Monday, June 26, 2017

Battlecruiser

The Destroyer (p. 348 EP) is the most common military spacecraft in the solar system - a medium tonnage, fast and maneuverable ship designed for long endurance and escort duty which defends against attacks at short range. Because of their flexible armament, high-speed designs and very efficient power supply in the form of an antimatter drive, Destroyers are typically all that is needed by a space navy force to defend territory or patrol vectors used as trading routes. But, they are not the entirety of the design. Smaller ships, from fighters carried on destroyers and larger vessels, to armed shuttles which act as patrol boats, interception satellites and even "light cruisers" or "corvette" designs exist as small, fast attack and defense or long-term independant operation ships. There are, however, also larger designs - these take three primary forms:

  • Command Carriers are rare, large ships which are mostly armed with defensive weapons and almost always require escorts - their purpose is to launch and coordinate large amounts of smaller ships. Their mass harms their maneuverability and top speed, so these sluggish ships do not often leave their home ports but would be vital in an actual space war to force projection.
  • The fabled "Dreadnoughts" are even more rare, seen as an outdated return to military tactics of the past. Heavily armed and armored these large ship designs are much more popular in fiction than in actual military engagements. Almost designed to show off the material wealth and engineering prowess of their builders, these ships can easily be overwhelmed by smaller, more maneuverable craft which cost much less time and effort to build in large numbers. No new Dreadnoughts are listed as under construction, and the majority left in commission are in the Jovian Republic or LLA.
The third common large ship class is increasingly popular, and is the Battlecruiser. Battlecruisers are larger ships designed along the same lines as the destroyer. They sacrifice armor capability of their larger size to maintain speed, but are still heavily armed - the intent is to be able to chase down and outgun ships with lesser armament, but evade or outmaneuver heavier and more powerful ships. Modern, spaceborne battlecruiser designs first appeared in the era of conflict immediately prior to the Fall, as a countermeasure to prospects of Dreadnought warfare. Several constructed Battlecruisers did well in the limited space warfare during the Fall itself, both against human forces and even TITAN ones. Comparable speed and defenses but greater power make them a good match for small numbers of Destroyers, and better agility and similar power mean they are more cost-effective against Dreadnoughts. 

In the modern period, every faction with a major space force owns one or more Battlecruiser-type designs, and some of them own several and are constructing more. The main drawback of the Battlecruiser is its greater expense and logistics - they take more material to build and to fuel, and more mental resources to run, either in form of AIs or Egos. The fact that open space conflict is not generally a popular or advisable position also means in some polities (such as the Titanian Commonwealth) with high transparency or citizen influence that Battlecruiser expenses are often frowned upon or judged harshly as opposed to less expensive Destroyers for defensive purposes. On the other hand, the Jovian Republic is proud of it's fleet composition and energy resources of Jupiter to fuel them - and plans on having the largest set of Battlecruisers in the Solar System by AF 15. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Web Grenade

Area denial is an interesting area in AF10. While landmines are still made (and due to less issue of lasting injury, slightly less stigmatized) they can present issues in tight spaces of transhuman construction, and risk infrastructure or even depressurization in enclosed habs. A mantrap can block a door or other route - but only covers a single surface. To this end, there is some desire for a device which can offer an expanded area of coverage to block doors and halls and hopefully cause less destruction than explosive traps. Luckily, materials science has solutions.

Web Grenade: While coming in grenade form, this device is more like a container for spools of carbon nanomaterial fibers, which end in grip head micro-anchors. When detonated (ideally in an airburst) the coils fly out in all directions to a maximum length of about 1.5 meters and anchor to surfaces, creating a web of black coils. These strands impede visibility, and are strong enough to be impossible for a morph to break under their own strength - they have to be cut with a tool, or the core grenade found and dismantled so the webs lose their anchor. Such a process can take several minutes, buying valuable time in a pursuit or security situation. Anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the blast radius of a Web Grenade takes 2d10 DV with an AP of -5, and will effectively be grappled to the web grenade until they can extract themselves. This can be done as a Complex Action with a SOMx3 test, but causes 1d10/2 DV which ignores armor as the anchors are ripped out - or can be done as a more delicate proceedure over about 5 minutes (possibly requiring some form of Medicine test). This is available both as a minimissile and a grenade, but not as micromissiles, standard missiles or minigrenades. [Moderate]

