Prosthetics are replacement limbs and organs designed to be attached to the body permanently after losing the original, organic ones. As of the 24th century, prosthetics have become widespread throughout human space. There are many reasons someone might get a prosthetic: traumatic injury, disease, congenital disorder, and dozens of other causes can all leave a person in sudden need of a new limb – or, in the most extreme cases, in need of a new body altogether.
This section is dedicated to the lore behind prosthetics. For details on repairing prosthetics, see Guide to Robotics.
Full Body Prosthetics
Sometimes, a prosthetic limb is not enough: the body has been so catastrophically damaged that only the brain can be salvaged. Thanks to 24th century medicine, such patients can still be saved through the use of a Full Body Prosthetic (FBP). An FBP is, as the name implies, the total replacement of the human body bar the brain, which is encased in a Man Machine Interface (MMI). An FBP functions as a total life support device, preserving the brain after the death of the body – though not indefinitely.
For those able to afford the chassis and survive the mental pairing process, an FBP can offer a second chance for those unfortunate enough to have their body broken beyond repair. The process of installing and acclimating to an FBP is a strenuous one, however – re-learning to walk, talk, and generally function at all can take months or years of physical therapy. Many new FBP users also experience mental distress caused by their inability to breathe and blink. This transitional period is often extremely taxing, both physically and mentally – in some cases, new FBP users are unable to endure the experience.
Full body prosthetics are still an emerging technology – they lack the ability to offer a full range of sensation and motion that the human body is capable of. For exceptionally low-end models, this is comparable to experiencing the world through a computer terminal. An FBP user may know that they are feeling a stuffed animal, or hearing someone speak, but those sensations are not actually experienced, only known. Higher-end FBPs have all human sensations, but most are dulled. Some users have compared the feeling to touching something while wearing thick gloves, or being able to recognize certain flavors, but not able to savor them.
As of the present date, no FBP lifespan has ever passed 15 years. Some FBP users choose to forgo their life support devices voluntarily, either because they are ready to pass on or because their sensory deprivation has reached unbearable levels. For the rest, the lack of a natural hormone dispersal system and the eventual decay of portions of the brain will eventually make continued use untenable. As such, FBPs are mostly seen as a way to get last wishes, even if plenty of citizens use them simply to extend their life as long as they can past their natural death.
|Low-Quality FBPs||Mid-Quality FBPs||High-Quality FBPs|
Many corporations sell prosthetics – ranging from NanoTrasen's cheap plastic contraptions to the technological wonders sold by Bishop and Vey-Med, these products vary wildly in term of cost, functionality, and purpose. The best of these can mimic the natural abilities and even the appearance of a human limb – such prosthetics are exorbitantly expensive, however, leaving those without the financial means forced to contend with cheaper, lower quality options.
The bottom of the barrel, unbranded prosthetics are exactly that: unbranded, jury-rigged prosthetics made at bare minimum cost. These are metal and plastic parts with exposed wiring and hydraulics, and tend to be very low-quality, to the point that they may even have trouble lifting more than a few pounds. Unbranded prosthetics are usually only used under dire circumstances, since no one in their right mind would willingly use them for long if they had any other choice.
The worst of the brand name prosthetics, NanoTrasen prosthetics are what you’re going to see getting given to folks who lose a limb on the ship if they don’t object, and are effectively clunky pieces of plastic with motors attached. These are only slightly better than unbranded prosthetics in terms of functionality – NT prosthetics are sometimes able to match normal human strength, but typically lack a lot of dexterity compared to the original limb. Likely the only brand of prosthetics covered by NT employee healthcare.
Stylistically, Ward-Takahashi brand prosthetics have a certain aesthetic to them that some people enjoy, invoking science fiction movies such as iRobot. Functionally, the prosthetics replicate the general shape of human limbs, with just under the same dexterity, but visually they’re still clearly prosthetic, and are relatively affordable for people compared to the high-end models from Vey-Med or even Zeng-Hu. The average middle class family may choose this brand for their prosthetic needs, without worrying about expensive upkeep or replacement, at a minor loss of dexterity.
Zeng-Hu brand prosthetics are the first models you can expect dexterity on par with the original human limbs from, and are the cheapest model that at least come in flesh-tone colorations. That said, Zeng-Hu brand prosthetics – while functionally better and more realistic than any of the cheaper brands – still resemble puppets more than real limbs. In spite of this, many middle or upper class families prefer the Zeng-Hu models due to the resemblance they have to flesh-and-blood. Fully dressed in long sleeves and pants, a Zeng-Hu prosthetic can even pass for a human limb thanks to the detail and coloration. Often, these are referred to as the poor-man’s Vey-Meds.
In terms of limb replacement, Vey-Med prosthetics are the cream of the crop. Featuring a full synth-skin layer on the outside, and top-of-the-line internal cybernetics, a Vey-Med prosthetics is only one step down from a real organic limbs, and it shows. As a baseline, Vey-Med limbs look human and have very few tells compared to any other prosthetic – unless one is paying very close attention, an individual with a Vey-Med FBP will often pass as flesh-and-blood organic unless something is giving them away, such as external damage. Higher end prosthesis can also emulate certain features of the human body, such as realistic hair and even taste, though taste is a pale imitation of the original sense. That said, Vey-Med prosthetics are often outside the price range of the average family, with individual limbs alone costing an arm and a leg. A Vey-Med FBP can cost more than the average house, even before adding any additional features.
Bishop Industries prosthetics are targeted towards the high-end civilian market. Bishop prosthetics are considered on par with those produced by Zeng-Hu in terms of function and possess human level dexterity, but were never designed to recreate the human limb – instead, Bishop prosthetics seek to improve upon the human form, sporting a sleek, futuristic aesthetic. With a shining silver finish and blue crystal accents, Bishop prosthetics are primarily marketed towards the trans-humanist crowd, who seek to upgrade their own bodies beyond flesh and blood’s limitations.
Hephaestus Industries prosthetics also feature dexterity and responsiveness on par with Zeng-hu and superior brands, but are designed for military use and are favored by military and paramilitary organizations. Coming in standard cameo color patterns and featuring blockier, more durable casings than the other brands while maintaining the flexibility and dexterity needed for military service, Hephaestus industries prosthetics are more function over form.