Friday, 25 December 2015

Bioroids: Taleon Series

Taleon Bioroid.
The Taleon model bioroid line was developed by Waterloo Vitals, a Canadian company previously known for the production of high quality biomod organs. Part of the programming of Taleons is based on the British regimental system. Taleons are very loyal to their comrades and regiment. Canada, Britain and Australia were enthusiastic early customers for Taleons. The USA, New Zealand, South Africa and several European Union states have also brought Taleons. (EU, SA and NZ Taleons are citizens and technically were recruited rather than purchased. The Taleon acquisition remains controversial with some pro-sapient or anti-military citizens) So far there have been no major conflicts were both sides fielded Taleons. Many are curious about such a competition, including most Taleons.

The Taleon line comprises of three related strains of bioroid. All Taleons have the following features:-
·         Eyes are somewhat larger than of baseline humans. Day and night vision is very good. External ears are somewhat smaller. Canine teeth are somewhat more pointed but this has not enough to have an effect on combat ability.
·         Nose is broader with enlarged nostrils. Nostrils can be closed against water or dust. Sense of smell is very well developed. Taleons in crowded conditions such as cities may suppress their sense of smell using autohypnosis.
·         Fingers end in short claws which are mainly used for climbing and digging. On the inner side of the forearm is a polgara spine, a product of Waterloo Vitals. This is a polykeratin spike that can be extended a quarter to a third of a metre past the heel of the hand. A Taleon can grip and stab simultaneously with the same arm. The spine does thrust-impaling damage. The claws and polgaras are why Taleon hand to hand techniques use a lot of palm heel and spear-hand strikes.
·         The Taleon’s lungs, liver and kidneys are all based on Waterloo’s biomod lines and give a variety of advantages. The Taleon can survive on raw vegetable matter a normal human could not. Their liver and immune system allows them  to safely drink water that would be dangerous to a baseline human. There is also little point in kicking a Taleon in the groin. Waterloo Vitals did not bother installing unnecessary vulnerabilities. Taleon have the equivalent of the “Testicle Tuck” biomod.
·         Taleon programming and education includes autohypnosis techniques. This may be used to override feelings of pain or discomfort. A Taleon hiding underwater can divert most of his blood flow to just his brain, so can stay submerged for a long time. One of the most mundane but useful applications of this training is that a Taleon can instantly fall asleep when desired, regardless of external stimuli. A useful skill for a soldier!
·         Waterloo's standard programming renders Taleons psychologically incapable of torture or rape.
·         All Taleon soldiers are AB+ blood group, making them universal recipients, and 38% are left handed. This means that 38% of a unit will tend to carry their weapons pointed to the right, or be more adept at firing from their left shoulders. This proves useful in street fighting and when ambushed.

The three strains of Taleon are:
            Kueru: Kuerus resemble baseline humans until you get close. Kuerus are the most useful Taleon for covert missions, liaison work, peacekeeping etc.  The default skin colour is a medium brown which is a reasonable camouflage shade under many conditions. At a distance Kuerus can pass for Latin Americans or Asians. Kuerus can control their melanin by autosuggestion and in a few ours can turn their skins deep brown if the climate or location requires it. They can also lighten their skin enough to pass for Caucasians or Orientals at a distance. The skin itself is somewhat leathery, giving them added protection. Most Kuerus shave their heads although some leave a “pad” of hair at the top and mohawks are not unknown. A popular fashion, particularly among NCOs are tightly trimmed mutton-chop whiskers –i.e. beards with the chin shaved.

            Kiru: Kirus are probably the most common Taleon. They resemble Kuerus but have a coat of tan and grey fur that sheds water like a Labrador’s coat. The fur has a mottled pattern that is a useful camouflage. The main advantage of the fur is it greatly reduces the weight of clothing a furred Taleon needs to carry.  The fashion for mutton chops is also seen in furred Taleon.

            Kret: Krets resemble Kirus in everything except height. Kuerus and Kirus are 1.75 metres (5ft 9") tall. Kret are 1.35 metres (4ft 5"). Kret can go many places larger soldiers cannot. They are also adroit climbers and jumpers. Kret make highly capable snipers, scouts and tunnel fighters. Although strong for their size, Kret are weaker than other Taleon so do not have the ST+1 modifier. Instead a Kret automatically has Jumping (DX+3) skill.

Kueru           95 points
Kiru              96 points.
Kret              94 points

Attribute Modifiers:

Kueru: ST +1 [10]; HT +1 [10] FP +2 [6];
Thick Hide DR 1 [5]
Kiru: ST +1 [10]; HT +1 [10] FP +2 [6];
Fur: (DR 1 [5], Fur [1], Temperature Tolerance 1 [1]) Total [7] points.
Unnatural Features 1 [-1]
Kret: HT +1 [10] FP +2 [6];
Fur: (DR 1 [5], Fur [1], Temperature Tolerance 1 [1]) Total [7] points.
Jumping +3 [8]
Unnatural Features 1 [-1]

Date: 2091   Cost: $160,000

Combat reflexes [15]
Sense of duty -2 [-10]
Night Vision +2 [2]
Code of Honour (Soldier’s) [-10]
Discriminatory Smell [15]
Unusual Biochemistry [-5]*
Acute Vision [2]
Sterile [0]*
Acute Taste/Smell [2]
Early Maturation 4 [0]*
Polgara (Striker/Talons, thr-imp, switchable +10%) [9]
Blunt claws [3]
Arm Strength (Both Arms, ST+1) [5]
High Pain Threshold [10]
Injury Tolerance (No Vitals; Partial, Vitals, Groin only, -60%) [2].

