Technology has accomplished a lot of things and has brought many wonders to mankind. However, there is one thing that technology cannot do anything about yet. The human brain. Technology can study the brain, it can even add to the brain, but it can't replace it yet. It can't map the brain waves nor record the information from it. For a cyborg, the brain (and parts of the spinal column) is the only part of the body that can't be replaced, and thus, being meat, are the weakest link of the cyborgs body.
However, there is something that technology can achieve. It can remove the brain and keep it alive. Although it cannot put inside another human body yet.
So why would you want to lose you brain?
When the Donovan Treatment (named after the famed Doctor Donovan, one of GenTech's finest) was first started, there were many reasons why people signed up for the treatment. The rich and famous paid millions for the treatment so that instead of getting older and older (and the rejuvenation treatments can only be taken for so long), their brains could be stored and when technology catches up, reinserted into younger clones (and these days, most of these brains are still stored in a biological chamber awaiting that day). The military were quick on the uptake of the Donovan Treatment as well. Armoured vehicles were outfitted with brains, the theory being that the brain could be wired up to all aspects of the vehicle and it would have better reaction times than a standard crew. The result of this experiment was considered a success and many countries outfitted some armoured vehicles with volunteer human brains. It was only when computer technology became better, faster and cheaper, that the process was stopped. In trials, a computer brain beat the Donovan vehicles every time, and the vehicles were pulled out of service. Israel was the last country to continue using Donovan vehicles, and they stopped in 1993.
Another reason for losing your brain is so that you can get closer to being a cyborg by inserting your brain into an android body, and there are many advantages of having an armoured body. This option is mainly for those who wish to be a cyborg or those in the protection business. Having said that, the British Police Force did trial using Donovan Bobbies on the beat for a time, and while these have been withdrawn from service, they have remained in the UK public eye as the subject of a sitcom.
There is a side effect for almost everything, and having a brain removed from its body is no exception. The most obvious side effect is that technology cannot put a brain back into a human body yet, whether it's the original body of the brain or a donor. Secondly, there is no way to record the information from a brain. You cannot download your memories into a computer bank and then record it later back into another brain.
The third problem - and probably the main one for users - is that the brain needs freedom. It doesn't like being cooped up in a small artificial area and left to just think. After two or three years, a brain removed from its body starts to go mad. Obviously this time period varies from person to person depending on their strength of will, but it seems that there is no cure for this either. A brain just being stored will lose sanity much more quickly than a brain inserted into an android and doing things. Being spoken to, having some stimuli will help, but staying in a jar isn't healthy. Somehow this fact hasn't really gone public.
However, as stated, a brain that has been inserted into something else and is physically doing something stands a much better chance at staying sane. The thing is though, to remain sane the longest, the brain should be stored in a vessel that resembles the human body as much as possible. While it is possible to put brains into vehicles (which the army was doing successfully for a few years), the brain is geared up for two legs, two arms and a head. Having wheels for legs and a turret for a head isn't what the brain likes in the long term and it will eventually rebel against this, with the brain going mad.
Nowadays, the Donovan Treatment isn't used much, save for wishing to get closer to being a cyborg, and there are a couple of gangs living in the wastes populated solely by Donovan androids. However, there are still secret experiments within the military - the Mjolnir Mark II Android is actually a Mark I with a Donovan brain for example.
Mounting a brain in a vehicle or android is no easy manner, and it is a procedure that most black market doctors won't be able to perform, or have the equipment to perform. If you wish to undergo the procedure, you need to be rich, famous, be worth saving, or have connections. The surgery will take hours and cost millions. It is also non-reversible so make sure you're doing the right thing.
A brain can be connected to any vehicle or android. Aside from the surgery cost, the brain (with fluids and nutrients to keep it alive) will weigh 15. In game terms, a Donovan brain adds $90,000 to the vehicle or androids cost. For vehicles, this means that they can save 75 weight from the base weight of the vehicle as it no longer needs an actual meat driver. The brain will be hooked up to all the components and sensors of the vehicle as standard. The brain can be armoured with a Brain Shield (cost $10,000, weight 5).
A Donovan brain may not be combined with any cyberware, such as augmented reactions or dexterity. After all, where would you mount them?
