Friday, December 4, 2009

Canned Heroes (part 2)

[Continued from part 1]

Generic clones vs Backup clones.

All clones are grown generic, and are exact replicas of their original at the time of cloning.

Whether a given clone is upgraded to the status of 'backup' clone depends solely on the arrangement between the pod-pilot and a specific medical facility to be the default recipient of the pilot's ultimate mind-scan after a freaky pod malfunction.
  • A 'blank' clone is a frozen clone (with or without implants), stored in a CryoCan or Pod.

  • A 'generic' clone (a.k.a Jump clone) is a 'blank' clone hooked up to a medical facility, ready to be thawed out on short notice.

  • A 'backup' clone (a.k.a Medical clone) is a 'generic' clone hooked up to a medical facility with whom owners the pod pilot has subscribed a 'backup' contract in the event of his death.
To prevent contestations over which medical facility claims the (often hefty) rebirthing fee, and the legal nightmarish complications of multiple freshly activated clones all claiming to be the legitimate 'self' concurrently, pilots are allowed only one such 'backup' contract with a unique station's medical facility at any one time — medical facilities on supercapital ships being a recent and largely outlaw-ish development fall in a grey area.

As long as the uniqueness of a pilot's body-mind association is maintained, the law sees no issue with keeping more than one spare clone handy:
  • Pod pilots are allowed to grow and store in CryoCans an unlimited amount of 'blank' generic clones.

  • Pod pilots are allowed to have a total of up to 6 ready-to-roll clones, including both 'generic' and 'backup' clones (based on Infomorph Psychology skill level).

  • Pod pilots are allowed a single 'backup' clone subscription with station-bound medical facilities at any one time.

Bodysnatching for dummies.

The process of mind/consciouness transfer from a clone to another works roughly like this:
  1. Deep-freeze the currently active clone, or otherwise bring it to a halt.

  2. Brain-map it thoroughly, either quickly and destructively (the way a pod ultimately reaps your mind, right before going pop), or slightly less quickly and harmfully (the way a CryoCan hooked to a medical facility does)*.

  3. Send the brain-scan to a pre-defined remote medical facility, either aboard a ship or in a station, where a suitable generic clone awaits in its CryoCan/Capsule.

  4. At the destination facility, thaw the target clone while feeding the mind-scan data into its malleable brains, then give it a good shot of epinephrine for the road, and set it free.

  5. Congratulations, a doppelgänger is you !
[*Bringing the body to cryostasis before brain-mapping it limits the damage to the brain tissue and allows the left-behind clone to 'heal' back to a usable-yet-blank state within approximately 24h, as opposed to irreparably turning it to snot, the way an emergency pod brain-reap does.]

Jump different.

A special-use case of mind-transfer is clone-hopping without the support of a medical facility at the departure point. While this is not new as such, and is basically what happens when one gets podded, this can now be done voluntarily and with possibly lesser consequences than the old-school 'blow my pod up' method.

As long as you sit in a capsule, be it in a station or in space, you can opt to clone jump into a generic clone waiting for you at a remote medical facility, without destroying your left-behind clone in the process: given a bit of quiet time, your pod has the means to get you into proper cryostasis to do a 'soft' brain-mapping of your noggin, CryoCan style, instead of reaping your dying brains off in the emergency fashion of a regular podding.

In this case, your old clone will be left behind in your capsule, deep-frozen and preserved, either floating in space or stored in the station or supercapital you docked in, prior to clone jumping.
[Note: this will not create a clone you can jump back to later, unless someone hooks it to a medical facility first.]

Things that could, thus eventually will, go wrong.

• Growing a clone, despite being a relatively slow process is unlikely to go wrong once it's started. Unless the station explodes (really, really unlikely) or the cloning vats are temporarily disabled (which would only suspend the production) your clone will be completed and delivered to you as long as you have an empty CryoCan at the ready in your personal hangar.

• Actually transferring your memories and mind into a different clone is almost instantaneous, yet could not go as smoothly as planned.
A typical thing that can go wrong is if your target clone is inaccessible for any reason, such as being plugged to a currently offline medical facility, being not plugged into the designated facility, or because the target clone or facility has been destroyed.
  • If you're attempting a clone jump, you'll see this coming, as your clone/facility of choice will appear greyed out (if disabled) or will simply not show (if destroyed or unplugged) in your potential destinations list.

