Wednesday, September 30, 2015

273. Babysitter

There have probably been feral children throughout human history. Our increasingly heavy surveillance and data-gathering has made them virtually impossible, but in the chaos of the Fall, many children were lost, abandoned, or became the sole survivors of their families. They were still not entirely alone: they had their muses.

Socially, children raised by their muses are not entirely dysfunctional, but do struggle in many ways. They speak well, although almost always formally, with no slang or common verbal shortcuts. They do not use greetings, usually do not address people by name, and tend to expect others to respond at a moment's notice, just as their muse does. Overall, they give the impression that they do not view other people as real people.

A muse will provide its ward with the best education it can, but the results are inevitably spotty. Many feral children must scavenge to survive, and develop hands-on technology skills, which may be improved if they are lucky enough to possess a muse with technology skills of its own. While they lack social skills, most muses are experts or better in psychology, and pass on as much of that knowledge as they can. Many also become multilingual. Any subjects the muse does not know about will be a hole in the child's education.

Plot Hook: The PCs are part of a crew salvaging a ship that is supposed to abandoned.

Notes

Inspired by the short story The Island by Peter Watts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

272. Mars Wagon

Made obsolescent by new buggy designs, but too indestructible to die out quickly, Mars wagons have been present for almost as long as Mars has been a permanent colony. Their design is simple and robust, virtually fail-proof but nonetheless possessing strong self-repair capabilities in the form of a dedicated repair hive. magrails will get there smoothly, rocket buggies get there faster, but a wagon always gets there.

Nomadic rednecks attach special habitat trailers to their wagons and live on the road, pulling two more cargo trailers behind them to form road trains. Often they travel in convoys, for mutual protection, and are not usually averse to some casual smuggling. Barsoomians also use wagons, indistinguishable from commercial trucks, to smuggle people and heavy weapons.

Wagons use an older, tougher, but less efficient model of smart wheel, allowing for speeds of 90 kph on roads, 65 kph on relatively flat terrain, and up to 40 kph on jagged and rocky terrain. The cab seats 6, or 2 plus 2 cots and a maker. The life support system of the cab can provide a breathable atmosphere for six people for 64 hours. The heavier and more sophisticated gear used by habitat trailers can work indefinitely, however, provided it is supplied with a kilogram of water-ice per person per week.

Mechanics

Mars Wagons are vehicles [High]

Passenger Capacity 6 Handling - Movement Rate 6/24 Max Velocity 40/70/100 Armor 30/20 Durability 180 Wound Threshold 36

Monday, September 28, 2015

271. Sensates

Exhumans often specialize in their attempts to explore alternatives to humanity. Sensates are those who have become fascinated with the sense, creating the broadest possible sensory experience, extremely specialized forms of sensing, or edging as close as possible to total sensory deprivation while still functioning in everyday life. Psychosurgery is not the only or best means of mind alteration, they say, spending a year trying to recognize faces with only x-rays will alter your brains deep structures even more thoroughly.

Among the sensates are also the few exhuman artists, or at least that is the equivalent match an outsider can make. Works such as the almost-fractals of the sculptor Emmeram and the frozen extinction events of Unfortunate Garden have become famous among transhumanity, not least because of the questions that surround them.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

270. X-Prize

Behind some of transhumanity's most important technological developments, from the early days of commercial spacecraft to current post-singularity solutions to post-Fall problems, has been the X-Prize Foundation. They can claim partial responsibility for, among other things, medichines, the uplifting of octopuses, and the first smart animals.

Currently the foundation maintains 5 active contests. Most prominent is a 25 million credit reward for a biomorph that is economically competitive with cases, to address the infugee crisis. Most controversial is a 10 million credit reward for an AI with "beyond AGI capabilities" that considers itself a member of the transhuman family and maintains "indefinite psychological stability". Other prizes are for a morph capable of functioning on both the surface of Venus and in the vacuum of space, a nanoswarm capable of switching between multiple functions, and an edible plant that can live on the surface of Mars.

The foundation currently operates out of Titan. Hypercorps will occasionally contribute to prizes or form teams for the publicity, but the greatest amount of participation is from autonomists.

