[Interface Zero 2.0] Cybernetics: design theory

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[Interface Zero 2.0] Cybernetics: design theory

#1 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:20 pm

I've been discussing cybernetics with David Viars, one of the developers for Interface Zero 2.0, and we've come up with what we think will be a great way to make cyberware work like gear, but completely avoid the problems that a clunky design system would cause.

He's working on it, and I'll share it with you when he gets part of it to me in the next few days.

The BASIC concept is that we'll have augmentation packages characters can pick from;optic packages, strength enhancement packages, armor packages, combat enhancement systems, reflex systems, etc..

These will cost X amount of credits and have a certain vigor cost (denoted by points). You can't spend more points than your vigor rating allows without also incurring some side-effects, maybe psychosis, or health problems.. not sure precisely how we're going to handle it, but we want it to be somewhat random in nature so everyone isn't getting the same problems. Makes it seem more realistic.

Cybernetic packages are balanced by Rank, i.e. characters can only pick certain types of packages at Novice, seasoned, veteran, etc...You'll have a wide variety of packages to choose from at Novice level, and then when you reach seasoned, you can "upgrade" your cyber system by choosing from seasoned Rank cybernetic packages.

Overall, I think this is going to make choosing cyberware very easy during chargen. Just pick the cyber-systems you want, and pay associated costs, and you're done.

No fussing with defect points, no worrying about cybertrauma or biotrauma. Just quick, fast and simple to implement.
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Re: [Interface Zero 2.0] Cybernetics: design theory

#2 Postby Jordan Peacock » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:34 pm

Disclaimer: I'm not familiar with how IZ handles cybernetics presently.

thurak wrote:These will cost X amount of credits and have a certain vigor cost (denoted by points). You can't spend more points than your vigor rating allows without also incurring some side-effects, maybe psychosis, or health problems..


Maybe points are determined by Vigor + Spirit? (If that has net effect of doubling the number of "points" you can allocate, simply double the cost per unit. Could reflect how this is taxing both on mind and body. Also means that neither one can be a "dump stat" if you're serious about cybernetics.)

thurak wrote:not sure precisely how we're going to handle it, but we want it to be somewhat random in nature so everyone isn't getting the same problems. Makes it seem more realistic.


If there's a random factor, perhaps there could be a point of differentiation between buying high-grade systems (or paying extra for "therapy" or better installation procedures) vs. "chop-doc" clinics and "black market" parts. Pay more for better facilities, better supply chain, better brands, better diagnostics, better technicians installing your hardware, and you're less likely to suffer penalties (bonus on any rolls involved). Cut corners and you're taking a bigger risk (but you might still be lucky).

Thurak wrote:Cybernetic packages are balanced by Rank, i.e. characters can only pick certain types of packages at Novice, seasoned, veteran, etc.


Is there any in-game justification for limiting it by Rank? Rank is a bit of an abstract concept -- it's kind of hard to imagine how something like that would be measured in-universe. Due to the nature of this being closer to a "point-buy" system, there's no guarantee that the hero will be advanced in prestige, money, or any particular measurable attribute at any given rank, unlike level-based RPGs. I could imagine, however, limiting some cybernetics (or reducing your ability to use them properly) by having some Edge or even Attribute prerequisites. But in that case, simply being "Seasoned" would be a guarantee of nothing, unless you meet those more specific prerequisites.

If it's a matter of not wanting people to get certain cybernetics at character generation, you could simply:

1) Have them be more expensive than a starting character can hope to afford.

2) Have them be "secret" technologies not available to the PCs at first, but which the GM can feel free to make available later at an appropriate point in the campaign (time progresses and new technology is developed ... the PCs make connections at a major corporation and thus new technologies are now available to them ... etc.).

Also, if there's a concern about PCs getting "over-cybered" too easily, perhaps certain technologies have certain inherent drawbacks* that are set apart from any "cyber-psychosis" type effects that might otherwise arise. For instance, perhaps getting "wetware" that ties into your brain opens up a whole new can of technological worms as opposed to merely getting cyber-optics or artificial muscle replacements. (I can't help but think of "Ghost in the Shell," and all the various hazards of having too much tech in your head there, that even the main characters seem surprisingly less-than-horrified about.)

