"The Million Credit Man/Yazirian/Vrusk/etc": Bionics in the Frontier

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
May 25, 2016 - 7:55pm
Something I just cooked up:

Zebulon's Guide left us with just the beginnings of so many things that were to be fleshed out later.  Alas, it was not to be.  One of those things was the introduction of artificial or “bionic” body parts.  Zeb mentions the Bionics skill (regarding the design of bionic body parts), the Bio-Center progit, for controlling those body parts, and some vague references to what all kinds of parts might have bionic replacements, which were virtually any of them.

At the same time, the Star Frontiers game already had the concept of Regeneration.  One has to ask then why bionics?  Well, for one thing cost.  Regrowing a finger or toe was a 30-day process and cost 50,000 credits.  Regrowing a whole limb was a 90 day process with a whopping 200,000 credit bill.  Organs were not mentioned for some reason.

My guess is that Regen was the favorite of the well-to-do, who simply shuddered at the thought of being part-machine and would pay handsomely to get their “meat” back. For everyone else, there's bionics.

In the absence of anything more official, here's my stab at actual artificial limbs and organs:

PROCEDURE
Bionic implants take 1/3 the amount of time Regeneration does.  10 days for a simple organ like a heart, kidneys, etc, and 30 days for a whole limb replacement (to account for system tuning and patient training). 

The specifics of each type of bionics are:

COMMON HARDWARE/SOFTWARE
Nearly all bionics need the same basic control hardware/software: a Type B processor pack, the Bio-Center interface implants, and a powersupply.  Due to the limitation of available space, the power supply can't really be more than a Sixpack. These three combined cost 2,450 credits.

SIMPLE ORGAN
Simple bionic organs include the heart, kidneys, lungs, etc.  The cost is 6,000 credits, which includes the hospital stay (1,500 credits), the common hardware/software, and the organ itself (2,050 credits).  The power supply is equivalent to that of a body comp Sixpack (10 SEU), but has a 2 year duration before needing recharging.

Note that one Bio-Center implant can control up to 4 simple organs, so additional organs would be only  3,200 credits each (up to three additional).

LIMB/BASIC
A basic bionic limb gets the job done functionally, but no one is ever going to mistake it for a real body part. It is obviously mechanical in appearance, cold to the touch and physically unyeilding.  It may or may not make audible mechanical noises (clicks and whirrs) as it operates.  By limb, it is understood that the definition means the entire limb all the way to the shoulder, as the mechanics are not sophisticated enough to permit anything less.

Basic bionic limbs cost 13,500 credits each.  This includes the hospital stay (4,500 credits), the common hardware/software, and the rest is for the limb (6,550 credits). The hardware to control the limb is incorporated into the limb itself, so only the Bio-Center implant is placed within the main part of the body.  Controlling limbs is more difficult than controlling simple autonomic functions, so limbs may not share an implant (each arm is full cost).  The power supply is good for 1 year.

LIMB/HIGH-QUALITY
A high-quality bionic limb is functionally the same as a basic limb, but appears and feels entirely natural.  The mechanical gears, rods, etc of a basic limb are replaced with artificial tendons and sinew.  Provision is made to match the appearance of the rest of the patient's body, and the limb even maintains an approximation of the body's average temperature.

High-quality bionic limbs cost 25,000 credits (4,500 for the hospital, the common hardware/software, and 18,050 for the limb).  As with basic limbs, each limb requires it's own operating package, and is full price.  Again, the power supply is good for 1 year.

EYE/EAR
Bionic eyes and ears are marvels of Frontier technical development, and their cost reflects that.  A bionic eye/ear costs 35,000 credits each.  They are powered directly from, and interface directly with the patients natural bio-electric energy to obtain energy to function.  The extremely miniaturized nature of the components and the much more complex nero-surgery required to safely implant them explains the very high relative cost.

LIMITATIONS
Despite what the public sees in popular entertainments and hears on conspiracy holo-programs, bionics cannot turn ordinary individuals into super-human juggernauts or flawless infiltrators.  The capabilities of bionic replacements are limited to what the remaining organic parts are capable of supporting, in addition to the limitation of mechanical engineering.

