Better-Than-Life programs have been the technological drug-of-choice since the 2050s. Highly addictive, these simsense programs produce high-amplitude simsense outputs that directly stimulate the response centers in the limbic area, or “pleasure center,” of the brain. Because the peak controls are cut out of a BTL, the sensation is significantly more intense and addictive than that of a standard sim. Because BTL is highly addictive, many users loop themselves into continuous playback. Extended use can result in numerous unpleasant side effects, including catatonia, disassociative identity disorder, amnesia, flashbacks, mania, synaesthesia (sensory crossover where sight becomes smell, taste becomes touch, etc.), and even death. Most BTL users die from accidents while under the influence, or from malnutrition, dehydration, or suicide. In the old days, before the wireless technology could handle full simsense signals, BTL was primarily distributed in hardcopy chip format. By 2070, however, many BTL dealers operate exclusively online through mobile and highly-protected and secure servers, offering BTL exclusively as a direct simsense download. BTL Ch ips Better-Than-Life chips are known by a wide array of street names: beetles, playback, zombie chips, mindbenders, trancers, and tripchips, to name just a few. Despite the availability of BTL downloads, chips are still popular among extremely poor and low-tech users. Some dealers also prefer the hands-on tech, or having direct interactions with their client base. BTL chips come in two playback formats. “Dreamdeck” chips require an old-fashioned simsense deck (a simsense module designed just to play hardcopy simchips) that has been modified to produce BTL signals (easy to do). These are harder to come by as they are not in common use anymore. The second format, which is much easier to get, is the “direct input” chip. These more complex chips contain all the necessary electronics, so a user merely needs to slot the chip directly into an old-fashioned chipjack or datajack (no simdeck required). Both are designed to burn out after one use, to keep the users coming back for more. This one-shot, self-erasing feature can be bypassed with a Hardware (10, 1 hour) Extended Test. BTL Dow nloa ds One-shot BTL programs that are downloaded also have many street names: lifelines, beams, zaps, e-beetles, bolts, and more. To experience BTL downloads, the user’s commlink must have a sim module that has been modified. These programs erase themselves after one use. Dreamchips Dreamchips are standard simsense recordings modified to produce BTL output. This can be a standard studio-produced simsense storyline turned into a BTL fantasy, or a more personal street recording that offers an intense glimpse into someone’s life. Popular themes are heroic fantasies, recorded crimes, and pornography, with hardcore violence and snuff chips for the most jaded appetites. Moo dchips These BTLs focus on the emotive track, inducing an extended episode of emotional sensations. Themes can range from euphoria to sexual urges to aggressive tendencies, and to dark feelings such as terror and hate. Street names tend to reflect the nature of the experience, modified by a color: Blue Passion, Red Meanie, Cool White, and so on.
After the chip’s program has run its course, the user crashes, usually feeling the opposite emotion of the BTL for an hour or two. Users of Sunshine chips, for example, will be despondent and depressed when they crash. Moodchips are the most common BTLs on the street. The RAS override feature is frequently disabled so that users can move around freely under the influence of the chip. Personaf ix Personafixes, also called p-fixes, are the strangest and most dangerous BTLs. A combination of simsense and skillsoft technology modifies the basic personality responses of the user, installing the mnemonic routines of certain behavior patterns. While under the chip’s influence, the user becomes a different person. Popular chips are based off of historical figures or pop culture icons, though there is also a small market for animals. “Workers” in bunraku (“puppet”) sex parlors are fitted with personafix BTLs, sometimes combined with data filter cyberware to protect a client’s anonymity. The RAS override feature is frequently disabled so that users can move around freely under the influence of the chip. Tripchips Like moodchips, tripchip BTLs primarily produce sensory output, flooding the user with interesting visual, auditory, tactile, taste, and olfactory sensations. These can be simple effects, or they can be advanced sensations such as simulating being underwater. The latest craze is deliberately induced synaesthesia with jacked up sensory levels and the RAS override disabled, allowing users to experience their surroundings in an entirely new way.
Next Section: Security Systems
Section: Drugs and Brainbenders
Chapter: Running The Shadows