Shadowrun Penumbra: Enhanced Reflexes III

   Here’s the final segment on reflex enhancement in Shadowrun: Penumbra. Given the number of player-characters who want to go first in combat – at pretty much any price – this may get more use than I think it really deserves, since all of these systems are fully compatible with pretty much any form of Spinal Wiring, Cerebrum Augmentation, or Spinal Interface.

   Combat Focus Implants are essentially a form of “Coldwire” which suppresses all considerations EXCEPT combat-survival considerations on command. Such an implant costs a mere .25 Essence (or .2 BI for the far more expensive bioware version), and adds an impressive +1d6 to Initiative. Unfortunately, they do so by discarding considerations like money, hostages, and how your friends are doing. In game terms, whenever the character attempts to do something like check on a bleeding friend, give up a tactical advantage to grab the money, consider noncombatants, or otherwise do anything except focus on the three basic categories in his or her world at the moment – fellow fighters, targets, and obstacles – he or she loses that action. Players should not take this dubious enhancement for their characters unless they’re prepared to role play it’s restrictions.

   Motor Cortex Augmentation essentially installs hardwired “reflexes”, automatic response patterns that bypass the Motor Cortex and Motor Association Cortex. While this provides astounding speed, that result is achieved by bypassing the fine-tuning normally provided by the feedback loop between the Motor Cortex, Motor Association Cortex, and the rest of the user’s brain. Almost as annoyingly, while modern technology allows such systems to support a vast variety of maneuvers, exceptionally exotic moves may not be available – in which case the user may either momentarily freeze up or execute a similar, but incorrect move (usually reflected as a botch due to the dice reduction – although this can lead to attacking people inadvertently). Each level of Motor Cortex Augmentation can provide a +1d6 Initiative bonus – but each level also inflicts a -2d6 penalty on all actions undertaken while it’s active. Older, and more intrusive, systems actually replaced parts of brain, and could not be turned off. More modern versions can be turned on and off, but involve massive neural splicing and a selective override capability – making them even MORE essence-intensive than the original version.

   Motor Cortex Augmentation is available in up to level three, at a cost of .3 Essence per level. The modern version primarily replaces chunks of the skull instead of chunks of the brain, but actually costs an additional .2 Essence.

   Peripheral Nervous Enhancement is a series of biochemical treatments which enhance the nerve fibers of the peripheral nervous system – enhancing the insulating qualities of the myelin sheaths containing the neural fibers and augmenting neurochemical production. This is an extraordinarily widespread procedure, involving minor changes throughout the entire body. Unfortunately, this tends to upset the various feedback loops of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, providing yet another limiting factor. In general, Peripheral Nervous Enhancement provides +1 Reaction for one entire point of essence (or .8 BI), up to a maximum possible bonus of +4. It generally isn’t worth it.

   Visual Cortex and Optic Nerve Replacement is an optional add-on to Cybereyes (which are a necessary prerequisite). It costs .6 Essence – at least in humans and metahumans sight is one of the major sensory links that helps define a creatures relationship with the world – and adds a mere +1 to Reaction. It also interferes with conventional external simsense signals. On the other hand, it will allow the user to store visual images and download them via datajack, provides immunity to a variety of conventional optical illusions (rarely a major consideration unless you like to expose stage magicians and carnival tricks), increases the target number to affect the user with mana-based visual illusions by +2, can substitute for a smartlink processor and image display link, and can be programmed with a variety of pattern-recognition systems, providing +2 bonus dice to notice up to three specified categories of things – such as hidden weapons, the actual contours of masked faces, possible ambush positions, body language, signs of nervousness, or whatever. Such programs can be traded out with a datajack, at a price of 1000 NY each.

   Now, that’s about it for my material on Reflex Enhancement in Shadowrun – but one of the players, who usually goes by “Editorial 0” on this blog, has sent along the following cyberware listing. I believe he was breaking down the existing systems based on average values rather than reverse-engineering them, but I’ll let his document speak for itself.

Neuroware: Cyberware to make you, a smarter, faster, better you.

   Posts on Cyberlimb Construction led to a consideration body-connection cyberware. There is a wide and wild variety of reaction-enhancement cyberware (from Boosted to Wired Reflexes to Move-by-Wire) and neuro-connective cyberware (skill softwires and hardwires) and other in-body connections.