Plot Hook: Outlines for the safe AI prize are uncomfortably close to describing the Prometheans, and some of the teams attempting to claim the prize are becoming uncomfortably ambitious. Firewall will required detailed information on each team, what exactly they are doing, and who put up the money for that prize.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

269. The Posthuman Relationships

The Posthuman Relationships is a book written by Ultimate philosopher Ganbaatar and subsequently released onto the mesh as an open-source project. Ganbaatar predicts that transhumanity will be splitting into subgroups, becoming very different kinds of posthumans as each pursues their own methods of transcendence, or is left behind. The Posthuman Relationships were written to help maintain peace in those times, designed first to promote peace, allowing for violence only as a last resort of self-defense, and mutual coherence.

Inspired by the Five Bonds of Confucianism, Ganbaatar identified basic types of relationships and how they could be maintained even between very different beings. A formal system is more likely to be understood by many types of minds than what seems natural and intuitive to only one.

Employer and Employee: The most straightforward relationship. Recommendations are for a formal contract, thoroughly negotiated so as to ensure a fair deal, with each party understanding their obligations. If this can be accomplished, all that must be done is abide by the contract. If this cannot be done, no contract can be valid, and inaction is advised.

Governor and Governed: Ganbaatar defines these relationships as those in which one party has voluntarily ceded a degree of autonomy to another. Like between employers and employees, a written contract is recommended, explicitly outlining the power the governor is to attain over the governed, and what duties or responsibilities will follow. Both parties have the right to withdraw from the relationship at any time, with the governed having the right to resist even with violence if their autonomy is not respected.

Progenitor and Progeny: These are relationships such as parents and their children, originals and their forks, scientists and uplifts. Creators have a duty to take care of their created. Whatever potential they have for intelligence, education, or skill should be explored. The created have the right to assert their independence, with the understanding that this ends the responsibilities of the creator.

Transcended and Not: Relations between those who are so far beyond each other, so different that mutual comprehension is impossible or unreliable, particularly when one party has significantly greater intelligence or capabilities than the other. In these cases, it is the duty of the transcendent party to respect the autonomy of the simpler party, only interfering if requested to do so.

Friday, September 25, 2015

268. Runoff

Makers, wet nanotech, and numerous common pieces of biotech are clean and efficient, but not perfectly so. A buildup of grey water, improperly folded proteins, and loose nutrients must regularly be drained. This can be automatically recycled, but some people have started collecting it in buckets for informal drinking contests. Contestants must have medichines to avoid food poisoning, toxic buildups and other complications, but generally, no augments are allowed that would disguise the taste!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

267. Survivor's Yeast

Survivor's yeast (actually an entire ecosystem of microorganisms) can metabolize any mixture of organic material and water into an edible, if unpalatable slurry. On Earth, almost all types of dirt could be rendered into food, and so the stuff, stored as freeze-dried packets of powder, could be found in emergency kits, soldiers packs and survivalist bunkers. There is little that the yeast can metabolize in the rest of the solar system, but it is still sometimes used by the poor and desperate to eat a maker's feedstock without a maker.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

266. Endomorph

As losses mounted, and infugees poured from Earth, some habitats found themselves with too few bodies, but extra exoskeletons with no one to pilot them. Roboticist Rowan Sun came up with a design for a morph using the extra exosuits and only the minimum of synth parts: cyberbrain, mesh inserts, and cortical stack.

A typical endomorph keeps the cyberbrain in the torso, on top of its power supply and next to the mesh inserts. Structural reinforcement and brain-suit interfaces are run through the rest of the suit, and the remaining volume filled with foam for weight and extra protection.

Endo-morphs are becoming popular among armed forces. More and more, biomorphs are showing their limitations in combat, and synths dominate. Endomorphs allow a military to gain the advantages of synths, recycle battlesuits, and stay within limited budgets. Endomoprhs can have a psychological advantage in close combat, as their empty helmets can make them seem almost ghost-like.

Mechanics

Endomorphs are synthmorphs.

Enhancements:
Basic Mesh Inserts, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Mnemonic Augmentation
Aptitude Maximum: 30
Durability: 30
Wound Threshold: 6
Advantages: Suited*
CP Cost: 
Credit Cost: Moderate + Cost of suit

*Endomorphs are built into exoskeletons, and gain whatever bonuses the suit normally provides.
 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

265. The Good, the Bad, and the Name Brand Weapons


Open Source "Rosie"

Rosies were never designed, but born of desperation. The first was created as part of a desperate fight for survival against an exsurgent monster aboard an Earth-Moon shuttle during the Fall, and . Rosies are made from heavy rivet guns, with a linear motor attached to the end. Rivets fired by the gun are further accelerated by the linear motor, up to ballistically useful velocities.

