorphs.

The feedback cortex allows an ego to perform psychosurgery on itself. Because the psychosurgery must be performed twice, first to program the AI, then the actual surgery by the AI, all procedures take twice as long.

Plot Hook: Firewall has proof that much of the original research behind the cortex was provided by an active clade of exhumans. They are concerned that the exhumans will take the cortex much farther  than even Cognite was willing to go, using the cortex as a way to induce continual growth, akin to seed AIs. The players are asked to investigate and intervene.

Friday, January 16, 2015

16. Hypothetical Handbooks

The hypothetical handbooks are an open source project based out of Locus. Contributors to the project display a distinct post-Fall preparedness mindset, seeking to equip transhumanity with the knowledge to solve tomorrow's problems. The handbooks have ranged from the practical (HH-103 Combat vs. Known TITAN Warmachines) to the unlikely (HH-402 Diplomacy with Extant Iktomi) to the simply unusual (HH-224 Principles of Martial Arts Utilizing Arbitrary Numbers of Limbs.)

The hypothetical handbooks by design seek to advise on problems that do not yet exist, so forming that advice reliably is a difficult problem. Sometimes appropriate instruction can be created from first principles, informed by simulation. Other, more sophisticated methods have been developed, such as using genetic algorithms to evolve AIs to tackle sets of relevant semi-random scenarios. Once their success rate is deemed acceptable, the AIs evolved programming is analyzed and translated into rules and guidelines.

The handbooks have been of interest to Firewall ever since the project was begun. They have fed into a long simmering debate within Firewall about the extent to which operational security can or has been against the long-term interests of transhumanity. Several crows are regular contributors.

Plot Hook: A recently released handbook (HH-646 How to Outwit a Gestalt Mind) has too much in common with a recent Firewall operation. The players are asked to investigate the possible leak, and must decide whether to maintain Firewall secrets, or allow leaks to continue in the hopes of forewarning transhumanity.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

15. Regalia

Skinthetic's premier entry into the synthmorph market is the Regalia, a collaboration between Skinthetic and Titanian microcorp Weft, specialists in textiles. It is designed to make use of textiles, cloth and fabrics wherever possible. Like the Galatea, it is intended to be overcome the preconceptions the elite have towards synths and attract a high-end, social market.

The core of the morph is a thin, robotic skeleton to which the fabrics are attached, appearing as if naturally draped. Layers of cloth, woven electronics, sensor mats and smart weaves obscure the skeleton, such that the Regalia appears to be a complicated, regal costume, worn by nothing. The various layers serve various purposes: the morph might pull up an over-sized, photo-voltaic hood to supplement its batteries, unfurl an armored parka in combat or shift through sensor nets to shift visible spectrums. A layer of chameleon skin can be used to display a face, but some find the faceless and empty appearance of the morph gives them a certain edge.

Mechanics

Regalia are synthmorphs.

Enhancements:
360 Degree Vision, Basic Mesh Inserts, Chameleon Skin, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mnemonic Augmentation
Aptitude Maximum: 30 (SOM 25)
Durability: 30
Wound Threshold: 6
Advantages: +10 SAV, +5 one other aptitude of the players choice, Armor 8/8
CP Cost: 30
Credit Cost: Expensive (30,000+)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

14. Medichine Service Pack 4: Biomineralization

Service pack 4 for Go-Nin brand medichines (subsequently copied by their rivals and open source projects) provided support for enhanced biomineralization. A biomineralization upgrade can be used by any morph with carapace armor, reinforcing the typically keratin or chitin based carapace is reinforced with layers of hydroxyapatite.

The upgrade is purchased as two pieces of software: a patch for your medichines, instructing them on how to build and maintain the extra layers, and the blueprint for a supplemental mineral pill, providing extra calcium and phosphates. Once your medichines have been updated, simply ingest one pill a day for two weeks. After two weeks, you'll find that your exoskeleton is tougher than ever before!