  • In the event of an emergency clone jump into your backup clone, as a result of somebody cracking your pod open for a breath of fresh, deadly void, you don't get to nitpick about the actual availability of your planned destination until you wake up in a new meat bag, possibly way out from the location you expected — where exactly, depends on who's willing and able to take over your backup clone contract after you've been evicted from your first choice facility.
It is possible to find yourself in the unenviable position to have to jump to your backup clone instead of a generic one, say because you forgot to train Infomorph Psychology, or because none of your generic clones are suitable ; this is not recommended, as activating your backup clone by jump-cloning to it will cost you your security deposit and terminate your current backup clone contract — it still beats self-podding when you have a bunch of implants stuck in your soon-too-be frozen head.

The worst thing that can happen to your backup clone contract is to be forcibly relocated to a faraway station, where you could wake up much later to find a negative wallet balance as a result of imposed opening fees for the contract transfer. [See "Backup clone fail safe" in next episode for details]

Meatpacking District

As the operator of the subnet over which every mind-scan data travels to its destination, DED maintains an iron grip on the licensing of most things cloning, which royalties it uses to fund its law-enforcing fleets.
Despite the obvious capacity to do so, DED doesn't deny services even to the most hardened criminals in the galaxy… wether it's the result of strong work ethics, a desire to prevent the development of black market cloning services, or because that enables DED to easily track wanted outlaws remains uncertain, but it certainly can come in handy for those who've burned the bridges with every significant political entity in the game.

While privately-owned medical facilities operators must concede a significant cut to DED on every backup contract they sell, there's still plenty of good ISK for them to make in the business of extortionist healthcare service.

• Growing clones:

The base cost to get a 'blank' clone built-to order is 10% of the price of your current clone class contract, and that's what DED will bill to the medical facility owner.
How much the facility bills you as a customer for the privilege is entirely up to their greed and how good a standing you enjoy with them.
The required CryoCan to take away your new meat popsicle is not included, and is for you to supply on delivery.
Standings requirements to order a clone grown in a NPC station are non-negative (-0.4 or higher), with the exception of DED and SoE stations, which will allow anyone who can dock to grow a clone in their medical facilities.

• Installing a generic clone:

Hooking up a CryoCanned clone to a medical facility is subject to a DED one-time fee of 100k ISK or 50% of the billed price (whichever the higher) per installation.
Again, medical facility operators are free to bill you pretty much whatever they want to let you use their installations, or to turn you down if you look at them funny. On the plus side, this is a mostly 'blind' transaction, and you can always ask someone in good standing with the facility owners to plug in one of your CryoCanned clones for you.
Only the installation is subject to a fee in the case of a generic clone, the running costs being limited to cheap energy supply, but it is a non-refundable sunk cost, even if you never activate the clone and later decide to uninstall it.
Personal or Corp standings of 8.0 or better with the station owners are required to install a generic clone in a NPC medical facility.

• Backup clone contracts:

Generic clones can be upgraded to Backup clones (read 'medical') by subscribing a contract with the facility owners, at extra cost:
  • Security deposit (fixed price, same as current price of medical clones) paid directly to DED upon entering a backup contract.

  • Transfer fee (DED base price 10% of current medical clone cost) paid to facility owners on upgrading a generic clone to backup (as a result of a new contract, or of the transfer of an exiting one to their facilities).

  • Weekly bill (DED base price 1% of current medical clone cost).
Security deposits are held by DED, are non-refundable and meant to cover for the arduous restoration of your mind into a new body on activation of the backup clone. Medical facilities operators can't bill you extra for that service (at least officially), but rumors of med-ops asking for kickbacks abound.

As with generic clones, the DED base price is the bare minimum DED expects to receive in royalties on transfer and weekly maintenance fees, while facility owners are free to add a profit margin on top of that (DED will grab 50% of what's billed on top of the base price).

Medical facilities owners get billed by DED on the basis of known contracts subscribed for the clones they host, regardless of whether the facility owners manage to get paid by the final clients, which is left up to them. Medical facility owners have the option (from station services management), to automatically revoke and suspend contracts with unpaid subscriptions.

You don't get billed a transfer fee for up-classing your backup clone contract to a higher bracket, but it will proportionally increase your following weekly and transfer fees.

Failing to keep up with your weekly fees may result in your backup contract being suspended: DED will still honor its obligation to restore your memories in the event of your being podded, but only up to the SP count you held at the time you stopped paying (provided, of course, you had a good enough contract to cover up and above your SP count to begin with).

Personal or Corp standings of 1.0 or better with the station owners are required to bind a backup clone in a NPC medical facility, except by DED, which will allow anyone who can dock to set up their backup clone in its medical facilities.


[In tomorrow's episode, we'll look at how to manage your clones in practical terms, and what happens when you get podded as your 'home station' has gone MIA.]

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