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[SR5] Exoskeleton (custom 'ware)

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Herr Brackhaus

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« on: <02-07-15/1125:27> »
I recently watched Elysium again and fell in love with the exoskeletons used in the movie by the protagonist and villain. While I am aware that the Iron Will described in Attitude includes a note stating that this kind of tech is essentially a dead-end, I still wanted to take a stab at creating a custom piece of gear based on an in-game researcher's mad ideas. This was initially considered to be an NPC only piece of equipment, but after a lot of reading and deliberation I believe I've come to a point where I'd also be comfortable offering this to players.

First of all, I performed some quick Google searches on current and predicted modern-day tech compared to the Elysium tech. The following articles proved to be anything from merely interesting and highly speculative to downright scientific in their approach. If you share a fascination for this kind of tech, I'd highly recommend all of these:
Elysium - The Tech of Elysium (Youtube video featurette from Sony Pictures Entertainment)
How Long until We Have the Superhuman Exoskeletons from Elysium? (Scientific American article)
The Real Tech Behind 'Elysium' Exoskeletons (livescience article)
The science of Sony's 'Elysium': This is your brain on robotics (Fox News article)
Is Elysium's Cyborg Suit Possible? Believe It Or Not, Yes (cinemablend opinion piece)

Based on what I read and what I felt was appropriate for the Shadowrun setting, I decided that the following core principles would be used:
1. A mind-machine interface would be required to operate the exoskeleton
2. The exoskeleton would need to be grafted to the operator's existing skeleton
   2a. In order to fully utilize the capabilities of it, the operator's skeleton would need to be enhanced
3. In order to function at peak operational capacity, the exoskeleton would be largely dependent on a state of the art sensor suite
4. To power some of the exoskeleton's more exotic functions, additional power would be needed

With these principles in mind I began trying to come up with what I thought were reasonable features. I drew inspiration from the previous 4th Editions, specifically from Augmentation regarding cyberware suites and 'ware in general, from Corporate Guide and Storm Front (amongst others) for source material on S-K, and from Attitude, Spy Games, the MilSpecTech and SOTA books, and WAR! for information on in-universe cutting edge and fringe tech both.

I should note here that none of this has been playtested, and so what this tech offers could very well prove to be unbalancing from a game mechanics point of view. Still, I have tried to remain within what I thought were reasonable limits where possible. The exoskeleton is expensive but yields significant benefits with some equally significant drawbacks, in my opinion. The exoskeleton deliberately pushes the augmented maximum limit and breaks the rating cap for reaction enhancers and muscle toners, and it's the only 'ware in the book that directly enhances the subjects Body attribute. These are all traded-offs for the inability to conceal the equipment and the incompatibility with any other augmentation that affects the same attributes, including initiative. At best, then, wearers of the exoskeleton will be tough and fast, but they'll never be as tough as a character wearing milspec armor, and they'll never be as fast as a fully-wired street samurai. The goal to my mind was to blend the features of existing tech and add some unique ones. The cost is based on an aggregate of equal ratings of reaction enhancers, bone density augmentation, muscle augmentation, muscle toner, and orthoskin (total for rating 1 is 87k and 1.25 Essence), with additional costs for the Aegis, fixed rating 1 wired reflexes, and custom datajack.

I see some potential abuse with the Restricted Gear allowing up to a Rating 4 system at character creation, but at 400k base that still requires a decent base attribute and with no additional armor modifications I think even this is an acceptable situation. Anyway, with that all said, I present my brainchild and ask you for some honest feedback.

Bodyware
Device                       Rating     Essence      Capacity       Avail              Cost
"Kruger" Class Exoskeleton    1-6     (Rating x 1)      8       (Rating * 5R)   
(Rating x 100,000)

      "Kruger" Class Exoskeleton: The result of collaborative efforts led by milspec technology developer Vulcan Systems, the "Kruger" class exoskeleton represents a quantum leap in a field of enhancement technology long thought to be a dead end. Unlike previous designs which were bulky and highly limited systems, this model represents the culmination of years of intense research spanning disciplines such as bio- and cybertechnology, state-of-the-art computing, and materials sciences.

