Fate System Toolkit
The easiest way to handle cyberware in a Fate game is with the existing tools. Want to be a cyborg? Tie an aspect or two to the fact that you’ve got some augmentations. Do your cyber-arms make you superhumanly strong? Make Physique or Fight your peak skill. Do your eyes grant you thermal imaging? A stunt can do that for you.
If you want a system for cyberware that stands on its own rather than reskinning existing systems or a justification for things you were going to take anyway, that’s what this section is for.
Cyberware takes a toll on a person, it has a cost. Plenty of people out there have the odd cyber-prosthesis, a simple limb meant to mimic the functionality of its human counterpart, attached to compensate for a loss or injury. All these new pieces will cost you is some money and time spent in a rehab facility, and you’ll be right as rain, back to your old self—mostly. If all you want is a prosthesis or two, you don’t need to pay any refresh and you don’t need to tie any aspects to your cyber-prostheses unless you want to.
Augmentations, or augs, are quite another matter. Where a prosthesis is designed to integrate into the body, mimicking natural function as best it can, an aug is meant to improve the human body, making a person stronger, faster, more durable, bristling with natural weaponry, or capable of things that humans just can’t do on their own. Where a person usually gets a prosthesis to replace a lost piece and become whole again, many people get body parts cut off to have augs installed.
These augs need a power source, something beyond the normal bio-electric energy that the human body produces. To that end, people who get augs first get a cyber-heart. A cyber-heart isn’t a literal heart. It doesn’t replace your human heart unless you need it to, though it does work as a decent backup, if you’ve already got a functioning ticker. What a cyber-heart is, first and foremost, is a power source. It’s a capacitor that charges from your own bio-electric currents, can be supplemented by plugging into a wall outlet, and allows you to power one or more augs.
This means two things in-game. First, it means that you must tie at least one of your aspects to the fact that you’re a cyborg. You’ve willingly transcended your human limitations—that’s a defining feature of any person who chooses this path. The second mechanical cost is that you must reduce your refresh by 1, in exchange for the following aug.
Cyber-Heart: You can install and use other cyber-augs. The heart also acts as a backup for your natural heart and filters impurities and toxins from your blood. If you’re subject to a poison or toxin, spend a fate point to ignore it. If you’re ever killed by something the cyber-heart could conceivably save you from, spend a fate point to concede instead of being taken out.
There are two types of augs: minor augs and major augs. Getting either installed costs you both money and time, and might cost you refresh as well.
Minor augs are small changes, things that don’t tax the body overmuch or require huge changes to your underlying biological systems. A new eye, a hand, a skin implant, or an upgrade to an existing aug—these kinds of things are all minor augs. If you buy and install a minor aug in-game, it requires a Resources roll at Average (+1), +1 for each additional minor aug you’re having installed. You’ll also need to recover from surgery. Doing so puts a moderate consequence on you, from which you recover normally. Whether you pick up your minor augs at character creation or during play, every three minor augs you take cost you 1 point of refresh. Once you take your first minor aug, drop your refresh. When you hit four, drop it again, and so on. Getting a prosthesis installed carries the same Resources and consequence costs, but doesn’t carry the refresh cost.
A major aug requires major surgery and replacing a large part of your body. Limbs are always major augs, as are organs and anything that jacks into your brain. When you get a major aug during play, it requires a Resources roll at Good (+3) for each major aug you get. In addition, having a major aug surgically installed also puts a severe consequence on you, from which you recover normally. Whether at character generation or during play, each major aug costs you a point of refresh.
Cyber-Eye (minor): You get a +1 bonus to sight-based Notice rolls. In addition, choose one of the following aspects. Adding an additional aspect is another minor aug.
Image Filtering, Low-Light Vision, Sonar Imaging, Targeting Interface, Thermal Imaging, Visual Net Interface, Zoom Magnification
Cyber-Legs (major): Both of your legs have been replaced by much more powerful cybernetic legs. You can move two zones as a free action, and you get a +2 to Athletics rolls made to run or jump. In addition, pick one of the following add-ons. Additional add-ons are each a minor aug.
- Hidden Compartment: You’ve got a compartment where you can hide things, like a hand gun or a brick of cocaine.
- Magnetic Grip: If you’re standing on a metallic surface, you can’t be knocked down. You can also walk up steep or even vertical metallic surfaces, albeit clumsily.
- Pneumatic Kick: If you kick someone, your kick is Weapon:2.
Neural Interface (major): You can access the Net from anywhere, with a thought. You can hack low-security systems automatically—they just do what you want them to do. Even high-security systems are easy—you get a +2 to Computers rolls to get through them.
Razor Nails (minor): You’ve got one-inch, razor-sharp blades that pop out of your finger tips; you can retract them at will. These blades are Weapon:1.
Subdermal Plating (major): You can oppose most physical attacks using Physique—fists, blades, truncheons, and small arms fire have trouble getting through the plating beneath your skin. In addition, once per scene you may ignore any one mild or moderate physical consequence from such an attack.
Thermoptic Camouflage (minor): You can spend a fate point to become invisible to the visual and thermal spectrums, for as long as you don’t move.
Though not explicitly stated above, every aug has drawbacks. A neural interface can be hacked, giving a hacker access to your brain. Thermoptic camouflage might short out when you’re doused in water, delivering a nasty electric shock. That’s why you have an aspect tied to the fact that you’re a cyborg.
GMs, feel free to enforce the downside of an aug—whatever your group determines that might be. Doing so is a compel on the cyborg’s aspect, which means that a player you put in such a situation can refuse your compel or take a fate point for the trouble you put her in.