   This document will break them down.

   A Direct Neural Interface is necessary to use cyberware of this kind. However, reaction cyberware uses dedicated connections most of the time, probably due to older design functions. You may take the cost of a D.N.I right off the top as a one-time bonus with any and all reaction cyberware, as once they start cutting into the brain and neural tissue they may as well pop in one.

   The cyberparts listed here use a fairly regular upgrade pattern. Accelerator units are small, specialty microcomputers implanted and linked to nervous tissue. Enhancers are essentially the same technology, but more complete and invasive. Replacements involve special surgery, the removal of portions of the brain, and the implantation of full replacement units (precautions are taken to avoid memory loss). Augmentation is a somewhat newer technique designed to not only replace that portion of the brain, but with a larger replacement section than it should allow. Side effects of Augmentation are… severe.

Cerebellum Augmentation Cyberware

   This cyberware series involves the augmentation, and then replacement, and then even more add-ons, to the Cerebellum. Its efficiency varies, however, because the brain does not process information equally well under all circumstances.

  • Cerebellum Accelerator
    • Effect: +1D6 Initiative
    • Essence Cost: 1.20
  • Cerebellum Enhancer
    • Effect: +2D6 Initiative
    • Essence Cost: 1.80
  • Cerebellum Replacement
    • Effect: +3D6 Initiative
    • Essence Cost: 3.00
  • Cerebellum Augmentation
    • Effect: +4D6 Initiative
    • Essence Cost: 4.20

Spinal Wiring Cyberware

   Spinal Wiring, and its final upgrade Body Wiring, is a long series of cyberware bonuses to effectively replace the nervous system as far as controlling skeletal muscle tissue. The gains here are neat and predictable: light-speed signals don’t get any faster or slower.

  • Upper Spinal Wiring I
    • Effect: +1 Reaction
    • Essence Cost: 0.40
  • Upper Spinal Wiring II
    • Effect: +2 Reaction
    • Essence Cost: 0.80
  • Lower Spinal Wiring I
    • Effect: +3 Reaction
    • Essence Cost: 1.00
  • Lower Spinal Wiring II
    • Effect: +4 Reaction
    • Essence Cost: 1.20
  • Spinal Wiring Extension I
    • Effect: +5 Reaction
    • Essence Cost: 1.60
  • Spinal Wiring Extension II
    • Effect: +6 Reaction
    • Essence Cost: 2.00
  • Body-Wiring Extension I
    • Effect: +7 Reaction
    • Essence Cost: 2.40
  • Body-Wiring Extension II
    • Effect: +8 Reaction
    • Essence Cost: 2.80

Reaction Enhancer

  • Reaction Enhancer I-VI
    • Effect: +1 Reaction per level
    • Essence Cost: .33 Essence per level.

   The Reaction Enhancer is a series of specialty treatments and minor augmentations designed to improve the data flow-through from your brain to your muscles. It is always tailors to the user. You cannot take a Reaction Enhancer with a higher rating than the bonus Reaction gained from all Spinal Wiring Cyberware.

Motor Cortex Cyberware

   Both Motor Cortex and Premotor Cortex cyberware do the same thing. They build and expand upon the body’s physical control functions. This doesn’t make you faster, except as a side effect, but it does make you much more agile and gives incredibly fine control over actions. Users report that they simply know how to move better, and hence recovery is quick.

  • Motor Cortex Accelerator
    • Effect: +1 Quickness, +1 Athletics, +1 Stealth
    • Essence Cost: 0.25
  • Motor Cortex Enhancer
    • Effect: +2 Quickness, +2 Athletics, +2 Stealth
    • Essence Cost: 0.50
  • Motor Cortex Replacement
    • Effect: +3 Quickness, +3 Athletics, +3 Stealth
    • Essence Cost: 0.75
  • Motor Cortex Augmentation
    • Effect: +4 Quickness, +4 Athletics, +4 Stealth
    • Essence Cost: 1.00

