Bionic Limits Framework - working thread


To consider and talk about how much space bionics should take up, with an eye towards a framework that is internally consistent, logically defensible, and portable to new bionics according to simple rules.

Current Operating Premises:

  • Bionics are usually more limited with body surface area (BSA) than volume. Those bionics which are completely internal tend to uniquely affect an organ or organ system, and not to compete for general purpose space with other bionics. Therefore, BSA should be the main limiting factor that determines available space.

  • Those bionics which affect large organ groups but have low impact on BSA, should be accounted for by a separate system, which I shall borrow from Shadowrun and call Essence. Alloy plating, which can be assumed to be ported for bionic access, goes in this category.

  • Other factors, such as connectivity, internal volume, heat concerns, and exclusivity should be expressed by a consistent system of keywords with associated numerical additives or multipliers.

  • Because power CBMs are not tracked, maximum power should reduce available space in the body region by an arbitrary factor. For now I like .005 of its value. That is, for every 1000 power, 5 Body region space is taken up.

  • Trauma medicine techniques for estimating percent BSA of tissue damage are accurate to within about 10% for about one standard deviation of adults, which is more than sufficient for our purposes. This sets us up with an already established and thoroughly researched system of hard numbers for body surface area, as follows (rounded to the nearest % point).

       BSA per region, per EMS estimates: 
      Hands: 2% per hand
      Arms: 7% per arm
      Legs and Feet: 18% per leg
      Trunk, including groin: 37%
      Head: 9%
  • Eyes are limited more by logical limits than volume or surface area, so must be considered on an ad-hoc basis.

  • Logic first, balance second, content third. This means that space requirements should be computed without appeal to balance concerns. At this point, some descriptions should be altered to express a sense of why a bionic takes up the space it does. Second, underperforming CBMs that take up a lot of space should be flagged for possible buffs, while overperforming CBMs that take up little space should be flagged for possible nerfs. Finally, new CBMs should be considered that would offer trade-offs between the available space of different regions, Essence, and maximum power.

Available Space

    Eyes:      10
    Hands:     40
    Arms:      140
    Legs:      360
    Body:      370
    Head:      90
    Essence:   100

Full List of CBMs
: Adrenaline Pump CBM
: Active Defense System CBM
: Advanced Microreactor CBM
: Alarm System CBM
: Arms Alloy Plating CBM
: Protective Lenses CBM
: Head Alloy Plating CBM
: Legs Alloy Plating CBM
: Torso Alloy Plating CBM
: Battery System CBM
: Monomolecular Blade CBM
: Fusion Blaster Arm CBM
: Blood Analysis CBM
: Blood Filter CBM
: Cable Charger System CBM
: Subdermal Carbon Filament CBM
: Chain Lightning CBM
: Bionic Claws CBM
: Internal Climate Control CBM
: Cloaking System CBM
: Close Quarters Battle CBM
: Wired Reflexes CBM
: Expanded Digestive System CBM
: Enhanced Hearing CBM
: Directional EMP CBM
: Ethanol Burner CBM
: Aero-Evaporator CBM
: Diamond Cornea CBM
: Telescopic Eyes CBM
: Facial Distortion CBM
: Dielectric Capacitance System CBM
: Fingerhack CBM
: Flashbang Generator CBM
: Cranial Flashlight CBM
: Internal Furnace CBM
: Integrated Dosimeter CBM
: Oxygenator CBM
: Terranian Sonar CBM
: Heat Drain CBM
: Thermal Dissipation CBM
: Hydraulic Muscles CBM
: Infrared Vision CBM
: Cerebral Booster CBM
: Finger-Mounted Laser CBM
: Leukocyte Breeder System CBM
: Mini-Flamethrower CBM
: Fingerpick CBM
: Electromagnetic Unit CBM
: Nictating Membrane CBM
: Enhanced Memory Banks CBM
: Metabolic Interchange CBM
: Weather Reader CBM
: Repair Nanobots CBM
: Artificial Night Generator CBM
: Implanted Night Vision CBM
: Offensive Defense System CBM
: Sensory Dulling CBM
: Plutonium Filter CBM
: Power Armor Interface CBM
: Power Armor Mk. II Interface CBM
: Power Storage CBM
: Power Storage CBM Mk. II
: Probability Travel CBM
: Air Filtration System CBM
: Radiation Scrubber System CBM
: Railgun CBM
: Fingertip Razors CBM
: Internal Microreactor CBM
: Microreactor Upgrade CBM
: Recycler Unit CBM disassemble
: Remote Controller CBM
: Sonic Resonator CBM
: Olfactory Mask CBM
: Scent Vision CBM
: Electroshock Unit CBM
: Shockwave Generator CBM
: Solar Panels CBM
: Synaptic Accelerator CBM
: Internal Storage CBM
: Muscle Augmentation CBM
: Anti-Glare Compensators CBM
: Targeting System CBM
: Teleportation Unit CBM
: Time Dilation CBM
: Integrated Toolset CBM
: Joint Torsion Ratchet CBM
: Uncanny Dodge CBM
: Unified Power System CBM
: Internal Chronometer CBM
: Water Extraction Unit CBM

