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Message no. 1
From: Predator Omega <ba1764@*******.BAYNET.DE>
Subject: NERPS (nanobots) final version
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 19:51:51 +0100
(This information is for players and GMs)
The advent of nano-technology is changing and will keep changing the
face of our world for the next decades, perhaps even for the next
centuries. After several side-steps into our planets micro-cosmos
mankind had finally developed a machine small enough to slip trough the
frontiers of human's perception and our ability to manipulate with our
natural tools.

Thus creating a artificial organism in a way every life-form is made up:
individual cells with highly specialised functions that can operate
towards a single goal.

First steps in this field were very rude and clumsy compared to this
very sophisticated and delicate approach. Primitive automates and
industrial.-style robots have formed the basis for this breath-taking
advancement. Things, unimaginable not long before, can be done with a
staggering ease and with unbeatable speed.

Nanobots built each other, every generation significantly smaller than
the parent-nanobots. Nanobots will float the sewers of our town,
cleaning modern society's waste and leaving nothing behind thane pure
water and decomposed matter. Billions of microscopic machines
constructing whole buildings from the basement to the roof. Skyscrapers
growing form the ground, expanding steadily as more room is needed.
Additional to this nanobots offer a great number of job opportunities,
like nano-designers, bot-programmers or observing specialists that
correct the minor mistakes, these are by the way occurring very seldom
in the process.

Nano-technology is not only extremely safe, it is also a very cheap and
immensely fast way of constructing and deconstructing all kind of
structures, be them big or small in sice, be them sophisticated or
simple in complexity.

The amazing complexity of a nanobot-swarm does not prevent the easy
usage of them and does not put you, dear customer, in trouble.
Programming nanobots is just as simple as using a microwave oven.

The only other thing you have to care about is a sufficient amount of
appropriate raw materials in reachable vicinity of the nanobots. Just
lean back and watch the nanobots do the work, and the work is the only
thing that can be seen, because the nanites are much to small for the
metahuman eye to spot. No one will feel offended by the disgusting view
of uncultivated, dirty, sweating, unshaven construction workers on the

The work can be done even while people are living in the are. Imagine
how much money can be saved if you don't have to care for an alternate
accommodation of your workers or customers, because they can stay at
home or at their working place while the next floor grows molecule by
molecule, or the carpet in the lobby changes its colour thread by
thread, silently, without any dirt or unpleasant smells.

Nano-technology is the first step on the glorious way into a bright
future. Just follow us.

GM note: This article is intended to be player information. It is biased
towards the benefits of nano-tech, ignoring the negative aspects and in
some ways it is simply wrong. In other words it is a normal
advertisement. Check the GM section for the real stuff.

(STOP, this information is for the game-master only)

Nanotech is a fairly new invention in the scientific field of Shadowrun.

The nanites, we are going to talk about, should not be mixed with the
"nanites" mentioned in the Shadowtech SB. These "nanites" are
single-celled organisms which are areas to construct the man-machine

Nanobots, as they are called sometimes, are far bigger than such
organisms, but they are still small enough to travel through the
thinnest blood-veins in the metahuman body. Nanobots are the size of a
truck compared to a single cell.

Some things should be made clear before the Gm decides whether or not to
include this kind of technology ins his/her game.

First of all nanites are no life-forms, they are purely mechanical
constructions. Imagine a nanobot as a kind of drone with a extremely
limited number of functions. Even the simplest autopilot can be
considered as highly intelligent compared with the nanites' ability to
make decisions. Their biggest advantage, their extremely small size, is
also their main disadvantage. Storage space for information and commands
is so limited that the orders have to be very clear. For example the
order "Repair my cyberarm!" cannot be fulfilled. The reach the desired
effect the order needs to be rephrased as "Replace the missing parts of
the outer titanium shielding of my right thumb!" and "Reconnect the
upper-left-arm movement interface!" and so on. To repair such a delicate
machine as for example a cyberarm or a wired reflex system is, the used
needs a great variety of specialised nanobots.

The second disadvantage due the small size is that a single nanobot can
do near-to-nothing. Thousands, sometimes millions of nanites are needed
to achieve a certain goal.

Third, nanobots are very vulnerable to electro-magnetic pulses. A single
EMP-grenade could cause a nano-death in the targets body, killing
millions of nanobots at once.

