( ⇪ Technology )
Hyperion cyberspace is very similar to the cyberspace presented in Ghost in the Shell™.
Upon logging into cyberspace, you either use an existing stored avatar or create a new one. A neural implant, cyberghost, or memory card only has enough room on it to fit one avatar, in addition to its other functions (a memory card must be empty to fit that one avatar), and all avatars are tied to their creator such that no one else can use them. The avatar appears at a virtual location specific to that cyberspace access port. Logging-out removes the avatar and its carried virtual possessions from cyberspace (with the exception of “key items”, which stay behind).
With the exception of metatags and objects that specifically function otherwise, no physical objects impact cyberspace in any meaningful way. Similarly, most facets of cyberspace have no impact on the physical world.
Construct Hyperions have a cyberghost and thus can access a cyberspace port within 50 feet at any time and instantly be in cyberspace. All other creatures must use a controller to login and remain in cyberspace.
If any creature currently accessing cyberspace falls unconscious, is disconnected from cyberspace, or moves farther than 50 feet away from all cyberspace access ports that are part of that cyberspace network, its avatar is instantly logged-out.
|Table: Cyberspace Time Dilation|
|Cyberspace Time||Physical Time|
|6 minutes||1 round|
|3 minutes||1/2 round (divide the initiative order in half)|
|2 minutes||1/3 round (divide the initiative order in thirds)|
|15 rounds||1/4 round (divide the initiative order in fourths)|
|1 minute||1/6 round (divide the initiative order in sixths)|
|5 rounds||1/12 round (divide the initiative order in twelfths)|
The flow of time in cyberspace elapses at a rate of 60x physical time. Starting at the beginning of the physical being’s initiative count when they enter cyberspace, divide up the initiative order as appropriate:
For tracking time spent in cyberspace as parallel to physical time, each block of cyberspace time is followed by the associated block of physical time. If leaving cyberspace, round down time spent in cyberspace to the current block in physical time. When entering cyberspace, your time in cyberspace begins at your initiative in the next physical round. Manage initiative in cyberspace separately from the physical world (avatars have their own initiative modifier).
To avoid time dilation confusion, you might want to instead have someone entering cyberspace auto-succeed at their tasks (such as hacking a door’s cyberspace to open it by asking the “terminal” NPC to open it). Alternatively, you could have the physical being make a series of intelligence checks of various DCs while pressing their luck to simulate attempts at specific tasks in cyberspace.
An avatar is the virtual embodiment of a physical being in cyberspace. In essence, an avatar is an entirely separate character from the physical being in most respects. However, there are a few aspects of the physical being that carry over onto their avatar. Most notably, an avatar’s ECL matches the physical being’s ECL at all times.
An avatar at its core is identical in function to all other avatars of its race. There are two cyberspace avatar races:
- Players (from beings that choose or must use a controller to login), and
- Cyberghosts (from mechanical beings that can login directly with their own cyberghost)
An avatar is essentially a far-simplified form of the physical being controlling it. Changes are saved to an avatar in real time.
An avatar uses the physical being’s mental ability scores. Calculate an avatar’s physical ability scores (Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution) using the following formulas:
Avatar’s Strength = (Physical Being’s Charisma + Physical Being’s Intelligence) / 2
Avatar’s Dexterity = (Physical Being’s Intelligence + Physical Being’s Wisdom) / 2
Avatar’s Constitution = (Physical Being’s Charisma + Physical Being’s Wisdom) / 2
Effects which alter the physical being’s current mental ability scores affect the avatar’s physical and mental ability scores. Effects which alter the avatar’s ability scores do not affect the physical being’s ability scores in any way.
Any physical being can use a player avatar, but a physical being that has a cyberghost can choose to instead login with their cyberghost avatar. Avatars cannot have inherited templates. All avatars share the following racial traits:
Medium: As Medium creatures, avatars have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size. An avatar’s base land speed is 30 feet.
Languages: Same as the physical being. Avatars do not get bonus languages based on a high intelligence modifier.
