Saturday, February 28, 2015

59. Eudaimonia Gland

The eudaimonia gland began, almost a century ago, with research into the biofabrication of psychotropic medications and nootropics. Innovations that allowed for the manufacture of these substances by engineered bacteria eventually led to the ability of their manufacture by the human body. Specialized glands for specific compounds eventually gave way to more generalized designs. The eudaimonia gland is the culmination of this research; a single gland producing a broad spectrum of beneficial mind altering substances.

A eudaimonia gland sits at the base of the brain, constantly sampling brain chemistry and secreting varieties of psychotropics based on those samples. The gland is deliberately capable of creating only small doses, so as to avoid overdoses. This means, though, that the gland can not, in itself, provide complete treatment for all but the mildest of mental illnesses. It does blunt the edge of stresses and traumas, and seen a huge surge in use since the Fall.

Mechanics

A eudaimonia gland is bioware [Moderate]

Treat as a drug gland (Comfurt).

Friday, February 27, 2015

58. Zeroes

As Smarts were to uplifts, Zeroes were to bouncers. While Smarts were bred for intelligence, Zeroes were bred for health in zero and micro gravity environments. Zeroes were some of the first animals bred/engineered for off-Earth environments, as well as the first to serve as testbeds for early medichines.

Zeroes were at first broad mixes of dog breeds, combined for maximum diversity. All Zeroes were inoculated with medichines, providing a constant stream of information on the health of their hosts. They were prone to the usual health problems that come with zero/micro-gravity, but were kept healthy by the intervention of their medichines. The less medichine intervention any dog required, the larger their role in breeding the next generation. In this way, the dogs were slowly adapted to zero gravity, minute medichine-sourced records of their development were made, and the dogs maintained excellent health.

The descendants of Zeroes can still be found as pets throughout the system, popular mostly among wealthy Lunar citizens in micro-gravity habs. The unusual flexibility and dexterity of the breed makes them keen competitors in agility competitions.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

57. Metabolic Chamber

Hunger is one of the biggest disadvantages of biomorphs, so it may seem strange to find an augmentation designed to allow synthmorphs to eat for their energy. The ability to metabolize local chemicals for energy and material has its advantages, however, and makes an effective backup for the traditional nuclear batteries.

A metabolic chamber processes its food in two stages. First, heat induces burning, releasing energy that is absorbed by the chamber's systems. Second, a scavenger nanoswarm is excreted, gathering any material that might be useful for the synth's maintenance and/or repair. Finally, any remaining material is expelled as a fine powder.

Installation of a metabolic chamber can require significant restructuring to make room in the neck and abdomen, so the chamber is often installed externally. Sometimes one is even carried as separate gear, used to recharge electronics. On Titan, solar chargers are ineffective do to the distance of the sun, but metabolic chambers can make use of the moon's abundant hydrocarbons.

Mechanics

A metabolic chamber is cyberware or gear [Low]

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

56. Gullet Worm

Hypercorp mining installations often simply devour the ground whole, pulverizing stone and running it through nanoscale filters to ensure every valuable atom is extracted. In the outer system, and among the independent prospectors on Mars and Mercury, more selective approaches are called for, favoring quality over quantity. To these small mining outfits, the gullet worm is a godsend.

Small and autonomous, a gullet worm requires little overhead or maintenance and seeks valuable minerals on its own. Before being deployed, the robot is a simple cylinder, one end a flexible tube, the other a "head" of complex nanotech. The tube is attached to a storage container and solar panel, the head planted in the ground. The head will begin burrowing, using specialized disassemblers to vaporize rock, and specialized fabbers to lengthen a muscular tube between it and the container. The head uses ground penetrating radar, t-rays and x-rays to survey its surroundings, steering itself to more valuable material. Once vaporized, this valuable material is moved up the tube through peristalsis.

The beauty of a gullet worm is its self-sufficiency. Once planted, it can bore through the ground indefinitely, yielding a slow but steady supply of whatever it is programmed to consider worthwhile; a miner need only check in and pick up the results. The ends of gullet worms can be found scattered on the surfaces of Mercury and Mars, as well as larger asteroids and some moons. Often many worms work in parallel, and feed simple refineries and smelters.