(* In other words, if you've got some sort of wireless connection plugged into your head so you can access the internet or leap into a virtual reality simulation just as easily as you can daydream, just imagine all the brain games some hacker could play by messing with the incoming data.)

In any case, I like the idea of buying cybergear rather than the oft-cited suggestion I've heard of "have your players get Edges, then make it cyberware as a trapping." Even in standard Savage Worlds, heroes can buy better GUNS, after all. It only makes sense in a cyberpunk setting that this is the sort of gear that they can get, as well.
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Re: [Interface Zero 2.0] Cybernetics: design theory

#3 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:49 pm

Jordan Peacock wrote:Maybe points are determined by Vigor + Spirit? (If that has net effect of doubling the number of "points" you can allocate, simply double the cost per unit. Could reflect how this is taxing both on mind and body. Also means that neither one can be a "dump stat" if you're serious about cybernetics.)


We've thought about doing both. Thanks for the input.

Jordan Peacock wrote:
If there's a random factor, perhaps there could be a point of differentiation between buying high-grade systems (or paying extra for "therapy" or better installation procedures) vs. "chop-doc" clinics and "black market" parts. Pay more for better facilities, better supply chain, better brands, better diagnostics, better technicians installing your hardware, and you're less likely to suffer penalties (bonus on any rolls involved). Cut corners and you're taking a bigger risk (but you might still be lucky).


We'll definitely address that. Thanks for the input!

Jordan Peacock wrote:Is there any in-game justification for limiting it by Rank? Rank is a bit of an abstract concept -- it's kind of hard to imagine how something like that would be measured in-universe. Due to the nature of this being closer to a "point-buy" system, there's no guarantee that the hero will be advanced in prestige, money, or any particular measurable attribute at any given rank, unlike level-based RPGs. I could imagine, however, limiting some cybernetics (or reducing your ability to use them properly) by having some Edge or even Attribute prerequisites. But in that case, simply being "Seasoned" would be a guarantee of nothing, unless you meet those more specific prerequisites.

If it's a matter of not wanting people to get certain cybernetics at character generation, you could simply:

1) Have them be more expensive than a starting character can hope to afford.

2) Have them be "secret" technologies not available to the PCs at first, but which the GM can feel free to make available later at an appropriate point in the campaign (time progresses and new technology is developed ... the PCs make connections at a major corporation and thus new technologies are now available to them ... etc.).


It's not about not wanting to keep people from getting cybernetics at Chargen, quite the opposite.

The old system went with a more free-form cyberware creation system that turned out to be clunky and slow, and actually resulted in it being much more difficult for starting characters being able to afford even the most basic cybernetics.

This system admittedly isn't based on any IN-game concepts that would normally keep characters from having access to better cyberware (though it would be fun to develop an IN-game reason for it). It's simply a streamlined way of making sure cyberware is readily available at every rank to those who want it, but in such a way that you don't have full-on cyborgs walking around at Novice level.

I suppose we_could_take rank requirements out and just limit it by VIgor/spirit and credits.
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Re: [Interface Zero 2.0] Cybernetics: design theory

#4 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:17 pm

I'm sorry. For some reason I missed this part of your post. I must need a nap. My brain isn't working right.

Jordan Peacock wrote:
Also, if there's a concern about PCs getting "over-cybered" too easily, perhaps certain technologies have certain inherent drawbacks* that are set apart from any "cyber-psychosis" type effects that might otherwise arise. For instance, perhaps getting "wetware" that ties into your brain opens up a whole new can of technological worms as opposed to merely getting cyber-optics or artificial muscle replacements. (I can't help but think of "Ghost in the Shell," and all the various hazards of having too much tech in your head there, that even the main characters seem surprisingly less-than-horrified about.)

(* In other words, if you've got some sort of wireless connection plugged into your head so you can access the internet or leap into a virtual reality simulation just as easily as you can daydream, just imagine all the brain games some hacker could play by messing with the incoming data.)


I really like these concepts. I'll certainly pass them on to Dave. I've told him about this thread. I hope he comes by and checks it out. Piotr Korys has been giving input as well.

