Chrome

Morphological FreedomCyberlimbsBodBrainsConCrimeFaceFocusHeartHitMakeMoveProdReconRideRockSchmoozeSneakSpotMiscellaneous

Chrome measures how well you use your cybernetic and biological modifications. The game design goal here is to make this at least as much about the roleplaying aspects of the chrome as it is about the mechanical advantages. Unlike standard Shadowrun, I’m trying to avoid incentive to put together spreadsheets to figure out how particular advantages stack; either your skill adds your Chrome Edge, or it doesn’t. You might be able to take an action to Create an Advantage with one skill and then apply that to another in a second action, but that’s just fine: in accordance with the principles of the Fate system, because you put story-level camera time on it, it matters, just like the game doesn’t worry about the difference between a free invoke on Banana Peel or Oil Slick.

This is 100% backward from how it works in stock Shadowrun: instead of picking your chrome and adding up the advantages, you pick your advantages and explain them with chrome.

You must have at least one aspect that references your chrome; it need not be part of your High Concept. (Street Samurai, Rigger, and Decker clearly imply Chrome.) Possible Chrome aspects include Soulless Cyborg, Chromed Warrior-Poet, Transhuman Bodhisattva, Cutting Edge Cyberfashion, Quotidian Cybernetics, Secondhand Chrome, Bag of Chrome Tricks, Well-Hidden Upgrades, tacking a term like Chromed onto another aspect, or even a progression of DRMed Rental CyberwareHunted for My Jailbroken CyberwareOpen Source Hacked Cyberware as your story progresses.

With a nonzero Chrome skill and no Chrome stunts, you can have as much as you want of:

Mild chrome like this is increasingly common as prices drop, is easily affordable to the upper middle class, and can be a worthwhile investment for the working class, and very affordable for someone willing to sport augmented-reality designer logos to advertise their gear. Average (+1) Chrome makes people slightly eerie, as they are interacting with things invisible to mundanes and may seem distracted, but anyone with Fair (+2) Heart can pay attention to the people they’re with and be fully present. Or you can just turn it off, at which point you only have to worry about extreme cosmetic alterations weirding people out.

Chrome usually talks to your Scape via skinlink via secure one-time pad. (Your cyberLink can update the pads, but one should only do so when confident nothing can eavesdrop on your skinlink; Faraday cage booths are common in banks and apartment buildings.) The way to hack someone’s chrome is to get through the firewall on their Scape. Some chrome becomes more affordable if you take a Chrome aspect like Ambulatory Cyberware Advertisement, but it will shut down its advanced functions if you deny it access to the local Matrix to advertise itself for more than half an hour.

Narratively, serious chrome does two things:

For that, take this stunt:

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (1): Each point of Chrome gives you two slots. You can spend a slot on:

In addition to this, you get a number of surprises equal to your Chrome upgrades (i.e. 3 at +1, 6 at +2), which reset whenever you can plausibly take a vatnap to get upgrades; you also get a location-specific one for each cyberhand or foot and another for each full cyberlimb. That hand-to-hand specialist just grappled you? SURPRISE, MOTHERFRAGGER! I have flash-pak strobes in my cybereyes! Surprises are a Scrounge+Chrome roll against a difficulty of the Recon used to investigate you or the value of the mod, whichever is greater, and do not require an action; the reveal creates an aspect that you can tag immediately. The surprises need to be based in one of your augmented skills, or in a cybernetic limb.

You can add your Chrome Edge to combat rolls if you have ’ware that is makes you better at combat, such as Wired Reflexes in general, or a Smartgun in ranged combat.

Chrome is about narrative qualities: each quality specifies a kind of upgrade, and an opportunity to invoke your Chrome aspect; if the quality references a stunt, you must purchase the stunt as well. It is only necessary to roll Chrome if the roll is interesting; I take a photograph with my cyberScape is trivial, but I zoom in on his face from the tenth floor with the flexlenses in my cybereyes and take a photograph takes a roll (Sneak + Chrome if your goal is to be surreptitious, or Spot + Chrome if you’re obviously bracing your head so the image doesn’t get jarred by your pulsebeat).