The main advantage of the nanites is that they can operate in
environments normally nor accessible by other means. For example an army
of nanobots could implant an datajack in the subjects head without the
need of further surgery. The only thing to do is to inject the nanobots
together with the necessary raw materials in the subjects body. The
slight disadvantage is that the costs for this process is about 500
times higher than the standard implantation. The neurological trauma is
near to nothing because the nanobots replace only the parts of the
organic matter that are absolutely necessary to install the cyberware.
And the essence cost is? The same as delta because the damage to the
metahuman aura is the main reason for the essence loss. On the other
hand the process itself is more natural, resembling a kind of growing.
Therefore it "feels" better, the user more easily adapts to the
cyberware installed ion this way. The chance to develop some kind of
cyberpsychosis is far lower. If you are rules for cyberpsychosis in you
game you should adjust them in a way that seems acceptable to you.

Nanotech is very new in the SR universe, in fact nanobots are a
completely new field of technology. Therefore there are still some
things unexplored about nanobots. The information for players is in some
parts not as exact in others simply wrong. This allows you to keep a
certain degree of uncertainty in your game, without the need to include
unrealistic elements.

What to do if the nanites do not stop after implanting the datajack and
try to construct a second one? Or if they try to built a second cyberarm
after repairing the original one?

First of all the nanites need raw materials to complete their task.
Without them they are totally useless.
Second all nanites have a limited time of functioning. The slightest
damage to their systems leads to a complete failure. Built-in
"suicide-programs" destroy all of them after a certain time-span. Hey,
you shall buy them! Nobody ever got rich by selling things that last too
long. And the megas are far from being philanthrophic. In my humble
opinion even the devil is more friendly than them.
Third the nanites can only function in a certain environment for which
they had been designed, e.g. petrochemical substances, male dwarfen
zero-negative blood, and so on. If they leave this environment they
cease functioning, they die.
Organic environments pose additional problems for the construction of
nanobots. The normally dikote-covered bodies need also a non-allergic
organic shielding that fools the body's immune-system into ignoring
them. This increases the already horrible cost for nanobots even more.
The nanobots are to big to be destroyed by the immune-defence anyway,
but they would seriously damage it and would be slowed down at the same
time. To repeat the comparison, I've used earlier in this text, it is
like stooping a truck with bare hands. Hundreds of people would die
doing so, but they also would hinder the truck in its way. Therefore
they are very seldom used in an organic body.

Nanites offer a great opportunity to enrich the game and at the same
time are a big threat to it. The number of uses for nanobots is only
limited by your imagination. Nanites can implant cyberware, build
skyscrapers or can be used as devastative weapons. I recommend to limit
the nanobots to the low number of tasks. Later in this article you'll
find to pieces of cyberware based on nanites. I also recommend to limit
the availability to Beta or higher, preferable to delta-cyberclinics
only. You may (or perhaps should) decide to make nanobots NPC-stuff

On the other hand nanobots offer a number of possible plots for
shadowruns. Some examples:
- a mad scientist is using a self-reproducing nanotech-weapon to destroy
the concrete
fundament of the Renraku arcology.
- the runners have been hired to steal nanobots and one of them becomes
- the runners own nanobots become crazy and will kill him/her if the
runners doesn't succeeds in reprogramming them
- a great nanobot plague destroys the world by deconstructing
everything, starting with all the computers of the NERPS people,
therefore destroying every hope for a mega-anti-nanobot weapon (this is
only if you want to get rid of your players:-)

The nanobots give you all the standard tech-goes-rampant stories and all
the typical I-must-have-this-stuff motivation we Gms love. It also
allows you to power-up NPCs in a way completely unknown to you players
and their characters: "Hey, I shout of this guys arm yesterday and he's
got a new one now???".

But remember: The world will never be the same after you've allowed
nanobots in your game. Perhaps it is a better one, perhaps a world more
dangerous, but it will always be a more cyberpunkish world.

(End of game-master information)

Regenerating Nanites

(please include this picture here: )

Nanites are microscopic robots that are only 0,5 nanometers in size. In
normal conditions between 1 and six billion nanites are injected in the
body of the user, additional to a specialised converter stomach. The
purpose of these nanites is to repair damage of the cybernetic implants
of the user or to replace them. Therefore they have to be reprogrammed
if the implants change. The nanites take all basic components from the
stomach to the damaged cyberware and install them there. All in all
there are 3 different kinds of nanites in the body. The first are the
"observers" that constantly monitor the status of the body. if they
detect a damage they release a special enzyme, that acts as a messenger.
This enzyme activates the collectors that transport the raw materials to
the damaged areas and start to repair the implant. If they have finished
the repair they release a second enzyme that activates the "conservers"
and deactivates the "observers". The "conservers" layer a protein
shielding over the cyberware and therefore isolate it, after they
connect again all circuits. A third enzyme is spread in the blood stream
of the user, reactivating the observers and deactivating the
"conservers". The circle can start again. The healing speed depends on
the level of the nanites. If the user has a full cyber replacement body,
these nanites heal ALL damage to the user. The raw material (silicates,
e.g. glass) can normally be found everywhere in an urban environment and
must be ingested or put directly to the area of damage. The nanobots
stay for a time of approximately 2 years in the users body. After that
they must be replaced.

