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Vader: Cybernetic Replacements or Enhancements?
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2019 5:57 pm    Post subject: Vader: Cybernetic Replacements or Enhancements? Reply with quote

One of the more obvious bits of trivia about the SWU is that Vader is a mess of cybernetic replacement parts. Further, there is strong canonical evidence suggesting that said cybernetic enhancements damaged his connection to the Force.

Now, in the era of the Classic Trilogy, the idea of just cybernetic replacements - merely replacing a missing part with another that provided equivalent performance to a natural part - was the norm. But in a universe where a cybernetically-enhanced non-FS warrior like Grievous can be enhanced sufficiently to go toe-to-toe with Jedi Masters, is it possible or even likely that the same thing happened to Vader?
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Raven Redstar
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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2019 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that his cybernetics were enhanced. It's shown in the Classic movies of him picking someone up one handed by the throat, crushing the guy's neck and tossing him aside.

I think that even if cybernetics aren't considered enhancements, there should be some things considered by GMs when dealing with them.

1) Using a cybernetic limb is likely to be less strenuous than using your natural limb, since the mechanical one will not tire or wear out the same way that bone and muscle will.

2) Even if it's not technically enhanced, the cybernetic limb should be"stronger" than the creature's it replaced, since beneath whatever synthetic skin, it's some sort of metal, which would indicate that it would hit, squeeze, or whatever harder than the original.

I'm sure there are other things to consider, but I would say that someone with a replacement hand could theoretically hold on to a handle, ledge, railing, or whatever indefinitely. Someone with mechanical legs could likely walk for as long as they are able to stay awake without having to deal with sore feet, tired aching legs or the like. In fact, would walking on cybernetic legs even cause a person's heart rate to increase the same way operating muscles and blood vessels would?
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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't think so. Granted, you'll eventually tire, but it's not like walking on cyberlegs uses your own muscles or tendons.

I recall reading a while back that Vader's parts were prone to breakdown and needed constant maintenance as a way to keep him in line. Was there ever any canon evidence of this or just a wild fan theory?
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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure about the cybernetics needing maintenance, but he does seem to end up in a bacta tank regularly. I recall in one of the legends media it being stated that he struggles trying to heal himself with the force, even when he seems to make a little headway, his anger is insufficient, leaving him to rely on medical science to keep his burns in check.
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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can certainly see him being enhanced. And this is IMO something shadow-run did right, with cybernetics taking away from one's "Essence" rating.. Never really liked the "if you have cybernetics, get 1 dsp per cyber-point you have" that was iirc introduced in Crackens.. I would much prefer a penalty to activating force powers for having cybernetics myself..
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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enhancement can only go so far. How powerful a cybernetic limb can be is going to be largely dependent upon how much strength/stress the host joint can support.

At some point, those cybernetics interact with flesh and bone, and if they are taking on a larger load than the body parts they connect to can support, then you end up with injuries.

Take grip strength, for example. If you have a cybernetic hand, the "muscles" that tighten the fingers are attached to the forearm, near the elbow. The bone bears the stress of those muscles squeezing. If the hand is wired into the forearm muscles, then the nerves that activate the hand need to carry enough electricity to the hand to generate the improved clenching force, etc. If the brain doesn't have sufficient power to grip stronger, then it's just not going to happen. Of course, it might be possible to do hydraulically (using fluids to amplify the effects produced by the baseline electricity), but then we're adding another layer of complexity and presumably bulk to the cybernetic limb, and so forth.

I would speculate that "enhanced" cybernetics might provide minor improvements to situational tasks, but it seems unlikely that a cybernetically modified individual would reap any global benefits that make him significantly more formidable.

