ProtoMech Enhanced-Imaging System
In developing the ProtoMech, scientists from Clan Smoke Jaguar were stymied by their inability to properly fit the necessary Cockpit and Gyro in something as small as a ProtoMech chassis without making severe sacrifices. Years went by before the creation of the Enhanced Imaging (EI) system provided a solution to their dilemma. By directly connecting with the machine on a neurological level, a Proto pilot could control the machine as easily as their own body, eliminating the need for a bulky cockpit or mechanical balancing system. Unfortunately the system also had a number of negative side effects which increased over time, including mental instability, catatonia and even death. In adapting the technology, scientists refined the EI system so that it would be better attuned to the ProtoMech control scheme and the Trueborn aerospace pilots chosen to control them (due to their genetic engineering, Clan aerospace pilots were found to be physiologically more resistant to the side effects of EI implant technology).
When a ProtoMech pilot step inside the cockpit and connects to their machine, they become more in-tune with it than EI-equipped MechWarriors and battlesuit troopers, essentially becoming one with the Machine. They see the outside world through the ProtoMech's external sensors, and when they will their body to move the Proto moves instead. Only vaguely are they aware that their actual body is curled up in a fetal position within the chest of the ProtoMech, unconsciously flexing in response to their mental commands. Controlling their machines as they would their own body, ProtoMech warriors are more agile than regular-sized 'Mechs, able to move through difficult terrain more easily and with greater deftness. However they do not gain from any of the other benefits associated with standard EI systems, such as improved accuracy.
Despite these improvements, there remain several pitfalls associated with using the ProtoMech EI system. Because they are so closely attuned to their machine, Proto warriors feel "pain" via neurological feedback whenever the machine takes damage: an arm being ripped off their ProtoMech generates almost as much pain as if it were the pilot's own arm. Special training can only go so far in mitigating this feedback, which can be debilitating in a combat situation, and because it is necessary for controlling the machine the implants must always be on.
While the degenerative side effects could not be fully removed from the ProtoMech EI system, they are far more gradual and less severe than standard EI implants. However, a common issue with many Proto warriors is the development of a "god complex." They begin to believe they are indestructible when inside the ProtoMech and become reluctant to leave; some even begin to believe that the ProtoMech is their real body. Members of a ProtoMech Point are a close-knit unit however and can usually work together to control this behavior before it becomes a problem.
In CBT play the system as no effect: ProtoMechs receive none of the benefits and none of the drawbacks of regular EI. In RPG play ProtoMech pilots must pass a BOD/WIL check when a critical hit occurs or suffer 3D6 damage to the same location on their body as occured to the ProtoMech. The roll for permanent Fatigue damage occurs once every three years after implantation rather than one, and can only be used to accrue the following traits: Amnesia, Clumsy, Combat Paralysis, Disabled, Introvert, Madness, Quirk, Slow Learner, Timid, and Unhealthy.
- Technical Readout: 3060, pp. 188-190, "ProtoMechs"
- Combat Equipment, pp. 59-61, "ProtoMech Enhanced-Imaging System"