Cyberpunk Wiki

There are a wide variety of cybernetic devices available to the man on the move in the 2000's. But the basis for all these newtechs is chipware (also known as wetware by some), bio-plastic circuitry that allows the human body to mesh with the power of silicon microprocessors.

There are two types of chipware; reflex (APTR) chips and memoryware (MRAM) chips. Each piece of chipware operates exactly like the skill of the same name. To use chips requires two separate installations: a neural processor located at the base of the spine, which translates the chip data into useful information, and a set of interface plugs or chipware sockets.

The chip itself is a small, transparent sliver about an inch long, often color-coded for identification. It is inserted into the interface plug point down. It takes about 3 seconds to change chips. You may "run" as many separate chip programs at one time as your intelligence allows (current INT stat).

Example: My intelligence allows for seven active chips. This means I can have up to seven different program chips operating at one time. I could be chipped for Karate, AV-4 Piloting, Pistol, Assault Weapons, AV-4 repair, Play Instrument and Specific Knowledge: Rock Songs of the 1960s. However, I could not use any other chips until I'd removed one of these seven.

Having chipware is like having instant skills whenever you want them. The problem is, chipware is expensive, and limited to only the lowest levels of a specific skill (from +1 to +3). To progress further, you would have to have a specially designed chip built at a higher level (not an easy proposition). A natural skill, on the other hand, progresses by use and this increase in ability costs nothing except time.

Another problem with chips is that unlike natural skills, you can't learn to become better. If you're chipped for a Karate of +2, you'll be at that level of skill until you die, no matter how many fights you get into. You also can't combine natural and chipwared skills; for example, combining a chipped Karate of +2 and a natural Karate skill of +5 for a total of +7. The programmed responses of a chip will always override natural responses, setting the user's level of skill equal to that of the chip.

Chips are best used when you need to know a lot of things all at once, but not very well. With chips, you can become a limited martial artist, pilot, driver, marksman. You can know a little bit more than you did before about a variety of subjects, but nowhere near as much as you would if you'd hit the books and studied.

Types of Chipware

Reflex (APTR) Chips: These are chips for Reflex-based skills only, such as weapon firing or hand-to-hand combat knowledge. These Augmented Program TRCs feedloop - record a specific neural signal from one source, record it in memory, then use the recording to activate a series of muscle reactions in another source. Theoretically, these chips should allow even the lowliest "grunt" to have the skills of a karate master, the shooting ability of Wyatt Earp, and the reflexes of an Olympic athlete. But the limits of programming restrict what you can learn from a chip to a relatively low level (about +1 to +3).

In addition, a Reflex chip must adapt to your specific neural and muscular patterns, adjusting its instructions to fit your body and vice versa (after all, the karate master who was the pattern for the chip might have been five foot ten and you might be six foot three). It learns your body movements by sampling your responses as you practice using the chip. This process is known as chipping in and is required before the chip can be fully functional.

Chipping in takes two full days of practice for every level of, the chip. This means, for example, if you've been chipped for Martial Arts +3, it will take six days of practice before the chip has "learned" enough about your body to be fully functional. If you only get two days of practice, the chip will function as a level +1 - practice for four days, and it's raised to +2.

Memory (MRAM) Chips: These are chips for information only, used for storage of raw data on a specific subject. A memory chip operates just like a skill of the same type, is rated from +1 to +3, and is applied to the same stat as the original skill (for example, AV-4 Tech would be combined with your TECH stat, while a Language chip would relate to your INT stat). MRAM chips do not require a previous knowledge of the skill involved and have no chipping-in time.

Chipware Socket: A small socket used only for inserting chipware (see above). With a chipware socket, you can use your interface plugs to control other things (such as weapons or vehicles), while still having access to MRAM and APTR information. Holds 10 chips.