In “Mona Lisa Overdrive”, William Gibson’s second novel, Kumiko has a AI travel guide that simply rocks. Here are rules to create one for your cyberpunk 2020 game. But beware – it doesn’t really fit the average tech level of the cyberpunk 2020 universe.

Author: Syberman
Taken from Datafortress 2020.

“The ghost awoke to Kumiko’s touch as they began their descent into Heathrow. The fifty-first generation of Maas-Neotek biochips conjured up an indistinct figure on the seat beside her, a boy out of some faded hunting print, legs crossed casually in tan breeches and riding boots. ‘Hullo,’ the ghost said.”

[ Mona Lisa Overdrive ]


The origins of the first artificial intelligence guide is unclear, the event was never recorded in the history books. In an unknown lab, in an unknown country, the first biosoft was developed, a device capable of storing hundreds of memory units. The technology was in its embryonic stage when the designer Janice Grubb first became interested in its applications. Since the creation of the I.G Algorithm in 2014 she had become increasingly worried about cyberspace and transcendental sentience. If her theories were correct she had not only created life, but trapped that same life in the endless bounds of cyberspace. The biosoft technology was the answer to her conundrum, how to free, that which could not be freed. It’s unclear how her Internet paymasters reacted to her idea’s on the future of cyberspace, what is clear, is that Grubb allowed herself to be extracted to the Maas Corporation.

The German corporate giant was a leading expert in the new biosoft technology, second only to the monolithic Internet Conglomerate, headed by the mysterious Ishima family. The extent of the shadow war which ensued at Grubb’s defection is unclear, what is clear is that several hundred Cyber Circle operatives were involved with the altercations. The result was a stalemate, with Ishima withdrawing the Maas Corporations up-link from the Euro-Theatre grid. It only took the Maas Corporation seven days to come to the discussion table, a compromise was ironed out and Grubb was allowed to stay. It’s still unclear what Maas offered Ishima in return for her, perhaps this is why Ishima has the world monopoly on biosoft constructs. Grubb continued to work for the newly created Maas-Neotek and in 2028 the first commercially available artificial intelligence unit was introduced onto the market. Although her initial vision was subverted for commercial gain, Grubb still works for Maas-Neotek in the hope that one day her children will be freed.


The purchase of a personality construct, is just that, a construct. The construct has skill programs, equal to intellect, and has skill points, equal to ten times intellect. If the construct isn’t custom designed these skills will be from a chosen field, such as tactical skills. All constructs begin with; Interface, Systems Knowledge, Programming, Education & Knowledge. These reflect the constructs electronic existence and must be purchased with the initial skill points, Interface being at least equal to half intellect. Skills take up one memory unit of space per point, it’s assumed that the constructs personality skills are hardwired into its core program.

The construct receives personality skill points equal to intellect, Human Perception and Rhetoric are mandatory, other skills are usually limited to the constructs chosen field. In addition to the constructs intellect, it also has the statistics of cool and empathy. The constructs cool starts out at sixteen and empathy at one, for every two points of empathy increase there is a decrease of cool by one point. This reflects the constructs increasing humanity and lack of machine clarity.

The electronic nature of the construct make it highly adaptable to change and it can learn just like humans. Constructs receive improvement points from using skills and game participation. If the construct requires a new skill, it can use a Biosoft to download the basic knowledge. The Biosoft information is loaded into the constructs memory and can be used like normal skills. Biosofts are currently being designed to self delete once their information is uploaded, after all information isn’t free. Should the construct be used by a human companion, it can advise on electronic and scientific skill use. The construct infers a bonus of half its intellect on intelligence and technical based skill programs.


Once the construct is purchased its housing must be built, this is usually a customised unit produced by the Maas-Neotek or Sino-Logic. The electronic housing and biosoft memory core can often run into several million Euro-marks. The units are hand built by the companies finest technicians, adding an additional 10% onto the final price, only guidance units are made on a production line. The final price is dependent upon the units housing, a construct placed in an E-Book has a price modification of x 5, whereas a hand held palm unit has a modification of x 15. These price modifications reflect the increasing complexity of technology, palm units often employing nanotechnology for production purposes.

The complexity of the housing unit is often dependent upon the complexity of the construct. Every three points of intellect requires a central processor unit, this allows the construct to operate in parallel, performing an action for every two system processors. Technological restraints in the field of construct programming, currently limits the number of processors to seven. If a construct has more than seven processors, there’s a chance that it will suffer from schizophrenic tendencies. The constructs processor speed allows faster actions, this is added to intellect, determining cyberspace initiative. The data wall strength is determined by processor defence, usually greater than the processors present in the system.