It would be possible, for example, to build a bionic arm that could lift tons.  The shoulder joint simply would not support it, nor likely would the rest of the skeletal system.  You could program bionic legs to run at 100 km/hour, but the stress and heat-build up at the hip socket would cause a great deal of damage (not to mention be very painful.  There simply isn't room in the head to implant the needed amplifiers and boosters to let artificial eyes see in the dark, or zoom in like electro-binoculars or ears to act as super-mikes that could hear whispers at 100 paces.

Not yet, in any event...

NOTE TO GMs
Given the abstracted nature of the Star Frontiers damage system, most games won't really need these rules, much like they won't need the Regeneration rules.  That said, they make for good story-telling options/adventure seeds (the character has to earn the money to get his missing bits back), or simply a cash-sink if you feel your players are too flush.

Comments:

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 25, 2016 - 9:34pm
Beyond the occasional character who suffered a limb loss (typically no more than half a limb at worst), I have a few bionic/cybernetic NPCs in my game --- most notably a female human with cybernetic enhanced skeletal/chassis (which resolves the limitations you mentioned ;) ) along with bionic limbs & udio/visual detection apparatus with an onboard micro-computer that allows multiple functions on starship duty via cybernetic slave uplinks; and a vrusk who lost half of his abdomen & legs in a star fighter crash with numerous cybernetic & bionic upgrades who serves under the upstart dictator that takes over the Frontier in my campaign. The vrusk is eventually superceded by a dralasite whose "limbless" body & head reside in a bionic enhanced suit of armor (sort of a quasi-Darth Vader) that cybernetically links to his nucleus.

Cyborgs in my game would be deemed as illegal beings under UPF charter, which eventually erodes under the aforementioned upstart dictator who merely replaces that by-law with restricting such beings to military duty only. As such the aforementioned female human ends up being universally wanted/hunted under both systems.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
May 25, 2016 - 10:18pm
I could see governments not wanting super-borgs like that running around.

I tried to stay away from the idea of boosting like that for that very reason (while still leaving the back door open for it on an NPC basis).

That and I wasn't trying for the cyberpunk feel.  More of a generic sci-fi feel.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 26, 2016 - 12:45am
Charge more for the implant/processor/and battery pack claiming they are "medical implant grade" also include an external Jack for recharge and reduce the amount of time the battery pack will last. That behooves characters to worry about resource depletion.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 26, 2016 - 12:47am
Also another limitation: enforce a penalty for skill or ability checks for a period of time after implantation. Call it -20% for the standard arm and -10% for the high quality limb.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
May 26, 2016 - 4:45am
^That's why the longer hospital stay for limbs.  Retraining.  That the implants are medical grade is a given IMO.  At a minimum the transmitter link has to be implanted in the brain.

As for raising the costs I'm of two minds.  This really should be (by that time) a fairly commonplace technology.  THey just came out with a bionic hand in real life that only  costs about $300 dollars.

http://gizmodo.com/open-source-cyborg-hand-is-making-prosthetics-more-acce-1707904035

I know I wanted a potential cash sink, but how high can I really justify setting the price given that?

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 26, 2016 - 6:48am
ChrisDonovan wrote:
I could see governments not wanting super-borgs like that running around.

I tried to stay away from the idea of boosting like that for that very reason (while still leaving the back door open for it on an NPC basis).

Yep, hence the NPC nature of those few I have. One was (re)constructed by the Star Devil pirates and the other from scientists under the upstart dictator...both of which operate outside of UPF charter & jurisdictions. I've had a few more courtesy of the Sathar as well but those were one shot/targets rather than recurring characters in a campaign. As I said my PC alterations tend to limit themsleves to single limb situations a la Anakin & Luke Skywalker type situations.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
May 26, 2016 - 2:33pm
I miss that on-line game.  It was a lot of fun.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 26, 2016 - 6:07pm
TerlObar wrote:
I miss that on-line game.  It was a lot of fun.

You were close to the end IIRC.

I suppose I should drop the spoiler since you almost got there, after the prison ship sceanrio Jason Siegar would have revealed himself to be John Knightrazor II, owner of the Corona Phoenix's original moniker "Knight Owl" before it was salvaged/recommissioned. This would come as Leotia Valentine was delivered to UPF loyalists and he would be reunited with his blood brother Rin-Blanka aka "Rinny".
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 27, 2016 - 7:10am
ChrisDonovan wrote:
^That's why the longer hospital stay for limbs.  Retraining.  That the implants are medical grade is a given IMO.  At a minimum the transmitter link has to be implanted in the brain.

