So You Want To Live Forever...

There are many ways for characters to attempt to extend their lives. More importantly, there are many ways to extend the vitality of one's life. The two most well known are:

PHYSICAL FITNESS PROGRAM
The best bet, that is, safest and least expensive, is to undergo a physical fitness program. This has been covered in all incarnations of Traveller (i.e. CT pg103, TNE pg32) so I won't repeat it here.

ANAGATHICS
A chemical cocktail taken on a monthly basis which stops aging. Both Type A and B are expensive and hard to come by. Of course, each has its long-term side effects: mutations and madness for A, "Russian roulette" on every jump for B. Each has also been covered thoroughly in source books (TypeA: CT pg106, MT Players Manual, TNE pg33; Type B: TNE Regency Sourcebook pg16) so I won't repeat them here.

Here are some lesser known methods:

CYBERNETIC IMPLANTS
There are many artificial limbs and organs which can be substituted for old and/or damaged tissue. If the person desires, they can remove healthy tissue before it decays and replace it with an artificial construct.

Depending upon the tissue type chosen and what tech level the surgery is done, the costs run from 25,000 to 2,000,000 credits. Surgery costs are usually separate.

More importantly, there are physiological limitations. Early versions of the implant will not be able to live up to a user's expectations. For example, the TL9 artificial heart will allow a person to maintain a sedentary existence but it will not allow him/her to re-enlist in the Marines (See "The Beat Goes On" in the January 2000 issue of Discover). More information is available in TNE's Fire, Fusion, & Steel starting on pg79.

CLONING
Under the Third Imperium, legislation was passed granting sentients' rights to clones. Clones could no longer be used as slaves or "organ farms." The latter method imprisoned clones until the parent needed to have an organ replaced at which point the desired organ was "harvested" from the clone. The more humane solution, which also satisfied the high demand of the organ replacement market, was to clone individual organs (TL13 MT Referee's Companion pg32). DNA is sampled and then the organs are grown in a lab, usually at an accelerated rate (TL10 MT Referee's Companion pg32). Once mature, they are placed in stasis for when the individual needs them. The user can elect to have their organs grown all at once or on an as-needed basis. The latter option is less expensive but the individual must be able to wait for the replacement tissue to be grown.

I developed the following costs for a pc looking to have his work done on Glisten, a TL15 world in the Spinward Marches. I believe that cost is inversely proportional to tech level and have extrapolated from there.

  TL15 TL14 TL13
Initial setup fee: 50 cr 50 cr 50 cr
Organ Growth Costs (each): 1d6 x1000 + 10,000 cr 1d6 x10000 + 30,000 cr 1d6 x10000 + 70,000 cr
Organ Growth Required Time: 1d6 weeks 1d6+2 months 1d6/2 years
Surgery costs: 1d6 x 1000 cr (1d6+2) x 1000 cr (1d6+5) x 1000 cr

Notes:
Initial setup fee covers DNA Extraction, Scanning, and Testing. I figure that this cost should be relatively minimal as early versions of this are happening now.
Organ Growth Costs are just an educated guess and open to debate. New medical breakthroughs are always expensive when they first come out. There should also be variation by organ type. Does it cost as much to grow eyes as it does to grow intestine?
Organ Growth Required Time is a guess as to how long it takes the cloned organ to reach maturity. This too is open to debate. I never took an anatomy class so I don't know how long it takes for organs in the body to fully mature at their natural rate. I'm guessing 18 years. The rapid development times presented here are based on the "growth-quickening methods" referred to in the MT Referee's Companion. I figure that increased tech level would lead to improvements in the safety, speed, and efficiency of these techniques.
Surgery costs may be off but it's my best guess extrapolating from current figures in the USA. I'm assuming that a skilled surgeon will always command a hefty fee.

There is also rest required for the character as this is considered major surgery. Although there is no real risk of tissue rejection, the body still has to acclimate to the organ switch. This can be sped up by using Medical Slow drug although most doctors recommend "normal" rates of healing.

The benefits in game terms? That depends on the replaced organ and the GM. A new heart means an increase in endurance. A new liver and kidneys could help in that department as well. A new set of biceps will surely help out strength. Regenerated neural pathways should mean a restored dexterity. What about revitalized thyroid or endocrine glands? I'm not sure how I'm going to handle it yet. A GM might require multiple organ transplants in order for characters to return their physical stats to 18 year old levels. This way, "immortality" won't come cheap. Even if they do manage to be "18" again, if they haven't learned to get out of the way of a plasma rifle they'll still wind up toast.

NANOTECH
A neglected research field, it once held much promise. Early failures with higher organisms in programming the nanobot matrix led to various fatal mutations and morphings. The success of cloning replacement organs and cybernetics has diverted research funds away from nanotechnology for longevity maintenance.

Aging reversal attempts have failed miserably. The "Snapshot Method" attempted to physiologically return a person back to a "snapshot" of their younger self. The process requires each organ to be thoroughly biomedically scanned at the desired younger age. Years later, the nanobot matrix would be programmed to accept this snapshot as the standard. Test subjects who had their snapshots taken many years before typically went into shock as the deviations from the standard template were too drastic. The nanobots attempted to do too much too soon for the body to adapt. Death was often the result.

One practice that initially held promise was dubbed the "Continuous Snapshot Method." It too required the nanobots to have a standard from which to determine deviations. The nanobots were placed inside a person and left there to continuously attempt to bring the body back to the standard. It was believed that the nanobot matrix would force the body to conform to the "snapshot" by replacing dead cells, destroying tumors, etc. as they occurred. Unfortunately, this method has proven to cause more harm than good. It did not account for individual biorhythms which can vary over hours, days, weeks, and even months.

Permanently residing nanobots are now being programmed with "fuzzy logic" to allow for the regular variances in a body's physiological makeup but catch major transgressors like tumors and parasites. It is believed that this technique will prove successful. Improved nanobot matrix cohesion and control has led to vastly improved success rates in computer models and test animals. Despite the overwhelmingly successful use of nanobots in surgery, the field remains unpopular due to past failures and the general population's distaste with the concept of sharing their bodies with mechanical symbionts.

MT Referee's Companion alludes to this happening about TL17 - "intelligent antibodies."


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