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Old 03-24-2017, 05:49 PM   #1
Otaku
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

Last Week: Digital Mind
Next Week: Dark Vision, Night Vision

Preface

The intent of this thread is to discuss the selected Advantage in its entirety. That doesn't just include how it was written up or clarifying how it is intended to work. It includes both praise and criticism because the former is meaningless without the latter (or at least the chance of it). Being able to freely ask questions, even if they might seem critical, is also an important part of this discussion. At the same time, I don't want to poison the well, so I'll try to hold off on giving my personal thoughts on the matter until a later post.

So... wondering why we went backward alphabetically? Probably not; as stated a few weeks ago, I've been trying to hammer out the best way to cover the traits. I'd gone overboard, trying to cover every remotely related topic. Thanks to johndallman and his index, that isn't a problem anymore. Cybernetics is a bit of an odd trait to cover, because it isn't any single Advantage but reflects the handling of a variety of traits to represent this technology. Part of my concern with reviewing it was that it would be imposssible to cover everyone of those traits at once, but after thinking it through, I think we can do Cybernetics justice by discussing the general principles for it.

I will mention that I was sorely tempted to cover Modular Abilities here, as they could not only represent swappable Cybernetic components, but a specific iteration of Modular Abilities are Chip Slots, which I consider to be closely associated with cyberwear thanks to GURPS Cyberpunk from 3e.

Basic

Cybernetics (p. B46) isn't one Advantage. It isn't even just a related set of Advantages but like last week's Digital Mind it justifies possessing other traits. The difference is that Cybernetics isn't a separate Advantage you pay for; you just need to apply the appropriate Modifiers or trait specific options. Examples suggested in the text are Electrical (p. B134) and Maintenance (p.143). Traits like Mind Probe (p. B69), Mind Reading (p. B69), and Mind Shield (p. B70) can take Cybernetic [+50%] (p. B70) as an Enhancement or Cybernetic Only [-50%] (p. B70) as a Limitation. This allows the trait in question to functionally normally (exclusively, in the case of the Limitation) with Digital Mind and traits Modified using Cybernetic, Cybernetic Only, or Digital.

Two traits closely associated with Cybernetics are Digital Mind and Chip Slots, a version of Modular Abilities. We already covered Digital Mind on its own, and we'll address Chip Slots with the other Modular Abilities. For that matter, Cybernetics may involve other kinds of Modular Abilities. Besides something that involves blatant superpowers, simply having different cybernetic attachments one can swap out could qualify. Multiple Perks make sense as Cybernetics as well.

Other Supplements

Powers is useful for those pursuing Cybernetics for a few reasons. While Cybernetic is not a general power modifier like chi, magic, super, etc. you'll find lists of traits appropriate for a cybernetics focused character and suggestions for how to Modify traits to reflect cybernetics. This includes the more traits (old and new) where you may apply Cybernetic or Cybernetic Only. There are some clarifications about things, such as Weapon Mount and Temporary Disadvantage that answered some important questions about how those may interact with Cybernetics. How Cybernetic traits can interact with certain skills and ideas for how cybernetics may fit into settings are also mention. You'll find a list of Cyberpunk flavored Abilities on p. P116, traits recommended for recommended traits for Machine Telepathy on p. P130-131 and a list of firearms (modern and ultra tech) statted up as attack abilities on p. P136-137.

It should come as no surprise that Power-Ups 2: Perks contains a few more Perks that involve Cybernetics, while Power-Ups 3: Talents has Cyberneticist, which involves a few Skills that may prove relevant, though it is more likely to matter to Digital Mind. PU3 contains the optional rules for Anti-Talents and makes mention of how they interact with cybernetics. Power-Ups 8: Limitations also delves more into Cybernetics, according to Fossilized Rappy, expliaining Temporary Disadvantage: Shutdown. Fred Brackin mentions GURPS Powers: Enhanced Senses has an extensive list of Sensor Implants and rules for using them.

Previous Editions

Cybernetics were handled a bit inconsistently under the 3e rules. According to GURPS Ultra-Tech (Second Edition, Revised you had to pay cash or optionally, cash and character points for your Bionics, as Cybernetics were sometimes called in 3e. This is a pretty big difference to 4e, where you usually only have to pay cash or CP; the former if the modifications are freely available to anyone with the money in the setting, CP is not. The prices assume realistic looking and feeling Bionics; if it looks artificial up close and feels artificial to the touch, you can multiple costs by 1/2, while Bionics which are obviously artificial from a distance allows you to multiple the cost by 1/5. This reduction applies to cash and (if they are being charged) character points.

The rules in Ultra-Tech (and IIRC, GURPS Cyberpunk) don't allow you to pick values for things like the ST, DX, HP, or DR of Bionics, though certain Bionics that simulated Advantages would just cost the same CP as that Advantage. Costs for things like limbs required a formula based (in part) on exactly what was being replaced and how much better it was than your base ST and DX. I really prefer the 4e rules.

