As I previously did with the new edition of Bio-Tech, I'm going over the latest version of GURPS Ultra-Tech, making my own (unofficial) notes on using the stuff from this (very nice) newer book in the canonical Transhuman Space setting. Fortuitously, Chapter 1 is an overview of the relevant concepts, so I can effectively start with an overview of my own subject.
Transhuman Space is, to a significant extent, the setting which defined the ideas about future technology which are used in GURPS 4e, so for practical purposes, we can say that it is, very simply, a TL10 setting.
People in 2100 are looking forward to TL11, of course, and as my previous notes described, the world seems to have advanced to TL11 in some areas of biotechnology. However, that's still bleeding-edge stuff, and real TL11 skills are pretty much confined to the laboratory. Characters other than biotech researchers can be built solidly at TL10, and that's the TL to go on your campaign definitions.
There are also one or two non-biotech items appearing in TS equipment lists which are now defined to be TL11, but they're infrequent and specific enough that, rather than claiming that the setting has advanced a TL in those areas, it's much easier to redefine them as high TL10 and be done with it. In particular, diamondoid material is sometimes used, mostly in spacecraft hulls so far as I can see - though it's bloody expensive - and a few spacecraft have functioning antimatter drives. But that just means there are some big tough warships around. The other thing that crosses my mind right now is surveillance dust, but that's a standalone item.
On the other hand, the TS setting appears to be retarded in personal weapons technology; basically, it's still using slug-throwers rather than lasers. David Pulver has given a setting-specific explanation for this, which I'll come back to in a later post; it's largely socio-economic, but note for now that it also suggests that small fast-release energy cells aren't as widely available in TS as Ultra-Tech may assume (which cripples personal lasers a bit).
By the above logic, with TL11 stuff developing by 2100, Transhuman Space is an Accelerated Progression setting. However, I'm not sure that it hit TL9 by 2020 or TL10 by 2050; for most purposes, it's merely Fast Progression, advanced in (parts of) biotechnology.
(There's a long-standing argument that TS assumes that one or two other things go a little faster than is physically plausible for a hard SF setting, whatever the nominal tech level; the colonisation of the outer system and the rate of terraforming of Mars are problematic for some people. But re-setting it to, say, 2150, and declaring it merely Fast Progression lurching towards Accelerated, is left as an exercise.)
To repeat - TS is essentially a mainstream "hard" TL10 setting from the GURPS viewpoint. However, simply because it does use pretty well all the non-superscience TL10 stuff, it's slipping into Radical Hard SF - which should be the theme of many "Fifth Wave" and "Deep Beyond" games. Simply by the nature of things, it can have a Cyberpunk feel in places without much distortion; on the other hand, the design decision that "dry" nanotech isn't really available (yet) stops it being a Nanotech Revolution world. The advanced biotechnology makes it a High Biotech setting of sorts, but the rate of advance isn't different enough to make this flavour especially strong - there are still many, many things which are done better by metal than by flesh.
This is a subject that will doubtless pop up in various places throughout these notes. The obvious area of social control in TS concerns infomorphs.
Infomorphs are also an area where buying stuff for cash can get very complicated in TS...
I'd also note that, because weapons tech is somewhat retarded in TS, TL8 weapons aren't likely to be any more legal, even though they're two TLs behind the environment. When an assault pod is a standard military sidearm, an old assault rifle still looks like a serious weapon, even if it's a bit dated.
"Plug-in Gadgets" really should be part of the fun of a TS game, I find. Assume lots of interface compatibility!
(Just to make it clear and remind people, by the way - TS is a hard SF setting, which means I'm taking it as read that we just skip anything marked as superscience.)
- Cell sizes and classes are the same as in TS; prices are different - sometimes more, sometimes less. As one usually acquires a (rechargeable) cell as part of a device when purchasing it, this is only likely to be an occasional concern; I'll guess that the newer book has more considered pricing structure, and suggest adopting that. For that matter, some tasks require power packs, which pushes prices right back up.
TS doubtless uses flexible power cells for at least some minor purposes - it's very much part of the style. Non-rechargeable cells are canonical.
Also, TS doesn't have F cells listed. I think that function is probably largely taken by big fuel cells and high-tech engines of various sorts, but if anyone wants to introduce them, they might cost, say, $2,000 if using the old pricing structure, and store 200 kWh. (Making them equal to ten E cells bolted together, with a discount for the bulk purchase.)
Incidentally, it's been said, following my first post, that TS power cell energy densities are merely highly optimistic, whereas most game treatments of the subject are quite wildly so. I'll leave this debate to people who know more about the engineering and science than me, though.
- I don't recall any mention of TS cells being able to explode, and it's a bit skiffy - though given the energy densities that SF settings do tend to assume, it may not be as unlikely as all that. Fast-discharge cells in particular are, well, designed to release the energy they contain fast. Vandalising a superconductor loop or a bank of nano-flywheels could surely have some interesting results.
- Fusion Generators: I guess that the semi-portable fission and fusion reactors might be available in TS games - they're expensive enough that people wouldn't just install one in their car. However, the Wheeled Vehicle Design System in In the Well (for example) effectively makes the lightest possible fission reactor 4,000 lbs. and $250,000; for fusion, that becomes 22,000 lbs. and $5,000,000. Both are thus substantially heftier than the things in Ultra-Tech. Clearly, TS is rather more conservative in its assumptions about all sorts of power technology than this new book.
- The prices and weights for computers in Ultra-Tech are a bit different to those in TS, and Ultra-Tech interpolates a new size class, the "personal computer", in the list of names between "small" and "microframe", as well as adding a new class on the top, the "megacomputer". In other words, the two lists don't align properly, and even insofar as they do, models of the same name are no longer counterparts.
Very roughly, if you double the weights of the Ultra-Tech computers and multiply their prices by anything from 8 to 2.5, and remember that they're TL10 models, you get some kind of correspondence - but I think it's probably easier just to stick with the TS computer models table for practical purposes. Otherwise, you have to fiddle with the notes on every cybershell template and... Well, it's just too much like work, really. (You'd also have to tweak the Legaility Classes, following the guidelines on p.60 of Changing Times.) The Ultra-Tech list does raise the possibility of adding to two new categories to the TS list:
Super-Macroframe: Weight 10,000, Cost $1,500,000, Complexity 10, Storage 10,000,000, LC 4 old, 3 new.
Megacomputer: Weight 100,000, Cost $10,000,000, Complexity 11, Storage 100,000,000, LC 4 old, 3 new.
On the other hand, TS is surely more about distributed processing than building-sized megabrains.
- The variant options have also seen some name-juggling; the old "Genius" becomes "Fast" (but doesn't have extra storage or reduced Legality), while "Cheap" becomes "Slow". "Printed" works differently, too, and may frankly be a bit more plausible in this version... But once again, I'd tend to just stick with the TS system all round, for simplicity.
