It’s almost impossible to predict what the next major technological revolution will be; despite this, or perhaps because of it, a lot of people still envision the next huge leap forward in what we can do. One of the most popular ideas is that we’ll be able to “enter” the internet in some fashion, forming virtual avatars of ourselves that will exist in a digital reality. Of course, this idea has some pretty rough edges when you examine it closer. Does our virtual self have the same abilities and appearance that we do? Are its capabilities formed from our own minds, or are they the result of programming them in? While it’s an interesting thought experiment, it can be a headache to consider for your sci-fi RPG. After all, no one expects their character’s virtual self to have exactly the same abilities as their PC does…but then, how do you make a character’s character? That’s what the Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit answers.
Right away, the name should tip you off: this is a toolkit, and offers different ideas for how to deal with creating a virtual avatar for your PC. The first part of the book walks you through the basic aspects of a character (e.g. ability scores, class/level, and feats/skills) and discussing them in the context of three methods for making an avatar. The first is What You See Is What You Get – this is the simplest idea, where you do simply have your cyber-avatar be exactly the same as your “real” PC, eliminating any need to make a new character sheet, or even modify parts of your existing one. The second option, The Same But Different, is the opposite; it largely has you building a new character with its own character sheet that’s only used when the character is in cyberspace as their avatar. The last option, Sweet Rig, has some similarities to the preceding option, but a significant portion of the avatar character sheet you build is based on the “real” PC’s equipment – the better it is, the better avatar he can create.
Following this, there’s a discussion of using different styles together (at least, in part) and a discussion of creating or altering the qualities of your virtual avatar after the fact. A new skill, Cyber Savvy, is given for interacting with the internet while you’re inside it, along with a related new feat and a new piece of equipment.
Overall, there’s an impressive amount of information and ideas presented in just seven pages (the eighth page being the OGL). The information on how to build an avatar, changing its characteristics, and the smattering of new crunch are all tightly laid out, and are informative while still offering different answers to the idea of making a character’s own online character. If you want your PC’s to go online, but aren’t sure what that’d look like from a rules standpoint, this book is a concise but focused answer.