More thoughts on Cyberware for my Static/Signal cyberpunk setting.

Ok, so I've talked before about Big Scores and superhuman Cyberware. (Short version: Big Scores are similar to refresh and are used to buy expensive but potent "character" items, like cyberware.  These cool implants are handled similar to Feats in terms of abilities.)

One of the unaddressed (in my game notes) cyberpunk concepts surrounding cyberware is the question of losing humanity as you replace the flesh you are born with "chrome." Try looking Molly Millions in the eyes and you'll know what I'm talking about.  It's something I want included in the setting, but haven't really worked out how yet.

Here's the thing: I don't want this concept to be cut and dry (implant surgery on the other hand...).  In Shadowrun, the mechanic/in-world-concept of Essence covers this, and it's very direct (and heavily linked to magic).  I want the question to be more opinion with notable examples for against possible.  Maybe heavily modified people do commonly go insane, but there may be a few famous examples of people with little organic form left that seem perfectly fine. It should be an open and serious question within society, and something that should be a part of each character.

I also don't want the complication of rating every bit of ware with a humanity cost that must be tallied up. It's not very Fate-ish, and it would require a full list of implants, when I'd rather make that an opened ended "stunt" that players & GMs can build on their own.

But I do want to back this concept up with some mechanical effects.  I want chrome-vs-flesh to mean something.  I want highlight the idea in game, and that means backing it with in-game effects.

A simple character aspect is one idea.  Players are required to have an aspect describing how little or much chrome they have.  They might say "Death machine in a convincing human shape" for example.  Molly Millions probably has an Aspect describing her unblinking mirrored eyes that could be handy for a variety of Invocations (intimidate) and compels (creepy.)  The downside here is the the aspect isn't directly connected to actual ware.  Your character aspect might be "Nearly 100% Human" while you taken Cyber-ware replacing your lower torso with tank treds. No link is enforced, nor are you required to change your aspect when you get fresh implants.

I'm currently leaning more towards a system where ware has a descriptor indicating the level of augmentation it is. The descriptor is part of a ladder.  You can take as much ware as you want as long as it's descriptors for that ware are the same or less than the largest descriptor you already have.  If you take a larger descriptor, then you must change your Cyberware Aspect to reflect the new you.

Let's say Cyberware is rated via in-world "Classes."  Class 1 cyberware is small and minor.  It may not replace anything on your body, but merely adds a small amount to it.  If it's visible at all, it's subtle.  Class 5 cyberware is dramatic, likely not even human shaped, and replaces large portions of the body.
CAT Eyes, a heads up targeting suit in your eyes to improve your accuracy with guns, is Class 1.  It's subtle and doesn't even require the removal the eyes. Replacing your lower torso and legs with tank treads is Class 5.  You are not going to be able to hide that.
Replacing a limb with a robotic like alternative, such as a large powerful mechanical arm, would be Class 4.  Sure it's obvious but it's still roughly humanoid.  Replacing eyes with electronic versions that still fit in the sockets would be Class 2.  Class 3 would be a limited replacement of a limb, such as replacing an arm with a cybernetic version that is still shaped and moves like a real arm, or replacing just your lower arm or hand with something a bit more extreme.

One thing I think might be fun is if the character sheet for the game has a little humanoid silhouette similar to Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (but simpler). Players would be asked to draw simple outlines of the ware on/in their character.  Replaced an arm? Draw an outline around the arm.  New superconduting spine? Draw a thick line through center of the body.  Cybernetic heart? Draw a Heart in torso's left side. Etc.  It wouldn't have a game effect outright, but it would be a good visual reminder for how much of you is still flesh, and it's easy to show other players or GM's what they might be dealing with.

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