Saturday, 4 December 2010

Transhuman Fantasy Part II

So, more thoughts before I put pen to paper:

  • Races - well, do I want to include the usual mileu of fantasy races, or create a few of my own? For now, I might use the standard races as placeholders, representing outlooks on Transhumanism and "templates" for ability scores etc. So, "Dwarves" shun the fancy modifications for those of a more practical nature, with a few pretty much becoming walking mining machines, becoming "More Dwarf Than Dwarf", "Elves" see the body as a canvas, and go for outlandish cosmetic alterations to enhance their uniqueness, "Savage Races" only really go in for those which enhance their combat abilities, or maybe provide a link to their heathen gods, "Humans" are a mixed bag. There will probably be some races which are altogether not comfortable with any sort of modification, yet remain a player in the world due to influence/resources. On the other end of the spectrum, you have something like Eberron's Warforged - things which are not human, and so can modify themselves pretty freely (or use modifications to become more human).
  • Humanity Is Not The Same As Human - "humanity" is a measure of morality, "alignment", etc., while Human is a race. While I wouldn't hold "Elves" and "Dwarves" to the exact same standards as a human, due to racial, cultural and geographical differences, basic morality remains the same.
  • Starting Modifications - I imagine that almost everyone with an adventuring bent will have some kind of mods to help alonmg the way, even at low levels - perhaps give 3 "mod points" to use (powerful races get less) at character creation to decide on what mods to have? Cosmetics are 0, utility are 1 or 2, heavy utility are 2 or 3, combat are 3?
  • Transhumanism Is Not Evil - might sound weird, but in "average" speculative fiction, transhumanist actions are frequently frowned upon - bad guys upgrade themselves with cyborg parts, dangerous magic, etc. - how often does a good guy decide to become a giant snake to fight his enemies? Bad guys do that shit all the time. This is due to an intrinsic loss of humanity - the less human you become, the harder it is to identify with the character, thus sliding them further into the "Evil" category. Becoming "inhuman" is a risk, but I see these definitions becoming... hazy over time. Of course, transfering your mind into a massive dragon-shaped war construct is still pretty bad news on the old Moustache-Twirl-O-Meter.
  • Humanity Loss - should I have a system where the more mods you gain, the less Human you become? Something akin to Cyberpunk 2020's "cyberpsychosis" or Shadowrun's Essence loss? How do these affect the aforementioned Warforged, who were never human to start with?
Maybe more to come, but I want those questions out there before I start.


    1. This reminds me of Shadowrun, which I know you're familiar with.

      I have gone the way of making my own races, rather than alter the existing ones. My take on races: the further you deviate from the original template, the less the thing identifies with the name.

      Depending on the system you are running in, just make Mods your Feats, or nonweapon proficiencies. That's how I would approach it, at least.

      I enjoyed the essence factor of Shadowrun when I played it, though I'm not sure how much I agree with it. For example, I have a few individuals in the family who have amputate limbs, but they're no less human, no less of a soul because of it. Anything that affects the mind or requires the mind to function it perhaps lowers the respective Stat for saving throws or something.

      If I 'jack in' a sentient armor, maybe the cost I pay is a penalty to saving throws against mental magics.

      I like where you're going with this. I have an idea for a skill in my system called Technics, where the player can jack in to techboxes, which are essentially programmer code that details behavior of a machine. So a golem, for example, could be 'hacked' by a player, if they could surpass the 'firewalls' built into the techbox.

      Fusing technology with fantasy is just a lot of fun.

    2. Ugh, I type like a guerrilla. Apologies!

    3. I know what you mean about amputees and Essence Loss, but I'd argue that it's the willing removal and replacement of limbs with prosthetics far greater than the originals which causes essence loss?

      But then, I suppose you could get free gear by saying your character was in a car crash :S

      So maybe not.

      But yeah, this is more about fusing a sci-fi idea with a fantasy setting. I love mixing the two, but I don't know about adding proper sci-fi elements to the setting. Just fantasy, with a sci-fi brain.