Man & Machine
Man & Machine Capsule Review by vitus979 on 20/04/01
Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
More pieces of Body Augmentation than you can shake a (cyber)stick at
Product: Man & Machine
Author: Mike Mulvihill & Rob Boyle
Page count: 160
Year published: 1999
Capsule Review by vitus979 on 20/04/01
Genre tags: Science Fiction
Intro:Man and Machine (M&M) is a rules expansion book for 3rd Edition Shadowrun (SR3). The book answers the age old question of 'if I only have $20 how am I going to get the dozen or so books in SR with all the cool cyberware stuff in them?'. M&M takes all the bits and pieces of cyberware, bioware and other topics and merges them all into this single easy to read book. Pulling from sources like Shadowtech, Cybertechnology, Cyberpirates, and Neo-Anarchist's Guide to Real Life this book has EVERY piece of body augmentation still in use in SR3 that wasn't covered in the Base Book.
Where would SR be without Cyberware? It's come a long way since 1989 with the release of SR1 and this book has every piece of mechanical body augmentation that's still available as well as a few new pieces. There's something new with Cyberware however. Cyberware can now be damaged from either rough conditions or from lack of upkeep. Called Stress, this subject is covered in more detail in the 'Damage and Healing' chapter.
As cool as cyberware is, there are still only 6 points of essence that you can use until you max out. What if you could change all that? The cybermancy chapter delves into the techno/magical/surgical procedure that allows characters to GREATLY increase the amount of cyberware a character can hold. It's not all bright spring days with this innovation however and the side effects are extremely nasty.
Think Chrome (cyberware) is last week's news? Then biological body augmentation, or bioware, may be for you. Using a different set of rules for maximum capacity, bioware can be a very good alternative to cyberware. Stress rules apply to bioware just like cyberware, however since bioware is alive it can heal itself over time just like the human body.
A brand new field of artificial augmentation for the SR world. Nanotechnology has been mentioned only in passing for quite awhile now, but this is the first time it's been laid out in rules form. With few side effects and being extremely magic friendly Nanotechnology could very well be the Next Big Thing for the SR world, but for the time being it's expensive to purchase and difficult to find.
This chapter covers everything from enhanced battle drugs like Kamikaze to the Freeze foam that the cops use when they want to stop you but not kill you to the newest and most potent illegal narcotics. Also included is a small list of magical compounds that grant certain powers, though the cost and availability for them isn't in the book it would seem.
Damage and Healing:
The rules for Stress in cyberware and bioware are discussed in this chapter as well as the healing (or repair as the case may be) of these parts. Within these rules are new damage rules called Wound Effects. Basically Wound Effects allow for more specificity in damage than the SR combat system has allowed in the past. There are also expanded rules for Street Doctors and Healing times without the normal hospital stay (for those wounded and on the run).
The first part of this chapter expands on the 'and Healing' section of the previous chapter and then delves into a much more detailed set of rules for nearly any type of surgery and the difficulties involved with different types. Private vs. Public hospitals, how to implant that new piece of gee-whiz cyberware, and even cosmetic surgery is covered here.
All in all this was a much needed book for the same reason that Cannon Companion (see earlier review) was a much needed book. Basically it takes the 2 pieces of 'ware from book X, the 5 pieces of 'ware from book Y, and the 8 pieces of 'ware from book Z, puts them all together, and updates them for use in SR3. The index in the back is useful, as are the tables right in front of the index that give a listing for EVERY piece of 'ware mentioned in SR3 (including Base Book 'ware) so far.
That being said the artwork gives the book a different spin than what has classically been associated with SR. The front cover makes SR looks like a strange cross between Cyberpunk2020 and Champions, some kind of cybered up super hero destroying dozens of evil looking robots with each swipe of his swords. . . that isn't the picture of SR that I think a lot of people have or that the developers try to get across in the rest of the sourcebooks.
With the helpful updates to Cyber- and Bio-ware and the useful new chapters on Nanotechnology, Damage and Healing, and Surgery, this book easily makes it into the 'smart investment' category for any SR player, or for that matter any game that includes body augmentation for simply being able to create new and cool pieces never before seen (Rifts and Blue Planet come to mind immediately).