One could assume that all TS computers are "Hardened"; that helps bring the prices a bit more into line, and raises the possibility of allowing TS computers a "non-hardened" option (halve cost and weight, -3 to HT rolls to resist magnetic pulses, microwaves, etc.), but then GMs would have to penalise budget-conscious munchkins something rotten - I'd skip it as a minor can of worms. And if you like the new, Ultra-Tech "Genius" option, try adding this to the TS options:
Super-Genius: Weight x1, Cost x500, Complexity +2, Storage x10, LC (old or new) -1. Can't be combined with Cheap or Genius.
And suddenly, the Men in Black from the Government have fully sapient sunglasses. $200,000 sunglasses, mind you.
- The rules on terminals can probably be imported more or less as written, to minor useful effect.
- The generic software costs in Ultra-Tech might be useful, but they make things quite a lot cheaper than in the original TS book, and I'd be very cautious about using them as anything more than a loose guideline even with some kind of multiplier applied. Not all Complexity 4 programs are the same.
- Artificial Intelligences: Ultra-Tech reverts to the old GURPS habit of creating a hard link between AI Complexity and IQ. Transhuman Space doesn't have this, and I rather like not having it, even if it does confuse people occasionally. In particular, I don't see why two Mind Emulations both based on scans of similarly-sized human brains should be radically different in complexity and therefore size, just because one of the humans was a bit smarter than the other - a ruling which appears in Ultra-Tech. (Basing this off racial standard IQ might make a bit more sense.)
Anyway, Ultra-Tech changes the categorisation (broadly, I'd say that NAI becomes "Dedicated" or low-end "Non-Volitional", LAI becomes high-end "Non-Volitional", and SAI become "Volitional"), and the IQ/Complexity relationship is different to that of the TS template baselines... Best to stick with the TS rules for TS games, I strongly suggest.
- Drones are of course covered by use of the Minimal Software template in Changing Times. I set that at Complexity 1, assuming that it really only handles security protocols, and that system stability and suchlike are dealt with by dedicated systems; Ultra-Tech assumes that a drone needs something of Complexity 3, apparently looking after its body a bit more. Take your pick.
- Total cyborgs have never really featured in Transhuman Space, but there've been occasional discussions of the idea - they're well within the technological paradigm. A bit of fiddling with the game mechanics should allow any reasonably large cybershell to function as a cyborg.
- Machine Intelligence Lenses: These make interesting comparisons to the standard TS AI templates, but do remember - these are lenses, not full templates themselves, while the TS templates include some significant setting-specific elements. (Still, the Drone lens is identical to the Minimal Software template.)
- Biomorphic Lenses: While they may not apply directly to any humanoid cybershell models in TS, it's probably worth looking through these for appropriate features whenever statting up some such shell.
- Chameleon: Logically, pretty well every cybershell in TS with this advantage ought to take the Controllable enhancement. (Ditto for uplifted squids, by the way.) I'm not sure personally if it's worth +20%, but it mightn't hurt to allow or require characters to take it as an option if they think they can have fun with fine control of their surface appearances.
- Discriminatory Senses: Likewise, a cybershell which is built to use these for, say, forensic purposes, could add the Profiling enhancement. (But wouldn't Eidetic Memory also cover this, more or less?)
- Extra Life: I'm not sure about the digital compression ratios quoted here. TS usually seems to assume low levels of redundancy in things like AI code.
- Telecommunication: Changing Times swiped Cable Jack and some of these enhancements, of course, and others (Sonar Comm, Burst) might well be appropriate for some models.
- Pacifism: I wouldn't allow much "Species-Specific" Pacifism in TS games - there are too few really distinct species, and too much overlap between them.
- Swarmbots: Encompass TS microbots, of course. Many of the details have changed, including the method of cost calculation, but this is recognisably a bunch of material from the main TS book, and the new treatment could be used in 4e Transhuman Space games very easily.
There are a few things to note, though:
- The "Dust" chassis type has been assigned to TL11, because it's restricted to nanobots. It's easy enough to switch it back to TL10, though; just assume that this one type of nanodevice can be created at TL10.
- Beamed power is new here. It's probably perfectly plausible for TS games, although its usefulness may be limited.
- Cannibal swarms have been reassigned to TL12. Somebody presumably decided that there were credibility issues. GMs can decide for themselves whether to keep them, agree that they're beyond TS technology, or maybe make them slower to work and limited to very simple devices. Arguably, if they're available, some version of the (nominally TL11) Disassembler type should be too.
- Illumination has been renamed Firefly.
- The Massage type is new but mostly harmless; I'd vote to include it in TS.
- The Security type is new and quite handy, but seems appropriate for TS. I'd guess that searches using this would require a warrant or just cause in most jurisdictions. (I'd hope so!)
- The Sensor Array type seems to have disappeared. There may be problems with the concept, but I wouldn't see a lot wrong with bringing it back.
- Swarmwear is no longer a standard type, but is a generic potential function of the Aerostat type.
- Multi-Function swarms are restricted to TL11+. There are hints of multi-function swarms in TS, but as I can't find out offhand what's supposed to be possible in this line, there may not be a huge problem here.
- Personal Gear and Consumer Goods: A lot of this stuff is probably quite handy for TS. The things that overlap with TS sources mostly seem quite consistent.
- Electronic Ecstasy hasn't been mentioned as available in TS; it may be slightly too close to superscience (though someone with a sensie implant might be able to set it for this effect). I'd stick to smart drugs and brainbugs as the weird vices of the setting.
- Recreational and Personal Robots: While some of the robot types in this book might serve as the basis of new cybershells for TS games, I think that this category - the general-purpose humanoid and the robot pet - are already quite well covered by things like the cyberdoll, humaniform, and cyberdog. So I'd skip these.
"Communications, Sensors, and Media" - a theme of interest in many TS games, I think, and this chapter expands the options and rules usefully. Where the two sources differ, I think that GMs can generally just take their pick as to which they prefer.
Ultra-Tech gives markedly better ranges for some of these, weight for weight, especially at TL10. Converting isn't likely to be a game-breaker, though.
Laser Communicators: Laser-Retinal Imaging probably counts as a flashy spy-show trick in the TS setting. Personally, I'm not sure what I'd think about the idea of somebody lasering messages direct into my eyeball.
Radio Communicators: Note that the TS-style Implant Radio is covered later in the book (p.211). Some others provide an exception to the rule about Ultra-Tech giving better ranges. Broadly, the Ultra-Tech Tiny model equates to the TS short-range communicator, but is lighter and has much less range; the Small model is analogous to the TS medium-range unit, but costs twice as much for slightly less range; the Medium model weighs as much as the TS long-range communicator, costs a lot more, and gives much better range; and the Large and Very Large types hav no counterparts listed. Pick which list you prefer, or even mix and match...
Sonar Communicators: Handy for those Under Pressure games... Actually, Under Pressure has two analogues. The personal Sonarcoder (p.120) isn't generally as good but which does allow broadcast transmission - one might add that as an option to these (with, say, 1/10 beamed range). Vehicle sonarcomms (p.143) are slightly inferior to the Ultra-Tech versions. I might use the latter, but exclude the Tiny and Micro versions - generating a beamed sonar signal is surely going to require a certain amount of bulk.
