Cyberpsychosis is the effect of installing too much cyberware In the Cyberpunk 2020 role-playing game this is noted as Humanity Cost, or Humanity Index in the original rules. It is a system that limits the amount of cyberwear one can get, with the penalty of causing madness and a loss of emotional empathy. Too much would result in a character becoming an unplayable psychopath.


The cyberpsycho must constantly fight to keep from going over the edge and committing irrational, violent acts of murder and mayhem. Most of the time, he loses.

Then everybody loses.

Something happens when you start adding metal and plastic to people. They start to change. And it isn't pretty. In the 2000's, we call this cyberpsychosis; a mental disease in which the addition of cybernetics causes an 'already unstable personality to fragment. At first, the victim begins to relate more to machines than to humans. Soon, he starts to ignore people, parents, friends, lovers. Eating, sleeping all become less important. Finally, human interactions begin to irritate, culminating in a terrifying rage that consumes the victim entirely.

So, how does one get cyberpsychosis?

Characters in Cyberpunk have an Empathy stat (abbreviated to EMP). This stat is a measure of how well a character relates to other people, and is the basis of such skills as leadership, lying, convincing and romantic relationships. Every major cybernetic enhancement has a corresponding Humanity Cost, which is added together to get an overall Humanity Cost of all enhancements. Humanity Costs are rated from "Very Low" to "Very High", and correspond to the general effect this enhancement will have on the human psyche. In addition, each option added to an enhancement has an additional point value as well. Ten full points of Humanity Cost lowers one's Empathy stat by one. Character stats ranges form 2-10, with 5 being average.

As your Empathy lowers, it can start to cost you. With an Empathy of 3 the character is something of a "cold fish"; emotionless and cold. With an Empathy of 2, the character is chilly, forbidding, and distinctly unpleasant to others. With an Empathy of 1, the character is usually violent, sociopathic and vicious. He must constantly fight to keep from going over the edge and committing irrational, violent acts of murder and mayhem.

At an Empathy rating of 0 or less, the character is fully in the grip of cyberpsychosis. He is driven by a maddening hatred of other humans or living things. At this point, there is no turning back — the character is taken over by the Referee (game master), who plays it as a NPC (non-player character) with all the worst attributes of a murderous, mechanized psychopath, called a cyberpsycho. Not all cyberpsychos are the rampaging type. Many exhibit more subtle symptoms; compulsive lying, kleptomania, sadism, brutality, split personality and extremely violent mood swings.


There's one way to hang out over the Edge and still keep it wired, and that's therapy. The C-SWAT drags you in, screaming and tearing at the walls, and straps you down to a heavy metal psychatrist's couch. Probes deactivate your cybersystems one by one, while the shrink jacks your rabid psyche into the braindance. Then begins the long, arduous process of disassembling your brain and reconstructing it in a more socially acceptable form. One that doesn't get its kicks out of eating dead bodies, for example.

Cyberpsychologists (Psychoshrinks) use combinations of braindance simulation, drugs, hypnotics, psychosurgery and aversion therapy to reconstruct damaged personalities. Once all cybernetics are removed or deactivated, the character will recover two points of EMP for every week of therapy attended.

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