Favored Class: None.
Immunity to Level Drain: An avatar’s ECL is always equal to that of the physical being.
Logout (Ex): As a mental full-round action that provokes an attack of opportunity, an avatar can remove himself from cyberspace entirely. Any “key” items he picked up are left behind, but any other items stay with the avatar after logging-out.
Cyberspace Player Racial Traits
Cyberspace players are humanoids with the hyperion subtype.
Defensive Barrier (Sp): Once per minute (in cyberspace time), a cyberspace player can use wings of cover as spell-like ability as a dragonblooded sorcerer with a caster level equal to the avatar’s HD. Each time this ability is used, the avatar takes nonlethal damage equal to 10 times the number of creatures protected by the spell. This nonlethal damage cannot be prevented or mitigated in any way, but can be healed as normal.
Cyberspace Cyberghost Racial Traits
Cyberspace cyberghosts are humanoid-shaped constructs with the living construct, hyperion, and hypertech subtypes.
Ghostly Movement (Ex): Cyberspace cyberghosts have fly, swim, and burrow speeds of 15 feet. The fly speed has perfect maneuverability, and the burrow speed has a non-magical xorn movement effect. Natural earth and stone represent weaknesses in the code of the locale cyberspace which can be “glitched” through if they can determine its nature by trying to move through it. Most surfaces which appear to be natural earth and stone are just facades made to look that way, and actual natural earth and stone is often just bad code, which is covered up (glamered) as some other kind of surface. A cyberghost can use the Search skill on a 5-foot-by-5-foot area area within 10 ft of themself for any surfaces which are actual natural earth and stone. Natural earth and stone is more likely to be found in amateur, private, or otherwise-secured cyberspaces such as administrative areas.
An avatar has as many class levels as the physical being’s ECL, can only take levels in generic classes (warrior, expert, arcane spellcaster, or divine spellcaster), and can only choose class options from the SRD (except for spells, see below). An avatar cannot take levels in a prestige class, and cannot use effects that have an XP cost. You can multiclass freely, as multiclass XP penalties are irrelevant to avatars.
Skills interact with the avatar’s class skills as normal. Avatars use the skill ranks of the physical being except for ranks in Balance, Climb, Jump, Swim, and Tumble.
The class skills of the avatar determine whether the avatar gets the +3 class skill bonus for having ranks in a skill. Thus, often physical beings assign their avatar’s class skills as including several of the class skills of their physical being’s classes. For example, a psion in the physical world might play a warrior avatar but still assign Concentration as a warrior class skill so that they can take advantage of the +3 class skill bonus they enjoy in the physical world from having ranks in Concentration.
Avatars have a distributable pool of skill points called the “skill pool”. The skill pool system is associated only with the Balance, Climb, Jump, Swim, and Tumble skills.
If you have any points in the skill pool, an avatar can, by concentrating for six minutes in cyberspace time (treated as if concentrating on an active 0-level spell) assign or reassign points in the skill pool to the above-mentioned skills, thereby temporary giving those skills “ranks”. The maximum number of ranks an avatar can have in a skill is equal to the avatar’s HD as normal. Skill points currently assigned to a skill remain in that skill until reassigned.
Whenever an avatar levels up, they gain skill points as normal for the avatar’s class (including the +2 skill points that all classes get). However, your choices for those skill points are limited to those five skills. If the sum of your level-up skill points plus the number of points in the skill pool is equal to 4 times your HD or higher, you must spend from the combined set of points on permanent “enhancement bonuses” to those skills until the sum is below 4 times your HD. You must spend on enhancements exactly the minimum even number of points needed to bring that total below 4 × HD, no more no less. Enhancements cost 2 points for each new +1 of enhancement, and no two skills can have a difference in their enhancement value greater than 3. The remaining skill points go into the skill pool itself.
For example, at 1st level, assume an example expert has 11 skill points.
4 × HD = 4, so the skill pool must be at maximum 4-1=3.
11 – 3 = 8 points exactly must be spent on enhancements.