Useful Links

Discussion Starters

This is a generic list of questions if you need them; if you already know what you want to say, feel free to just chime in.
  • Have you ever taken this trait for one of your PCs or NPCs? How'd it go?
  • Is there anything this trait does really well?
  • Is there anything you think this trait should do different, whether it means adding, subtracting, or just changing aspects of it?
  • Any thoughts on how the 4e version of the trait compares to it in earlier editions?
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Last edited by Otaku; 03-29-2017 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 03-24-2017, 07:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

I'll add in the note that Power-Ups 8: Limitations deems that Temporary Disadvantage for shutting down the advantage, like TD:Electronics on cybernetics, is specifically known as "Temporary Disadvantage, Shutdown". This doesn't really change the mechanics or cost of the limitation, but it seemed like something to note nonetheless.
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:01 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

Add _Gurps Powers:Enhanced Senses_ to your list of supplements. It has an extensive selection of Sensor Implants that would come under Cybernetics. Rules for using them too.
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

From what I've seen of it, Cybernetics doesn't need to exist. It's just a flavor of what your Advantage is expressed as. Someone who has a Cybernetic eye for instance that can use it to magnify and zoom in on things really is just buying Telescopic Vision and saying "I have this cause of my cybernetic eye". Likewise, the man who was blessed by the eagle god to also have Telescopic Vision is just buying it with a different fluff.

It doesn't really fit as an Advantage, but I think it may have made for a good box section, explaining to new comers the idea that so long as you've bought the mechanics, the fluff doesn't really matter, and giving cybernetics as an example of such.
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Old 03-24-2017, 09:54 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leynok View Post
From what I've seen of it, Cybernetics doesn't need to exist. It's just a flavor of what your Advantage is expressed as. Someone who has a Cybernetic eye for instance that can use it to magnify and zoom in on things really is just buying Telescopic Vision and saying "I have this cause of my cybernetic eye". Likewise, the man who was blessed by the eagle god to also have Telescopic Vision is just buying it with a different fluff.

It doesn't really fit as an Advantage, but I think it may have made for a good box section, explaining to new comers the idea that so long as you've bought the mechanics, the fluff doesn't really matter, and giving cybernetics as an example of such.
This. Cybernetics is NOT an advantage, just the background for the advantages of a PC.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:44 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Add _Gurps Powers:Enhanced Senses_ to your list of supplements. It has an extensive selection of Sensor Implants that would come under Cybernetics. Rules for using them too.
Hi Fred,
If I weren't watching my pennies until such a time as I have a job again, I'd be tempted to pick this one up. The sampler for the document listing vision levels was tempting.

How well does the rest of the article work out in your opinion? Feel free to contact me privately with your opinions if necessary.

Thanks,

Hal
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Old 03-25-2017, 08:16 AM   #7
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

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Originally Posted by hal View Post
Hi Fred,
If I weren't watching my pennies until such a time as I have a job again, I'd be tempted to pick this one up. The sampler for the document listing vision levels was tempting.

How well does the rest of the article work out in your opinion?
Enhanced senses is full of crunch with multiple possible uses. I'd rate it as a very so0lid suppleent for many potential users. Even ones who "don't do that Powers thing" can take items out of it as is.
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Old 03-25-2017, 11:34 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

I handle cybernetics inconsistently in my games. Its one of the first things I wanted to do with gurps and one of the hardest to do. I currently treat it as technology only unless it can't be replicated (or approximately replicated) with other technology. For example, a mechanical arm with ST 20 is just gear if exoskeletons are around (and why wouldn't they be), and night vision can be replicated with goggles, but having a neural interface that lets you experience VR and gives you a bonus at performing certain computer tasks may be worth points.

But I've done it all sorts of ways in the past.

I don't think there is a right way to do it. Not if you're going to stay generic-universal.
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Old 03-25-2017, 11:59 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I handle cybernetics inconsistently in my games. Its one of the first things I wanted to do with gurps and one of the hardest to do. I currently treat it as technology only unless it can't be replicated (or approximately replicated) with other technology. For example, a mechanical arm with ST 20 is just gear if exoskeletons are around (and why wouldn't they be), and night vision can be replicated with goggles, but having a neural interface that lets you experience VR and gives you a bonus at performing certain computer tasks may be worth points.
Ditto, I make them Perks if the equipment can be easily picked by anyone.


Quote:
I don't think there is a right way to do it. Not if you're going to stay generic-universal.
Well... there is a "generic and universal" way, it's to charge character points for all gear always... which leads to character point bloat ridiculousness.

But I agree, that might not be the "right" way.
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Old 03-25-2017, 12:19 PM   #10
hal
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#37): Cybernetics

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I handle cybernetics inconsistently in my games. Its one of the first things I wanted to do with gurps and one of the hardest to do. I currently treat it as technology only unless it can't be replicated (or approximately replicated) with other technology. For example, a mechanical arm with ST 20 is just gear if exoskeletons are around (and why wouldn't they be), and night vision can be replicated with goggles, but having a neural interface that lets you experience VR and gives you a bonus at performing certain computer tasks may be worth points.

But I've done it all sorts of ways in the past.

I don't think there is a right way to do it. Not if you're going to stay generic-universal.
An approach you might want to consider using - which I use for my own campaign is this:

If you want cybernetics before the start of the game, you pay the character points for the device. Why? Because the device has a monetary cost associated with it, a surgeon who installs it, and then the character has down time for recuperation. The point value cost covers all that for pre-game purposes. Subsequent to start of play, as a gamer, you takes your chances that the surgeon character is having a bad day during the crucial moment the device is installed. Or, the GM is in a foul mood and because there is an "Enemy" involved, the surgeon has been blackmailed into installing more than he should, installing less than he should, or what have you.

In one campaign, one of the players had a LOT of mental implants installed. Unfortunately, the Surgeon failed his roll, and the player failed HIS roll - resulting in a character with brain damage. In another campaign, the character got ambushed while in a hospital bed. Fortunately for him, his buddy was available to help fend off the assassin. ;)

In short? Any GM can use any approach/method that they desire, it is after all, their game.

:)
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