Mechanics

Upgrades carapace armor to 14/14. [Low]

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

13. Cheshires

A cheshire is different from a house cat in only two ways: it is completely hairless, and its skin shifts color like a chameleon. Cheshires are therefore extremely efficient hunters. On many habitats, such as Valles-New Shanghai and Extropia, they are prized for their skill in reducing pest and vermin populations. On many others, they are banned, for fear of their effects on carefully cultivated ecologies.

The first cheshire was a gift presented to the daughter of a biotech executive. The cat bred with other house cats, and it was discovered that someone in the genetic engineering department had not done their due diligence: the chameleon skin was both heritable and dominant. Within the decade, cheshires seemed to be everywhere.

Some Triad members in Valles-New Shanghai have been experimenting with the use of trained or goaded cheshires as spies. The cats are everywhere in the city, after all, and by their nature are rarely noticed. Pax Familia may have beaten them to the punch, at least judging by the spate of Nine Lives members who have been assassinated by small, venomous claws.

Mechanics

As smart cats, plus chameleon skin.

Notes

Based on the cheshires from Paolo Bacigalupi's excellent The Windup Girl.

Monday, January 12, 2015

12. Famine Worm

Designer symbiots were one of the most hyped failures of the biotech industry. Tailored micro and macro-organisms offered automatic, self-regulating augmentation; a tool that could merge with the body's complex systems. Many of these promises even came true. When it came to the market, however, biotech companies were simply unable to overcome the "squick" factor: their products were too gross for consumers. In the end, they were rendered obsolete by medichines and nanotechnology.

The famine worm was designed as a hedge against starvation, able to provide a package of calories when most needed, but the famine worm was also a genetically engineered tapeworm that very few people were willing to host. The worm was first offered to famine and starvation-response charities, where it saw some minor successes. The primary market was in militaries where potential hosts could simply be ordered to eat the eggs however gross it seemed. Famine worms are no longer sold or supported by any company, but the freeze-dried eggs remain viable for decades and the genome has become public domain. You never know what you might find in some barsoomian supply-cache or old brinker hab.

Acquiring a worm is simple; just swallow a pill containing the egg. Once hatched, the worm anchors itself at the top of the intestinal tract. Like a normal tapeworm, it has a voracious appetite, eating from the digestive system of its host. Once it reaches sufficient size, however, it stops growing, and eats only enough to sustain itself. A famine worm can remain in this low metabolic state for years. If the host (and therefore the worm) ever goes for ~48 hours without eating any food, the worm dies, and begins a genetically programmed phase of rapid disintegration. The disintegrated worm is easily taken up by the intestines, providing a small but timely burst of calories and nutrients.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

11. Reduction

The reduction strain of the exsurgent virus is a bogeyman among infomorph and infolife communities. It is spread entirely digitally, infecting cyberbrains and informorphs; biomorphs are immune. The virus slowly streamlines the victims' egos, as if the strain were attempting to improve the efficiency of the transhuman mind. In the initial stages, the simplification is subtle, going unnoticed unless deliberately sought out by brainscans or psychosurgery. By the end, however, the ego is so simplified it has scarcely any intelligence at all, and will ultimately disappear completely. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the strain is that because the victim's self-awareness suffers, they are usually unable to determine that anything is wrong, even as they lose their very sentience.

Mechanics

Reduction is a digital strain, infecting cyberbrains and infomorphs.

Stage 1: (Initial infection to two weeks) In the initial stage, the infection remains hidden. There are no noticeable changes in behavior, although a brainscan or psychosurgey session may reveal anomalies.

Stage 2: (Two weeks to one month) Stage two is entered when the ego has been reduced by ~30%. Throughout this stage the victim will be losing the ability to handle complex abstractions such as non-intuitive mathematics, and the ability to predict and think in terms of hypotheticals. During this stage, the ego should be treated as a beta fork.

Stage 3: (One month to two months) Stage three is entered when the ego has been reduced by ~60%. Throughout this stage the victim will lose the ability to handle any abstractions or metaphors, to clearly distinguish between themselves and others, and to think in terms of basic logic such as cause and effect. The ego's thoughts are intuitive reactions to what is immediately present. During this stage, the ego should be treated as a delta fork.