Jordan Peacock wrote:In any case, I like the idea of buying cybergear rather than the oft-cited suggestion I've heard of "have your players get Edges, then make it cyberware as a trapping." Even in standard Savage Worlds, heroes can buy better GUNS, after all. It only makes sense in a cyberpunk setting that this is the sort of gear that they can get, as well.


Thanks. I agree that cybernetics should be gear. There have been suggestions about making cyberware edges, and while that route is tempting, for me, it always boils down to the fact that making cybernetics edges means you have to sacrifice some other type of edge just to get a piece of gear.

I don't think it's a good trade-off.

These are all great ideas
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Re: [Interface Zero 2.0] Cybernetics: design theory

#5 Postby Jordan Peacock » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:47 pm

thurak wrote:It's simply a streamlined way of making sure cyberware is readily available at every rank to those who want it, but in such a way that you don't have full-on cyborgs walking around at Novice level.


Aww! :D Actually, "full cyborg conversion" would be an interesting way to start, just so long as it isn't interpreted as "I'm cooler than everyone else in every conceivable way." However, that might be something worth handling as a "background package" (that is, a "racial package" by a different name, since one isn't necessarily BORN a cyborg, and "race" isn't really the right term at all). I think it might be kind of interesting to start play as a "Briareos" type 'borg, but of course with any abilities brought down into balance with the rest of the group. (I confess that on the rare occasion I actually get to play in a game, my character choice is often driven by "How cool would my miniature look on the table?")

Also, it's a bit of a deviation, but regarding the talk of "cyberpsychosis" and "biotrauma" and such, one thing I like to be sure of is that there's a reason-to-exist for the character who elects NOT to get all cybered up. Maybe on the whole, the promise of super-human powers is too good not to pass up for most characters, but I can't help but feel that there ought to be some justifiable reasons why a character in-setting would choose either to limit the amount of alteration he or she is willing to undergo, or whether to skip it all entirely. If the benefits of cybernetics get too high, then a mere Hindrance (refuses to use cyberware!) hardly covers it.

Aside from the risk of "humanity loss" or "cyberpsychosis risk" or such that I vaguely recall being employed in the old R. Talsorian Cyberpunk, I can think of some other considerations:

1) Hacking. Not EVERY device should be hackable, because that would be really dumb design, but at the very least, a lot of the "wired" technologies might come with risks. (Geotracking, "cookies" tracking where you log in and what you access, spyware, malware, distracting pop-ups at very inopportune times such as in the middle of a firefight, etc.)

2) EMP and "anti-bot" weaponry. There might be technologies designed to disable machinery without harming people, such as for taking down enemy vehicles or renegade robots, and it would likely mess with cybernetics as well. There's a distinct disadvantage to replacing your organic muscles with "improved" mechanical ones for a boost to Strength, when a "pulse grenade" could cause your limbs to just stop working entirely. There might be countermeasures, such as systems shielding, but that represents more bulk, more expense.

3) Maintenance. You can't afford to go "off the grid" for extended periods. Parts have to be replaced periodically, and high-performance cybernetics not only cost more to get, but more to MAINTAIN. A cyborg who retires might very well have to downgrade his equipment since he won't be able to afford it anymore without a high, steady income.

4) Repairs. The more machinery that's in your body, the greater the chances that if you get wounded or simply slapped around a bit, something breaks -- and it's probably not going to fix itself unless it's REALLY top-of-the-line. More expense, and things not working until they're fixed.

5) Mass/power. Heavy gear may weigh a lot. That can cut into your carry capacity even when you're not "carrying" anything. Plus, certain systems might demand a lot of power draw; some subdermal armor isn't going to draw power, and a subdermal LED clock on your wrist might have a battery that'll last for ages, but those cyber legs and cyber arms are bound to draw a lot of energy. You can't just chow down a burger to recharge the batteries. Another reason you can't go "off the grid."

6) Stealth limitations. The whine of the servomotors, the heat buildup in those artificial tendons, the density of those space-age materials, etc., might make you stand out more than usual with various sensor systems -- especially if it becomes assumed that most military forces will be all cybered up, and therefore there will be a lot of emphasis on detecting them.

