Medicine

First Aid

Most oxygen-breathing species are compatible with a synthetic blood replacement fluid that will do the basic job of keeping your metabolism running; it degrades at about the speed that blood is replaced naturally. The fluid itself is stark white, so people who have had most of their blood replaced by it will wind up looking shockingly pale.

Beings with an allergy to the substance are advised to have an infotag implanted that any medscanner will pick up.

A wound stitcher resembles a bulky pen that can stitch wounds shut with a biocompatible thread.

Fleshseal spray foam sterilizes a wound, clots blood, and provides a scaffold into which the body’s cells can migrate during the healing process. It does a good job of gluing wounds together and drastically reduces scarring. It can keep indefinitely at any temperatures at which its intended patients can survive.

Living bandage is a variant of fleshseal spray; it contains tailored bacteriophages, bacteria, and fungal spores that will grow into a living bandage that kills infective agents, eats necrotic flesh, protects living flesh, and (once it has had about twelve hours to set up) doesn’t need changing; it can even get wet. It works for most major species, since the various microorganisms are engineered to react to their distinctive proteins by activating appropriate genes. The culture needs to be kept in a climate-controlled environment, though it’s sufficiently dormant that it can last for years on the nutrient supply in the can.

Concussion trauma repair symbiotes (colloquially clonk cleaners) are engineered nanobacteria that, if administered within 24 hours of a concussion, can prevent the long-term scarring and damage associated with dementia pugilistica. People in rough-and-tumble occupations tend to keep them handy. They tend to have annoying side effects such as dizzy spells and headaches, so it’s generally unwise to take them preemptively.

Bone glue can be used in the field to repair fractures, and can cut the healing time for a broken leg to a week.

Medical-grade suspended animation usually involves careful application of cold and low oxygen, and (in many life forms) hydrogen sulfide gas to briefly halt life processes. This is can usually be applied by paramedics to get someone to a hospital for major repairs, or to perform major surgery. The technique is a cousin to hibersleep, though not identical.

A trauma support system can keep a person alive for weeks even in the face of complete organ failure. It pumps and oxygenates blood, supplies nutrients, and filters wastes, and is smart enough not to take on a role that an organic organ is still performing. They’re used to get people to advanced medical facilities. The systems are smart enough to cope with a body that has been dead for up to an hour, carefully restoring oxygen at a measured pace to avoid cell damage. If you can get your friend’s head to one in an hour, they might survive.

Stericlean is a general sterilizing agent that does in bacteria, viruses, and prions, and will do a number on your skin if you use it too often. Steriplast is an improvement on plaster and fiberglass casts.

Drugs

Euthanasia

Escape Hatch

Are you too injured or infirm to be anything more than a burden on your family? Need to help your grandparent on their way or show mercy to that child who will never be able to cope with the harshness of life? Euthanize at home with Escape Hatch!

Set of three skin patches to be applied in order.

Final Vengeance

Are you only clinging to life to deny them the profit from selling you off for parts? Final Vengeance is the suicide option for you: one last awesome rush and then every cell in your body turns to pure poison! Your body will be so toxic, they’ll pay for cremation!

Comes as a powder packet (mix with a milkshake for best results) and an enzyme fluid you take a couple of hours later; this will convert the chemicals in the packet into the drug and then poison. The toxins are really nasty and turn you into a public health hazard if you start decomposing in the water. (None of the usual bacteria or bugs will survive it.)

Graceful Exit

Are you worried about meeting your maker? Graceful Exit will let you face the end with dignity and calm. Why use a euthanasia drug that just halts your life, when you can travel the last gate in serenity with eyes open?

Graceful Exit is very well-designed. It comes as a series of four 15 ml beverages of distinctive color and strong flavor. Each one contains drugs and enzymes that build on each other if you follow the directions, and cancel each other out if you don’t.

  1. painkiller and stimulant that brings clarity for about an hour. Many customers decide against proceeding at this stage, and the instructions recommend thinking carefully.
  2. gentle euphoric that takes all your troubles away and leaves you feeling at peace with the world for about an hour. Gives time for heartfelt goodbyes. The instructions suggest forgiving people at this time.
  3. entheogenic hallucinogen that induces religious experience if you’re predisposed to it.
  4. poison that gently shuts down consciousness and then your heart.

