Dawn of the Artifacts
Beyond the Pale
Cybermancy as understood by those who practice it is not
a way to bring the dead back to life but rather of forestalling the
effects of entropy. It allows a subject to persist in life when they
are supposed to be dead though the costs (in every meaning of
the term) are high indeed. The truth is that it creates an unnatural
state of existence, out of phase with the world, neither alive nor
dead, mundane or magical—a state that the mind, spirit and body
intuitively rejects. In some respects, the universe itself appears
to consider them dead, and cyberzombies find themselves at the
mercy of a number of disturbing coincidences, and a high proportion
of cyberzombies become superstitious or paranoid or both.
Those who perform cybermantic techniques learn something
new with every procedure—whether the subject lives or dies.
While there’s no known reason why the current generation of
cyberzombies couldn’t theoretically persist forever, that’s in part
because the apoptotic inhibitors that allow cyberzombies to live
for more than ten years are themselves less than ten years old.
It bears noting that cybermancy does not prevent the encroachment
of death from physical or magical damage, but it
does prevent a character from dying from age-related conditions,
Essence loss, or any other arbitrary death effect that the gamemaster
As the Essence of the subject drops lower and lower, the
ritual becomes more costly, time consuming, and dangerous for
the subject and the team performing the operation. Nonetheless,
researchers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.
Whether there are any hard limits is unknown, but as of 2070, no
cybermantic procedure has succeeded in pushing a patient beyond
SIDE EFFECTS OF UNLIFE
Cyberzombies may not age, but they require constant medications
to keep from developing cancer or worse side effects from the
procedure. Essentially, a cyberzombie’s lifestyle costs are increased
by 2,000¥ a month for medications. Further, these medications
aren’t exactly available over the counter. Producing them requires
a chemical facility. Receiving them from other sources requires the
good graces of the entity that originally performed the surgery (or
overcoming an availability of 24).
The cybermantic procedure never fully rejoins the body and
spirit, leaving a cyberzombie trapped between both planes. As a
result, cyberzombies become dual natured. Note that once a portion
is removed from the cyberzombie, it is no longer a part of
her. This means that a cyberzombie may attack an astral form with
cyberspurs, but not with a cybergun (the bullets stop being dual
natured as soon as they leave the barrel).
The fact that the body is now effectively possessed by its
original spirit means that a cyberzombie becomes, in some senses,
a magical entity. Accordingly, upon awakening to her new dual existence,
a cyberzombie gains a Magic attribute of 1. This cannot be
increased with Karma, spirit pacts, or in fact by any other means. If
the character already possessed a Magic attribute, it is permanently
reduced to 1. If the character possessed a Resonance attribute, it is
permanently reduced to 0 and all technomantic abilities are lost.
Due to the cybermantic rituals, the cyberzombie does not suffer
Magic loss from implantation, but if the Magic attribute is ever
reduced to 0 by other means, the cyberzombie dies.
The procedures that create a cyberzombie are powerfully
magical and emotional events. Even after the procedure is over,
mana continues to pool and distort around a cyberzombie.
Whether this is a result of the dark magic used or an unconscious
psychosomatic manifestation of the spirit’s anguish at its unnatural
condition is unknown.
In effect, the cyberzombie becomes a domain in her own
right, tainting astral space around her wherever she goes. This astral
haze affects all attempts to cast magic on, at, or in the vicinity of
the cyberzombie. Whatever the ambient mana conditions are, the
cyberzombie always stands at the heart of a Rating 4 background
count (see p. 117, Street Magic) that extends a number of meters
from her body equal to her total negative Essence. If she remains
in one place for long, that background count will expand at the
rate of about a meter in every direction every two or three hours
Once a cyberzombie has left an area, the mana will shift towards its
normal conditions at the rate of about 1 point per day.
Once a body has been pushed beyond death, pushing its
metahuman limits is comparatively simple. To reflect this superhuman
power, add the total number of Essence points below zero
(rounded down) the cyberzombie possesses to all its maximum
natural attribute values (for instance, a dwarf cyberzombie with
–2 points of Essence would have a new maximum natural Body
of 9 rather than 7). The maximum augmented attribute values are
also increased accordingly.
Further, a cyberzombie is inhumanly resilient and possesses
Immunity to Normal Weapons (p. 288, SR4). To calculate the effects
of Immunity, replace Force in the relevant description with
the total number of negative Essence points she possesses, rounding
normally (e.g. a cyberzombie with an Essence of –2.4 would
have 4 points of hardened armor against normal weaponry).
Madness and Despair
Life as a cyberzombie isn’t all ripping spirits in half with
cybernetic claws and bouncing small arms off of your hide; it also
opens up a whole new set of existential crises. Most cyberzombies
see astral space for the first time when they awaken from the procedure,
and this comes with at least as difficult a psychological strain
as a late-age awakening to magical power. Combine entering one’s
new life as a heavily modified cyberzombie in a cruel world that
appears to delight in pretending that you don’t exist, and you’ve
got a recipe for poor social adjustment. Psychology for cyberzombies
has come a long way from the mid ’50s, but it’s still a new field,
and a lot of cyberzombies are inexplicably unhappy.
Cyberzombies are at extreme risk for simply forgetting to care
about the world, a form of intense depression called chronic dissociation
syndrome. Modern medicine and the invoked memory
stimulator hold that off, but cyberzombies who turn their IMS off
rarely remember to eat.
On some fundamental and instinctive level, the mind,
spirit, and body rail against their unnatural existence and seek
to bring an end to it all. In this, cyberzombies are as tragic as
they are inhuman.
Every month, a cyberzombie must perform a Willpower
+ Intuition (1) Test. The threshold increases by 1 for every
week without medication since the last test and for every year
in service. Failure in the test burdens the character with a 5 BP
Negative quality, or increases an existing one to a value 5 BPs
higher. Alternately, the character may choose to permanently
lower an attribute and respective maximums by 1 point instead.
There need not be a logical progression of increased severity with
a specific psychosis. Instead, a new and more serious one may
simply supplant an existing one.