Mechanic

Gullet mines are robots [Moderate]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

55. Survites

Survite nanoswarms are what make transhumanity's scattered lives among dead rocks possible. Nanofabrication eliminates the necessity (though not the convenience) of harvesting complex chemistry whole. The hungry cornucopia machines require only raw elements, but in abundance.

Set a hive on the ground and leave it to cook. Survites will filter through regolith and rock, relaying their findings up the chain, back to the hive. The longer the hive works, the farther it can spread its network, building comprehensive geological maps. Survites and survite hives are one of the most popular pieces of nanotech in the system, used by Consortium mining concerns and Brinker prospectors alike.

Mechanics

Survites are nanoswarms [Moderate]

Monday, February 23, 2015

54. Settlers of Mars

The settlers of Mars are can be found almost anywhere. Perched on a ridge overlooking a patrol route, posed menacingly in cul-de-sacs along small canyons, or gathered around a broken vehicle, they are designed to appear human at a glance, but are simple statues. Part emerging ruster cultural tradition and part Barsoomian psych-ops, the settlers are created to fool Martian surveillance with false returns, wear-down Consortium agents with paranoia, and scatter visions of a Mars for Martians across the planet.

A settler is typically created in one of two ways. The old-fashioned create theirs with scrap metal, welding together humanoid structures, sometimes with simple animatronics. Newer methods use protean swarms, programming complex scenes then leaving the swarm to cook the Martian regolith into iron. These models are usually robotic, maintaining simple routines and incorporating heating and fake communications elements designed to create false positives in long-distance surveillance.

The robots are positioned in ways that can serve two purposes. They may display scenes of free Barsoomian life; of what life under a victorious Barsoomian movement would be like. Otherwise, they are designed to scare, appearing as convincing as possible, striking menacing poses against the horizon or be suddenly revealed in hidden corners. Many Martian Rangers have a story about panicking and shooting a settler, or of waking up to find their tent surrounded by silent iron figures.

Plot Hook: A bright young Barsoomian engineer has plans to create self-perpetuating settlers that would reproduce across Mars. This unbounded spread is itself a potential X-risk for Mars, but Firewall's true fear is how the self-perpetuating technology will interact with the remnants inside the Titan Quarantine Zone. Contaminated by TITAN agents, the settlers might become very real.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

53. Hellsquid

Attack dogs, tools of assassination, and pride of the Hidden Concern, hellsquid are the boogeymen of Ceres' icy depths. Hidden Concern scientists, liberated from their corporate uplifters, brought stolen information and expertise on the uplifting of mollusks to their new home on Ceres. Seeking to consolidate control of the dwarf planet, they began splicing the genomes of Humboldt squid.

The hellsquid are engineered with an eye towards ambush combat and assassinations. Their chameleon skin renders them virtually invisible in the gloom, and their barbs are usually paired with eelware or poison glands of BTX or twitch: once they grab you, fighting back is impossible. Usually deployed in schools, their swarming has taken down whales.

Mechanics

Hellsquid are smart animals [High]

COG COO 10 INT 10 REF 25 SAV SOM 25 WIL 10 
INIT SPD DUR 35 WT DR 53 LUC 20 TT IR 40

Skills: Swimming 50, Fray 30, Infiltration 30, Perception 30, Unarmed Combat 40
Enhancements: Bioweave (Heavy), Chameleon Skin, Claws, Eelware OR Poison Gland (BTX OR Twitch), Hydrostatic Pressure Adaptation, Toxin Filters, Temperature Tolerance (Improved Cold)
Movement Rate: 6/40
Attack: Claws, 1d10 + 2 DV, AP −1
Armor: 3/4

Saturday, February 21, 2015

52. Gut Macrofauna

Marie-Smith Nguyen's debut at the Elysium Gallery of Living Art revived one of the stranger dreams of some small corners of bio-hacker society. Her piece was a carefully crafted papier-mâché pregnancy belly, open at the belly button, and filled with a hive of honeybees. Disaster struck when she tripped, shattered the hive, and the gallery was suddenly filled with angry bees. This gave some strange people some strange ideas.

