Introduction: Man & Machine
by Michael Mulvihill
Man & Machine is the advanced cyberware and implant sourcebook for the Shadowrun game system.
This book offers new gear, new technology, new concepts and new options for game play, expanding what was offered in previous Shadowrun material.
In addition to containing a significant percentage of new material, Man & Machine represents a compilation of material originally published in various Shadowrun books that are now out of print or were based on previous editions of the Shadowrun rules: information presented in Shadowtech, Cybertechnology, Neo-Anarchist's Guide to Real Life, Corporate Security Handbook, Cyberpirates, Lone Star, Renraku Arcology: Shutdown and California Free State has been revised and updated for use with SR3. Any references in this book to the Shadowrun rules refer to the third edition of the rules.
Man & Machine begins with Cybertechnology, the science (or perhaps art) of blending flesh and metal to expand a metahuman's capabilities. The overview covers the essentials of cyberware, from why there is Essence loss to how pieces of cyberware talk to each other and who are the power players in the cybernetic community—including which mega corporations work which sides of the shadows. The cyberware gear section offers nearly a hundred pieces of cyberware; some familiar, some new and cutting edge. This chapter also includes rules for cyberlimb enhancements and for stacking gear in a limb at no Essence loss, plus rules for integrating all this new cyber into your game and for magic and cyber compatibility.
Cybermancy provides an overview of the mysterious technique of keeping a metahuman alive without Essence, describing who does it and how and providing rules for its use in game play. Biotechnology involves replacing flesh parts with enhanced and improved flesh parts. The overview describes the advantages and drawbacks of this equipment, followed by bioware gear and rules for implanting it and for its limitations.
The newest science for use by shadowrunners is Nanotechnology—the science of implanting nanites into your body to achieve increasingly efficient and fantastic effects. The overview explains the technology and how it works, followed by more than twenty pieces of gear and rules for making nanoware compatible with bio- and cyberware.
Chemistry and Compounds offers information about various, drugs, gases, chemical weapons and gear, including spray and squirt cannons and guns. Poisons, toxins, as well as the rules for addiction and explosives are presented here. The section ends with a discussion of magical compounds, herbal concoctions derived from Awakened flora.
Damage and Healing provides the all the information characters need to know about taking damage and the long-term effects on cyber- and bioware as well as on their physical Attributes. The concept of Stress damage, used to indicate the condition of a piece of gear or Attribute, is included, as are the effects of such Stress on each type of gear. Advanced and optional damage, healing, doctoring and first aid rules are also included in this section.
Surgery covers everything from implantation to significant repair, including how to get trauma care and hospitalization. This chapter also discusses surgical skills and facilities, introduces the specialized mobile medical shops, and covers finding the best doctor, rules for trauma surgery and exactly what services DocWagon performs.
Don't get me wrong, revising the entire Shadowrun magic system was hard . . . very, very hard.
Updating the gear and associated rules for Man & Machine made the revision of the magic system feel like a picnic. You hold in your hands the most difficult-to-produce book ever published for Shadowrun.
Why, you may ask, was this so hard? Simply put, we can make up stuff about magic, and as long as we are consistent, everyone is happy. You can't just make up stuff about the human body, or about chemistry or biology, or how people heal or how they die. That stuff, unfortunately, is pretty well established. Therefore, we have to create fictional stuff that fits what even the most science-ignorant already know. Then we have to make sure it works in the rules of Shadowrun.
So, to see the process, let's begin with Essence loss—a pure game mechanic that needs a scientific basis in order to work.
Essence is not scientific, it is the realm of magic and mana. But it plays an important part in the existence and maintenance of the flesh body and must be addressed in any discussion of implant parts.
We need to really define what Essence loss represents, but it's never been fully explained. For example, does a person lose Essence when they lose a limb, or have a pin put in to fuse a bone or even implant a pacemaker? How about when they transfer a liver or, in Shadowrun, a cloned body part? None of those things have ever been described in terms of Essence.
We do know you can lose Essence when you take a deadly wound, receive incompetent medical care, or suffer an addiction. We also know that adding cyberware immediately removes Essence, and that different grades of cyberware remove different amounts of Essence.