Sonic Communicator: Not canonical for TS, and I'm not sure how far I buy the concept as hard SF.
TS assumes stronger encryption as standard than Ultra-Tech. I suspect that this is actually entirely plausible.
Quantum Encryption: Ultra-Tech has a different pricing structure for this - a multiplier rather than flat addition. Does one believe in a quantum encryption system on a laser communicator for as little as $180? Up to you, but I might stick with the flat rate.
Translator programs are of course defined slightly differently to TS language skill sets, but the complexity levels come out quite similar. I'd probably stick to the skill set model for consistency, but that's a matter of taste. Note that a standalone translator program won't require a Modular Abilities slot.
The Neural Input Receiver might well be possible in TS, but might not prove to be terribly precise or reliable. Most tasks that could use it would be at least as well handled by either an AI or a human with an implant interface. The thing might show up occasionally, though, as a curiosity.
The Neural Interface Implant is really covered by the Virtual Interface Implant - it could be considered as one specific reason to have a cheap VII. The Neural Interface Helmet might be possible, but is weird and disturbing enough that it might not be popular - if someone is willing to have, effectively, surgery on their head for such a purpose, they might prefer to have it done just the once, under controlled conditions, and make it permanent.
"Brainlocks" or similar protections also sound possible, and might form part of standard TS-era computer interface security. Though I do wonder how reliably unique and repeatably identifiable a human's brain waves actually are.
- Homing Couriers: These haven't been mentioned in TS, but they're a fun idea... Maybe they're strictly for very urgent special deliveries, probably at higher than listed cost - after all, those courier robots will cost money to run, and may represent a hassle for traffic management, leading to significant licensing fees.
Probably a good general guide to the sort of data-recording and experiencing gear that might be around in 2100...
- Word Processing Software: I will just say, though, that anyone who thinks that a voice-operated word processor will give a +1 bonus to Writing skill (or +2 to editing tasks) ... strikes me as a bit optimistic. Or maybe just much more organised in their thoughts than me.
- Sonic Projector: I'm not sure that acoustic heterodyning technology is canonical for TS. Probably mostly harmless to introduce it, but it somehow looks like the sort of technology that players would work out how to abuse quite quickly.
- Virtual Reality: The manager software is slightly differently defined, but nothing that'll break games. Take your pick which to use. Interestingly, TS assumes that virtual buildings and spaces take up ten times as much storage as Ultra-Tech suggests; doubtless this is simply a design decision, but I like to think that TS virtual reality is really, really detailed. Note that the prices for such things in TS ($1,000 per TB) are the same as those quoted for TL9 in Ultra-Tech, where they are then divided by 1,000 for TL10; I suspect that might be a bit generous (one dollar for a whole virtual street or mall?).
- Augmented Reality: Note that Ultra-Tech basically lets one get a "free" +1 to vision rolls just by running the right complexity 4 software. I could see a lot of cybershells abusing this... Also, the Virtual Tutor software is a little different - sometimes more complex, but always giving skill-12.
- Sensies: Could be handy as a set of rules for the details of slinky use in TS. Assumes slightly smaller data storage requirements for these things. Also places them at TL9; in TS, they're described as recent enough that I might make them TL10.
- Teaching and Learning Aids: Another handy discussion of what might be possible. However, I'd consider the Dream Teacher probably to be superscience; messing about with people's dream states and hoping to convey useful training thereby strikes me as dubious. It doesn't seem to be canon in TS, and I could see PCs abusing it, so I'd tend to leave it out.
Lots of handy toys here. Prices may vary from TS equivalents (where they exist), of course, but the problem doesn't seem to be too bad. In this case, TS often seems to set prices lower, though it doesn't, say, automatically include magnification capability in its high-tech optics. Ultra-Tech may allow better personal radar gear, though.
More Songs About Buildings and Food; more stuff that's good for establishing the look of the scenery for TS games, and more basic gear for many adventures...
- The Housebot could be used as a standard domestic item in TS. To convert the character sheet into a cybershell template, apply either the TL9 or TL10 lenses (the former for old or cheap models, obviously) and then replace Electrical with Cybershell Body (raising the template cost by 5).
In addition, by the way, the TL9 version ought to have Extra "Legs" - actually extra wheels, probably three or four wheels for +5 points (I've had a ruling from Kromm that number of wheels works like number of legs, and I doubt that this thing runs around on two wheels), and I'd delete the Secure enhancement from its radio (that's been treated as a military sort of feature in TS) and add a cable jack with Video - you need a quick I/O port for software updates, and the ability to transfer pictures of, say, possible burglars. But no doubt there's a lot of variety in cybershell features.
- Sleep Set: Something like this, if only in the sense of sound insulation, is probably common on small spacecraft and so on. But is ultrasonic technology as a way of inducing sleep really plausible?
- Autokitchen: Likely to be common enough but usually controlled by a housecomp in TS, I'd say.
- Domestic Nanocleanser: Plausible enough for TS, I think, though I'd think that you'd still get different cleaning products for different purposes. Something fierce enough to clean a sink (let alone a lavatory pan) will be a little stronger than I'd want on my scalp, thanks very much, while a purpose-made shampoo will always have elements designed to improve hair texture that'd be wasted anywhere else.
- Sonic Shower Head: It's up to GMs whether they buy ultrasound as a personal cleaning method, but if they do, yep, you'll want these on small spacecraft.
- Worldscaping: The notes on Mars-type terraforming would seem to implicitly admit that the schedule of the TS Martian project is... well, optimistic. It would have to be a Fast project running at TL11 or better from the start, I think.
- Robots: The Robot Mule could be fudged into a (probably rather points-expensive) cybershell template with a little work, and the Scout Robot with a bit less (see the treatment of the Housebot above) - though TS already has things like the Buzzbot covering the latter's ground.
A nice collection of stuff for the "working stiffs in a weird world" games to which TS lends itself so pleasingly...
- Laser and Plasma Torches: Note that plasma torches as described here are plausible enough, but aren't much like the ranged plasma weapons of some science fiction. I'd skip the TL10 fusion torch in TS games, though, and mostly have laser and plasma torches run off static power supplies, ships' reactors, etc., rather than over- straining the conservative TS battery technology. (The times in the "Notes" column of the table don't seem to be explained; I'd assume that they're how long the thing can run off the listed power cells.)
- Tool Kits: Prices, weights, and skill modifiers are a little different to p.TS153... And of course the skills mentioned match 4th edition categories. I'd probably tend to follow the *Ultra-Tech* model in games now, if only for the latter reason, but others might prefer to maintain backward compatibility. The Robotic Workshop could be regarded as a sort of static specialist cybershell in TS, though I'd probably tend to go for a standard Portable Workshop plus a tech spider or something plus an appropriately trained infomorph.
- Slipspray: Sounds a little bit skiffy, but it could actually be the product of some kind of clever nanotech... But if you let this in any game, be prepared for players to try and get far too clever with it.
