Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Sam 17 Oct - 12:59 (2009)
Genetic Modification Techniques
There are three different varieties of genetic modification in S.A.: gene therapy, post-facto genetic engineering, and genetic resynthesis. Gene therapy exists in the 21st century, though it is in its infancy. Gene therapy is primarily used to treat diseases, especially hereditary ones. Post-facto genetic engineering is a more serious procedure that uses a retrovirus to alter a patient’s genetic code, within the normal range of human ability and form. It can take up to seven years for these changes to take effect, and the process requires various drugs to keep the patient’s body from rejecting organs and body parts whose code changed over earlier. Some alterations can be done more quickly, but the drugs will be necessary for the rest of the patent’s life. Failing to take them is effectively declaring genetic warfare on yourself (use the rules and timescale for biowarfare conflict on page 111). Genetic resynthesis is a yet more radical method that utterly alters the human form, allowing the sorts of changes Stardwellers make. It can take between two months and a year, and the subject remains in a chrysalis until it is complete. It can add Biotech enhancements with the Internal Descriptor, or even change a subjects’ Biotech Capability.
Tech Level: Biotech 3, 6, or 9
Cost: Starts off Moderate, and decreases every two Tech Levels above the level at which it’s introduced.
Descriptors: Procedure, Inheritable
While these come in many different variations, they all share the same function: they identify simple medical problems that can’t be easily found from the outside. A typical version works overnight, and is often used for young children. The blanket and sheet on their bed, in addition to being heated to the proper comfort level, give gentle ultrasonic pulses and MRI scans from time to time. They then send this information wirelessly to the parents’ bedstand, which projects warnings on the bedroom wall if there was a problem found overnight.
Tech Level: Biotech 3, Nanotech 4
Cost: Low, often public domain
The infosphere is a continual flow of data that blankets the surface of nearly every planet in the civilizations. The data is broadcast by satellites, radio towers, microscopic lidar relays, and nearly anyone with a mesh or dermal microbots. It is accessible at any point above the planet’s surface. Below the surface, reception typically suffers.
Because of the massively parallel and distributed setup of the infosphere, the data transfer rate is exceptionally high. Data not longer than the human genome and not traveling off-planet typically arrives within a second. This nature also allows those connected to the infosphere to tell when there are particularly large transfers taking place, including mesh-hacking attempts.
It is not uncommon for those with meshes to “project themselves up” to the infosphere, where they can experience a simulated environment. This is useful for meetings, entertainment, communications, and so forth. Projecting an image up takes no effort, while projecting one’s awareness up typically takes over the whole brain, blocking input from the real world. People can also superimpose items from the infosphere (such as regional maps, other peoples’ projections, topographical data, and so on) on top of their normal vision. This is very valuable if done properly, but can be distracting if done poorly. Simply adding a mental tag that says “this is not real” is not enough, as this causes other complications.
The Stored view analog reality entirely through its interactions with the infosphere. Thankfully, these are copious in most regions. Tao space, in particular, has an immense density of recording sensors, though access to many of them will cost money. Many objects also have a light infosphere presence. They typically require authentication of a person’s existence or authority before they will accept commands through the infosphere. Dermal microbots are technically not on the infosphere, but on a “personal subnet.” If the bots’ owner has a mesh, his or her brain acts as a firewall between the personal subnet and outside world, and only a successful mesh-hacking attempt will allow access to the subnet and control the bots.
Most people broadcast “tags” that say a little about themselves — their name, occupation, age, and miscellaneous personal data that one might find on a personal homepage. This is true even in Masquerade and Roamer surroundings, though tags there are notoriously unreliable.
Reliable stores of information are easy to find. Many are free, though they may have to charge for certain pieces of recent or copyrighted data. Truly important or dangerous repositories of data are kept off the infosphere. More often, however, access is merely restricted. Gaining access is nigh on impossible without the right clearance, since access codes can be based on brainwave patterns.
Since nearly all of the relays included in the infosphere are quantum computers, it is always possible to tell whether your communications have been intercepted. There’s just no way around this — if you intercept someone’s communications and try to decrypt them, someone will know that it happened, though they may not be able to figure out who was involved.
Nearly all commerce is done via the infosphere. Those without meshes can use verbal commands and gestures to dermal microbots; those without either can use datapads, PCs, and motion-sensitive scanners that are present in most public replicators.
Tech Level: Cognitech 5
Cost: n/a (Expensive to build one for a planet)
At a certain level of nanotech it becomes possible to make living cells out of entirely “inorganic” materials, creating a parallel biology that relies on different processes from those that most evolved creatures use. Initially such cells are merely a curiosity, but when they are combined with existing biotech techniques, a whole new range of creatures become available, with the sorts of properties usually found only in nanoengineered materials: superconductivity, high tensile strength, data processing capabilities, and so forth. These cells are especially useful in biowarfare and nanowarfare, adding +1 to offensive rolls when deployed.