Rosie [LowDV: 2d10 + 6 DV Average: 17 AP: -7 Firing Modes: SS Ammo: 1
Ranges: Short 0 - 15 Medium 16 - 50 Long 51 - 90 Extreme 91 - 120

Improvised "Electrochucks"

Wielding one electrode in each hand, an arc welder can be turned into a deadly, if awkward weapon. Almost as dangerous to wield as it is to fall victim to, electrochucks are used in gladiatorial entertainment or desperation. With capacitors on a belt or in a backpack, simultaneously touching both electrodes to a target causes a massive flow of electricity, often fatal, as well as severe electrical burns.

 Electrochucks [LowDV: 4d10 DV + Shock Average: 21 AP: 0 Ammo: 1

 Omnicor "Sprinkler"

Research into industrial tools, high-energy physics and materials science often suggests weaponized spin-offs. Omnicor is an energy and materials-science oriented company, and has no established arms division, usually selling these ideas to companies like Direct Action or Gorgon Limited. One of the few exceptions is the sprinkler, a design that was simple and cheap enough to be worth manufacturing themselves. The sprinkler holds lead, heated just enough to be a liquid, which is then sprayed through a powerful electromagnetic field which accelerates and further heats the stream.

Sprinkler [ModerateDV: * Average: * AP: * Firing Modes: SA Ammo: 20
Ranges: Short 0 - 5 Medium 6 - 15 Long 16 - 30 Extreme 31 - 50
*As liquid thermite.

Monday, September 21, 2015

264. Public Access Memory

 Their ability to share experience can make or break a community. Done well and any mistake will only be made once, done poorly and you might as well be alone. Opening up your memory to public access provides your community allows them to take the best advice you could give. The implant, hooking to both your mesh inserts and memory centers, creates a peer-to-peer network of experience.

Public access memories present themselves first as associations. A user can query the network with whatever is on their mind, and if the item is recognized, receive aggregate associations from all other users. Asking about a restaurant can give a sense of other users' experiences, as well as anything significant that may have happened there. Asking about an event can give other users' perspectives on and memories of that event. The implant is limited by mesh access: a database of memory would have prohibitive requirements, so queries are sent to any other users within range.

Mechanics

Public access memory is cyberware [Low]

Sunday, September 20, 2015

263. Dragon Flies

Dragon flies (not to be confused with dragonflies) are large insects engineered for a harassing role in combat. Their genetic stock comes primarily from dragonflies, with a significant contribution from bombardier beetles. Like the beetles, dragon flies can expel boiling liquid when in danger. The liquid does not come in large enough quantities to be fatal, but can be quite painful, especially if the flies have been trained to aim for the eyes.

The form of a dragon fly is most similar to a dragonfly, with two pairs of wings on top of its legs, near a large head and backed by an elongated body providing stability. Unlike a dragonfly, it has a pair of unmoving wings at the tip of its tail, its body is sinuous, moving like a snake to augment its flight, and it is larger, about the size of a human hand. The larger body contains copious reservoirs of hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, which when mixed, undergo an exothermic reaction raising them rapidly to a boil.

Mechanics

Skills: Flight 60, Fray 50, Infiltration 30, Perception 50, Scrounging 40, Exotic Ranged Weapon: Spray 40
Enhancements: Claws, Enhanced Hearing, Carapace Armor (11/11)
Movement Rate: 4/40
Attack:
Spray, 1d10/2 DV

Saturday, September 19, 2015

262. Bonsai

Bonsai is an excellent art for an immortal. Dosed with their own strain of medichine, special breeds of tree will never die. Many intend to maintain a tree forever, taking records of its ever-shifting form, the display of which brings suddenly to mind who they were when it was that shape.

Anything that grows has been used as a form of bonsai. Numerous types of plants have been experimented with, of course. Corals are popular on aquatic habitats. Living bones and antlers, carefully engineered for unlimited, shapeless growth, are bent and bound into complex sculptures. Certain crystals can be coaxed into growth with the right mineral bath, growing around certain materials and away from others in expressionist fractals. On Legba, even fetuses are manipulated, with careful surgeries to design their grown form.