- Morph Axe: Basically this is the ice axe from In the Well (p.96), but the description is somehow a notch more skiffy. "Memory metal" hasn't been mentioned in TS that I recall, and I'd tend to avoid the term.
- Worker Robots: Converting the Techbot to a TS cybershell template wouldn't be hard, but TS already has tech spiders for this sort of thing, which I think are cooler. The TS Bushbot can be considered to be a late TL10 predecessor to the full TL11+ Bush Robot from this book, with its "gadgeteering" matter-manipulation and all. See previous notes on microbot swarms.
- Explosives: "Plastex B" and "High-Energy Explosive" are of course the equivalent of "Explosives, Plastic" and "Explosive, Metal" from the TS core book, brought into line with the 4th edition explosives rules - which already had counterparts for these things... Note that a pound of either does somewhat less damage under the new rules than under the old. (6dx4 and about 6dx5 respectively), if I read these rules correctly.
Players will doubtless be terribly interested in "Covert Ops and Security" - for exactly which reason, of course, GMs should think a little before allowing any given new toy into a campaign, in case it unbalances things. On the other hand, in a hard SF setting, if something is intrinsically logical, it really has to be permitted. Which said, it may be legally controlled, very hard to find, or plain expensive - and often all three.
I'm sure that a lot of the items in this chapter will turn out to be similar-but-not-identical to things in various TS books, at varying prices. As ever, it's up to GMs which to use; I suspect that the new book will generally be better thought through, but of course consistency is often desirable in itself.
I'd tend to assume that security systems in the TS world are pretty good against direct frontal assaults - it's a setting in which encryption is ahead of the crackers. In other words, all these tools which give +3 are giving +3 to "Not a Chance" a lot of the time. Or they may be treated as the minimum necessary equipment for some skill attempts.
- Electromagnetic Autograpnel: Given the conservative treatment of battery technology in TS, GMs might choose to reduce the lifting capacity and/or usage duration of this sort of thing.
- Sonic Screen: Is this really hard SF? I could believe in a certain amount of effective sonic jamming, but 100% efficiency over a tightly-bounded zone sounds a bit superscience to me.
- Computer Monitoring Gear: With a lot of fibre-optics, subtle neural interfaces and displays, and a general tendency to TEMPEST-style hardening on general principles, I wouldn't expect this to be a lot of use at all in TS.
I'll be commenting on plausible weapons technology in TS when I get onto chapter six, and some of those remarks will likely also be applicable here, in the general sense that if a weapons technology isn't available, it can't be used as part of a security system.
- Laser Fences: Might well be possible in TS (perhaps at increased weight) - bulky emitters aren't such a problem when they can be static, and high power requirements aren't so bad if one can draw from a fixed power cable. However, I feel rather that static cybershells firing interesting munitions when they notice intruders would be more in keeping with the style of the setting.
- Neuronic Restraints: I'll probably comment on "neurolash" technology when I come to discuss chapter 6. I'm not sure about it...
- Neural Pacifier: Might be feasible in TS, though I'd imagine it'd need some fine tuning to make it a really hard SF device.
- Biopresence Software: Canonical for TS, but with bandwidth problems; p.TS150 talks about "downgrading" of sensory signals if using radio rather than a cable connection.
- Robobug: The TL9/10 models could no doubt be converted to TS cybershell templates (see previous notes), should anyone want to treat a specialised robot insect as a character.
Ah, the meat of the book ... well, for some gamers. Also the place where changed technological assumptions between Transhuman Space and the new version of Ultra-Tech become most visible, if only because we get all those detailed weapons tables to compare.
In fact, the thing that jumps out here is that the nominally TL10 Transhuman Space setting is, by Ultra-Tech standards, rather retarded in weaponry, being seemingly TL9 in most parts. However, a lot of this is down to the general inferiority of lasers and high-density power storage in the TS world, so one can link this "inferiority" to one or two not-unreasonable assumptions about the future technology. On the aesthetic side, the fact is that widespread use of lasers and other beam weapons can't help but give a game more of a space opera feel, whereas TS projectile sidearms, with their sophisticated warheads and intelligent accessories, perhaps have just the right balance of gloss and grit for the setting.
I should also note here that the weapons tables in Changing Times were based on a combination of early versions of the Ultra-Tech material and rule-of-thumb conversions of old TS material with some intent to preserve backwards compatibility. Hence, the two books may display slight inconsistencies even in places where they might be expected to align. However, the differences shouldn't generally be too severe; GMs can choose which to follow as they think best, or just kludge up a compromise.
David Pulver has commented on this whole weapons question in previous discussions, and with his permission, I'll quote what he has to say; it may give GMs of Transhuman Space games some useful ideas:
As Phil says, the weaponry in THS is somewhat conservative. The idea was that military forces are really conservative about their basic guns, but tend to upgrade the ammo. So around about 2040 or so, China or India or the EU or the US finally wore out all the old weapons (mostly based on 1930s-1950s calibers) and switched to a new range of standard caseless or cased telescoped ammo. And then made the usual billion or so rounds and so everyone's been stuck with it ever since, with too big a market to change...
This does not mean they can't make all the cool new stuff. But the things in UT like gauss weapons and lasers are sort of in the same state as the G-11 caseless assault rifle and the Metalstorm pistols and other innovations are today. People have built prototypes, but no one has really adopted on a big scale because the switch is just too much of a pain. Instead, they just keep making better ammo!
Actually, the other thing is that the "real" military action involves cybershells, swarms, cybertanks, etc. ... but most Fifth Wave nations aren't building cool guns for humans because combat isn't usually a gunfight, while if it does come down to a gunfight, the other guy likely either brought a DR 60+ cybershell or a swarm, and in neither case is a laser pistol that much use.
I do think that one place you can probably get cool guns is probably the Duncanite asteroid areas. Trojan Mafia probably have minifac plans for all kinds of stuff and libertarian sec companies and individuals both have a decent personal market that would pay premium rates for small production runs of quality guns (and have a reason for low-recoil gauss guns and lasers).
Another assumption which you can ignore or not as you please: while THS battery tech is equivalent to Ultra-Tech at TL10, its pulsed power technology (capacitors in the weapons, etc.) was set at about the TL9 technologies for UT. As such, you might want to limit those beam or gun weapons that use power cells to TL9, with TL10 beam or gun weapons either unavailable or limited to elite military units and special agents. Note that this only applies to power-cell using TL10 weapons themselves - all other gear such as warheads, accessories, etc. should probably be available at TL10.
Note that I'm not disagreeing with David about his own setting if I comment that a lot of stuff in TS often seems to make sense if one assumes that all power cells (but perhaps especially "pulsed" stuff) are relatively restrained compared to the Ultra-Tech assumptions. But Ultra-Tech mostly (wisely) avoids giving hard numbers for things like power storage, so this is largely a matter of feel rather than anything else.
I'd also note that PCs are often much given to loading themselves down with the sort of stuff that "elite military units and special agents" carry, and one can only assume so much about price problems and legal constraints. So if you let all the TL10 stuff from this chapter into your TS game, be prepared for hand weapon damage creep.
