Some ideas on bionics slot system

Returning to the game after some time I couldn’t help but notice that the bionic slots system is now disabled by default. Looks like the drop rates were nerfed instead and 2nd-hand bionics were made more difficult to acquire (needs a dishwasher/washing kit + autoclave now), but I still think them OP, and slots effectively limited just how OP you could get. I couldn’t find the reason why the slots limit was removed, but I suspect the hard limit was a turn-off to a lot of players. I’ve got a fun idea tho on how we could make bionics more interesting without ultimately preventing the player from sticking a million CBMs inside his body:

Reinstate slots, but make it so if you go over a certain threshold, instead of saying “sorry no more CBMs for you” the game would warn you you’re about to trade your humanity for metal, and if you proceed add some… consequences. I’m thinking when you’re just over the threshold, you can no longer remove CBMs on account of too little of your real flesh left to fill the gap. Perhaps attempting CBM removal at this point would simply result in the permanent loss of the limb in question, much like when you remove the arm-cannon CBM. This would make bionics-heavy survivor think twice about adding more stuff, cuz if you fail the installation and end up with a leaky bionic (for example), you can’t just get the autodoc to pull it out anymore, not unless it pulls out the entire limb.

If you keep adding more CBMs to a body part, you could pass a second threshold where that part is more machine than flesh, and can no longer heal through standard means, requiring instead the electronic skill, a welder and a soldering iron (possibly causing immense pain). If the body part in question is the torso or the head, the player develops a “bionic energy dependency” where running out of bionic juice causes severe illness. Then after a 3rd threshold is reached, the player would be 100% dependent on his bionic energy, essentially becoming a full blown cyborg that straight up dies if it’s batteries run out.

NPCs would react strongly to post-threshold bionic survivors, perhaps going so far as to attack on sight because the player is mistaken for a plain old robot.

I think this or something similar would add significant depth to the bionics system and bring it closer in line to mutations in terms of gameplay. Currently, if you pump mutagen in you’ll get both good and bad, but with CBMs there’s little to no drawbacks after a successful installation, and failed ones can be undone.


That sound like a mutation but with extra steps.
And iirc that kind of idea had been floating around for some time, is the coding that is the problem i believe.
And there is the issue that if you are more machine than flesh, you need to add something for the mutation side, to check if you lose them all or if you cant get some of them (like if you already replaced you feet, you cant get feet mutation but still get other mutations)

Changing the way you heal is a possibility. We’ve also talked about the difficulties of dumping the waste heat that a bunch of CBMs would realistically produce, which would provide another soft limit on CBMs.

Slots were dropped in part because no one agrees as to what the balance point should even be. How many CBMs is “too many”? Until there is some kind of rough consensus on that question, balancing CBMs will be extremely difficult.


Thanks for the feedback and explanation. Any thoughts on the notion of becoming dependent on bionic energy?

I was also pretty proud of the “can’t remove CBMs without removing the whole limb” idea, as there is currently absolutely no reason for a player to have bad bionics short of starting as a broken cyborg, effectively making the consequences for failure some damage that will heal overnight and loss of anesthetic, which can be crafted.

I’m not sure I follow. Good point about checking for mutations on mechanical limbs tho. How is it currently handled for the Fusion Blaster Arm? Is it handled at all? o.O

I don’t know about about fusion blaster arn, but I know that telescopic eyes can’t be removed because the game states that doing so would leave the player blind due to the cmb having replaced essentially the entirety of your eyes.


I know it’s unlikely to ever be implemented, but I’m too much of a Shadowrun fan to not want cyberpsychosis to be a thing in-game. Some may say that most every survivor is pretty psychopathic already and it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but I think there is a damn big difference between “sure, another day of bashing zombie kids’ heads in” and “Wiiiiiiiillllllllllllllliiiieeeeeeeeee! Coooomeeee baaaaaaaaacck toooo uss Willlliiieeeeeeeeeeee!!!”

Cyber-psychosis is never being implemented in the game. It’s profoundly insulting and alienating to amputees to tell them that they will become inhuman monsters for using prosthetics.

