One of the people recruited by the Doctor in ‘Time Heist’ is Psi, an augmented human. The computer inside his head proves to be very useful in accessing the bank’s computers and downloading information.
Psi claims that he is a gamer and while this isn’t true he must have at least thought it was possible. Indeed it is only the prison code that tips the Doctor off to the lie. Within the time period and society that Psi comes from is possible that people have similar implants for legitimate purposes.
By the time of ‘The Long Game’ we know that similar implants are common, allowing access to computer systems. It could be that such augmentations, with humans and machine intermixing, will eventually lead to humanity becoming like the the Cybermen.
Cyborgs can allow you to have cyberpunk themed adventures. In a society that becomes more and more dependent on technology those with the ability to control it using their mind become more powerful.
In addition people like Psy can not only steal real and virtual currency they can obtain secrets. This information could be misused or provoke retaliation. After all, it is data thieves that provoked the Time Lords into nearly destroying the Earth.
Cyperpunk literature often depicts cybernetic hackers as underdog heroes. While the system tries to crush them they use their technology to either improve their station in life or expose evil corporations and governments.
For this reason PCs may find themselves allying with such augmented humans. They might be needed to breach the secure databases of evil organisations or the hackers might put valuable information in the PCs hands, leaving them with the choice of what they do with it.
It could be that just having the information isn’t enough. It could need to be decoded or transferred so it can be read. In the meantime the bad guys will be after the hacker, requiring the PCs to protect them.
Not all augmented humans would use their cybernetics for good. Some could be terrorists, causing infrastructures to collapse, planes to fall from the skies and power stations to go into meltdown. They could demand a ransom or just steal money from the government. The PCs would need to hunt down and stop the hacker before any more people are hurt.
This type of adventure can take place any time from the 21st century onwards, meaning that it could be something that UNIT and Torchwood have to deal with. Both have classified information that a hacker might want to get their hands on and possibly leak.
Cyberpunk plots might also explore the thin line between humanity and technology. What does an augmented human give up to have a mainframe installed in his head. Are the thoughts in his head his own or the computers?
The early days of the 21st century has demonstrated how quickly technology develops and it isn’t always backward compatible. What happens to the 1st generation of augmented humans who find out that they can’t replace their implants with the latest developments and can’t get technical support for their outdated hardware? If they can upgrade would the cybernetic companies exploit them, constantly releasing new upgrades to bleed their customers dry?
The existence of a virtual world, accessible to those with cybernetic interfaces, could blur the lines of reality. If they can see, taste and hear everything within a computer generated world as well as they can the real world and their actions have consequence in that virtual realm is it still a fantasy?
Psy demonstrated that it was possible to delete his own memories. Conceivably it might also be possible to implant them. Whole new personalities could be downloaded. This would raise the question of who the augmented human actually is. How much is real and how much is artificially implanted or edited?
Linking the human mind to computers could make them vulnerable to viruses and malware. Bad software could turn an infected augmented human into a bloody thirsty monster, a drone or even cause brain death. The PCs could have to race against time to find a cure, especially if they’ve already been infected.
An augmented human PC will want to have high levels in the Technology skill, specializing in computers. The 1 point version of Cyborg trait covers obvious implants, like Psy displayed.
They might want to take the Psychic and Telepathy trait which only affects computers and digital minds. Clairvoyance might represent the PCs accessing remote surveillance footage while telekinesis could represent overriding the controls of any mechanical entity.
Augmented humans are most useful in the presence of computers. If they should find themselves prior to the late 20th century or on a primitive world their special traits might be useless. This can present them with a challenge, as they try to achieve their goals without access to their greatest abilities.
Once in a suitable time period and with access to machines they can interface with an augmented human can become very useful. Their ability to download data allows them to quickly learn about their surroundings and become familiar with the local area by accessing maps.
Security systems and advanced software is the only challenge they might face when attempting to assume control. This can give the other PCs something to do, as they protect the augmented human long enough for him to breach.
Once they have access an augmented human could unlock doors, gain access to vehicles, take control of weapons (if only to shut them down) and take control of robots or cyborgs. This could make infiltrating facilities or carrying out rescue missions much easier.
It might be possible for an augmented human to interface with a TARDIS. If the group lacks a Time Lord PC they could be a good way to still give them access to a time ship. If you don’t want to make it too easy for them this could require an additional piece of technology to be installed to allow the interface and it might take a toll on the PCs’ mind.