Every so often, a bio-hacker floats the idea, seriously or tongue-in-cheek, of going whole-hog with symbiosis and engineering symbiotes that would put human bodies on the path towards ecosystems. After the Elysium debacle, enthusiasm peaked as bio-engineers considered the possible benefits of playing host to a hive of eusocial insects. They would defend the body as their home, and pay rent in honey!

The only practical results from this brief craze is a biomod creating a thick skin pocket suited for a wasp nest. The wasps are engineered not to attack anything smelling like their host, but will otherwise defend their home with their usual vigor. Footage of their effects during an attempted mugging has gone viral, but the mod is illegal or discouraged on most habitats.

Mechanics

Any time the host is attacked and suffers damage equal to one wound, everyone in the immediate area is attacked by wasps. Treat as bees and gardener wasps from Panopticon.

Friday, February 20, 2015

51. Binary Chatter

Synths are isolated. They are predominantly lower class: the "clanking masses". They can, and often must, live in environments unsuited to biomorphs or anything alive. Synthetic bodies have different, tougher tolerances than biological ones. They do not need to eat, breathe, drink or even sleep.

Radical synth-rights groups believe that the clanking masses are a splinter that can become something separate from humanity. They wish to accelerate this process.

"Binary chatter", also called "modem cant", began as an efficient way for synthmorphs to share technical information. An easy hack of voice systems allows for rapid, information dense noise instead of slow, human imitating speech. This new language conveys technical, mathematical, and computational information with infinitely more grace than any spoken language; it can even be encrypted. Synth societies are developing their own metaphors, their own jokes, their own culture.

Notes

Inspired by the binary chatter of the tech-priests of Warhammer 40k.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

50. Everlasting Rats

Just before the fall, Mother's Milk of Extropia were developing a medichine variant that would be passed from mothers to offspring, which would save animal breeders and engineers significant amounts of money. They had created a successful prototype in a breeding population of smart rats, and were poised for full commercial release when the rats escaped during the chaos of the Fall. Mother's Milk went under, but their legacy remains.

Everlasting rats are smart. Rats can be smart to begin with, smart rats are genetically engineered to be even smarter, and their medichines mean that everlasting rats are immortal and never stop learning. An everlasting rat will know the habits and schedules of every transhuman in the area. They recognize types of robots and vehicles, avoiding them or hitching a ride. They exploit the fractured landscape of Extropia, simply shifting to a neighbor whenever one person or organization attempts pest control. The sophisticated games of hunting and evasion by everlasting rats and smart cats have inspired a children's story and a pamphlet on small-unit tactics.

Their medichines render everlasting rats virtually immune to poisons and toxins, and the enhanced healing means a full recovery from any non-mortal wound. Currently, the only way to control the population is with rat-oriented disassembler swarms (generally discouraged by worried neighbors), tailored nanoplagues (generally discouraged by everyone) and engineered predators, mainly smart cats, cheshires and small bearcats.

Mechanics

Everlasting rats are as smart rats, plus medichines.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

49. Consensus Societies of Extropia

On Extropia there is no central authority: the organization with the strongest claim, Extropy Now, exists to provide a haven for libertarians and anarcho-capitalists, and therefore avoids exercising any of its power. Large and complex markets have arisen, providing legal systems, security, arbitration and adjudication as paid services. Even with the advice of muses, expert systems and AIs, however, the potential interactions between these services can be inconvenient and unpredictable.

Like attracts like, however, for both comfort and convenience. The interactions of competing legal systems, security contractors and private magistrates can become a headache for all involved. It is easiest to interact with those who share your expectations, and with whom you share a common adjudicator. Extropians are steadily conglomerating into sub-societies of shared legal systems, security arrangements and acceptance of arbitration: consensus societies.

The largest and most prominent examples of consensus societies are the Caliphate and the Commons. The Caliphate is ostensibly Extropian and autonomist friendly; the Caliph has deliberately downplayed formal authority, they use the open source legal system OpenSharia, and they maintain no military or police system, being instead safeguarded by volunteer militia. The Commons is populated primarily by refugees from commonwealth nations. They have created a legal system based primarily on the traditions of English common law, adjudicated by a hierarchy of elected judges, and enforced by volunteer police.

