Last week we started an article series on technology for near-future settings and adding a few more bits of contemporary technology to the Savage Worlds setting. Today’s article is going to focus on generic examples of tech, such as integral computers and adaptive camouflage, and their potential uses in-game.
Robots have been a staple of Science Fiction for just about as long as it’s been a genre. While they each possess a different amount of intelligence and capability across individual works of fiction, their contribution to cyberpunk and sci-fi should not be overlooked.
One thing I’ve consistently noticed about robots in science fiction is how stiff and clunky they are compared to what their current development is shaping up to be. Our robotic friends are critical in establishing the flavor or your setting, illustrating the difference between a chunky, industrial sort of future versus the sleek elegance of a proper polished dystopia. I could go on about the merits of various types of automatons, but instead I think I’ll let this video, created by the researchers at the U.S. University of Pennsylvania, demonstrate what these little buggers are capable of.
Sure, playing music is both adorable and impressive, but they turn a little more horrifying when you see them flying in formation and demonstrating their incredible agility, precision, and the ability to produce that godawful, terror-inducing sound.
Welcoming our tiny robot overlords notwithstanding, swarms of drones can be used for recon, sabotage, demolitions, construction and hunting. There are also glider-based drones that use flocking technology and aerial photography for geology, cartography, agricultural science and tracking a groups of desperately fleeing player characters across the landscape. The following stats are not meant to represent the drones currently being produced, but more advanced versions that could be had in the near future.
Acc/TS: 3/4 Toughness: 1 (0) Notice: d8 Cost: 650 Notes: -2 Penalty to most attacks made against the small, fast-moving targets, +2 to notice checks when swarming together in a group of 3 or more.
Acc/TS: 2/3 Toughness: 1 (0) Notice: d8 Cost: 550 Notes: +2 bonus to Notice rolls when in a flock of three or more.
2. Integrated Computers
The eventual destination of personal computing is a seamless connection between machine and operator. While it’s a bit of a ways off, having the ability to instantly tap into the internet without any sort of external device offers a huge number of advantages.
Such technology would likely interface with the brain to create floating Heads Up Displays and browsing windows that can be rearranged and shuffled with a thought. Mechanically speaking, these devices aren’t going to do much except provide the character with access to the internet at any given time. Depending on the level of technology, the Integrated Computer may offer a +1 to +2 bonus on tasks such as Healing, language and the various knowledge skills.
3. Adaptive Camouflage
From light-defying fabric to flexible optic camouflage that can quickly and easily mimic the surrounding terrain, Adaptive Camouflage is a must-have in the arsenal of any high-tech ne’er-do-well. While they probably won’t offer perfect, literal invisibility, they can make you pretty damn hard to see, even to sensors that might pick up your heat signature or operate on other such wavelengths.
Cost: 1000/1500 for a suit. Notes: +2 to +4 bonus to rolls to made to escape visual Notice rolls. The more expensive version also offers a variety sensor-confounding options such as ambient-temperature sensors and the like.
4. 3D Printing
3D Printing is either going to be a huge step forward in technology, or one of those passing trends that most everyone will be embarrassed about in twenty years or so. Regardless of it’s future viability, 3D printing is one of the more exciting pieces of technology to come around in a long while. Currently, you are limited to printing in plastic, a few edible substances, and titanium, if you have a ridiculous sum of money to drop on the project.
3D printing is a relatively recent and somewhat limited innovation, but with some more time and resources invested in the technology it could become a powerful tool for chaos on the hands of your player characters. Not only could they hypothetically print out weapon components and other equipment, but someone skill enough in 3D modelling could easily custom-fabricate any parts the party might need or want on the fly.
Join us next week, when we finish the installment with a look at building a better dystopia! (After all, we can’t completely leave the 80’s behind, can we?)