Cyberware is cheaper, easier to install and remove, more controllable, easier to spot on a scan or astral perception, and requires a specialist to repair. Bioware is more expensive, trickier to install and remove, can’t be turned off, harder to spot on a scan or astral perception, and can heal up in the field.

Chrome makes you different from baseline humans, and they tend to notice. Even well-hidden chrome has its tells: people with cybereyes seldom remember to activate Baseline Human mode, so they don’t squint into the sun, and they fail to blink as often as a regular person would if the eyes aren’t feeding synthetic sensations through your cyberLink. Those with active wired reflexes react to startlements with uncanny speed. (These transitions to apparent mundanity can be automatically programmed, of course, though this creates vulnerabilities— having your chrome limit itself during a firefight because the enemy decker spoofed your location services into thinking you’re in one of your favorite safe areas could be lethal.) More blatant chrome can be shocking, and frightening when you realize that the person drinking next to you can pop a razor-sharp monofilament-edged carbon fiber blade out of their wrist any time the whim strikes.

This can be a problem, socially, and from a game mechanics perspective this means that your (Chrome + Magic) – Heart score, if better than Mediocre (+0), can unconsciously act as a social attack to people around you. (If you have subtle chrome and set the Baseline Human mode on it, effectively forfeiting your Edge, then you also avoid the social penalty.) People who routinely encounter such folk do build up a tolerance.

Cybernetics usually run on batteries charged by a fuel cell that runs on blood glucose. Superhuman cyberlimbs usually need some extra power and have induction patches or even plugs for direct charging.

Qualities listed with a date are commonly available when the game is set in or after that year. If your character has connections, they might have an early adopter version two years before, or an experimental prototype four to five years before.

Cybergenic Affective Disorder

Chrome can erode both affect and empathy, particularly for people who get cheap chrome implanted by a street doc and then hit the streets as soon as they’re out of the vat. Bargain cybereyes and ears feel like you’re experiencing sight and sound through a cheap trideo set. High-quality senses and superhuman capabilities can leave you feeling like the unaugmented are lesser beings, except for the times you’re jealous of them for their normality. This condition is medically termed cybergenic affective disorder and popularly termed cyberpsychosis. Responsible clinics always prescribe a course of cybernetic integration counseling, with the first session occurring before the implantation surgery, but few are so scrupulous that they’ll enforce it by putting code in your ’ware that disables its superhuman capabilities if you miss too many appointments.

In terms of game mechanics, this shows up in aspects like Cyberjerk and Turbocharged Drekhead.

Essence

Your Essence is a measure of your metaphysical integrity. The loss of it

What costs Essence is deviation from your metaphysical self; no one has yet figured out how to truly incorporate chrome into your soul. Minor cosmetic changes such as tattoos (old-fashioned ink or a retrovirus changing pigment expression) or minor cosmetic biosculpting aren’t enough to trigger Essence loss.

On astral sight, cyberware shows up as obvious dark marks on the aura. Bioware still glows like all living things, but the colors aren’t quite right.

Well-replicated studies have observed that gender confirmation procedures, when performed with a trained medical assensor providing feedback to the surgeon, do not cost Essence, despite the flesh no longer matching the original biology. (The exact same procedure, performed as an extreme disguise measure to set up a grift, costs Essence.) These results caused considerable debate among hermetic magies, while shamans just laughed.

Due to the loss of Essence, it’s more difficult for magic to restore you to healthy state, in consonance with your aural template, as the magicians would say. Your Chrome adds directly to the difficulty of any spell to heal you.

Creatures that drain Essence, such as vampires, add your Chrome to inflicted stress when feeding, but subtract it from the amount of nourishment they would get from draining you to death.

Healing spells are not effective immediately after cybersurgery; they tend to cause rejection of new chrome. Slower forms of Awakened medicine (e.g.: acupuncture, reiki) can improve the pace of integration.

Morphological Freedom

Extensive bodily customization is available, much of it accessible even to gangs visiting street docs. Where people draw the line between ephemeral fashionware and wholehearted expression of identity varies from person to person and can lead to loud arguments.

