Friday, June 3, 2016

Nuts & Bolts #81.5 - Hacking the Cypher System - Suggested Cyphernetics

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People seemed to really take to this week's Nuts & Bolts and in hindsight I kinda wished I had put the extra time in on Monday to pull a list of Artifacts that would make good "Cyphernetics" (thanks to whoever coined that one). Luckily I can pivot on a dime and give nine cents change, so here's that list, broken out by source. And if you missed it check out Cypher System Cybernetics.

Artifact "Cyphernetics" for Cypher System

The following is an attempt to generate a list of appropriate artifacts to use as implants or upgrades via cybernetics and/or bionics. The following list does not contain most artifact weapons unless they are specifically implant weapons. Weapons the GM deems or the right size can always be added to a character's cybernetic/bionic limb with their normal  depletion rolls, and are not themselves usually discrete implants.

  • Armored Flesh (pg. 300)
  • Bounding Boots (as part of cybernetic/bionic legs; pg. 302)
  • Brain Bud (pg. 301)
  • Filtration Straw (as a stomach implant, or esophagus replacement; pg. 304)
  • Imager (as an eye enhancement, depletion means your memory capacity is full; pg. 306)
  • Metabolism Bud (pg. 307)
  • Nightvision Goggles (as an eye enhancement; pg. 308)
  • Poison Brain Implant (kinda like a cortex bomb; pg. 309)
  • Psychic Helmet (brain/skull implant; pg. 309)
  • Recorder Headband (probably combination of eye and ear implants, depletion means your data limit is full; pg. 309)
  • Redlight Clip (dermal implant; pg 309)
  • Skill Bud (pg. 311)
  • Skull Blaster (head implant weapon, depletion requires minor surgery to load new ammo; pg. 311)
  • Tendril Graft (pg. 312)
  • Weapon Graft (pg. 313)
Sir Arthour's Guide to the Numenera
  • Aim True Goggles (as an eye enhancement, depletion requires a new filter; pg. 103)
  • Bone Garden (pg. 105)
  • Calridian Proboscis (pg. 105)
  • Chronometer (pg. 106)
  • Clawed Gauntlets (as part of a cybernetic/bionic hand; pg. 106)
  • Data Armor (cortex co-processor; pg. 109)
  • Detachable Eye (pg. 109)
  • Digestion Parasite (full digestive replacement; pg. 110)
  • Everyoung Choker (genetic graft stops aging; pg. 112)
  • Extraneous Arm (pg. 112)
  • Extraneous Leg (pg. 112)
  • Extreme Lenses (depletion requires recalibration; pg. 112)
  • Leap Boots (as part of cybernetic/bionic legs; pg 120)
  • Logic Spike (a particularly invasive brain implant; pg. 121)
  • Mechanical Arm (pg. 122)
  • Mechanical Leg (pg. 123)
  • Ocular Graft (pg. 126)
  • Periscopic Eye (pg. 126)
  • Pincer Arm (pg. 127)
  • Psycap (scalp implant, depletion means the array burned out and has to be replaced; pg. 128)
  • Replacement Hand (pg. 130)
  • Second Hand (pg. 131)
  • Tongue Snake (pg. 139)
The Strange
Note: all of these are the same as their namesakes from Numenera.

  • Metabolism Bud (pg. 210)
  • Skill Bud (pg. 211)
  • Tendril Graft (pg. 211)
  • Weapon Graft (pg. 211)

The Encyclopedia of Impossible Things

  • Artificial Blood (dispensing implant, depletion requires a refill; pg. 32)
  • Cybernetic Hand (pg. 36)
  • Graft - All Song Implant (treat as a wireless datajack/cyberjack; pg. 45)
  • Graft - Fast-Twitch Muscle (pg. 45)
  • Graft - Skill Specialization (pg. 45)
  • Graft - Skill Training (pg. 45)
  • Graft - Slow-Twitch Muscle (pg. 46)
  • Graft - Synthesis Gland (pg. 46)
  • Graft - Tentacle (pg. 46)
  • Metalodermis Graft (nanomachine dermal armor, depletion means the nanite swarm is exhausted; pg. 30)
  • Nanobot Pill (implanted nanobot cache; pg. 55) 
  • Retractable Claws (implanted weapon not made of bone; pg. 27)
  • Retractable Laser Claws (now with lasers; pg. 27)
  • Retractable Venomous Head Spikes (I have no words; pg. 28)
  • Tattoo Graft (very popular with the illicit operatives; pg. 69)

