Cyberware is any cybernetic technology permanently grafted to the human body, especially technology that interfaces with the human nervous system. All Cyberware is artificial. Biological enhancements are considered a separate category, collectively referred to as Bioware. Cyberware generally refers to technology that interacts with (or acts in place of) the human nervous system. People with artificial hip joints or pacemakers are not generally considered cyborgs, even though part of their body is artificial.
Cyberware is commonplace in the cyberpunk world. It is a post-human society, where your meat body is little more than a tool to enhance for functionality or appearance. Cyberfashion (sometimes referred to as Fashionware) is its own thing in the cyberpunk world; enhancing your own body for no other reason than looks. Beside status, cybernetics are most often desired for practical applications. For most people, the main concern with cybernetics is simply being able to afford it.
While cybernetics are still expensive, they are affordable by most of the middle class to some degree, and even by the poor in some situations. The working class, especially professionals, often have two or three implants of some kind. Cyberoptics are useful for recording meetings. Cyberaudio with boosted sensitivity could be useful for eavesdropping on gossips in the executive lounge. While the world of Cyberpunk is a much more violent society, there are plenty of non-violent everyday uses for Cybernetics that make them desirable to almost everyone. Installing cybertechnology is generally considered a major purchase (like buying a laptop or a TV or a car), but is within the means of most people.
But that is not the only concern. Cyberpsychosis is a major problem. The more technological load on the body, the more likely it is to lose touch with your humanity and go crazy.
Cybertechnology can be acquired almost anywhere.
Some installations are trivial, and can be done with a walk-in visit. There are many chain stores that can perform these (Bodyshoppe, Fashion/Fusion, Parts'N'Programs, etc.). These shops can also upgrade, repair, or tune existing cyberware. Other installations will require an actual hospital, and involve recovery time. As in the real world, the quality will depend on what you're willing to spend. Mall stores are considered middle of the road. Specialist clinics can deliver much higher quality installations. And for the desperate or the criminal, there are Ripperdocs.
Ripperdocs are underground medtechs that can perform installations cheaply, but with a serious cost in quality and integrity. Ripperdocs do not follow the medical codes and procedures of the Mall stores or Clinics or hospitals. And this can lead to complications or additional pain (or both). Ripperdocs are also used by the underworld for installing cyberware that is otherwise illegal.
Cyberware installation involves the use of nanotech to establish an interface between the module and the nervous system in the body. There is no limit to how much of the body can be modified. Full Body Conversions involve replacing everything except the brain. It is difficult (some would say impossible) to avoid cyberpsychosis in such a situation however, so full body conversions are rare.
Examples of Cyberware
A list of some typical types of cyberware
Cyberlimbs: These have all of the same functionality of normal limbs. They are able to sense pressure and temperature. By default, they will still be obviously artificial (though there are options to make them look natural... a'la the Bionic Man). Because cyberware is something of a status symbol, people will often dress it up to make it stand out more. Chroming is a popular option. American/European/Asian cyberlimbs are generally no bulkier than their natural counterparts. They can be fitted with a number of options, including weapons. All cyberlimbs are much stronger and much more damage resistant than their natural counterparts. Even more so than Bioware-enhanced limbs. More information can be found on the Cyberlimbs page.
Cyberoptics: A standard cyberoptic will have all of the resolution, color sensitivity, and frame rate of an organic eye. Cyberoptics often look borg-like, with external lenses and other hardware. But they do not have to... they can be made to look exactly like real human eyeballs. As with all technology though, packing it into a smaller area increases the cost as well. Standard Cyberoptics can include real time instagram-like filters (like seeing the world in black and white, for example). In addition to this, they can be upgraded with many options. Including but not limited to:
- Telescopic vision
- IR/UV (in theory you could make them sense any wavelength in the EM spectrum, but IR/UV are the most common and the most useful) - Thermographs are the most popular option
- Lowlight (unlike the above options, this one uses normal visible light)
- Video recording (though it will not record audio unless you also have cyberaudio installed)
- HUD overlays (want a stock marquee in your field of view 24/7?)
- Anti-dazzle (to avoid being blinded)
- Targeting scopes (think Robocop)
- Micro-optics (like a microscope in your eyeball)
- Weapons or tools (Dart guns, surgical lasers, ect)
- Fashion options (changing color, making them glow, ect). They can even include weapons or tools.