So our first distinction is that Essence loss doesn't happen just because a person is cut open or something is damaged and needs to be removed. Nor is it lost when something the body already has is replaced with the same type of item (liver for liver, lung for lung, flesh limb for flesh limb).
This limits Essence loss to something that happens when foreign elements are implanted into the body.
But again, this sweeping statement fails, because pins, hip replacements and pacemakers shouldn't cause you to lose Essence. So what is it about cyberware that causes Essence loss?
Cyberware needs to be implanted and connected to the neuropathways, unlike pins and pacemakers, which have no need to talk to the brain. So the unique thing about cyberware is that it's a non-natural implant that talks to the brain.
So this machine—metal, ceramic, polymers and other future-tech stuff—must be connected to the ol' fleshy gray matter. This is how cyberware differs from all other implants, and it is here that Essence is lost.
Basic brain research (if it can be called that) confirms that the brain isn't too keen on being rewired to accept new things, especially things it identifies as foreign objects. So how would the brain feel about accepting a machine as flesh? My guess is (and here's the sci-fi part of it all)—not that good. In fact, I'm willing to state that the brain's acceptance of a machine as flesh (and the constant nanotech upgrade to maintain that connection) is where Essence loss begins.
Not only do I state it here—that's the rule.
By the act of implanting cyberware, the brain has been changed in a very fundamental way that moves it away from mana and toward machine.
With our most difficult decision made, we now had to apply that criteria to every piece of gear. Bioware, because it is a flesh implant (enhanced flesh, but flesh nonetheless) imposes no Essence loss. Chemical addiction (as well as trauma and surgery) creates fundamental changes to the body that force the brain to adjust itelf to functioning out of attunement with mana, and therefore creates a loss of Essence. Nanites don't change much of the flesh's connection with the brain, so they don't cause Essence loss.
You will note that, at this point, we really haven't even begun to discuss cyberware, bioware or any specific gear-related issue.
Welcome to working on Man & Machine.
For each piece of gear, from chemical compounds to datajacks, we had to measure the concept against multiple yardsticks, everything from how it works (or would work) in the real world (using real science) to how it functions in the game mechanics.
Sure, we made stuff up—and lots of it—but no matter what we did, we had to always go back to whatever scientific reality existed. We had to resist the temptation to make cyberware something it wasn't. We needed to make sure that the rules for cyberware did not turn tech into magic (as happened in Cybertechnology), and that magic didn't devolve into genetic mumbo jumbo (as described in Shadowtech).
We wanted to take the science part of sci-fi/fantasy and give it the spotlight. Man & Machine is gear and tech and toys in all their glory, ready made for you to use and abuse.
Updating Your Characters
One of the most important answers that you will want is to the question, how do I update my SR2 cybered characters to SR3? Basically, only a few pieces of cyberware were changed. The tactical computer, encephalon and a few others that had multiple operations for a single unit were completely reconfigured; some were broken down into smaller, more useful devices.
One of the big differences many of you will find is that your characters have more Essence to play with—that's right, more! Cyberlimbs now have the space to carry multiple attachments at no additional Essence cost! They can even carry a standard set of gear.
For those characters riding the ragged edge of life due to an excess of cyberimplants, read the new descriptions of the gear that you already carry and note the changes to those pieces of gear, adjusting your Essence accordingly.
For those characters with bioware, there is no Essence loss, but there are are plenty of drawbacks, for both mundanes and magicians. Read through the entire bioware section to determine how the system has changed. The primary change is that the rules in Man & Machine limit bioware to a maximum of 9 points. Because the penalities for having more bioware than Essence are quite severe, the easiest solution is to simply choose certain items and declare that they will cease to work, bringing the bioware points cost to 9 or less.
All the other sections are either completely new or offer new game applications, so you should read all about going under the knife and healing your wounds before you head back out into the shadows.
Here's my advice to you: first, determine the "man" part—that's the part that's fleshy and soft and has a tendency to bleed. Most likely, you'll know of a real kick-butt "machine" part that you can't wait to have installed. Now if the surgeon (Biotech Skill 2) would stop drinking the sythalcohol and clean up his shop (Rating 2) and install the piece of betaware in you before you need trauma surgery, then you'll be ready for biz . . .