    That's 53 possible artifacts and I probably missed some that could have worked. What's interesting is that while The Encyclopedia of Impossible Things probably will get more milage in the hands of a CSR owner, the Numenera Technology Compendium (Sir Arthour's Guide to the Numenera) has more potential artifact cyphernetics. I guess it goes to say just how great these books are that they can serve such useful resources even outside of their "intended" setting.

    For those worried about how XP fueled re-rolls of Depletion rolls impacts artifact useage (as cyphernetics or otherwise) check back on Wednesday, I'm going to do a special Nuts & Bolts looking at that and at options for the GM to modify the way those rolls work in game.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2016

    Nuts & Bolts #81 - Hacking the Cypher System - Cybernetics

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    I've seen people ask for ideas & rules for cybernetics in Cypher System a number of times since the CSR was released so I figured I'd throw in my $0.02.

    Cybernetics are, without getting too technical, machine implants that augment human capabilities or replace parts of the human body. These can include replacement limbs, sometimes intentional replacements, modifications to existing organs to improve or expand function, and entirely new additions that add function for utility or combat.

    Cybernetics are manufactured components, artificial constructs that are purchased from  doctors or specialty vendors and installed by surgical means. Because they are unnatural additions or replacements cybernetics often have drawbacks that limit the number a person can receive or in some way detrimentally impact the receiving individual. This can be a physical drawback, or a spiritual one, or there may be little if any drawback other than the cost to purchase and the downtime of the surgery and recovery.

    There are a couple of ways to approach cybernetics for Cypher System games. Depending on the themes of the game and the flavor you are looking for you will want to use different rules to suit your taste. As usual I recommend discussing your intent with players so that everybody can agree with the implementation of these rules.

    Character Advancement

    The easiest way to deal with cybernetics is to treat a character's advancements, type abilities, and possibly focus abilities, as the result of cybernetic enhancement. Gaining a new point of edge, a new type ability, and similar could all be described as the result of a new implant, or a new capability added to or unlocked from an existing implant. This has the advantage of not requiring an entirely new set of rules to build and learn and balance. Unfortunately this may not fit well for some players, GMs, and game styles. Regardless, it is the simplest and most direct method.


    The next easiest way to deal with cybernetics is to use the artifact rules. The CSR doesn't have extensive lists of artifacts, but the "metabolism bud" artifact in the CSR (pg 255) is a good example to start with. Similar artifacts probably exist for character Might and Intellect pools, and likewise could be used to increase edge, or give training in skills, or possibly armor or other features and abilities.

    Because the Cypher System is fully compatible across its game lines I'd suggest taking a look at Numenera (core), The Strange (core), Sir Arthour's Guide to the Numenera, or the Encyclopedia of Impossible Things; all of which have tons of cyphers and artifacts that you can use with some legwork to create your own cybernetic artifacts. Of these the Encyclopedia of Impossible Things is probably the best resource for the CSR using GM as it covers many different genres and has both artifacts and cyphers that can fit most any game the CSR could be used for. Sir Arthour's Guide is probably the second easiest to review as it is a similarly sized book that contains almost entirely cyphers and artifacts. These two will yield the best bang for the buck.
    Editor's Note: Check out Nuts & Bolts #81.5 Suggested Cyphernetics for some ideas from these books.
    Many forms of cybernetic artifacts will have no depletion so GMs would be advised to careful with how many of these they bestow on characters. On the other hand cyber-weapons will need to have depletion rolls to account for ammunition or energy charge. Some of the larger implants that have special functions might also need depletion rolls when used. While your players may not accept the idea of the batteries in their cyberarm going dead during normal use they should accept the idea that using a special "crushing strength" ability built into a cyberarm probably will risk depletion.