Cyberaudio: Standard cyberaudio will replicate perfect hearing in the human range. In addition to this, it can be fitted with enhancements, such as:
- Enhanced sensitivity (ultrasonic, infrasonic, or just slightly above or below human range... it will not allow you to detect any EM emissions like radar, but it might allow for the detection of sonar)
- Audio Recording (which can sync with visual recording in cyberoptics)
- Lie detectors (Voice stress analyzer)
- Radio or Phone links (with options for encryption as well) - Wide band radio scanners and tight beam communication also available as additional options
- Bug detector (specifically designed to expose bugs nearby)
- Level damper (the cyberaudio equivalent of Anti-dazzle)
Cybermodems/Plugs: Sometimes called Cyberdecks, a cybermodem is used for connecting to the net. Cybermodems are required if you want to run the "real" Net, in three dimensions. Cybermodems allow for the use of Plugs, which are a type of implant that allows for a direct neural link to the Cybermodem. This allows the user to experience a fully immersive 3D world. Because it is so much more intuitive, the user can accomplish things much faster. All cybermodems also come with options for Trodes (electrodes). They do not require and surgery like plugs do, but have a much slower response time than plugs, so trodes are generally limited to tourists, not professionals. Cybermodems have connectors for several sets of these, so that you can bring other people with you on Netruns (though only the main user will be able to control movements and use programs... the others are just passengers). Trodes will also make users virtually immune to anti-personel programs (though some might still affect them, the effect is purely psychosomatic, and fades after a while). Finally, all Cybermodems will also allow for a conventional 2D/Vidboard interface. This can also be used to allow other observers to watch the Netrunner while they are in the Net. There are many varieties of Cyberdecks, all with different capabilities. They can be installed inside cybernetics, and some allow for wireless use, but these are very expensive (in the tens of thousands of eb or more... wireless is also a lot less reliable, subject to EM interference and jamming, which could sever the connection).
Voice Synthesizers: These replace the vocal cords. The standard unit will replicate a human voice (just one, though it would not need to be your original voice). Additional upgrades can allow a wider range of voices, the ability to evade cyberaudio lie detection, simulate other people's voices, or even simulate things like musical instruments.
Nasal implants: Standard nasal implants will replicate the human range of the sense of smell. For an additional cost this sensitivity can be boosted. You could also add filters for drugs and poison, or a chemical analyzer.
Gill Implant: Installed in the throat, these are artificial gills which will function as well in water as human lungs do on land. The effectiveness is reduced in polluted water, and damage is still possible if the pollution is toxic enough. Gill implants are only effective for around 4 hours.
Independent Air Supply: This allows the person to go without breathing for up to around a half hour, depending on the amount of activity. They are an artificial organ implanted inside the body.
Subdermal Armor: This is actual body armor implanted under your skin. While not immediately noticeable, people can still detect it with careful observation. This is a step above Skinweave, but not as durable as an actual cyberlimb.
Subdermal Pocket: A small storage space implanted inside a natural limb. Cyberlimbs can also have these as an option. Subdermal pockets are designed to go unnoticed, and are accessed with a pressure-sensitive seal. They are commonly used by couriers.
Radiation detector: This could be implanted in any part of the body, and has a range of around 30 feet. Most of these are very basic, similar to a Geiger counter (though the audio is internal to the person only).
Radar or Sonar implants: These are implants in the skull that allow for the use of personal radar or sonar. Radar uses light (radio waves) while sonar uses sound (pressure waves). The range is limited to 50 or 100 meters, depending on the technology.
Motion Detectors: These are not cyberoptic implants. They function by sensing vibrations. They can be mounted in the palm or heel. They will only give general information, like intensity and direction.
Contraceptive Implant: Yes, these are still a thing. And they are very reliable. Typically implanted under the arm pit, and are effective for years.
Adrenal Boosters: This is an artificial organ that can boost reflexes without the use of drugs. Usable about three times a day (it is not always on... it has to be triggered).
Sexual Implants: These exist. Use your imagination.
These are high tech exoskeletons, that resemble contoured body armor. Think Iron Man, but actually grafted to your body. These frames go past the limitations of conventional cyberlimbs, because the frame does not rely on the meat body to brace itself, allowing for truly superhuman feats (like lifting small cars or bending steel bars in your hands). They have some limitations: you cannot swim in them, and they will slow your reflexes. Also... you are going to be wearing body armor the rest of your life, all the time.
This involves grafting actual armor plates into your body. Unlike Subdermal Armor, this stuff is on the TOP of your skin. But it is as permanent as any other cyber implant. Body plating can be installed in sections, or over your entire body. It can also be incorporated into Linear frames and other Cyberware.
The armor is more complicated than just slapping steel plates onto your skin... it has many layers and is porous (your skin still exists underneath, as does your meat body). From the outside though, you will resemble a robot. Body plating does not need to look especially robotic or ugly though... it can be styled like anything else. Many body plated women resemble the sexy robot pictures popular in the 70s and 80s. A good example is the image to the right. It can be styled in almost any way, including minimalist designs (do you want a basic reflective ovoid sphere for a head?) or fearsome and intimidating creatures from fantasy (would you like to look like a metal manticore?). Your imagination is the only real limit.
People who have body plating are basically immune to the trivial damage that the rest of us worry about (cuts and scrapes and stuff). Body plating offers better damage resistance than even Subdermal Armor, and can be enhanced even further than that if desired.
FISK, C. Cyberpunk, Version 2.0, 1st ed. Berkeley CA: R.Talsorian Games, 1990