If the construct is to be used in cyberspace it should be equipped with a plethora of offensive and defensive programs. It’s also recommended that the higher intellect constructs be equipped with the spore program. This should only be used as a last resort, allowing the construct to reconstruct should it find suitable system. Constructs are not just limited to cyberspace software, they can also hold custom databases on almost any subject. These can range from visual & audio recognition databases to metropolitan guides, the use is only limited by the imagination. If the construct is downloading information from cyberspace, it requires one minute line time for each memory unit of software.

If a construct is required with an intellect greater than twelve, it must be commissioned directly from the Ishima Corporation. Guidelines concerning the use of constructs with high intellects, are laid down by the Turing Code and they must be placed on the Zurich Register. These constructs costing several million Euro-marks, are produced for corporate main-frames and more esoteric purposes. There are currently over 1,800 artificial intelligence’s registered by the Turing Division of Interpol, circa 2028.


Artificial Intelligence Units: Personality Construct

Guidance Construct : 50,000eb (Int 1, 1/10 for skills, needs 1 CPU, 10 MU)
Companion Construct : 100,000eb (Int 3, 3/30 for skills, requires 1 CPU, 30 MU)
Guardian Construct : 150,000eb (Int 6, 6/60 for skills, requires 2 CPU’s, 60 MU)
Councillor Construct : 200,000eb (Int 9, 9/90 for skills, requires 3 CPU’s, 90 MU)
Tactician Construct : 250,000eb (Int 12, 12/120 for skills, requires 4 CPU’s, 120 MU)

Artificial Intelligence Units: Processor & Memory

Processor Unit’s : 10,000eb per unit (max. 10 processors)
Processor Speed : 2,000eb per level (max. 5 initiative)
Processor Defence : 1,000eb per level (max. 10 defence)
Processor Memory : 500eb per unit (max. 1000 storage)

Artificial Intelligence Units: Communication Systems

Cellular Link : 4,000eb (25% line-drop, used to contact phone cells)
Satellite Link : 8,000eb (5% line-drop, used to contact satellites)
Tight-beam Link : 1,500eb (20% line-drop, used for remote vehicles)
Cyber-modem Link : 3,000eb (modified deck allowing access to cyberspace)

Artificial Intelligence Units: Interface Systems

Neural Interface : 1,000eb (interface plugs and electrodes can be jacked into unit)
Synaptic Interface : 10,000eb (construct understands sub-vocalised neural command)
Symbiotic Interface : 100,000eb (constructs consciousness can merge with humans)
Wetware Interface : 500eb (uploads datasofts, microsofts, & biosofts into memory)

Artificial Intelligence Units: Security Recognition

Thumb Print Scanner : 500eb (unit requires a valid print scan to operate)
Retinal Image Scanner : 1,000eb (unit requires a valid retinal scan to operate)
Neural Recognition Scanner : 2,000eb (unit requires a valid neural scan to operate)

Artificial Intelligence Units: Hardware Packages

Stress Analyser Package : 200eb (+2 to Human Perception & Interrogation, 3 MU)
Lie Detector Package : 400eb (needle probe detects lies, 65% reliabilit
Bug Detector Package : 200eb (locates bugs within 6m radius, 80% reliability, 2 MU)
Bug Jammer Package : 200eb (broadcasts white noise over 10m radius, 1 MU)
Radar Detector Package : 150eb (detects any microwave signals, 60% reliability, 2 MU)
Signal Detector Package : 750eb (detects I.R, U.V, & radio signals, 40% reliability, 2 MU)
Signal Tracker Package : 300eb (detects source of signals, 80% reliability, 2 MU)
Signal Jammer Package : 750eb (electronics can resist jamming, 20% reliability, 2 MU)
Medical Scanner Package : 250eb (sensors read body vital signs , +1 to Diagnose, 5 MU)
Technical Scanner Package : 250eb (diagnostic system for repairs, -3 to difficulty, 5 MU)
Vox-Synthesiser Package : 300eb (speaker system allows construct to speak aloud, 2 MU)
Drug Analyser Package : 750eb (determines drug purity/content, 65% reliability, 4 MU)
Credit Transaction Package : 250eb (electronic money transactions, needs modem, 1 MU)
Holographic Imager Package : 500eb (visual images captured for holographic projection, 5 MU)
Holographic Projector Package : 1,000eb (generates a low resolution holographic image, 5 MU)
Holographic Projector Package : 10,000eb (generates a high resolution holographic image, 10 MU)

