Roleplayer
Roleplayer #29, November 1992

The Next Best Thing to Human

Androids for GURPS Cyberpunk

by David L. Pulver

An android is a synthetic humanoid created from biological materials – don't confuse them with robots! Androids are also called gene-splices, vat-humans, replicants and artificial people. Some resemble humans while others are more exotic, often with animal features due to the splicing of animal and human DNA. Androids cost from about $200,000 to $1,000,000 each, more for custom-designed prototypes. Because of the expense involved in android creation, most are either ordered by very wealthy individuals to satisfy private whimsy or by major corporations to fulfill a need for specialized personnel. It's not yet cost-effective to replace regular human workers with androids.

Androids are produced by tinkering with human DNA to produce the desired results, then using normal in-vitro fertilization techniques and artificial wombs to produce a child. After the first prototypes are produced, mass production is initiated using clone-tank, force-growth techniques to grow the embryo to adulthood in a matter of a few months. As it floats in the clone tank its brain is hooked up to a mainframe computer running sophisticated dream simulation programs. The android grows up in virtual reality and experiences simulated childhood, education and on-the-job training. Six months to a year after entering the tank, the android's socialization and education is complete, and it is released, a thinking being.

The legal status of androids remains hazy. In some areas they are citizens with full human rights, but many of the companies who produce them for sale maintain they are not human (most androids use a sizable quotient of artificial or animal DNA, if only for this reason), and laws governing Artificial Intelligences apply to them instead: they can be owned and trademarked. International conventions adhered to in Europe, North America and Japan agree that androids are artificial life forms in the same category as AIs: they may have limited citizenship, but belong to the creator corporation (or whoever purchased them). They must contain a certain amount of nonhuman DNA, must be sterile, and may only be contracted to corporations (not individuals). Of course, there is a thriving trade in black-market androids sold to individuals.

Because androids are produced using fast-growth clone tanks, their actual ages differ from their biological ages – they'll usually be about 15-17 years younger than they look. Furthermore, some androids are designed to age more rapidly than humans. Normal skill limits for age do not apply to androids, since many of their skills are "programmed" into them through dreamgame simulations.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Several "racial" advantages and disadvantages are used to create androids. Android disadvantages do not apply to the standard 40-point limit on disadvantages. Some of the advantages are biological variants of cyberware: Claws are natural equivalents of short or long claws (p. CY32). Perfect Balance is the equivalent of Gyrobalance (p. CY35). Ultrasonic Hearing is the same as the cyberware implant on p. CY37. Others are described below.

New Advantages

Bioelectric Shock . . . . . 10 points

You can generate an electric current in your body, much like an electric eel or ray. This inflicts 1d electrical damage if you touch a person who is grounded. It costs 2 Fatigue. You can also use the ability to save lives – add +3 to First Aid skill when making CPR rolls!

Drug Factory . . . . . varies

Your glands produce natural analogues of one or more of the following drugs: Crediline, Hypercoagulin, Morphazine, Neurovine, Nerve Poison or Rage (see pp. CY57-59). You can administer these drugs to others (but not yourself) via a bite or claws as if they were hypo-injected. Your metabolism is limited to producing HT/2 doses; doses are restored at one per four hours. This is similar to a Poison Reservoir cyberware, but self-regenerating. This advantage costs 20 points for one drug on the list and 10 points per extra drug. Any drugs you can make won't affect you!

Fur . . . . . 4 points

You have a coat of fur, providing DR 1 and protection from the elements equivalent to light clothing.

Hyper-Reflexes . . . . . 15 points

You can voluntarily initiate and control abnormal levels of adrenaline production, increasing your speed and reflexes. At the start of any turn, you can activate your hyper-reflexes. This costs 1 Fatigue per turn but gives you the Combat Reflexes advantage and +1 to Basic Speed. (If you normally have Combat Reflexes, you gain double the usual benefits.) Since Combat Reflexes increases all active defenses by 1 and Speed increases Dodge, Androids with this advantage have two values for each active defense: one when Hyper-reflexes is activated, another when it is not.

