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Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
I picked up the new edition of GURPS Ultra-Tech this week, and, inspired by a series of posts that Phil Masters made about using it in Transhuman Space, I thought I'd do something similar for the IST world. Why not?
Unlike my previous bits of content, however, I am moving the timeline forward beyond what was presented in GURPS IST, and possibly even beyond the extended timeline that Bob's posted on his site. Needless to say, all of these speculations are subject to revision.
Chapter One: Ultra-Technology
Ages of Technology/Tech Level: By the early 21st century, the IST world is pretty firmly in TL9^, heading for TL 10^, which it will probably achieve in the early 2030s. It is actually already TL10^ in the area of beam weaponry. That said, much of the world gets by with TL8 or even TL7 gear, because of ...
Gadget Control: Generally, any TL9 or higher item should cost about 2.5 times its list price. In general, this extra cost represents "taxes, liability costs, and other measures". The powers that be will want to keep track of advanced technology, particularly in a world where it is disturbingly common for people to put on costumes and declare themselves the rightful rulers of the world, outfitting armies of minions to do so.
As for heroes: While the DMI (or similar organizations) probably won't help affiliated super-groups with the cost of advanced equipment, they can often smooth out the paperwork involved, or arrange contacts with the manufacturers. Of course, this will represent a favor owed them.
Buying Equipment: TRADE represents the largest "black market" for advanced technology.
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Chapter Two: Core Technologies
Power Cells: These are, of course, the famous RPCs. While they ostensibly can't be recharged, they don't get the benefit of the additional capacity described for non-rechargeable power cells. (Draw your own conclusions.) E-cells and the recently introduced F-cell -- the largest RPC that Roland has yet to introduce, starting in 2001 -- are LC3 (not LC4 like the book says) and registration requires a background check and several weeks wait. Flexible power cells don't exist, nor has anyone (as far as anyone else knows) ever found a way to make a power cell explode.
Generators: While the Flare fusion process is decidedly super-scientific, and does not seem to require radiation shielding, a semi-portable version of the reactor has yet to be developed. There's just not yet a reliable market for one.
Beamed Power: The "great white hope" of the modern power company in their competition with the Roland Power Cell corporation, it has yet to be made economically feasible. The expense of renting a receiver for about the same cost as a supply of RPCs that will power the equipment for the same amount of time is unattractive, and the RPCs can be returned for a partial refund when used up.
Computers: TL9 systems are relatively common, but much of the world still uses TL8 hardware and software. There are a number of highly advanced prototypes out there. The MV-2400 is a TL10 Fast High Capacity Macroframe (Complexity 11), and its AI program is of the same complexity (for an IQ of 16). Alpha-7's brain is equivalent to a TL 10 Genius* Personal Computer (Complexity 9, for an IQ of 12.) While there may be other Volitional AIs in existence by now, these are the two most famous. Also, printed computers are virtually unknown, as they would have to rely on unreliable solar power rather than non-existent flexible power cells.
Machine Intelligence Lenses: Any Cyborg Brains or Mind Emulations are one of a kind prototypes.
Biomorphic Lenses: While Realistic Flesh has been developed (in Japan, of course) it's still very rare. Neither Living Flesh nor Synthetic Organs are generally available. (That said, examples of both have been documented, such as were recently encountered by Dr. Robbins of the Las Vegas Medical Examiner's Office during an autopsy, but such were likely one of a kind prototypes.)
Swarmbots: None have been documented. (Sing it with me, "one-of-a-kind, prototyyyyyype".)
Personal Items: Any TL9 item that doesn't rely on printed computers is available. (Cleaning gel, for example, is available through mail order, both on television and the internet, for the low low price of $19.95, that's right, just $19.95!)
Entertainment: Under the heading of Electronic Ecstasy, only the neurostimulator is commercially available, under the brand-name of "the Rabbit".
Recreational and Personal Robots: TL9 models are available, but very rare! Custom designs that "resemble real people" are currently illegal, as there are a number of lawsuits pending against companies that used the appearances of real celebrities in their products without permission.
* "Hastings is said to have improved the design."
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Chapter Three: Communications, Sensors, and Media
(Note: Generally, if I don't mention something that's listed as available at TL9, that's because it's simply available.)
Neural Interfaces: The neural input headset is reasonably common, but direct neural interface is still very rare. The MV-2400 is equipped with an experimental (and super-scientific) neural induction helmet. Brainlocks are only experimental; as yet, the people who have access to this technology rely on site security to keep unauthorized persons from using it.
