"Everybody used to think that genetic engineering would be the cure for all of
humanity's problems once we decoded the genetic series. 'Course it's a wonderful
tool - if you've got several lifetimes to breed the effects or you manage to decode
all the frackin' hypercomplex human systems and sub-systems. Which they haven't yet.
So those milsci guys finally got fed up with deciphering the human body in order to
perfect it; they said 'to hell with design, we're just gonna take what nature built
for us and plug it right in'. And they did. And now I've got a little tubeworm running
around in my lungs that lets me breathe at 10,000 feet and run a sprint for 70 minutes.
Ain't nature's bounty wondrous to behold?"
"...yeah Doc, and it feels like the goddamn fracker is rolling around my lungs with
a garden rake. No, I don't have insurance...why do you ask?"
"Xenorganics is not a discipline to trifle with. It requires the utmost understanding
of the relationships between client and host, and a fine sense of the repercussions
of the symbiosis. Each xenorganic implant will creates ripples in the human endocology
that may only be fully felt years later. When a paratrooper is jumping out of a plane
over humid jungles, or when a driver has to make a sudden halt, for example. Delicate
work requires precision, insight, and accurate metrics to predict any and all side-
effects. Failure to do so could not only kill the patient, but possibly introduce
further malignant organisms into the ecosphere." - Dr. Willamette, Portland State
University Xenorganic Institute
"I don't give a flying fuck whether those symbionts are acclimatized or not,
I want those
men flying close support into Phen Pang in three hours or I'm going to drag you
and your team into the bloody FEBA myself, D'you hear?!?!" - Major D. Urganoi,
Commandant 2nd Special Air Combat Unit, USAF Experimental Weapons Division
What is That Thing?!?
If cybernetics is the union of Flesh and Machine, then xenorganics is the union
of Flesh and Beast. The powers of small symbiotic modified creatures on the human
body can be miraculous. The side-effects and degeneration can also be horrific.
Perhaps this is the ultimate expression of humanity's Fall. Now we're even losing
the inheritance that made us human. Perhaps some day the worm will truly be king.
In the meantime, countless desperate people from a cross-section of society will
do anything in their power to obtain illegal symbionts for implantation - even
if it will eventually cost them their lives. The costs given here are for when
a character wishes to purchase the 'real thing' from some corrupt Apparatus
surgeon or third-world street-bagger. Many ripperdocs offer a standard 50K
'special implant' which can be any of the below, but usually contaminated
with other parasites. The difficulty for surviving such tainted symbiont implants
is increased by +2, and the effects may not be as listed.
The general public has heard little about xenorganics as the implantation medicine
has been intentionally suppressed by its military originators. Several enterprising
Clans and Intercons have laid their hands on the technology, but use it sparingly
for fear of reprisals under the Tek Regime. Xenorganics are also highly variable
(read dangerous), and so few professionals are willing to risk their bodies to
increase their edge. This leaves desperate people or operatives who are willing to
stake everything on a single mission, or people who are implanted without their
knowledge by unscrupulous organizations. Xenorganics are considered taboo by
most religions (demonic pollution), and the paranoia about germs that now pervades
all societies makes xenorganics socially unacceptable. Any person known to harbour
xenorganic implants would be considered an outcast by all normal rational people.
Nevertheless, xenorganics are often used in military and paramilitary commando
units that (mostly) volunteer for the 'treatment'. Snakehead surgeons also
implant rich dying aristos and rich street trash for the right price, though
many face public execution for doing so. The Medical Collegium is fighting a
losing battle against prohibiting xenorganics even though public opinion is on
The biological principles behind xenorganics are vague and poorly understand -
which is exactly the reason why they are used, since no alternative has been
found to creating superhumans. And superhumanity is what Science is strying for.
Scientists continue to have
great difficulty in deciphering the bizarre and complicated interactions of
subDNA in microparasitic organisms even when the actual effects are well
documented. The profusion of strange new lifeforms that emerged from the
New Mutation has bewildered biologists for the last few years, and since
the failure of cybernetics to adequately enhance the human body (tests continue),
most covert research centers have focused on the beneficial aspects of xenorganics.
