Wednesday, November 20, 2013

324: Nuit Academy

ENTRY 324: Nuit Academy

Personal augmentation started with a relatively low acceptance rate, but once the commercial products hit reasonable levels of safety, conformity, and cost then development of new augmentations quickly outpaced the abilities of society to accommodate individual technologies. So, outside of some specialized habitats, few habitats are built, designed, or adapted with any specific personal augmentation in mind - catering to the special needs of those transhumans that preferred echolocation to visual sight, for example, took a back seat around the time of the Fall, when survival of the majority of transhumans took precedence over the wants and needs of the few. Some of the victims in this rush of technology and societal changes were the burgeoning secondary markets that tried to grow up around augmentation technology, only to fail when they couldn't keep up - or else adapt into something else.

The Nuit Academy is a survivor of those harsh market forces. Originally a school for the blind on Earth, Nuit specialized in fitting its students with echolocation prostheses and teaching them how to navigate by sound. The advent of reliable, cost-efficient cybereyes severely reduced their body of potential students, and the Nuit Academy reinvented itself and transitioned its curricula to train transhumans in the use of new sonar implants. However, "sensory acclimation schools" fell out of favor relatively quickly, as most transhumans could easily access equivalent courses on the Mesh and proper calibration of sonar augumentations during implantation rendered them more user-friendly. Faced once again with a shift in its core audience, the Nuit Academy abandoned its failing business and reoganized as a microskillware studio.

Subskills are extremely specific abilities which are too minor and incidental too merit full skillware; they are typically little more than collections of instinctive reactions and physical familiarization that few transhumans think twice about - and because of their seeming unimportance, subskills represent an untapped market that the majority of skillware producers have failed to develop, and the Nuit Academy has moved into the gap. Using a pay-as-you-go model with occasional ransomware projects, the neuroprogrammers of the Nuit Academy are the masterminds behind several popular subskill products such as Navigating by Sound, Chopsticks, Zero-Gravity Toilet Training, Whistling, and Tying Neckties. The genius of subskills is that while most of these activities have online tutorials and training that users can easily follow, downloading and installing microskills grants immediate mastery with none of the time, hesitation, or potential for embarrassment that comes from trial-and-error or missing a step in the directions.


Subskills are an option for characters with skillware implants. As noted, they cover a range of perfectly mundane minor skills that your character may never have needed and which are normally not the subject of a test (unless your gamemaster is particularly cruel). For example, a PC that has never been off the surface of Mars probably would not know how to use a zero-gravity toilet, and instead of trying to figure out the instructions while their guts are boiling simply downloads the subskill and gets to work. Anything that can be covered by an actual skill test, like playing a musical instrument or firing a pistol, is beyond the range of a subskill. Assume that all subskills are available for download and are free, and each takes up only 1 skill point in the skillware implant.

The only down side of subskills is that the character cannot familiarize themselves effectively with the actual task while the subskill is installed. So if a character installed a subskill to handle using chopsticks, they would cease to be able to handle chopsticks once it is uninstalled and would have to learn how to handle them the old-fashioned way. For this reason, many transhumans become somewhat dependent on certain subskills, although Mesh legends of parents that installed toilet training subskills in their pets or children and then never bothered to uninstall them are (probably) false...

Using Nuit Academy

The Nuit Academy are business people and programmers that try to understand the transhuman condition and make little programs that make life easier. To do this requires a fundamental understanding of the transhuman condition which is a difficult thing at a time when the bulk of society devotes its resources to the statistically average transhuman abilities. Originally developed to assisting those with disabilities and then those with personal augmentations, the Nuit Academy has transitioned to more generic fare to pay the bills, but as a group they still devote considerable resources to subskills aimed at help disenfranchized characters who because of their combinations of morph/augmentations and/or disabilities require some help at basic tasks, or those whose upbringing has left them deficient in some basic areas of transhuman knowledge, such as the brinker synthmorph that doesn't know how to apply a band aid to a biomorph or the over-nannied flat who never learned to brush their own teeth because they had a nanomouthwash for that. Most PCs probably won't be direct recipients of their skills except possibly from a flavortext angle, but NPCs might be very reliant on them.


  • Many uplifts have basic difficulty adapting to transhuman body language, especially smiling - which many see as a form of threat display. The Nuit Academy markets a Smile Adaptor subskill specifically to address this, but there's been a bit of difficulty with it - three neo-hominids using the subskillware have died recently, and the Nuit Academy asks the PCs to investigate. The answer turns out to be rather straightforward, in that the software worked too well - the neo-hominids using it became so inured to smiling that they ignored threat displays from other hominids while smiling too much themselves, which ended up with them getting into fights they couldn't win.

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