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Old 08-15-2014, 03:55 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

Bioengineering is the ability to design living organisms with specific characteristics, or other biotechnological products. It requires specialisation: some specialisations are listed in Basic, and more in other books mentioned below It defaults to Biology-5, but doesn't actually have a prerequisite of Biology.

Biology is the scientific skill behind Bioengineering, just as Physics lies behind most specialisations of Engineering. it's a broad Very Hard skill, commonly learned with an optional specialisation, defaulting to IQ-6 or Naturalist-6.

There isn't a Mechanic (Biotechnology) skill, as one might expect as a parallel to Mechanic for ordinary Engineering specialisations. In practice, the skill to execute biotechnological designs could plausibly be Animal Handling or Farming, for selective breeding, Electronics Operation (Medical) for tissue culture machines and other SF medical technologies, Physician for vaccinations, or Surgery for installing replacement parts.

It's interesting to try to figure out when bioengineering started in history. One could claim that selective breeding (TL1) or vaccination (TL5) were starting points, but the development of modern biology at TL6 was probably the point at which you could start to call it engineering, and the start of true genetic engineering is TL8.

Bio-Tech is the core book for these skills, with rules, magic, character templates, and lots of thing to build. High-Tech has some practical material about controlling diseases and epidemics, including the Bioengineering (Vaccines) specialisation and Fantasy-Tech has its own TL1^ version. Horror and Zombies also cover these skills, for the obvious reasons. Bioengineering can also be important in Powers and Psi games, and in Spaceships/Space campaigns. While the "Civilization as Biology" box in Infinite Worlds is interesting, it isn't biology. The Transhuman Space line has loads of bio-tech too.

I haven't used these skills very much in games, as player or GM. I've seen a player who knows a lot more biology than me get really carried away investigating the first extrasolar planet found to have life in a space exploration game, and Bioengineering has obvious possibilities in mad science, but mostly these have been support skills.

What have you done with them? How do we centre a campaign on them?
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

I think putting science and/or engineering at the center of a campaign would require an extremely unusual campaign. Biology and Bioengineering, in their core use, are miles from anything resembling adventuring. I think a campaign about research and/or development could be pretty neat, but it would have only moderate rules support and I don't know if I know anyone else who would want to play or GM it.

The most likely roles for either skill in a more normal campaign is analyzing unusual things encountered. With a side use in invention rolls if you've got an inventor. Which could become a fun secondary element in a campaign of mad science... EDIT: Say, akin to Narbonic or A Miracle of Science.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

PCs in my current campaign are using Biology from time to time to glean assorted hints about the mysteries they're investigating.

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In the campaign I'm playing, I've resorted to Pulling Rank in order to call in NPCs with impressive Bioengineering skills when we needed to fight an artificial nanoplague.

The lack of a dedicated biomedical-oriented PC in the party is felt pretty regularly.
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Old 08-15-2014, 04:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

I think that the equivalent to Mechanics for Biology/Bioengineering would have to be Physician and Surgery, right?
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

Both of these have turned up a great deal in my space opera game. Biology is your go-to skill for solving strange medical or biological mysteries, and bioengineering is your go-to sci-fi doctor-gadgeteer skill.
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunspark View Post
I think that the equivalent to Mechanics for Biology/Bioengineering would have to be Physician and Surgery, right?
Only when you use them to build large organisms. And even then, probably at large penalties because of the subject being highly nonhuman. Other than the special case of engineering slightly-modified humans. (Side thought. Is Physician the right skill for healing a tree?)

Biotech also produces microbes and non-living biological products. There may not be any Mechanic-equivalent skill for those, in most cases...if they go bad you don't fix them, you throw them out and replace them.


Note to the OP: Mechanic is the skill of fixing and maintaining things, not fabricating them. Making things most often turns on Machinist, or Armory, or sometimes Electrician. I'm not sure what skill to turn to for assembly tasks that fit none of those...my simplest response would be to allow the relevant Engineering skill to be used for such things, and maybe a selection of IQ/Easy sub-Professional skills for being able to do the assembly by following instructions but not understand it.
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

I'm going to agree with the investigative angle: I've never seen it used before, but a game we're in the process of starting has a character who is taking it to understand any precursor tech they might have.

Biology also works well as a 'payload' skill. You have an NPC who has skills you don't who needs to be delivered to a destination, but aside from that the plot doesn't really care what the skill is.
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Old 08-15-2014, 05:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

Bioengineering seems to be the gadgeteer skill at high tec levels, letting you design not just new species and people but also vaccines (Biotech).
Biology strikes me as more of a prerequisite skill like Mathematics (Applied) or Physics. None of the medical skills list it but I consider it a good skill to represent broad knowledge (its specialized by planet type after all).
I have used it as the goto skill to determine the basic nature of life (if any) on new planets. Naturalist and Paleontology default to it for example.
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Old 08-20-2014, 02:26 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

This fell off my map. I have added the appropriate tag.

Has anyone run a Bio-tech heavy campaign? Or a campaign that featured genetic engineers?
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Old 08-20-2014, 03:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Skills of the week: Bioengineering and Biology

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
This fell off my map. I have added the appropriate tag.

Has anyone run a Bio-tech heavy campaign? Or a campaign that featured genetic engineers?
It's the enchantment issue in high tech format. To use it as it's intended requires lots of resources spent over very long periods of time while everyone else adventures.
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