Oh, and this chapter has lots of illustrations, which many gamers will doubtless appreciate.
In particular, spacer-adventurers will love lasers. (Low recoil, no ammunition issues.) The things that Changing Times derived from Deep Beyond are quite wilfully wimpish, though not quite useless; the TL10 gear in Ultra-Tech is seriously formidable by comparison, and I'd expect at least some "line" military units to be packing it if it was available. Though treating all the Changing Times gear as ultraviolet lasers might bring the damage levels more into line, albeit with improved ranges.
(It's also possible that the Changing Times lasers are rather crappy experimental designs put together from misappropriated blueprints by Duncanite mechanics who aren't half as clever as they think they are, and that the much more competent laboratories of proper governments or major corporations laugh at the sight of them, having long since progressed to much better designs, but not bothered marketing them because the only people who'd use them are Duncanite rip-off merchants and pirates.)
- Even if the Ultra-Tech laser pistols and rifles aren't available, the dazzle/blinding lasers might well be possible - they surely require a much less powerful beam, after all - though they might be kept rare by law and custom. (They'll tend to trigger a certain amount of reflex hostility - blinding people is seen as nasty, especially if it's permanent - and may not seem to have many "legitimate" uses.)
- The electrolasers are much closer to the TS pattern; the Ultra-Tech models are maybe slightly better overall, with a superior rate of fire, but one could mix and match the two sources without things getting too weird - though one might want to jigger the prices a little for balance. Lethal electrolasers might well be possible in TS, but rare and socially strongly deprecated; they're flagrantly assassination weapons, heavy on the sneakiness but inferior to the alternatives for overt military or civilian self-defence purposes.
- Likewise, the semiportable MAD projectors in the two books are similar enough to not cause teeth-grinding; the TS version, being much heavier but much cheaper, might be an older model or something. I'd assume that nobody's tried too hard to miniaturise the technology much in the setting, but the portable MAD might be available in places, maybe showing up for crowd control in the hands of less fastidious police forces.
- Microwave disruptors are TL9, and not superscience - but they're not canon for TS, and I'd suggest being cautious about letting them in. Basically, as written, they'd tend to make cybershells - or at least the cheaper civilian models - largely useless in fights against prepared opponents. I guess that sealed, well-armoured military models are pretty good against them, so maybe there wouldn't be that many around, but their usefulness in pranks and heists would be significant, and every PC party would surely end up carrying a couple. Another issue would be the duration of the disabling effect - multiple minutes, far longer than the few seconds generally caused by electrolasers. Surely well-designed electronics could reboot faster than that? I guess one could shorten the duration, maybe give them a beam rather than that cone effect, rule that electrolasers don't work so well against electronics, and force every party to carry two weapons where one did in the old edition, but that then just seems petty.
- The blaster cannon is listed as TL10. I'd prefer to keep anything with the name "blaster" out of TS games, but this charged particle beam could actually be a simpler version (apart from the scaling down) of the neutral particle beams already used on TS spacecraft. I gather there are possible practical issues with this hypothetical technology, but if someone wants a chunky superweapon to show up on a new-model tank - well, I can't stop you. (Military types would probably call it a C-PAW, charged particle accelerator weapon, though, and everyone else would doubtless call it a lightning gun.)
- And some sonic weapons are marked as TL9 or 10, and not superscience. Hmm; they're not canon for TS, and all that "acoustic heterodyning" and stuff might turn out to be implausible in practice, so I don't see any absolute requirement to include them. If they are available, sonic nauseators might be limited by convention and public opinion - the effects are quite unpleasant, and electrolasers arguably produce more useful results as less-than-lethal weapons - making them rare in practice and reducing their legality rating. Sonic stunners require even more of a skiffy handwave, and could be assumed to be restricted by the problems with the setting's power cell technology, even if they're theoretically possible. (They could also, say, get markedly fewer shots.)
Obviously, ordinary sprays are perfectly feasible - as in, really just extant TL6 technology. What they spray is doubtless what's interesting. Vortex ring projectors aren't canon for TS, but they're limited enough in application that one can slot them in without too many credibility issues, and in my opinion, far too much fun to ignore. Finding a specific use for them is an exercise for GMs and PCs, but the ability to fire pulses of emetic gas could be handy.
The 100% canon cannons... The general weapons technology that TS treats as standard. Of course, as I said, details differ, and TS incorporates stuff like gun-pods and armguns which Ultra-Tech evidently doesn't buy, but one can probably explain a lot in terms of different development paths, tactical doctrines, and local preferences, and merge the two equipment lists with just a little work. I get the impression that Ultra-Tech doesn't believe in 4mm rounds, which are quite common in TS; keep them or not as you choose.
- Conventional Small Arms: Comparing the stat blocs, one finds general compatibility among the pistols, SMGs, and rifles. Even the prices aren't too diverse; I think one can just mash the lists together.
- Electrothermal-Chemical Weapons: Here, the Ultra-Tech TL10 technology gives a serious edge - 50% better damage and range, for which I suspect PCs will happily pay double cost. If they're available, they're likely to show up a lot, and the concept isn't so exotic that one can easily limit it to special forces and well-resourced secret agents. They might simply be precluded; one can always blame the rapid-release power cell problem previously discussed, or suggest that there are problems with the propellant chemistry, or say that enough forces resent the cost, logistics, and complexity issues that not many designs exist, pushing the price up even further (though that's hard to sustain in a world with minifacturing systems and the like).
- Liquid Propellants: Another specialised technology on which PCs will doubtless jump enthusiastically, though regular military forces and the civilian self-defense or hunting markets might well consider it over-complicated and fairly limited in use for the cost, restricting the supply - so a few such weapons might be available, but not widely encountered. (Of course, AI aides and digital weapon interfaces make selecting from a range of options less hassle in the field.)
- Gas-Powered Air Guns: Another specialist technology that might add colour to TS games without unbalancing things too much.
- Electromagnetic Guns: Another TL10 technology ahead of what seems to be the TS standard. I'd exclude all the sidearms and blame the power cell problem; TS does canonically have the Emag Cannon, but that's generally not as good as the lighter, cheaper things in Ultra-Tech, so I'd follow that pattern if I wanted to include any more such heavy/vehicular weapons in a TS game.
- Gyrocs: These are broadly analogous to the missile pods in TS, but TS tends to assume that such weapons will always be firing smart micromissile-type projectiles, which it makes quite cheap. On the other hand, Ultra-Tech gyrocs have better range, if the same damage... Oh heck, just treat these two things as parallel, distinct technology paths, and see which the players favour. Or pick one.
- Rockets and Missiles: Bigger than anything on the standard TS tables, and can be included in games as (very) military squad support weapons.
- Homing Projectiles: Changing Times has TS homing and laser homing ammo working slightly differently to the types covered in Ultra-Tech, but they're not wildly incompatible; on the other hand, it allows any round to have this option, even the little 4mm things. I'd probably say pick one or the other to avoid confusion, but it wouldn't kill a game to use both sets of rules.