You can have any or all of this cyberware:

And this bioware:

Pigments found in nature include carotenoids (the bright red of the cardinal, pink of the flamingo, and yellow of the goldfinch), melanins (reddish browns, pale yellows, dark black), porphyrins (pinks, browns, reds, and greens; they all fluoresce a bright red under ultraviolet light), and anthocyanins (raspberry red, blueberry blue, aubergine purple, black).

Where Did I Get It?

The most common forms of cyberware are universally available: you can easily get a cyberSkape, Skill Link, Simrig, Cybereyes, Cyberears, and many forms of fashionware at the mainstream body shops like NuYou and Body Pagoda, and with a little more difficulty through no-frills outfits like Cyborgs Я Us or a street doc— the standardized procedures are that common. The cyberScape is the most common piece of headware in the world, and the combination of a cyberScape and skillmod are extremely common in modern-day middle class office workers. The simrig is also popular with simsense enthusiasts who dream of becoming stars.

The cost of chrome is the Scrounge+Chrome threshold to justify having it if your story is I can obtain it directly; if you’re an Experimental Cyberware Tester or My Mysterious Matrix Sugar Daddy Buys All My Chrome, you don’t need to worry about such things in the first place (but you do have other things to worry about). Cost is Great (+4) unless otherwise noted.

Almost any military will set you up with a cyberScape, Smartgun Link, Skill Link (mostly used for linguasofts when deploying to areas where they don’t speak the local language) and Metabolic Dashboard (very handy for swing and graveyard shifts) if you can make it through boot camp, and will spring for a basic Control Rig or Wired Reflexes if you re-up. Police are so heavily militarized that they aren’t much different. If a limb gets heavily injured, expect pressure to get it quickly replaced with a cyberlimb so you can get back in action, rather than going through months of physical therapy or getting a biological replacement.

Level 2 wired reflexes or control rigs are usually found among special forces or police rapid response teams.

Street docs do a brisk business in handrazors and cyberspurs, as well as fashionware that street gangs value for a common look. Some of them even have the vats needed for people to survive the more extensive upgrades, though they’re unlikely to have such things waiting on the shelf. Most of the people you see in vats in the Body Mall in Redmond are getting muscle grafts or extensive somatic customization.

Custom biotech work requires a lab; replace my scalp with ultra-soft chinchilla fur is common enough that you can get that off the shelf (along with sable and mink, all in popular colors), but replace my scalp with a pelt cloned from this cat will require an appointment with a lab and a one-month waiting time before your surgery.

Some corporations are in the habit of beta tasting development cyberware in legitimate clinical-trial volunteers, and others in volunteers under some form of coercion, up to and including snatching them off the street. Better-chromed gangs are often sporting Pre-Release Cyberware and giving feedback to the manufacturers through black box recorders. If dead bodies start popping up blinking green nuyen icons in augmented reality, they’re probably offering a reward for bringing in their black box. (Or trying to get you close enough for that fragmentation bomb in their femur to get you. Better have the decker investigate first.)

Modifications that do serious reshaping, such as Digitigrade Locomotion and Retractable Claws, are quite tricky and require access to higher-end services like those available at Body+Tech; furrygangs with extreme modifications like that tend to have a sponsor somewhere. Luxury clinics like Executive Body Enhancements provide top-notch, cutting-edge work.

Havenware is available to residents of the Havens, but even the simplest Haven chrome takes a month to integrate with your nervous system. There are Havenware versions of the cyberScape, simrig, skill link, synth link, smartgun link, cybereyes, cyberears, metabolic dashboard, wired reflexes, control rig, cyberlimbs, and morphological freedom measures up to Great (+4) cost.

Cyberlimbs

Cyber replacements are narrative permission to introduce new qualities on the fly, and do so as soon as you could have swapped out your chrome. Cyberlimbs give you permission to either add your Chrome Edge (such as deploying Cyberskates to Move faster) or do something extraordinary, such as grabbing a gun out of someone’s hand with your Grapple Cyberhand. You do not have to decide ahead of time! This is a narrative game, and it’s cool to reveal capabilities in the middle of a scene. The main limitation is that once you’ve established that a limb is doing one thing, you can’t contradict it with another (the same limb can’t have a cybergun and a built-in cyberdeck because there isn’t room for both).

