Brain
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Basic Information

The brain is the control center of the nervous system. In humans, it makes sapience possible. In most vertebrates, the brain and the spinal column are an indivisible unit, collectively referred to as the Central Nervous System or CNS. Other species may have more that one brain serving as distributed processing centres in various areas of the body - whether these "brains" simply handle autonomic responses or whether they are significantly integrated into the organisms thought and perception processes is currently not well understood.

A brain that retains its sapience when placed in storage is generally referred to as a brain in a jar. Technically, it is a brain in a jar if it doesn't retain sapience as well, but without the characterisation aspects. If the brain is transplanted into a machine, it may be euphamistically termed a wetware processor. Conversely, various forms of wetware may be implanted into the brain to monitor, augment, control or otherwise modify it.

Conversely damage to the brain can have massive and unpredictable effects on the victim - sometimes depending on the part of the brain that is damaged. There is documentary evidence of people leading fairly normal lives with as much as half of their brain removed (and rumors of many reaching high political office), but equally relatively small lesions in key areas can leave the sufferer devoid of personality or physically, cognitively or emotionally disabled. For reference, interesting narrative areas of the brain include the frontal lobes (target of the infamous transorbital lobotomy) which control key aspects of the personality and the hindbrain (pretty much on top of the spine) which controls vital functions of the body and is relatively easily destroyed by the "tap on the back of the head" beloved of screenwriters.

Another great narrative device is the brain tumour - a cancerous or pre-cancerous growth inside the brain itself which can have practically any symptoms the plot requires from blinding headaches to psychic powers (or even no symptoms at all). Where these symptoms are positive in nature, it can lead to a "shooting star" type of character - and quite possible pose a roleplay dilemma ("do I start treatment that might well save my life or do I keep using my powers until this crisis is solved, by which time it may be inoperable?"). Hard to detect and treat a brain tumour can kill or incapacitate characters without warning if the author or GM requires.

See Also

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Game and Story Use

  • In many stories, people get mental-based powers after their brain is modified somehow. In others (likely more accurate ones), they loose part of their humanity or go insane.
  • For some reason, zombies in many tales of fiction hunger for brains, even shouting this out loud while they hunt for prey. Perhaps devouring brains makes them more intelligent in addition to serving as sustenance for them?
  • Eating of brains is a popular meme - usually in an attempt to gain knowledge possessed by the deceased - in real life, this doesn't work without magical assistance and is mostly a good way to gain parasites and prion poisoning. In fiction, this sort of behaviour is popular with doppelgaengers and similar things, as well as zombies and is an important part of realistic identity theft magics.
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