Plot Hook: Extropy Now, owners of Extropia, have become concerned with consensus societies, fearing that they will grow into states. They are looking for discrete social engineers, memeticists and hackers to non-violently undermine and collapse the Caliphate and the Commons.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

48. Programmed Identity

The most convincing liars are those who do not realize that they are lying. In the information saturated societies of the solar system, effective deception can be virtually impossible to get away with for long. Even a good disguise and forged ID can only go so far. For the best covert agents, the disguise is real, the new identity fooling their own minds.

A programmed identity is created in only two steps. First, removal of one set of memories from easy access, and second, creation of a more available set of memories. The procedure is most effective if combined with altered habits and other personality traits, although going to far in this direction replaces the ego entirely. To the altered agent, the created identity is natural and easily accepted. While their real memories still exist, and can be accessed when appropriate, they come only with patience and effort, like trying to remember a word on the tip of your tongue. 

Mechanics

The creation of a programmed identity is a psychosurgical procedure. A programmed identity grants +30 to deception rolls involved with maintaining a cover.

Timeframe: 1 week
PM: -10
SV: (1d10 / 2, round up)

Monday, February 16, 2015

47. Temper Switch

A temper switch does not create forks, like the multitasking mod. Neither does it accommodate an additional ego, like the multiple personalities augment. A temper switch provides a virtually instantaneous transition between sets of attitudes and values.

The earliest and still most common use is to maintain two value sets: one normal, and one "cold". The normal set is the one the ego possesses naturally, as if the temper switch did not exist. The "cold" set emphasizes completion of goals and efficiency, deemphasizes the immediate value of life and importance of taboos, and has a minimized response to traumatic situations.

Temper switches are most regularly used by those in highly stressful and/or traumatic situations where efficient performance of duties is a priority. Doctors, emergency personnel and soldiers were the early adopters. The switch is most effectively used by those in institutions with established temper switch care facilities: after switching back, all the stress and trauma experienced by the 'cold' personality suddenly bombard the normal ego. Without immediate and sustained care, the trauma can easily be irreversible.

Mechanics

Installation of a temper switch is a psychosurgery procedure.

Once switched, an ego will take 1d10/2 SV per hour, in addition to any other SV taken. The ego will not, however, suffer any traumas or resulting disorders and derangements. Once switched back, all SV and their consequences are suffered immediately.

Timeframe: 1 week
PM: -20
SV: 1d10

Sunday, February 15, 2015

46. Tartarus

Tartarus is the first rogue planet to have been discovered via the gate network, accessed through discord gate on Eris. Its gate lies in the middle of large plain of black ice, lit only by distant stars. It is 1.4 times the mass of Earth. Its nearest stellar neighbor is a binary system 5.3 light years away, and the only significant orbiting body is a large captured asteroid.

Scientists have determined that Tartarus was most likely similar to Europa, having an ocean of highly pressurized water under its thick surface of ice. The existence of liquid water raised the possibility of life in Tartarus' past, and an operation to bore through the ice was undertaken. Scientists were thrilled to discover that not only had Tartarus hosted life in the past, but there were complex microbial ecosystems living off of the energy of deposits of radioactive material on the ocean bottom. Stromatolites and diatomaceous earth indicate that life was once widespread, and the isolated clusters of radiotrophs are the last gasp of a family of life at least 2 billion years old.

Tartarus is livelier than one might expect from a frozen ball of rock and ice between stars. In addition to the biological research stations created to study the life of Tartarus, the planet contains several research and development workshops and laboratories designing technologies for extreme cold. The lack of nearby stars minimizes interfering stellar radiation and also makes the rogue planet an excellent location for astronomical observation; a large array of radio-telescopes is under construction.

