Why are Synths immune to Shock attacks?

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Reshy Reshy's picture
Why are Synths immune to Shock attacks?

Has this ever been explained anywhere? I know that Synthmorphs are assumed to use Optoelectronics, but even in that kind of system there's still electronic components in the system, even if it's only to produce the light. So why do Synths get a free pass regardless of type or model versus shock, but Pods and even more so Biomorphs get extra screwed? The shittiest of synths can resist electricity coursing through their body then even the best designed biomorph by RAW and that doesn't seem, well.. plausible. Neither is there any augmentation that I've found that allows a biomorph to resist shock attacks either. The closest thing there seems to be is the "shock-proofed" armor mod, which gives a measly 10% better chance to resist, which isn't that much considering that presumably the same materials technology can render a synthmorph completely immune to electricity.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
From page 340 of core:

From page 340 of core:

"Since most electronics in Eclipse Phase are built with optical technology, and power supplies and sensitive microcircuits are shielded and surge-protected, this has no major damaging effect. Antennas, however, are vulnerable, especially finer wires like those used with mesh inserts"

While this goes against the trope of droids being vulnerable to shock, synthmorphs really should be much more resistant. Humans are basically a bag of saltwater that uses electrical charge for signaling. As a result, we're very difficult to protect from shock. Synths typically have a metal frame that shields them (shunting the electrical current away from the interior), and can easily isolate any of the few parts that are electrically conducting enough to fry.

From a game design standpoint, I think typically, droids get a weakness to shock to counter their resilience to diverse environments (e.g. vacuum). In EP, I think that game design goal is already addressed through the vulnerability of cyberbrains to hacking, so there's no need to make up a fake vulnerability to EMP.

Edit: I agree that it would be nice to have some sort of shock proof armor for biomorphs. A sealed metal exoskeleton with an insulator to isolate the biomorph should be able to defend against the shock weapons described. It's possible that exoskeletons, as vehicles, do provide this immunity.

In EP2, you can take a SOM of 30, which will probably get you a 90% chance to resist being shocked. If you spend a pool point to flip if needed, that turns into 99%. In EP1, a Fury with 20 energy armor and a shock proof mod was still only at 80%.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
I would like to point out

I would like to point out that shock immunity and other synthmorph traits are not free. The morph creation system has synthmorph traits priced at 25 cp. For that much cp, you could have got 25 DUR, 3-4 points of aptitude bonuses, or even 1 [expensive] + 1 [high] augments (not full priced).

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Maybe it could be a nice

Maybe it could be a nice negative trait then?

A slight smell of ions....

Reshy Reshy's picture
ubik2 wrote:From page 340 of

ubik2 wrote:
From page 340 of core:

"Since most electronics in Eclipse Phase are built with optical technology, and power supplies and sensitive microcircuits are shielded and surge-protected, this has no major damaging effect. Antennas, however, are vulnerable, especially finer wires like those used with mesh inserts"

While this goes against the trope of droids being vulnerable to shock, synthmorphs really should be much more resistant. Humans are basically a bag of saltwater that uses electrical charge for signaling. As a result, we're very difficult to protect from shock. Synths typically have a metal frame that shields them (shunting the electrical current away from the interior), and can easily isolate any of the few parts that are electrically conducting enough to fry

Surge-protection only works up to a certain point before it's compromised. Even then, the same set of grounding and shielding you stick on a synthmorph ought to be able to be applied to a biomorph wearing armor, but it can't... somehow. Even then, compromising the outer shell of a synthmorph doesn't compromise it's electrical resistance, but it does on biomorphs somehow. I get it's the future and all, but there's still limits to what you can protect electricity from within reason, and I don't imagine that in eclipse phase that there's been a perfect solution developed that can be applied to all synthmorphs (even the exceedingly crappy ones), but not any biomorphs or even their armor.

Another thing is that shock weapons are intended as crowd control, and the most common kind of crowd (or agitators) you are likely to get is... synthmorphs. Yet shock is still used despite it only being really viable on "expensive" morphs, and there's no proper solution for the super cheap stuff like cases (Again somehow).