As for raising the costs I'm of two minds.  This really should be (by that time) a fairly commonplace technology.  THey just came out with a bionic hand in real life that only  costs about $300 dollars.

http://gizmodo.com/open-source-cyborg-hand-is-making-prosthetics-more-acce-1707904035

I know I wanted a potential cash sink, but how high can I really justify setting the price given that?


Ah, don't forget about inflation for the Star Frontiers universe... oh, wait a minute, a ground car only costs 5,000 credits in the game -- probably not including the parabattery -- which is almost the equivalent price of a early 1980s car...

Well, don't forget too, there was an extensive article in Star Frontiersman about cybernetic implants and bionics that you can reference... though I think the bionic hands there are a bit more than $300... much like some of the bodycomp apps... er, programs... er, progits... cost a pretty penny for what they actually do in some cases.
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
May 27, 2016 - 7:53am
I didn't realize that there was an SF article about this...then again I shouldn't be surprised.  I guess by now there's very little left that would truly be "new" to be developed...

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 27, 2016 - 8:04am
ChrisDonovan wrote:
I didn't realize that there was an SF article about this...then again I shouldn't be surprised.  I guess by now there's very little left that would truly be "new" to be developed...


Don't discount the power of your individual imagination. Just because the topic has been explored once doesn't mean it's not worth a second look or some fresh thinking.

For example, a lot of automotive components -- traditional, mechanical automotive components, not Onstar or infotainment or telematics devices -- originated in the early days of the automotive industry such as cruise control, but it took a while for the ideas to develop. Give yourself some credit for the points you raise.

Of course, I understand you don't want to "reinvent the wheel" before you get to the point you want to go.
Joe Cabadas

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 27, 2016 - 8:15am
ChrisDonovan wrote:
I didn't realize that there was an SF article about this...then again I shouldn't be surprised.  I guess by now there's very little left that would truly be "new" to be developed...

2 articles submitted to the SFman at same time and published in back to back issues 

SFman 14 Bill Logan created an equipment catalog for cyber gear. It was shaded toward shadow run a little

SFman 15 (mine) was cyber gear that was more tame or less shadow run -ish. I attempted to keep it from changing the flavor of Star frontiers, or at least my perception of the flavor. 

Both are different, neither is the last statement on cybernetics or bionics. 

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
May 27, 2016 - 11:33am
I'll have to check those out.  Thanks.

iggy's picture
iggy
May 27, 2016 - 4:32pm
Definitely do your version of bionics.  The more there is the more real it feels.  Nothing in real life is the creation of just one person, someone starts, then others build upon or in parrallel to it.
-iggy

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
May 27, 2016 - 10:18pm
My version is pretty much done.  I hadn't intended anything more sophisticated than what I posted.  I might tweak the wording or the prices, but that's all.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 28, 2016 - 8:27am
Good!
Joe Cabadas

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
May 29, 2016 - 6:27am
Ok, here's my "cleaned up" and more detailed explanation with just a few tweaks.

Zebulon's Guide left us with the beginning of so many things that were to be fleshed out later.  Alas, it was not to be.  One of those things was the introduction of artificial or “bionic” body parts.  Zeb mentions the Bionics skill (regarding the design of bionic body parts), the Bio-Center progit, for controlling those body parts, and some vague references to what kinds of parts could have bionic replacements, (which amounted to virtually any of them).

WHY BIONICS?

The Star Frontiers game already had a rule for Regeneration.  So why bionics?  Well, for one thing cost.  Regrowing a finger or toe was a 30-day process and cost 50,000 credits.  Regrowing a whole limb was a 90 day process with a whopping 200,000 credit bill.  Organs weren't even mentioned.  It was never disclosed whether the regeneration was done in situ (though “regeneration” could easily be read to imply that), or if the parts were cloned (a technology that was clearly mentioned elsewhere) and then surgically implanted/attached.