3 and 4 can be taken together, or just 4.

Diagnosis

Medical-grade chem sensors can pick up many subtle indicators even on the breath (as we’re doing with cancer now), so medical droids will often gather a fair amount of data by smelling a patient’s breath and putting an electromagnetically sensitive palm on their forehead.

Enhancers

All manner of drugs are available to most widespread species to boost energy, focus thinking, control moods, speed or slow metabolism, and banish sleepiness (like orexin in humans), and even the best ones have long-term side effects that make it unwise to rely on them often.

Disease Control

If you thought things were bad with a whole planet working on the best colds and flus and sharing them via global travel, imagine thousands of worlds doing it. The highest-tech worlds send regular subspace updates from their medical laboratories, providing sequence data for the surface proteins by which an immune system can recognize the latest pathogen. Those are then encoded into a mild rhinovirus and sprayed on the local citizens, who grumble and sneeze for a couple of days but develop immunity. (This is much cheaper than manufacturing vaccines and administering them to the populace.) These are then sent out via courier (and hapless traveler) to worlds that lack this level of biotech. With subspace transmission, this allows immunity to often spread faster than the actual disease.

Immunological data gathering is a challenge, so the disease control corporations have kiosks in every starport where they will sign a current timestamp on your talisman, creating proof that you were on a particular planet at a particular time. On entry into a new spaceport, the vaccine agencies will bid for you to come give them a sample to analyze: if you are a rare species or genotype, this can be quite nice, though it’s usually just the equivalent of getting free caf in the lottery for more common travelers. This lets them stay ahead of the curve by looking for the latest mutation to turn up.

Naturally, people who can pay for less virulent direct vaccinations will happily do so to avoid the inconvenience of the cold that’s coming out next week.

There has also been a fair amount of natural selection for disease resistance in the galactic population, and newly contacted planets often need extra medical attention.

Over five thousand years of galactic commerce, a number of diseases have evolved to jump between species. The usual galactic rhinoviruses and influenzas can jump between almost all parahumans.

Genetics

DNA scanning isn’t sufficient to determine exactly how a being develops— there are plenty of influences from anything from childhood nutrition and diseases to microRNA— so Wanted posters generated from blood samples aren’t terribly accurate.

Major germ-line genetic work is one of the warning signs of a culture that is going to go off the deep end soon; it’s almost as bad a sign as building massive droid intelligences that you haven’t a hope of keeping under control, or working on strong nanotech.

Organic Repair

If you’re in a hurry, you can get a transplant; they can brew up a retrovirus overnight to convert tissues from a donor of your own species to manifest matching histocompatibility complexes, and have a limb or organ ready to implant in a few days. Recovery from surgery takes a couple of weeks, and therapy for reintegrating a replacement limb another month or so. Healthy slaves are often bought as sources of transplants, and some vassals have sold their own organs, limbs, or entire bodies to keep their families from falling into slavery.

Organs can be harvested and kept alive but quiescent; this is often the fate of slaves who are more valuable as parts than labor. Many poor families who can’t afford nonproductive children sell them to the organ banks so they can help their more viable offspring— it’s emotionally traumatic, but they may have started out traumatized from other circumstances. Organ bank fodder is a way of describing someone very stupid.

Most medical facilities stock a supply of pluripotent cells that are compatible with each species they expect to help. These can be convinced to differentiate into different types of bodily cell (skin, liver, kidney) and then fed into tissue printers to provide generic parts for a person; you can have a new Type O liver in a matter of days, or less if your species is popular enough that they keep some on hand. There is no risk of outright rejection, but the tissues are never as good as your originals.

If you have a few weeks to sit around twiddling your thumbs while hooked up to a life support machine, a good medical facility can culture your own cells to make a perfectly compatible organ. Once you’ve healed up, these are as good as new.

Some of the most difficult things to replace are hands and feet, particularly the subtle bones involved in the wrists and ankles. If you have the cash and time, you can get new ones made— but it’s usually much faster and cheaper to get a cybernetic replacement.