What it comes down to is the word "immunity" because immunity is immunity, it's absolute. It's not something that should be applied in broad strokes because there's always going to be an exception. There's also electrical fires as well.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
It seems likely to me that

It seems likely to me that the movement of synths will be based on electricity. So, while their "nervous system" runs on light instead of electricity (biomorphs use electricity for that), their muscular system still uses electricity, and can be overridden by too much electricity. It's possible some machines will still use combustion, but that's certainly not the flavor of the setting. The key is how to deliver your supercharged electricity to those muscles. At extreme levels of power, this will overcome the protections in a synthmorph, but it will also fuse metal. This is already covered in the damage system.

For crowd control, Freezers are a much better solution. It actually disables the "agitators", rather than just causing penalties to their actions. It's possible you would instead hack the cyberbrains, but I think this would probably be worse for public perception than just using bullets, and destroying the morphs. Potentially, a bad corporation might install backdoors in their workforce morphs for just such an occurrence. Security may actually open up with something like CS gas, which will drive off the expensive biomorphs, and then follow up with bullets for the synths.

The immunity is intended to be immunity to the shock effect, but it certainly does not make the synthmorphs immune to powerful electrical currents. Those are just handled with damage instead. It also doesn't cover the case where you have a morph disassembled on the table, and you attach your jumper cables to their internal wiring. That sort of corner case is where the GM just describes what's happening, and you don't need any rules.

Edit: Shock attacks aren't particularly useful for riot control, but EP does introduce the shock baton, so we can expect riot control forces to have these. In addition to gas, current forces use plastic bullets and water cannon. Plastic bullets would be pretty ineffective against synths and armored biomorphs. Water cannon are effective against both.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
That's a good point with

That's a good point with freezers, as synths with REF bonuses are fairly rare (if you're dealing with a riot of Reapers it's time to break out actual tanks or at least seeker rifles I think). Overload grenades also work fine on synths, and those are just the futuristic ones.

EP medical tech also means that less-lethal weapons can be considerably more lethal if you can spin the resulting reversible massacre the right way.

That said, I've recently thought that synths should probably just be more resistant to shock, not totally immune, as EP shock weapons can presumably turn up the voltage to really alarmingly high or controlled numbers. Shock weapons should probably just be able to deal more damage across the board, and are probably smart enough to modulate themselves appropriately to induce heart attacks if you wanted (though medichines means that won't keep someone down for more than a minute or two).

Reshy Reshy's picture
ubik2 wrote:It seems likely

ubik2 wrote:
It seems likely to me that the movement of synths will be based on electricity. So, while their "nervous system" runs on light instead of electricity (biomorphs use electricity for that), their muscular system still uses electricity, and can be overridden by too much electricity. It's possible some machines will still use combustion, but that's certainly not the flavor of the setting. The key is how to deliver your supercharged electricity to those muscles. At extreme levels of power, this will overcome the protections in a synthmorph, but it will also fuse metal. This is already covered in the damage system.

For crowd control, Freezers are a much better solution. It actually disables the "agitators", rather than just causing penalties to their actions. It's possible you would instead hack the cyberbrains, but I think this would probably be worse for public perception than just using bullets, and destroying the morphs. Potentially, a bad corporation might install backdoors in their workforce morphs for just such an occurrence. Security may actually open up with something like CS gas, which will drive off the expensive biomorphs, and then follow up with bullets for the synths.

The immunity is intended to be immunity to the shock effect, but it certainly does not make the synthmorphs immune to powerful electrical currents. Those are just handled with damage instead. It also doesn't cover the case where you have a morph disassembled on the table, and you attach your jumper cables to their internal wiring. That sort of corner case is where the GM just describes what's happening, and you don't need any rules.

Edit: Shock attacks aren't particularly useful for riot control, but EP does introduce the shock baton, so we can expect riot control forces to have these. In addition to gas, current forces use plastic bullets and water cannon. Plastic bullets would be pretty ineffective against synths and armored biomorphs. Water cannon are effective against both.

But why equip your task force with less-than-lethal weapons when Synthmorphs are far more common than biomorphs, when the former is immune to electricity (somehow). If it's the transhuman future, I'd imagine that they'd have riot control technologies specifically designed to incapacitate synthmorphs, if the setting's statement about them being "cheap and plentiful" is correct.