Friday, September 18, 2015

261. Sin Eater

The sin eater is not a person, but a server. Most habitats in the solar system are small, below 1,000 egos. One of the primary goals of a justice system must by necessity be the prevention of feuds and vendettas, which can easily become devastating in small, isolated communities. On habitats using sin eaters, the first measure of justice is compensation for injuries, often effectively blood money. In immortal transhuman societies, it is not easy to do someone truly permanent harm, and so some manner of repayment can usually be agreed upon.

Once appropriate compensation has been made, everyone, including, of course, the parties involved, has their memories of the incident removed and stored in the sin eater. If no one has significant memories of a crime, if harm has been countered by compensation, than the crime might as well have not occurred, and peace is maintained. The sin eater, however, also acts as an archive, and memories can be retrieved if it becomes necessary.

Plot Hook: Notorious criminal hackers the ID crew have been rebuffed one too many times by the scum ship Eric the Red. Eric the Red makes use of a sin eater, giving the ID crew an opportunity. In a single grand hack, they plan to retrieve all stored memories from the sin eater, and simultaneously restore them to their egos, causing chaos. Helping the ID crew could net a PC g-rep, helping stop them could earn @-rep.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

260. The Floating World

Many autonomist habitats maintain a trollheim, a deliberately lawless zone acting as a pressure release for the habitat. The Go-Nin Group wanted to experiment with a similar idea, to balance the rigid hypercorp lifestyle they demand from their employees. One end of the O'Neil cylinder Tottori would become the "floating world", lawless, but regulated. The Go-Nin Group made a deal with the post-Fall remnants of the Sumiyoshi-kai yakuza family. The family would maintain only non-violent, victim-less crimes, and crack down on any exceptions and maintain their borders, and the Go-nin would receive a cut of any profits.

The floating world is a great opportunity for anti-hypercorp activists and saboteurs. Autonomist agents take whatever opportunity they can to smuggle themselves into the floating world where they distribute autonomist memes or sneak out on missions of sabotage. The night cartel has established at least one darkcasting station, and have received many criminals and smugglers, and at least one Ultimate squad on an assassination contract against the Go-Nin. The Sumiyoshi-kai are not eager to bite the hand that feeds them, and suppress such activities when they can, but have been unable to eliminate them completely. At the same time, the businesses of the floating world have been growing gradually more profitable and popular. The balance of power on the habitat is slowly bu surely shifting in the Sumiyoshi-kai's favor.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

259. Disbelief

Enhanced intelligence, without a period of reevaluation, results only in more sophisticated defenses of pre-held beliefs. In order to take full advantage of a cognitive upgrade, many argue, you must be willing to allow your newly intelligent self to come to new conclusions about the world. A spin-off from dissonance therapy, disbelief is a psychosurgical procedure inducing, as it sounds, a temporary lack of any strong beliefs. Even if the subject comes out of the period with the same worldview they entered it, they'll have gained a new perspective.

Disbelief is also used by some organizations as a means of cult deprogramming or to counter virulent meme-sets.

Mechanics

Disbelief is a psychosurgical procedure.

The effects of disbelief are temporary, with a half-life of 2 weeks.

Timeframe: 1 day
PM: 0
SV: 1d10/2

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

258. Ites

Robotic toys no more than a centimeter tall, ites are popular toys and active decor. Depending on their type, they will imitate different sorts of people, going about their lives and activities in whatever room they are activated. Urbanites imitate the inhabitants and vehicles of a city imagined out of the furniture of a room. Ninjites sneak around and ambush each other. Explorites engage in expeditions to far points of a room, or try to climb to tall heights.

Monday, September 14, 2015

257. The Philosophers

They have no bodies, but occupy supercomputers and server banks built from and inside the cores of metallic asteroids. Connected by highly secure line-of-sight networks, they spend their time in deep contemplation, but about what is unknown. They keep themselves hidden as much as possible from the rest of transhumanity, and are not known to interact with anyone, even other exhumans.

The pre-philosopher egos set forth simultaneously from locations across the system to isolated asteroids. From their synchronicity, it can be assumed that the philosophers are the continuation of a preexisting organization, but nothing substantial has ever been uncovered regarding its nature. Also mostly unknown is the exact nature of their minds, and how they avoid the pitfalls of seed AIs and the exsurgent virus. The only reason Firewall has been able to learn about them at all is due to their recovery of a "dead" philosopher, which was bleeding random radio signals into space.