- Hand Grenades: Not much covered in TS, and probably worth borrowing. Saucer grenades will doubtless be popular.
Generally useful, of course, but then, a lot of this stuff is already in TS, more or less... Actually, Ultra-Tech updates and expands on some items in small but useful ways, so I'd tend to favour the versions in the new book. Things like the targeting scopes make plausible additions.
- Multispectral Laser Sight: This would be the Laser Sight that TS treats as standard on all ranged weapons.
- Power Holster: Could be done with TS technology, but I imagine it would be seen as crazy poseur gear - anyone who wants one shouldn't be trusted with one.
- Shoulder Servomount: Another toy for people with excess gun-bunny tendencies. Okay, some sensible professionals might have uses for the thing, but really, in game terms - what are you going to call anyone who wants to be able to fire four guns at once?
This section adds somewhat to the options which might be available in TS games, and changes some things a bit. In some cases, GMs are going to have to decide whether to use TS or Ultra-Tech damage ratings and prices, and possibly then interpolate for different calibers of weapons. If using the latter, it's probably easiest and reasonable to treat 30mm TS rounds as using the numbers for 25mm rounds in Ultra-Tech, and 60mm as 64mm - though more detail-obsessed GMs can interpolate to get slightly different numbers if they wish.
- APHC, APDS, HP: Okay, we now have official 4e rules for these.
- APEP: Can fit into TS; quite expensive, but will that worry PCs? Oh well, they'll probably be using HEMP rounds.
- APHEX: Similar comments apply. I'd rule it's definitely unavailable for calibers below 10mm.
- Biochemical Aerosol: This is basically equivalent to the TS MBC round, obviously, but Ultra-Tech has rounds of a given size requiring more doses and affecting smaller areas. GMs can choose which progression they prefer.
- Biochemical Liquid, Flare: Likely to show up in some TS games!
- HE, HEC, Shaped Charge: Cheap alternatives to HEMP or SEFOP, I guess.
- Memory Baton, Shotshell: Not canonical for TS, but quite plausible (though memory baton would presumably supersede the standard listed "plastic" round). In fact, given the whole TS "microtech is cool" angle, I might well allow the memory baton option even for 10mm sidearms.
- SEFOP: Changing Times deliberately imported the draft Ultra-Tech rules for this to replace the 3rd edition treatment, partly because the new treatment looked far better. (Note that the damage levels are in line if you assume that TS warheads are TL10 quality.)
- Tangler: Changing Times doesn't cover these, assuming that the 3e corebook rules will do. Ultra-Tech updates and modifies them slightly, toning down the entangle's ST. GMs may prefer to follow this (while keeping anti-tangler spray available); if so, and if you still want to have 15mm tangler rounds, give those (say) ST 9 (+1 per additional layer).
- Thermobaric: There's probably no reason not to include this in TS, but do keep the Legality Class 1 - viciously incendiary explosives tend to be a bit unpopular.
- Burrow Darts: Again, plausible under TS technology - but I'd expect them to be fairly rare. They have a twist of malicious gruesomeness, don't immediately incapacitate terribly well, and won't be much good against military (i.e. armoured) targets, so who's going to be buying and selling them?
- HEMP: This Ultra-Tech text too was basically borrowed for Changing Times, and the numbers should again coincide. In fact, Ultra-Tech gives values for 10mm rounds, which the original TS treatment didn't permit; adopt this or not as you choose.
- Stingray: Might be adopted by TS GMs, and isn't obviously unbalancing - but we've already said that the setting might be short on high-charge capacitors.
- Swarm: This is, of course, another variant of the MBC warhead in 3e TS terms. The Ultra-Tech version is more expensive but carries a somewhat bigger swarm for the warhead size; take your pick which to use.
- Mininuke: Might be possible with TS technology. But let's keep 64mm nuclear hand grenades away from PCs.
- Micro-Antimatter: As above. Antimatter is of course produced in TS, but generally seems to be quite scarce and well-controlled in the setting, so I can't see many major nations bothering to use it to make hand-held dirty bombs.
- EMP: Not canon in TS; possibly feasible, and of course very handy for use against cybershells (although most military types will have some level of shielding) - but the setting's relatively poor rapid-release energy storage technology once again provides an excuse to keep these out or reduce the effects.
- Expendable Jammer: Hmm; curiously, Ultra-Tech doesn't give a duration for this effect that I can see, other than "several seconds" by implication. Anyway, this should be quite feasible in TS and a good way of inconveniencing people at times, but relatively limited - the TL10 battlefield is a big place which sees a lot of mobility, and frequency-agile radios might provide a way round the problem. So I'd expect these to be rare at best.
- Strobe, Warbler: Again, should be feasible in TS - but are surely only likely to see use as rather baroque and sadistic crowd control weapons (though criminals might find uses for them, if they can lay hands on them).
A handy general treatment of the subject; TS games could use a lot of this stuff. Of course, some of these things correspond to chemicals that are available at TL8 - but one can assume that the TL9+ versions are faster acting and less likely to induce dangerous unexpected side-effects. GMs who want gritty realism and scary moments can bring such problems right back in.
- Sleep Gas, Paralysis Gas: Handy tools for some kinds of PCs who want to keep their problems with the law under some kind of control. Unkind GMs can declare that there are still occasional problems with life-threatening allergic reactions and dosage control, especially in the case of cheap black-market versions.
- Smoke, Radiant Prism: Probably quite plausible, though I'd guess that the advanced versions aren't likely to be available in civilian shops, by and large.
- Mask: Likely to be very popular with PCs of a criminal inclination. Of course, simple possession is likely to be regarded as de facto proof of criminal intent in many jurisdictions.
- Pheromone Spray: Just to repeat my boring old line - I haven't seen or heard of any evidence that unmodified humans have enough response to pheromones to make developing this sort of thing worthwhile. But I'm open to correction.
- Metal Embrittlement Agent: My chemistry really isn't up to guessing how plausible such a specific agent would be. A nice toy for PCs, perhaps, but note that you'd need to know exactly what metal you're targeting - and a good anti-corrosion coating would surely negate a lot of the effects.
- Sleep Poison: In principle, this (or a similar paralysing agent, curiously absent from this book) would be the dream of many a cop in a hostage situation, or a special forces op looking to take prisoners for questioning, or an animal capture specialist. However, the effects as described are at the realistic end, and hence are a bit too unreliable for many such uses. TS GMs might allow something better to appear at TL10; high-end bio/nanotech probably ought to be able to come up with something to go in injector darts or microbots that's very fast-acting, reliable, and guaranteed safe against a wide range of body masses and metabolisms. Conversely, less kind GMs can assume that allergies and dosage problems will bedevil this technology for a good couple of TLs yet.
- Nanoburn: A slightly modified version of the TS weapon.
- Nanotracers: Plausible for TS (though they could do with some slightly more detailed duration rules and radio signal ranges). Would probably be rare (who has a legal use for them, really?), but aren't any less likely than a lot of canonical nanomods.