Looking at General Grievous, he literally was a central nervous system (and some organs to support it) hooked up to a cybernetic body. I'm not sure he's comparable to Vader who was a quadriplegic with all of his essential organs and supporting skeleton intact.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
I can certainly see him being enhanced. And this is IMO something shadow-run did right, with cybernetics taking away from one's "Essence" rating.. Never really liked the "if you have cybernetics, get 1 dsp per cyber-point you have" that was iirc introduced in Crackens.. I would much prefer a penalty to activating force powers for having cybernetics myself..

That wasn't the way it worked, though. Cybernetics are dealt with in Cracken's Rebel Field Guide and Pirates & Privateers (which are essentially the 1E and 2E versions of the rule). In Cracken, cybernetics had two effects:
    1) If a character wanted to use Force powers, they rolled 1D. If they rolled less than their total # of cyber points, they couldn't use the Force power.

    2). If a character earned a DSP, they got an extra DSP per every cyber point.
So it wasn't that you automatically got a DSP just for getting cybernetics; if you did something DSP worthy, the cybernetics compounded it.

Of course, this version of cybernetics would've left Vader unable to use the Force at all, so in the P&P version (2E), it was replaced with a watered-down version of the DSP rule:
    # of Enhancements* = Extra DSPs
    1-2 = +1
    3-4 = +2
    5-6 = +3

    *Replacements count as 1/2, rounded down.
So Luke, with a single replacement part, would count as a 0 (1/2 rounded down) for the purposes of this rule.

So there is precedent in the RAW for cybernetics affecting the ability of characters to use the Force, but it was very all-or-nothing, and didn't take into account someone like Vader.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Naaman wrote:
Enhancement can only go so far. How powerful a cybernetic limb can be is going to be largely dependent upon how much strength/stress the host joint can support.

At some point, those cybernetics interact with flesh and bone, and if they are taking on a larger load than the body parts they connect to can support, then you end up with injuries.

True, but if we're talking about enhancing the Strength attribute, there is an implant available in Cracken's (the NeuroSaav Cardio-Muscular Package) that enhances the strength of natural muscles. IMO, skeletal and integumentary enhancements would also be needed to get a full-spectrum enhancement of Strength, but if anyone would have access to the technology, it would be the Emperor. So even if the goal was just to enhance Vader's Strength and leave all the other attributes alone, the technology does exist.

And turning him into an armored juggernaut that can shrug off hits and keep on coming would be very much in line with Anakin's character in the prequels...
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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:

That wasn't the way it worked, though. Cybernetics are dealt with in Cracken's Rebel Field Guide and Pirates & Privateers (which are essentially the 1E and 2E versions of the rule). In Cracken, cybernetics had two effects:
    1) If a character wanted to use Force powers, they rolled 1D. If they rolled less than their total # of cyber points, they couldn't use the Force power.

    2). If a character earned a DSP, they got an extra DSP per every cyber point.
So it wasn't that you automatically got a DSP just for getting cybernetics; if you did something DSP worthy, the cybernetics compounded it.


I knew it was something like that, just couldn't remember specifics.
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's what I don't get: If cyberlimbs prevent Force use, then how does Vader Force Choke and TK everyone? When he's doing the Force Choke thing with his hand he's "channeling the Force", right? Is it just a handy visual (pun intended) for the audience?

What about Force Lightning? We never see Vader use it, but he's definitely a 'zap 'em' sort of guy. How is Force Lightning functionally different from TK Kill? You're still using all three Force skills to do E-vil.

As far as the armor construction, I think it's mostly Legends, but we do see it protect him from blasters and lightsaber strikes. The Wookieepedia page says he had a mix of Sith Alchemy, Mandalorian Iron, and some modern cybernetics. It also lists his blaster deflection ability as belonging to a Mandalorian Crushgaunt, implying that he can't channel the Force through his limbs. Ok, if that's the case, then how in the heck does he TK stuff and Force Choke people??
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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pel wrote:
Here's what I don't get: If cyberlimbs prevent Force use, then how does Vader Force Choke and TK everyone? When he's doing the Force Choke thing with his hand he's "channeling the Force", right? Is it just a handy visual (pun intended) for the audience?