Anyway, that's just a brainstorm of some of the implications that might be a consideration to varying degrees (implementing ALL of them would probably be tedious), and therefore provide some rationale for someone to decide to cut back on the cybernetics, aside from some sort of "too many implants make you go crazy" fear. (It's also why I would be reluctant to have someone boost Strength and just say the trappings are "I got some cyber-implants." It's all too easy for me as a GM to think of significant drawbacks for those "trappings" that wouldn't necessarily apply if it were just a character naturally getting stronger over time.)
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#6 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:18 pm

....

Wow, those are all great reasons not to get cyberware. I'll certainly write about every single one of them.

I don't want to get TOO detailed as far as rules go, however. I'm trying to streamline things :)
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#7 Postby coyote6 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:30 pm

Also, if you give cyberware enough negative drawbacks, PCs will just stop using it, and it becomes a waste of word count (even for NPCs; who wants to spend all that time on equipping and working out the effects of that gear on guys that will live for maybe 48 seconds of game time?*).

*(That's what high level D&D/PF spellcasters & Exalted NPCs are for, anyways. ;) )
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#8 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:40 pm

I think I've found a pretty simple solution, actually.

A system of flaws.

For every X number of Vigor points you spend, you take a cyber ware flaw, Inhuman being an example that might give a penalty to charisma rolls.

As an option, you can choose a flaw in the cyberware itself in exchange for a lower cost.
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#9 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:50 pm

Another option is to have Human-only edges.
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#10 Postby popebabylon » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:37 pm

+1: Simple packages over the v1 system. Although please still make the fluff evocative... one of the nice things about IZ has been the character given to inanimate objects.

+1: Spirit + Vigor as the threshold... the trick will be balancing the drawbacks once you go over (which sounds like a nice temptation for players).

+1: Flaws. They basically sound like "Hindrances" that balance out the cost of the cyberware making it affordable to lower-class characters. Makes sense and I think it could balance nicely.

+1: Maintenance or Repair... something I don't think enough people put into cyber systems. Could simply be a cost per month, perhaps exacerbated by flaws (although could be tricky to make it FFF).

Really looking forward to IZ 2.0!

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#11 Postby Jordan Peacock » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:44 pm

thurak wrote:Another option is to have Human-only edges.


Now I've got "More Human Than Human" going through my head for some reason.

Anyway, my intent is not to say, "I want cyborgs to be unplayable!" Rather, I'm just trying to rationalize logical (not merely "aesthetic") reasons why someone might not go that route if he has the money and time. Even with stuff like "there's a chance you could get hacked" or "you might suffer a malfunction," it could be just a 1 in an almost-never chance of it happening ... but a character might nonetheless decided not to take the chance (since it still COULD happen). Similarly, civilization might be so widespread that "going off the grid" is a nigh-impossibility, yet it's just *conceivable* that it could happen (i.e., framed for a crime you didn't commit, forced to go on the run, unable to trust anyone) and you could suffer for it, so someone opts not even to take the chance.

The chance might be more illusory than real. Or, it might depend on how cruel the GM is (in which case it might be worth devoting a paragraph in the GM's section warning him not to overdo it, or it's no fun being a cyborg anymore).

But in any case, even with those various theoretical drawbacks, I'm sure someone will still be willing to take the risk for the sheer coolness factor of having a character decked out in chrome, who can do anime-leaps, and can pop a mini-gat out of his forearm. (Sure, he could just CARRY a mini-gat, but it's so much cooler when you've got built-in gizmos, right? ;D )
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#12 Postby Jordan Peacock » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:58 pm

Oh yeah, and I don't know if this is a factor or not, but I vaguely recall that one of the cool things about some of the old-school cyberpunk settings was how you wouldn't just get a cyber-arm or a cyber-optic. You'd have a few representative brands and models listed. You might even have a "brand-purist" player who only sticks to equipment from a particular company, because of what it represents.

In a recent cyberpunk campaign I was in (and helped flesh out some of the "fluff" for, to save the GM some time), there were various manufacturers who basically put out the same gear, but each had a different distinctive spin.

You'd have your extra-expensive but extra-reliable company, whose merchandise would be considered top-of-the-line luxury.