At the end of stage 3, ~80% or more of the ego has been reduced. The ego is typically catatonic, with low, sporadic brain function. If the ego is kept running past this point, it will disappear entirely by the three month mark.

Plot Hook: Cognite researchers have become interested in Reduction, specifically in the first stage. The fact that the strain can reduce an ego by almost a third with no apparent effect on behavior suggests that the transhuman mind is inherently inefficient. Reproducing the first stage could lead to vastly more efficient cyberbrains and informorphs. An insider tips off Firewall, and the PCs are sent to investigate the program.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

10. Compound Bow

In an age of railguns, plasma rifles and disassembler nanoswarms, what possible use can there be for a bow? Yet even now, bows have their advantages.

The sport of archery lives on, primarily among those hyperelite who maintain aristocratic affectations. Among more serious competitors, accuracy over distance is now where records are sought. On Mars, low gravity and thin atmosphere has made archery especially impressive, with archers hitting targets at the very limits of their vision.

A sports bow is therefore legal in many polities with otherwise strict weapons laws. Even a combat model is relatively easy to obtain; simpler designs require nothing but carbon. Additionally a bow and arrow is virtually silent, and has no muzzle-flash or energy beam to give away the shooter.

A compound bow can be equipped with a smartlink, predicting arcs based upon aim, draw, arrow, gravity, atmosphere, and Coriolis force. Special arrows are also available; accushot fletching is particularly popular and some scum designers have released blueprints for arrows with microgrenade warheads. A transhuman bow can have, for strong (30 SOM) morphs, draw weights of ~225 lbs. A Locus based group of hobbyists have been designing a 1500 lbs. bow for use by pneumatic-limbed synths.

Note, however, the disadvantages. An arrow depends on air resistance for stabilization, making them useless in vacuum. The long penetrating wounds inflicted by an arrow are unlikely to be lethal unless striking a vital organ. Nine times out of ten, a bow's only real advantage is that your enemy will not be expecting it.

Mechanics

Compound bows are wielded with the Exotic Ranged Weapon: [Compound Bow] skill.

Compound Bow [Low] DV: 1d10 + 2 + (SOM / 10)* DV Average: 7 + (SOM / 10)* AP: SOM / 10* Ranges: Short (SOM / 5) * 10, Medium (SOM / 2) * 10 Long SOM * 10 Extreme SOM * 20
*or as minigrenades.

Accushot fletching functions as accushot smart ammo.

Friday, January 9, 2015

9. Eden

The Extropian art scene requires only that no-one can prove your art has measurably harmed them, and that you have a patron to fund you. Extropia contains 10 million of the most diverse minds in the solar system; whatever you make, someone will be interested.

Eden is the latest piece by infamous neo-primate simulspace designer Rough-Hands. The simulspace environment simulates a placid garden with no natural dangers; it is itself uninteresting. The provocative aspect of the sim is that two "virtuals" (egos born into a simulspace, unaware of the outside world) inhabit the garden. Named Adam and Eve, they live in the equivalent of exalt morphs, with one important modification: heightened religiosity. They have developed an intuitive, pantheistic religion, in which everything is given meaning or purpose.

Rough-Hands presented the simulation as a simple dilemma. The virtuals can be expelled from the garden, but they are unprepared for the real world and would interpret this as a terrible fall from grace, or they can be left, happy but essentially ignorant and living in a lie.

The inclusion of real egos has made this controversial in a time and place where genuine controversy is rare. Rough-Hands has defended himself saying that although they were never asked to participate, their continued happines (and they are very happy) is passive assent.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

8. Frute

Biomass is one of the most valuable materials in many habitats. Only the hyperelite can afford large, regular meals. The working pods and biomorphs subsist on maker-fare: nutrient pastes flavored and 3D printed in imitation of food. When they can afford real food, they prefer to maximize their money with tasty but small and therefore affordable. Snacks have become the new frontier of cuisine.