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I don’t want to stir up hornet nests, but, that sort of logic could be just as readily applied to mutagenic substances and how they lead into a genetic trans-humanistic mindset, aka, furries, therianthropes, otherkin, etc, in light of how the player’s dreams change as they go along, implying that being anything but completely human changes your mentality in ways that would make people question whether or not you are human enough, mentally speaking, to be trusted or if you should even be treated as a person.

I do agree that cyber psychosis should never be a thing when successful installations are concerned or prosthesis that work like they should, BUT, a failed installation that involves the brain, like the memory banks, cerebral booster, etc, could lead to a psychotic change that would then be remedied by simply removing the cybernetic like one would any other faulty cbm. This would also tie into prototype cyborgs, because they are hostile until you fix them, presumably due to an implant messing with their mental functions.

Don’t get me wrong, messing with your biology can and will affect your mentality, I’m just saying that mental changes due to mechanical changes shouldn’t be completely disragarded.


Oh geez I thought this place was above pandering to the overblown PC crowd nobody will think cybernetic psychosis comes from replacing a leg with a prosthetic it comes from replacing most your body and parts of your brain or nervous system with electronics

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You misunderstand completely what cyber psychosis is, I think. Cybernetics in Shadowrun are far beyond just a prosthetic arm or a leg. These are people who have basically gotten addicted to replacing more and more of the meat in their body with artificial parts. A cyberleg is one thing, sure, but why not give yourself a whole new digestive system? Why not replace your brain with circuitry?

Besides, a cyberpsycho is far from an “inhuman monster”. You’re thinking of a cyberzombie, which is what I was admittedly referring to with the second example. Now, the difference between a cyberpsycho and a cyberzombie is that the cyberzombie is basically a dead person being kept artificially alive by their multitude of cybernetics, plus a neural stimulator designed solely to poke their brain and say “Hey, you don’t get to be dead yet”. The body and “soul” wants to die, but it can’t. It plays hell on the 'zombie’s mind, which is why they basically are walking time-bombs of murderous rage.

Now, this is all moot unless you are in a setting where a soul is an actual thing, of course.

In both Cyberpunk 2020 and the first few editions of Shadowrun, it was entirely possible to drive your Empathy (CP2020) or Essence (SR) into the ground by getting two cyberlegs, a cyberarm, and cybereyes, which is a reasonable set of prosthestics if you’re a badly wounded war vet.

I am very much not a member of the overblown PC crowd, and yet I still maintain that the implications of what you are suggesting are not where you want to go.

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The idea behind that was to provoke the debate on whether or not a person whose body is mostly machinery can still be called “human”. The mechanics behind Essence are silly and gamey, to be true, but that’s neither here nor there. Cyberpsychosis only really begins when a person is so auged up that they themselves no longer can really think of themselves as “human”. The vet with all four limbs replaced by cyber would have a ridiculously low Essence, but he would not necessarily be a cyberpsycho. He would be prone to it, that’s all.

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Well, now that you’ve said that a vet with multiple prosthetics wouldn’t necessarily be an inhuman monster, it’s just something he would need to be concerned about, you’ve definitely convinced me that cyberpsychosis as a balancing trait for CBMs is profoundly dehumanizing to real world amputees.

The key distinction here being that mutagen-based changes are ENTIRELY fictional, but prosthetic limb and organ replacement is a thing that occurs regularly IRL. Similarly reframing it as a change triggered by moving an entire human mind to a synthetic brain would also be entirely hypothetical and not reflect on any existing people.

Direct damage to the brain is very different from an accumulating condition that inevitably occurs whenever you replace biological material with mechanical parts. Part of this distinction is specifically that ShadowRun style “Essence loss” occurs by design no matter what augmentations you install because it was a balance mechanism instituted to set up a tension between humanity and non-humanity, not a nuanced take on the risks of surgical procedures.

Except it does so in a way that implies that existing people present in the real world are also not entirely human. If you don’t see how that’s problematic, I don’t know what I could say to clarify it further.

