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Basic Information

Basically, Transhumanism is a movement and philosophy that states that humans can and should use all available technology - advanced medical anti-aging techniques, artificial implants, human genetic engineering, and a host of other technologies that mostly don't exist yet - to escape the current limits of the human body, resulting in vastly extended lifespans (possibly even immortality), increased health, superhuman intelligence, better sensory capabilities, and so forth. Anything stunting "human enhancement" is seen as unethical.

See Also


3. fiction: "The Man Who Was Used Up" (short story) by Edgar Allan Poe — Oh, and you thought Transhumanism was a new idea?
4. fiction: Ian M. Bank's Culture is (allowing for translation from the Marain1) extensively transhuman (although immortality and transitioning to a fully mechanical body are considered distasteful, changes of apparent species, race and gender are common and longevity is routine).
5. games: Transhuman Space Steve Jackson Games — The core book for a series of supplements set in near-future world in which society, and humans themselves, have been transformed by technology. Most of the books in the line are written for GURPS 3e, but conversions to 4e are also available. And as with most GURPS supplements, there is a wealth of material which can be ported over into other game systems.

Game and Story Uses


  • There are numerous stories of alchemists trying to become immortal, or at least extending their life spans.
  • Becoming some types of undead could be considered becoming transhuman, since undead are often immortal, or at least "undying".
    • Liches are probably the most blatant extreme of this, since this is a deliberate and very involved process done for the explicit purpose of making a wizard immortal.
    • Vampires are another good example - even if the transformation is not always voluntary, vampires do exceed human capabilities in many ways - they are stronger, frequently more charismatic, live forever and so forth.
      • Pity about the associated drawbacks, though.
  • Come to think about it, aren't all the advantages elves enjoy rather suspicious? Good looks, long lifespans (outright immortality in some cases), superior senses, high dexterity… it's as if some human wizard was unsatisfied with his lot and decided that he wanted to magically engineer his children into some sort of super-race.
    • The "forest environment" that elves live in is also rather suspicious. I mean, normally forests aren't known for supporting high population densities, but somehow elves never seem to have a problem with acquiring enough food. So what are the odds that they altered the plants and other creatures living in them to support higher food yields? Pretty high, I'd say…
      • For that matter, what about the Doctrine of Signatures resulting from some witch whose student had memory problems changing the plants in her garden so that they and anything grown from their seeds would have a label stuck to it and then giving said student said seeds?
  • Where biothaumaturgy exists, users can enhance themselves (or others) with grafts, transplants and re-shaping.
  • There is also the potential of (magical) cross-breeding with various species to enhance the powers of the offspring … or not, as it may turn out.


  • In a Steampunk-Era campaign, human augmentation is likely going to focus on mechanical prostheses, usually powered by clockwork. The 19th Century is, after all, the era which first saw serious efforts to create replacement parts for soldiers whose limbs had been lost in battle.
    • In true Victorian fashion, the artificial limbs must have gadgets built into them! A mini-cannon inside the cork leg; a spring-driven switchblade in the mechanical hand; a concealed snuffbox in the prosthetic arm.
  • But it's not all mainsprings and gears. This era also saw The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde", an attempt to use chemistry to augment the human personality, and many real-life artists and poets experimented with drugs to try to achieve higher levels of consciousness.
  • Then there's also magic. Just ask Dorian Grey.
  • And still alchemy (or possibly mad medicine), as in the case of Dr. Frankenstein.
  • Consider also the experiments of Dr Moreau…
  • This is also the era in which racial science and eugenics arise - and therefore have the potential to lead to some horrors of their own (possibly assisted by a poor understanding of eugenics).
  • The various miscegenations found in the works of Mr Lovecraft also arise at the end of this period.

Modern Day / Twenty Minutes Into the Future

  • Artificial limbs, hearing aids and other prostheses have been around for over a century. Just crank up their capability a little, and you have Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man!
  • The players themselves might be genetically or technologically-enhanced humans
  • This is also the era of advanced biotechnology, in which those with eugenic fantasies can finally bring them to life.
  • People with qualms about bioethics, but no qualms about blowing up laboratories they feel are Meddling in God's Domain could make good antagonists.
    • Or PCs - since blowing up someone else's research labs is a common goal for adventures, especially in a cyberpunk style campaign.
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