If I had to guess, I'd say that Regeneration was for the elites, who would never lower themselves to having whole sections of themsleves replaced with “metal”.  The cost is certainly prohibitive enough.  Bionics then, would be the “budget option” for poorer citizens (relatively speaking, since the cost is still considerable).

I would also posit that there might be individuals for whom regeneration might not work, perhaps due to some quirk of their genetics.

In the absence of anything more official, here's my stab at bionic limbs and organs:

REGENERATION INHIBITION SYNDROME

The first time the GM rules a given character has been injured to the point of requiring replacement of one or more body parts, the player should make a d100 roll.  If the roll is an Automatic Miss (96-100), then the character has RIS and cannot benefit from that particular technology. (Note that that character is likewise excluded from benefitting from whole body cloning technology as well.)   Any other result indicates that the character may have missing parts Regenerated, providing they can afford it.  Players should make note of the fact either way on their character sheet for future reference.

PROCEDURE

Implanting bionic parts can only be done in hospitals. It involves invasive surgery to implant the part itself, plus other hardware.  Nerosurgery is required to install the Bio-Center transmitter implant. Implantation surgery inflicts the equivalent of 20 STA of damage for a regular organ or limb (reflecting relatively minor surgery) and 50 points* for a sensory organ (reflecting the increased complexity of the surgery involved).

(* - these are not “real” STA points, but a reflection of how invasive/difficult the implantation surgery is and are used for part of the cost calculations)

HOSPITAL STAY

The hospital stay takes 1/3 the amount of time Regeneration does (10 days for a simple organ like a heart, kidneys, etc, and 30 days for sensory and whole limb replacement (to account for system tuning and patient training). The cost for the hospital, including room, board, and other services is 50 credits per day.

    Thus the costs for the hospital stay are as follows:

Simple organ or limb – 520 credits.
Sensory Organ (eyes, ears) – 1550 credits.

COMMON HARDWARE/SOFTWARE

Nearly all bionics need the same basic control hardware/software: a Type B processor pack, the Bio-Center Interface and implants, and a power supply.  Space limitations restrict the power supply to a Sixpack.

The transmitter for the Bio-Center is implanted in the brain, but the progit, processor pack, and power supply are either implanted within the body (organs except for eyes and ears, [see below]), or contained within the limb itself (limbs).

Note that a single Bio-Center can transmit and co-ordinate for up to 4 organs, but only one arm or limb.

The total cost of these elements is 2,450.

BASIC VS HIGH-QUALITY BIONICS

Basic bionics are fully functional replacements that are obviously mechanical in nature.  Limbs are obviously metallic and cold, eyes resemble camera lenses or have glowing colored pupils, etc. Basic bionics may make mechanical sounds as they function.

The cost of a given organ type assumes a basic model. High-quality bionics utilize more sophisticated technology such as synthetic muscle, tendons, etc and/or strive for a more natural appearance overall. As a result, they are 1.5 times what a basic model costs (organ only, the hospital and common hardware costs are the same).

MAINTENANCE/UPGRADING

Most bionic parts require annual maintenance to recharge the power supplies, restock chemical resovoirs, and so forth. Recharging the power supply is 50 credits, and is accomplished by trans-dermal induction to avoid the need for additional surgery. Chemical refills (if needed) cost100 to 200 credits and are done by inserting a long needle into a refill port. Both procedures are considered “outpatient”, meaning no hospital stay is required.

If the GM rules that a bionic part needs “upgrading” (see GAME EFFECTS below), the character must undergo another hospital stay.  Upgrade surgeries cost less than original implantations, Reduce the length of the hospital stay and the cost of the part by half, and omit the cost of the common hardware (which remain the same).

TYPES OF BIONICS

SIMPLE ORGAN

HEART

A bionic heart is a multi-chambered pump that moves blood throughout the body. The Bio-Center monitors the rest of the body for signs of any need for increased heart-rate and has the pump respond appropriately.

A basic bionic heart costs 4,000 credits.

LUNGS

Bionic lungs are made up of the same sort of absorbant filters as that found in gillsuits and gillpacks.  They extract oxygen directly from the ambient atmosphere. The Bio-Center monitors the body's needs and adjusts the organ's rate accordingly as it does with the heart.

A basic bionic lung costs 4,000 credits.

