ENTRY 077: Newskin
The path to immortality isn’t always a straight and narrow shot from flat to exhuman. For most transhumans there is no single way at all, but an organic grid of different streets representing every enhancement of body and mind—a landscape studded with a dozen dead ends, twisty turns, cul-de-sacs, and scenic highways where transhumans can stop for a while and enjoy the view before carrying on. Chemical washes, questionable genetic infusions, the purported fermented glandular extracts of Factors, unorthodox hydro-radiation therapies, xenocrystals, and many more questionable procedures all find their market as the bulk of transhumanity stumbles along, trying to find the right combination of things to transition from what they are to what they want to be. Some are earnest believers and scofflaw scientists; others are medical curiosities a long time dying with no hope for current technologies; more than a few are mercantile opportunists out to make a quick cred under a false name before their rep catches up to them.
One of the most popular and enduring diversionary procedures is newskinning—replacing the worn outer cellular layers of a biomorph, most commonly by inducing shedding and regeneration. Advocates for newskin cite its spiritual and psychological effects as much or more than the physical process, the idea that the character is transformed or born again, and many communities and individuals have their own particular ritualized aspects that they like to apply. Practically, newskinning can be accomplished many ways, but generally involves the introduction of a specialized fungal infection and the insertion of a new layer of genetically tailored skin cells beneath the current one. The fungus is designed to quietly and (mostly) painlessly kill the upper layers of skin and dry them out while the new skingraft takes hold—in a matter of hours or days, the subjects’ old outer skin with all of its scars and tags is peeling and cracking away, revealing a vibrant, untarnished newskin beneath.
From a strictly medical viewpoint, newskin is at best inefficient and at worst can be performed dangerously or incompetently, resulting in a biomorph with massive scarring or a permanent drug-resistant fungal infection that leaves their skin constantly peeling off and slowly regenerating. However, the process is fairly safe and moderately established at this point, so that such incidents are rare. Some psychologists recommend newskinning as a means to help overcome body dysmorphia or resleeving issues, highlighting the low medical risk and ritual rebirth connotations as helpful for fragile transhuman psyches to get used to living in their own skin.
- Newskinning is the latest fad among biomorphs in the PC’s habitat, led by the Superseth Regeneration Clinic. However, local admin Mater Jnes has heard that Superseth is not disposing of their clients’ shed skin properly and wants to know why, even if the PCs have to go undercover and get newskin to find out. The Regeneration Clinic for its part is measuring toxin levels in the shed skin as part of a hypercorporate espionage scheme to figure out a new industrial process, and is eager to keep a lid on their real intentions—even if the PCs need to take a walk out of an airlock without a suit.