Posthuman Cyberware: Blurring the Boundaries of Mind, Body, and Computer

Gladden, Matthew E. Posthuman Cyberware: Blurring the Boundaries of Mind, Body, and Computer. Volume 01 in the Posthuman Cyberware Sourcebook series. ISBN 978-1-944373-18-4. Indianapolis: Mnemoclave, 2017. 40 pages.

Summary. What realities lie behind the glimmering advertisements for designer cyberlimbs, combat neuroaugmentations, prosthetic eyes with squalor-suppression filters, and downloadable charisma?

Posthuman Cyberware: Blurring the Boundaries of Mind, Body, and Computer is a resource for designing campaigns set in near-future hard-SF worlds where sensory, cognitive, and motor neuroprostheses are being increasingly employed for human enhancement – and society is tilting ever further toward the dystopian.

You don’t know how far you can trust what you see or feel or remember, because it could all just be a byproduct of your neural implant or illusions fabricated by a neurohacker. Self-evolving computer viruses and stray nanorobotic swarms have taken up residence in the components of your robotic prosthetic arm. Battles over access to neurocybernetic enhancement, life-extension biotech, and immersive VR paradises are fragmenting humanity into new strata of haves and have-nots. You can never tell whether the full-body cyborgs that you see in the street belong to military units, megacorps, or bands of hackers-for-hire… or maybe all three at once.

Such near-future cyberdystopias provide the perfect setting for a hard-SF campaign. But how much reality lies beneath their surface? Could a human mind really learn how to operate a full cyborg body that has wheels or wings or dozens of robotic tentacles, or would it be too ‘alien’? If relatively small changes in brain temperature can cause behavioral impacts (or even brain damage), is it advisable to implant a heat-spewing miniaturized supercomputer in someone’s cranium? A neural jack that lets you instantly download new skills sounds great, but could such a thing actually work? And which of your cognitive functions could a hacker take control of by compromising such a device?

If you’ve ever thought about any of these questions when designing or running an adventure, then Mnemoclave’s Posthuman Cyberware Sourcebook series is meant for you. It’s designed especially for GMs who want to give their campaigns a grittier edge and loads of surprises that’ll keep their players on their toes – and for serious gamers who want to map out the potential and limitations of their characters’ cyberware from a new perspective.

This first volume in the series offers an introduction to the use of neuroprostheses for sensory, cognitive, and motor enhancement and explores distinctions between posthuman and transhuman cyberware. It’s not simply a tale of artificial eyes with telescopic night vision or combat-grade cyberlimbs but also a blueprint for the development of neuroprosthetically enhanced imagination, emotions, and conscience and the creation of human-synthetic hive minds. The volume considers neuroprosthetic devices’ human hosts in their three roles as sapient minds, embodied organisms, and social and economic actors to explain how cyberware can be employed either as tools for personal empowerment and liberation or mechanisms of enslavement and zombification.

The book serves as a resource for designing campaigns or one-off adventures set in worlds with a cyberpunk, postcyberpunk, or biopunk milieu in which posthumanizing cyberware exists and societies are tilting toward the dystopian. The text includes dozens of special inserts with plot hooks, character traits, equipment descriptions, and ideas regarding setting and atmosphere that help you incorporate the material directly into your game, regardless of which rule system you’re running.