Our next item is an article on building Cyberware in Eclipse and a sample level one Eclipse classless d20 character to use it – the Cyber-Warrior or “Street Samurai”, a character who has assorted enhancing equipment installed directly into his or her body, rather than keeping it outside where it belongs. While there are magical and even psionic variants, the Cyber-Warrior is primarily a near-future build – a product of a time when personal enhancement technologies offer substantial benefits, but still have serious drawbacks (including being relatively bulky and expensive), and are thus relatively rare.
Unlike most fighter-type builds, the Cyber-Warrior relies extensively on various enhancements, rather than on weapons skills, tactics, and combat tricks. There are two major reasons for this. Most obviously, cybernetics are cheap. It’s a lot easier to get some built-in gear than it is to learn equivalent tricks yourself. More subtly, but at least as importantly, is the fact that most futuristic settings include very powerful equipment – powered armor, hands-free radio communications, grenade launchers, automatic weapons, advanced drugs and medical gear, guided missile launchers, vehicles, and more – which tends to make subtle combat tricks, common magic, and similar effects a lot less intimidating.
Most gamers thinking about Cyberware think of one of three things first – computers hooked up to their minds, super-powered cybernetic replacement body parts, and implanted gadgets for spies and special agents. Fair enough; medical prosthetics and such really aren’t very interesting. The trouble with Cyberware is that it’s a fairly realistic system. Magical and psychic powers generally have to be dealt with on their own terms, skills are pretty well hidden in the brain, and most special abilities simply work – somehow. Abilities bought as cyberware, however, are…
- Technological. They can be jammed, shut down by anti-technological effects – such as EMP’s which force fortitude saves to prevent 1d4 random systems from crashing – and even damaged if the host takes too much damage. In general, each 25% damage the user takes will crash one randomly-selected system until it’s repaired.
- Characters using “magical” augmentations suffer from dispelling and antimagic instead or EMP’s and anti-technological effects, but are otherwise similar.
- Detectable. Some items are visually obvious, the vast majority can be spotted with a good spot check or a simple touch, and a few require an instrumental examination – but they can all be detected and the capabilities they grant determined.
- Stressful. Cyberware places a substantial load on the user’s body. A character with more than (Constitution) character points invested in Cyberware must reduce the effects of healing powers on him or her by 50%. Worse, effects designed to Neutralize or Remove various afflictions will allow new resistance checks, but are not automatically successful.
- Expensive. A character who wants new cyberware must convince the game master that his or her design for it makes sense, locate a supplier, and pay for it somehow, on top of actually spending the character points.
- They may also be…
- Disturbing. If the game master opts to enforce this limitation, every (Wisdom) character points invested in Cyberware will cause one insanity – or cause an old one to become more virulent.
- Countermagical. If this limitation is in use, every (Intelligence) character points invested in Cyberware reduces the user’s Base Caster Level by one and any magic- or psionically- related rolls by two, including those for the effects of various powers.
- Dehumanizing. If this limitation is in use, every (Charisma) points invested in cyberware produces a -1 penalty on friendly charisma-related checks – although it may provide a small bonus on Intimidation checks.
- Personally, I see no reason not to use all three of these limitations…
Ergo, abilities bought as Cyberware are usually considered both Specialized and Corrupted, and so are available for a mere one-third of the base cost. What makes them nasty is that they can then be either specialized or corrupted (NOT both) again, provided that the game master is willing to permit it and that the desired effect both fits in with the nature of the system and substantially limits the applicability of the system.
Not coincidentally, this also means that the maximum possible price break for buying cyberware is the same as for buying “relics”. We have, in fact, had a number of characters buy “cyberware” simply by buying an Immunity to having their equipment taken away easily (for minor items) and then buying Relics to represent the larger items – but that works better for superhero-style cyberware than for the stuff we’re buying here.
So here are some common pieces of cyberware:
- Antitoxin System: Resist/+6 on saves against poisons, drugs, and toxins (3 CP). Similar systems offer protection against diseases.
- Boosters: +2 to an Attribute (Self-Development, 8 CP)
- Claws/Blades: “Martial Arts” 1d4/1d6/1d8/1d12 base damage for 1/2/3/4 CP.
- Emergency Boosters: Berserker with Odinpower and Odinmight (4 CP)
- Emergency Stasis System: Add a d20 bonus hit die, Specialized for Double Effect/extra hits only count for remaining alive and stable, not for remaining conscious (8 CP).
- Enhanced Senses: These are usually purchased as Occult Sense (2 CP for minor senses, 4 CP for major senses).
- Internal Medical System: Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses (4 CP).
- Internal Weapons (and special functions) can be purchased as either Innate Enchantment, Inherent Spell, or Spirit Weapon, depending on their uniqueness, size, and availability within the setting.
- Insulating Systems: These provide a limited degree of protection against some form of energy, and are purchased as Immunity.
- Kevlar Reinforcement: Add a d20 bonus hit die (8 CP).
- Life Support Systems: These provide a limited degree of protection against some environmental hazard, and are purchased as Immunity.