Even when you compare powerful electrical currents, Biomorphs are still far more disadvantaged even if the synthmorph's grounding would be overcome because of the word "immunity". A biomorph has to make a test or get incapacitated, and even if they succeed they get a massive -30 penalty to all actions. This is in addition to any wound penalties they would have sustained. Synthmorphs, however, don't have to resist being knocked out or anything even if they're subjected to something like a lightning strike. Which I don't find to be particularly realistic. Especially since their bodies likely still use electricity to operate the motors, servos, and synthetic muscles (if those are still in use, Eclipse Phase is not particularly good at explaining what makes a synth tick).

In addition, why install a backdoor into the synthmorph when you could just... not give it military grade shielding that makes it immune to riot control technology? This is why I think it should be a mod that's not an inherent benefit. High quality combat-based synths would just have that added as an enhancement that they possess, but by default it's not there.

Side Note: Synthmorphs are also immune to things like sand getting into the cracks and crevices of the morph, which again seems like it'd be something that isn't standard issue, as in most habs you probably aren't dealing with tons and tons of sand.

Maybe I'm just biased, but Synths seem to get a whole lot of "free stuff" that lets them ignore most of the actual disadvantages of machinery. Except for hacking... maybe. I'm fine with these advantages existing, I'm less fine with them being in by default regardless of it's the shittest knock-of brand synth.

Trappedinwikipedia wrote:
That's a good point with freezers, as synths with REF bonuses are fairly rare (if you're dealing with a riot of Reapers it's time to break out actual tanks or at least seeker rifles I think). Overload grenades also work fine on synths, and those are just the futuristic ones.

EP medical tech also means that less-lethal weapons can be considerably more lethal if you can spin the resulting reversible massacre the right way.

That said, I've recently thought that synths should probably just be more resistant to shock, not totally immune, as EP shock weapons can presumably turn up the voltage to really alarmingly high or controlled numbers. Shock weapons should probably just be able to deal more damage across the board, and are probably smart enough to modulate themselves appropriately to induce heart attacks if you wanted (though medichines means that won't keep someone down for more than a minute or two).

Yeah that's just the thing, I can buy them being more resistant... but not completely immune. Immunity is absolute, regardless if it's static electricity or being struck by lightning.

Honestly, I think the shock resistance should be a mod that has to be installed separately. Maybe I'm ignorant of robotic design, but I don't think they'd go and shield every inch of the synthmorph against electricity unless that was a conscious design choice. Protection around things like the cyberbrain I can understand, but on every inch of it from the sensors to the servos? I don't buy that so much. Yes optoelectronics are a thing, but they can't do everything. You still need electricity to do certain things, and if anything, the increase use of optoelectronics might reduce the actual need or desire for there to be electricity protection because of this.

Also I don't believe that designers would not only include shock-proofing on exceedingly cheap designs, but also that they'd be allowed when one of the primary crowd control technologies seems to be shocking things (See Riot Shields, which are totally ineffective against the most common type of crowd you'd have to control).

Zarpaulus Zarpaulus's picture
Reshy wrote:ubik2 wrote:From

Reshy wrote:
ubik2 wrote:
From page 340 of core:

"Since most electronics in Eclipse Phase are built with optical technology, and power supplies and sensitive microcircuits are shielded and surge-protected, this has no major damaging effect. Antennas, however, are vulnerable, especially finer wires like those used with mesh inserts"

While this goes against the trope of droids being vulnerable to shock, synthmorphs really should be much more resistant. Humans are basically a bag of saltwater that uses electrical charge for signaling. As a result, we're very difficult to protect from shock. Synths typically have a metal frame that shields them (shunting the electrical current away from the interior), and can easily isolate any of the few parts that are electrically conducting enough to fry

Surge-protection only works up to a certain point before it's compromised. Even then, the same set of grounding and shielding you stick on a synthmorph ought to be able to be applied to a biomorph wearing armor, but it can't... somehow. Even then, compromising the outer shell of a synthmorph doesn't compromise it's electrical resistance, but it does on biomorphs somehow. I get it's the future and all, but there's still limits to what you can protect electricity from within reason, and I don't imagine that in eclipse phase that there's been a perfect solution developed that can be applied to all synthmorphs (even the exceedingly crappy ones), but not any biomorphs or even their armor.

