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Bullet Points 12/08/2006


Gadgets Under My Skin
By Owen K.C. Stephens

Hello all, and welcome to the latest installment of Bullet Points. I'm Owen K.C. Stephens, the d20 triggerman and writer of a lot of Star Wars Roleplaying Game, Dungeons & Dragons, and d20 Modern material (including d20 Cyberscape, Dragon Magic, and a chunk of the upcoming Star Wars Saga Edition Roleplaying Game). Every two weeks (or as close to that as we can manage), I'll answer questions about rules from the d20 Modern line of games and giving advice about more difficult rules issues.

This week is our last look at gadgets (at least until a flood of new questions come in), with a set of questions about cybernetic gadgets from d20 Cyberspace.

One category of questions that was too complex for simple answers regards VRNet software and gadgets. The rules as written have no provision to allow software to add gadgets, so you can't slap the improved defense gadget on an armor program to gain a better armor bonus to Defense for your avatar. However, using the gadget/flaw system as a baseline for rules to have more or less useful programs with higher or lower write DCs is a great idea. It's also outside the scope of Bullet Points articles or the gadget system as it exists. A GM who wishes to try this must decide on an ad hoc, my-campaign basis what benefits to allow and what program alteration DC and time modifiers are reasonable.

Can I use normal weapon and gear gadgets on cybernetics, or only cybernetic gadgets?
As a general rule, you can use other gadgets that are appropriate (I'll go into some specific cases in the next few questions). You shouldn't use non-cybernetic versions of gadgets that have specific cybernetic rules (such as compact). You also shouldn't use non-cybernetic gadgets that do something similar to a cybernetic gadget. For example, because resilient increases a cybernetic's hardness and hit points, you shouldn't add the durable gadget to a cybernetic.
You can use weapon gadgets on weapons placed within a cybernetic weapon mount or directly on a cybernetic weapon. You could, for example, add the electrified gadget to spurs.

Can I have a sound-activated weapon as a cybernetic?
The sound-activated gadget only applies to grenades, mines, and automated ranged weapons. No weapon you have as a cybernetic qualifies for automated, because it's not bipod-mounted, it's bicep-mounted. You could have a grenade as an integrated weapon and make it sound activated, but it just blows up (rather than being thrown somewhere, then blowing up). If you're looking for a suicide-bomb cybernetic that's fine. Otherwise I don't recommend it.

Can I use the plastic gadget on cybernetics?
Sure, why not.

Can I have voice-activated cybernetic weapons?
Sure.

Can I use the increased weight or increased size flaws for cybernetics to make them cheaper but cause them to take up more space and have the opposite effect of ultralight composition?
If, as the GM, you want to do that, it sounds like a fine and reasonable house rule. It's not the standard rule on how those flaws work, however, and a player shouldn't try to convince a GM to allow it if the GM is opposed.

When exactly does a booby trapped cybernetic go off? How often does it go off? Does it go off when you start to remove it, once you have it completely removed, when you start to implant it in someone else, or what? Does it attack the tools used on it or the person holding it? Does it just go off once or constantly? If it sets off a connected weapon that has an area effect (say, a flamethrower), is the owner of the cybernetic still immune to damage done? Can you disarm a booby trap, and if so, with what skill and at what DC?
A cybernetic with the booby trap gadget goes off once it's no longer connected to its owner. It damages whatever is holding it, which may be a tool (especially if the person removing it is being cautious) or the person removing it (if he's being reckless). It goes off once a round as long as it is held or moved while not connected to its rightful owner. It never targets its owner, but if it has an area attack, the owner might be caught in the area.
You can disable a booby trap with a Disable Device check. This counts as a complex device and requires 2d6 rounds. The DC to disable the booby trap is 30 or the purchase DC of the cybernetic with the booby trap, whichever is higher (more expensive cybernetics include more intricate connections). If you fail by 5 or more, you set off the booby trap (and thus you cannot take 20 on this check).

