The Trace On System is a series of wires, nano-particle inks, and other chemicals and micro-scale arcanotech devices that function to accelerate the neuromuscular reactions of the augmented recipient. On the street, this technology is commonly known as wired reflexes. The level of augmentation is fairly obvious, as the more effective the system, the more elaborate and arcane the circuit like patterns on the skin become. A basic mod is nothing more than a few main lines, accumulator discs and other basic 'ornamentations' while a top shelf fully involved system would appear as a faintly luminescent baroque or even decorative pattern covering large amounts of skin surface.

The technology used is very similar to the muscle tracer technology used in encounter suits and myoreflexive and kinetoreflexive armors. The only difference is that rather than affecting myomers or synthetic polymer materials, the medium is human muscle and blood.

Main Lines: main lines are wide 'avenues' for transferring energy though the system, and these frequently cross the core of the body and branch out at the arms and legs.

Access Lines: Access lines branch out from the main lines to dissipate energy from the core to the extremities and are accordingly much smaller than main lines. Each major muscle group affected by the system will have its own dedicate access line from the main line.

Accumulators: A series of discs, usually serving as junctions, or over joints, accumulators allow for power to flow through the system, and not be interrupted by the movement of the body. The accumulators also serve as batteries and boosters to keep the system active under heavy load.

Dissipators: Like accumulators, dissipators are discs, but instead of being solid, or filled with intricate patterns, they are hollow, and allow energy to bleed out of the system to prevent a neurokinetic overload. This is important as trace on systems can and do absorb ambient energy, and can become overloaded in the presence of high energy weapons, masers, and displays of parapsychic powers that create flares or other burn offs of cosmic energy.

Exciters: Intricate patterns, often with geometric motifs, exciters are deliberately activated aspects of a Trace On System and allow for incredibly accurate movements and actions, especially when tied into a WristComp, implanted CombatComp, or other cyberware computer system.


The Trace On System increases a character's physical dexterity attribute (or its closest approximation) as well as boosting associated figures such as initiative, reflexes, dodge, etc. It is tiered, and the higher the bonus, the larger and more complicated the patterns have to be. The cost increases proportionately to the amount of the bonus modifier.


Trace On Systems are typically applied with computer controlled 'injectors' that lay down the lines of conductive ink. The ink is a mixture of room temperature superconducting metals suspended in a fluidic state until stabilized in the epidermis. Once the machines lay down the main courses and salient features such as accumulators and such, arcanotechnicians will complete the process by hand. Machines can handle basic and basic plus (+1 to +2) alone, but greater amplification requires a human touch, or the touch of a thinking and aware 'artist' handling the injectors.

Recovery from being TRONed is several days, as strenuous activity, or attempting to activate the system before it has fully settled can cause it to fail, either disrupting the pathways, or even in the case of overloading, boiling out of the skin in horrific fashion.

Style and Color:

Each Trace On System manufacturer and 'studio' has its own signature color and style. The large corporations that back their own group do so judiciously, protecting their copyrighted patterns and colors. Smaller outfits, and professional Tracer Artists have their own styles, and while using the same technology, they are not compatible. Having an Apple based TRON 2.0 system it either has to be upgraded to the next level by an Apple tech, or taken to an independent (and good) freelance professional and upgraded (often at greater cost). One cannot mix and match TRON tiers. The various stages are designed to overlap each other to create the final product.

Art and Imitation:

The bioluminescent Trace On System is striking to look at when properly applied. While most shadowrunning ops and such conceal the glowing electric runes under concealing bodysuits, the general appearance of the system has influence art and fashion. There are certain tech and arcanotech savvy artists and models who have either real or bioluminescent tattoos on their bodies to mimic the system. Gangs and other groups will have members who sport such markings, to give the signal that they are dangerous, and ready to fight.

Electric Acrobats: There are artistic performers, such as figure skaters, dancers, acrobats, and others who do their expression through physical form who use Trace On to enhance both their appearance, and their performance. Athletes are less likely to use this system as it is difficult to hide, and under the spotlight of cameras and high intensity lights, it can easily overload and 'cook off'.

Accelerated Strippers: far outnumbering the athletic and artistic performers, there are large numbers of strippers and other sex workers who have either bargain versions, or fake trace on tattoos to enhance their appeal. These users have motifs and patterns in their systems or artwork that mark them as pretenders but only most serious cyberware users know the difference between a legit accumulator with a skull in it, and a skull made of glowing ink.

Shadowrunners and Government Special Ops: the original an intended user of the Trace On system were black ops and super soldiers. The system was successful, but largely not implemented by the major militaries, as once applied, the system cannot be removed intact. Users were also really unwilling to part with their augments as well. It is much more popular now on the mercenary market, where bodyguards, assassins for hire, and shadowrunners use it both for its intended effect, but also for intimidation and advertising.

Downsides and Drawbacks

The Trace On System has some drawbacks, but compared to the drawbacks often associated with arcanotech, they are fairly mild.

Visibility: unless covered by at least medium thickness cloth, the system is easily visible. The dark marks on skin are easily seen, In the dark, this is more obvious as resting the system is faintly luminous, but in an excited state, or when running in high gear, it can produce a good deal of light. This can be countered by light obscuring fabrics.

Detectability: the system is easily detected by anything that senses arcanotech, ranging from standard body sensors to cosmic horrors sniffing out snacks. It will set off metal detectors, EM detectors, and other similar systems.

Overload: the Trace On System absorbs ambient energy from the environment around it. Normally this is stored in the various accumulators around the system, and from pocket carried generators that can feed the system. There are certain conditions that can saturate the system beyond it's holding capacity, and its ability to dissipate. This usually involves strong EM fields, being exposed to arcane radiation, direct electric current, being hit with a high energy weapon, etc. The system will begin causing burns, uncontrolled muscle movement, and other unpleasant things until it either breaks down and 'boils off' or the user is able to get out of the situation and ground the system out.

Author's Note:

Wired Reflexes are fairly common in cyberpunk and similar settings, but they are just hand waved off as wires in the muscles, or some jargon about accelerated nerve pathways. The Trace On System is functionally nothing more than Wired Reflexes, a very mundane add 2 to dexterity, recalculate initiative and 1 to that. Except that in the Cosmic Era, its got to be over the top, artistic and visually striking and if I can find a bit of 80s nostalgia to back it up, it's in. Rather than glowing lines on body suits ala TRON the movie, these are tattoos made of ink on human skin. Part circuit, part art, and part arcane science, the people who have this modification can hide it, or flaunt it.

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? Quest

Tattoos. So personal yet so public.

Spells are often written in scrolls, scrawled across doorways or inscribed into mystic blades. What effects would they have if inked into the skin of a living creature? Think of ways to expand the use of tattoos within your existing magic system, laws, culture or develop a whole new system centered around body art. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

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