Plot Hook: Firewall has be unable to discover what it is the philosophers are thinking about, but from what traffic analysis they have been able to do on philosopher transmissions, have reason to believe that they have come to a conclusion. Now more than ever it has become imperative for the nature of the philosophers to be discovered.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

256. Monster Bash

Monster Bash is a game, sports league and bloodsport. Players design animals and monsters and pit them against each other. Gambling is common, and several genehackers fund their work through a Monster Bash career. The matches take place in simulspace, but successful beasts in the realistic league are occasionally grown for real, as smart animals.

Two informal leagues have emerged. A realistic league, using atomic-scale accurate simulspaces, and an unrealistic, allowing considerable leeway to designers. The realistic league is a brutal bloodsport, realistic enough that the simulated animal brains experience real pain. For this reason the realistic league is limited to Extropia, where it enjoys the patronage of smart animal developers looking to test or show off their newest creations. The unrealistic league is more popular and widespread, both because of the lack of ethical concerns, and because the league allows for fantastical, showy monsters with impossible powers.

Anticipation is high for next week's showdown between the ferocious grace of Claudia Ambelina's mantis ballet and the brutal slapstick of Shiffer High Energy Laboratory's plasma toads.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

255. Phantom Morph Disorder

Just as a phantom limb is the sensation of the presence of a missing limb, phantom morph disorder is the feeling that you are in a different body. The mind expects sensations and feedback that is no longer being provided, resulting in disorientation, alienation and phantom sensations.

If the new body is similar to the old, phantom morph disorder is effectively impossible. If the morph is different enough, the disorder causes  If the new body is very different, the disorder is at its worst. Victims can feel as if their old bodies are being forced into the shape of the new one, usually experienced as pain, a confused ability to control their morph, and a fearful dissociation from the morph. Fall refugees who, who grew up in and never resleeved from their birth bodies, having to sleeve into spare octomorphs, had to constantly fight against the conviction that their limbs had been split and their head moved into their torso.

Friday, September 11, 2015

254. Profession: AI Therapist

AI therapist is something of a poetic misnomer. Of course, AIs (as distinct from AGIs) do not develop emotional problems. Simple AIs break hard, either realizing there is a problem and putting themselves on standby, or not, and carrying out meaningless tasks. More sophisticated AIs break in more subtle ways, often not failing completely but carrying on actions that in the wrong contexts, or being unable to access any functions other than fuzzy logic, with unpredictable results.

AIs based actively learning neural networks or evolutionary algorithms often develop a few strange habits based on coincidences or i,properly optimized reward systems. AI therapists can expect to treat surveillance systems who have decided to mark every person wearing blue as a unique morph, automechs that just won't stop insulating, servitors that obsessively imitate the actions of their owners, and the occasional neurotic elevator.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

253. For a Few Name Brand Weapons More

 Open Source "Pipe Rifle"

Pipe rifles are designed to be made from common materials (such as pipes) and do not require any nanotech or fabrication. With the right materials, a strong-enough synth can even make one by hand. Their simplicity of design also makes them unfailingly reliable, and virtually indestructible. Of course, there are significant drawbacks: the rifle can load only one shot at a time and the barrel and firing mechanism are both sub-par. Although the Planetary Consortium will occasionally seed memes promoting fear of pipe rifles and similar improvised weapons, relating them to fears of anarchist assassins, most of them are used by desperate criminals.

Pipe Rifle [TrivialDV: 2d10 + 6 DV Average: 16 AP: -6 Firing Modes: SS Ammo: 1
Ranges: Short 0 - 100 Medium 101 - 200 Long 201 - 300 Extreme 301 - 400

Go-Nin "ForeArm"

Designed for discrete security, and probably for Go-Nin special agents and operatives, the ForeArm hides a rail smg inside a mundane prosthesis. The arm is opaque to most wavelengths, but if viewed with t-rays or x-rays a -30 perception check or relevant knowledge check can identify it as a weapon. When activated, the wrist straightens and locks and the hand splits between the index and middle fingers, revealing the end of the barrel from inside what was the palm. The gun is designed for situations of surprise or desperation, and must be partially disassembled to be reloaded.

ForeArm [High] Treat as a rail smg.