You'd have your "marketed to the common man" company with its warehouse deals, one-size-fits-all (sort of) merchandise, low prices, and a tendency to wear out quicker than anything else.

You'd have the "sound and fury" company that is bent on being EXTREEEEEME in all of its gear. (For instance, its shotguns and pistols are specifically made so you can do a melodramatic and loud "ca-chak" with it, just like in the movies, even though it has NO FUNCTIONAL PURPOSE at all with this particular technology -- other than just to be intimidating.) Lots of noise, lots of flash-bang, very un-safe, yet still a bit more expensive than average because it is THE THING TO HAVE.

Some of these aspects were little more than trappings, unlikely to come up within the scope of actual game-play, but still conveyed different attitudes.

That's one thing (among many) I liked in particular about Mutant Chronicles, way back, even despite its clunky character-creation methods -- the weapons & gear from the various megacorporations tended to follow a particular design philosophy, and there were recurring design and naming elements that added to the character of each corporation's brand.

Even if most of the gear list is just a down-to-business catalog of gear and what it does, it might be nice to have a few "named" gear pieces that are representative of various brands. Either that, or some sidebars with particular brands and their variations on the basic technology as a "template" you can add on. (E.g., you can get any of the gear on this list from Corporation XTREME for twice the listed price, but any weapons will weigh twice as much, look more menacing, make much more noise, and deal +1 damage -- with a few representative model names listed that set the mood.)
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#13 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:39 pm

Jordan Peacock wrote:Oh yeah, and I don't know if this is a factor or not, but I vaguely recall that one of the cool things about some of the old-school cyberpunk settings was how you wouldn't just get a cyber-arm or a cyber-optic. You'd have a few representative brands and models listed. You might even have a "brand-purist" player who only sticks to equipment from a particular company, because of what it represents.

In a recent cyberpunk campaign I was in (and helped flesh out some of the "fluff" for, to save the GM some time), there were various manufacturers who basically put out the same gear, but each had a different distinctive spin.

You'd have your extra-expensive but extra-reliable company, whose merchandise would be considered top-of-the-line luxury.

You'd have your "marketed to the common man" company with its warehouse deals, one-size-fits-all (sort of) merchandise, low prices, and a tendency to wear out quicker than anything else.

You'd have the "sound and fury" company that is bent on being EXTREEEEEME in all of its gear. (For instance, its shotguns and pistols are specifically made so you can do a melodramatic and loud "ca-chak" with it, just like in the movies, even though it has NO FUNCTIONAL PURPOSE at all with this particular technology -- other than just to be intimidating.) Lots of noise, lots of flash-bang, very un-safe, yet still a bit more expensive than average because it is THE THING TO HAVE.

Some of these aspects were little more than trappings, unlikely to come up within the scope of actual game-play, but still conveyed different attitudes.

That's one thing (among many) I liked in particular about Mutant Chronicles, way back, even despite its clunky character-creation methods -- the weapons & gear from the various megacorporations tended to follow a particular design philosophy, and there were recurring design and naming elements that added to the character of each corporation's brand.

Even if most of the gear list is just a down-to-business catalog of gear and what it does, it might be nice to have a few "named" gear pieces that are representative of various brands. Either that, or some sidebars with particular brands and their variations on the basic technology as a "template" you can add on. (E.g., you can get any of the gear on this list from Corporation XTREME for twice the listed price, but any weapons will weigh twice as much, look more menacing, make much more noise, and deal +1 damage -- with a few representative model names listed that set the mood.)


Yeah we're ALL about putting name brands on gear. IZ.1's gear chapter reads like a catalog, so we'll definitely be continuing that theme.
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#14 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:44 pm

Jordan Peacock wrote:
thurak wrote:Another option is to have Human-only edges.


Now I've got "More Human Than Human" going through my head for some reason.