I think that may have been part of why WEG dropped the "must roll more than your total # of cyber-points to use the Force" rule in Pirates & Privateers. Going strictly by their rules, it would've been impossible for Vader to roll 8 or more on a 1D. It's possible that, that early on, nobody knew the extent of Vader's cybernetic replacements; we knew from RotJ that he had a cybernetic hand, and required a special breathing apparatus, but there was no indication that he had lost his other limbs as well (see here: SWTC's analysis of Vader's wounds.)

Quote:
What about Force Lightning? We never see Vader use it, but he's definitely a 'zap 'em' sort of guy. How is Force Lightning functionally different from TK Kill? You're still using all three Force skills to do E-vil.

Technically, Force Lightning only uses two, and per the RAW, TK Kill is actually more powerful than Force Lightning, FWIW. Personally, I think Force Lightning needs to be reworked to combine both Inflict Pain and Bolt of Hatred to increase its usefulness and versatility. I recall hearing that Vader's cybernetics did not permit him to use Force Lightning, which makes a certain amount of sense, since it seems to emanate from the user's fingertips

Quote:
As far as the armor construction, I think it's mostly Legends, but we do see it protect him from blasters and lightsaber strikes. The Wookieepedia page says he had a mix of Sith Alchemy, Mandalorian Iron, and some modern cybernetics. It also lists his blaster deflection ability as belonging to a Mandalorian Crushgaunt, implying that he can't channel the Force through his limbs. Ok, if that's the case, then how in the heck does he TK stuff and Force Choke people??

I addressed this in my Force Attribute article for the Adventurer's Journal, where cyberpoints reduce a character's Force by 1 pip per point. Someone as powerful as Anakin would be much reduced, but still able to use the Force, while a more "normal" Jedi would be completely neutered by that level of damage.

As to the rest, it seems mostly like a Frankensteinian ret-con, applying unique "magical items" in an attempt to explain contradictions insofar as what Vader can do vs. what he should not be able to do.
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PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2019 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I'll grant you that Force Lightning and cybernetics don't mix (well, maybe once, but then you're looking for replacement parts), but that brings up another question: When "using the Force" does a Jedi channel the energy through themselves, or just manipulate the external energy flow? That could make a big difference in whether cyberlimbs are affected, not to mention whether replacement parts actually interfere with using Force powers.
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PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2019 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pel wrote:
Ok, I'll grant you that Force Lightning and cybernetics don't mix (well, maybe once, but then you're looking for replacement parts), but that brings up another question: When "using the Force" does a Jedi channel the energy through themselves, or just manipulate the external energy flow? That could make a big difference in whether cyberlimbs are affected, not to mention whether replacement parts actually interfere with using Force powers.

It may just be specific to Force Lightning, such as if Force Lightning somehow derives from the body's natural electrical field (I have no idea if it does; I'm just spit-balling). As far as Vader using gestures while using TK, it's been pointed out elsewhere (in the D6 Space Metaphysics chapter, most prominently) that using gestures can reduce the Difficulty of a power. I get the impression that it's more of a mental focusing trick than an actual effect (i.e. any effect is in your mind, but that has an effect in and of itself).
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PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2019 2:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That whole 'having to gesture' imo was more of a call back to games like adnd, where when casting spells, one had to 'gesture' via somantic components'.
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PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2019 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
That whole 'having to gesture' imo was more of a call back to games like adnd, where when casting spells, one had to 'gesture' via somantic components'.

I see them more a psychological focus, as though making a physical gesture helps to clarify or enhance the power in the user's mind, sort of like a placebo effect. D&D effectively took a similar approach in the 3.0/3.5 edition by including the Still Spell Feat, allowing characters to cast spells without using the somatic component.

I think it shows up quite a bit in the SWU, actually. Obi-wan, for example, didn't always need to use spoken words in combination with Affect Mind (see the two stormtroopers talking about the "new T-16").
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