KIDNEY

A bionic kidney is simply a set of filters (based on the same tech as gillsuits and bionic lungs) that removes excess and/or harmful chemicals in the blood in addition to excess fluid in general. The Bio-Center monitors the levels of various substances in the blood and activates or deactivates specific filters as needed.

A basic bionic kidney costs 3,000 credits.

LIVER

A bionic liver is a combination of filter, as in the kidneys) combined with a resovoirs of hyper-concentrated chemicals and hormones that an organic liver would normally generate.  Balancing the levels, as with the bionic kidney, is the responsibility of the Bio-Center.

A basic bionic liver costs 5,000 credits.

PANCREAS

A bionic pancreas is essentially a storehouse of concentrated chemicals and hormones to replace those a normal pancreas would manufacture itself. Again, the Bio-Center monitors and controls the release as needed.

A basicbionic pancreas costs 3,000 credits.

EYE/EAR

Bionic eyes and ears are something of an exception to the general rules regarding bionic replacements.  The extremely small amount of room to work with within the skull has resulted in the pinnacle of Frontier bionics.  Bionic eyes and ears are able to operate off of the patient's own bio-electric energy, and the Bio-Center implant is less a transmitter and more a direct interlinking of the cybernetic part with the appropriate existing nerve endings.

As one might expect, such mechanical/medical wonders come with an appropriatly high price. Basic bionic eyes and ears cost 23,000 credits.

LIMBS

A bionic limb is a replacement for an arm or leg. Frontier medical science has not yet reduced the size of needed support and control systems to the point where individual fingers or toes may be replaced, or even whole hands/feet without removing the corresponding arm/leg at least up to the elbow/knee.

A basic bionic limb costs 12,000 credits.

LIMITATIONS

Despite what is shown in popular entertainment (and the claims of conspiracy theorists), bionic technology cannot tranform an otherwise ordinary individual into an invincible, super-powered one.  Experiments are being done to improve the capability of bionic parts, but there remain not only technical issues to overcome, but social ones as well.

There are fundamental limits to what stresses flesh can withstand, and while it is within the ability of Frontier science to make (for example) a robotic/cybernetic/bionic arm that could lift tons, or legs that could run at 100 + kilometers per hour, the bodies they are attached to would not be able to withstand the stresses placed upon them in the process without significant additional modifications.

Those facts aside, the average Frontier citizen has a deep aversion to the idea of bionic “enhancements”, particularly ones with military applications.  The image of Sathar cyber-monsters remains strong in the public consciousness, making the idea repugnant.

GAME EFFECTS

Bionic implants are calibrated to the attributes of the patient at the time of implantation.  Players should note that the character has a bionic part on their character sheet, along with the current value of the attribute that most closely is impacted by that part – STR, DEX, and RS for arms and legs, INT for eyes and ears, STA for hearts and lungs, etc. When a character has such an attribute raised more than 10 points above the level it was at the time of implantation, the GM may rule that the part needs upgrading before any more improvements to that score may be made.

NOTE TO GMs

Given the abstracted nature of the Star Frontiers damage system, most games won't really need these rules, much like they won't need the Regeneration rules.  That said, they make for good story-telling options/adventure seeds (the character has to earn the money to get his missing bits back), or simply a cash-sink if you feel your players are too flush.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 30, 2016 - 4:38pm
Shadow Shack wrote:
I have a few bionic/cybernetic NPCs in my game --- most notably a female human with cybernetic enhanced skeletal/chassis along with bionic limbs & udio/visual detection apparatus with an onboard micro-computer that allows multiple functions on starship duty via cybernetic slave uplinks; and a vrusk who lost half of his abdomen & legs in a star fighter crash with numerous cybernetic & bionic upgrades who serves under the upstart dictator that takes over the Frontier in my campaign.

Just for grins, the aforementioned NPC bionic/borgs:


No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
February 7, 2017 - 7:22am
This might make a good support story to go along witn an exoskeleton story http://starfrontiers.us/node/9631, though I wonder if the prices that Chris provided are a wee bit high compared to other things a character can buy in the game.
Joe Cabadas

JCab747's picture
JCab747
March 20, 2017 - 8:08am
Again, I like Chris Donovan's bionic ideas, but the prices, when compared with robotic technology, seem too high.


Joe Cabadas