Augmentation refers to all types of technological improvements of the metahuman body, both at the genetic and cellular level, as biotechnological tissue grafts and in the form of mechanical and electronic implants.
- 1 History
- 2 Definition
- 3 Everyday Augmentation
- 4 Augmentation culture
- 5 Psychological effects of augmentation
- 6 Types of augmentation
- 7 References
History[edit | edit source]
The idea of body modification is probably as old as metahumanity itself. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, metahumans have been proven to have modified their bodies, albeit at a very simple level - cutting their hair, adding tattoos and decorative scars. The oldest known prostheses are over four thousand years old. Earrings, piercings, scarrings, face painting, shaving - metahumanity appears to have an urgent need to improve their bodies to match their expectations. 
In the Sixth World, metahimanity has opportunities that their ancestors thousands of years ago could never have dreamed of. Metahumans can improve and change their bodies with Technology, Genetic engineering, vat-grown organic implants, Nanites and a variety of cosmetic modifications, to the point where it is not merely more than metahuman, but becomes something else entirely At its most extreme, someone's brain can be scooped out of their body and transplanted into a mechanical body to become a Cyborg. Not that these possibilities are good ideas. But they are possible, and they are being done.
Definition[edit | edit source]
The boundaries between augmentation and prostheses or technical aids are very blurred and subject to ongoing discussion , especially since in many areas - such as improved vision, replacement limbs and other systems - there are equivalent prosthetic and augmenting solutions.
Body modification approach[edit | edit source]
According to this definition, every physical manipulation of the metahuman body is an augmentation. Of course, this is a very far-reaching definition that covers not only implants, genetic engineering and all the other possibilities of Sixth World, but also every kind of body jewelry, many medical procedures and implants , and would technically even include include shaving, make-up, haircuts, clothes and nail polish. Taken to this extreme, any form of civilization would be an augmentation. While this approach offers a good definition, it is very broad.
Augmentation approach[edit | edit source]
Another definition classifies all kinds of implants that augment the abilities of the implant wearer, i.e. make them more resistant, faster or more intelligent, as Augmentations. Here too, however, the question arises as to whether this also applies to a medical prosthesis - a prosthetic leg does allow an amputee considerably more mobility than he would have without the prosthesis, but is still short of a biological leg. There's also the issue of modern tactical googles that keep up with the modularity and performance of Cybereyes. Subcutaneous contraceptive implants also fall into this gray area, for example.    
CNS approach[edit | edit source]
This approach considers all implants an augmentation that directly or indirectly interact with the central nervous system. Here, DNI capability makes the difference. According to this definition, however, some implants, such as composite bones, which are commonly referred to as an augmentation but are not connected to the central nervous system, would not belong in this category 
Both the augmentation and the CNS approach classic medical implants such as pacemakers, leg prostheses, bone screws or plates that are used after operations at least partially as augmentations. The boundaries are fluid and very controversial, and a reasonable metric is difficult to define.
Essence Integrity Approach[edit | edit source]
There is another definition of what makes an augmentation, one is based on the aura or the influence of the implant on the essence of the wearer. According to this definition, an augmentation begins where the body is changed so far from its holistic blueprint that the aura bears visible traces of it . Augmentation would therefore be a physical modification of the metahuman body that has enough impact to upset its holistic balance. Even if this may restrict the scope of the term too much, the aura damage detection is at least based on an observable metric beyond arbitrary definitions. 
This has become the most used definition, ever since claims that Bioware does not affect essence were resoundingly refuted. According to new studies, there are even signs that cloned body parts, which were actually considered safe and long considered the way for Awakened to heal serious injuries, can have a negative effect on the essence equilibrium.
Everyday Augmentation[edit | edit source]
A 2071 Evo study showed that more than half of the Sixth World's developed countries' populations possess some form of augmentation. The same study found that self-optimization is an unbroken trend, not just in transhuman subculture and among those who rely on augmentation for professional reasons, but in these societies's mainstream. Augmentation, and the industry that supports it, is among the great societal forces in Sixth World and those who live in it.
The acceleration of life and medical-technological development has been influencing life on all levels to a great extent for two decades, and its influence only increases with every radical innovation. According to the same study, the acceptance of augmentations - above all Bioware and Geneware, but to a lesser extent also of Cyberware - is increasing at all levels of society.
Like the digital disruption of the world at the beginning of the 21st century, augmentation has also become part of the everyday life of metahumans. Seeing someone with Cyberware, Bioware or other augmentations nowadays rarely attracts attention.
And in a world where there are Changelings Metavariants, Magicians, Dragons and all kinds of other beings that are much more fantastic than the mechanical arm of a veteran or the cybereyes of teenagers - augmentations seem almost too mundane.