The new hit on the food market, from Titanian microcorp Island Genetics, is Frute. Frute are miniature fruit, grown in bunches like grapes. Tiny apples, peaches, plums and oranges are available now, with bananas and pineapples in the works. Seedless and with minimal skin, Frute can be chewed and eaten whole. The plant (a large shrub) matures rapidly, and fruits almost every week, providing a steady supply. Frute can be purchased prepackaged, from public plants that automatically charge you for what you pick, or grown yourself. They have become popular houseplants in wealthier households.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

7. Bearcats

Whether as the guard of a hyperelite, the pet of a Biotech executive or an entry in a swarm cat race, many transhumans will have encountered bearcats at some point in their lives. Bearcats are a Jack-of-all-Trades animal: they are not as good in any one role as other options, but they lack many of the weaknesses that come from specialization.

 “Bearcat” is a catch-all term for varieties of transgenics combining the families ursidae, felidae and mustelidae. There is no one Bearcat variety: gene-hackers all have their own preferred recipes and ratios of material pulled from each family. Some emphasize the bulk strength of bears, the graceful movement of cats, or the viciousness of weasels. Most varieties nonetheless resemble the binturongs of pre-Fall Earth.

Large bearcats are popular recipients of berzerkergang augmentations.

Mechanics

Bearcat (Small): Drawing most of its genes from smaller cats, wolverines and weasels, this variety emphasizes speed, although it possesses an undeniable ferocity in combat. [Moderate]

COG 5 COO 20 INT 15 REF 20 SAV 5 SOM 20 WIL 10
INIT 8 SPD 2 DUR 30 WT 6 DR 45 LUC 20 TT 4 IR 40

Skills: Climbing 40, Fray 40, Freerunning 50, Freefall 40, Perception 40, Unarmed Combat 40
Enhancements: Claws, Enhanced Smell, Neurachem (Level 1)
Movement Rate: 4/40
Attack: 1d10 + 3 DV, AP -1
Notes: Has the small size trait (Transhuman pg 95)

Bearcat: Drawing most of its genes from bears and big cats, this variety emphasizes strength, and is well suited for combat. [Expensive]

COG 5 COO 15 INT 15 REF 15 SAV 5 SOM 30 WIL 10
INIT 6 SPD 2 DUR 45 WT 9 DR 75 LUC 20 TT 4 IR 40

Skills: Fray 20, Freerunning 40, Intimidation 40, Perception 30, Unarmed Combat 50
Enhancements: Bioweave (Heavy), Cyberclaws, Neurachem (Level 1), Medichines, Muscle Augmentation
Movement Rate: 4/30
Attack: 1d10 + 6 DV, AP -2
Armor: 3/4

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

6. Berserkergang

Named from the famous berserk state entered by some old Norse warriors, Berserkergang is an augmentation designed to induce a similar berserk state through a powerful cocktail of combat drugs. Users become indifferent to pain, will simply ignore even major injuries and push their bodies to the breaking point and beyond.

Transhuman warfare emphasizes intelligence, battlespace control and an effective command of information, but intense, unpredictable violence does nonetheless give berserkers a role in combat. Some scum militias have experimented with unleashing berserkers on unsuspecting enemies, sowing confusion and fear before a conventional assault. Crime syndicates have also made use of berserkgang when performing high-profile assassinations, such as when a waiter in an unassuming splicer morph suddenly flipped a table and killed a Night Cartel lieutenant, his bodyguards, and several bystanders before succumbing to blood-loss.

Berserkergangs are quite rare. They cost more than some morphs, but the inevitable violence of their use means they can often be used only once. Smart animals are augmented with Berserkergang at least as often as transhumans; the Martian police's brief experiment with berserker police baboons still haunt the memories of many.

Mechanics

Treat as Neurachem (Level 2), Adrenal Control and Drug Gland (MRDR) [Expensive 15,000+]

Monday, January 5, 2015

5. Terror Birds of Mars

The now-famous terror birds of Mars began as a 21st century recreation of the extinct members of family Phorusrhacidae. All relevant species went extinct 2.5 million years ago (at the earliest), so scientists were forced to pull genetic material from similar large birds, such as ostriches and cassowaries. The birds are therefore a reconstruction, designed to be similar to what is believed to have existed, but not a true resurrection.

