Augmentation and the Loss of Self

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OSIAdept
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Augmentation and the Loss of Self

#1 Postby OSIAdept » Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:36 pm

I love the cyberpunk genre but why does almost every game or novels decree that becoming augmented means you lose a piece of being human. Now i understand imposing limits on the level of upgrades and what not but not the losing of the sense of self.

I personally employ the theory that the body can only handle a certain level of augments before being overcome with the stress of maintaining the augments causing health issues but the whole augments make you crazy never sat well with me.


So what are your opinions

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#2 Postby Zadmar » Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:30 pm

OSIAdept wrote:I love the cyberpunk genre but why does almost every game or novels decree that becoming augmented means you lose a piece of being human.

Because meat vs metal is a big part of the genre. To quote Lawrence Person:

"Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datsphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body. William Gibson's Neuromancer is, of course, the archetypal cyberpunk work, and this (along with early Gibson short fiction like "Johnny Mnemonic" and "Burning Chrome," The Artificial Kid, and the odd John Shirley work) is whence the "high tech/low life" cliché about cyberpunk and its imitators came."

OSIAdept wrote:I personally employ the theory that the body can only handle a certain level of augments before being overcome with the stress of maintaining the augments causing health issues but the whole augments make you crazy never sat well with me.

So what are your opinions

Sounds like postcyberpunk might fit you better (see the above link). I like both, but they do have a different feel.

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#3 Postby OSIAdept » Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:05 pm

i tend to forget that those are two distinct genres

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#4 Postby Timon » Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:08 pm

I understand your issue with a hard "calibration" limit. I do however like the idea of a character having to struggle with her installed demons: what does it do to you if a part of your visual system is continually targeting, evaluating threat and presenting lines of fire. Can you still get on with normal people when your limbs are shining steel, your senses are super-human and information is continually sleeting through your head?

In game terms I would start with the Outsider hindrance once someone's augments could be expected to impact their social behaviour, moving steadily to mean, bloodthirsty, ugly as the weirdness mounted.

I am playing this out with my Huckster character in Deadlands. He understands Manitou better than people and is gradually, as his powers increase, leaving the human race behind.
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Loss of Spirit

#5 Postby Culverin » Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:58 am

Deadlands Classic did a bit of this with steampunk enhancements. For a tangible effect, why not put a lower cap on Spirit for characters with heavy enhancements? If they really go overboard with enhancements, make them effectively robots. They won't have to suffer effects of fear and such, but loose access to Spirit and all related skills.

That way, they just seem like constructs with a few odd human parts.

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#6 Postby OSIAdept » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:53 am

They way i am handling my upgrades i that a person can have 1/2 their vigor in cybernetics before the body begins rejecting them. This score can be modified via edges and hindrances. I call it tolerance

It does not affect ones personality though there are cases when people have trouble adjusting to them. This is represented in hindrances chosen by the players.

For instance a female player might have her charisma augmented but decides that the character has trouble adujusting so she takes Chronic Depression (a unique edge for my setting Must make a spirit check once per game day or suffer a level of fatigue , medications can give a +1 bonus to the roll)

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Chronic Depression

#7 Postby Culverin » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:59 am

That ain't a bad idea. I think I am borrowing that Hindrance idea. I had a character who lost some appendages recently, and he has been acting depressed anyway.

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#8 Postby Zadmar » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:48 am

OSIAdept wrote:They way i am handling my upgrades i that a person can have 1/2 their vigor in cybernetics before the body begins rejecting them. This score can be modified via edges and hindrances. I call it tolerance

What's the trade-off for choosing to have your full quota of cybernetics? Do you have to buy the upgrades as edges (or perhaps as powers, with cybernetics treated as an Arcane Background)? If they just cost money, are they balanced against regular gear?

I guess what I'm asking is...is there any mechanical reason why someone wouldn't choose to have any cybernetic argumentation?

Or is it expected that everyone in the setting has cybernetic upgrades unless they're too poor to afford it?

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#9 Postby OSIAdept » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:01 am

is use the gear approach i feel they are balanced due to the pricing and what they provide

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Re: Loss of Spirit

#10 Postby Cutter XXIII » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:13 am

Culverin wrote:Deadlands Classic did a bit of this with steampunk enhancements.

The Savage Worlds version is found in the 1880 Smith & Robards Catalog.
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#11 Postby chillburn » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:35 pm

I can't find it now, but I know there's an actual real-world condition where people that have lost limbs, etc. feel a slight level of disassociation afterwards. I think that is where the original "loss of humanity" idea came from and it's just sort become a trope.

