Revisiting Cybernetics in the Cypher System
A little over two years ago I set out to start running a Shadowrun RPG game using the Cypher System rules instead of the Shadowrun Rule Set. I had two options that I could see in regard to Cypher system and how I was going to have to handle cybernetics.
1. I could treat all Cybernetics as flavor, thus having no in-game impact on the overall way that the Cypher system was run. This would allow my players to have as little or as much cybernetics as they desire, accomplishing the feel of the setting with no extra workload.
2. I could come up with a few simple options based on examples already set forward in the Cypher System and find a common ground between the two settings that would allow for cybernetics to stand out in the game yet remain simple and very flexible.
I had come to the realization that if I was going to run a faithful conversion in Cypher I was going to have to make some modifications. As I said in my previous blog the easiest answer would just make cybernetics in the cypher system Artifacts. On the surface, this would appear to be an easy fix. Yet as a solution, it posed its own problems. First, in Shadowrun and other Cyberpunk settings, Cybernetics are commonplace. Artifacts are not commonplace,
In the Cypher System
“Artifacts are considered to be more powerful than equipment and can’t simply be purchased.”
Second I did not feel 100% comfortable with the idea of allowing most of the table to begin the game with one or more artifacts, this felt unbalanced. Additionally to further complicate the idea of simply hand-waving cybernetics and treating them as Artifacts is Depletion. So artifacts were out.
So the first version of cyberware was born.
The first version of cyberware came in three flavors.
- Simple (Simple cybernetics that can only accomplish minor things in game)
A player was limited to 3 of this type of Cybernetic
- Standard (Things that can only have a minor effect on game)
A max of 2 Standard Cybernetic could be taken
- Major (These provide “Boosts” At the time of the writing I did not know of “Power Shifts”)
Players could only have one of these items.
My reason for limits largely remains the same as it was when I wrote the first blog. Shadowrun has a system of essence, wherein the body can only hold so much cyberware. This system also maintains game balance. So, for this reason, limits make perfect sense to port it over into the Cypher System. Thus keeping to the spirit of Shadowrun as well as preventing players from power purchasing their way into an unbalanced game.
There were a few exceptions if a player had enough money to afford the best gear available they could double these limits. Also, desperate players who were willing to take the risk on shoddy gear could save on money and purchase “Gutterwear” This gear comes with the cost of doubling its limit base cost as well as the risk of “Depletion” Borrowed straight from the Artifact section.
There was always to be one other exception to this rule that I never mentioned in the first blog.
As Cybernetics were not intended to be Artifacts I also wanted to have the opportunity to award players with Prototype, Custom or Personalised cybernetics and not be hindered later in-game by a player already having reached their limit count. So cybernetic Artifacts do not count against a players limit.
Updates and Changes
As our group sat down to start up a Cypher System Shadowrun game for the first time since I wrote the first blogs we could see there were some changes that needed to be made to dial the feel of cybernetics a bit more.
The first round of cybernetics had been organized around two key factors.
- The level of a modification to the body it would take to install the cybernetic gear
- It’s in-game effect that provides
My flaw here was that I was vague on #2, as it needed to be further defined to better represent cybernetics in the game as a whole. So, in some regard cybernetics went back to the drawing board. The new categories make far more sense as well as set the foundation for easily defined placement of cybernetics in the future.
This brought about the first change we discussed, adding a 4th cybernetic category. The newly defined categories look like the following:
Cypher System Cybernetics
Any cybernetic enhancement that is cosmetic and had no effect on the game in regard to dice rolls.
Examples: Internal Watches, Implanted Cell Phones, Shifting Tattoos
Limit: No Limit to this type of cyber implant
Character Creation Costs: Inexpensive During Character Creation.
In Game Cost: Moderately Priced in Game
Any Cybernetic Enhancement that mimics or provide skills, or assist in the completion of a skill. In short any implanted gear that would allow the player to make a Trained/Specialised check. Combat and Defense Skills are not included at this level this Cybernetic Enhancement.
(Note: Cyber Enhancement benefits still must adhere to the two-step reduction limit for tasks)
Examples: Skill Slot Jacks, Climbing Spurs, Grappling Launcher
Limit: Four Implants of this type
Character Creation Costs: Moderately Priced
In Game Cost: Expensive
These are by design Cybernetic Enhancements that provide an Assets to the Player. These Cybernetics often come in the form of Weapon or Equipment implants. But can be any range of Cybernetic equipment upgrade that could provide the player with an Asset.(Note: Cyber Enhancement benefits still must adhere to the two-step reduction limit for Assets)
Examples: Cyber Arm Blade, Cybergun, Hydraulic Jacks, Subdermal Motors
Limit: Three Implants
Character Creation Costs: Expensive
In Game Cost: Very Expensive
Major Cybernetics are so powerful that they provide players with Power Shifts. Cybernetics of this level require major surgeries and a huge amount of money. These cybernetics bestow superhuman levels of ability. In some rare cases, these cybernetic can also mimic powers.
Examples: Subdermal Platting & Bone Lacing, Wired Reflexes, Muscle replacement
Limit Two Major Implants
Character Creation Costs: Very Expensive
In Game Cost: Exorbitant
Alpha and Gutterwear
As far as Alpha and Gutterwear are concerned I have chosen to retain the same rules that I had blogged in the past and they are as follows.
To represent Gutterwear and Alphawear it turned out to be a very simple fix. If a player wishes Alphawear gear they must pay the next step up in cost for the item. This treats the cybernetic as half of the cost towards their cybernetics limit. If they purchased Gutterwear they may cut the cost of the cybernetic by one level but the item now has a Depletion of 1 in 20. Any Depleted cybernetics must be repaired before they can be used again. Repair Tasks are based on the level of the cybernetic. Simple=3 Average=5 Major=7