They were originally intended to be exhibited in a theme park, but after the chaos of the Fall the genome ended up in the hands of Fa Jing. Fa Jing primarily uses them as a visible, intimidating security measure for many of their Martian properties. Recently, they have been leasing them to Martian rangers, where they became famous when a Fa Jing marketing team leaked a short clip of one kicking the head off a wastewalker.

The terror birds are, above all else, physically imposing. They stand three meters high, of which the legs alone are usually 1.5 meters. Standard augmentation replaces their beaks and talons with metal prostheses, removes their vestigial wings, and strengthens their muscles and bones. In the low gravity of Mars their great strength makes them capable of high speeds, long jumps and powerful kicks.

Mechanics

Terror Bird

COG 5 COO 15 INT 15 REF 20 SAV 5 SOM 30 WIL 10
INIT 7 SPD 2 DUR 50 WT 10 DR 75 LUC 20 TT 4 IR 40

Skills: Fray 40, Freerunning 60, Intimidation 50, Perception 30, Unarmed Combat 40
Enhancements: Bioweave (Heavy), Compulsion Goad, Cyberclaws, Enhanced Respiration, Neurachem (Level 1), Medichines, Muscle Augmentation, Temperature Tolerance, Hardened Skeleton
Movement Rate: 4/50
Attack: 1d10 + 6 DV, AP -2
Armor: 3/4

Sunday, January 4, 2015

4. Compulsion Goad

Biodrones, animals modified to be “ridden” and directly controlled by their handlers, have two primary disadvantages: they disturb or traumatize the animal and they waste whatever natural instincts and training the puppeteer is overriding. The compulsion goad is Somatek's answer to these problems.

Unlike a biodrone, the animal is not teleoperated; the goad prompts actions but the animal's instincts and training fill in the specifics. For example, a handler orders the animal to attack a target and the goad compels the animal to attack that target, but does not puppet the animal or provide detailed “bite here” instructions.

The compulsion goad gives the animal a strong compulsion to do an action, with a dopamine reward when the compulsion is obeyed. Because the impulse and the decision to obey are both internal, and nothing of the animals mind must be overruled, there is none of the trauma of puppeteering.

The compulsion goad is most often used in two ways: with a handler, or an shepherd. A handler is most often paired with one or two animals, giving simple commands like “attack this man” or “protect me” to support their own actions. A soldier/animal paired are much more dangerous than both of them separate.

An shepherd, on the other hand, handles groups of animals. As either a transhuman or an AI, the shepherd's primary job is to act as a tactician, turning a pack of animals into something more. A pack of compulsion goaded guard dogs under the instruction of a tactical AI should never be underestimated.

Mechanics

A compulsion goad is a cyberware augmentation [Moderate].

An shepherd AI is as an animal keeper AI, plus squad tactics 60 [High].

Saturday, January 3, 2015

3. All-Thing

Among the societies of the Autonomist Alliance there can be found virtually every type of government or non-government conceivable. Some succeed, many fail, but the grand parade of social theories, experiments and designs always continues. The information and communication technologies of transhumanity make many new forms possible, and many old forms can be improved.

The citizens of the small Bernal sphere named Leer Fluss are governed by the All-Thing.

The All-Thing is a re-imagining of the things of Germanic tradition, a meeting of every citizen to decide all matters of law and policy that is always in session. It is overseen by Lawspeaker, a purpose built AI with no interests but to ensure smooth procedure and cite relevant precedence.

In order for the All-Thing to always be in session, every citizen provides an alpha-fork of themselves as a representative. The regular forking and merging makes cyberbrains a requirement; forking with biological brains simply takes too long. Every three hours there will be a recess during which merging and reforking can be done; this minimizes the risks of divergence and failed merges. Representatives also merge with their originals and then re-fork after every decision, ensuring that the forks represent their originals accurately, and that the originals have full memory of deliberations and decisions and are kept up-to-date.