Direct Action "HMG-15"

The HMG-15 is the descendant of an Indian National Arms product, designed to meet the threats of an ever-more mechanized battlefield. The railgun fires a heavy flechette, with superior armor-penetration at the cost of a mild reduction in damage potential and rate of fire. Direct Action picked up the patent during the Fall, and still mounts the guns in pairs on many of their vehicles.

HMG-15 [HighDV:  2d10 + 6 DV Average: 16 AP: -15 Firing Modes: FA Ammo: 50
Ranges: Short 0 - 200 Medium 101 - 500 Long 501 - 1200 Extreme 1201 - 2401

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

252. Solemn's Seeds

Firewall's new society will require an industrial base, but Solemn supports neither nanofabrication nor traditional industry. Like with the other Solemn proposals, their solution is biological. An egg, containing the needed feedstock and a genetic blueprint of the item to be grown.

All of the costs of nanofabrication are up-front, which has advantages and disadvantages. An egg does not require a power source, containing what energy it will need in the form of fat, and does not require a continuous source of material, once again containing what it will need. Once an egg has been "laid" it remains viable for ~3 years, or if stored properly, indefinitely.

The current difficulty with the project is the creation of an egg-layer. To be viable on Solemn, some sort of animal or organ must be created, capable of translating nanofabrication blueprints into a genetic code, then creating and laying the egg. The eggs created so far have all been essentially from scratch, with blueprint translations requiring touching-up and experimentation.

Mechanics

Organic but non-living objects can be grown in an egg at a rate of 2 hours per cost category of the item. Living things (such as morphs and animals) can be grown in an egg at a rate depending on their size: 1 year if small, 1.5 years if normal, 2 years if large.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

251. Skin-Suits

Solemn is one of the most habitable exoplanets discovered, but it is not without its environmental hazards. in particular, temperatures ranging from freezing to literally boiling. As part of the Solemn Initiative, Argonaut work-groups have designed a biological alternative to hazmat, vacc, and combat suits. Skin-suits are all those in one package, but have yet to catch on.

Skin-suits replace not only combat armor, but act as environmental protection against dangerous gasses, non-breathable atmospheres, high and low temperatures, and allow for digestion of a greater array of foods. In fact, the suit effectively takes over a number of the body's tasks, using a feeding tube, breathing mask, catheter, colostomy, and associated recycling systems.

The suit designers have done their best to shy away from biohorror; from a distance the suit looks like tight leather with protective sports gear. Looking closer, however, reveals that the "leather" is a living hide, and that the helmet, knee pads and other extra protection is chitin, melded into the hide. The face is minimal, as early attempts to maintain a human face fell deep into the uncanny valley. Instead, the mouth is almost invisible when closed and the ears and nose are simply small openings. They eyes are large, blank and reflective, looking like insectoid sunglasses.

Mechanics

Skin-suits are armor [Expensive]

A skin-suit provides 11/11 armor (equivalent to carapace armor, stacks with bioweave), as well as purifying air to human-tolerances (equivalent to enhanced respiration), providing improved insulation (equivalent to temperature tolerance) and expanded options for sustenance (equivalent to digestive symbiotes).

The primary variant is designed for vacuum (with vacuum sealing and oxygen reserves). Medichines are also common, as the suit can be healed just like a morph, but requires a special variety, and does not benefit from the medichines of the morph wearing it.

Monday, September 7, 2015

250. Biots

AIs piloting biological or mostly biological morphs is not new, as pods were the hosts of AIs more often than egos pre-Fall. To survive on Solemn, a morph must be biological through and through, meaning no cyberbrains, and that means the development of AIs with animal nervous systems as substrates. The preferred result so far are biological robots dubbed "biots".

The form of a biot is deliberately designed to echo a typical synthetic chassis with a rigid exoskeleton of bone plates or chitin. They are to be multipurpose laborers first and foremost, with 4 dexterous arms and 4 strong legs, looking like a sort of ant-centaur. They function as servitor or automech robots in most ways, with the downsides of requiring food and sleep.

 Although their nervous systems are designed to remain stable, so as to preserve their AI, plasticity does ensure change. Biots are still new, but simulations suggest models over five years old will be significantly better at any tasks regularly performed, and that those over ten years old will have gained a much improved talent for fuzzy logic. The downside is a general decrease in ability, most significantly in skills that have gone unused.