Mail and Freight: While hypersonic aircraft are not yet used for such mundane purposes as suborbital express mail, it seems quite likely that SuperTemps employee FTL has competition as a flying courier by this point. There may even be teleporters who act as couriers.
Holoprojectors & Interactive Holoprojection: These superscience technologies are used extensively by the ISTs in training sesssions. It seems likely that they've been imitated by other groups, as well.
Virtual Reality: So far, this is still in the early stages. Full VR suits are very rare, and total VR is unavailable (as it relies on equally experimental neural interface.)
Augmented Reality: Likewise, this is still in the developmental stages.
Sensies: Not yet.
AI Tutors: Since Volitional AI is still very rare, this is less useful and thus uncommon.
Training Robots: On the other hand, these are pretty common, particularly among teams who don't have access to holoprojection.
Virtual Education: Fairly uncommon, but viewed as quite useful in some quarters.
Gravscanner: There's at least one Very Large Gravscanner in orbit around the Earth, serving as an early warning system for the sorts of things gravscanners can pick up.
Timescanner: As yet, it's a pipe-dream, though some inventors have reported success. Weirdly, they tend to disappear right afterwards, and people have the darnedest time remembering anything about them ...
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Entertainment: Under the heading of Electronic Ecstasy, only the neurostimulator is commercially available, under the brand-name of "the Rabbit".
Careful - there's a real-world gadget of this type with that name. (NOT SAFE FOR WORK link)

-Rob Kelk
"Read Or Die: not so much a title as a way of life." - Justin Palmer, 6 June 2007
Rob Kelk
"Governments have no right to question the loyalty of those who oppose
them. Adversaries remain citizens of the same state, common subjects of
the same sovereign, servants of the same law."

- Michael Ignatieff, addressing Stanford University in 2012
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
... geez, I thought that was a joke. I was referencing a fake documentary entitled Rabbit Fever, which was itself apparently referencing an episode of Sex and the City ...
Chris Davies.
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Chapter Four: Housing, Tools, and Survival Gear
Housebot: Probably the second most common robot type available.
Housing and Construction: Aside from a handful of intelligent houses -- mostly in suburban developments -- nothing in this section has been seriously proposed. Conspiracy theorists in the IST world do speculate that (fill in the organization here; the UN is a frequent target) has secret bases in the asteroid belt, but this probably isn't true. Probably.
Hovercart: These are relatively common in large airports; however, depending on local conditions they might be equipped with a form of access control (see Chapter Six: Weaponry) that restricts their usage to people who pay a rental feel or to porters employed by the airport.
Pressure Box, Modular Environmental Cage, Pressure Tent (Personal), Vapor Collector, Rescue Bubble: As yet, none of this stuff has been manufactured, though (obviously untested) designs are available.
Mars-Type Terraforming: Hah-hah-hah. No.
Portable Antimatter Trap: Not yet. Antimatter generators are being developed under a massive level of secrecy by the UN. Those responsible entertain hopes that it can one day replace fusion technology as the UN's primary advantage.
Techbot: The most common form of robot, though there are many specialized models.
Tractor-Pressor Beam: Developed as a spin off of force beam technology, a prototype heavy tractor-pressor beam was installed aboard the UNSS Wanderer. It seems to be working out rather well.
Psi Amplifiers: The throne, backpack and helmet versions of this device are all available at an effective TL10. In all cases, a user can use them to enhance the power of an ability rather than his or her talent. Exactly why it's possible to enhance "psionic" powers and not other super abilities remains hotly debated ...
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Nice work, Chris... and entertaining as well.
And I really should get off my duff and do up a proposal for the IST 2 ebook.
One comment, though:
they would be very easy to steal and reverse engineer, thus ruining their fusion monopoly.
Actually, according to my timeline of the 1990s on my website, the fusion monopoly was broken in 1996. The secret of the RPCs haven't been cracked as of 2000, though. Anyway, that'll require changes to:
Portable Antimatter Trap: Not yet. Antimatter generators are being developed under a massive level of secrecy by the UN, as a contingency against the day when the fusion monopoly can no longer be maintained.

-- Bob
The Internet Is For Norns.
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Yeah, I forgot that. Well, I think the revised versions of those entries are a bit weaker, overall, but them's the breaks.
One more chapter today.
Chris Davies.
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Chapter Five: Covert Ops and Security
Exophase Field Generator: Experimental versions of this have been developed, resulting from studies of metahumans with the Insubstantiality power. Predictably, many of these experimental devices have been stolen and used for nefarious purposes. Also predictably, accidents involving them tend to result in their user acquiring permanent Insubstantiality ...
