Starjammer: Medical Marvels
This supplement for Starjammer clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This pdf is framed by the audio logs of Dr. Karer, which adds a nice touch to the crunch-centric focus of the supplement and serves to liven up the material. The pdf begins with one of the components that I love to see in supplements and never would want to do myself: We take the Technology Guide’s items and classify them according to availability: Unrestricted (UR), Permit necessary (PN), Military Grade (MG) and Highly Restricted (HR); this makes sense in a scifi/space opera context and the pdf proceeds to provide table upon table of items, including the converted costs in credits. And yes, black market price restrictions etc. can be found. How many pages do we get? 9. 9 pages of properly classified items. If you’re like me and want that level of detail, but have no inclination to do all this work yourself, then this section on its own may well be worth getting the pdf for.
After this, we get a total of 13 new pieces of cyberware, all of which also come with their legality codes etc.: Amphibious rebreathers allow for the free breathing under water; auto injectors (Implantation 1) are really cool: They can be programmed to inject potions(pharmaceuticals under specific circumstances and up to 2 may be implanted at once. Really cool. A classic would be the hidden tooth compartment and the leg-based smuggling compartment and we also get ICDs – internal communication devices. Magesense modules act as detect magic and net +2 to determining the qualities of magic items or spells being cast. Magnetic hands let you spider climb on metal surfaces, which may be cool…but oddly, this one does not make disarming etc. harder. Night vision modules nets darkvision 60 ft. (or +30 ft.) and thermographic goggles net basically infravision – though at a penalty to atk versus adjacent creatures and those farther away. Pressurized jet streams net a 30 ft. swim speed (no upgrade if you already have it, alas), but the character can take 10 and take the Run action underwater, which is pretty neat. These must btw. be installed into cybernetic legs. Unlockable joints cut movement in half when unlocked, but also net you +10 to Escape Artist, +5 to Acrobatics to reduce falling damage…and +5 to CMD and DR 5/bludgeoning. The CMD bonus should probably not apply universally and is pretty high, considering the other benefits. One item straight from one of my favorite, most disturbing Black Mirror episodes would be the visual recording module. We also get an option to alter one’s voice.
Now, the pdf takes a cue from Shadowrun with an optional rule regarding cybertech: Usually, it is governed by Int or Con, as you know. Spirit is basically a derivative attribute based on the average of Charisma, Constitution and Intelligence. This score represents a numerical limit for the maximum implantation value a target can take. Implants in excess of that score take up the slot, but do not work and also imposes a whopping -4 to saves. Here’s the catch: When having cybertech implanted, you can attempt a spirit save, DC equal to 10 + implantation value. On a success, only half of the implantation value is applied! Creatures need to have at least two of the ability scores that make up spirit. This variant rule is easy to grasp, elegant and smooth – and for certain campaigns, it is absolutely amazing.
There is another optional rule here that has its origins, to a degree, in Shadowrun: Cyber sickness. Whenever a character implants more cyberware than the lower of either Con or Int, instead of not working, it does work, sans penalty. However, the character must succeed a save based on excess implantation values – on a failure, he contracts stage 1 cyber sickness. Every 30 days thereafter, the save is repeated, with increasing DCs. On a failed save, the affliction progresses to stage 2 and every 7 days require a save. Once the character has succumbed to stage 2 cyber sickness, he turns CE and becomes an NPC. Did I hear cyber-zombie? Both stage 1 and 2 comes with a full-page 12-entry table of effects each. And yes, the rules also include synergy between spirit and cyber sickness. I really liked these variant rules, which once more represent an excellent reason to get this.
Speaking of optional rules: We also get one for pharmaceutical addiction. Not all pharmaceuticals are addictive; those that are, have been designated in their own table. Unlike drugs, addictive pharmaceuticals cause no ability score damage. And yes, combining them may not always be a good idea. We receive a total of 8 such pharmaceuticals: Altraeg enhance melee damage at the cost of precision and AC. It also means you can’t retreat from combat and must fight until killed. Disinteril is an agent to cancel Tardinol. What does that one do? It delays the onset of effects! Yes, this allows you to set up contingency chemical cocktails. Or, you know, stories à la: “You’ve been poisoned…” Yes, I frickin’ love this. Nosufur is a potent pain killer that even nets you DR, but multiple doses make you sluggish and can knock you out or even die. Stablent is basically a Diazepam-like drug that steadies your hands for sniping or similarly delicate tasks. Velofleet enhances initiative and nets you a brief haste-boost, but leaves you fatigued. Vivify keeps you conscious and immune to sleep, and finally, Zorn (German for “Wrath”, fyi!) is an agent based on rabies, catapulting those afflicted by it into a murderous rage.
We get another variant rule here for pharmaceutical and potion miscibility: This includes potential allergic reactions and empowering of effects; while these not necessarily are bad, they also are not as smooth as I’d like them to be. They require some GM-interpretation and are, so far, the weakest component of the pdf, though e.g. the Tardinol variants as one pharmaceutical that interacts with another, is explicitly exempt from these rules. Still, while I like the chaos-factor here, I think that the rules could use better differentiation regarding combinations.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level and similarly good on a rules language level – I noticed no undue accumulation of errors. Layout adheres to Starjammer’s nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports quite a few rather neat full color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Michael Ritter delivers a really nice, really convenient toolkit here: This lists alone represent a level of comfort I wouldn’t want to miss and I’m a big fan of the new pharmaceuticals and variant cybertech rules. While not all cybertech implants are perfect, and while the miscibility rules are less detailed and precise than what I’d like them to be, the fact remains that this is a pdf that is most definitely worth checking out. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this cool supplement here on OBS!