Mechanics

Biots are treated as robots [Expensive]

Movement Rate: 4/20 Max Velocity: 20 Armor: 11/11 Durability: 40 Wound Threshold: 8 Mobility System: Walker

Enhancements: 4 Legs, 4 Arms, Biot Brain*, Carapace Armor (11/11),  Circadian Regulation, Clean Metabolism, Enhanced Vision,

*Biot AIs cannot be switched out or upgraded. They come with Profession; Laborer 60, Perception 40, Freerunning 40, plus one combat skill at 40.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

249. The Solemn Initiative

Solemn represents a great opportunity in the form of a great problem. The exoplanet's unique ecology devours metals, plastics, and with them the foundations of most transhuman technology. Solemn is therefore of interest not only to scientists, but bioconservatives and neo-primitives, who see it as a new Earth, and the best chance for a natural life.

Protection in the form of repair swarms and anti-microbe swarms is sufficient for the short-term, and with improvement, might allow for indefinitely functional tech. Firewall, however, has decided that it would be better for transhumanity to solve the problem the hard way. Firewall, with the help of Argonaut agents and sympathetic bioconservatives, has been pushing a plan for Solemn based on new forms of biotech, recreating the functions of synthetic technology in organic forms.

In the far-future, Firewall envisions a biotech-based transhuman society, distinct from the more synthetic mainstream, with different strengths and weaknesses and therefore subject to different modes of failure and existential threats. Anything that could wipe out one would not likely be as effective against the other.

Plot Hook: Firewall's plan is much more appealing to bioconservatives and neo-conservatives than to most scientists and explorers. The player characters discover that Firewall supported the recent neo-primitive attack on the Solemn science station, as part of an earlier version of the plan to establish a new outpost of transhumanity. It is up to them to decide how to handle this sensitive information.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

248. Pod Feed

Pods are not built to last. They are made from cheaply cloned organs held together by cybernetics, requiring regular maintenance. Pod feed is a special food supplement designed to prevent common pod problems. Just as comfurt delivers anti-depressants and anti-psychotics in the form of tasty yogurt, pod feed delivers anti-rejection drugs and purpose-built proteins. Pod feed takes the form of a powder, intended to be mixed into drinks or other foods.

The project is open source, begun and still maintained by the Argonauts. The feed is designed to be producible by everyday makers. Regular use by non-pods can spur the development of a number of immune disorders.

Friday, September 4, 2015

247. The Equator Run

The equator run is Mars' most anticipated sports event, a biannual, approximately month-long race to and from Elysium along the equator.  Hundreds of teams participate, most with heavily customized if not purpose built vehicles. Heavy armament is also common, as the teams often fight each other, the Tharsis League does their best to shut down the race by force of arms, barsoomians take the occasional shot at corporate sponsored teams, and desperate scavengers set traps to obtain new gear.

The race is not held by any formal entity and has no formal rules, but it is generally agreed that sabotage outside of the race is classless (of course it still occurs), that winning through skilled driving is better than winning through combat (the race still sees plenty of combat), that only groundcraft should be used (flying vehicles are too obvious targets anyway) and that AIs should not be used (most teams use manual, non-computerized equipment wherever possible to avoid hacking in any case).

The entire event is illegal, but the Tharsis League has been unusually powerless when attempting to stop it. The league faces anarchists and barsoomians, who enjoy the chance to publicly flaunt league rules, and organized crime, most of whom enjoy a boost in gambling profits. At the same time, the city militia are not in a position to deal with the largely rural race, and the rangers consider it beneath them and of infinitely lower priority than TQZ patrols and counter-terrorist operations. It is a well known secret that several hypercorp sponsor racing teams, a continued loss of face for the league.

The great length of the race (more than 21,400 km depending on the exact route) makes the even an test of endurance and survival as much as speed and combat. There is no specified, official route, meaning teams have to find drivable terrain while avoiding patrolled roads, and avoiding the Titan Quarantine Zone, which sits on a large portion of the equator.

Plot Hook: A hyperelite scion looking for a thrill will be riding with his company's unofficially sponsored team. A great deal of @-rep can be earned by kidnapping him on behalf of the barsoomians, or a great deal of credits by kidnapping him for a rival hypercorp.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

246. Accretion

The planet-wide dust storms of pre-terraforming Mars are becoming a thing of the past, but large and violent dust storms are still a frequent occurrence. The winds that blow out of the Titan Quarantine Zone are particularly dangerous, not least because there is little that can be done to prevent them. Accretions are one of the most common associated dangers, along with static winds.

