After a brief run-through of the contents, the Introduction explains that modifications to the very person are part and parcel of many future and especially cyberpunk genres. Sometimes they are background, sometimes they occupy centre stage. And at some point, your players are going to want augmentation, or will interact with those who already have it.
But there's more to being able to do extraordinary feats due to modification. Do you want to question the essential 'humanity' of those who have been augmented - are they still humans? What's the effect of such technology on the natural processes of evolution? How is technology used in society, and how are those who have accepted it into their very bodies used and treated? A series of quick questions and ideas to start you thinking a bit more deeply about the ramifications of allowing characters - and NPCs - access to this technology.
While this kind of technology mostly will be used in a future/cyberpunk setting, a couple of ideas are presented for those who'd like a few augmented humans running around in a contemporary setting. Perhaps they are the result of secret government experimentation. Or they are aliens, or were modified by them. Or they may even be time travellers, popping back from an era where such modifications are commonplace.
Next comes the 'Posthuman Template Class' - an ingenious device to allow as much customization as possible. The idea is that rather than apply a straigh template to a character and so change his level, or create a core, prestige or advanced class and so make it a career choice that stops you advancing in other areas, the two are combined. You can apply the template at an appropriate level depending on where you are before accepting augmentation by inserting a level of this class. It also allows, should you so wish, for the avoidance of some of the usual negative effects that most systems of cybernetic or biotech enhancement impose, such as Cyberpunk's loss of humanity as you cyber up. After all, in a society where this technology is mature, people will be better adjusted to the thought of technology in their bodies, and the technology itself will be refined enough to genuinely augment without hindrance. The cost is merely the experience used to take the necessary level of the Posthuman class.
However, not everyone uses cyberware to improve themselves. Perhaps biotechnology or nanotechnology are used instead - or as well, in parallel development. And there may be those who have less good cyberware and so do suffer the more traditional problems associated with it, as well as those with the refinements of a Posthuman level. Biotech can involve genetic modification, either before birth or to a mature individual, as well as surgery and other implantation techniques. Nanotechnology infests the character with myriads of tiny machines that perform certain tasks, for example healing, on them from within.
When a character takes a Posthuman level, he gains a number of 'enhancement points' to spend on a wide range of augmentations from all 3 types of technology... and there are plenty listed here to play with. For the unlucky, there is also information on what can go wrong with it, and how to fix it... and what problems and side effects you can suffer even when everything is working as intended.
Finally, a few sample characters are provided. Use them as inspiration, or as NPCs - friends or foes - as you please.
The strength of this product is in the way it presents a whole range of options, and so allows the GM to tailor the overall concept of his game to create the desired effect - gritty cyberpunk where everything comes with a price or a transhuman utopia where enhancement is standard and natural. Well worth a look if you wish human augmentation to be possible in your game.
Return to Postmodern: The Definitive D20 Guide to Human Augmentation page.
Reviewed: 1 January 2006