Shadowrun: Medical Contacts

   Next up, it’s some medical contacts for Shadowrunners. After all, when you need a doctor, you tend to need one badly – and it’s always nice to know one who doesn’t ask too many inconvenient questions.

   Martin E.E. “Doc” Smith (AKA; “Old Lost-In-Space”) had been peacefully semiretired until the social services went all to hell. At that point he needed some extra income. More importantly, an awful lot of people lost access to any kind of medical care beyond the public health vaccinations and clinics. He was old fashioned enough to take his hippocratic oath seriously – and that was simply WRONG. His skills might not be up to the latest gadgetry, but he wasn’t going to have it anyway. He might be a bit rusty, and it’d been a long time since his work with “Doctors Without Borders” – but Dr. Smith was back in business.

   In the years since he’s become used to getting his supplies from shady street dealers, to having to play one gang off against another to keep his small clinic open, and to treating people who don’t officially exist at all. Fortunately some of the newer drugs help keep his memory reasonably keen, and the stiffness of age at bay.

   The good doctor is currently 86, and going strong. Still, he graduated in 2002. He really isn’t much for cyberware installation, organ transplants, and so on. That sort of thing is a bit more specialized then the occasional update course could really cover. On the other hand, he’s VERY good at improvising and “basic” medicine.

   Stephen Miller (“Bones”) is actually quite skilled. Unfortunately, he’s also an avid Trekkie with complete collections of all sixteen series and eighteen movies – ranging from the original series on through “Guardians of the Federation” and not even neglecting “The Generation After Next” (despite it’s general denouncement by most fans as a misbegotten monstrosity that should never have been aired). He’s gone so far as to have some cosmetic surgery to make him look more like “Dr McCoy” from the original series – and to emulate some of the characters mannerisms. Stephen tends to complain endlessly about the primitive conditions he’s expected to work under and sometimes gives anxious and unaware bystanders severe shocks by announcing; “He’s Dead Jim!” over patients who’re actually doing pretty well.

   Unfortunately, while Stephen is a highly skilled physician and surgeon, he’s generally against gratuitous meddling with people: he’ll willingly patch you up, or even repair existing cyberware, but if you want cosmetic surgery, or to have perfectly healthy parts replaced with metal, he’s not going to have anything to do with it – although he can usually be talked into installing basic bioware implants and datajacks.

   Doctor Octavius Asprenus runs his own small cyberclinc, is quite skilled as a surgeon, and is reasonably talented (if eccentric) as a cyberware designer. Unfortunately, the good doctor is more than a little shady. He is definitely willing to persuade gullible patients to try out his experimental designs for him, to install “meat puppet” systems, and to push the boundaries of medical ethics in a wide variety of ways. At least according to rumor, he is also willing to “work” on unwilling patients, to perform manipulative neurosurgery, to implant memories, to install secondhand or otherwise questionable wares, and to implant control systems if the price is right.

   Personally the doctor is small, thin, and slightly oily seeming. He uses a low-grade control rig to direct a variety of assisting devices, allowing him to work without the surgical team that most cybersurgeons require.

   Ithmar Bahai was a youthful intern before he goblinized, and was contacted by Bear. Today he’s one of the more important peaceful leaders of the various “Ork Rights” groups, as well as one of the best shamans and physicians in the Ork Underground. Ithmar provides runners with a variety of safehouse services, medical treatments, and even limited research services (such as chemical analysis and the creation of antidotes and vaccines), in exchange for the equipment, supplies, and money he needs to keep his clinic operating and his people healthy. In some ways, he’s the medical equivalent of a Fixer; if you’re looking for medical information, an exotic treatment, or some specialized bioware or cyberware, he’s very likely to have a good idea of where you can get it.

   Personally, Ithmar is late middle aged – he appears to be aging more slowly than the usual Ork, possibly due to his healthy lifestyle or some genetic predisposition – and tends to dress in a clean lab coat, wear a stethoscope, and otherwise carefully conforms to the typical “doctors outfit”. It tends to clearly identify him in the Underground and serves to confuse the prejudiced, who find it hard to associate “doctor” with “ork”.

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2 Responses

  1. Ok… I got all the silly references except Ithmar Bahai. What’s that from?

  2. Why should it be from anywhere?

    Now… E.E. Smith’s nickname is an in-the-game-world joke, since a few people who know the doctor have encountered some classical fiction, and noted the similar names. Most people in the 2050’s will simply assume that it’s referring to some personal characteristic, since there are a fair number of “E. E. Smiths” out there (at least judging by a quick internet search). Personally, I like E. E. Smith the author, so this is indeed a personal reference on that level. His personality and general appearance are drawn from the “elderly country doctor character”, familiar to everyone who is likely to be playing from a hundred TV shows and movies. That’s more-or-less essential, since a decent street doctor is likely to be a recurring character – even more so than most contacts – which means that an easily-remembered description is a must.

    Mr Miller is a series fan, who intentionally has adopted a name from a fiction that he likes. Not at all unheard of, especially in a world saturated in BTL chips and other media. After all, this is the world that had the (original) “Ubermen” gang (Sprawl Sites page 54) – a group which had ALL had cosmetic surgery to make themselves look like Hitler (although the original material had the runners mistaking them for Charlie Chaplin look-alikes). On the game-master-convenience level, Mr Miller is getting by on looking, and vaguely acting, like a character pretty much every player will know – again saving description time and being easy to remember.

    Octavius Asprenus actually has a physical description inspired by Peter Lorre playing the crazy “doctor” in Arsenic and Old Lace, a personality loosely inspired by the God of Plagues from Gods of Arr-Kelaan (combined with the need for at least one amoral medical character for if a nastier runner wants controlware installed on an unwilling subject), a control rig as an afterthought to avoid the need for any assistants in performing illegal surgeries, the name “Octavius” because it occurred to me – from Spiderman cartoons I saw as a kid – as an appropriate name for a somewhat-villainous doctor (Mengele also occurred to me, but was both too villainous and in poor taste), and the last name was picked off a list of roman names to go with Octavius (and because of the “Take some Aspernus and call me in the morning” joke). In-game, Doctor Aspernus may or may not be using a well-established false identity, so it may be merely a name coincidence or it may be an active joke of his. He may well be an object of investigation at some point, so he’s intended to be less automatically-familiar.

    Ithmar Bahai has a personality loosely drawn from a dentist I knew in Florida, a a generic Ork description – sufficient to make him distinctive, since Ork doctors are relatively scarce – and a name drawn from an internet search on indian names. (Unfortunately, I don’t know enough Indian names to come up with one personally). Unlike the other three, simply being an Ork is enough to explain why he’s highly competent, and thus suitable as a street-level doctor contact, but still isn’t being employed by some major medical group and making a lot more money elsewhere. Therefore he doesn’t need to be either (1) past mandatory retirement age and/or out of date, (2) so eccentric that no one wants to employ him, or (3) so shady, in need of being in hiding, or such a target for malpractice suits that no one would WANT to employ him.

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