Another thing is that shock weapons are intended as crowd control, and the most common kind of crowd (or agitators) you are likely to get is... synthmorphs. Yet shock is still used despite it only being really viable on "expensive" morphs, and there's no proper solution for the super cheap stuff like cases (Again somehow).

What it comes down to is the word "immunity" because immunity is immunity, it's absolute. It's not something that should be applied in broad strokes because there's always going to be an exception. There's also electrical fires as well.

If synthmorphs use optical signaling their electronic components are going to be widely distributed and buried in different parts of their bodies, connected by flexible glass fibers that don't conduct electricity. A lot less surface area that can be affected by shock weapons than a carbon waterbag in a shell.

Though I will also remind you that Shock-Proofing is a cheap armor mod.

Reshy Reshy's picture
Zarpaulus wrote:Reshy wrote

Zarpaulus wrote:
Reshy wrote:
ubik2 wrote:
From page 340 of core:

"Since most electronics in Eclipse Phase are built with optical technology, and power supplies and sensitive microcircuits are shielded and surge-protected, this has no major damaging effect. Antennas, however, are vulnerable, especially finer wires like those used with mesh inserts"

While this goes against the trope of droids being vulnerable to shock, synthmorphs really should be much more resistant. Humans are basically a bag of saltwater that uses electrical charge for signaling. As a result, we're very difficult to protect from shock. Synths typically have a metal frame that shields them (shunting the electrical current away from the interior), and can easily isolate any of the few parts that are electrically conducting enough to fry

Surge-protection only works up to a certain point before it's compromised. Even then, the same set of grounding and shielding you stick on a synthmorph ought to be able to be applied to a biomorph wearing armor, but it can't... somehow. Even then, compromising the outer shell of a synthmorph doesn't compromise it's electrical resistance, but it does on biomorphs somehow. I get it's the future and all, but there's still limits to what you can protect electricity from within reason, and I don't imagine that in eclipse phase that there's been a perfect solution developed that can be applied to all synthmorphs (even the exceedingly crappy ones), but not any biomorphs or even their armor.

Another thing is that shock weapons are intended as crowd control, and the most common kind of crowd (or agitators) you are likely to get is... synthmorphs. Yet shock is still used despite it only being really viable on "expensive" morphs, and there's no proper solution for the super cheap stuff like cases (Again somehow).

What it comes down to is the word "immunity" because immunity is immunity, it's absolute. It's not something that should be applied in broad strokes because there's always going to be an exception. There's also electrical fires as well.

If synthmorphs use optical signaling their electronic components are going to be widely distributed and buried in different parts of their bodies, connected by flexible glass fibers that don't conduct electricity. A lot less surface area that can be affected by shock weapons than a carbon waterbag in a shell.

Though I will also remind you that Shock-Proofing is a cheap armor mod.

That doesn't fix that their motors are likely still electricity based. Electricity's great for a lot of things, like making synthetic muscles contract. So while you may not be able to short out the synth's brain with a shock attack, you should definitely be able to scramble their ability to move just like a biomorph.

Also yeah Shockproof is really cheap... except that it does next to nothing. You get a +10% chance to resist a shock attack (that's very little) and even if you succeed on resisting the shock guess what? You still get a -30% to all actions, which is basically the equivalent of 3-4 wounds. Shockproofing isn't even in the same galaxy as the synthmorph's Immunity, and that's kind of the issue.