Ultra-tech melee weapons are generally more about style than hard SF plausibility, of course, but there are one or two things in here that might fit into TS games.
- Karatands: Well, why not? Apart from being widely seen as proof of very dubious intent, of course.
- Limpet Mine Dispenser: Maybe a one-per-squad specialist weapon for battlesuit troops (or a 1-point perk for a few military cybershells); more for demolitions work than real combat, though - if you want to hit someone with a small warhead in close-quarters fighting, a hand-held gyroc weapon is usually the smarter bet.
- Rocket Striker: Umm, really, isn't this a bit, well, silly? Not impossible, just unlikely?
- Superfine Blade: Okay, I'll believe this in TS - for civilian tools at least as much as for military issue, though.
- Vibroblade: Past online discussions have left me unconvinced that this favourite old skiffy idea would actually work - vibration on that scale probably wouldn't actually achieve much of a cutting effect. But if your players really insist, letting them have their toys might not be disastrous.
- Electric Stun Wands: Logical enough as a (more powerful, because larger) precursor to/relative of the shock glove. The zap glove is the shock glove - except that it's somewhat more powerful that the Changing Times treatment, giving -6 to the HT roll rather than -2, and having a "kill" setting. GMs can take their pick, or compromise; given the power storage problem, I'd err on the side of conservatism in this, personally.
- Neurolash: Interestingly, while the book treats neural disruptors as TL11^, it allows something which achieves the same result by physical contact to be plain TL10 (in the header) or TL10^ (on the weapons table). Being austere about my hard SF, I'd treat this stuff all as TL10^, and leave it out of TS games.
A concept that's pretty central to the TS milieu - though there may be divergences in technological assumptions, of course.
- Combat Android: TS has its share of humanoid robots, of course, though this one is substantially stronger and more heavily armoured than the "MCS" combat units in Broken Dreams; its DR at TL 9 or 10 is lower than that for the standard TS RATS template, though... The combination of heavy armour, humanoid form, and above all raw strength gives it a bit of a skiffy feel, in my opinion, though I guess one could convert the TL9 or 10 versions to cybershell templates if one wanted that sort of combat machine in a game.
- Warbot: This might be a decent basis for a heavy combat robot template for TS games, though I'd want to make the armour laminated or electrical, for a start.
- Hunter Missile, Striker Missile: These are of course similar to the Seeker Missile which gets a template in In the Well; the details may have come out a bit different, but if one uses these things purely as one-shot weapons and not as cybershells, either set of numbers would probably do. By the way, I think there's a typo on the Striker Missile, and its air speed should be 960.
- Swarms: Mostly much like the 3e TS versions, but with some tweaks and updates. The Devourer Swarm has changed noticeably; I'm not sure that either version feels quite right as a representation of the effect described... Note also that the Stinger swarm has been split into the Stinger and Terminator types; I'm not sure why, given that it shouldn't be too hard to give the same microbots different drug/poison loads - but perhaps this is assumed to be too fiddly in practice.
Another important chapter - perhaps even more important than the one before, given that even the most pacifistic PCs may want protection, against less pacifistic NPCs or hostile environments (or non-pacifistic PCs, for that matter).
In general, I think that the broad assumptions about these technologies are quite compatible between TS and this book; however, detail assumptions about cost and weight per point of DR, various other factors, and exactly what's incorporated into various suits and such as standard, and what represents an optional extra, likely generate a lot of detail clashes and potential for confusion. One could use this stuff in place of the gear in the TS main book without breaking the setting at all, but I'd strongly recommend using either TS-books armour or UT armour, not trying to mix and match. (You'll need to convert Legality Class ratings to the 4e standard, of course.)
Overall, I think that Ultra-Tech usually makes a given amount of DR of any given type somewhat heavier and more expensive. But there are certainly exceptions to that, and there may be subtleties and complexities involved.
- Smart Bioplastic: I'm not sure that TS actually features this as such, at least as an armour material, although it certainly features some kinds of "smart matter". It might be imported, possibly at substantially increased prices - the self-healing capability is not to be sniffed at. Though I'd certainly make it less able to heal certain types of damage (if it's destroyed by, say, extreme temperatures, it can't just knit back together), and maybe susceptible to disruption by radiation effects. The text does hint at the former in places.
- Ballistic Armor: This is fairly closely akin to the Arachnoweave and Nanoweave featured in the TS core book. Reflex uses different buzzwords to the old notes on Arachnoweave - the idea of imitating spider silk is de-emphasised in favour of a mention of "shear thickening fluid", a concept that I don't think was available when TS was written. However, if one invokes the "Tailoring Armor" rules (see below) and treats Arachnoweave as a Light version of Reflex, the numbers come close. Nanoweave is much as before, if one treats the UT gear as equivalent to Medium TS Nanoweave - except that it now has split DR, and is apparently cheaper and lighter.
- Tactical Vests: This TL8 concept obviously provides a handy additional option for fighters if it shows up in TS games.
- Laser-Resistant Body Armor: With few military laser sidearms around, there'll be little incentive to develop this sort of stuff in the TS world. Ablative would probably be possible, but as Reflec is flagged as cinematic anyway, it's probably best ignored.
- Bioplas Armor: See my comments on smart bioplastic above. This could be an interesting option is slightly specialised applications - perhaps more for civilians than military types.
- Tailoring Armor: These very handy rules are probably worth borrowing even if a campaign is using the standard TS armour types and capabilities; they provide a lot of options. (I suggest using Medium as the baseline standard for Nanoweave armour in that case.) For example, using TS-standard base values, a pair of skimpy high-fashion nanoweave briefs provide DR 10, weigh 2 oz., and cost $375 - or 1 oz. and $187.50 for a functionally backless thong.
- Rigid body Armor: Again, the numbers are comparable but not identical between the two sources. Treating the armored shades from these tables as the basis for a Wearable Virtual Interface is going to raise the template cost a bit - and don't forget to add a Perk, "Protects Wearer's Eyes with own DR".
- Environmental Gear and Suits: Yet more similar-not-identical stuff. The Ultra-Tech versions have DR listed, which makes sense.
Here, the assumptions implicit in the original TS material do diverge significantly from those of Ultra-Tech. I'd suggest following the former, to preserve the feel of the setting, but GMs are of course welcome to do otherwise.
Basically, although TS has powered battlesuits, they really aren't as good as the TL10 models in this chapter. (See also Changing Times for 4e versions of the old book's designs.) This can be explained in terms of the previously-discussed conservative treatment of battery technology, combined with less interest from the arms manufacturers; frontline combat in TS is often handled by cybershells, not goons in suits - the suits are mostly for occasional specialists (including various kinds of special forces) and nervous officers.
Some of these options which aren't already covered by the TS material might be borrowed, even by GMs who favour the old books over this one, though obviously some of these things are more appropriate than others. For example, the "Armor Without Faceplates" rule does make for stylishly slightly crazy faceless goons, while the Electromagnetic Armor option might be fitted to some heavier battlesuits in TS, if the GM wishes.
