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GURPS Transhuman Space: Bio-Tech 2100, Phil Masters 07 December 2015

This GURPS Transhuman Space supplement gives an overview of biotech, dealing with all the fiddly bits that aren't bioroids or smart uplifted animals (which were in Bioroid Bazaar).

Disclaimer: I received playtest credit in this book and therefore did not pay for it.

Bioroid Bazaar was a very crunchy book, with lots of stats for various sorts of constructed creature. This one has its share of numbers, but the bulk of the material is history and flavour for the setting.

The first chapter begins with a history of bioengineering, both skimming over the present day and showing how things progressed to get to the setting date of 2100. This is particularly important because biotech is slow: modified animals and humans take time to grow, and if a technique wasn't invented until 2075 then the products of it won't be more than 25 years old. There's treatment of genefixing (and how it shades into improved humans and people who aren't really humans any more), uplifted animals, and bioroids, all of these filled with comments on the attitudes of various factions in the setting, and the sort of friction that will generate adventures.

The second chapter looks at sapient biological non-humans (this is the sort of setting where all those words make important distinctions). How do people feel about bioroids, for example? Disapproving because they were created as slaves but should be treated as people, because their creation is meddling with things that mankind shouldn't touch, because they're Taking Our Jobs, because they're often scary fighting types, or because it's more profitable when they're illegal; or in favour, because they save humans from dangerous jobs, because diversity is a goal in itself, or because existing bioroids should be allowed to have offspring? All these attitudes exist in the setting, and will cause people to act in different ways. Players have discussed at some length whether bioroids are economic in a world that also has AI labour, and why there's such a strong revulsion to biological shells operated by computer rather than organic brains; those are dealt with here. And just what does the "legal minor" status of Bioroids on the Pan-Sapient Rights Table (the single most important table in Transhuman Space) mean? They're certainly not treated just like human children; details are here. The chapter ends with a section of rules, considering what constitutes a "species" for medical purposes, and looking at traits like Empathy, Resistance, and Phobia in the context of this complex world.

The final chapter gives templates for various non-humanoid species, mostly tools or animals rather than potential player characters. (Though I still want to play an uplifted octopus some time.) All of these are also given in "just the stats" form for ready use as animal encounters.

There are vast numbers of adventure possibilities included here, not of the blatant sort ("this bad thing is happening") but explaining people's attitudes and the things those attitudes drive them to do. It's thoroughly tied into the setting, but some of the ideas (and templates) will be usable elsewhere. Transhuman Space: Bio-Tech 2100 is available from Warehouse 23.

  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:43pm on 08 December 2015

    I bought this supplement and enjoyed it, but then I am a Transhuman Space fan.

  2. Posted by Dr Bob at 11:55am on 12 December 2015

    Other people: Hey, I want to play an uplifted octopus!

    Me, who did a PhD on cephalopod molluscs: You do know that octopuses drop dead after they've had sex? Like pacific salmon do.

    Other people: I've suddenly gone off the idea...

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 08:30pm on 12 December 2015

    Ah, but the fun I could have with a sapient octopus Cthulhu-cultist…

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