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Basic Information

A bioroid is something of a neologism, describing something that is, effectively, a robot made of living tissue. The etymology would probably derive from android1 and bios2. In fantasy terms these would be called homonculi, but the term bioroid is very much a thing of sci-fi. Ironically the "original" robots (they of Capeck's play) are effectively bioroids in modern terminology.

Bioroids will likely vary from sub-sapient living tools to artifical humans, depending on purpose - some will need a great deal of maintenance and be incapable of much beyond their intended task, whilst other will be significantly super-human in some or all fields. In general, anything that is an exact copy of an existing organism, or starts out as one and is gene-fixed, probably counts as a (modified) clone rather than a bioroid3 - the 'roid should realistically be built from the ground up4. Anything that isn't alive in its own right (like some forms of wetware processor or variant cyborg) probably doesn't count either.

As living creatures, bioroids are likely to generate some kind of ethical controversy - whether in the fashion of animal welfare or more in that of the anti-slavery movement will depend on the nature of the bioroids in question and their applications. Reproduction may be an issue - expect bioroids not to be independantly fertile (very bad for IP protection, not to mention quality control) and growth tanks to feature widely. Likewise, a bioroid may have some kind of dependency built in to ensure that it remains under control - for narrative purposes, these controls can be expected to fail.

Expect both Frankenstein Syndrome and the Frankenstein Complex to be at play wherever these things appear and have the ability to think.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • The replicants in Blade Runner are at the extreme end of human-like bioroids, Capeck's "robots" and the "non-organic persons" of the Aliens universe somewhat less so and the "biots" of the Rama stories closer to the other end of the scale, as are the modified "companions" used by the RipTide Altcult in Cyberpunk V.3.
  • A player who has neglected to write a backstory for his character may find that he is in fact a bioroid.
  • Or a key NPC may turn out to be one … the question is, were they always one?
  • A society could be entirely based on the labour of bioroids with actual humans as a small ruling class - like Huxley's Brave New World but without the pretense that the sub-beta castes are in any way people.
  • Conversely, a society in which sapient bioroids have full civil rights could also be very interesting.
  • Most of what is presented for robots may also apply to 'roids, depending on the setting.
  • Protein items are likely to be a significant part of a bioroid's diet … possibly because their owners can't be bothered to feed them any better, possibly because their digestive system is highly simplified and cannot cope with unprocessed food (maybe a control mechanism, maybe due to a lack of desire to mimic the complex flora of a natural gut) and possibly because they need significant dietary supplements (again, this may be a deliberate control mechanism or due to shortcuts in the design work).
    • Indulgent owners may still feed bioroids "human food" … or very close analogues … much as indulgent pet owners buy designer food for their pets in the present. As with the animals, this may or may not do the bioroids any good and they may or may not appreciate the difference.
    • The converse of this trope is the panphagic bioroid - usually a military or paramilitary model - which can eat practically anything organic and process it into useful nutrients. A digestive system that can at least ameliorate the effects of chirality in most organic molecules (so that it can do something at least with d-proteins and l-sugars which an Earth baseline metabolism finds almost completely useless).
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