It takes a couple of weeks to clone up the cell lines for a new organ; printing time for simple, homogeneous organs is only a couple of days, but it can take over a week to put together an entire hand and wristbones. Retraining the reflexes takes a month of intensive physical therapy or two to three months of regular use.

It’s also possible to regenerate limbs, but that requires wearing an expensive regeneration sleeve while your appendage grows back over months (one for a finger, ten for a leg). It’s more expensive than a cybernetic replacement and cheaper having it done via tissue printing. Regeneration sleeves are available with motorized-frame support, making it possible to walk on an artificial leg while your real one regenerates, though it’s clumsier than a cybernetic limb. Once the regeneration sleeve comes off, it will still take some physical therapy to get back to normal.

If you’re wealthy and expecting trouble, you can always shell out the money for a backup body, where your cells are cultured and pre-printed ahead of time. This usually consists of a set of spare limbs and organs, plus a supply of miscellaneous tissue stock, kept ready for transplant; cloning takes much, much longer to produce an adult body that could be harvested.

Generally, the lower classes die or live with reused cyberware; the middle classes use cyberware or banked organs; the upper middle class can afford regeneration sleeves; the upper classes get printed tissues or have at least one clone donor created at birth, kept in a facility to grow them healthily until adulthood, then frozen in carbonite until needed.

Cybernetics

Source material: KotORCG p74 GaW p48–50 HG p125–131

Cybernetic replacements exist for most bodily limbs and organs. Most internal organs can be created through tissue printing; doing so with fancy things like eyes, ears, or entire limbs is very expensive, so it’s common to have those replaced with cybernetics. They make organic targets vulnerable to ion damage.

Cyberware is known to erode the ability of beings to feel a connection to their fellow sentients; obviously chromed-up people are a target of considerable prejudice. The more they have to think of themselves as machines, the more disconnected they feel. Cyberware that only provides baseline functionality has a minimal effect, though there is some from having to treat your body as something that needs maintenance and replacement parts. If it gives you capabilities beyond those of your species, it creates a greater sense of separation; the same thing happens if it’s skimping on the sensations that you would normally feel. Installing a biomonitor— which just provides readouts of your vital signs (EEG, EKG, blood glucose levels, etc.)— has negligible effects, and it can be charming when your robutler knows to bring you a snack when you need some blood sugar or warm milk at bedtime, and quite soothing to the blood pressure when your medical service contract gets cheaper.

Cybernetic replacement parts can learn to adapt to you much faster than organic ones. A person can be given a cybernetic replacement limb within hours of getting them stabilized from the trauma of losing an organic one, and they can swiftly be using it as well as their original organic one (base time a few weeks, can be reduced to a few days with enough shifts on Resolve checks by the wearer and Technician checks by the limb programmer) if they have good training software for the limb. (e.g.: the standard kata of your martial arts are already mapped, so when you go through them with the limb, it knows which nerve impulses to assign to which behaviors.) Cybernetic replacement can also be done in a field hospital. while culturing requires much better facilities.

Even with perfectly compatible tissue, the body sometimes rejects transplants; this is usually seen as a psychological issue, as it generally correlates with people who don’t feel they should have survived in the first place. Cyberware avoids this rejection problem.

Cyberware quality:

Cyberlimbs with switchable sockets also have a negative impact on self-image.

Characters with any significant cyberware or bioware must take an aspect to reflect its effect on their self-image. This could be soulless cyborg, more metal than man, cybernetic infojunkie, chrome over gold, atoning cybermonster, organically augmented, or even extropian bodhisattva. Some may lead you to feel superior or contemptuous or pitying of others; others to feel miserable or isolated or self-pitying. The aspect can be invoked for direct performance, or for its social ramifications. If the character is also Force-sensitive, the aspect can be compelled against them, as their connection to the Force is diminished by replacing living material with nonliving.

The more your ’ware distances you from human, the more it should affect Empathy, Rapport, etc. If you’re tough, it’s easy to fall into the habit of dismissing others as weak. It you’re smart, it’s easy to fall into the habit of seeing them as dumb. It causes social stress, much as the Force causes mental stress. If Taken Out socially by your ’ware, replace an aspect with one representing your detachment from humanity: Cold, Detached, Dispassionate, Identifies with Machines, Flesh is weak!, Droid Fetish... (Cyberneurosis is a step on the way to cyberpsychosis.)