Cyberlimbs usually have quick-change mounts that make it easy to swap one limb for another, so you can put on your Victorinox Swiss Army Cyberhand for your day of Making stuff, then when you head to the nightclub, you put on your party cyberhand with the synthflesh covering, vibration motors in the fingertips, Peltier effect heat pump in the palm, and lube reservoir.

Decide whether your arm uses contractile myomer fibers or motors; only the former kind can pass for organic when its synthflesh covering is intact. A myomer arm can be covered in synthflesh or a more obviously artificial material, such as the matte black preferred by stealth operatives or sharkskin popular among some shadowrunners. A more obviously artificial arm can look like gunmetal, chrome, any color of ceramic, and have any texture or pattern, including Celtic knotwork, Maori tattoos, and scales ranging from tiny lizard scales to large dragon scales, and organic LED screens under transparent plasteel. (Options tend to be in the forearm or shin and hand or foot; the upper arm and thigh have more of the hardware for limb functionality.)

You can keep your original arms and add two cyberarms (with some extra work on your rib cage and spinal cord), but unless you're a nartaki, you can only control one pair at a time. (Four-arm rigs are based on studies of nartaki anatomy.) This is still useful for holding stuff with one pair while doing something intricate with the other, and more complicated custom controls can be written. This is so rare that no one bothers to create activesofts for extra arms, and they may even get in the way if you try to use your top arms with skillwires. It is also extremely distinctive; having extra arms grants an automatic +2 to track you down or shadow you.

Most of the interesting cyberlimb options are not compatible with a synthflesh covering that can pass for organic at a distance. The exceptions are noted.

Bod

Chrome that enhances your Bod:

Cyberlimb options that enhance your Bod:

Bod-related surprises:

Special defensive chrome that requires buying blue dice with a stunt, up to the limit of your Chrome; if you have some left over, you can spend it on your Muscle Grafts and Bone Lacing making you able to hit harder without breaking your hand:

Brains

Chrome that enhances your Brains:

Stunts:

Con

Chrome that enhances your Con:

Crime

Chrome that enhances your Crime:

Cyberlimb options that can assist in Crime:

Crime-related surprises:

Face

Chrome that enhances your Face:

Focus

Chrome that enhances your Focus:

Heart

Hit

Cybernetic weapons capable of killing people are almost never street-legal in countries that also outlaw bloodsports; when bloodsports are legal, they require licenses. Soldiers with cyberlimbs will switch to civilian limbs when going off base.

Chrome that enhances your Hit:

Cyberlimb options that enhance your Hit:

Hit surprises, some of which you can use when both your hands are busy; cyberware ones can also be installed in a cyberarm:

Make

Chrome that enhances your Make:

Cyberlimb options that can assist in Make:

Move

Chrome that enhances your Move:

Cyberlimb options that enhance your Move:

Prod

If you have spent a slot on Hit, you do not need to spend a slot on Prod to get your Chrome bonus if you just want to intimidate people with cyberweapons.

Recon

Chrome that enhances your Recon:

Ride

Chrome that enhances your Ride:

Rock

Chrome that enhances your Rock:

Schmooze

The main way chrome can enhance networking is by making it easy to have encyclopedic knowledge of contacts and markets. This is best simulated by using Brains+Chrome to Create an Advantage before rolling Schmooze.

Scrounge

Scournge + Chrome represents your ability to obtain chrome, whether through shady dealings, experimental trials, or financial wherewithal.

Sneak

Chrome that enhances your Sneak:

Spot

Chrome that enhances your Spot:

Cyberlimb options that enhance Spot:

Miscellaneous Chrome

Chrome that does not contribute to any skill and can be introduced as surprises if you are Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger:

Cyberlimb options that do not contribute to any skill:

If your Chrome and Drugs Edges are at least 1 each:

What Isn’t Here?

  • The cybercomm from Cybertechnology p18, which is supposed to allow silent transmission of text at 4× normal speed. The human brain only processes language at about 39 bits per second.