As Leer Fluss has slowly grown, the All-Thing has become more and more cumbersome. The simulspace meeting-hall can simply be expanded, but regular procedure has become slow. Some have proposed the creation of smaller things, each with jurisdiction over its members, with the All-Thing reserved for habitat-wide issues only. Anarchist-leaning citizens, however, object to the creation of a federal hierarchy, and threaten to leave if this is implemented. Some, with gleeful irony, have noted in return that an exodus of anarchists would in fact alleviate the population problems necessitating the new structure. It seems conflict is in Leer Fluss' future.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2. Third Hemisphere

Hemispherectomies reveal the surprising degree of independence to which each hemisphere of the brain is capable, as well as the ability of the brain to rewire itself when necessary. Split-brain patients reveal the nature of the mind as separate processes acting in concert.

Cognite researchers believed that, if given sufficient time and careful training, new modules could be folded seamlessly into transhuman minds. A human brain could be augmented with a third hemisphere, a sub-sentient AI, adding new modes of thought to the transhuman mental arsenal.

Physically, the third hemisphere is a cyberbrain peripheral, designed to connect through the simulated corpus collosum. Mentally, the AI is designed to mesh with a human mind and seek synchronicity, but simultaneously provide access to modes of thought difficult for the natural brain. Typically the AI is designed to provide talent at Bayesian analyses, game theory analyses, formal logic, and various higher-level mathematics.

With proper psychosurgical adjustments and training, the brain and new hemisphere will grow into each other, becoming so smoothly intertwined as to become indistinguishable, they form one mind just as the two hemispheres of a natural brain form one mind. At first, the brain will have no way to interpret the signals of the new hemisphere. Plasticity, training and psychosurgery, however, given time, allow the brain to begin to understand and incorporate the new source of information. After a decade of use, the union is total.

Mechanics

A third hemisphere is cyberware [Expensive]

It grants the anamolous mind and math wiz traits, as well as the equivalent of the savant calculation and pattern recognition sleights.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

1. Whistling Spider

This morph was recovered from an abandoned exhuman brinker hab and dubbed "the whistling spider". Grip pads, ball-jointed limbs and vacuum sealing indicate that it was designed to live in space, yet its echolocation requires an atmosphere. In a vacuum, the spider would be forced to feel its way with its longest arms.

The broad form is similar to arachnids, specifically of the order Amblypygi. It has ten limbs in total: two pairs of arms and three pairs of legs. Compared to a typical spider the front most pair of legs have been turned to long, strong grasping arms, and the pedipalps to shorter and weaker but more dexterous arms. Ball joints maximize flexibility despite the rigid exoskeleton. Additionally, it is symmetrical along two axes. Left and right are mirrored like most animals, but top and bottom are also symmetrical: all of its limbs are centered along the equator and capable of 360 degree rotation.

The face reveals one of the most intriguing design choices. The morph has no eyes, but four flared, furry-bottomed craters in its exoskeleton act as excellent ears. The mouth, in the center of the face, is capable of echolocation pulses and complex whistling, but not speech. It is assumed the original designer had, or intended to make, a whistling based language.

The arachnoid appearance is only exoskeleton deep, however. The morph is built entirely on human genes and tissues. The exoskeleton is keratin, reinforced with a lattice of cartilage, and internally, the basic layout of human physiology is maintained, with major organs in approximately the same relative positions as a human body.

Plot Hook: An exhuman in a whistling spider morph has been taken in by the exoglots of Locus. Firewall would like the players to investigate, requiring them to negotiate with the exoglots (in itself a difficult task) and gain an interview with the spider and assess whether it or whatever forced the abandoning of its hab are threats.

Mechanics

Whistling Spiders are biomorphs.

Enhancements: Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Echolocation, Enhanced Hearing, Carapace Armor, Grip Pads, Vacuum Sealing
Aptitude Maximum: 30
Durability: 40
Wound Threshold: 8
Advantages: 4 arms, 6 legs, Carapace Armor (11/11), +5 COO, +5 REF, +10 Freefall, +10 Freerunning
Disadvantages: Blind
CP Cost: 25
Credit Cost: Expensive (25,000+)