Filter Lungs [5]
Breath-Holding 2 [4]
Cast Iron stomach 1 [4]
Resistant to Poison (+3) [3]
Resistant to Disease (+3) [3]
Resistant to Ingested Poison (+8) [5].
Reduced Water Consumption 2 (water only -50%) [2]
No Degeneration in Zero-G [1]*
Features marked * are traits common to all bioroids. All bioroids have a Virtual Interface Implant (VII) and downslink fitted as standard as part of their education and training process. Taboo Trait (Genetic Defects); Intron Messages (Trademark);

Furry Bandits!

Version 2.
GURPS Bio-tech (4e) p.90 has this interesting little vignette:
Missing: Two raccoons, aged 3 and 4 E-years. Gray fur, distinctive black mask marking over eyes, rings on tail. $10,000 reward for information leading to recapture. Please contact Macrotech@Fed.Net.Com.
“Let’s see if I understand this. Two of our Doolittle Virus enhanced Neo-Coons faked a stomach ache, lured you into the cage, took your tangler and glommed you to the wall. Now they’re loose. Where would they go?”
“I don’t know, sir. These ones were being trained by the Bureau for covert ops, but we hadn’t completed indoctrination – there were some problems in training. Anyway, after they jumped me, they used the computer to send out e-mail, then wiped the system.”
“Used the computer? How? We didn’t modify their hands! They’re supposed to look like ordinary raccoons!”
“Even normal ’coons have good grasping paws, sir. That was the whole point of using them. Our Neo-Coons can’t talk, but they can type and use tools if they’re sitting on their haunches. I just wish I knew who they were trying to get in touch with . . .”

In THS Toxic Memes p.66 there are descriptions of urban legends about secret communities or even an “animal militia” of uplifted animals.
In THS Cities of the Edge (4e) is the passage: “Although it’s not a serious problem at the moment, a number of raccoons with the Doolittle virus enhancement (Broken Dreams, p. 140) have begun using tools in an almost human manner, and have been raiding east coast suburbs and metavillages, robbing delivery cybershells, and hiding in abandoned and mothballed buildings.”
THS Broken Dreams tells us: “In 2089, hunters in the Colorado Rockies reported deer cooperating – “ganging up,” in one man’s words – to attack the men hunting them. Another hiker in the same area told police that he saw a bear using an old backpack as a portable storage for fish. These stories were dismissed until a group of raccoons defeated relatively sophisticated security systems to break into houses. When the local police managed to kill one of the raccoons, scientists discovered that it had a substantially more complex brain than was normal for its species. Eight years of investigation led to the discovery of anti-government crusader Richard Law Taylor’s “Doolittle” virus, a germline alteration that increased brain complexity and resulted in surprisingly adaptable, and often dangerous, behavior in the modified lines. Doolittle (which is actually an assortment of variants, each designed for a particular species) provides a +1 to IQ. Since 2090, more than 1500 Doolittle-infected animals have been found across North America.”

Any GM thinking of incorporating these ideas into a game is advised to have a read of Bruce Sterling’s “Our Neural Chernobyl”. Our Neural Chernobyl is a short story written in the form of a review of a fictional book. The fictional book describes the origin and consequences of an accidental enhancement in the intelligence of several animal species. The section on the racoons is particularly interesting:
But the synergetic effects of dendritic branching and manual dexterity are clear in a certain nonprimate species. I refer, of course, to the well-known “chernobyl jump” of  Procyon lotor, the American raccoon. The astonishing advances of the raccoon, and its Chinese cousin the panda, occupy the entirety of Chapter 8. Here Dr. Hotton takes the so-called “modern view,” from which I must dissociate myself. I, for one, find it intolerable that large sections of the American wilderness should be made into “no-go areas” by the vandalistic activities of our so-called “stripe-tailed cousins.”
Admittedly, excesses may have been committed in early attempts to exterminate the verminous, booming population of these masked bandits. But the damage to agriculture has been severe, and the history of kamikaze attacks by self-infected rabid raccoons is a terrifying one. Dr. Hotton holds that we must now “share the planet with a fellow civilized species.” He bolsters his argument with hearsay evidence of “raccoon culture” that to me seems rather flimsy. The woven strips of bark known as “raccoon wampum” are impressive examples of animal dexterity, but to my mind it remains to be proven that they are actually “money.” And their so-called “pictographs” seem little more than random daubings. The fact remains that the raccoon population continues to rise exponentially, with raccoon bitches whelping massive litters every spring.

Racoons are worth considering even if you do not opt for other wild uplifts. Below is the profile for uplifted racoons for anyone that does not have Bio-tech 4e.

-92 points

Attribute Modifiers: ST-5 [-50]; DX+2 [40]; IQ-3 [-60]; HT+1 [10].
Secondary Characteristic Modifiers: SM -3; Per+4 [20]; Will+3 [15].
Advantages: Claws (Sharp Claws) [5]; DR 1 [5]; Night Vision 1 [1]; Super Climbing 1 [3]; Teeth (Sharp Teeth) [1].
Perks: Fur [1].
Disadvantages: Bad Grip -3 [-15]; Cannot Speak [-15]; Curious (12) [-5]; Horizontal [-10]; Short Lifespan 2 [-20]; Sleepy (1/2 of the time) [-8]; Social Stigma (Valuable Property) [-10].

Availability: $50,000. LC4.

           These were modified for increased IQ +2 and to remove Wild Animal meta-trait (except Cannot Speak). All other advantages and disadvantages are native to raccoons.