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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cyborgs

That didn't take long. The consolidated revised Cyborg file is about 10 pages in length. It covers just about everything at a high level that it needs to. However there are some things left out:

1. The opening "connective tissue." I didn't write it--but it's pretty clear what I want to do there ("Hello, this chapter is for cyberpunk, science fiction, or anime games ...")

2. Cyber Weapons. Originally I was going to have a lot of ultra-tech guns (lasers, flechette rounds, etc.) However--it is not clear to me how this is not just a semi-world-specific gear list. The only "cyber weapons" I can think of are cybernetic 'gladitorial' weapons--things no one but a cyborg would carry. Anyone can have a laser (whether it is built-in or not). However having a buzz-saw hand seems fairly cyber-specific.

I don't really plan on putting the entire "high tech gun list" into Archetype book. That can go anywhere else (Have Not, space book, etc.).

3. Super Hacking gear. Cyborg hackers would have a few advantages over non cyber-hackers. In addition to presumably getting pluses due to having "Leet wet-ware gear" they would also, for example, be able to remotely access secure networks and the like.

I have some notes on "Quantum Decrypter" suites of gear that allow the cyborg to bypass ordinary encryption and do things like listen in on cell phones or otherwise bypass a lot of security.

The Big Question
So the big question is: for your X-points where X is like 4 or 8 (a lot for a non-combat power) what exactly are you buying? How does "hacking" work? Here is where we are thus far:


  • There are some powers that "make you rich." Things like Clairvoyance + Las Vegas would make most people a lot of money. If you have one of those powers we can just "factor in" the cost of being rich--especially if there is a note or section that talks about money in the game so that the GM and other players realize "if you have this power set you are expected to be using it to make money." So, okay: if super hackers can bring in a haul regularly they either pay for being very rich--or they just have a "decent income" but don't work at it very hard (do a few jobs a year).
  • What about secrets? If there are super hackers--even if their gear is prototype and illegal--it would mean that big secrets would not be kept, if possible, in accessible places. So if these guys can penetrate heavy electronic security and get secret information then that will "blow up the world." There are actually several powers that "blow up the world." The ability to bring the dead back to life in anything that doesn't look like AD&D would blow-up-the-world since it would, necessarily, wreak havoc with human ideas of morality and mortality. The same thing goes for reproducible fusion power: the world would not look like we know it to look today. So can super hackers "upset the balance of power?" The easy answer is "No." You can get into -some- places but not -any- place. But if that's true, are they "super hackers" or not?
  • Electronic Omniscience. This isn't exactly "hacking" but what if the gear allows things like tapping into traffic cameras and security systems so you can track people. What if you can activate cell phones to listen in at range on private discussions. These techniques exist to a degree today (visitors to China are apparently told to bring disposable devices, throw them away after visiting, and take the batteries out during private meetings--because the cell systems are so compromised). What is this worth? If you can do it easily--whenever you need to--it becomes a potentially huge advantage over your opponents. If you can hear everything they say--or track people from the safety of your apartment then (a) unless they know you can do this, you will dominate them if they have to plan to any degree and (b) if they do know you can do this, their behavior will change a lot. Do we presume that is the case?
The real problems here are not the good-ness of super hacking but the fact that generic super-hacking rules are hard to envision. A slightly post-modern world will look a lot like one of today. Hacking in a science fiction universe could look totally different. I don't want Cybernetics to be a world book so much as a generic resource-springboard.

So I've yet to close it out until I can decide if I want some generic hacking dramas or just use a specific one. 

4 comments:

  1. Another thought: You could have multiple, semi-generic, hacking dramas. Like, one for near future and one for future.

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  2. That's not unreasonable--it isn't all that hard to "write up a drama"--but it is hard to playtest them since you'd need to run several different games to get out any kinks (assuming they're complicated). The other thing is that it isn't really technology related but genre related.

    In the Neuromancer future there's all this crazy -stuff- floating around out there. If you go out and get the right stuff you are far better prepared than not.

    If it's an Anime future it might be about who your friends are or your ability to handle some kind of super drug or specific training / mentors or whatever (or, again, a specific piece of cyber-gear).

    If it's more realistic it could be a lot about social engineering -before- the intrusion attempt (and so on).

    But, yeah: that's not a bad idea.

    -Marco

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