(>) A buddy of mine used those nanites quite intensively and it was OK
there had been a kinda programming error. I don't know if ya remember
old Akira movie; well it was just like watching it in slow motion.
sick stuff, if ya want my opinion
(>) Yossarian

(>) Nice horror story, but impossible: the nanites don't have enough raw
materials to do this kind if stuff...
(>) Kerosene

(>) Except if they decompose your own body and the 'ware you already
have in
their simplest elements and use them to build something else at the
wrong place.
(>) Yossarian

(>) Geez, this is exactly what the cons will use to make you tell'em
everything. They'll just put some of these nasty biests into y'r
stomach and watch as you are slowly eaten up from the inside of your
body. Everyone would talk. You'd better not get caught....



Bodycost index availability cost legality
0,4 3 8 / 2 weeks 50.000 legal

NANITES (per limb)

level time o.healing index availability cost legality
1 90% or -10% 3 8/2 weeks level x 20.000 legal
2 70% 3 8/2 weeks level x 20.000 legal
3 50% 3 8/2 weeks level x 20.000 legal
4 30% 3 8/2 weeks level x 20.000 legal
5 10% or -90% 3 8/2 weeks level x 20.000 legal

The nanites die after a time between 1 year and 6 months. Even injury
beyond a Light Wound (no Stun damage) lowers the time the nanites stay
in the users body by 1 day due the lose of nanites by bleeding them out
of the body. The 2 year information is therefore wrong.
The heat generated by the working nanites does (level)M stun damage due
dehydration if the nanites are working in an organic system. The damaged
is applied once per level of physical damaged (higher than Light damage)
healed by the nanites. If working in an artificial body-part, e.g. a
cyberarm, the heat lowers all TN for spotting the character using
infrared vision by the nanobots level.

Regenerating nanites - channels and storage

(please include this picture here: )

The improvement of the regular regeneration nanites consist manly of an
complex network of channels and reservoir facilities that pass through
the cyber-limb like organic blood vessels. The main advantage of this
technique, compared to it's predecessor is that the nanites reach
damaged sections much faster and the number of the nanites can be
heavily increased. This implant is useless without the instalment of
nanites beforehand. If these mircobots are installed the will be
re-built and kept in the reservoir facilities to reach the optimal 10%
reserve for critical situations. Also this system operates as a kind of
central processing and coordinating unit for the nanobot swarm.


The following chart shows the cost per limb:

level TN healing time index avail. Cost legality
1 -1 -3% 1 8 / 2 weeks 20.000
¥ Legal
2 -2 -6% 1,5 8 / 4 weeks 40.000
¥ Legal
3 -3 -9% 2 8 / 6 weeks 100.000
¥ Legal

The TN for the body-check, which determines the necessary time of
healing is lowered, depending on the level of the channels. This is
completely cumulative with the bonus from the regenerating nanites. All
other healing rules apply to this test. This implant solves the problem
of nanobots dying or lost after a certain time. But still nanobots are
not able the regenerate themselves or mutate without this implant.
Again, the heat generated by the working nanites does (level)M stun
damage due dehydration if the nanites are working in an organic system.
The damaged is applied once per level of physical damaged (higher than
Light damage) healed by the nanites. If working in an artificial
body-part, e.g. a cyberarm, the heat lowers all TN for spotting the
character using infrared vision by the nanobots level.

Reprogramming the nanobots
The costs for reprogramming depends on the complexity of the new
cyberware installed. Count the total amount of essence costs during
changing and new implantation. Cost follow in the chart below. Multiply
the level of the nanites by the Nuyen in the chart. Street index is same
as for the nanites, depending on the level. The reprogramming can only
be done in a Beta or higher cyberclinic and takes (level x 3) days in an
semi-ambulant therapy.