The brain then needs time to adjust to its new surrounding and how to operate its new body, which can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on the mental strength of the brain and the complexity of the new body. An average is a month of training and adjustment for insertion into a combat vehicle.
Because a vehicle is now controlled by thought rather than by the physical actions of the driver, a trained brain has several advantages over a normal vehicle. A Donovan vehicle may perform two actions in each phase, which can mean that it can fire two weapons or manoeuvre and fire in a phase. If there are any simultaneous actions or matters where it comes down to the higher skill goes first, then the Donovan vehicle will go first automatically.
A brain in a vehicle may use all sensors and equipment in a vehicle, and will get all standard bonuses from them.
Aside from being able to react faster, a Donovan vehicle gains no actual skill bonuses from being in the vehicle. Instead, the brain has all the skills and knowledge that it had before it had the Donovan Treatment. If it couldn't drive or shoot before, then it won't be able to drive and shoot now. Skill plugs can help solve this problem though.
If a vehicle is hit in combat, then a brain can only be damage via a Driver Critical. In addition, because the brain is a much smaller target, if a Driver Critical is rolled, roll a die. An even result means that the brain was actually missed and no critical is actually scored. An odd result means that the brain was hit as normal. If the brain is armoured with a brain shield, then roll another die. On an even result, the shield soaks up the damage and the brain is safe. An odd result means that the brain gets damaged. Roll on the Brain Critical Hit Table below.
A brain mounted in an android, functions as if the android had an Independent brain. A Donovan Android will react before their human counterparts should a simultaneous action occur, but they will not function before another electronic brained android. Obviously a Donovan android cannot be hacked.
If an android is hit in combat, then the brain is damaged exactly like the android brain. The Brain Shield will protect in the same way as well. If the brain is damaged, then roll on the Brain Critical Hit Table below.
To use this table, simply roll a single die and cross reference the results. If using any of the optional pedestrian damage rules, do NOT add any modifiers to this table (such as weapon damage).
40 mph safety limit.
The brain may make no further actions this turn.
Slight Brain Damage:
40 mph safety limit.
The brain is at -1 to all skill results.
40 mph safety limit.
The casing around the brain is cracked, and the life giving fluid that the brain is encased in, starts to leak out. The brain has 1d6x1d6 turns to make it to safety or else will slowly die due to starvation. If additional Nutrient Leak results occur, each halves the time left for the brain to make it to safety.
The brain gains 1 psychosis point.
20 mph safety limit.
The brain has been hit and receives some physical damage, making it act erratically.
Everytime the brain wishes to make an action, roll one die.
The reverse actions happens (a shoot action becomes a drive action, a drive action becomes a shoot action)
The brain does not make an action
The brain makes a shoot action
The brain makes a drive action
The brain makes the action it wanted to.
If an action is declared on this table, then the brain MUST make it - they cannot suddenly decide to not make the action, although the actual effects of that action are left up to the brain.
The brain also gains 1d6 psychosis points.
40 mph safety limit.
The linkages connecting the brain to the vehicle have been hit, resulting in a short circuit. Every time that the brain makes an action, roll one die. One an even result, the action can be taken as normal. On an odd result, the action is lost due to the short circuit. A second Short Curcuit result will result in a permanent disconnection meaning that the brain cannot perform any other actions until repair.
The brain gains 1d6 psychosis points.
The brain is fatally wounded and dies.
Donovan Androids substitute a move action instead of a drive action.
A Drive action is anything that is related to driving the vehicle and is not a Shoot action.
The long-term effects of being a Donovan is that the brain will go mad eventually. There is escaping this fact. The only thing that can be done is to delay this eventually.
A Donovan will gain psychosis points in the normal way and in addition, they will gain 1 psychosis point per month automatically, regardless of what they do or don't do. These points can be lost in the normal way. However, every time the Donovan loses a psychosis test, they gain one permanent psychosis point that can never be lost, but will continue to add to the psychosis total. This way, the Donovan will continue to get madder as they continue their life, until the inevitable occurs. When a Donovan gets 12 permanent psychosis points, then they lose all grip on their humanity and become completely insane. This isn't simply the Donovan losing their humanity; this is them going completely insane. Fruit loop. Bonkers. Mad.
When this happens, the Donovan no longer becomes a player character. Instead they become a target for counselling - usually by large calibre weapons.