> Rumor has it that Lofwyr himself instructed several of his S-K subsidiary corps to partner up for a special project during the build-up to what has now become known as the Great Dragon Civil War. The objective was to produce a revolutionary cyberware suite aimed at enhancing the capabilities of an average metahuman while remaining cost effective compared to existing augmentations. Why the dragon would care about boots on the ground is beyond me, but it's clear to anyone who's seen the Kruger in action that the tech works.
> Spider

> He's not kidding; the Mark IV is impressive enough in and of itself, but the Aegis personal protection system featured as an experimental upgrade could revolutionize the biz. Of course, the more advanced models are still prohibitively expensive if you can even find one, and the liability waivers for the Aegis are a mile long. Or so I've heard...
> Max

> Holding out on us, Max? Anyway, some of the merc captains who led the charge against Alamais' compound were allegedly wearing trial versions of the Kruger. Who knows what that battle would have been like if more soldiers had had access to this tech.
> PrimeTime

      In order to function at all, the exoskeleton must be connected to the subjects spinal cord through a modified datajack included in the initial surgery. Additionally, the subjects skeletal structure must be massively reinforced in order to handle the immense strains induced by the many high-powered servos and artificial muscles working to increase the subjects capabilities. Each Rating point increases the Body (for the purposes of damage resistance only), Agility, Reaction, and Strength attributes of the subject by +1. The sheer amount of protective plating and advanced materials used in the construction of the exoskeleton also provides the subject with an Armor Value of (Rating * 2) (8+Rating) that counts as Hardened Armor, and the subjects unarmed attacks cause physical damage instead of stun.

      Finally, the base system provides the subject with several passive benefits; Strength is divided by 2 (round up) for the purpose of calculating Recoil Compensation, and each Rating point provides the same benefit as the Hydraulic Jacks cyberlimb enhancement including wireless bonuses. The capacity of 8 can be used for 'ware such as a cyberdeck slot, cyberweapons, and smuggling compartments, or for more mundane equipment like additional sensors, auto-injectors, or weapon holsters.

      Wireless: When connected to the Matrix the capabilities of the advanced on-board sensor suite is greatly enhanced, resulting in increased fault tolerance that boosts performance and provides increased environmental and situational awareness. The exoskeleton adds +1 Noise Reduction, +1D6 Initiative Die, and attribute increases offered by the exoskeleton may ignore augmented maximums. Racial maximums still apply, however.

      Note: Because of the extensive integration with the subjects central nervous system, the "Kruger" class exoskeleton is incompatible with any augmentation or enhancement that affects the subjects bones, skin, muscles, and reflexes. This includes, but is not limited to, Bone Lacing, Dermal Plating, Muscle Replacements, Reaction Enhancers, Wired Reflexes, Bone Density Augmentations, Muscle Augmentations, Muscle Toners, Orthoskin, and Synaptic Boosters.

      Additionally, an exoskeleton is incompatible with all forms of armored clothing; included in the base cost is a form-fitting flexsuit (complete with hood) designed to conform to the subjects body and keep the graft points sealed. This suit has no Armor Value but has a capacity of 12 for armor enhancements, which can include chemical seal and environmental protection. An exoskeleton cannot be concealed or removed except through extensive surgery.

Activate Kruger!
Interrupt Action (-5 Initiative Score, must be activated before attack roll is made)
      The latest version of the "Kruger" incorporates an Aegis personal protection system, the latest and greatest in active defense technology. The Aegis is an experimental force-field generator that consists of a power source, usually in the form of peak-discharge battery packs, and several emitters along both arms. When triggered, the shield provides an Armor Value boost against a single attack of (Rating*2) which is added to the hardened armor value of the exoskeleton itself. Each activation costs 10 power units and does not count as encumbrance, and each suit comes equipped with a single power clip. Satchel power packs and power backpacks can be fitted to the exoskeleton at additional cost, but the Aegis is limited to a single power source at any given time. Changing between power sources takes a Complex Action.

      Because the Aegis is experimental technology the player must roll a number of dice equal to his Edge attribute when activating the system. With at least one success the shield actives normally, while no successes means the activation failed and the character lost Initiative but not energy. A Glitch could result in both initiative and consumed energy with no activation as the shield overloads the system, while a Critical Glitch could result in a spectacular failure of the system, electrocuting the user for (Rating)S(e) DV.
« Last Edit: <02-08-15/1311:15> by Herr Brackhaus »

TormDK

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« Reply #1 on: <02-07-15/1144:54> »
While I like the idea, isn't this skirting in relation to the whole "No powerarmour 'cause fluff!" rule the Shadowrun universe seems to have?

