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Meat Is Bad
Putting the "cyber" in "cyberpunk"?

In the Ideas thread about cybernetic redesign modules, Mirage mentioned that "everyone having chrome and full conversion cyborgs is not part of Sindome's theme. While we don't encourage it, it's also not disallowed to the extent that we've enabled it. If you think the game encourages it ICly, you missed the satire and took the satire seriously."

Part of the reason why I am fascinated by cyberpunk is because of the transhuman aspect, the idea that there are people walking around who are more machine than man, in a world where corporations and capitalism have already stripped away most of the population's humanity. I'm pretty surprised to hear that the GMs actually don't want us to play into this part of the theme? I mean obviously in terms of economy, I understand that chrome can't be cheap. If that's what this is about, that makes sense. But wouldn't playing a fully-chromed, PDS-fueled character addicted to modifying themself to the point of total insanity be badass and cyberpunk AF?

I'm probably misunderstanding some part of what Mirage said though, or missing context, so apologies if that's the case.

I think it was meant that while those things are part of the theme of cyberpunk, it shouldn't be very commonplace, and it should invariably be a bad thing.
The anxiety over technology and especially human bionics was a fixture of early cyberpunk writers, but looking back on it now it seems almost quaint since there was basically nothing about the future those chummers weren't stressed out about.

Later cyberpunk and especially modern cyberpunk (or post-cyberpunk) fiction is often far more embracing of transhumanist themes, but it's mostly the early stuff that had the most influence on Cyberpunk 2020 with stuff like cyberpsychosis.

It's pretty easy to see how that human but less than human theme got less popular over time, especially when most of the angst proved to be largely misplaced and the actual dystopian future took on a different shape.

I always preferred positive transhumanism rather than technoskepticism but that is just me.

Also, as the conversation continued, it wasn't about the chrome itself being discouraged or not wanted, but about discouraging large or full body conversions being commonplace or socially acceptable.

You, as a person, wanting to replace the majority of your body with chrome instead of flesh, is not supposed to be seen as a good thing IC. When you are going to that level of getting rid of your flesh and bones and organs, becoming more machine, it is not a benefit. You are a giant walking PDS warning, and not only that, you are likely closer to a killer robot than your are anything anyone would see as human.

Transhumanism = good. Transhumanism on overdrive = Bad.

Personally I think it makes more sense, if necessary, to view totally synthetic persons as beyond the scope of technology in the setting, or at least at the extreme bleeding edge of it, rather than enforcing a social judgement on human augmentation.
Cyberpunk in sindome isn't about how technology is great and how chrome has made everything wonderful.

It's about body horror and how technology is invasive and has barged its way horribly into everything, including our bodies.

You're looking for solarpunk.

Dawnshot is right.

Oh I agree it's a fixture of the genre, especially early on. Vietnam was a major backdrop for the early cyberpunk authors, and served both as media phenomenon of a "new" violent world (of course it had always been this way, but now it was televised in American homes), and as an uncomfortable reminder of those realities in the form of returning wounded veterans.

Notably those authors were often distinguished by not being veterans, or even nominally draft dodgers in Gibon's case, and the SF community in general tended towards anti-establishment leanings (Heinlein being a notable exception), and this outsider view can be seen in their work: In Neuromancer for instance, two of the most characters whose modifications are called to reader's attention, Armitage and Ratz, are explicitly disabled war veterans with whom Case cannot really relate.

I always found that older analogy a little clunky, since they tended to invent 'tech diseases' which really weren't much of a metaphor for anything -- later there'd be some retcon about how it was an analogy of toxic media exposure, but looking back I think that kind of analysis didn't start appearing until the film version of Johnny Mnemonic.

One version of this theme I really liked and thought was much more elegant, was in Upgrade which managed to pack a lot of pretty smart commentary in a low-budget action flick. In that the cybernetics actually delve into the ideas of ownership, free will, and questioning whether that live-service corporate quadriplegia treatment might actually be controlling you; something I think is very realistic.

Public service reminder that Saedor Krupp are not your friendly local cyberware shop (FLSS?)

These are the same people who made fucking corpse zombie armies, brain detonators and absolutely abomination NPC's possible.

I am glad that we are discussing this because in cyberpunk RPGs, cyberware is a key element. In those games it is usually "the more, the better" when it comes to chrome. Mechanics like PDS and cyberpsychosis are there for GMs to use if the players get too carried away. Even then, "carried away" is subjective given that one of the original CP 2020 "chrome book" expansions had full body replacements.

I like the balance that SD has struck. To me it feels like cyber and nanos come with a risk, as well as a reward. They are temporary and "easily" lost. A lot of them make the character an obvious target.

The recent discussion around PDS has me thinking that I've seen some of the cheesy handwaving RP that others have mentioned.

I like the idea that cyberware is something that a character gets because they feel like they have to. For example, they might have a flashboost and some other augs that make them lethal in a sword fight because of it. But the rest of the time they're twitchy, barely able to hold a drink, fiending for endo and making Tourettes like outbursts every 15 minutes until they get their fix.

The character made a conscious choice to sacrifice an otherwise good quality of life, in order to have the little bit of edge that they need to stay alive for another day.

I'm not suggesting that a single modification should swing the pendulum from stable human to neurotic mess. But the cons should outweighs the pros after more than a couple mods.

One possible angle to think about when considering the "is cyber technology bad" theme is the dynamics of the market.

In the real world, we're beginning to face real issues around ownership of technology and the right to repair. Increasingly, when we buy consumer electronics we don't have complete ownership of it. Certain rights are reserved to the manufacturer. Many AAA games are good examples of this, since the advent of digital purchasing. A game is only playable for as long as the servers you need to connect to to play it, after which it becomes useless; a change from the days you bought a game and it lasted forever. Similarly, the right to repair is increasingly being infringed upon by manufacturers deliberately designing things with non-replaceable parts (e.g. mobile phones no longer having a battery you can just pop out and change). Some manufacturers outright refuse to allow the device to be maintained by anyone but approved vendors.

It's easy to see how this could cause massive problems to someone who, say, has an artificial heart. Suddenly a vital part of their anatomy is now at the mercy of the manufacturer. A decision to end maintenance support for old models, or no longer offer security updates suddenly becomes a life or death situation.

If someone has switched out a good part of their anatomy for tech then they're putting a LOT of trust in the corps to not suddenly fuck them over with a decision to stop manufacturing a specific spare part. The corps, for their part, will actually be motivated to make sure devices have plenty of maintenance and upkeep requirements, all the better to keep a captive market when their life literally depends on it. Even with the fact that cloning exists, someones entire cybernetic investment could suddenly become worthless if they don't keep up with the latest updates.

This makes the issue much more practical and less metaphysical.