Web Grenades are often used by scavengers and zone runners to keep away hostile exsurgents, TITAN bots or just fellow scavs by blocking narrow access points and delay long enough to escape. Some criminal operations (especially smugglers) also occasionally use them to delay rivals or law enforcement so they can get away. Military and security forces are also known to carry them, however, should they need to improvise security on a location with methods less permanent.

Addendum 2E: If converting to the 2E playtest, count the Web Grenade as Moderate Complexity. It still inflicts 2d10 DV, and applies Grappled status to anyone hit with it, and inflicts a d6 of DV which ignores armor if ripped out. They probably shouldn't be restricted, and also note the lack of the "Armor Piercing" trait. Any other aspects of Seekers and Grenades normally applies.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Heterotaxy Cyberbrain

"Heterotaxy" is the term for a form of genetic defect where major organs are not in the proper location in the body. While not unheard of in Flats, the defect has been extinguished in Splicers and better though technically some lines of morphs may be heterotaxic compared to standard transhuman or other "source" genes for design purposes. This idea of relocating organs for specific purposes can be applied to other things, such as implants, which led to the exotic development of the Heterotaxy Cyberbrain.

Heterotaxy Cyberbrain: In short, this implant/enhancement is applied to a morph which already has a Cyberbrain and relocates the cyberbrain to another location inside the body besides the normal one. For humanoid morphs this is typically the head, and the relocation may be to the body - but can be even so exotic as to be in a limb. The dimensions of the cyberbrain do not need to be exactly the same, but the relocated area must be able to hold a sufficiently strong computer to run the cyberbrain software. In place of the normal cyberbrain routing hardware is usually installed to make sure sensory input and command output is processed through the rest of the body correctly and prevent undue disorientation to the Ego. Sleeving into a morph with a Heterotaxy Cyberbrain is slightly unusual, and can be difficult, imposing a -10 penalty on Resleeving tests. This implant can only be applied to morphs with a Cyberbrain. [High]

The primary purpose of the Heterotaxy Cyberbrain is the obvious - a relocated brain makes it difficult to permanently disable a morph via cranial damage. While there are severe penalties due to problems with senses and coordination (i/e Wounds) for taking head trauma, a morph is unlikely to be stopped simply by suffering blows to the head - and instead suffers similar effects when struck in the area where the Cyberbrain has been relocated. It is often combined with the Possum Cache (p. 198 Transhuman) in order to better "play dead". Barring expensive implant masking, The Heterotaxy Cyberbrain is incredibly easy to detect if one knows what to look for, however. The cranial area is much less dense and will obviously lack a proper brain to scan ("empty-head" or "air-head" is a common nickname for HC users) and the increased mass and electrical activity of the relocated cyberbrain can be very obvious to many types of scanners. The users of the Heterotaxy Cyberbrain tend to be eccentric or paranoid.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Simulacra

