The basic working unit of nanotechnology is a nanite—a single robot that can be as small as a dozen atoms in length. “Nanite” is a generic term: Any robot built using this technology, no matter what its purpose, is a nanite. Each nanite must be constructed and programmed for a specific purpose. A nanite’s true power lies not in what it can do individually, but what it can be programmed to do in complete synchronization with millions of other nanites that make up a nanocolony.
Though there are many possible kinds of nanites, from civil-road building clouds to deadly assassins tools, the only kind that falls into the realm of the cyberscape is nanoaugmenters. These are nanites designed to reside within a living host and supplement his physical abilities.
Nanoaugmenters latch onto a specific biological system and provide consistent bonuses for as long as the nanites remain active. Most nanoaugmenters are injected into a character or creature to enhance performance and continue to function indefinitely. Nanoaugmenters are only removed by other nanites or by commanding the nanocolony to cease all activity. When this occurs, nanoaugmenters are absorbed and recycled by the host body in the same manner as inert nanoviruses (taking one month).
Most nanoaugmenters simply provide energy or transmit signals between the nanocolony and the host body, but some change the host’s chemical balances.
Nanoaugmenters do not require surgery to install. A simple injection places them within the recipient’s body. It takes eight hours for a nanoaugmenter colony to become active once it is injected into a recipient, during which time the nanocolony spreads throughout the body and connects with biological systems.
Nanoaugmenters are not vulnerable to viruses and poisons, although nanohunters exist that can be programmed to seek out and destroy a specified kind of nanoaugmenter in a recipient’s system. The recipient of nanoaugmenters does not take special results from damage of any kind—no stunning from electricity attacks and no unfortunate side effects from failing a Fortitude save against massive damage. Nanoaugmenters cannot be sundered or damaged through any normal attack, do not take up implant slots, and have no hardness or hit points.
A single living system can benefit from only two nanoaugmenters. If a third nanoaugmenter is introduced into a system, roll randomly to see which nanoaugmenter colony is rejected by the system, automatically shutting down and being flushed out of the body. This process takes 1d8 hours.
Nanoaugmenters are extremely complex to design. They must be able to replicate quickly and spread through a host body to modify it on a massive scale. If there is a single flaw in their design, the modifications can get out of hand, turning the nanites into a terrible technological cancer that doesn’t respond to normal treatments. Although anti-nanite technologies are fairly advanced (especially nanohunters), a massive enough nanoaugmenter failure can kill its host long before any treatment can be administered. To design a nanoaugmenter requires the Craft Cybernetics feat, as well as the Craft Nanites feat. A new nanite is always an advanced device and requires both a Craft (electronic) and a Craft (mechanical) check. If either check fails, the design is entirely ruined and the crafter must begin from scratch. Nanites can only be created in a lab designed for that purpose (purchase DC 30 for all the equipment needed in a nanite lab). Without a nanite lab, creating nanites is simply impossible.
The following are nanoaugmenters currently in use within the Stellar Ring. Their expense and difficulty of manufacturing prevents widespread common use. They are most often seen in use with military or security forces.
A gatekeeper colony performs as a set of artificial white blood cells, seeking out foreign bodies—viruses, bacteria, and toxins—that don’t belong in the recipient’s bloodstream and eliminating them. The recipient gains a +4 bonus on Fortitude saves against poison or disease. Researchers in biological weapon research labs and doctors who spend time treating the sick in plague zones most often use this nanoaugmenter.
A beneficial nanovirus, calcion is one of the most commonly used nanocolonies in the field of medicine. Clacion is a bone-knitting nanite that repairs fractures and breaks in bones with advanced clacium grafting technology. Additionally calcion repairs joints and aids in skin regeneration.
Often used in medical situations as well as space exploration, the watchdog nanoaugmentation is a catch-all phrase used to describe nanocolonies that monitor the health condiction of a creature. Watchdog nanites watch everything from heart rate and blood presure to brain activity and the purity of air being taken into a host's lungs. Hospitals and other medical facilities will often inject their patients with watchdog nanocolonies