Through judicious use of potent chemical cocktails and slightly-adapted human
flora and fauna, many xenorganisms have been successfully adapted to the human
bodily system with only minimal complications.
First, a character must have some connection to a source of xenorganics. These
can only reliably be obtained from government and military hospitals. Unreliable
and unpredictable organic implants (often malignant parasites with few benefits)
can be obtained in some black markets noted for such things, especially Saigon,
Kuala Lumpur (Malayan), Wenzhou (Cathay), Almagrad (Central Russia), and
Secondly, a character must pay for the operation in some hard form (cash, scrip)
and make a Toughness Test (difficulty specified) to survive the symbiotic
implantation without side-effects. A failure means the foreign organism was
rejected/destroyed by the character's immune system. Usually all the money is
then lost, but a successful skill roll may be able to recover some of it back.
If the implantation is successful, the appropriate Psyche points must also
be subtracted as the alien nature of the creature in your body takes its mental
toll. Time must be spent to adjust to the new organism. At the end of this period
the benefits become apparent.
Thirdly, the player must make Toughness tests every day or whenever the character
suffers trauma/shock (heavy damage) to the body to avoid unpleasant side effects.
[GM's option: the character must make a Psyche Test instead to avoid an emotional
breakdown]. The degree of failure or success determines the severity of the reaction.
Chemical cocktails which temporarily suppress the side-effects (and/or the actual
benefits) may be available (GM's option) at a cost of no less than $1000 per dose
lasting one day. The power of xenorganics comes at a heavy price.
Boosterbac : a potent concoction of blood-bacteria which
strengthens the immune system but has the side-effect of invoking sickness symptoms
at all types as the human body reacts to the antigens in its bloodstream.
Benefits: +2 to Toughness to resist disease,
poisons, gases, illness.
Psyche: 0.5 points
Process: Toughness Test (diff 5); 2 weeks to take
Side-Effects: occasional symptoms of illness (flu, runny
nose, headaches, intense sleepiness. Possible
rejection at some point, leading to total immune
system failure (TISF), aka Slow Death.
Strandworms : a series of articulated, highly-flexible
and extremely tough regenerating worms braided together in thick strands to produce
the equivalent of durable strengthening muscles. The process involves growing the
strandworms from small fibres over several months as they feed off the body and
weave into the striated major muscles. Combined with the standard immunosuppressives
and human-growth-hormones, this process is especially good for bulking up the body.
Benefits: +2 to Strength (recalculate Health)
Psyche: 1.5 points
Process: Toughness Test (diff 7); 2 weeks convalescence,
4 weeks therapy.
Side-Effects: uncontrollable muscle tissue growth,
involuntary muscle spasms, dermal deformation.
ParaMinder : a spongy, coralline symbiont about the size
of a big marble which attaches itself to the base of midcortex and extends microfibriles
throughout the cortex until it reaches the frontal lobes. The symbiont alters the
hosts brain chemistry and introduces new chemicals which speed up the process of
memorization, logical cognition and pattern-recognition. The operation often results
in autism and alzheimer's-like degeneration of mental faculties.
Benefits: +1 to Intelligence
Psyche: 1.0 points
Process: Toughness Test (diff 7); 2 weeks convalescence,
4 weeks therapy.
Side-Effects: memory loss (random skill at -2), inability
to remember basic human functions such as walking,
lifting with hand, chewing, speaking (aphasia)
Nervers : a smooth oblong symbiont similar to kidney
which infiltrates the whole autonomous nervous system over the course of several
months and replaces many of the ganglions with improved cellular structures called
hermesfibriles. The neurochemical changes increase the host's reaction time,
hand-eye coordination and muscle contraction rates, leading to an overall increase
in dexterity and reflexes.
Benefits: +2 to Reflex, +1 to Dexterity
Psyche: 2.5 points
Process: Toughness Test (diff 8); 2 weeks convalescence,
8 weeks acclimatization.
Side-Effects: involuntary muscle spasms (Ref=2 for d10
rounds), loss of speech, uncontrolled growth
resulting in muscular degeneration (Str -1 per
day), convulsions, death (system shock).