Plot Hook: The deposits of radioactive material on which the life of Tartarus depends are anamolous. They cannot be accounted for by any models of planet formation; they are too numerous and of the wrong isotopes. Some believe that this indicates intelligent activity, and that the deposits are the left over from ancient alien technologies. Firewall gives these theories some credence, and needs the PCs to investigate a possible find before word spreads to Tartarus' primary sponsor, the Go-Nin Group.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

45. Octodoc

Typically found hanging from the ceiling of an operating suite, an octodoc is so called because it consists of between six and twelve limbs emerging from a center anchor. Each limb typically ends in a surgical tool or generic manipulator. Rooted in telepresence systems for remote surgery, octodocs eventually became autonomous, capable of specifically requested surgeries, or performing their own diagnostics. Like Kleenex and Band-Aids, octodocs are actually a brand, but have also become a generic name for any multi-limbed surgery robot.

Octodocs have been rendered largely obsolete by medichines and healing vats.

Mechanics

Octodocs are robots [Moderate]

An octodoc AI has Medicine 40.

Plot Hook: An octodoc recently cut itself from the ceiling with a bone saw, worked its way to a neighboring room containing an unconscious mafia lieutenant, and then killed him with scalpels and surgical lasers. High g-rep will be rewarded to anyone who can trace the hack and eliminate the hacker.

Friday, February 13, 2015

44. Medicrabs

Thanks to their life-saving exploits and a cartoon commercial featuring "the little medicrab who could", medicrabs were one of the most popular robots around, being found in first-aid kits or in place of first aid kits, in households, and in vehicles, ready to pop out in case of an accident.

Medicrabs are roughly hand-sized, with a body plan that is half crab and half spider. While this could easily be unsettling, they have been carefully designed to appear cute and non-threatening. They feature numerous medical tools: mandibles capable of precise little sutures, claws used to cut through clothing, spinnerets weaving bandages and an antiseptic breath spray. Their low slung bodies allow them to crawl through rubble and make them virtually impossible to knock over, and they are tough and durable besides.

Medicrabs have been rendered largely obsolete by medichines and nanobandages, but they remain in use in the Jovian Republic as well as being backup systems in many habs.

Mechanics

Medicrabs are robots [Low]

A medicrab AI has Medicine 40.

Plot Hook: Stories are being told in the souks of Valles New-Shanghai of a wild artificial described as being very similar to a medicrab. It seems a medicrab has gone feral, seeking out injured people and treating them in the night, or perhaps some mischievous roboticist has brought "the little medicrab who could" into reality.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

43. Organ Plasticity

With organ redundancy, biomorph designers had increased the ability of a biomorph to endure wounds. They sought as well to increase the ability of a biomorph to recover from wounds. Medichines would seem to have this role thoroughly locked down, but some die-hard designers maintained that the inherent processes of a morph could be designed so as to allow greater healing, both with and without medichines. They eventually developed a genetic treatment restoring some of the qualities of stem cells to all cells in the body.

Organ plasticity is intended to allow organs and tissues to alter themselves to become other organs and tissues. The advantage this offers for healing can be immense. If you begin to experience liver failure, a new liver will begin to bud off of an artery. If you lose skin, muscle cells will produce new skin cells. Even if you lose portions of brain, new neurons will fill the empty space.

Organ plasticity functions best with medichines to smooth over transitions and odd gaps or redundancies. The development of teratomas are a frequent side effect of the augmentation.

Mechanics

Organ plasticity grants a morph the rapid healer trait.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

42. Organ Redundancy

The widespread adoption of synthmorphs has created difficult competition for biomorph designers. Just as synthmorphs have been attempting to break into markets dominated by biomorphs (such as socialites and celebrities) biomorphs have been attempting to break into markets dominated by synthmorphs. One of the key advantages of synthmorphs has been the fact that synths are made of materials like steel, and thus are relatively indestructible.

Attempts to bolster the structural integrity of biomorphs have included augmentations like exoskeletons and skeletal reinforcement, but many morph designers have come to the conclusion that they cannot fight synth designs on their own terms. A biomorph cannot match the invulnerability of steel, but what it does have is an ability to endure and heal wounds, a resilience that could be enhanced.