Motor Cortex Cyberware

  • Premotor Cortex Accelerator
    • Effect: +1 Quickness, +1 Athletics, +1 Stealth
    • Essence Cost: 0.25
  • Premotor Cortex Enhancer
    • Effect: +2 Quickness, +2 Athletics, +2 Stealth
    • Essence Cost: 0.50
  • Premotor Cortex Enhancer
    • Effect: +3 Quickness, +3 Athletics, +3 Stealth
    • Essence Cost: 0.75
  • Premotor Cortex Enhancer
    • Effect: +4 Quickness, +4 Athletics, +4 Stealth
    • Essence Cost: 1.00

Rigging Cyberware

  • Neural Suppressor
    • Effect: +1d6 Initiative when Rigging
    • Essence Cost: 1.20
  • Neural Rededicator
    • Effect: +2d6 Initiative when Rigging
    • Essence Cost: 1.80
  • Neural Shunt
    • Effect: +3d6 Initiative when Rigging
    • Essence Cost: 3.00

Organ Cyberware

   A strange category, Organ Cyberware simply works and reworks the character’s organs, not muscles or neurons.

Organ Wiring

  • Effect: Varies
  • Essence Cost: 0.50 (large organ); 0.25 (small organ); 0.125 (gland)

   Organ Wiring involves the addition of small cybernetic components and wires connected to bodily organs. These can regulate and control the organ by stimulating certain activities. This can be set to local computer chip control or adjusted as needed by an implanted computer system.

   The effect varies with the organ in question, and slight adjustments should be made regularly in a bioware or cybernetics lab (usually two visits a year). Most purchasers choose to have a medical database and internal computer, so they can look up recommended treatments and set their systems accordingly.

   This cyberware component inspired high hopes during development, but the invention of Neuroware programs covers most of its major functions. However, Neuroware cannot affect organs which lack neural connections. It is separate from the Organomuscular Wiring cybersystem below, and only applies to discrete localized organs. The liver, kidneys, stomach, and various glands are common targets. Various diseases and disorders target them, and this cybersystem is easier and cheaper than organ replacement.

Organomuscular Wiring

  • Effect: Varies
  • Essence Cost: 0.75

   This complex and still-experimental cybersystem covers the body in a fine mesh touching every part of smooth muscle tissue. The user gains control over his smooth muscle tissue, particularly over all veins and arteries. Organomuscular wiring allows the user to manipulate these even more than the body normally does. He or she may easily adjust body responses to gain or lose body heat (altering signature by + or -1). Users can even stop blood flow when cut (+1 Body when resisting slashing weapon damage and gains one extra physical damage overflow box). The user can briefly cut off blood flow to the surface skin (+1 Body for resisting contact chemical attacks).

   Smooth muscle tissue normally covers all veins and arteries, the intestines, the esophagus and throat, and the eyes. As implied above, this cybersystem grants a +1 bonus on any relevant roll or check.


Neurotransmitter Pump

  • Effect: adds +1d6 Initiative
  • Bio Index: 1.00

   A Neurotransmitter Pump is a gland which creates and stores neuro-transmitter chemicals. Once implanted, the gland keeps the brain well-stocked with the chemicals it needs to function as quickly as possible. The bonus is compatible with most reflex-enhancement cyberware and bioware, but not any Augmentation level cyberware, nor Motor Cortex and Premotor Cortex Cyberware. Those augmentation replaces so much of the brain that more neurotransmitters cannot enhance the character’s speed.

Bioskill Implants

  • Effect: Permanent skill
  • Bio Index: 0.10 / skill point

   Bioskill Implants add to the character’s skill. He or she simply gains the skill rating of the implants, overriding any pre-existing skill. These implants are composed of carefully grown neural tissue, which is implanted along and inside the brain. Following the surgery, the character must undergo simsense therapy and possibly physical training to gin the use of the skill. he or she gains 1 rating point per week until reaching the implant rating. Unlike skillwires, any skill gained through the use of this Bioware can be enhanced with karma later on.

   As usual, this contribution is worth a couple of bonus karma points.

2 Responses

  1. You are correct, I was working to just average out the systems rather than reverse-engineer them. I tried the latter method but found there was simply insufficient information, as every cybersystem seemed to work on completely different design principles.

  2. Well, to the best of my knowledge, there weren’t any originally except “this looks good”. Fortunately, I enjoy bashing things with mathematical hammers.

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