Some particularly adventuresome (read: neophiliac) Stardwellers have used inorganic cells and genetic resynthesis to transfer themselves into an entirely inorganic body, a years-long process that leaves an unmistakable change in personality as the new brain works in utterly different ways from the old. The consequences of this transformation are still playing out.
Tech Level: Nanotech 9
Descriptors: Near-c, Supersymmetric
Instant Response Technique
This technique allows characters to react to any situation without hesitation. The player in question is allowed a number of seconds equal to the character’s Cognitech x2 to come up with their character’s “instantaneous response”. There are many versions of this technique, and each one has a particular weakness — a situation that can still shock those who use it. A version of IRT without that limitation would be a good example of Cognitech 11 technology.
Tech Level: Cognitech 8
Cost: Low to purchase, Moderate to develop a new version
Internal Simulation Processors
These are supplemental devices, augmenting the computers that are already attached to most Meshes. They provide an expanded arena specifically designed for simulation of the real world in great detail. The amount of storage and processing power is sufficient even to maintain a Stored within your own mind, though their Cognitech will drop by four points thanks to the requirement of sharing their mind with yours. Since only the Stored currently have the level of Cognitech required to create these devices, this is what they are most commonly used for, letting those friendly to the Stored “smuggle” them into restricted areas and unfriendly civilizations.
These processors can also be used to “test out” various situations and environments, allowing a character to guess at whether or not a particular action will yield the desired results. The accuracy of this guess depends on how well the environment was modeled, but in general a Cognitech roll of 75+ will yeild a correct assessment of probabilities unless there are surprises in store that a supergenius-level intellect could not anticipate.
Tech Level: Cognitech 10
One of the deadlier weapons that is commonly available, an inversion beam switches a small amount of matter into antimatter inside the target, which results in a very messy explosion. The weapon works through a second-order dark matter interaction, and so is capable of firing through almost any solid object. The damage is rated at Stringtech 9.
Tech Level: Stringtech 7
Descriptors: Near-c, Supersymmetric
Junction Agent Identification Technique
JAIT identifies the qualities and characteristics of an individual who would be best suited to joining two (or more) factions, and also identifies the ideal time for this person to act. The technique also reveals how joining the two factions will come about: skilled statesmanship, an act of bravery, political double-dealing, martyrdom, leadership by example (or counter-example), a cult of personality, and many other possible methods.
JAIT works best when applied to a small number of large groups, or to groups without Core Values (such as most major corporations). While the joining could theoretically result in a near-total merger of the two factions. it most often means the creation of a splinter group with major aspects of both originals.
Unfortunately for the impatient, JAIT does not provide immediate results. The “best time to act” is often years in the future. Further psychohistorical manipulation can be used to shift the ideal time earlier or later, to change the chances of successful unification, or to encourage individuals with these characteristics to arise.
JAIT also does not provide the identity of the individual required, merely the characteristics that define him or her. Finding someone who meets the exact specifications given (and thus has the greatest chance of success) can take a great deal of time. Less compassionate civilizations will not hesitate to use this technique to splinter and weaken their opponents, creating appropriate individuals through the use of Lenses.
Research proceeds apace on the development of JACIT: the Junction Agent Cluster Identification Technique. This advanced protocol promises to optimize the probability of success (or minimize the time required before action) by identifying the characteristics of entire groups at once rather than a single individual.
Tech Level: Metatech 8
A Lens is a program that runs on a mesh. The name comes from the idea of seeing the world in a different way, like looking through the lens of a magnifying glass. Lenses are useful for a thousand different purposes. Everything that one does with a Mesh beyond simple memory storage and cognitive acceleration requires a Lens of some kind.
In this chapter one can find Awakening, Competence, Ethics, Mental Repetition Override, Persona, and “Rest Easy” Lenses, which provide examples of this technology from the straightforward to the profound.
Tech Level: Cognitech 5+
Cost: Varies; see the examples elsewhere in this section.
Descriptors: Dataform, Internal
Memetics is a branch of metatechnology concerned with ideas that resonate with the human mind. It is as complex a field as string theory or genetic computation, with thousands of factors determining what a single person might find to be an irresistible idea. Memetic training is a must for any would-be politician, psychologist, advertising designer, or public relations specialist. The proper collection of memes will make a presentation or oration much more effective, and have a significantly greater effect on public opinion. Resisting the effect of various memes is the focus of much metatech research, and memetic defenses are trained into any individual with a high Metatech score.
Memetic tools can be created to improve one’s social ability, but they must be focused for use against a particular individual or group. They require weeks of work to create, detailed personal information on the target, and the Engineer (Metatech) skill. The smaller your “target” (i.e. the fewer people in the group you wish to affect), the more effective your tool will be.
Tech Level: Metatech 5
Cost: Expensive to develop, none to use
Descriptors: Procedure, some are Auxons
This technique is used by the Replicants to keep their various instances on the same pages. Each time they make a copy of themselves, the memories from the scanned version get stored for recombination with future instances, thus insuring that they remain the same “individual.”
Tech Level: Cognitech 7
Cost: Government-subsidized in Replicant space. Illegal elsewhere.