Zarpaulus Zarpaulus's picture
Reshy wrote:Zarpaulus wrote

Reshy wrote:
Zarpaulus wrote:
Reshy wrote:
ubik2 wrote:
From page 340 of core:

"Since most electronics in Eclipse Phase are built with optical technology, and power supplies and sensitive microcircuits are shielded and surge-protected, this has no major damaging effect. Antennas, however, are vulnerable, especially finer wires like those used with mesh inserts"

While this goes against the trope of droids being vulnerable to shock, synthmorphs really should be much more resistant. Humans are basically a bag of saltwater that uses electrical charge for signaling. As a result, we're very difficult to protect from shock. Synths typically have a metal frame that shields them (shunting the electrical current away from the interior), and can easily isolate any of the few parts that are electrically conducting enough to fry

Surge-protection only works up to a certain point before it's compromised. Even then, the same set of grounding and shielding you stick on a synthmorph ought to be able to be applied to a biomorph wearing armor, but it can't... somehow. Even then, compromising the outer shell of a synthmorph doesn't compromise it's electrical resistance, but it does on biomorphs somehow. I get it's the future and all, but there's still limits to what you can protect electricity from within reason, and I don't imagine that in eclipse phase that there's been a perfect solution developed that can be applied to all synthmorphs (even the exceedingly crappy ones), but not any biomorphs or even their armor.

Another thing is that shock weapons are intended as crowd control, and the most common kind of crowd (or agitators) you are likely to get is... synthmorphs. Yet shock is still used despite it only being really viable on "expensive" morphs, and there's no proper solution for the super cheap stuff like cases (Again somehow).

What it comes down to is the word "immunity" because immunity is immunity, it's absolute. It's not something that should be applied in broad strokes because there's always going to be an exception. There's also electrical fires as well.

If synthmorphs use optical signaling their electronic components are going to be widely distributed and buried in different parts of their bodies, connected by flexible glass fibers that don't conduct electricity. A lot less surface area that can be affected by shock weapons than a carbon waterbag in a shell.

Though I will also remind you that Shock-Proofing is a cheap armor mod.

That doesn't fix that their motors are likely still electricity based. Electricity's great for a lot of things, like making synthetic muscles contract. So while you may not be able to short out the synth's brain with a shock attack, you should definitely be able to scramble their ability to move just like a biomorph.

Also yeah Shockproof is really cheap... except that it does next to nothing. You get a +10% chance to resist a shock attack (that's very little) and even if you succeed on resisting the shock guess what? You still get a -30% to all actions, which is basically the equivalent of 3-4 wounds. Shockproofing isn't even in the same galaxy as the synthmorph's Immunity, and that's kind of the issue.

The major motors would be buried under a couple inches of metal and insulation.

Reshy Reshy's picture
Zarpaulus wrote:Reshy wrote

Zarpaulus wrote:
Reshy wrote:
Zarpaulus wrote:
Reshy wrote:
ubik2 wrote:
From page 340 of core:

"Since most electronics in Eclipse Phase are built with optical technology, and power supplies and sensitive microcircuits are shielded and surge-protected, this has no major damaging effect. Antennas, however, are vulnerable, especially finer wires like those used with mesh inserts"

While this goes against the trope of droids being vulnerable to shock, synthmorphs really should be much more resistant. Humans are basically a bag of saltwater that uses electrical charge for signaling. As a result, we're very difficult to protect from shock. Synths typically have a metal frame that shields them (shunting the electrical current away from the interior), and can easily isolate any of the few parts that are electrically conducting enough to fry

Surge-protection only works up to a certain point before it's compromised. Even then, the same set of grounding and shielding you stick on a synthmorph ought to be able to be applied to a biomorph wearing armor, but it can't... somehow. Even then, compromising the outer shell of a synthmorph doesn't compromise it's electrical resistance, but it does on biomorphs somehow. I get it's the future and all, but there's still limits to what you can protect electricity from within reason, and I don't imagine that in eclipse phase that there's been a perfect solution developed that can be applied to all synthmorphs (even the exceedingly crappy ones), but not any biomorphs or even their armor.

Another thing is that shock weapons are intended as crowd control, and the most common kind of crowd (or agitators) you are likely to get is... synthmorphs. Yet shock is still used despite it only being really viable on "expensive" morphs, and there's no proper solution for the super cheap stuff like cases (Again somehow).

What it comes down to is the word "immunity" because immunity is immunity, it's absolute. It's not something that should be applied in broad strokes because there's always going to be an exception. There's also electrical fires as well.