Jack_Spade

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« Reply #2 on: <02-07-15/1149:40> »
Nice, but if you don't happen to be a dying man vor an axe cracy psychopath this kind oft ware won't be of much use.
You should at least be able to remove the scelleton without surgery. Alone basic Hygiene would become pretty impossible.

Edit

@TormDK
Well, in SR 4 milspec armor could be upgraded with mobility and strength improvement, making power armor a reality.
I'm actually surprised they didn't include this in Run&Gun.
« Last Edit: <02-07-15/1214:21> by Jack_Spade »
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Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #3 on: <02-07-15/1249:49> »
While I like the idea, isn't this skirting in relation to the whole "No powerarmour 'cause fluff!" rule the Shadowrun universe seems to have?
Possibly, as mentioned I'm well aware of the Attitude mention of the Iron Will. That being said, judging by the pictures of Heavy milspec armor in Run & Gun I'm not quite sure the current designers have the same ideas about power armor as those brought up in previous literature.

Nice, but if you don't happen to be a dying man vor an axe cracy psychopath this kind oft ware won't be of much use.
You should at least be able to remove the scelleton without surgery. Alone basic Hygiene would become pretty impossible.
A dying man could certainly utilize this if he was wealthy enough, and while I didn't necessarily envision this for the "axe crazy psychopath" crowd that would certainly be one potential use. My thoughts are that this would be more appropriate for mercenary type characters, as it's not quite limb replacement surgery and it's not quite as invasive as some of the more dramatic 'ware out there (muscle replacements and wired reflexes come to mind), and instead bridges the gap between the two technologies.

As for hygiene, I did consider that. But, this isn't a full-on suit of armor, so with some clothing options (i.e. the flexsuit) you could reliably use the restroom and the like without issue. It might be somewhat painful to sleep in, but that's where sleep regulators come in. I didn't want this to be something you could just strap on; for it to cost essence it would have to be an implant of some kind, and I wanted to it cost essence to justify the rather dramatic attribute increases. So yes, some handwaveing is required in terms of practicalities and logistics, but I personally don't have an issue with that.
« Last Edit: <02-07-15/1252:11> by Herr Brackhaus »

Raven2049

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« Reply #4 on: <02-07-15/1651:29> »
i like the idea of it. would you consider it akin to skillwires and allow it to have skillsofts installed into it since it is a DNI integrated piece of ware?

and altho i know that 600k is prohibitively expensive, arent you basically saying buy the rating 6 of this thing and your instant cyber-zombie? what incentive is that?  if you made it like .8/.9 essence per rating then the character would have a little bit of metahumanity left in them so they can be a pc if they wish.

Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #5 on: <02-07-15/1708:11> »
I would not consider it akin to skillwires, personally; the additional essence and nuyen cosfoof the skilljack and the skillwires are not at all accounted for in the cost of this piece of equipment.

As for essence, the exoskeleton would be a piece of ware like any other, meaning different grades are available. For instance, you could get a rating 6 delta grade system for 1.5 million nuyen at only 3 Essence.

Rift_0f_Bladz

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« Reply #6 on: <02-07-15/2317:00> »
My biggest issue with this is the main idea with exoskeletons is they are not to be 'ware, but a suit overlay. Require a DNI and give bigger/full bonuses for datajack but this should not be ware in my mind. Plus the whole can't ware armor makes this not super. 12 hardened armor is not much compared the the 15+3 hardened of the lightest mil armor and helmet, with more up grade slots. I understand the not wanting this to stack with normal augments, but with these limits and restrictions, it would be better to just put normal 'ware in them and shove them in a light milspec armor. But, this is my opinion, hope it works for you.
Quote- Mirikon on 7/30/2019 at 08:26:51
Agreed. This looks like a 'training wheels' edition, that you can use to introduce someone to the setting, and then shift over to something like 5E or 4E. Like how D&D 5E is best used as training wheels for D&D 3.X.

Turned in Toxshaman for ¥1 million/4 once.

Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #7 on: <02-08-15/0131:19> »
I can respect where you're coming from, Rift. Current tech exoskeleton designs are indeed wearable, you're right on that. As mentioned, though, I went for a design more like the Gen 3 from Elysium, which is grafted onto the main characters body.

You're also spot on about AV; looking at the pictures of milspec armor I didn't want the exoskeleton to be able to compete with them in terms of pure stopping power. That being said, a Rating 3 armor adds 3 body, 6 hardened armor, and the use of the Aegis for an additional 6 hardened armor. At rating 6, the system would add 6 body, 12 hardened armor, with another 12 from the Aegis when used.

