State of the Commonwealth - Shard Bio-technology!

Clint Staples

The Shard are one of the founders of the Commonwealth, with a history vastly longer than that of Humanity. Indeed, it was a Shard Emissary who first encountered the early explorers out of Pembroke and offered them aid and advanced technology, eventually welcoming them into the Commonwealth itself.

Shard Bio-Technology, Weapons, Warfare and the Shard Drive

Much of Shard technology has developed to augment, or interact with Shardic biology. In the Age of Warring Kings, thousands of years ago, Crystal Channeling allowed for the creation of more potent weapons, then improvements in other technologies. Millennia of experimentation and development led to many advances, including the Shard Drive that makes easy interstellar travel possible.

Wargear

Possibly the earliest techniques of Crystal Channeling were the creation and enhancement of weapons and wargear. This may be surprising, given the calm benevolence typical of Shard today, but the past on Surra was often war-torn. Matters of dogma and the Doctrine of Bi-Partritism, the now almost universal belief among Shard that the Shardic soul has both a crystalline and a biological component, caused centuries of conflict in the past, which drove bio-weapons production.

The earliest products of this sort of crystal channeling are no longer viable, but later ones that have survived intact suggest that the goal was to create more lethal weapons and better protections. The earliest surviving examples of crystallurgy are composed of finer, harder crystal, which made weapons sharper and more durable. The few that remain are still considered to be invaluable masterpieces of weapon design.

In the centuries before the Obsidian Age, some Shardic heroes began infusing melee weapons and missiles with energy. This energy could be stored for short periods and released on command by the wielder, resulting in devastating attacks that could shatter or melt the bodies of their foes. It was not long before this process was incorporated into general weapons manufacture, allowing any Shardic wielder to replicate the feat. Of course, advances in protection against these weapons was also keenly pursued, and generally kept apace with it. Armor composed of fragmenting crystals was developed to spread the energy of a strike over a larger surface. A refinement of this same technique is still used in armor production in the Commonwealth.

From energy infusion, the development of directed energy projection was inevitable. The first attempts were nearly as devastating to the wielder as they were to the target, but refinements were constant because directed energy had such a devastating effect on the battlefield. So began the use and grafting of harvested crystal, essentially repurposing the crystal of fallen Shard, to serve as the focusing crystals for the next generation of directed energy weapons. These integrated weapons gave way to more traditional modular ones that could be equipped or not as the task at hand required.

Of course, infusing energy in the crystal of dead Shard had other uses. Crystal functioned extremely well as a power storage medium. In the Commonwealth, most power cells are crystal matrices, though generally they are artificially produced now, rather than being harvested from the dead as was done among the Shard of old. Other common modern uses for crystals are as light sources, data storage units and synth displays, but they also play a role in force generators. In fact, historians differ on this, but some speculate that the original cause of the First Shard-Sagati War was the keen interest developed among the Sagati for certain Shardic crystal, which enhanced force technology significantly.

In the ninth century of the Commonwealth, thousands of years after the first crystallurgy, nearly every technology that depends on Shardic crystal uses artificially manufactured crystal. However, there is one technology where only true crystal, derived from the bodies of dead Shard, will suffice. The Shard Drive, the most advanced propulsion systems for interstellar travel, is only possible through the fracture and recombination of tremendous energies via true Shardic crystal.  The process of crystal refinement for star drives is still largely controlled by the Shard, but they trade completed Shard Drives within the Commonwealth and its signatories.

 

Shard Bio-Tech in the Game:

In order to play a Shard with access to Shard Bio-tech, you must take this Advantage:

Shard Bio-Tech: You may purchase initial equipment from the Shard Bio-tech List list, but may be restricted in your access once play begins. You understand your bio-tech and can effect repairs with an unmodified Mind check. You gain a +1 Dice bonus to Skill checks made using bio-tech with which you are compatible. In addition, you can suffer Hits of Stun damage to replace ammunition for a compatible bio-weapon. For each multiple of damage or effect you suffer 1 Hit of Stun damage [Ex: A Shard Energy Emitter with a base damage of x5, could, in extreme circumstances, be fired by inflicting 5 Hits on its wielder] You may use normal gear and weapons without penalty, but they do not count as bio-tech. Note: You must take the advantage Alien: Shard to qualify for Shard Bio-Tech. It is also conceivable that another race [of your or the GM’s design] has racial bio-tech. In such a case, use this write-up as a guide, and get your GM’s permission and help.

 

The image in the header shows a Shard with Dermal Frag Implants, an Heirloom Blade and an Energy gauntlet. Check out the attachment for these and other examples of Shard bio-tech weapons and armor.