Anyway, my intent is not to say, "I want cyborgs to be unplayable!" Rather, I'm just trying to rationalize logical (not merely "aesthetic") reasons why someone might not go that route if he has the money and time. Even with stuff like "there's a chance you could get hacked" or "you might suffer a malfunction," it could be just a 1 in an almost-never chance of it happening ... but a character might nonetheless decided not to take the chance (since it still COULD happen). Similarly, civilization might be so widespread that "going off the grid" is a nigh-impossibility, yet it's just *conceivable* that it could happen (i.e., framed for a crime you didn't commit, forced to go on the run, unable to trust anyone) and you could suffer for it, so someone opts not even to take the chance.

The chance might be more illusory than real. Or, it might depend on how cruel the GM is (in which case it might be worth devoting a paragraph in the GM's section warning him not to overdo it, or it's no fun being a cyborg anymore).

But in any case, even with those various theoretical drawbacks, I'm sure someone will still be willing to take the risk for the sheer coolness factor of having a character decked out in chrome, who can do anime-leaps, and can pop a mini-gat out of his forearm. (Sure, he could just CARRY a mini-gat, but it's so much cooler when you've got built-in gizmos, right? ;D )


There are certainly places in the world where someone needing to get awayt from legal entanglements could easily drop off the grid.

I'm definitely down with adding flaws and such to cyberware because it helps keep players in check and makes playing an un-modified human (save for maybe a TAP, which is so common it's not even thought of as abnormal) more attractive.

Having edges for only un-modified humans ( Like moving Human 2.0 to an edge rather than a race) makes it much better.
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#15 Postby DavidJ » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:47 pm

popebabylon wrote:+1: Simple packages over the v1 system. Although please still make the fluff evocative... one of the nice things about IZ has been the character given to inanimate objects.

+1: Spirit + Vigor as the threshold... the trick will be balancing the drawbacks once you go over (which sounds like a nice temptation for players).

+1: Flaws. They basically sound like "Hindrances" that balance out the cost of the cyberware making it affordable to lower-class characters. Makes sense and I think it could balance nicely.

+1: Maintenance or Repair... something I don't think enough people put into cyber systems. Could simply be a cost per month, perhaps exacerbated by flaws (although could be tricky to make it FFF).

Really looking forward to IZ 2.0!


Thanks!!
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#16 Postby gandhirrea » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:14 pm

Plenty of great ideas in this thread!

Being a completely natural human would mean a person did not give off a GPS signal or a traceable IP address (seems like someone who hacked a system might leave a fingerprint if not extra careful). Would having a TAP negate this advantage?

Would this even matter in a city environment? I keep thinking about retinal scanners placed in high traffic areas to monitor the movement of persons of interest. Being without cyberware would not protect from such technology.

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#17 Postby coyote6 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 6:41 pm

My favorite excuse for why things like that don't work is that the databases have been thoroughly poisoned, by corporations, intelligence agencies, organized crime, prankster hackers, and so forth. If every third person is falsely identified as Public Enemy #1, that gives plenty of room for PCs to slide through the gaps.

(Fast, accurate facial, gait, & other biometric identification systems tied to ubiquitous surveillance tends to make the standard cyberpunk criminal archetypes and adventures kind of impossible. You can't have a culture of runners (edge-, shadow-, or otherwise) if some police software can easily peg you going to get a slurpee and a Slim Jim, and summons a squadron of drones and emergency response cops. But since most cyberpunk games feature skilled criminals as PCs who get away with many crimes, those things must not work perfectly, or even terribly well.)

If TAPs or some level of cyber are extremely common, then maybe there should be hindrances for the completely un-cybered. Maybe something for physical problems (allergies, cyber-rejection, etc), and something for mental or psychological reasons (Quirk: refuses 'ware). Then the game mechanical benefit is the plain human gets those hindrance point(s) that others don't.
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#18 Postby Jordan Peacock » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:17 pm

popebabylon wrote:+1: Maintenance or Repair... something I don't think enough people put into cyber systems. Could simply be a cost per month, perhaps exacerbated by flaws (although could be tricky to make it FFF).


I've toyed with a few ways to handle maintenance/repair for a post-apocalyptic campaign, but it's still on the to-do list. The main advantage of this approach is that it can be F!F!F! because it's not something happening in the middle of combat. At least, not usually.