Hyper-Strength . . . . . 30 points

You can voluntarily duplicate the feats of hysterical strength that normal people sometimes perform. You may increase ST (but not Fatigue) by 50% at a cost of 1 Fatigue per turn. Androids with this ability will list "split ST."

Immunity to Poison . . . . . 25 points

You are genetically engineered, or different enough biologically, to be immune to most poisons (including sleep and nerve gas) and non-medical drugs. You are still vulnerable to acid and many diseases.

Pheromone Control . . . . . 25 points

You can release powerful sex pheromones. Any human (or android) of the opposite sex within 4 yards may breathe them in (unless wearing a sealed suit, etc.). Anyone breathing your pheromones will find you one level more Attractive (+2 on Reaction if already Very Beautiful) and will break into a sweat and become aroused: roll IQ-3 or suffer from Lecherousness for the next ten minutes.

Sonar Vision . . . . . 25 points

You can "see" by emitting sound waves like a bat or dolphin with a range of 100 yards. No light is required. Sonar can be jammed by loud noises and is colorblind, but (within a range of 1 yard) you can actually "see" inside living things or other objects of similar density. GMs may give a +2 bonus to skills such as Diagnosis, or to attempts to detect Concealed weapons (using Holdout).

Sharp Teeth . . . . . 5 points

You can do cutting damage in close combat, using the table on p. B140.

New Disadvantages

Self-Destruct . . . . . -20 points

As soon as you reach your aging threshold (50 for a normal human) your organs and immune system begin to fail. You start to age rapidly, making aging rolls every day at a -3 to HT. Terminally Ill characters may not take this! This disadvantage ensures a steady demand for new androids . . .

Short Lifespan . . . . . -25/level

Each level halves the age at which you are mature and at which you begin to suffer aging effects. This disadvantage makes production of androids quicker, and ensures a steady demand for new models. It is often found in conjunction with Self-Destruct.

Sterile . . . . . -3 points

All legal androids must take this. You cannot produce offspring, but are otherwise a fully functioning male or female.

Sample Androids

Cassius (Mngwa I)

Age 5 (looks 35), 7' 2", 220 lbs., male, yellow cat-eyes, no hair, spotted skin.

ST: 15 (60 points) IQ: 11 (10 points) Speed: 6.74
DX: 14 (45 points) HT: 13 (30 points) Move: 6
Dodge: 7.
Damage: Thrust 1d+1; Swing 2d+1.

Point total: 150

Advantages

Alertness +2 (10 points)
Claws (40 points)
Combat Reflexes (15 points)
Fur (4 points)
High Pain Threshold (10 points)
Night Vision (10 points)
Sharp Teeth (5 points)

Disadvantages

Bad Temper (-10 points)
Color Blindness (-5 points)
Intolerance (Humans; -10 points)
Gigantism (-10 points)
Self-Destruct (-20 points)
Short Lifespan (2 levels; -50 points)
Social Stigma (Valuable Property; -10 points)
Sterile (-3 points)

Quirks

Collects guns (-1 point)
Wears black scarf (-1 point)

Skills

Armoury (Rifles and handguns)-12 (4 points); Beam Weapons (Laser)-15 (2 points); Brawling-18 (16 points); Fast-Draw (Power holster)-13 (1/2 point); First Aid-10 (1/2 point); Guns (Gyroc)-15 (2 points); Guns (Needler)-15 (2 points); Sex Appeal-12 (1 point); Stealth-13 (1 point); Survival (Urban)-10 (1 point); Tracking-10 (1 point).

Equipment

Launch pistol (2 magazines Stinger, 1 SLAP) in powerholster; Gauss needler (w/laser sight); medium monocrys (full suit); 1 Gauss magazine; heavy laser pistol.

Story

A hybrid of human and leopard DNA, Cassius is a Mngwa-class combat android grown by Biotech Chulan for the private security market. He doesn't like humans at all. His toothy grin is a challenge, and he'll be the first to make humans feel unwelcome when they cross his path. He works as a private street-op and bodyguard, enjoying getting paid for breaking human heads. He'll bother anyone who tries to bother someone he's protecting.