One of the simplest, but by no means easiest ways to enhance biomorph resilience is to provide redundant organs. The loss of one kidney is not a death-sentence because only one is needed, so why not an extra heart, liver or spleen? Once the hard problems of syncing multiple heartbeats and re-balancing glands and hormones were solved, it was only a matter of gene splicing, grafts, or stem cells.

Morphs with redundant organs tend to have thicker torsos than normal, extra volume being necessary.

Mechanics

Organ Redundancy is bioware [Moderate]

Similar to the structural enhancement augmentation available to synths, but increasing Durability by 5 and Wound Threshold by 1.

41. Dream Logic

Dreams reveal the possible disconnections between an object, and the brain's recognition of an object. A dreamer may see one person, but believes them to be another, regardless of any contrary evidence. "It was you, but it wasn't you" is a common cliche when describing dreams. Careful psychosurgury can reproduce this state during waking life, forcing the ego to perceive what they have been programmed to perceive, even if it is directly contradicted by what they actually see.

By hijacking the brains reality-testing and cognitive dissonance, an ego can be forced to recognize the world through a pre-programmed filter, one that they will apply to any situation, regardless of how illogical they become. In its current state of development, the procedure cannot be made sustainable within a transhuman mind. Dissonance cannot be entirely eliminated, the ego will try desperately to reconcile its new beliefs with its observations and memories. The more elaborate and nonsensical the imposed filter, the more quickly the effected brain is eroded.

Dream logic is known to have been used by Pax Familae as a method of creating sleeper agents; The subject acts normally except that they believe the Claudias to be their beloved mother, and trust them implicitly. Some experiments have attempted to use Dream Logic for therapy, convincing a subject, for example, that they are safe and back on Earth to counter Fall induced PTSD. Even when the logic is used successfully, however, the inherent stress of the procedure invariably outweighs the benefits.

Mechanics

Dream logic is a psychosurgical procedure. The effects of dream logic are mostly realized through roleplaying, but note that more drastic versions of the procedure cause continuous stress

Timeframe: 1 week
PM: Minor -10; Moderate -20; Major -30
SV: Minor 1 per day, Moderate 1d10/2 per day, Major 1d10 per day

Monday, February 9, 2015

40. Systema Zero

Systema zero is built upon of the earliest traditions of space-borne humanity. The martial art encompasses a broad spectrum of free-fall experiments and traditions, dating back to the earliest permanent off-Earth settlers.

Built on a foundation of freefall training, systema zero is designed to function in the simplest possible circumstances: you and your opponent free floating in zero gravity with no nearby objects. Consequently their is heavy reliance on locks and holds able to bend an opponents body against itself, and almost no strikes. More sophisticated forms allow for surfaces and common environments, featuring jumping off of nearby objects to land powerful hits as well as the use of Coriolis and Centrifugal forces.

Mechanics

Systema Zero is treated as an Unarmed Combat specialization, active whenever the user is in a zero or micro gravity.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

39. Domesticated Limb

The octopus is the uplift most different from humanity. In a wild species, as much as two thirds of an octopus' neurons are located in their limbs; in uplifted octomorphs the size of the primary brain is increased, but on average, half of their neurons are still located in their limbs. The tentacles of octopuses and octomorphs therefore have a significant degree of autonomy, capable of grasping and feeling on their own initiative. The semi-autonomy of these limbs has led to the development of one of the most unique martial arts in transhuman history.

Domesticated limb (as translated from octopus color language) is a martial art dedicated to the training of octomorph tentacles. The focus of training is not on the ego, but on the nervous systems of the limbs, training their reflexes to perform combat-useful actions. A master of domesticated limb, or more precisely, their tentacles, are capable of choking someone out, breaking an arm or dissembling a gun with no conscious attention whatsoever. This comes with problems however, as there have been cases in the past of domesticated limb practitioners accidentally subduing random passers-by.

Mechanics

Domesticated limb is treated as an Unarmed Combat specialization, active whenever the user is in a octomorph.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

38. Methods of Steel

Methods of steel is the premier open-source, synth oriented martial art. It is truly transhuman in its practices, making heavy use of skillware, simulspace training scenarios, and AI trainers. There are, in fact, only two physical schools: one in Extropia and one in Locus. The art is banned or heavily regulated on many Lunar habitats due to its associations with synth liberation movements.