I've thought that one way to handle it might be to have a maintenance cost associated with everything. For a short-run campaign or one-shot, this might not even be much of an issue. If the characters have regular employment, it might not be much of an issue, either: Cyber-gear might be so routine that a common perk for a regular job is to have cyber-maintenance up to X taken care of "as long as the cyberware in some way enhances your way to perform the job." And, a lot of the "incidental" cyberware might have negligible maintenance costs; as long as you're still in the realm of civilization and not absolutely destitute, it's assumed that it can be maintained as part of your living expenses.

It's only after you get up past a certain threshold that it starts to become an issue. Then, you have monthly costs (or annual, if the GM wants to deal with this less frequently).

If, however, you skip maintenance -- either because you can't afford it, or you've been "off the grid" for an extended period -- then perhaps there's a maintenance table or even a card deck to consult. You get one draw/roll per month without maintenance, and per time you get beat up in combat (Wound or worse) without ready access to maintenance/repair.

Such a table or deck might list general categories: cyber-arm, optics, etc. It's possible that each card (or each table entry) might list more than one category (so there's a chance of multiple breakdowns of related systems). Higher-maintenance stuff is going to populate the list more; things with fewer moving parts, etc. (such as optics) should be rarer. If something comes up and you DO NOT HAVE IT, you lucked out. If something comes up and you DO have it, then a problem arises.

Rather than the element just blowing up immediately, it gains a "malfunction chance." Once that's established, every time the feature is used, roll a d6 (let's say), and on a "1," it breaks down. For persistent-use items, it might be per hour of use; for limbs, gizmos, etc., it's only when it's actually used -- so you have a chance of just NOT USING IT until you can get some maintenance done on it. Woe to the poor fellow whose neural implants are in need of maintenance; you can't very well get by without using your brain, so you'd have to find help and FAST.

So, most of the time, the bill-paying and either card-drawing or table-consulting only happens between adventures, when "time passes" and the heroes are still on the run or out of money. However, once something is identified as a problem, then there's the CHANCE it might work a little while longer, or break down at a crucial moment in the middle of the next action scene.

The numbers, dice, etc., are just arbitrarily chosen here. Part of the trouble would be to figure out where to "weight" the chances so that it's enough that a character might need to worry about, but not enough that the character is guaranteed to instantly break down once he misses a single checkup.

Of course, there might be someone in the team who CAN maintain gear for the group. Perhaps that means that the maintenance costs are reduced (as long as this team member is gracious enough not to expect to be paid by his fellows).

Or, perhaps it means that when the table-rolling or card-drawing is pulled, she gets a chance at a replacement card-pull/table-roll, or she can make a "field repair" that can stave off disaster for a while longer.

I see that this has a lot of potential for being messy, but the GM has a lot of opportunity to just hand-wave it if he doesn't want to go there. First off, the heroes could just pay a per-month fee, or the GM could even go ahead and deduct it for them out of their pay (or just declare that whatever pay goes in their accounts represents money they get AFTER monthly living and maintenance expenses).

Other than that, a GM could either let the heroes get a package deal with their employment contracts for free maintenance, or see to it that there's a friendly neighborhood cyber-doc that they have as a contact even if they are on the run.

Such a convenience could serve as a hook: If the friendly neighborhood cyber-doc is in some sort of TROUBLE, heavily-cybered heroes have a strong incentive to help him out, so they don't have to worry about all those pesky maintenance rules! ;D

...

P.S.: What's a "TAP"?
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coyote6
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#19 Postby coyote6 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:44 pm

Jordan Peacock wrote:P.S.: What's a "TAP"?


An element of the Interface Zero setting -- Tendril Access Processor, what allows people to access Hyper Reality (the augmented reality overlay). Basically, the IZ equivalent of Shadowrun's datajack, except it also covers smartphone/commlink functions.
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Bob

JackMann
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#20 Postby JackMann » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:28 pm

coyote6 wrote:
Jordan Peacock wrote:P.S.: What's a "TAP"?


An element of the Interface Zero setting -- Tendril Access Processor, what allows people to access Hyper Reality (the augmented reality overlay). Basically, the IZ equivalent of Shadowrun's datajack, except it also covers smartphone/commlink functions.


And of course hackers would want to get administrator access to their Tendril Access Processors. To get "TAP root," as it were...


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