Simulacra
Type: Terrestrial (Reducing)
Primary Star: K9V (Orange Dwarf)
Gravity: 1.22 g
Diameter: 15099 km
Atmospheric Pressure: .84 atm
Atmospheric Composition: 59% Methane, 28% Nitrogen, 12% Argon, trace others
Surface Temperature (Mean): 6 C
Day Length: 23 Hours
Orbital Period: 423 Days
Satellites: None
Gate Access: Portal Gate
Notes: Alien Microbes, Planetary Rings, TITAN Artifacts
Simulacra should be an entirely boring planet. It is a "reducing" terrestrial, with a volatile atmosphere which is poisonous to transhumans, a low temperature and an arid landscape except for some ice caps in the polar regions. The natural terrain is dry and relatively flat, occasionally differentiated by geologic activity. It does appear to have some extremophile microbes, very basic prokaryotes, but they are comparatively uninteresting in their early evolution - only a source of concern for greater preservationists. Or, it would be more accurate to say it would, if "preservation" of Simulacra was still a concern.
This is because the extremely notable feature of Simulacra which lends it its name is the fact that on it's surface around the Gate is a perfect replica of 1920-era London UK. Based on historical data available to Gatecrashers, the replica appears to scale and 100% accurate to the information that is to be had, though while some facades and elements are artificially weathered to match pictures in history, dating them has assumed that the constructs were all built within the past 10 years or so - presumably after the Fall.  Additionally, while materials appear to be generally correct, close examination shows that they were obviously built using advanced manufacturing techniques and nanofabrication tools to produce and assemble the materials. This project would have taken immense time and energy, even for TITAN capabilities (the assumed builders) and has no apparent purpose. While buildings have a roughly correct layout and floorplan, they have no distinct interior features apart from the architecture, such as furnishings or appliances. No utilities are networked in the buildings at all, and as of yet no living creature or construct has been confirmed to exist in the structures. It also appears to be incomplete; as it nears the edge of the nearly 1500 sq. km area historically associated with Greater London, buildings appear to be unfinished or unpolished. On the fringes, some of them are clearly partially assembled from the bottom-up, and the pattern in which they are made does not follow the street pattern but an exotic fractal one.
Upon being discovered several years ago, Simulacra was briefly a point of intense interest for the Gatecrashing Guild and many associate corporations and governments, but the fervor of scanning the planet has died down as investigation has mostly turned up things which are strange as opposed to interesting or useful. Experts in X-Risk analysis and archaeology frequently argue over the subject of the "replica city" and what it's purpose could be, but have yet to reach a solid consensus. After delays, news of Simulacra broke on Titanian public media several months ago and rapidly spread through the Solar System due to it's open nature - leading to an influx of many amatuer Gatecrashers interested in hunting for artifacts or capitalizing on Earth nostalgia for rep and fame. While some hope that more eyes will make efforts to "clear" the vast construct city for anything of note, the more serious academics are concerned that any valuable data may be destroyed or muddled by the influx - and have petitioned Isra to more strictly monitor those who are allowed though the gate to Simulacra. The Gate itself is located in the replica of Charing Cross - in the location where a statue of Charles I historically stood.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Swordstick

The "swordstick" or "swordcane" is an invention which has existed for long periods of human history - concealing a sword-length blade inside a cane or other stick which can appear harmless. While certain technological advances might make this seem obsolete, transhumans still have a lot of the same cognition as before the introduction of transhuman technology - biases and assumptions brought on by cultural memes and instinct can persist so carrying a "cane" which hides a weapon can be beneficial.

Swordstick: Also called a swordcane, this weapon has a thin blade concealed inside the body of an appropriately sized stick or cane, with the head of the stick serving as a handle for the sword. Some models use mechanical releases to retrieve the sword, but most use meshed systems similar to a smartlink to ensure the release is done properly. Originally made of wood, the exterior of the stick can be any material - and tends to be made of particularly dense things to try and hide the blade from sensors. It's a -30 Perception test to determine the stick is also a sword if one is not aware of it. Sheathed, the stick acts as a Club, dealing damage appropriately (and using the Clubs skill), but when unsheathed it is a Monofilament Sword (and uses the Blades) skill. [Low]

The swordcane is still quite useful to many people - retro or anachronist fashion sometimes makes use of canes and walking sticks, which the swordstick can turn into a deadly weapon in a pinch. Some people may have persistent injuries, or more bioconservative souls may not wish for the rapid healing miracle of a Healing Vat and thus have injuries last longer. And of course, in certain areas which might include rugged terrain, a hearty stick is never out of place - thus allowing one to also get away with carrying a sword. In legal terms, swordsticks usually count as a concealed weapon intrinsically - and are regulated as such.