Much of the most basic training is focused on giving the practitioner a true sense of the tolerances and strengths of their synth body, in order that they can take full advantage. As a student progresses, they can branch into specialized schools of technique. Styles are generally divided into "soft" (vs. biomorphs) and "hard" (vs. synthmorphs.) The open-source nature of the art's development has led to huge, branching specializations, with specific techniques not just for different weapons but for certain numbers and types of limbs, industrial tools and a system of flexbot techniques that is rapidly spinning off into its own martial art.

Mechanics

Methods of Steel is treated as an Unarmed Combat specialization, active whenever the user is in a synthmorph.

Friday, February 6, 2015

37. Fork Selection

If you are determined to improve yourself, you can do it the old fashioned way, with introspection, education and the like, or you can take the bull by the horns and subject yourself to an evolutionary algorithm designed to improve your performance in a swath of simulated scenarios.

The collective venture of an exhuman clade of unusual cooperativeness, fork selection requires only time, computing power and the ability to cold-bloodedly delete many, many copies of yourself. First, fork yourself at least 100 times (more is better, the upper limit being defined by your available computer power and/or how much time you are willing to spend.) Subject these forks to small, random psychosurgical adjustments (it is suggested you either make use of Deja-Vu or obtain a quality AI.) Subject these altered forks to simulations testing their performance, as judged by your original. Mix and copy the most successful variants and repeat. Eventually a fork will emerge whose psychosurgical alterations have rendered them best able to succeed in random and varied situations. Either merge with this fork, attempt to replicate those alterations, or delete yourself and allow it to replace you.

It is recommended that your original judge the success of your forks; you could also allow the most successful of each generation to judge the next, but this can cause feedback loops that spiral into insanity. Take care also in the generation of your scenarios, too much of the same or similar can lead to hopeless overspecialization and an AI-like non-sentience.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

36. Seeker Nest

The spiritual successor to landmines, seeker nests fill the role of area denial and automatic interdiction.  Seeker nests, however, have many advantages over landmines. A single nest can cover a large area (~2km radius.) They can react appropriately to different levels of threats by using different warheads. They are a common feature of many heavily secured zones, such as the TITAN Quarantine Zone of Mars, as well as habitats with appropriate open spaces.

A typical seeker nest consists of 16 single-use launch tubes containing mini missiles. This nest will be linked to a network of sensors, spread over its area of coverage. If hacking is a concern, sensors will be connected through laser links or physical cables. When a recognized hostile enters the area, the nest launches an appropriate warhead or swarm of warheads. Some militant groups have improvised similar systems out of emplaced seeker weapons and cheap sensors.

Mechanics

A seeker nest is [Moderate]

A seeker nest has the sames stats as a seeker rifle, with the ability to fire its entire capacity in one salvo if necessary.

Seeker nests use specialized AIs with Seeker Weapons 40 and Perception 40.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

35. Sensites

Another in the failed product lines of designer symbiotes, sensites, unlike famine worms, offer direct, functional augmentation. Distilled from parasitic nematodes, sensites have been heavily engineered for relative gigantism, and sensitivity to various electromagnetic spectrums.

Sensites were most commonly available in aerosol cans. To apply, a user simply sprays the eggs on bare skin. The little worms hatch, and migrate to the underside of the skin, where they would live long, slow lives. Upon exposure to their pre-programmed spectrum of radiation, they begin to rapidly vibrate. An experienced user can judge the strength of different fields, and, if the sensites have been applied in lateral lines, gradients as well. Overall, however, the sense is rough and outclassed by newer options.

Mechanics

Sensites are bioware [Low]

Sensites can be made to react to most electromagnetic spectrums. The user can tell overall strength and the direction of powerful sources, but with little detail.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

34. Neumann

The pride and joy of the Interstellar Club are its Neumanns, prototype morphs capable of interstellar travel. There are as yet only two that are functional, and neither of them have traveled farther than necessary for testing. Interstellar Club researchers are optimistic however, as the latest versions have passed all tests and the time may be approaching for their journeys to begin.

