The first major transhuman rpg I know of is GURPS Transhuman Space, which is a fantastic setting of hard science, memetic warfare, and advanced genetics. For my money though Eclipse Phase is the better role playing game because it asks more interesting questions and is more playable. While Transhuman Space is great it does not provide easy answers to the age old question of "So what do the players do?" while Eclipse Phase provides a built in campaign structure as agents of Firewall (a freelance world saving organization ala Global Frequency). So I'll mainly talk about Eclipse Phase in this post.
Eclipse Phase I find to be fascinating on a number of fronts but the two that are pertinent here are these:
- When you can change your body like you change clothes what does it mean to be human? If you're a human mind in a robot, a body of a different sex, or a genetically uplifted octopus are you really the same person? It is a game where race is transitory in such a way that makes you question what exactly it is to be of a species or race when the body of that species or race is removed. This is fascinating to me. Eclipse Phase assumes a lot of mental fortitude when it comes to changing bodies and that human consciousness could adjust to such changes relatively easily, but it does pose a lot of questions about what it means to be human. There are those who take this ability to the limit, trying to become the ultimate predator or harness mental power beyond that of mortal man such that they completely reengineer their bodies. Are they still human?
- In addition to the various human sleeves (slang for bodies) there are aliens in Eclipse Phase, but they are not PC aliens. They are too weird to be PC aliens. They're effectively large mobile single celled organisms that communicate via smell and are supremely weird. They're effectively unplayable they are so weird, but in the setting it works amazingly well. They are a vast mystery that humans just don't get, and the feeling is reciprocated.
Pile on top of that the idea of a post scarcity economy and you get what is really one of the most thought provoking role playing games of the last decade. Though I do wish the system was a bit smoother.