Neko (Bast III)

Age 5 (looks 25), 5' 7", 125 lbs., female feline, black and silver fur, white hair, green eyes.

ST: 9 (-10 points) IQ: 12 (20 points) Speed: 7
DX: 15 (60 points) HT: 13 (30 points) Move: 7
Dodge: 8 Parry: 10 (Karate)
Damage: Thrust 1d-2; Swing 1d-1.

Point total: 200

Advantages

Alertness +3 (15 points)
Appearance (Beautiful; 15 points)
Claws (15 points)
Combat Reflexes (15 points)
Flesh Holster (in leg, 3 lbs.; 5 points)
Fur (4 points)
Night Vision (10 points)
Perfect Balance (5 points)
Pheromone Control (25 points)
Reputation (+2 android underground, all the time; 5 points)
Voice (10 points)

Disadvantages

Enemy (Police, 6 or less; -10 points)
Impulsiveness (-10 points)
Sense of Duty (other androids; -10 points)
Short Lifespan (1 level; -25 points)
Secret (ex-snuff-rock star; -10 points)
Self-Destruct (-20 points)
Social Stigma (Valuable Property; -10 points)
Sterile (-3 points)

Quirks

Amused tolerance of humans (-1 point)
Licks her fur (-1 point)
Purring voice (-1 point)
Loves singing (-1 point)
Won't do "wet work" (-1 point)

Skills

Acrobatics-13 (1 point); Acting-15 (8 points); Carousing-14 (1 point); Climbing-14 (1 point); Computer Operation-12 (1 point); Dancing-14 (1 point); Detect Lies-12 (4 points); Escape-13 (1 point); Fastdraw (Sword)-14 (1/2 point); First Aid-11 (1/2 point); Guns (Needler)-18 (8 points); Holdout-14 (6 points); Karate-15 (4 points); Performance-15 (8 points); Sex Appeal-17 (12 points); Singing-18 (8 points); Shortsword-17 (8 points); Stealth-14 (1 point); Streetwise-11 (1 point); Survival (Urban)-11 (1 point); Throwing-14 (2 points).

Languages

English-12 (0 points); Japanese-13 (6 points).

Equipment

Gauss needler; shortsword (superfine, vibro) in flesh holster; medium monocrys (full body); 2 Gauss magazines.

Story

Neko is a Biotech Chulan-designed Bast III pleasure android: her face is feline, with slit-pupil green eyes and large furry ears. Her athletic body is covered by a tiger-striped black-and-silver pelt of soft fur. She's flamboyant, outgoing, sexy and passionate, just as she was built to be. But underneath the sex-kitten chassis, she's a custom-built killer.

She didn't start out that way. She was created for Music Box, an Osaka rock superstation that wanted a unique DJ. Neko's charm and interviewing skills (male rock stars turned to jelly in her presence) were popular with viewers, but she was the only thing on Music Box worth watching. When the station went out of business, Neko was sold to "snuff-rock" star Andreas Brecht.

Neko worked for Brecht for two years, which she describes as "psychedelic hell." Brecht was a Sin addict, and given to fits of sadistic paranoia; he wanted a unique bodyguard-mistress to show off at parties, so Neko was given an implant to keep her enslaved. Usually Neko was the instrument of Brecht's rage – he liked what her claws and fangs did to people, and even used her in his videos: she danced, sang backup vocals and killed. But even as Brecht's favorite pet, Neko could not always escape his anger. One night, Brecht's broadcast satellite was shot down; he flew into a tantrum and his vicious beating fractured her skull.

Brecht didn't want to lose his expensive toy, so he called a doctor. The surgery jarred her control implant loose: Neko was her own woman again. When she recovered, Brecht tried to resume his games. Neko killed him and ran.

Now she sings with her band, Catseye, in underground android clubs like the Twisted Helix and Splicers. She regrets her days of killing, but hasn't forgotten the skills that she learned and remains a dangerous individual.

(Back to Roleplayer #29 Table of Contents)


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