One advantage the suit offers over milspec armor is mobility; with no Restrictive quality and the Hydraulic Jacks benefits a subject with even a lower rating exoskeleton could be more mobile and carry heavier firepower than the veritable tanks in milspec armor.

Part of the design philosophy from my end was to emphasize that this is in no way a replacement for milspec suits, because those already exist. Instead, I wanted to come up with something that didn't exist, and that would add to the SOTA feel of the game for me. As always with custom content it won't be for everyone, and this one relies heavily on concepts from other genres so it's all good :)

Rift_0f_Bladz

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« Reply #8 on: <02-08-15/1232:02> »
You still can get some of the mobility back with the hydrolic jacks in cyber legs. I guess my biggest issue as at the current cost, both in ¥ and essence, military or corps will spend less on normal 'ware and good armor (hardened or not) than this. Plus, milspec armor, with it restrictive movement, is better for mages (levitate bypasses restrictive), but we both knew that anyways.
Quote- Mirikon on 7/30/2019 at 08:26:51
Agreed. This looks like a 'training wheels' edition, that you can use to introduce someone to the setting, and then shift over to something like 5E or 4E. Like how D&D 5E is best used as training wheels for D&D 3.X.

Turned in Toxshaman for ¥1 million/4 once.

Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #9 on: <02-08-15/1309:40> »
True, cyber legs could give you the mobility, but at the expense of Essence and that's the key.

The exoskeleton's cost in both essence and nuyen is based on the following per-rating costs:
Reaction Enhancers; 0.3 Essence, 13000¥
Bone Density Augmentation; 0.3 Essence, 5000¥
Muscle Augmentation; 0.2 Essence, 31000¥
Muscle Toner; 0.2 Essence, 32000¥
Orthoskin; 0.25 Essence, 6000¥

That's a base Essence cost per rating of 1.25 and a base nuyen cost of 87000¥.

Not counted in this calculation is the +1d6 Initiative dice, which is 2 Essence and 39000¥ for Wired Reflexes, or 0.5 Essence and 95000¥ for Synaptic Boosters.
Similarly not counted is the hydraulic jack options, which require a matched pair of cyberlegs to even be usable, which means at minimum normal grade a cost of 2 Essence and 35000¥.
Not really possible to account for is the Aegis system, the hardened armor values, and the recoil compensation systems; the closest analogies for the latter two would be the cost of the armor itself (15k to 25k) and a gyrosystem or similar.

In short, the benefits of the exoskeleton as a package deal just isn't possible without delta grade ware and a boatload of nuyen, whereas an exoskeleton design could relatively cheaply dramatically increase the combat effectiveness of a soldier for a somewhat moderate investment.

Your point about armor is well taken, however. A rating 1 system would be rather light on protection at only 2 AV base. To address this, I think the best option is to simply give the exoskeleton an AV of (8+Rating) instead of (Rating*2), for a maximum of 14, just below light milspec armor.

At Rating 3 for 300k and 3 Essence, a character would then get +3 to Agility, Reaction, and Strength, as well as +3 Body for damage resistance purposes, 11 Hardened Armor which can be boosted to 17 with the Aegis, along with the other benefits as before.

To summarize; this isn't a piece of tech that's supposed to supplant milspec armor and delta grade ware. Instead, it's designed to add flavour to a tech-intensive world in constant shift. It most definitely shouldn't be something that players would automatically take for their characters (i.e. a no-brainer choice), but something that has benefits and drawbacks that could present interesting roleplaying opportunities.

Rift_0f_Bladz

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« Reply #10 on: <02-08-15/1511:24> »
Fair enough. I guess I still have issues with not being able to remove the exoskeleton without removing the ware itself. This seems a draw back for both runners and military personnel. I could maybe see a niche use, but only sparingly. Especially, at such high cost. Increasing the armor does help some of these issues though.
I still see exoskeletons/suits biggest benift being removability, unlike with normal 'ware. They allow augments without destroying essence, which can be seen as OP I know. Again, why I suggested full bonus with datajack and partial bonuses from DNI via trodes. Full bonuses should be what you have listed, with tweeks. Partial could be for example less initiative dice (like +d6 vrs +2d6), augments fallow normal rules, bigger initiative penalty to activate Aegis, and less recoil compensation.