And now we move onto "patching the PCs up after they've been playing with all the other toys". Given that the TS setting is wandering into TL11 in some areas of biotech (see the previous discussion of GURPS Bio-Tech), some of the more advanced stuff here may be appropriate - though as ever, I'd advise caution with that idea.
The basic stuff here - bandage sprays, disposable hypos, and so on - should be trivially compatible with TS, even if details and prices sometimes vary slightly. Bigger gear may require a little more checking. However, a lot of it may even have come direct from the TS core book, here being brought fully into line with 4e rules treatments; GMs can usefully cross-reference between the two books for some purposes.
- Emergency Support Unit: If the Suitcase ESU has all the capabilities of the full ESU, it's better technology at TL9 than the TS core book assumes. I'd probably allow it but say that it can't do everything, or at least not well; having hooked the patient up, any competent paramedic will insist on an immediate and rapid transfer to a hospital with the full bed-size unit.
- HyMRI Scanner: Likewise, the portable HyMRI is a new touch - though as it can only image the head, and most work there will be best undertaken under controlled hospital conditions, I can't seem it appearing much except as incidental furniture in a big ER Room scene.
- Pocket Medic: A logical idea for TS-style settings, but one which is likely to show up a lot in PCs' backpacks if allowed into games.
- Nanostasis: This book assumes that nanostasis gear includes the required tools to reverse the process, whereas the TS treatment assumed that an ESU was used for the job.
- Neural Inhibitor: Looks a wee bit skiffy/superscience to me, but might not do too much harm to the feel of a TS game. Likely to be reclassified as a kewl weapon by some PCs, though.
- Regeneration Tank: Replaces the "exowomb" used for Cell Regeneration in the TS version. Having a more specific machine for the purposes probably makes sense.
- Rejuvenation Tank: Likewise, a slightly variant treatment of what TS calls Cellular Rejuvenation (with more permanent Partial Amnesia for the failure cases).
- Suitcase Doc: See the comments on the Suitcase ESU and Pocket Medic above, only even more so.
- Nursebot: Such things might well exist as cybershells in TS. I'd represent them by taking the Humaniform or Cyberdoll cybershell templates from Changing Times and adding some of the medically useful features from this.
- Growth Tank: Basically equivalent to the TS "exowomb".
- Biofab: That which, in TS, is used to perform biogenesis.
- Drugs and Nano: Most of these probably makes sense in a TS context, though some of the TL10 items may be a bit superscience. Programmable Immune Machines, Respirocytes, and Aegis Nanobots can be regarded as some of the bits of TL11 biotechnology which have already appeared in the TS world; I'd probably advise classing them as TL10 in this setting, simply so ordinary doctors can use them without hideous skill penalties - although GMs who want to restrict them a bit could say that they can only be handled by medics who've advanced to TL11.
A good set of generalised rules for various things that exist in the TS world, although some of them have been superseded by less obtrusive and inconvenient "pure" biotech in most places. Visible cybernetics might constitute an Unnatural Feature in TS games. How much is practically available to PCs who want to get a bit cyberpunk is up to the GM.
- Implant Video Comm: Could be used by people who don't want a full VII; if you're using the old TS costs for an Implant Communicator, the cash price will have to be increased a bit.
- Braintap, Neural Interface Implant, Sensie Transceiver Implant: The TS "upslink" and full "slinkie", of course. TS arguably places all these at TL10 - at least, slinkies are a relatively recent invention in 2100. Mind you, Ultra-Tech is a bit confused on this subject - at least, it doesn't explain properly how the TL9 Neural Interface is inferior to the TL10 Sensie Transceiver, and in stated rules-mechanics terms, it's actually superior. The TL9 thing perhaps needs a limitation to reflect the idea that it can't handle as full a range of sensory data as the TL10 model.
- Computer Implant: TS tends to treat these as distinct characters with a cybershell template. Still, someone using a distinctly non-AI computer after being trained to use it as an extension of his/her own brain could take the "buy it as an advantage" approach discussed here.
- Chip Slots: Not part of the TS paradigm - a bit too cyberpunk, really. Of course, a VII can use Modular Abilities of a slightly different kind.
- Total Cyborg Brain Transplants: Possible as an occasional feature of the TS world. A bit 2050 really dahlink, but could have possibilities.
- Uploading: 4e rules for this feature of the TS setting. Pretty close to the standard TS version, actually, I think, though with changes to (e.g.) ghost compiler/editor software complexity. The one thing I disagree about strongly is that the complexity of the ghost itself depends on the IQ attribute of the subject. I don't much mind Joe Schmoe (IQ 10) now becoming a complexity 10 program - the old TS idea that ghosts are complexity 7 was more a game convenience than a plausible extrapolation - but how come Leonard Einstein (IQ 15) has to be complexity 12? Remember, that makes the Leonard program one hundred times bigger and more complex than Joe. Human brains simply do not vary that much - and in any case, Joe can have Per 18, DX 15, five levels of a 15-point talent, and a lifetime of experience, without apparently changing his complexity one iota. I'd base complexity off racial baseline/template IQ, making all ghosted humans complexity 10 (or whatever the GM chooses for a TS game). Maybe even mix template DX into the equation.
A last useful chapter - simply having handy basic stats for a range of vehicles is always good for a GM. The numbers here don't align perfectly with those in Changing Times and the 3e TS books - GMs might have to choose one or the other if their players are too picky - but are mostly close enough that there's no obvious clash of assumptions.
- Slidewalks: Not a common feature of TS, but doubtless present in some arcologies and larger space stations.
- Super Airships: As In the Well points out, it is actually logically possible to operate these in thinner-than-standard atmospheres. (Whether it's worth the effort may be an open question.) On the other hand, Ultra-Tech maybe doesn't acknowledge all the problems with using them anywhere.
- Transcontinental Tunnels: Not a feature of the TS world. Presumably the engineering issues (and maybe the politics) proved too serious.
- Exo-Spider: Should be possible in TS, although only likely to appear in specialist applications.
- Air Car: Quite a bit more expensive here than in TS; if you want a handwave to justify keeping the old cost, assume that the price drops radically with a +1 TL advance.
Okay, so the Osprey project just has to wait for TL9 to start being useful. These things aren't a common sight in the TS world that I recall, but I guess they could appear - at least as old tech.
Why do I keep thinking that a cargo helicopter would be better? Oh well - if TS can include the aircar, it can include this as the truck-equivalent.
(These and other things below appear to be categorised under "Grav Bikes and Platforms", but I think that's just a layout error.) The two dragonflies could feature in TS games, and would doubtless appeal to PCs.
The helipack might also be feasible in TS, though I imagine it'd be legally controlled and looked a bit askance at by many people. Better to send a buzzbot on these sorts of missions, mostly.
Feasible technology for the TS setting, but maybe unlikely to be common. Earth and Mars orbit are busy enough that anyone evacuating a station or ship can probably look for rescue without having to hit the atmosphere in a lifepod, while military applications are limited by the lack of real stealth options.