Active Flesh Mask: Security professionals the world over confidentally assure each other that this device is years away from being perfected. This is, of course, exactly the way that the Ghost, field commander of the IST's covert team, wants them to think.
MT Interceptor: A similar device that affects only the Warp advantage has been developed, though as yet only a local field can be generated.
Power Damper: This device affects all powers, regardless of origin. Note that this includes Magical Aptitude, which means that mages affected by a power damper can only use spells if they're in a high mana zone.
Neural Pacifier: The revelation that an "electronarcosis" (or Deepsleep) machine can be altered to produce an "electrohypnosis" frequency was an unpleasant revelation in the early 21st century. It was also a serious blow to the IST's credibility, despite the claims of IST commands that they were wholly unaware of such a fact. (The truth of such claims remains open to question.) Currently, all IST deepsleep equipment has been hardwired to prevent changing the frequency in such a fashion. Other agencies, of course, have been less scrupulous ...
Biopresence Software: Owing to the absence of puppet implants and the still-experimental status of neural interface, this software has yet to be developed.
Brainwipe Machine: Developed by PSI, ironically enough, given how often it's been used to completely destroy telepaths and espers who found out things that other people didn't want them to know. Only the larger, "clinical" form exists.
Neural Programmer: As yet, this technique is only theoretical, as neural interface remains experimental. Apply a -5 penalty to Brainwashing skill when it's attempted.
RE: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Missed some stuff in the last section.
Chris Davies.
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Chapter Six: Weapons
Beam Weapons: Thanks to Dr. Gerald Lucas' pioneering research in developing the high-energy laser and the ready availability of RPCs, beam weapons technology in general was at TL9 by the late 1960s, and entered TL10 by 1976. It should be noted that Dr. Lucas developed a "pulse laser" (see p. 118 of GURPS Ultra-Tech); hence the slang term "blaster". Beam lasers, sometimes called "burners", are much rarer, but not unknown.
Sonic stunners are also rather common. (The IST infantry armor employs a weapon system that somehow produces a sonic stun effect in a cone shaped area reminisicent of that generated by the outlawed "sonic screamer".) Early plasma guns and force beams are also available. Some reports suggest that neural disruptors and even more advanced psionic disruptors have seen use, but no conclusive evidence has been produced that these incidents were not the result of powers rather than technology.
Guns and Launchers: As predicted a decade ago, caseless telescoped ammunition has entered general use. (The U.S. Armed Forces switched over in 2000.) Electrothermal-chemical versions of heavy weapons are quite common, and ETC small arms are in development. So far, the military establishment has proved resistant to the notion of liquid propellant slug-throwers -- their advantages seem trifling when compared to their cost and complexity.
Gas-powered air guns have been introduced, but, aside from paint guns and tanglers, have proved something of a commercial failure. (Wrist needlers have been enthusiastically adopted by some urban supers, but the market is too small to be viable.) So far, no non-metallic versions have been introduced commercially, though TRADE allegedly does a brisk business selling them to assasins ...
Sniper rail-guns are still in the experimental stage; one was "field tested" against the Blue Demon by Warrior some time ago. (Results were inconclusive.) Gyro-stabilized rocket guns are likewise still under evaluation. (Prototypes do leak out.)
Ammunition and Warheads: All forms of TL9 ammo is readily available on the open market, with the notable exception of mini-nukes. Force, plasma, implosion and psi-bomb warheads are also available.
Combat Robots: As yet, no national armed force deploys combat androids or warbots, though they are used by metavillains of a world conquering stripe. (In particular, the Deadly Dozen are famous for their use of robot "henchmen".)
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Chapter 7: Body Armor & Protective Gear
Ballistic Armor: Polykev -- the brand name for what Ultra-Tech calls "reflex armor" -- is readily available, having completely replaced kevlar. Reflec doesn't exist. (While a number of laser resistant metahumans have been studied and demonstrated to function in a way similar to that theorized for reflec, efforts to replicate the phenomenon in the laboratory have proven unfruitful.) Bioplas has been developed in laboratories, but is not yet in common use.
Artificial Gill: Developed by the late Drs. David and Beth Moore (parents of IST Tokyo commander Black Pearl) this device was thought to be lost after their murder. Its plans were recently rediscovered, and it is now commercially available, with a portion of all proceeds going to a scholarship fund Black Pearl created in her parents' honor.
Sealed Combat Armor: Space armor, while popularized by its use by the Meeranar, and its necessity made readily apparent by first contact with the Kronin, is still not widely available.