He can only spend enough on Balance to give it a +3 enhancement, and then spends the last 2 points on Climb. 3 points are left in the skill pool. At his 2nd level he gains another 11 skill points, making the total between his skill pool and skill points 14.
4 × HD = 8, so the skill pool must be at maximum 8-1=7.
14 – 7 = 7 points minimum (8 points exactly) must be spent on enhancements.
He must spend exactly 8 points on enhancements because enhancements cost 2 skill points each, leaving 6 in the skill pool. He can’t further enhance Balance until the other four skills have at least a +1 enhancement, so he spends 2 each on Jump, Swim, and Tumble. Finally, he enhances Balance to +4.
Other Character Options
Avatars do not have “flaws”, “traits”, or “skill tricks”. Normally, any feats, flaws, traits, or skill tricks that the physical being has do not affect the avatar in any way. However, any feats of the physical being that are on the Fighter Bonus Feat list can be used by the avatar, even if the avatar would not itself meet the feat’s prerequisites. Avatars also gain feats normally by the physical being’s ECL and the avatar’s class features, but those feats must be chosen from the SRD. Item creation feats are useless to an avatar. Spells may be chosen from the SRD or Spell Compendium (excluding spells that have a ritual), and items you might plausibly find include those in the SRD and in the Magic Item Compendium. Always check the errata/FAQ for any source!
Avatars do not have action points or reserve points or strife. The physical being cannot use their action points or reserve points to help their avatar.
Avatars have starting gold as normal for purchasing items. However, at game start any remaining gold vanishes and those items are only tangible to that character. Starting items left in cyberspace while logged out for more than a physical day vanish.
Avatars do not gain XP through encounters in cyberspace, nor does the physical being controlling that avatar. An avatar advances in level when the physical being does, and receives its level-up benefits upon next logging-in. All level-up choices happen instantaneously within the context of the D&D metagame and thus for in-game purposes “pause time”.
Defeat and Death
An avatar that is unconscious for more than a minute of physical time automatically logs-out. If the physical being is unconscious for any reason, the avatar immediately logs-out. If an avatar dies while in cyberspace, its possessions are dropped where the avatar died, after which the avatar logs-off and its personal data is deleted permanently (leaving room for a new avatar). Avatars cannot be raised. If an avatar’s external storage method (such as a neural implant, cyberghost, or memory card) is irreversibly corrupted, damaged, erased, or destroyed, the avatar contained within dies and its possessions are destroyed as well.
Encumbrance does not affect an avatar. At the GM’s discretion, an avatar can carry whatever it likes, although most objects in cyberspace were not programmed to be movable.
A bondable item (DMG2 p231) is one that is masterwork, magic or psionic, or worth at least 100 gp. In cyberspace, each physical world bondable item filling a physical being’s body slot (i.e. not part of an outfit or a peripheral of a suit of armor) applies a special benefit on avatars they play based on each item’s associated chakra. When someone first logs into cyberspace while wearing such an item, that item is permanently imbued with a metatag of the wearer’s choice based on the guidelines below.
For each bondable item that fills a body slot, determine its associated chakra (see Table: Metatag Chakras and Associated Facets below) and pick one metatag associated with that chakra. That item permanently applies that bonus as a metatag on the avatar of the physical being wearing that item for as long as the physical being is wearing that item in that body slot. Rings do not have an associated chakra and thus don’t get metatags. You cannot wear an item that occupies the head body slot (such as a circlet, crown, hat, headband, helmet, or phylactery) and use a controller at the same time, and controllers can’t gain metatags.
Additionally, if the item has a special effect that includes one of that chakra’s facets, the item is imbued with an additional metatag (maximum one bonus metatag). This second metatag must be a different benefit than the first one chosen, as the same two benefits on the same item do not stack. Each time an item is enhanced, its metatags may be changed the next time the item is worn when you login to cyberspace (but only so long as the new metatags fit the guidelines above).
