Wow, a book with actual chapters this time! I’ll be looking into d20 Cyberscape, by Wizards of the Coast.
This chapter begins by going over the standard cybernetic rules from d20 Future once again, then flies off the tracks into new ground. There are three new forms of cybernetic options. The first, Unlimited Cybernetics, is a high-cyb Ghost in the Shell-style game style where cybernetics are so available that they can become the entirety of a person’s body. The second variant rule, Piece of Your Soul, makes characters pay XP for each cybernetic component grafted on, indicating their decline from experience and humanity. Finally, Superspy Cybernetics is a variant where only certain classes have access to different levels of cybernetics as part of the “elite people”. There are also some new fe… *Record scratch* Wait a second! I’m pretty sure some of these feats are from the Future Player’s Companion! I’m watching you, Wizards of the Coast… Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, new advanced classes.
Bionic Agent: Think the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman. This advanced class is entirely dedicated to advancing the player’s ability to utilize as many cybernetics as possible with minimal drawbacks. An upper-par Fortitude and Reflex save and d10 hit die make this a good advanced class for people who want to be heavily mechanically-oriented cybernetic spies.
Cyberwarrior: The Cyberwarrior is a soldier who specializes in cybernetics, gaining extra implant regions and more durable cybernetic components than most. A d8 hit die and bland class features are offset by that legendary thing known as a full Base Attack Bonus progression.
Implant Hack: This guy scares me. Specializing in fast surgery and cybernetics, the implant hack is essentially an illegal back-alley cybersurgeon. While the class’s hit points are average, a great Will save and fascinating abilities mean this lawless creep will be good for outsmarting the heroes from the shadowed alleys.
We start out the next chapter with gadgets for cybernetics, essentially the same gadgets from the weapons and armor. Don’t know what gadgets are? Go back and read my d20 Future review then, silly. Interestingly enough, the chapter’s cybernetic attachments start out very low tech. As in non-cyber low tech. The first new attachments we find are a hook and peg leg…seriously. The actual cybernetic attachments themselves vary widely in both Progress Level (again, see d20 Future review) and technological theme type. On one hand, you have micrcochip cybernetics that give a person’s full data, a fairly low-fantasy piece of tech. On the other…there’s a cybernetic leg replacement formed to look like a metal horse that makes a human into an artificial centaur. As an interesting aside, science recently proved this book wrong. The mermaid system, a tool that replaces the legs with a mermaid-like tail, is listed as PL 7 (deep future tech), and yet just recently a woman had such an item on her and working in our PL 5 world.
Called “Computer Networks”, this chapter is a detailed look at a future-tech called the VRNet. It is an immersive virtual reality form of the Internet. At later tech levels, it becomes the HiNet, a .hack-like system where those plugged in cannot differentiate it from the real world due to its complex levels of realism. There are also stats for VRNet avatars; these are created game characters for the system that you can come up against, and work as if they are their own unique creature type. After data on how avatars interact (via Computer Use checks of their users or AI rather than typical ability scores) tats are also presented for illegal VRNet hacker items, the hardware you need to get INTO VRNet, and VRNet software. This software is essentially in-net hazards, from an avatar creature type called the Agent (that sounds familiar… 😛 ) to firewalls (which, if you are in VRNet, are literal walls). There is another advanced class in this section as well, called the Cybernaut, who specializes in advanced programming code and making his avatar the toughest around. I could see this getting a lot of use in campaigns that work like the aformentioned .hack, replicating some of Ghost in the Shell‘s VR systems, or even a Matrix game.
Chapter 4 deals with alternative cybernetics and cybernetics-like tech, the first of these being golem-tech. Golem-tech can be made from any cybernetics in d20 Future and this book, and is essentially just stone, metal, or wooden “cybernetics” fueled by magic rather than machinery. Bone runes, on the other hand, are arcane sigils carved into the bone that “capture” and permanently hold the powers of a magic item as if the character is wearing/using said item. New nanites are presented in this section as well, including the poison pill (which lets the nanite colony’s host exhude poison from her skin like a toad or salamander). Necrotics are…creepy. They are pieces of an undead grafted onto their user, giving them some of the undead’s powers; for instance, someone with vampire teeth grafted on can perform a blood drain attack. One of the creepiest is a full body transplant that essentially makes the character a flesh golem with a brain. There are also some necrotic items such as cigarretes that produce negative energy that heals the undead. Finally, there’s wetware. Wetware is a type of organic cybernetics, fully flesh and bone, and includes items such as gills, tougher hide, and adaptations that allow deep sea diving.
Oh, and there’s a campaign idea at the end of the book, but I won’t really review that. I’ll let it stand on its own merits.
The art is glorious and evocative, very colorful and well-presented. Some of my favorites include a man with the cybernetic centaur system jousting against a metal-plated dragon, an image with various cyber-arcana such as a dwarf with various metal limbs, and gnomes stitching up an orc’s (or giant of some sort) lost arm with a stone golemtech one.
This is a clean, well-organized, well-presented book. It provides a major basis for anyone who wants to get down and dirty with cybernetics and virtual reality in their game. Congrats Wizards, you earned a 10/10.