Economic effects[edit | edit source]
Augmentation has become the new normal on the job market, from military and security to office and media employees to construction workers.  In the 2070s, an augmentation usually is the first major acquisition a young adult makes when entering the labor market (even before vehicles and well before real estate). And the bulk of these body improvements - often cosmetic or minor functional augmentations - are installed by regular doctors and hospitals, but by the booming bodyshop and franchise clinic chains. 
Skill Streaming and Automation[edit | edit source]
With the advent of skillsoft streaming in the late 2060s, skills became fully interchangeable, and many workers were now mere carriers of their employers' proprietary skill software.  All it takes is a cheap set of skillwires and a contract with a skillsoft provider. 
Many corporations have switched to such a system in order to turn unskilled gig workers via augmentation into an extremely flexible workforce that can be "retrained" and repurposed with a simple download. Of course, the skillwires are mostly Omegaware, accidents happen (especially on construction and in factory jobs) when there is lag in the Matrix, and the transfer of data is delayed,  and the corporation not only does not pay for the medical costs that result, but instead often forces workers into debt bondage over the costs of cyberware, skillsoft streams, cyberware maintainance and interest for everything.  Nevertheless there are enough poor people and SINless who prefer to sign a contract like this to get by and provide for their families rather than watch them starve.
An arms race in your body[edit | edit source]
With augmentation, optimizing the means of production does not stop at machinery and equipment. Many low-level employees and workers face increasing automation, where drones simply get better than them. In order forestall replacement by drones, augmentation is becoming a nescessity for metahuman workers just to keep up.  And that doesn't just apply to workers. What started with simple expert systems in the 2050s has since expanded to such an extent that many standard medical procedures are fully automated  Modern autodocs come with expert systems and autosofts that can handle practically any standard operation.
And that's not the end of it. Geneware can modify metahumans for work in hostile environments that were previously reserved for drones, in the deep sea as well as in orbit.  In security and military circles, there is another, constant arms race, as well as in sports. And even in the most intimate situations, competitive thinking and the pressure to perform at peak capacity mean many people look to augment the fragile biological nature.  Neither good looks nor good performance is left to chance these days. You can buy them. And that makes them more and more a basic requirement.
There are still debates about whether augmentation is really much of a blessing. But in real life in the Sixth World has long been an arms race - and one that those with better augmentations usually win. 
[edit | edit source]
Medical technology is not for free. The more effective, less intrusive, newer and more exotic it is, the more it costs. This deepens the division between rich and poor even more, of course, because augmentation has become a social arms race, and those who cannot afford it simply fall by the wayside. Sure, street docs and other medical services offered by the shadows help a little, but they don't compensate for the disadvantages the SINless face.
Social Effects[edit | edit source]
"Be what you are!" go Universal Omnitech's popular slogans. And it's true - the power to reshape the body as desired is something that Sixth World residents of every previous generation would envy.
Plastic people[edit | edit source]
Having control over the shape of your own body is a good thing. Who could blame trans people if they want to adopt the gender that their brains want? And nobody is really satisfied with nature's handouts, even if you ignore things like injury and age. Why should you let an absence of gills prevent you from your dream of living under the sea? 
But there are also significant downsides. The competition for good looks in particular has very visible consequences. cosmetic implants, biomods and other forms of cosmetic surgery are so commonplace that something as simple as their own face, this basic form of authenticity, has been lost for many metahumans. Everyone is artificial, nothing is authentic anymore, you can no longer trust red hair color, pointed ears or dream figures. If everyone can be beautiful for little money, beauty becomes the new mediocrity.
And it's not just that. Knowsofts, linguasofts and skillsoftss have made soft-typical behavioral quirks a fact of everyday life, the feeling that a person is only doing what algorithms dictate, acting more like a machine than an actual metahuman being. It can be irritating. And it is also true that there is nothing authentic or honest about these skills anymore. At least not in the traditional sense.
Augmented sex[edit | edit source]
Augmentations have started a new sexual revolution, especially for women. In addition to simple and reliable control over their period and various cheap, implantable and safe contraceptive methods (which are now also available for men with similar reliability), this means the final fulfillment of the promise that the pill did not really keep in 1960 . 
Especially trans people can safely and relatively easily reverse the mistakes that nature has made with them, thanks to a new method that uses hardly any transplants, but mainly the patient's own body tissue.  And, thanks to further transplants, those that choose a biologically female body can even carry out a natural pregnancy if you want to (and if not, a termination is quickly and easily available). Further, if you want to get in the mood, you can do this with over-the-counter medication (or less over-the-counter drugs).  And everyone else who wants to improve on what nature gave them can do that in every mall's body shop. 