Essence cost Normal Alpha Beta Delta Bioware
0,1 - 0,3 1,000 5,000 7,000 10,000 can
0,4 - 8,0 2,000 10,000 14,000 20,000 always
0,9 - 1,5 5,000 15,000 25,000 40,000 be
1,6 - 3,0 8,000 30,000 50,000 100,000 ignored
3,0 + 15,000 50,000 75,000 150,000

Þsigner notes=
I've invented this thing for two reasons:

First there is the Cybertech sourcebook. In the chapter about cyberlimbs
and torso it says the thing was invented because the artificial body is
much easier to be repaired. In fact this is not the case, at least not
in the rules. As all can see these nanites resemble the cyberware
equivalent of symbiontes, but they are much faster.

The second reason is that we are using a hit location sys in our game.
We decided that a cyberlimb can be "wounded" just like an normal limb.
But it can't be repaired with healing spells or normal first aid. You
may thing otherwise, but this doesn't matter, I think this is another
topic. This is of course a big disadvantage compared to flesh limbs.
First you have to spend hell of a lot money on this thing and then it
gets broken just like a normal limb and can't be healed as easy as a
flesh one. Plain stupid IHO, why should you get one, besides the ability
to armour it, and put some things in it? BTW we've restricted the my
amount of armour to 8, both hard and soft.

This piece of cyberware is intended to solve both problems at once.

Perhaps the whole thing is to heavy for you game(s) but you could use it
for NPC as well. Please not that the price is per limb, otherwise it
would be too cheap. Maybe you choose that the nanites can not heal
normal damage, to organs and so on.

The idea came partly from the movie "Virtuosity" with Denzil Washington.
Some things where also take form "Virtual Light" and "Idoru" by
Gibson. Another note about the converter stomach. I just thought it is
better to mention that you have the get raw materials from somewhere,
e.g. a beer glass or something like that and then ingest it. The
nanites decompose it and transport the stuff to the damaged components
in your cyberware. The healing time is used mainly for damaged
cyberlimbs (hit-location sys). I never fixed time for other damaged
cyberware, but I think the time for deadly or serious damage would be

Nanotech is one of the most important technical advances in the next
century. German scientist are working at a system quite like this in the
moment. And this is RW and not SR. But ok, it depends all on the
tech-level. But I would recommend including this stuff in SR because it
bears many opportunities, not only for equipment but also for life-style
or background stuff. I can't see any reason why FASA shouldn't include
stuff like this in their next Shadowtech book. It is in fact very easy
to create them, the main problem is (in real world) the controlling
system, because the chips we are using in the moment are just to big.
But with a chip 10,000 times smaller...? A easy way to include the stuff
without any further problems for your game is to increase the
availability or restrict it to delta cyber and corps. And I decided they
have solved the problem that "nanotech is requiring cryogenic-level
temperatures" (Mike). So you don't need "some liquid nitrogen in your
bloodstream along with
the nanites" (also Mike).

A last word on the essence cost of nano-implantation. I decided to leave
it to FASA how Delta-surgery works. Perhaps they use some kind of
nanotech, perhaps not.

Predator Omega

Be careful not to abuse nanobots in your games, it has a great potential
for it. But sometimes this is ok: "Granted, I'm the biggest munchkin in
my whole group, so it's not a problem when I am GMing (;P), but
still..." (Mike, again, hey I get used to him:-). But he should speak
for himself:

"It's the same thing as with "nanite car mechanic" threat on ShadowRN
some time ago... Basically, SR nanites are not microscopic programmable
robots... Shadowtech says that those are short-lived, gengineered
bacteria directed by careful laying down of a special sugar using some
funny method... Nanotech is not used for anything else, only for
creating neural interfaces... They're not using nanotech to create
mechanical stuff, for example..."
Leszek Karlik, aka Mike

I also want to share Wordman's thoughts with you:

"In spite of Shadowtech's mention of nanites, I'm a bit leary of adding
them into my campaign. Nanotechnology is usually thought of as doing
something useful and working in some limited capacity; however, in the
real world, when nanotech becomes advanced, we are likely in for a
really bad time.
The simplest, most primitive nanite I can think of would be one that
gets into your body and just starts ripping random cells apart. Flooded
with these, you'd die in a lot of pain after a few days. With advanced
tech, you could build much worse.
I guess my point is that if you want to add nanites to a campaign, be
aware that there should be some _serious_ social baggage that comes with
them. The best treatment of what nanotech might do to the world can be
found in Neal Sephenson's "Diamond Age"."

