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Old 09-12-2017, 05:55 PM   #1
hal
 
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Default Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

A post was made in another thread, where they didn't like cybernetics from 3e as compared against say, 4e. This thread is intended to compare the two side by side, and get a discussion going as to what builds seem better than other builds (ie take the best of the best from BOTH systems rather than rely upon only one or the other).

Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
The 3e rules had ridiculously deep discounts for not having cosmetically invisible implants or prosthetics (and IIRC no specific mechanical consequences for it). I recall it being fairly broken.
Ridiculously deep discounts might be a reasonable objection to make when you consider when GURPS CYBERPUNK (now GURPS CLASSIC CYBERPUNK) was originally published. The rules for computers had not been made as solid as they would become in GURPS VEHICLES 2nd edition, GURPS ROBOTS, or even GURPS ULTRATECH 1st edition (all GURPS CLASSIC titles by today's standards).

Yet despite this, I think that the cybernetics rules in GURPS 4e NEED fine tuning to make them of more use for GM's who do NOT like what they see in the current GURPS ULTRATECH edition.

So, to that end? Let's start the process and work our way down the list and say why we like or dislike the pricing, and see where it takes us.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:10 PM   #2
hal
 
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

So, let's look at the first thing I really dislike in the 4e toolbox of advantages/disadvantages where it comes to cybernetics:

Maintenance.

Page 143 of the GURPS CHARACTERS book we have a description of what Maintenance is. The GM decides what the care being provided is, how often it is required, and what skills are required to perform the maintenance. Then we get a schedule of "how many people are required to perform this maintenance, which in turn derives some of its cost value. Note too, that the "installment" of the maintenance disadvantage costs the individual 1 hour's worth of maintenance work.

But look at what we're offered for our choices as a GM...

Monthly (the longest interval possible) at 1/5 normal cost.

down to

Constant (how you do constant maintenance at 1 hour per is perplexing) at x5 cost.

So, what if we want Cybernetic Maintenance to simply be a function of removing the old battery, replacing the new battery, and running a simple diagnostic - once per 6 months? What if the unit doesn't require maintenance except once per year? The fact that the cut off is 1 month, with a value of only 20% of the original disadvantage cost just seems a bit - useless in my mind.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:22 PM   #3
hal
 
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

For my next point, I'm going to try to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges and see what happens in a comparison between 3e and 4e rules...

Unreliable (3e): here the break downs were at -10% and -20%, where a piece of equipment might fail to work properly on a roll of 15+ or 13+ respectively. In game terms, statistically speaking, the odds of your unreliable cybernetic malfunctioning would be 5% failure rate or 27% failure rate. The duration of this malfunctioning would be between 60 to 360 seconds (1d6 minutes). Note that it didn't require a repair to resume functioning.

Unreliable (4): Unlike 3e version, which has only two possible break down numbers, 4e gives us a wider range of values. 15+ is the worst value (works on a 14 or less), and happens such that 95% of the time the gadget works normally. The next value is 12+ (works on an 11 or less). This means the gadget works some 74% of the time. At this point in time, it is largely IDENTICAL in function to the older 3e version. The difference however, is that they expanded the table to include two more sets of numbers, where the item in question fails on a 9+ or fails on a 6+ (works 25% of the time or 5% of the time respectively). In my opinion, the 4e version is better for having expanded out what was a limited aspect in the 3e rules.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:32 PM   #4
sir_pudding
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

Having to change batteries twice a year isn't meaningfully a disadvantage, it probably isn't even a worthwhile quirk. It doesn't interfere with adventuring and doesn't require skill rolls. It is a lot like having nuclear reactors giving Doesn't Eat even when you need fuel every 20 years or something.

Last edited by sir_pudding; 09-12-2017 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:40 PM   #5
hal
 
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

Breakdown Prone (3e): Largely the same as unreliable, the difference is, that instead of becoming inoperable for 1d6 minutes, the device stops working until it undergoes maintenance/repairs. The rolls are made only during "Stress" which means that normal day to day driving wouldn't cause the stress roll to be made for example, but engaging in one handed hanging from a beam (for a cyberlimb) or rapid eye movement in moments of stress (cybernetic eye perhaps?) - which happens roughly 2% of the time, or 10% of the time. This disadvantage would apply a 10% or 20% discount on the price of the equipment (and presumably on the value for the advantage gained by the cyberlimb if any).

There does not seem to be a Breakdown Version for 4e unless you consider the maintenance rules. There, the breakdowns occur as a function of missed maintenance. The problem I have with the Breakdown rules as given in the Maintenance rules are thus:

A character can have a brand new device installed - fresh from the factory. In theory, such a device would have had to undergo "quality assurance" tests before it would be sellable and shipped out the factory doors. But, bad things happen from time to time right? But look at the Maintenance rules more closely...

If you miss your monthly (or less!) maintenance period, your item's HT drops by 1, and a roll versus the Item's health is required. By default, the HT of a device is usually a 10, sometimes a 12, but generally a 10. This means that a brand new factory item, drops one HT level after 30 days of normal use. Rolling against a new value of 9, that's roughly a 1 in 3 chance the item remains functional, a roughly 2 in 3 chance it will malfunction, and a roughly 1 in 20 chance that it will critically malfunction (17 & 18's on 3d6). So, we can't have cybernetic eyes that last a year between maintenance cycles? How about 5 years? Nope, Maintenance only permits up to 1 month before the maintenance modifier for disadvantages becomes effectively zero value.

