- 1 Prosthetics by Brand
- 2 More Information
- 3 Visual Reference
Prosthetics by Brand
Based on hundreds of years of open-source development, "Unbranded" prosthetics are a low-price powered prosthesis option available throughout human space, even in the most desolate or newly settled systems. Occasionally, a popular unbranded design will be taken down due to claims of copyright infringement, but a new one invariably springs back up within a few months. Because Unbranded designs have a very loosely structured development process, bugs inevitably crop up, leading to a reputation for unreliability.
Unbranded prosthetics are most appropriate for Poor characters, and those seriously dedicated to the Unbranded ethos. Due to their open-sourced nature, Unbranded prosthetics run the gamut of quality and style, though it's safe to assume that they're relatively poorly made. The ones that last longest on the Exonet tend to be glitchy; those that function are often removed on claims of copyright infringement.
Morpheus Cyberkinetics makes the cheapest functioning prosthetics on the market. Cyber Solutions makes the cheapest prosthetics, period. Notoriously buggy and poorly-constructed, Cyber Solutions has been the target of a number of class action lawsuits by positronics whose bodies had literally fallen apart on them. While their quality has improved slightly since their most recent lawsuit, Cyber Solutions parts remain so low-quality that the company refuses to use them for their own low-price drone lines. Some tinkerers have managed to improve the parts far beyond the factory quality, and in some Mercurial subgroups Cyber Solutions modding is considered an art form.
Cyber Solutions parts are most appropriate for Poor characters and dedicated tinkerers.
A fairly unremarkable prosthetic design, NanoTrasen health plans provide these as part of their famous corporate medical insurance. These are also provided to NanoTrasen-produced positronics at the end of their indenture and are considered fairly high quality for entry-level prosthesis. Outside of NanoTrasen facilities, NanoTrasen-brand prosthetics are fairly rare and not often sought out-- NanoTrasen's grey-black prosthetics are a visual sign of association with the company itself.
Any character employed by NanoTrasen can have NanoTrasen prosthetics, though the brand isn't exclusive to employees. For characters who already work for NanoTrasen, they're easy to come across in case of an accident, and comfortable enough that many never feel the need to upgrade.
The manufacturing giant's prosthetic line is functionally quite similar to Nanotrasen, but is directed at the consumer market and cheaper than Nanotrasen's own product. Aesthetically, of course, they are worlds apart, trading Nanotrasen's black gunmetal for rounded white plastic. The design endeavors to avoid the "uncanny valley" that plagues humaniform robot designs, by abstracting away the human shape into a series of connected ovals. Artists debate whether or not it succeed, while normal people are more concerned with WT's tendency to accrue dirt and scratches with hard use.
Ward-Takahashi is popular through all economic classes, from Poor to Wealthy. Though it takes more wear-and-tear from heavy labor than dedicated industrial chassis, some use it for these tasks regardless.
Hephaestus joined the civilian prosthetic market in earnest after the First Contact War. Wartime amputees and fully-prosthetic Mechanized Division veterans found themselves looking for the Hephaestus parts that they had access to during the conflict. Hephaestus responded by producing the first civilian model of their rugged green prosthetics, leveraging their ties with SolGov to offer discounts to many of those returning from war. HI-Civilian is not quite as durable or easily maintained as the military model, to conform with most systems' legal restrictions on the capacities of prosthetic limbs, but maintains an unmatched reputation for resilience to damage and ease of repair.
Hephaestus prosthetics are somewhat expensive, but are a reasonable investment for many characters of Average or above economic status. It has sufficient manual dexterity for most tasks, without sacrificing the rugged durability that made the brand popular.
Xion Manufacturing Group
Xion's prosthetic designs are normally seen fairly rarely outside of Xion's extensive mining facilities, but have managed to proliferate because of the sheer number of positronics it creates and employs. Xion's limbs are cheap and rugged, but come with a number of drawbacks. Even positronic users complain about Xion's lack of sensitivity, but more problematic still is Xion's habit of leasing out their prosthetics as they do the rest of their equipment. Most people find the idea of not owning their own body extremely distressing, and because of this (and because Xion spearheads most anti-Unbranded lawsuits) Xion and Xion-like prosthetic designs are frequently available on pirate sites.
Xion prosthetics are most appropriate for Poor and Underpaid characters. More wealthy characters usually prefer something with better tactile response, as do characters whose jobs require precision work
Grayson is a new entrant into the prosthetics market. Their debut line is a rugged design built using polymers and alloys originally developed for Wulf Aeronautics, giving their parts a reputation for extremely solid construction. Unfortunately, the use of high-density materials in the construction process gives them an uncomfortable weight, something that Grayson has promised to correct in their next release. The parts are fairly cheap, but require a robotics specialist to put them together by hand before they're ready for use.
Grayson parts are appropriate for characters of any income class, so long as they are willing to deal with the design's unwieldiness. This makes them most popular for those involved in construction or other manual labor, and some in police and private security have taken to using Grayson as a "discount Hephaestus".
One of the two TSCs with the most investment in the prosthetics market, Morpheus' design ethos sets them far apart from Bishop Cybernetics. Morpheus chassis are supposed to be the cheapest and most streamlined prosthetic bodies imaginable. Due to their minimalist construction methods, the chassis is often called 'skeletal' or 'insectoid', the parts often remaining unpainted, with wiring being run externally, rather than through the joints. Morpheus was also the first company to pioneer the now-popular "monitorhead" design, replacing time and material-intensive facial sculpting with a single mass-produced monitor.
Morpheus prosthetics are popular for positronic characters who are either Poor or Underpaid. Richer synthetics usually upgrade to a more aesthetically pleasing design, while most humans find the distinctly inhuman sensory response from Morpheus products unnerving.