Augmentation also makes sex between metatypes easier, which otherwise would often be between uncomfortable and painful to practically impossible. 30 years ago, a sexual relationship between a Troll and a Human, Elf, or a Dwarf would have been a huge challenge. Now, with medication and augmentations, there's an easily implanted solution that makes what the heart (or body) desires possible and pleasant for everyone involved.
Augmentation culture[edit | edit source]
In the Sixth World, augmentation is just a means to an end for most users, another tool to help them do better in their lives.  A way to keep up, cosmetic modification to be more attractive, business cyberware for the job, perhaps medical bioware so nature's errors and failures don't get in one's career's way. But for them this is only one aspect of their life, and one that they rarely want to really dive into. For some, however, augmentation is the goal, not the way. Not a tool, but a way of life.
They don't see their augmentations as aides and tools to deal with life'S troubles, but as part of a larger whole. A path of metahuman evolution and development.  A personal journey of self-awareness, a way to find out who you can and want to be. And they don't do it alone. In the networked world of the 2070s it goes without saying that those who look for salvation in augmentation can easily find like-minded people.  And technology such as augmentation always gives birth to subcultures that go off the deep end on them. Whether they are ardent fans of the concept, like the cyber fetish scene , philosophical augmentophiles like the Transhumanists, or haters like the Purists policlub, there are a number of factions to augmentation culture..
Transhumanists[edit | edit source]
Many augmented people strive for personal improvement, literally augmentation. Transhumanists go much further. Augmentation and related technologies are seen as the potential with which metahumanity is improved, renewed and will become a better, stronger species by technological means. Transhumanity will enjoy complet control over, and shape their own evolution and bodies. The movement started early - in the 2050s, there were already well-organized transhumanists, policlubs like Techno Republic  and GenTex. But they became a true mass phenomenon only in the 2060s. And that is mainly due to one megacorp: Evo.
Evo has made the transhumanist creed front and center of EVOculture. At Evo, everyone can wear their inner form to the outside without being stared at and considered a freak. Whether splicer, cyberware freak or genetically optimized Homo Superior - at Evo all that is seen as a way to bring metahumanity closer to the holy grail of transhuman technology, the technical singularity. And this, a perfect fusion of metahuman and machine , is the ultimate goal of EVOculture.
The Purists[edit | edit source]
This Policlub is phenomenon that appears in a different form from time to time, but unfolded into a force to bereckoned with only in the wake of CFD. The purists vehemently oppose most forms of augmentation. Apart from medically necessary implants needed to heal disease and mutilation, they see the process as sinful, as an abomination of science and the metahuman body. While they claim to be Christians, most Purists are mainly social Darwinists. They believe that augmentation produces and encourages disease and weakness and weakens the sacred process of natural selection and thus the gene pool of metahumanity.
Some purists are satisfied to preach their views on street corners, and to distribute (printed) pamphlets. But many are more aggressive and go for direct action. Just in 2077, this militant anti-augmentation group attacked over four hundred augmented people in North America. Their targets are not only metatypes, but also augmented Humans. This seems to contradict the theory that the group is a spin-off of Humanis or the Human Nation. And they have amassed significant followers and members in all Sprawls of North America.
Psychological effects of augmentation[edit | edit source]
Augmentation is a deep intervention in the metahuman body. This is not without dangers well beyond the obvious due to the necessary medical treatments. Augmentations have profound effects on the metahuman psyche. Modifying the body means changing yourself a lot. This has an impact on self-esteem and on how you are perceived by your environment.  This can be good - augmentation can boost self-confidence and enable a person to perform better, even just be better. But it can also cause massive psychological damage.
Right now, metahumanity is still in a phase of change and adaptation to many new and disruptive developments in the young Sixth World. Augmentation is so widespread that it is already seen as common, even mundane. But science and medicine is still only beginning to see and understand its profound effects.
Augentation dependency[edit | edit source]
Many people now rely on their augmentations so much, they are no longer able to master their everyday life without them. This does not mean cybernetic prostheses or senseware, but rather things like the inability to find one's way without a orientation system or total incompetence in practically everything without the input from skillsofts. These observations have a high overlap with the recurring discussion about AR and VR addiction.
Augmentation addiction[edit | edit source]
For some people, the dependence on implants goes much further. It is very possible to develop an addiction to the intoxicating power and new abilities that new Cyber- or Bioware augmentations bring.
Usually this concerns people who are already under stress, suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem and dissatisfaction with their natural body. Vulnerable people like this can slide off into an obsession, always having the latest biomods and always keeping up to date with what's new in cyberware. A normal Bodyshop implant is not enough. It has to be cool, as exotic as possible, and definitely promise cool and exotic abilities. This can lead to the dangerous need to strive for better and more exciting augmentations. There is significant overlap between augmentation addicts and the more indulgent parts of the cyber fetish scene.