Some things came form Timothy Teravainen that are worth noting here:

"To a computer, the difference between the former example and the latter
two examples is very small; a good analogy would be that going from
"Replace <detailed location>" to "Replace Cyberarm" (and having
figure out where to do the work) is like going from Doom to Doom II: the
difference isn't that big, once a speech interpreter is created. (In
fact, "cyberarm" would take less memory storage space than 'knowing' all
of the little components in the language(s) of man). Also, nanobots
would be able to self-mutate (at least on a slight level) to fix the
appropriate parts of cyberarms. There would also be a variety of
nanobots in the blood(or whatever)-stream. Also, it can be assumed that
storage space would be virtually unnecessary, all that is required is
some communication protocol to receive commands and transmit "questions"
(queries would be more appropriate, I guess) to a central control box,
as well as to store a little bit of fail-safe code in case the box is
interrupted, et cetera. Most of the interpreter for going from a human
programming language to nanite language (small, tight, and efficient)
will be in that box. Whether real-time control or pre-compiling, the
control unit would solve the storage space problem for the most part.
Also, it is possible that nanites can form a "communication net" amongst
themselves; processing power need not be localised. Each nanite can act
as a "toggle switch", and thus form a memory bank from the individual

As I did with the second implant, to a certain degree at last. I've to
admit that I didn't understand everything he said, but I've tried to
include as much as possible.

But Timothy was a bit against my cyberpsychosis notes: "I disagree; I
guess it's growing, but it's still 'growing' electronic interface cables
and processing units. That's not what I call natural growth. I think
the Delta essence "rebate" is perfectly appropriate for nanotech cyber

I've include the heat-stuff even the damage resulting from the working
nanobots, but I spare out the question "And on the lines of energy,
where do they draw power? Biochemistry?" I don't know, perhaps fusion?
Let's say the gain their pwoer by the same way the rest of the cyberware
does. Ask FASA :-)

Not to forget SorroW:

"Well, wouldn't that be a great thing to Throw on a couple of
Runners.. "There's some Strange drekk in Uīre body AND itīs ripping it a
part (slowly, itīs always slow and they get a Chans to Survive) You got
24 hours to Live!!! What do You Do??" I would love to give my fellows
that one after a really Terrible Run. ;->"

Nearly the same with ChYlD (aka, David Mezerette)
"it makes me think: how to calm down some heavy cybered street sammy?
Nanites programming error *evil GM grin*"

But Bandit inspired me, too:
"Wouldn't that nanites have a life span? After all nothing last
forever. You would have to consistently get new injections of Nanites
to keep such a system operational. Also, wouldn't the body's own defence
system attack the nanites since they would be a foreign particle in the
blood Stream?"

And there is PaG who's thoughts I haven't included because there's
already a sys like this:
"I think this cyberware should have mostly the effect of the platelet
factory bioware. I have a difficult time figuring that nanites can
actually make the cyberware work like new, even when it was almost
totally destroyed (deadly). I suppose they could repair some minor
damage, removing a box of damage, but they could hardly completely
repair the cyberlimb, imho."

And last but not least, the man who's responsible for this f***ing long
article, again it's Mike (flame him, flame him, flame him, har har har

"Anyway, have you thought about ALL the implications of nanites? Like,
one has to create some kind of a biological shield for the environment
that will catch stray nanites, and one would have to control the nanite
research rather closely, as the "gray goo" would be a great terrorist
weapon. (For the uninformed: we take nanites, and order them to break
down all substances they find, then create more nanites from the stuff
they obtain... Nanites replicate, replicate, replicate, and instead of a
planet we've got a big glob of "gray goo", namely, nanites, floating in
space... <shudder>) What about nano-computing? OK, but in that case I'd
recommand a separate "Nanotechnology" section with a short intro
describing all the pros and cons of nanotech, so that the GM bent on
introducing nanotech into his campaign will know what the potential
traps are...

Ok, I decided that nano-computing is to heavy for my stuff. I hope I've
given you all necessary information for your games and I also hope I've
answered every question.

Special thanks go to:

Leszik Karlik, aka Mike, who's a quick and sharp thinker
Paolo Falce, Explorer, who considers careful all implications
SorroW, who's a bitter GM with ideas even more evil than mine ;-)
ChYlD (aka, David Mezerette), the second bitter GM
Bandit, for the idea about the nanobot life-span
PaG,(aka Pierre-Alexandre Garneau) for a good alternative
Timothy Teravainen, for additional inspirations

And of course to my gaming group, who has (as a whole) the special spell
"transform everything, esp. the enemy into mess"

Bocor Diabolique
Red Fox


Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading about NERPS (nanobots) final version, you may also be interested in:


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