Arcane Background? But in the Sci-Fi Companion, don’t they have rules for cybernetics already?
Yes, they do. So why reinvent the wheel? A few reasons. First and foremost I want cybernetics to be part of the character concept, not just another item you purchase. Also I want characters to be able to start with some cybernetics. The prices in the Sci-Fi Companion are beyond the reach of a starting character. I could lower the price, but if I did that, it would be too tempting for everybody to just load up on cybernetics as soon as they can afford them. I also don’t want Kronocalypse to center on finding loot to buy cool stuff. (You’ll see that philosophy again when I talk about how we handle relics in Kronocalypse).
So once I decided I wanted to make cybernetics an Arcane Background, I needed to figure out the details. I decided to do something along the lines of how powers work in the Super Powers Companion. You never make a skill roll. Instead, you use your points to purchase features, and once you have them they always work.
When I started playtesting, I just gave the players the Super Powers Companion and asked them to use those powers, though of course they started which much fewer power points.
That worked as a stop-gap, but there were a couple of problems. First there was no built-in story element to kick start the players’ imagination. They had to both think of a concept for their cybernetics, and then find rules to match. It was also pretty clear that given all the flexibility in the Supers Companion, there was no reason not to take cybernetics. If nothing else, you could use it to boost your skills more efficiently.
With those lessons in mind, I went back and wrote some customized cybernetics descriptions for the setting. In order to leave in some flexibility, I decided that most forms of cybernetics have multiple tiers. If you want you can purchase a few different low-level upgrades, or you can focus on one kind of implant and have the best you can get of that. There are many cybernetic systems that effect Traits, but to make them feel different from the standard Trait increase, cybernetics grants a static bonus instead of increasing the die type.
I’ll leave with an example of where we’re at right now. This is brain spike, the implant taken by my playtest party’s resident skill monkey.
You have a computer implanted in your brain. You can wirelessly connect to other computers, and store zettabytes of data in your wetware.
Requirement: Brain spike level 2+
Choose one Smarts-based skill. Gain +2 bonus to that skill. Only the highest bonus from cyberware applies. You may take this add-on multiple times. Each time it enhances a different skill.
Advanced Skillware (3)
Requirement: Brain spike level 5.
Choose any one skill. Gain a +2 bonus to that skill. Only the highest bonus from cyberware applies. You may take this add-on multiple times. Each time it enhances a different skill.