So, this particular "disadvantage modifier" doesn't seem to be functional in 4e as it is in 3e.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:44 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

Quote:
Originally Posted by sir_pudding View Post
Having to change batteries twice a year isn't meaningfully a disadvantage, it probably isn't even a worthwhile quirk. It doesn't interfere with adventuring and doesn't require skill rolls. It is a lot like having nuclear reactors giving Doesn't Eat even when you need fuel every 20 years or something.
Agreed - until you hit that critical threshold and you forgot to change the batteries and you have but 2 hours left right? But that then becomes one of "less than 1 month" overall. Correct?

Now, if twice a year isn't worth being detailed in the game in your eyes, that's one thing. But if it is worth being detailed in say, three people's campaigns - then to them, it is worth something. Maybe a "quirk" level disadvantage perhaps. Or - the fact that Maintenance at all costs some time from the character's life, costs money, and a fee is assessed by the Maintenance tech that costs money from the character's pocket?

As a GM, who watches a player take three separate items - each requiring 1 hour of maintenance - is now losing 3 hours on a regular basis. Nothing is ever done by Technicians for free, so there is a monthly cost involved for 1 hour's labor. Most places that invest in having the tools, a building, etct - will prorate their fees to include that cost so that the business can keep operational. In all? Maintenance isn't just a loss of time, but a surcharge on the monthly cost of living that is largely overlooked.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:08 PM   #7
hal
 
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

Back to item by item comparison between 3e and 4e...

When building disadvantages/advantages that are cybernetic, we have the standard in 4e, where the thing is "electrical". I don't have an issue with using that as a baseline for building the disadvantage or advantage in that any attack that is specifically electrical affecting in nature, will affect the individual in question.

If you're standing within an EMP blast zone, any electronics you have on you are likely going to be fried, or what have you. Natural eyes won't suffer from the EMP effects, but Bionic eyes that are unshielded will. But what happens if the eyes are built to be EMP resistant? What if they gain a +3 HT saving roll against the effects of an EMP? Do those eyes no longer qualify as "unshielded electronics" and hence, lose their -20% discounted aspect?

What I liked about the original rules in GURPS CLASSIC CYBERPUNK was that the eyes could be made to be any number of things, which is largely what 4e allows for as well (buy the advantage as is, and take it from there). But where GURPS 4e has something that 3e didn't, was the Nictitating membrane advantage. It added +1 DR to the eye, and +1 HT to the eye per level of advantage. So - does this mean that a normally HT 10 item, just got upgraded to HT 11 because of the Nictitating membrane advantage? Why can the eye get a +1 HT advantage, but other "cybernetic" devices not get the ability to gain a +1 HT? It is the little stuff like that which annoy me when I examine the rules for a system/structure for building cybernetic stuff.

Having said ALL of that? Please remember that in the back of my head is a little voice saying to me "oh, so you're so critical smarty pants, let's see you do better and design your own system right?"

That little voice usually gets a kick in the pants, and my "House rule demon" starts coming to the fore and modifying those rules. ;)

it is far easier to criticize than it is to create - so, please don't take this the wrong way when I get into things along this line...
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:23 PM   #8
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal View Post
Agreed - until you hit that critical threshold and you forgot to change the batteries and you have but 2 hours left right? But that then becomes one of "less than 1 month" overall. Correct?
Yeah, it could theoretically be disadvantageous in the rare circumstance where it shows up, but that doesn't mean it's a disadvantage worth points. In the case of something that won't show up except once every 6 months or once per year it's just below the level where it's worth points. In rule design you have to set a cutoff level, because if every 6 months is worth points what about every 2 years? Every 5 years? What if it requires a major and inconvenient overhaul every 50 years? There has to be a cutoff point somewhere, and one month is as good a cutoff as any.
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Last edited by ericbsmith; 09-12-2017 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

So Sir_Pudding,
If you would - list a few of the things you didn't particularly like from 3e's cybernetics rules. Sometimes it helps to see it from other's point of view, and I'm seriously looking at finding ways to incorporate things from the earlier years of GURPS with the new 4e rules - largely because the 4e rules structure won't update with new books things like GURPS CYBERPUNK, or other such things like GURPS ROBOTS.

I really DETEST building robots strictly on points, which is why I took the time to update the original concepts from GURPS ROBOTS and merge them in with the computer complexity rules from GURPS 4e publications. Increasing personality simulation program complexity value (up from 4 to 6) means that the same basic "computer hardware" is required to run a complexity 6 (4e rules) as was done with complexity 4 (3e rules). Limbs, bodies, and other mechanical things can be built as TL 8 stuff from GURPS ROBOTS, but use the computer stats from 4e - for a 3e-4e fusion as it were.

I'd like to see a functional fusion between 3e and 4e GURPS CLASSIC CYBERPUNK where possible.
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:00 PM   #10
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Default Re: Cybernetic costs and modifiers both 3e & 34e

One of my biggest problems with Cybernetics is a more general problem with GURPS - and that is that some advantages become less advantageous - worth less points - when technology can mostly or completely mimic them. Everything from Innate Attack & Damage Resistance to augmented senses are just less valuable when you can get a rifle, a bulletproof vest, and IR goggles.
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