Do compact cybernetics count as fewer implants for purposes of avoiding negative levels?
Assuming you're talking about the standard limit of no more cybernetics than your Con modifier +1, the compact gadget does you no good. This is because the Con +1 limit is for the number of implants you have, not the number of slots they take up. If you have a 12 Con and take three implants with slots of 0, you still take a negative level.
You can, however, use the gadget system to get around this limitation if you have the wealth. By combining one or more cybernetic implants with the integrated cybernetic device gadget, they count as just one cybernetic. Even better, you can still use the compact gadget to reduce the size of the integrated cybernetic.

Can you use the integrated cybernetic device gadget to add a non-cybernetic to a cybernetic implant?
You shouldn't ever need to. Any non-cybernetic piece of equipment can be turned into an implant with the external tool mount or internal tool mount cybernetic devices. You then combine that cybernetic with whatever you want to add it to with the integrated cybernetic device gadget.
If for some reason you have gear that can't be added to a tool mount cybernetic, then no, you can't combine it with the integrated cybernetic device gadget. That's likely to happen only with a GM ruling anyway.

Why is the cost of additional integrated cybernetics not dependant on the cost of the items being integrated? It makes no sense that an offensive kata computer with an integrated defensive kata computer has the same purchase DC as an offensive kata computer with a wireless neural network jack.
Every purchase DC covers a range of actual prices. The higher the DC, the bigger that range. The process of integration is already so expensive that the difference between adding a cheap implant and adding an expensive one is negligible. That said, if you're unhappy with the pricing structure for your campaign, change it. Make the cost for each implant added 2, +1 for every 10 points in its purchase DC.
Thus your double kata computer would have a purchase DC of 32 (28 base plus 5 for the integrated second computer -- 2 +3 for the 28 purchase DC), while the kata computer/wireless jack would be only DC 30.

Why can anything be compact, but only lower PL items be miniaturized? Shouldn't higher PL cybernetics be more easily miniaturized?
Miniaturization represents replacing old technology options with new, smaller options (like replacing vacuum tubes with circuitry). Thus a PL 7 item in a PL 7 campaign is already using the best components available, but a PL 6 item in a PL 7 campaign can have some of its old technological components replaced with smaller, higher-tech components, making it smaller overall.

Is sensor baffling of a lower PL less effective against sensors of a higher PL? Is it more effective against lower-PL sensors?
Yes. For every PL the sensors are higher than the baffling, decrease the DC adjustment by -5. For every PL the baffling is higher than the sensors, increase the DC adjustment by +5.

How obvious is a storage compartment gadget?
Not very when it's closed, though it's always obvious when you add something to it or remove something from it. A Spot check won't pick one up, but a DC 15 Search check reveals its presence.

If ultralight composition reduces you by 10%, with a minimum of 60%, doesn't that mean you have to have at least six slots of implants for it to work?
No. The weight of the recipient has a minimum of 60% of its original weight. The maximum weight reduction is 40%. You can have this on one, two, three, or four slots of implants.

Do you have a rules question about the d20 Modern Roleplaying Game? Send it to bulletpoints@wizards.com. For the quickest possible answer, please put the topic of your question in the subject line and keep the question as succinct as possible. If you have more than one question, feel free to send two or more emails -- but for best results please include only one question per email unless your questions are very closely related to one another. Please don't expect a direct answer by email. Check back here every other week for the latest batch of answers!

About the Author

Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens was born in 1970 in Norman, Oklahoma. He attended the TSR Writer's Workshop held at the Wizards of the Coast Game Center in 1997 and moved to the Seattle area in 2000 after accepting a job as a Game Designer at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Fourteen months later, he returned to Oklahoma with his wife and three cats to pick up his freelance writer/developer career. He has author and co-author credits on numerous Star WarsRoleplaying Game, Dungeons & Dragons, d20 Modern, and EverQuest projects. He is the author of d20 Cyberscape and co-author of d20 Apocalypse as well as Bastards and Bloodlines from Green Ronin. He also has producer credits for various IDA products, including the Stand-Ins printable figures.

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