    It should be noted that when using artifacts as cybernetics the GM should not award experience for these items. They are an integral part of the setting and while perhaps not commonplace they are something that character's can purchase with enough money. In general I tend to lean heavily on the 3 Exp "Wealth" long term benefit as a good reference for pricing objects of this kind. It gives a good indication of the relative value conversion rate for Experience vs. Currency, and can help GMs align appropriate end of session/adventure rewards of both.

    Trade Offs

    In cyberpunk type games cybernetics are limited by the capacity of the body to accept the foriegn implants. Each cybernetic implant counts against an attribute that relates a character's bodily or spiritual well being (or possibly both). Using this as an inspiration a GM could allow character's to gain certain abilities at the cost of permanent points from their pools.

    For example a dermal armor graft could give the character +1 armor at the cost of reducing Might pool by 3 points permanently. Another implant might accelerate a character's nervous system and give them +1 speed edge, but reduce the character's Intellect pool as they find it difficult to focus on tasks as a result.

    Much like using Artifacts this allows characters to further develop their characters to their taste. This method also has an in built drawback that the GM can use to ensure character balance to some degree. GMs can opt to have implants all have a cost associated with a single pool (probably Might) or they can choose to spread the costs out across all three pools as appropriate for the cyber-technology involved.

    You'll have to pardon my lack of a comprehensive list (or even a partial list) of cybernetic options, their effects, and their costs. Depending on the tone and theme of the game and the way the GM intends to implement cybernetics there are countless possible options that could apply and numerous others that would be inappropriate. It should come as no surprise that I feel a GM should work with their players to establish what kinds of cybernetics are available.

    Monday, May 30, 2016

    Story Seed - Fatal Diagnosis

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    Needles whistled softly as he reviewed the holoscan image. The tri-D holo of a brain rotated slowly, displaying the organ, and the implants that took up a sizable portion of the cerebral cortex. "Mikey, I got some bad news."

    Michael "Mikey" Horvath was lying on the scanner bed dressed in a paper gown. He looked just irritated enough to make up for the ridiculousness of the garment. The extensive body-mods also added to the tough guy image despite the too short gown. "Bad news? What, did they give me some second hand last gen recycled crap?"

    Needles frowned, "Nnnoo...," he said drawing the word out. "This is def bleeding edge tech. Shiniest greymatta cybertech I've seen in a while."

    Mikey sat up, sending the tri-D holo into a de-rezzed fadeout as he moved outside the scan field. "Great, that's what I paid for, but what's the bad news, and why is my shiny new tech giving me blackout headaches?"

    Needles took a step back, his expression was a mixture of concern and fear. "Well, those kinda go hand in hand. You got more than you paid for, and not in the good way. That new cortex module isn't just an expertise system. I'm pretty sure it's designed to use your drive-by-wire implants to facilitate a full neural override."


    "Somebody's rigged you like a drone chum. That shiny new chrome of yours is using bio-feedback to knock you out so that somebody can hijack your meat. They're using your drive-by-wire to pilot you around like some kind of high end fully rigged out drone. It's one hell of a cybertech achievement, but somehow I don't expect you to be happy about being the latest and greatest combat sleeve for some drone rigger."

    "Bravo doc," Mikey said, "but your pal blacked out a bit ago." Mikey's retractable close quarters blades suddenly unsheathed and his muscles began to twitch rapidly as the neural accelerators began to exponentiall increase his reaction time. "Time to die doc, sorry about this, but we can't let our prototypes fall into the hands of the competition."

    Needles smiled, his gambit had worked, "I don't know who you are, but nice try, that's some impressive tech. Too bad for you Mikey had me install a spinal cutoff." Needles held up a small fob and pressed the red button. Mikey's body went immediately limp and crumpled to the ground in a rag doll heap. "OK Mikey, let's see if we can cut those strings..."

    Sunday, May 29, 2016

    Last Week Today - Week of May 23-29, 2016

    Story Seed - QPU1

    Nuts & Bolts - Cypher System Supers Special 

    What if ... Vader Had Turned Leia?


    Did you watch Cypher Live Last week? We talked all about Superheroes and the Cypher System...