Also, might look into adding smartlink into the system for free.
Quote- Mirikon on 7/30/2019 at 08:26:51
Agreed. This looks like a 'training wheels' edition, that you can use to introduce someone to the setting, and then shift over to something like 5E or 4E. Like how D&D 5E is best used as training wheels for D&D 3.X.

Turned in Toxshaman for ¥1 million/4 once.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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« Reply #11 on: <02-08-15/1650:49> »
I myself fully support this as a starting point.  Excluding the psychotic Carl Sargeant 'everything's better in Merrie Olde England' Duchess of Glendower super-duper-power-armor suits in the original London Sourcebook, there's no actual power armor in SR yet - and that's half the point of this.   Yes, this has an implant cost and a major one; it's half power armor, half mobility suit that isn't meant to ever come off.  It is effectively a first-generation beta test that IMO should cost well above its current amount, have a higher availability, etc. because it IS a first-generation beta test that's passed certain hurdles to go into human testing (per se).  Look at the MP Laser - first gen was a cool million nuyen; now it's 16k for the comparable weapon, or maybe a measely 7,500.  You want things to start out high, maybe a little glitchy, and then refine them over generations.

I would not, btw, allow the 'ware implants to go above alpha grade, or beta at best.  While the implants may be a derivitive of the cyberware, they have significant differences that again require time and investment (and success of the product) to overcome and evolve into highly-essence-friendly versions.
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Darzil

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« Reply #12 on: <02-09-15/0550:13> »
If you wanted a removable one, you could have the implants be sockets, connectors, sensor packages, and have a fitting station that will automatically and 'safely' remove and refit it, with only minor physical/stun damage (more or less depending how long you have been wearing or not wearing it), taking only a few minutes. After all, when you've healed round the implants, ripping them out again won't be pain or damage free. Then it's a choice as to whether to wear it or not, but you'll probably be wearing it all the time.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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« Reply #13 on: <02-09-15/0644:38> »
... why would you rip connectors out?  You don't rip out a datajack every time you want to unplug...
Pananagutan & End/Line

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Herr Brackhaus

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« Reply #14 on: <02-09-15/0657:33> »
Rift
Totally understandable. As mentioned, this is stylistically similar to the Elysium version the protagonist wears, not modern ones, so there's always that. Since the majority of essence loss is supposed to be due to the strengthening of the skeletal structure, you could relatively easily create a version that could come off with a relevant cybertechnology or armorer extended test. Have the mounting points be threaded sockets so that the entire exoskeleton could be mechanically removed. This would be a lengthy process as I see it, and not one I'm personally willing to cater to, but since this is custom content one could certainly address this shortcoming if one was so inclined.

I did consider adding a smartlink and a host of other upgrades, but decided that the features included so far are the ones that revolve around mobility and capability enhancement and decided to leave it there.


Wyrm
I don't remember power armor from the London sourcebook, I'll have to look that up.

At first concept I had this piece of tech simply be unavailable to players to represent the rarity of something like this, but then I remembered the Neill Blomkamp talking about how Max' exoskeleton from Elysium is essentially a black market job that's partly cobbled together from parts more than it is a real product that people buy. That's my design inspiration for this piece of tech, and I think I'll update some of the flavour text to represent this. Essentially, what Vulcan Systems came up with could well be more advanced and even removable as Rift has mentioned, but what's available to runners should definitely be, as you say, a first-gen beta product.

My reasoning on the implants being available in all grades is that the system is really quite simple, thematically speaking. The Essence cost represents the skeletal strengthening that needs to happen for the body to be able to handle the potential stresses the exoskeleton can produce, as well as the actual fittings and everything to connect the exoskeleton to the subjects body. Since there already are bone lacing and bone density augmentations readily available, I think the technological leap to add to these should be relatively simple but hideously expensive if Beta or Delta grade is desired. Plus, all Delta grade ware comes with it's own potential issues, and neither is available at character generation.

I could see these concerns being a potential issue in high-level games that have been running for years, but not necessarily from character generation and probably quite a while after.


Darzil
Indeed, that is a possibility. If I were to allow a removable system, I'd probably also allow a character (or his friends, let's face it) to use the cybertechnology or armorer skills, as mentioned above. Still, I personally prefer a system that cannot easily be removed as that is part of the price one would have to pay. I toyed around with the idea of giving subjects with this system a flat bonus to Intimidation and a penalty to most other social skills akin to the Freaks sidebar from Run & Gun, but couldn't really decide one way or another.