Have you ever seen the animated film Ghost in the Shell? or read the manga Battle Angel Alita?

Both of these explore the idea in their own way, both from the perspective of characters with almost entirely cybonetic bodies.

Now I’m neither for or against this “Cyberpsychosis”, I don’t have a background in Shadowrun so I don’t really know how far they take it but it’s been a common thing for humans to discuss stuff like “What is human?” etc for… well for about as long as we’ve been writing stuff down and the question of how cybonetic you can be and still be human almost as long as sci-fi has been a genre.

My point is, even if “Cyberpsychosis” isn’t a fit for Catacysm, something in a similar vein could be and it would be worth discussing.

And just for the record, you can see here where I fall on this whole meta discussion:

Those are both great nuanced takes on the question, and bear basically no resemblance to shadowrun cyberpsychosis.

No one is saying it’s not a question worth asking, but we shouldn’t be hamfisted about it.

Have you ever seen the animated film Ghost in the Shell? or read the manga Battle Angel Alita?

I read some of BAA in college, 20+ years ago, and parts of the GitS manga, as well as all of Appleseed. I’ve also read the entirety of the SJ Games Transhuman Space line, most of Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020 lines, and a lot of science fiction that inspired these games.

As Kevin notes, aside from CP2020 and Shadowrun, the relevant works explore the question of what does it mean to be human with much more subtlety than “to much metal makes you crazy.” Indeed, if you want to explore the issue, you can’t assume the answer that way.

I’m all for adding a process by which an avatar can augment themselves until they are are a brain in a jar in a robot body, or even the simulation of that brain running solely on silicon with no carbon left, and then players can argue as to whether the augmentee is still human or even the same person they were before becoming nearly or entirely a silicon entity. Those can be interesting discussions. I’m not for saying that if you put too much metal in your body, you’re a crazy person or a monster. Both because that cuts off the interesting discussions, and because it’s insulting to people who need to augment themselves for reasons beyond their control.

You keep bring that up, " it’s insulting to people who need to augment themselves for reasons beyond their control".
Firstly, were aren’t talking here about people doing it against their will (since this is being proposed as a limiting system, any of the of the bionic starts would, by definition, have to be within this limit). We are talking about a person that is looking at themselves and saying, “yes, maybe I’ll trade my hand in for a fusion blaster cannon… and my other hand in for a pneumatic claw that can squeeze someones head to paste. I don’t really want to eat anymore so lets get rid of that pesky digestive sytem and stomach… etc etc”. It’s quite different from someone forced into the situation by circumstance (and if anything, insulting to compare the two).

Secondly, it might be insulting to you but it’s still going to be a question people ask themselves as they augment more and more of their bodies.

Anyway, I guess my point is just because shadowrun has been hamfisted about it (I wouldn’t know, as I’ve mentioned I’ve never played it) doesn’t mean a better system with some similarity couldn’t work here. As @Ragno mentioned above, it could simply be a system that locks you out of certain mutations because you lack the prerequisite body parts or it could be one that cause greater mental distress as you trade in more and more of your natural body for augmetics.

Well, replacing both of your hands with guns or claws could really mess up your fine motor skill. However, if we are to come up with some downside for bionics, I don’t think it’s meaningful to talk about cyberpsycosis or making references to it since it is based on the idea that replacing natural human tissue with machinery is literally dehumanizing. There might be bionic related conditions that alter personality or behavior, but those are exceptions, not a general rule.

I suggest thinking more in line of what happens if your batteries run dry. If you replaced both your arms and digestive system, you are in a spot of trouble if they stop working.

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I never said I wanted it as a “balancing” trait. I don’t see how cyberpsychosis is “dehumanizing” anymore than disassociatve identity disorder is “dehumanizing”. It’s just something that can happen. Besides, as far as “too much metal turning people into a crazy person or a monster”, broken cyborgs already exist and can’t be cured like the prototype cyborgs can. They’re basically cyberzombies without benefit of magic and need to be killed or locked away. Are they problematic?

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