Okay, gonna throw out this question: Does it need to be this complex? The system in place now isn’t perfect, but I think it’s better than adding layers of complexity to the system without good reason.

Balance is sorta important

Something I thought of not long ago is: does each bionic need to be separate? A lot of bionics could feasibly use parts from others. Take the integrated toolset and the hand flamethrower. Both produce a flame, so they could feasibly share a lot of parts. If you already had the toolset it would make sense to have installation of the flamethrower take significantly less room than if you were installing it on it’s own.

Same for alloy plating and the sub-dermal carbon filament. The flashbang and shockwave system. Basically all the eye bionics (telescopic, infrared, nightvision, targeting system), since they probably just replace parts with a camera which could easily see the available spectrums and have zoom functionality.

I’m not sure how this could be coded or explained to the player, but it certainly seems logical. Balance wise it could be used fairly liberally, since you could just have common bionics share parts while more rare, awesome bionics have to have full independant installation.

The reason is the same as why we have a weight and a volume limit in inventory. Players installing all CBMs they found and ran out of letters for hotkeys because of this isn’t a good thing.

hmmm… expanded digestion, it is sort of both an organ replacement and an extra space taker. it replaces normal guts with robo guts, but there are also more guts. BUT by the time you can install it you are probably already set for food anyway so it’s really just a utility. so let’s start with… 10 body space?

This is easy to solve: Just make it so Passive and Active bionics don’t share hotkeys.

That’s fix for the consequences, not for the underlying issue.
Furthermore, what if we have, say, one hundred active bionics?

I still don’t see why you need so much complexity to determine how much space a bionic takes up. What’s wrong with the system that’s in place where all the Bionics already have slots?

Well we don’t. I’m not sure how to answer this, really. Just do what people already do?

The system in place is that you can have all the bionics and infinite power. If you mean the debug version through the cheat menu, that system is only accessible through the cheat menu for a reason: the slots available and the amount of space each bionic takes up are determined by gut feeling, not a logical process, and other people had different gut feelings. Thus, to my knowledge bionic space limits got canned until such time as somebody would develop a consistently applicable logical process that could be balanced around and appealed to in case of disagreements.

Theoretically they can. Given the trouble I have finding more than a bunch of duplicate copies of the same bionic realistically do they actually do so without cheating? All I ask is that if this solution looking for a problem gets implemented please make it an optional mod.

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Not my call. I’m just playing with ideas at this point, I have no say over what ends up mainlined.

That being said, I’m pretty firmly in the camp of “Reasonable limits create reasonable choices and choices are what makes things fun.”

Also, being able to install everything without opportunity costs makes it hard to add new OP bionics or buff existing bionics to the level they really should be (for instance, alloy plating is laughably weak compared to its description).

Internal volume available for bionics should probably be about 20% of the human body - the same as the percent body fat you can carry without looking out of shape. (Although maybe a little more, because certain bionics will replace the normal function of internal organs. I have to assume that the original organ is retained in diminished form, since you can remove bionics with high enough First Aid skill, except in the case of obvious amputation, like the Fusion Blaster Arm.)

Call it 20% of the human body as available internal space, for a total of 15L for a 70kg adult. So, 0.15L to a % of internal volume.

I’d say a % of internal volume is equivalent to a % of BSA, and I used 10x% to get space, above. (Summing to 1000 space, excluding Essence and Eyes). So items that have a lot of internal volume but not much BSA would be rated at 0.015L per unit space, for internal volume, which would then be added to 10x%BSA if any to get the total space cost of the item.