Over time, an augmentation addict becomes increasingly dissatisfied with their augmentations, which can result in mood swings, obsession with ever newer and better upgrades, and sudden depressive bursts about their perceived inadequacy. The augmentation addict then needs a new "shot". Ultimately, such an addiction leads to the addict becoming more and more, and more and more obviously and repulsively, cybernetic, often with augmentations of declining quality, since progressive addiction is usually accompanied by a deteriorating life situation. Such tragic cases usually end up under an incompetent street doc's laser-scalpel, or can't pay their bills and go straight into Tamanous' spare parts storage.
Cyberpsychosis[edit | edit source]
The most drastic form of augmentation-related disorder is the Cybergenic Affective Disorder, commonly known as Cyberpsychosis . With increasing augmentation, a person often also loses more and more of their humanity, which is often reflected in progressively emotional coldness and detachment, as seen with heavily chromed street samurai and other massively cyberated people. This is the classic cyberpsychosis, a mental disorder caused by augmentation (any augmentation, therefore the name, although historically grown, is somewhat unfair). 
However, it bears mentioning that although cyberpsychosis gets a lot of press, this type of reaction to augmentation is actually fairly rare, and extreme cases are even rarer. Most cyberpsychotics are above all a danger to themselves.  More on this in the corresponding article.
Types of augmentation[edit | edit source]
There are as many different forms of augmentation as there are specialties in the life sciences. Rough categories are presented here.
Cyberware[edit | edit source]
Cyberware describes all kinds of mechanical and/or electromechanical implants, which are inserted into the body using invasive surgery. Usually cyberware is connected with the body by DNI. Cyberware has many sub-cathegories, from Headware  like a datajack to body-enhancing bodyware  up to completely new abilities, for example to control machines, drones and vehicles via DNI with a vehicle control rig  or a radar sensor  for a whole new sense. completely replacing parts of the body through electromechanical limbs or other "robot parts" is also possible . And finally there is a plethora of cosmetic cyberware.
Learn more about cyberware here.
Bioware[edit | edit source]
Bioware is often referred to as biological Cyberware.  that doesn't really do it justice, though. In fact, bioware augmentations are artificially created, novel organs that can take a variety of forms, and be surgically implanted in the body. Some bioware also replaces or enhances original organs and tissues. This was what early bioware did, for the most part. But bioware technology has left these relatively humble beginnings well behind. While it is still best at enhancing natural functions and organs, like cyberware, it can also be used to create entirely new organs .
Learn more about bioware here.
Nanoware[edit | edit source]
Nanotech is necessary to make Cyberware work. Without nanotechnology, there would be no functioning DNI. Nanites route electrical signals into the right nerve, nano circuits compute a translation, and this allows the street samurai to move at lightning speed, the decker to hack, the rigger to rig, and so on.  But nanotechnology can do much more more. In addition to its various other applications in augmentation technology, it can be an augment itself - as Nanoware. This usually refers to a nanite colony that migrates freely in the bloodstream or body plasma of a wearer, and makes them more capable in some way, or supports cyberware like a vehicle control rig in its function.. These colonies are washed out or broken down over time - unless you implant a nanite breeder that reproduces them, of course..
CFD has made Nanoware (and its wearers) the target of much suspicion, mistrust, and anger. But the technology's potential is enormous. Too great to be stopped by a problem like CFD. Too big to fail .
Learn more about nanoware here.
Geneware[edit | edit source]
Designer babies. Genetically optimized uber metahumans. New metatypes.  Or a "cure" for Goblinization, a reversal of the process. That's what geneware is about, in public perception, thanks to lurid Trideos and some scandals. But it can do more and other things, and is much better at that. Genware can push the boundaries that the genome has imposed on metahumans. It can augment as well as cyberware, bioware and nanoware can - and it is inheritable. These augmentations are passed on to children. An entirely new level of inherited privilege.
Learn more about geneware here.
Chemware[edit | edit source]
One field whose affiliation with augmentations is highly controversial is so-called chemware. Ultimately, this means, above all, drugs that have a performance-enhancing effect of some kind, although there are also some types of geneware augmentations available as (usually) short-term genetic "cocktails". 
References[edit | edit source]
- Chrome Flesh p. 64
- Augmentation p. 17
- Augmentation p. 148
- Chrome Flesh p. 86
- Man & Machine: Cyberware p. 86 Cite error: Invalid
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- Shadowrun Fifth Edition Core Rulebook p. 453
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- Chrome Flesh p. 94
- Man & Machine: Cyberware p. 10
- Augmentation p. 20
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- Augmentation p. 11
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