Bishop is the other big-name prosthesis manufacturer. Despite their obviously mechanical appearance, Bishop products have a range of sensation rivaling that of Vey Medical, with proponents calling it even more comfortable and responsive. Simply occupying a Bishop chassis gives some the same sort of sensation one would get from a fast, well-maintained car or aircraft. Bishop products are most commonly sold in "boutiques" found throughout the richer regions of human space, and are custom-fit for the end-user's specifications.Externally, Bishop prosthetics have a chrome or airbrushed aluminum design, with carefully fitted blue lighting.
Due to their high price, Bishop prosthetics are only appropriate for Wealthy characters or particularly technophilic Well-off characters. "Knock-offs", usually chrome-plated Nanotrasen with painted-on lines, are sometimes worn by Underpaid or Average poseurs.
Zeng-Hu produces most of the "lifelike" prosthetics on the market. Unfortunately for those looking to return to their lives after a catastrophic accident, Zeng-Hu only maintains its profit margins on this product line by cutting corners. Zeng-Hu synthskin is significantly thicker than human skin and has been described as "rubbery". Zeng-Hu bodies also have obvious seam lines at the joints to lessen the structural stress on the synthskin covering. Additionally, Zeng-Hu standard facial sculpts all look fairly similar, though custom orders often avoid this problem. Nonetheless, ZH parts are the only option most people have for lifelike prosthetic limbs, and are lifelike enough to pass for human to casual inspection.
Zeng-Hu is available to Average characters and is a popular choice for drones designed for social interaction, who will probably have been paid for by their creators.
The most advanced humanoid prosthetic on the market, Vey-Med prides itself on its highly realistic synthskin, near-seamlessly integrated with the most sensitive tactile suite yet created (aside from that of Bishop, with whom they have a long-running friendly rivalry). Vey-Med seeks to be indistinguishable from a human body by both outside observers and by the patient themself, a point at which it succeeds handily.
The main downside to Vey-Med is its incredibly high pricetag-- easily comparable with that of a large house. Every Vey-Med piece is custom-sculpted for its individual owner, usually based on scans of the owner's previous body or the owner's family. Vey-Med also requires regular maintenance, lest the partially-organic synthskin that coats each piece begin to rot.
Many nouveau riche and lottery winners have splurged on a Vey-Med chassis, only to discover that they couldn't keep it maintained. Such individuals contribute to the large and semi-legal market of second, third, and forth-hand Vey-Med chasses, which are cheaper than a store-bought one, but not by very much. Vey-Medical forbids resale of its prosthetics line, and works hard to shut down illicit sales. Potential buyers of a pre-owned Vey-Medical chassis should avoid deals that seem too good to be true, lest they discover that their new body is a Zeng-Hu with a layer of epoxy.
Vey-Med bodies are only accessible to Wealthy characters, almost exclusively humans. Positronics find them unsettling in much the same way humans do Morpheus, and the idea of putting a drone in a Vey-Med body, if not a crude joke, is utterly ridiculous to anyone with any sort of sense. They are absolutely inappropriate for manual labor or combat, being fragile and usually fairly weak compared to other prosthetics.
Humans vs Positronics vs Drones
Most brands are clearly associated with either humans (amputees or voluntary cyber-augmentation patients) or positronics. Despite the fact that MMI and posibrain interfaces are quite similar, and most brands are equally comfortable for both species, this stratification persists. The main reason for this is that human-seeming prosthetics are usually regarded as important for human mental well-being. Medical insurance often pays out more for humans than for positronics in the event of an accident, and humans are often more willing to pay higher prices for humanoid prosthetics. Some positronics regard this as discriminatory, and most believe that maintaining a divide between the two species does not help with social integration.
Drones completely eschew this divide-- their chassis are based on what is the most profitable for the group that maintains them. Usually, this means some sort of non-anthropomorphic lawbound chassis. When a humanoid body is required, it's usually the cheapest one available that meets the minimum requirements for the drone to do its job.
Positronics and Age
Young positronics are unlikely to have much in the way of expensive belongings, including prosthetics. Most positronics come into the working world outside of a well-defined familial structure and are still paying off the debt from their first body.
Even those who do come into a family mature very quickly, not providing time for relatives to save up for an expensive chassis before they begin adulthood and working life. Because of these logistical concerns, even a positronic who has been in a well-paying job for a few years is unable to afford a high-quality chassis.
Most positronics buy their second chassis at around 10 to 15 years of age, and it is at these age that positronics in more middling chasses come into being. Positronics who want a high-end body must save for decades while scrambling for advancement in a galaxy that is rather bigotted more often than not.
Most prosthetic manufacturers produce more than one design, though they usually share significant design elements and exist in the same price-point. Monitor heads remain noticeably cheaper than proper heads, so those interested in penny-pinching will usually opt for a variant with a screen instead of a face.
Different corporations' prosthetics are not designed to be slotted together.
There are exceptions: most industrial brands utilize a shared standard set of connectors, and of course there are Unbranded models that play well with any and all parts.
Nonetheless, attempting to splice together parts across these lines runs into a variety of technical problems. Most common are sensory and motor cross-wirings, leading to synthesia, uncontrollable jitters, and occasional paralysis. These are uncomfortable enough that most amateur bodymodders give up after one too many hallucinations. Certain combinations of parts run into structural issues-- putting a Hephestus torso on a pair of Morpheus legs is likely to deform those legs badly. Any cross-design kitbashing is likely to result in some level of structural instabilty and poor balance without hard work being put into the design.
Most of these can be addressed by a talented roboticist, but nonetheless most people tend to stick to a single brand of prosthetics. People who see their body's makeup as a means of self-expression, or as a machine to be optimized, are much more likely to take risks in pursuit of these goals.