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#12 Postby tigerguy786 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:42 pm

chillburn wrote:I can't find it now, but I know there's an actual real-world condition where people that have lost limbs, etc. feel a slight level of disassociation afterwards. I think that is where the original "loss of humanity" idea came from and it's just sort become a trope.


It's called "Phantom Limb Syndrome"

Interface Zero handles it by having backlash that is essentially a character's body rejects the implants in some way. I'm personally not a huge fan of it.

If I were to build a cybernetics system, I'd probably do something based on Superpowers with the addition that the cybernetic costs money as well as an edge.
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#13 Postby OSIAdept » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:18 pm

that seems like punishing the player. cash and an advancement a bit much

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#14 Postby tigerguy786 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:42 pm

OSIAdept wrote:that seems like punishing the player. cash and an advancement a bit much


I suppose it might be. Maybe not an advance then. Treat it like they're buying Weird Science gizmos? I don't know. It seems like the easiest way to do cyberware is to do it like an Arcane Background, but cyberware can do a lot more than just Powers...so I really don't know.
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#15 Postby Zadmar » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:26 pm

tigerguy786 wrote:If I were to build a cybernetics system, I'd probably do something based on Superpowers with the addition that the cybernetic costs money as well as an edge.

That's exactly how 77IM's Arcane Abilities handle cybernetics, except there's an upkeep cost as well. I think it's a good way of balancing stronger argumentations, but probably not necessary for upgrades that are no stronger than normal gear.

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#16 Postby chillburn » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:00 pm

tigerguy786 wrote:
chillburn wrote:I can't find it now, but I know there's an actual real-world condition where people that have lost limbs, etc. feel a slight level of disassociation afterwards. I think that is where the original "loss of humanity" idea came from and it's just sort become a trope.


It's called "Phantom Limb Syndrome"

Interface Zero handles it by having backlash that is essentially a character's body rejects the implants in some way. I'm personally not a huge fan of it.

If I were to build a cybernetics system, I'd probably do something based on Superpowers with the addition that the cybernetic costs money as well as an edge.


I think it's actually different. Phantom Limb Syndrome is the feeling that a limb that was amputated is still there. What I've read about is a general sense that people with amputations feel more detached and less empathetic. The basic idea is:
- Person suffers injury resulting in amputation
- Person does not adjust well to new self-image
- Person starts to see others as having different self-image from them
- Person starts to lose empathy with others because they are not "the same" anymore

I don't know how common or real this actually is, but I've seen sources that site this as the origin of the "lots of cyberware makes you mean" trope.

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Re: Augmentation and the Loss of Self

#17 Postby Mike Zebrowski » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:10 pm

OSIAdept wrote:I love the cyberpunk genre but why does almost every game or novels decree that becoming augmented means you lose a piece of being human. Now i understand imposing limits on the level of upgrades and what not but not the losing of the sense of self.


Part of it is symbolism. In order to survive and "prosper", the protagonist has to become less and less human eventually becoming a literal cog-in-the-machine instead of a figurative one.

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#18 Postby OSIAdept » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:28 pm

which is funny considering how most cyberpunk heros are considered scum by most standards

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#19 Postby Zadmar » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:31 pm

OSIAdept wrote:which is funny considering how most cyberpunk heros are considered scum by most standards

I came across an interesting old thread about cyberpsychosis. In particular, comparisons with the way people react to tattoos and body piercings, as well as conditions such as self-mutilation and amputation.

There are various stereotypes associated with tattoos, piercings and body modifications, and more than a little discrimination. While I like to think of myself as fairly open minded, I still find myself wondering what sort of person would want to have several hundred piercings, a skull tattoo covering their entire face, a forked tongue and horns, or have their face changed to look like a tiger, etc.

Then I think back over my first Cyberspace character, and wonder what sort of person he was to have willingly had his arms and legs amputated and replaced with cybernetic limbs, his eyes exchanged with cybernetic eyes that were linked to implants inserted into his brain, subdermal padding inserted under every part of his skin, and numerous other implants. He was even hoping to have his head removed and replaced with something tougher!

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#20 Postby Chaosmeister » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:04 pm

Interesting as I was always a fan of the Cyberpsychosis approach. Good read! I always felt this was not a mere bodily fitness thing but a matter of "Spirit". I can not imagine playing a game with cyberware that does not address this particular topic in some way.

I personally do not believe body stress is so much a factor, but having the will and mind to work with foreign pieces in your body is not something everyone can cope with I think. It is an important decision to make before your game as it will really set the tone. If everyone has a free limit to install ware, what is stopping them from going to the limit? Money might be a factor but can be circumvented eg. contracts with companies that pay in augments and things like that. For me personally it was always the cyberpsychosis looming, so besides a rule stating "Because" what would the in game reason be?
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