- Reflex Augmentor: Celerity, +30′ ground movement (4 CP).
- Reinforced Skeleton: Damage Reduction, Specialized in Physical Damage (DR 8/-, 4 CP).
- Sensor Jammer: Cloaking/deflects electronic scanners, with Blessing to affect a small radius (4 CP).
- Skill Booster: Double Enthusiast, Specialized in Skills for double effect (4 SP, 2 CP)
- Skill Programming: Skill Focus, +3 to any single skill (2 CP).
- Subdermal Armor: Improved Defender, +1 Natural Armor per (2 CP).
- Tactical Computer: Executive with Tactician, Specialized for double effect, does not improve skill checks, plus Immunity to the need to stop and issue orders to command men or gain bonuses (Very Common, Minor, Major, 12 CP base) for a total of 8 CP. Since a tactical computer offers no actual bonuses until level two, few characters start off with one.
- Targeting Computer: +3 BAB, Specialized/only for ranged weapons (3 CP).
- Vehicle Link: Rider with Vehicle, Improved Stable Seating, and Battle Dance, Corrupted/vehicle must be especially equipped for this to work (5 CP).
- Wired Reflexes: Inherent Spell/Personal Haste with +4 Bonus Uses (L2, extended duration, 6/day) and +4 Improved Initiative (6 CP).
Of course, there are an endless array of other pieces of cyberware – and of variants on these – that can be built in Eclipse, but those should be quite enough to start with.
Now, if you’re allowing characters to take this kind of thing – and especially if you’re using the “cyberware is bad for magic and psionics” option given above – your spellcasters and psychics may have a hard time keeping up. A fireball is less impressive when any fool on the street can pick up a box of incendiary grenades on the cheap at the local weapons shop. It would probably be fair to reduce the spell level of offensive magic by one or two. This will also mean that blowing things up is substantially easier than putting them back together, which is well suited to most cyberpunk settings.
The Cyber-Warrior or “Street Samurai”
Disadvantages: (Select three for 10 CP), and add
Restrictions (uses no “real” magic or psionic powers +2 CP/Level. Duties – to a sponsor or boss or some such can be readily substituted or added).
Total available character points: 48 (Level One Base) + 10 (Disadvantages) +2 (Restrictions) + 6 (Level One Bonus Feat) = 66, 18 of which (from disadvantages, restrictons, and the bonus Feat) may be spent outside of the Adventurer framework restrictions.
Basic Attributes: Str 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Con 14, Dex 14, Chr 8 (28 point buy).
Basic Purchases (34 CP):
Proficient with All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP).
+4 Skill Points (4 CP)
+1 on Fortitude and Reflex Saves (6 CP)
d10 Hit Die (6 CP)
Initial BAB +1 (6 CP).
Special Abilities (32 CP):
Reinforced Skeleton: Damage Reduction, Specialized in Physical Damage (DR 8/-, 4 CP).
Impressive in a melee, not so impressive considering the kind of weapons that turn up in Cyberpunk games…
Targeting Computer: +3 BAB, Specialized/only for ranged weapons (3 CP).
Cybereyes with Infrared Vision and Telescopic Vision (4 CP).
Wired Reflexes: Inherent Spell/Personal Haste with +4 Bonus Uses (L2, extended duration, 6/day) and +4 Improved Initiative (6 CP).
Emergency Boosters: Berserker with Odinpower and Odinmight, +8 Str, +8 Dex, +2 AC (4 CP)
Pop-Out Blades: “Martial Arts” 1d8 base damage (3 CP).
Kevlar Reinforcement: Add a d20 bonus hit die (8 CP).
Since this has been taken at level one, the character gets an automatic 20 – a very substantial boost to his or her survivability.
With 32 CP worth of Cyberware, our Cyber-Warrior here is already resistant to healing and curative powers – and, if the game master is using the three special penalty options, may already be on the edge of insanity (two minor insanities and closing in on a third), takes a -3 to his or her Base Caster Level and a -6 on any magic-related checks, and suffers a -4 on all “friendly” charisma-related rolls. On the other hand, he or she is already capable of shrugging off knife blows and cleaving his or her way through a squad of normal people with remarkable speed.
Further Advancement: A little more cyberware may be in order – but our Cyber-Warrior can’t afford all that much more in the way of cyberware penalties. For the most part, his or her further development will probably call for large hit dice, saving throws, base attack bonus, learning to use heavier armor, and fighter-style combat tricks – although, given the power of cyberpunk weaponry, he or she would be well advised to place a great deal of emphasis in not getting hit in the first place, rather than on fancy tricks and special attacks.
As expected, our Cyber-Warrior starts off a good deal more powerful than most first level warrior-type characters, even before you add in some futuristic weapons, armor, and equipment. Fortunately, this fits into futuristic cyberpunk settings – where one heavily cybered warrior is expected to be a match for a dozen or so normal guards – quite nicely. Our Cyber-warrior had still better watch out for the heavy weapons however: a couple of missile-launcher or assault cannon shots will still reduce him or her to a thin red paste.