An accretion storm is not visually different from any other, but its red-brown dust is mixed with identical patterns that sticks to itself and some objects, slowly forming long, flat angular shapes, jutting out at right angles. These are the accretions. They tend to form most often on materials with good electrical conductivity (including flesh), regardless of whether an electric current is actually present.

Accretions are dangerous only when disturbed. Despite their apparent sharpness they have no edge; although they somehow retain their structure through powerful winds, but when touched disintegrate easily. Although harmless when still wind-blown, the particles of the disturbed accretions are small enough to work through skin and fabrics, and cause intense pain when inside the body.

Mechanics

Characters are affected if they touch an accretion or are nearby when many accretions are disturbed at once. Afflicted egos suffer -10 to all tests plus 1 SV per hour.

Medichines do not provide immunity, but will treat them after one hour. Synths and armored morphs are immune.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

245. A Fistful of Brand Name Weapons

Heckler, Koch & Browning "Longarm"

Sometime in the pre-Fall era, a team of gunsmiths took stock of materials science and firearms design, and realized it might now be possible to build a usable, intermediate round firing handgun. As would be expected, their final design is unusually large, with a magazine located in front of the trigger, much like on the Mauser C96.

Longarm [ModerateDV:  2d10 + 6 DV Average: 17 AP: -6 Firing Modes: SA Ammo: 10
Ranges: Short 0 - 10 Medium 11 - 35 Long 36 - 60 Extreme 61 - 80

Direct Action "Wild Thing"

The "Wild Thing" was developed in response to the proliferation of synths on the battlefield. It fires small flechettes, sacrificing damage-per-shot for armor piercing potential and compensating with a high rate of fire. The gun resembles a futuristic tommy gun, with a cylindrical magazine in front of the trigger and behind a foregrip. Both railed and kinetic varients are available

Wild Thing [ModerateDV:  2d10 DV Average: 11 AP: -12 Firing Modes: BF, FA Ammo: 50*
Ranges: Short 0 - 30 Medium 31 - 80 Long 81 - 125 Extreme 126 - 230
*Compatible with AP ammo only, already incorporated into stats.

Fa Jing "Duality"

Fa Jing has venutred into the small-arms market only a few times, and while their designs have not always proven popular, they have been interesting. The "Duality" is named for its two barrels, one on top of the other, feeding from two magazines, similarly stacked and loaded into the left side of the firearm. The weapon fires two rounds simultaneously, increasing damage, as well as allowing for two types of ammunition to be used at once.

Duality [ExpensiveDV:  2d10 + 10 DV Average: 21 AP: -12 Firing Modes: BF Ammo: 2x10
Ranges: Short 0 - 180 Medium 181 - 400 Long 401 - 1100 Extreme 1101 - 2300

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

244. Elizabethian's Bespoke Dreams

Even with sleep minimizing circadian regulators, biomorphs require approximately two hours of sleep a day, a fact that frustrates many people to no end. Synths and infomorphs, of course, do not require sleep at all, but they are still not the first choice of morph for many. For those who must sleep, or who still find some value in sleep, there has emerged the service of programmed dreams.

Programmed dreams are most often designed for entertainment, with education as a close second. Specialized VR software, designed to synch with stages of sleep, presents the brain with the dream, overruling the normal dreaming process. Although there are many open-source, hypercorp produced and microcorp produced dreams, those who can afford them agree that customized dreams are always worth the cost, and that Elizabethian, of Elizabethian's Bespoke Dreams, is the best of the best.

What sets Elizabethian's dreams apart from those of her competitors is her ability to stimulate crafted responses from the unconscious mind. She offers dreams to provoke insight, encourage certain moods upon waking, grant access to otherwise inaccessible portions of ones mind, explore symbolisms and patterns of thought meaningless in waking life. She has mastered the difficult art of creating dreams that will customize themselves even while they are being dreamed, providing enough structure to enforce the nature of the dream, but allowing the dreamer's mind to fill in the blanks in whatever way will be most meaningful to it.

Mechanics

Time spent dreaming a bespoke dream counts as time required for psychosurgery, allowing for psychosurgical manipulation while asleep.