Cryonic Suspension


Freeze - wait - reanimate
- Ancient cryonic slogan

Cryonics, the freezing and reanimating of tissue or entire organisms, was developed in the early part of the 21st century originally for the preservation of transplant organs but later to sustain seriously ill patients - they could be frozen until they could be treated. In the 2030's it was a fairly proven technology. It made interstellar colonisation possible, and during the colony programs the reliability and efficiency were gradually improved. Since then little has changed, even if details have been refined and some new technologies added.

Before a suspension it is common to undergo pre suspension treatments intended to minimise the damage. They consist mainly of injections of various chemicals and a special diet intended to protect the gastrointestinal tract from the inside (the "food" goes under many humoristic names, ranging from The Last Meal to freezerporridge). The pre-treatments are not necessary, but well advised.

At suspension, the person is injected with a powerful dose of sedatives and cryoprotectants. The body is placed in a tank with cryoprotectant gel and tiny sensors/transceivers (also included in the "food" and these days in the injection), linked to life support systems and then cooled until just a few degrees above freezing. Powerful cooling systems, vitrificators, decrease the temperature further, so quickly that ice crystals never form but the water becomes a glass-like solid. The process takes a few hours with modern equipment (in the past it took days). Eventually the frozen person is stored in liquid nitrogen. The storage can last at least a few centuries and require very little maintenance.

Reanimation involves homogenous microwave heating (employing the embedded sensors/transceivers to make sure heating is uniform). Slowly the body is returned to normal temperature, various reanimation solutions are pumped into the body and the cryoprotectant gel is drained. Usually the patient spends one or two days recovering from the suspension; even the best suspension methods tend to stress the body and medical treatments are welcome.


Society and Cryonics

Cryocorps exist on most of the colonies, companies specialised in the suspension and reanimation of people. Clients pay for the suspension procedure, storage and eventual reanimation (upkeep of the corpsicle is paid by using the interest on the reanimation money; since storage is usually quite cheap this is seldom a problem). Clients who suspend themselves sign contracts with the cryocorps to be reanimated depending on certain conditions such as after a certain time, when something occurs or on the request of relatives.

In fact, comparatively few people are dying in a strict sense every year. Most fatally ill, wounded or very old people undergo cryosuspension, which means they are not formally dead even if reanimation is highly unlikely.

During the suspension, a specialised law firm or a cryoinvestment corporation usually manages the suspendee’s estate. On some worlds (Nova, New America and Arcadia) the law forces a certain amount of inheritance if the suspendee is in a condition that makes it unlikely that reanimation will occur within a century. On Ridgewell the clone (i.e. the economic person corresponding to a clone lineage) of the suspendee manages the estate. Of course, on Atlantis there are no restrictions. On Gaia, Negsoa (and Dionysos until recently) cryonics is not in use. On Victoria only humans are allowed to use it, the permanent xenological committee has decided cryonics would disrupt Trahan society if spread to their species. Mary is the only place where cryonics is mandatory.



The character takes damage at suspension and reanimation; the amount depends on the conditions and the constitution of the character.

Roll two CON checks for suspension and reanimation, with normal difficulty. The roll is modified depending on the conditions:

Pre-medication: -1 (at suspension only)
Hasty freezing: +1
Good or bad equipment can give +1 or –1 (truly awful equipment can give +2 or +3, but only crazy people use faulty cryosystems)

The doctor’s (or equipment's, if it is automated) success with a Medicine roll:
Ordinary success: -1
Good success: -2
Amazing success: -3
If the doctor fails, the difficulty can increase and of course, critical failures will lead to nasty consequences.

Damage taken at suspension and reanimation (note that secondary damage may result):

Critical failure: death or serious damage (see below). The person is definitely in a critical condition.
Failure: 1d4 mortal
Ordinary: 1d4 wound
Good: 1 wound
Amazing: 1d4 stun


Things that can go wrong

The main issue is cell death and tissue damage. The cryoprotectants decrease it, but cannot remove all. A badly performed suspension or reanimation can kill so many cells that the patient thaws in a critical condition or cannot be reanimated at all.

Cracking is a big worry especially in spaceflight, and one reason for the cryoprotectant gel (which becomes a tough padding). This mishap can be detected before reanimation, and treatment pre-planned.

People are also worried about the effects on the brain. Short term memories from the period just prior to suspension are always lost (cryo-amnesia), but damage to synapses and dendrites can also affect memory and personality. The effects are usually too small to be noticed, but there have been cases where memory loss or dementia have resulted from suspensions.