If synthmorphs use optical signaling their electronic components are going to be widely distributed and buried in different parts of their bodies, connected by flexible glass fibers that don't conduct electricity. A lot less surface area that can be affected by shock weapons than a carbon waterbag in a shell.

Though I will also remind you that Shock-Proofing is a cheap armor mod.

That doesn't fix that their motors are likely still electricity based. Electricity's great for a lot of things, like making synthetic muscles contract. So while you may not be able to short out the synth's brain with a shock attack, you should definitely be able to scramble their ability to move just like a biomorph.

Also yeah Shockproof is really cheap... except that it does next to nothing. You get a +10% chance to resist a shock attack (that's very little) and even if you succeed on resisting the shock guess what? You still get a -30% to all actions, which is basically the equivalent of 3-4 wounds. Shockproofing isn't even in the same galaxy as the synthmorph's Immunity, and that's kind of the issue.

The major motors would be buried under a couple inches of metal and insulation.

That really depends on what the Synth was designed to do. Generally speaking many Synths are intended to be cheap replacement bodies, so I don't imagine that they have "inches of metal" covering their major motors as most Synths are probably not walking tanks.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
Lighting isn't what the

Lighting isn't what the "shock" keyword is for. Lightning is damage, which is why it can destroy a tree. Synths are just as vulnerable to this as biomorphs.

The Lemon morph property can be used for handling cheap synths that break down easily.

I made a distinction earlier between the nervous system (optical in synthmorphs, electrical in biomorphs), and the muscular system (electrical in both). The style of electrical attacks we currently use overload the nervous system, which triggers the muscular system. They don't directly trigger the muscular system. An optical nervous system means that won't work, the same way as sarin gas isn't going to work on a synth.

The human muscular system essentially embeds capacitors with charge in the muscle cells. This is the energy that they actually use when they are triggered. I think the common perception of synths is that they have a central power source, and that power is distributed to the muscles when the muscle needs to act. It's possible with nanotechnology that these synth muscles would also include some sort of capacitor (with charge trickling from the central power system into the muscle to recharge it). I can't really see any decent way to artificially trigger them, though.

The microwave agonizer has some similar limitations, in that it doesn't affect synthmorphs (since they will just clamp the pain input). You could build a microwave laser, which fries the synthmorph, but that's a different weapon than just a high powered agonizer.

One minor issue I have with the 2e rules is that the flash bang grenade and laser pulser in stun mode use the shock effect, but this is probably not something that the synthmorph would be immune to. Ideally the mechanics of the stun and shock effects would be essentially the same. Kinetic armor should also be the appropriate armor type for resisting the stun effect of a laser pulser (since while the explosion is triggered by a laser, it's kinetic force). The vortex ring gun is another source of stun, if you're looking to even the playing field without violating realism.

I think there's some perception that these synthmorphs are hardened against shock, and that's really not the case. They're just not vulnerable to shock (or poison). You can shoot your car with a taser all day, and it won't stop running.

kigmatzomat kigmatzomat's picture
Reshy wrote: The closest

Reshy wrote:
The closest thing there seems to be is the "shock-proofed" armor mod, which gives a measly 10% better chance to resist, which isn't that much considering that presumably the same materials technology can render a synthmorph completely immune to electricity.

Ever seen anyone work around a Tesla coil or a lineman? Rubber boots and gloves keep the current from passing through them to ground.

Shock weapons have their own ground (+/- poles) so boots do squat, and taser darts have spikes to punch through armor. (Imo tasers should do squat against armored space suits but cest la vie)

But a synth could be built of plastics and non conducting ceramics. You would have to punch a hole deep into them to find something to shock. And even then, it could be an electrically isolated isolated component that being space rated will reset itself in 10ms.

I honestly think that for synths the best thing would be a rule for how long you lose RF communication. Of course some synths will tase themselves to prevent being hacked then.

I'm not rules lawyer, I'm a rules engineer.

ORCACommander ORCACommander's picture
a common misconception is

a common misconception is that electricity flows Through a conductive a substance. rather it flows over a surface. for electricity to pass through the substance it has to be the most efficient grounding path available.