Combat Walkers: The earliest practical battlesuits (those employed in Vietnam) were functionally equivalent to Infantry Combat Walkers, minus all electronics, and weighing four times as much.
Powered Combat Armor: The IST Powered Infantry Armor is exactly identical to this suit, with the addition of a contragravity flight system and some integrated weapons systems.
Psionic Mindshield: This technology can be considered TL 10 when calculating its effectiveness. The "headband" is available in a number of different forms.
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Chapter 8: Medical and Biotech
Medical Gear: The only TL9 items in this section that aren't readily available are the hibernation chamber (introduced by the Meeranon, but still not common) and the pocket medic (still in development).
Medical Robots: The nursebot is reasonably uncommon, as nursing unions have vowed to fight against its introduction.
Psychiatric Equipment: The technique of persona mapping is still in its infancy, and requires a -3 penalty to both the Electronics Operation (medical) and the Psychology checks necessary to create one. Given how common telepathy is, this technique is not likely to develop quickly.
Biotech Equipment: The first artificial wombs were introduced early in this century. Unfortunately, they have a bad reputation, having been used by a certain "new religious organization" to create dozens of so-called "indigo children".
Body Modifications: In general, only basic cybernetic replacements are conducted by reputable cyberneticists, and even those are dogged by controversy. (In particular, the Deaf community includes a number of people who are strongly, "vocally" opposed to any suggestion that they need to be fixed.) Any other TL9 cybertech is only available through black market sources.
Brain Implants: As yet, none of the implants in this section are in common use. The use of neurotherapy implants and psych implants is being held back by the relative lack of development in the field of persona mapping.
Cybernetic Uplift: Predictably, PETA and other animal rights activists are stridently opposed to everything in this section! While a few visionaries among them do wonder about the possibility of creating intelligent animals who can speak for themselves, most of them simply view this sort of experimentation as pointless cruelty. (And some of the "visionaries", embracing a very romantic, "Noble Savage"-view of the animal kingdom, believe that any attempt to inflict consciousness on animals is a crime ...)
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
Chapter Nine: Vehicles
Planetary Travel: As of 2008, none of the techniques described for TL9 in this section have been introduced on a large scale. Self-driving vehicles may be closest, and the Los Angeles municipal government is said to be seriously considering the creation of a municipal traffic control system.
Contragravity: Ironically, the principles of contragravity were first developed in the 1950s, and have been repeatedly rediscovered several times since then. As yet, the technology has never been made commercially available, usually due to the peculiarities of the inventors (read mad scientists) involved, or sometimes because it was in the interests of the inventors' sponsors to reserve it for their personal use. Such is the case with the UN's contragrav technology. As yet, only a relatively light field can be generated, able to move a battlesuited trooper at an aerial move of 5/20, but improvements are being made steadily. The UN hopes to be able to introduce licensed contragrav generators sometime in the next decade.
Space Travel: Space elevator designs are still largely theoretical, and it's likely that none will ever be constructed, given that contragravity is a viable alternative. So far, getting to orbit relies on space shuttles.
Flying Cars: The air car has so far made an impact in only one market -- law enforcement, which uses them for high speed chases with flying metahumans. (Even multiplying the price tag by 2.5, a flying car is cheaper than a TL8 utility helicopter, which makes it ideal for police departments, and faster and more maneuverable too!) Because of this, legislators have been reluctant to allow them into civilian hands as yet.
Tanks: The light battle tank, while outnumbered by TL7 and 8 tanks, has been integrated into every modern military on Earth. And there are disturbing reports of it being used for law enforcement ... in South Africa.

... and we're done!
Re: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
And I am officially impressed at all the work you put in. Thank you, Chris!

-- Bob
The Internet Is For Norns.
RE: Ultra-Tech (4e) in IST
You're welcome, and I have (predictably) just spotted a mistake.
It seems more likely that the stunners used by IST powered infantrymen are actually TL 11^ neural disruptors set to produce neural stun. Those already affect a cone-shapped area, just like the power described in the original book, requiring no fusion between the effects of sonic stunners and sonic screamers ... and as a plus, the "evil" IST can switch them to produce agony.
Chris Davies.
These notes seem like something that could be useful in the IST Update, but I notice Chris hasn't signed onto the Release of Rights thread. Should I poke him, and if so, in what way? (Possible places of poke are NotDavies and his Dreamwidth account.)
Let's see if the revised outline allows for it first.
-- Bob
Then the horns kicked in...
...and my shoes began to squeak.
Fair enough, though I suspect it'll be called for (albeit not as strongly as in Changing Times and Will to Live).

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