Basing this off the Essence system is a pretty terrible idea and doesn’t thematically fit with the game world. The point of Essence was to prevent a person from becoming to close too the machine and losing their humanity (and to prevent cyborg mages). The technology of the game world, literally allows one to replace 100% of their body with machine parts, keeping the brain and a minor cardiovascular system to keep the brain functioning, but even that could be mildly argued because of the bionic implants that are directly attached to the brain.

In order for a system to work within bionicly limited slots, each bionic would need to be assigned a body part that it replaces. If it’s a general bionic that doesn’t associate with a limb, the chest and abdominal cavity of the human body has A LOT of empty space that is essentially a vacuum. Bionics would need to be overhauled a second time and given a volume. (Like an Integrated dosimeter would be fairly small and could fit between the cutaneous and subcutaneous layers of the skin, while an integrated minireactor would take up most of the abdominal cavity and require significant rearranging of the human anatomy.

That introduces another problem. Currently, you can install bionics on your own with enough pain medicine, but when you’re talking about 90% of the bionics, you would need a legitimate operating theater and either a team of surgeons, or a robotic equivalent (shamelessly stolen from another thread: ). If we’re going to start limited space again, we need to impose a realistic way to install bionics in the first place.

I mostly agree with you about Essence - certainly the thematic side of it is not appropriate out of context. It does, however, serve its purpose in Shadowrun mechanically, which is to provide a limiter on bionics without direct appeal to complex biology. It is in that regard that I think it might be useful here, but I may end up doing away with it and using only locational space, rather than an extra Essence limit for hard-to-mathematize bionics.

I see all the calculations and variables as taking place on the design side, not the code side. The game version would see only a location/s and a number of slot points.

Bionics are installed via Compact Bionics Module, which is described as a mostly-automated surgical installer. This is why they have such large volume, even though the bionic itself is tiny. The only role the player has is making sure that the automation is guided appropriately by a human intelligence. I see the fact that players can get CBMs by butchering monsters who have bionics installed is an oversight, or more likely an incomplete feature - presumably the player should be able to build CBMs out of a salvaged bionic and an installer kit of the appropriate level, or install non-module bionics with a team of robo-surgeons at a hospital as you described. If that was the case, they would indeed need a volume and a weight, since each bionic would have to have a representation in the game without its Module.

Keep in mind that Shadowrun is also Cyberpunk, while Cataclysm DDA is not (or at the very least I don’t see it that way).

Also, getting Bionics out of corpses isn’t too wild. Zombie Scientist has some Telescopic Eyes? You can just gouge them right out of the skull. Same with stuff like Hydraulic Muscles or Integrated Toolset.

Getting full blown CBMs, however, makes little sense. Also, according to Kevin the whole “Mostly-Automated Surgical Installer” thing was just a fan creation. Which is why it takes Painkillers to install bionics now.

If we’re gonna worry about reasonable installation of bionics, lets wait until NPCs are in a place where they can do things like help you install them.

That’s what I mean.

Maybe, but it makes sense, and needing painkillers to use them also makes sense, whereas self-installation of the more complicated or traumatic ones will never make sense. You’re not going to hold a robotic installer up to your eye while it operates on your retinas without some serious painkillers, but you’re never going to operate on your own retinas no matter how skilled you are and how little it hurts.

The fact that it’s instant is clearly an oversight, though, no matter the explanation.

there actually is an NPC that can help you install, a doctor shows up at the ranch after you do enough quests and you can pay them to install things for you.

Imagine we add one hundred new bionics. Some player decides to install them all. There ain’t enough letters available for all the hotkeys, active or passive. With your rationale to leave the system as is just because it isn’t complex players won’t be able to activate the bionics without hotkeys assigned.
But hotkeys is a minor problem. We can add navigating through the bionics menu by the direction arrows, like in inventory menu.
As @Aluminumfoil already said,

Limiting space for installing bionics is both realistic and interesting.

With the caveat that I know nothing about implementation:
What if the module was a semi-rare item that was loaded with multiple bionics, then installed?
This achieves no more technical balance than exists currently, but limits players with a certain amount of tedium, as with current bionic power. Sure, you could grind for every bionic ever, but at some point most people will call it quits.
Another “soft cap” would be to steadily increase the difficulty of installations.