(nb - While as of this writing skills/CC hasn't been released for the 2E playtest, based on what I've seen from the initial preview this weapon will probably be a lot more neat under 2E's more condensed skill list. So keep that in mind)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cancer Sticks

Cancer was once a defining challenge for humanity. "Cure for cancer" was a magical solution which would herald riches and fame to whoever produced it. The jump to transhuman technologies has largely solved this problem. While Flats may still sometimes suffer from genetic predispositions, genefix procedures eliminate most of these tendencies in morphs. Implants like Radiation Tolerance (p. 189 Rimward) greatly increase the amount of potentially toxic radiation a morph can endure, which can cause cancers and other diseases as a long-term symptom. And modern nanomedicine procedures, along with more conventional medicines can easily eliminate cancerous cells which arise from carcinogenic exposure. If all else fails, resleeving or rapid organ cloning can avoid the possibility of harm from cancer.

In many places, this has skewed transhumanity's perception of what was once a great killer. Scum and even Ultimates may consume products or enjoy activities which could lead to cancer for thrills and to prove the superior endurance of their morphs. In the Inner System, in the heart of the Planetary Consortium like Progress activities like smoking are a sign of wealth - because long term organ damage and cancer is no problem for anyone rich enough to buy a new set of lungs. In the Outer System habs, these sorts of activities tend to be frowned upon as it "wastes" community resources, but rarely to individuals who engage in entertainments or hobbies which have side effects feel excessive pressure from the community - only the habitually wasteful.

But, there are some ways to market this sort of activity. A common item seen on Extropia and in certain similar cultures is Cancer Sticks. A parody of classic marketing for cigarettes and other tobacco products, the "Cancer Stick" is literally a carcinogenic stick. They can be sucked, smoked, chewed or sometimes dissolved in drink depending on the particular brand and configuration. Even the components can depend on who makes and sells them - but usually their composition is similar to candy or other "treats" which have some attractive taste or smell to them, possibly some additional components to calm, numb pain or even stimulate (meaning they be mixed with other drugs) to give a pleasant experience while also containing various carcinogenic compounds or elements, such as arsenic, asbestos, cadmium, nickel and radon. Lung, mouth, throat and stomach cancers are the most common effects of the Sticks, but depending on the substances a variety of areas can develop symptoms. A common variant on this style is "Radium Gum", a chewing gum made with radioactive elements or isotopes or other carcinogens mixed in.

Both iterations of this idea are often reserved for the fairly well-off, because their use of certain radioactive or heavy metallic elements and compounds is a draw on limited resources - which also happen to be rarer in the Outer System. The inherent medical costs also tend to bracket the users of Sticks to higher incomes. This means that the habit is usually seen among the middle and upper class in the Main Belt and Inner System, a "conspicuous consumption" which can be genuinely habit forming (especially for those with oral fixations), though the Scum "shits and giggles" trade in Cancer Sticks across the system is high - and their components can be recycled into useful materials which often makes them an interesting - if hazardous trade good. The Jovian Republic and many other individual Bioconservative habs heavily restrict or ban Cancer Sticks also, making them an interesting black market and sometimes politically-minded good; boxes of Cancer Sticks tend to show up  at the offices and doorsteps of notorious bioconservative politicians as a sign of protest.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Updates/Second Edition

So, in case you don't know, Posthuman Studios has launched a Kickstarter for Eclipse Phase 2E, which can be found here. It's already funded, so Second Edition is a for sure, and they have several interesting stretch goals already met and planned. To my understanding, there will be an open playtest starting on the 5th - so expect to see some thoughts and impressions here, possibly even some notations about conversion of earlier entries to new mechanics of 2E. I will not be doing a post-by-post conversion, and depending on the subject future entries will probably follow both or just 1E rules - but all fluff pieces and work should still be applicable.

I've been working on an unrelated writing project for the past week or so, which has taken up a lot of my focus from writing H-Rep. That said, I still have plenty of notes and subjects - including groups, new tools or weapons, concepts and locations, so expect to see them before too long at some period, probably once the 2E playtest gets my mental ball rolling.