Augments

Broadly speaking, augments are a group of technologies that are added to a person via surgery or a surgery-like process that grant permanent, or semi-permanent improvements to the person possessing the augment. There are three major categories of augments: Implants, Cyberware and Biological enhancement.

Implants augments are mechanical devices that are “implanted” into a person. The distinguishing feature of implants is they do not interface with the recipient’s nervous system or their underlying genetic code. Examples include a retractable blade (hidden or exposed), an identification chip, a bone conduction comlink, a lock pick finger. Many devices could be installed as either implants or cyberware. For example, an implant retractable blade would require some kind of physical action in order to deploy or retract. A blade implanted in a forearm might be activate by depressing a catch located beneath the skin, or by a pushing a button on a remote controller. The cyberware version of the same technology would be wired into the nervous system, and could be deployed or retracted using thought alone, the same way one might control one’s limbs. Implants are limited only by physical constraints. For instance, one can only have so many blades implanted in a single limb. Similarly, a person with steel laced bones, steel mesh implanted beneath their skin and who also has armor plates bolted to their skeleton, would weigh so much they could hardly move. 

Cyberware augments interface directly with the central nervous system. There are two main categories of cyberware: replacements and units. As their name suggests, replacements are a replacement of a native body structure with a mechanical version. For example, a cyber- arm, leg or eye. Units are a broad class of cyberware that grant additional capabilities to the recipient. The key categories of units are:

Neural integrator unit (NIU or “new”)- These are used to direct-link (DL) into NIRVs and are the most complex and involved unit type. They include a number of hard point attachments to the brain, spinal cord and limbs, as well as NEST infiltration of the entire nervous system. They allow for unparalleled control of NIRVs. Most NIUs are optimized for a particular grade of NIRV. The one exception is, Grade 2 optimized NIUs work equally well with grade 1 or grade 2 NIRVs (but not vice versa). NIUs also have the side effect of boosting one’s baseline reflexes. Granting anyone with an NIU the special ability, Reflexes: When there's a question about who acts first, the answer is you (two characters with Reflexes act simultaneously). The quality of the NIU determines how good the reflexes are. A character with a Fine NIU has faster reflexes than one with a Standard NIU. This boost comes at a price, as the increased neuronal conduction profoundly affects the person’s mood, making them perpetually manic, with everyone else seeming to move in slow motion, sights, sounds and smells seeming far more intense and one’s mind constantly racing and hopping from subject to subject. It requires training and a very disciplined mind to control this. Many go mad, or, become impossible to control or reason with without taking setting drugs. Most cannot sleep without sedatives, often resulting in an endless cycle of sedative and stimulant medications. Any character that gets a NIU installed immediately gains a point of Trauma, and gains the Trauma condition, Manic. NIUs are so all encompassing that they don’t play well with other units. A NIU can only function at Standard Quality while any other cyberware is installed on the person. 

Modem Unit (MU or “mew”)- This allows one to jack directly into a computer system and control it, or hack it, with one’s mind. A standard MU comes with a wireless link, as well as a direct “jack,” which is an extendable electronic probe, usually implanted in the wrist.

Shooting Unit (SU or “shoe”)- This allows one to connect to SU compatible weapons and greatly enhances firing accuracy and speed. The compatible weapon may be wielded by hand, or mounted onto an electronic system. Users describe the operation as “look and shoot,” as this is what feels like they are doing, even when holding the weapon themselves. SUs are commonly combined with NIUs in the military context. SUs are even more popular in the civilian or killer-for-hire context, as they are completely wireless and require no externally visible components.

Vehicle Unit (VU or “view”)- This allows one to control any kind of vehicle with an appropriate link. More advanced types are wireless, but many still link into a plug at the base of the skull. These are are similar to NIUs, but they do not provide the same level of control or immersion a full NIU does. Whereas using an NIU DL to pilot a NIRV makes you feel like you “are” the NIRV, piloting through a VU still feels like you are piloting an external thing, you are just doing it directly with your mind. The major advantage is, it allows appropriately spec’ed vehicles to be driven remotely. Especially talented users may be able pilot multiple vehicles at the same time.

Droid Unit (DU or “dew”)- This enables connecting to a droid and can be used to directly control the droid, or collaborate with it via a man-machine “mind-meld.” 

Hardware Unit (HU or “hue”)- This acts like a hard drive implanted in ones head, able to store, access and sort hundreds of gigabytes worth of information. This information can be accessed de novo, on the fly, by the user, but this can still take time if the user has to “read” through reams of data. The data can also be downloaded to any applicable device and be accessed that way. 

Like implants, cyberware is limited by physical constraints, but also, neural load. Neural load refers to the additional stress placed on the central nervous system by interfacing with, and controlling, non-organic materials. Replacement body parts, even enhanced versions (super strong limbs, night vision eyes), have a neural load that is roughly equivalent to that of their native counterparts. However, by default, any Unit takes up 1 neural load. That assumes a Standard version of the unit. The higher quality the unit, the greater neural load it takes up. For each step up in quality, increased neural load by 1. So, a Fine unit of any type takes up 2 neural load, and a Superior unit of any type takes up 3 neural load. Each characters starts with a neural load of 1. This can be increased one time by taking a point of Trauma. Any character may also gain the Neural Savant special ability, which grants 1 additional neural load

Biological enhancement refers to the use of organic materials alone to modify a person. These may be very minor, such as a virus that emits artificial pigments, allowing the infected person to create and modify elaborate tattoo designs. They might be more involved, such as modifications that grant a limited ability to transmute facial features. Some enhancements can increase baseline physical and mental capabilities. However, only increase capabilities into the high normal range, and are typically used by people that are average or below average in the improved traits.

Augments

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