If the physical being shapes a soulmeld, the soulmeld grants one metatag associated with its occupied chakra (in addition to any metatags on the worn item). Binding a soulmeld to a chakra gives two additional metatags associated with that chakra, but you lose the benefits of any metatags on an item worn in that slot. If a soulmeld is unshaped, it loses all metatags (reshaping / rebinding it lets you choose metatags again).
|Table: Metatag Chakras and Associated Facets|
|Chakra / Body Slot||Item Categories||Facets|
|Arms||Armbands, bracelets, bracers.||Melee attacks, Shield, Strength|
|Soul (Body)||Armor, robes.||Alignment, Spellcasting, Manifesting|
|Brow (Face)||Goggles, lenses, masks, spectacles, third eyes.||Ranged attacks, Wisdom|
|Feet||Boots, sandals, shoes, slippers.||Dexterity, Movement|
|Hands||Gloves or gauntlets.||Dexterity, Melee attacks, Ranged attacks|
|Crown (Head)||Circlets, crowns, hats, headbands, helmets, phylacteries.||Charisma, Intelligence, Spellcasting, Manifesting|
|Shoulders||Capes, cloaks, mantles, shawls.||Protection, Transformation|
|Throat||Amulets, badges, brooches, collars, medals, medallions, necklaces, pendants, periapts, scarabs, scarfs, torcs.||Charisma, Protection|
|Heart (Torso)||Shirts, tunics, vests, vestments.||(None)|
|Waist||Belts, girdles, sashes.||Constitution, Protection|
|Table: Metatag Options by Chakra|
1 This indicates that you should pick one of the set from most granular interpretation possible. For example, the avoidance metatag available to the Hands chakra must pick either “being disarmed” or “weapon sundered” or “shield sundered”. For another example, the damage reduction metatag available to the Soul chakra must pick one of the four listed damage reduction types.
Cyberspace Encounter Design
In-general, a GM should not have a combat encounter in cyberspace unless:
- The entire party is in cyberspace (if half or fewer of the PCs aren’t in cyberspace, don’t do it)
- the combat will definitely only take 1 round (2 rounds max if there’s only one PC in cyberspace)
- it’s absolutely necessary
Instead, encounters in cyberspace should be focused on social skills, puzzles ( passive intelligence and passive knowledge are critical for keeping these quick), traps, or maybe a small skill challenge. Try to spend no more than 15 minutes of actual table time on a single PC’s jaunt into cyberspace. In-general, you shouldn’t even use cyberspace in the first place if none of the PCs are hackers. Even if there’s a hacker PC, a more traditional hack (which doesn’t use cyberspace) is more appropriate in most cases.
If you use cyberspace, remember that time in cyberspace is dilated 60x physical time. One round in physical time equates to 5 minutes in cyberspace. One minute in physical time equates to an hour in cyberspace. This is why social skills and traps are more common in cyberspace.
When hacking, hostiles in cyberspace are called Intrusion Countermeasures (IC, usually referred to as “ice”). IC is colloquially referred to by various colors appropriate to what it does.
White IC are traps, alarms, and other notification systems which alert the system that there’s an intruder. Most traps have aspects of gray IC.
Gray IC are walls, creatures, and other effects that attempt to block your passage or oust you from the cyberspace of that network. Almost all gray IC causes damage to your avatar in some way or tries to otherwise pressure you to logout.
While most forms of IC can only affect your avatar, “black” IC is programmed to force a feedback loop into your physical body in the physical world in certain circumstances. There are many kinds of black IC, and they create feedback loops in a number of different ways, but all of them have the goal of directly harming the physical being’s body in some way. Many forms of black IC are technically-illegal, but that doesn’t stop most companies with the money to afford black IC from implementing them.
The most legal form of black IC causes the intruder’s physical body to lose save points or gain strife. More expensive black IC can deal nonlethal damage, but this is the greatest effect a typical company might implement. Some networks though (especially government networks) have black IC that can deal lethal damage! Unless the intruder has a means of protecting themselves against black IC, they could be grievously wounded or killed while in cyberspace.