Artificial Intelligence Units: Software Packages

Metropolitan Database : 5,000eb (database of city information, needs modem, 5 MU)
Bounty Hunter Database : 5,000eb (database of wanted criminals, needs modem, 10 MU)
Modus Operandi Database : 25,000eb (database of modus operandi, needs modem, 10 MU)
Virtual Reality Environment : 50,000eb (hyper-real virtual reality conference suite, 25 MU)
Imp Protection Package : 660eb (software; armour, shield, force shield, flack, 7 MU)
Afreet Protection Package : 4,440eb (software; invisibility, replicate, domino, spore, 14 MU)
Succubus Protection Package : 26,000eb (software; stun, knockout, threat, red-out, 16 MU)
Balrog Protection Package : 29,000eb (software; hellbolt, spazz, brainwipe, cerebus, 19 MU)
Shiatan Protection Package : 37,750eb (software; hellhound, werewolf, zombie, liche, 20 MU)

Artificial Intelligence Units: Miscellaneous Items

Production & Design : 10% total (production costs for the artificial intelligence unit)
Hardened Circuitry : 20% total (protects against magnetic pulses, microwaves etc.)


Tactical Construct
Councillor Construct
INT: 12 – COOL: 14 – EMP: 4 INT: 9 – COOL: 12 – EMP: 8
CPU: 4 – SPD: 4 – DEF: 8 CPU: 3 – SPD: 2 – DEF: 4
* – Interface + 12 * – Interface + 9
* – Systems Knowledge + 7 * – Systems Knowledge + 4
* – Programming + 7 * – Programming + 4
* – Education & Knowledge + 10 * – Education & Knowledge + 12
* – Streetwise + 4 * – Social + 3
* – Rhetoric + 4 * – Rhetoric + 3
* – Human Perception + 4 * – Human Perception + 3
1 – Tactical Operations + 12 1 – Bureaucratic Policy + 10
2 – Security Operations + 12 2 – Corporate Policy + 10
3 – Remote Operations + 4 3 – Cultural Policy + 10
4 – Weaponry Systems + 4 4 – Teaching + 5
5 – Electronic Systems + 8 5 – Linguistics + 6
6 – Electronic Security + 10 6 – Expert: Scientific Theory + 4
7 – Electronic Warfare + 8 7 – Expert: Technological Theory + 4
8 – Demolition Disposal + 6 8 – Expert: Psychological Theory + 6
9 – Expert: Surveillance Systems + 4 9 – Expert: Philosophical Theory + 6
10- Expert: Mechanical Security + 4  
11- Expert: Cyberspace Security + 6  
12- Expert: Cryptographic Security + 6  
Guardian Construct
Companion Construct
INT: 6 – COOL: 14 – EMP: 4 INT: 3 – COOL: 12 – EMP: 8
CPU: 2 – SPD: 2 – DEF: 4 CPU: 1 – SPD: 1 – DEF: 2
* – Interface + 6 * – Interface + 3
* – Systems Knowledge + 4 * – Systems Knowledge + 1
* – Programming + 4 * – Programming + 1
* – Education & Knowledge + 6 * – Education & Knowledge + 1
* – Streetwise + 2 * – Social + 1
* – Rhetoric + 2 * – Rhetoric + 1
* – Human Perception + 2 * – Human Perception + 1
1 – Security Operations + 8 1 – Bureaucratic Policy + 8
2 – Electronic Systems + 4 2 – Corporate Policy + 8
3 – Electronic Security + 9 3 – Cultural Policy + 8
4 – Electronic Warfare + 9  
5 – Expert: Cyberspace Security + 5  
6 – Expert: Cryptographic Security + 5  


The introduction of guide units into a campaign should be considered carefully by the referee. They will appeal to the ‘munchkin’ element of a group and could imbalance a carefully planned campaign. In my campaign they were introduced to drive the plot and make the dreaded task of netrunning easier. The miniaturised technology they employ takes nanotech one stage further, something that in my opinion should only occur in a post 2030 campaign.

The price of the guides reflects the technology involved in their construction, as such they will only be available to the corporate elite and European golden-kids. Their esoteric nature was played up in my campaign, with guides being constructed as pocket watches, jewellery and even guns. In game terms the production & design costs should be increased by 5%, reflecting the increased effort in designing a guide around an object.

Once the guide is constructed it’s possible to add extra hardware packages to the base unit. The modifications will eventually increase the guides housing, when this occurs, is entirely at the referees discretion. I personally stop modifications before the guide begins to resemble a Swiss Army knife. The only element of the construct that cannot be modified is the biosoft processor, this must be replaced to improve the number of processors, speed, defence or memory units.

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