Animal Cyberware

Animals seldom take to cyber enhancement because they lack the consciousness to choose when to use the expanded capability or not. Some success occurs when there is mental integration, like combat enhancements that kick in with adrenaline and other stimuli.

The most popular one is the Instinct Upgrade, which provides intuitive feelings for the animal to cope with situations for which it did not evolve, such as pressure alarms. These are popular for starship pets, since they cause the animal to seek a pressure safe location when trouble ensues. When all the ship’s felinxes go streaking into the life pods, trouble is afoot!

Symbiotics

While there is a general societal aversion to radical germ-line engineering of sentient beings, there is none to meddling with their commensal organisms, and pretty much everything that lives on or in a galactic sentient has been heavily engineered for beneficial health or cosmetic effects, from follicle mites to gut flora to the bacteria that break down apocrine sweat.

Tailored gut bacteria are available for a multitude of purposes, and every spaceport sells capsules of broad-spectrum cultures for most well-known species, enabling them to digest most foods, though they can’t do much about perception of flavor. There are also cosmetic bacteria as well, which generally need to be tailored to your particular genome; the process isn’t cheap, and it isn’t perfect, but so rich his flarg don’t stink is only a mild exaggeration.

Engineered, sterile helminths are available to help with maintaining biochemical balances; they consume a small but noticeable fraction of their host’s nutrition (which helps with the increased richness of diet for people who can afford them) and improve a person’s general health.

Drug symbiotes are engineered organisms that secrete the drug you specify; they have small bladders to start instant gratification and, as long as your body has the raw materials for them to work with, can synthesize more. Designs vary from dial-a-mood to dial-a-psychedelic experience. You can postpone emotional processing of your problems for decades with a good one. Drug dealers hate it because a good one means you never need to buy from them; the good ones even monitor the drugs in your system and release compensating chemicals to neutralize overdoses of external drugs and prevent hangovers. (There are versions that have the anti-drug traits and medical-use-only secretions as well; those don’t get you in anywhere near as much trouble as ones that let you decide you want level 3 euphoria and level 2 hallucinations for the next hour, please.) Some are designed to boost athletic performance, secreting hormones, steroids, etc. to boost muscle mass, increase aggression, and so on.

Spinoffs

Coloration Changes

Complete changes in the color of skin, hair, and eyes are possible using tailored retroviruses that adjust the expressed pigment genes in epithelial cells; humans can even become Twi’lek blue or green if they wish, and some variants are even transmissible to offspring. Re-engineering skin to contain chloroplasts (green, dark red, blue-green, or purple) is possible (though no one has ever made it a germ-line modification), but requires culturing an entirely new hide and replacing it with complex surgery and an uncomfortable recovery, and it doesn’t provide enough energy to sustain activity. (Some orders of contemplative ascetics will do it.)

Biotattoos are created using neutered retroviruses that infect cells but never replicate. Small quantities of a retrovirus are injected through an ultra-fine needle, where they insert their payload into the first cells they meet; repeat thousands of times (usually under machine control, unlike a regular tattooing needle) and a picture develops. The tattoos take several days to begin expressing themselves; they do not fade with age, but will stretch with the skin. Biotattoos that express luciferase or similar chemicals can glow dimly in the dark, though the color palette is more limited and complex colors may require RGB-style stippling. Tattoos that change dynamically require more complex engineering and sometimes a skin graft; some workaholics get ones that change subtly with their own blood sugar levels and use them as a reminder to eat. Mood tattoos that react to transitory emotional states would require cybernetic implants; the technology is possible, but there’s no market.

There can be issues with sunburn with some tattoos if there's a need to render skin unusually transparent, but most species don't have that problem.

Augments

The human coccyx is a set of fused bones with attached muscles, a blood supply, and sensory innervation, and can be extended into a non-prehensile tail. This can help with balance, though it also drives up the cost of clothing (especially spacesuits) and makes a person easy to spot.