The Neumann has two possible means of propulsion. The most powerful thrust comes from the Bussard ramjet, using an electromagnetic scoop to gather hydrogen as fuel for its fusion rocket. The secondary means tunes the electromagnetic scoop for use as a magnetic sail. The fusion rocket is designed to be used for interstellar travel, while the sail is for interplanetary maneuvering.

In order to weather the decades or centuries of interstellar travel, the Neumann is designed to incorporate redundancies as well as self-repair and self-maintenance systems wherever possible. There are two backups to almost every system, multiple redundant repair swarm hives and as much is made of self-repairing smart materials as possible. Radiation sensitive objects, such as the cyberbrain, are placed near the core of the morph, well shielded and also multiply redundant.

The ultimate goal of the Neumann is to act as a von Neumann machine, replicating itself at each destination so as to explore en mass with minimal impact from individual failures. To this end, a Neumann carries massive stores of fabrication blueprints, protean and engineering swarms, sol archives and potentially, cortical stacks. Upon reaching a new world, the Neumann can replicate itself, seed the world with automated probes, or even begin a new outpost of transhumanity.

Mechanics

Although the Neumann is a morph, it has the scale and capabilities of a ship, and is best treated as such. It therefore has no stats.

Monday, February 2, 2015

33. Subjective Run Time

One of the hardest problems for the Interstellar Club to solve was not propulsion or navigation, but rather time. Even at a large fraction of the speed of light interstellar travel is measured in decades. An ego sleeved into a Neumann morph must be expected to spend most if not all of its life in isolation, with lags of years on light-speed communication, in the sensory deprivation chamber of interstellar space.

The subjective run time cyberbrain modification ties the clock speed of the cyberbrain to the amount of stimuli received by the senses. An expert program continuously evaluates received information, increasing or decreasing the speed of thought to match. To an interstellar traveler, the long spans of interstellar travel would pass relatively quickly, with the bulk of its mental life occurring while inside solar systems, making observations, or while receiving communications.

Some couriers and ring-fliers have been experimenting with using the mod; there are few other potential in-system uses. The program is open-sourced through the Argonauts.

Mechanics

Subjective run time is cyberware [Moderate]

Sunday, February 1, 2015

32. Interstellar Club

"The Factors chose the long, slow ways between stars. They are well aware of the Pandora gate networks, but they shun them and advise us to do the same. They are an older, more widely experienced interstellar civilization, and they know something we don't."
Alexandria Ko
President-elect of the Interstellar Club

The Interstellar Club is formed from the remnants of several pre-Fall space agencies and interstellar projects. The Fall had two important effects for the future of interstellar travel: it destroyed the existing interstellar projects, and it revealed the existence of the Pandora gates. Both of these were large blows; much work and many important minds were lost, and gatecrashing provided instant FTL with no extra work needed on transhumanities part.

To some, however, the Fall also provided important lessons. Transhumanity survived for only one reason: we had spread off Earth into the solar system. Distribution ensured that no single disaster could kill everyone. Spreading beyond the solar system and into the galaxy will render transhumanity even more resistant to extinction.

The Pandora gates seem to provide what is easily the best option for interstellar travel; instantaneous and pre-made for our convenience. They are called "Pandora" gates for a reason, however, and there are many that mistrust them, fearing that something will follow a team back through them, that our use of them will be found objectionable by something more powerful than the Factors, or that one day they will simply all fail.

The Interstellar Club has its primary base in orbit around Neptune, with an automated factory and testing lab in the Kuiper belt. The club is politically neutral, but many of its members also identify as Argonauts and Autonomists. The club's approach to interstellar travel has focused around the creation not of ships, but of morphs, using self-repair and replication to act as a Von-Neumann machine; their prototypes are therefore called Neumanns.

Plot Hook: Communication with the club's plant in the Kuiper belt was recently lost, and an on-site inspection has revealed that a prototype is missing. It seems that someone, or a fork of someone, or perhaps something, sleeved into the Neumann and launched, apparently headed for Proxima Centauri. The players are asked to determine who it might have been what their motives were, and whether this could be a problem for transhumanity's future.