A fascia is a stylized mask that is worn over the face. The outside of the fascia is subject the ornamentation and stylizing, while the interior is an interface system designed to bypass the physical sensory organs and directly transmit information to the wearer's brain. Fascias come in three major classes; full cybernetic, visor style, and totemic.
Full cybernetic fascias are part of a cybernetic upgrade, physically replacing the face and sensory organs of the cyborg in question. The most common application of this level of integration is for combat veterans, special ops, and elite shadowrunners who have a greater need for the abilities offered by the device, or have suffered traumatic facial and cranial trauma. At this level of integration, it is not uncommon for the cyborg to also have a cybernetic skull upgrade, cybernetic torso modification, and other extensive changes to their bodies.
As I lost parts of my body, I lost a little bit of myself. Some parts took a larger part of me, others, less. I thought that the day that I lost my lower torso, my uterus and reproductive organs, I had taken the biggest hit I would take. After that, I assumed, there was nothing left that shrapnel or plasma burns could take away from me. Two years later I barely survived a close hit from a mecha grade laser. My eyes were fried to a crisp, olfactory nerves were cooked, the tissue that was my face was literally cooked down to the bone. If not for the mods I already had and the helmet I had on I would have been dead almost instantly. Instead I spent six weeks in recovery, and ended up with a new face. I can take the fascia off and hold my face in my hands. If I leave the wires and systems connected I can turn the plate around and look at what's left of me. The fixation points, the polymer laminated bones, the linkages, where my face used to be. I take three different anti-depressants and see a councillor twice a month for my identity issues and border body disorder.
Visor style fascias are the most common and can be slipped on over the face. Once on, the wearer links through the fascia much like they would interface with any other cognitive device. Once integrated, the wearer 'sees' through the device. Common applications for this include mecha and aerospace piloting (electronics operation, drone operation, extreme range combat), Information Center operators, ranging from CIC staff to airspace control centers to data filtration and observation systems. This is the most commonly seen aspect of the fascia, the tech operator sitting in front of a number of screens, accessing a high speed data terminal, while pantomiming gestures in front of them. The fascia is almost always minimalist, with the only features being a series of sensor pinpoints that connect the fascia to the computer terminal it is linked to. Eurasian Fascias tend to have four points, Federation fascias have six, Nipponese and PRC fascias have offset patterns and frequently integrate an optical eye so that the operator can access visual input without taking off the fascia.
The V17 Fascia is the current general issue unit for the Atlantic Federation Navy. The CIC of a Federation class battlestar is the central nerve center of activity on the ship, and a dozen operators work at their command consoles, equipped with the mentioned V17s. The command staff disseminate their instructions through these controllers. The image of the faceless controllers guiding swarms of aerospace fights, mecha squadrons, and commanding gun and missile batteries.
There are plenty of fascias you can use for rigging a drone, most of them will get the job done, but there is only one that I like, and that's the Regler 117, it's an older unit, and a little heavy, but the information feed has a better brain feel to it. With those robust visual cortex feeds, I feel like I am right there, and it doesn't matter what kind of drone it is, a weather scout, a news spotter, a police chaser, or even one of those nasty gun pods. Tasty.
Totemic fascias are far more common in entertainment and thriller feeds, and are popular among villains. Totemics have stylized faces, functionally becoming masks. Common motifs include comedy and tragedy masks, kabuki masks, animal and monster masks, and more modern things such as alien faces. While originating in entertainment, these fascia have found a limited role in the hands of shadowrunners, and fixers who want to conceal their identities while at the same time, intimidating their employees.
Intimidation is a great form of currency. Sometimes, you don't have an imposing visage, maybe you have a weak chin, or are broken out from a laser skin treatment, or the cosmetologist screwed up the rejuvenation treatment and you've got stroke droop going on. Hard to be intimidating with a drool. But slap on the cold as hell placid skull fascia, and you become death. The sensors show you their body temp, who's scared, who's bluffing, who's about to piss themselves and who already has.
The fascia was born out of the aerospace industry. As the data required by pilots increased there was less and less space available in the cockpit, and improvements in weapons made exposed cockpits and canopies more vulnerable. The first fascias were worn by the crews of trans-atmospheric ships, who were buried in the hulls, and were still flying the craft like they were in traditional seating arrangements. When mecha entered regular production, mecha grade fascias were built, allowing for pilots to man their machines from the safety of their armored machines, without being exposed in something as target attracting as a head module. The tech spread from the cockpit to command centers as weapons and electronics operators found that the system was a data multiplier, allowing them to work quicker and more effectively in intense situations.
Lower end models were manufactured for the cybernetics market, first for victims of conflict and war veterans, and later for cybernetics enthusiasts, shadowrunners, and drone controllers.
A standard issue fascia adds to the wearer's basic computer interfacing skill, perception skill (so long as it relates to the task at hand) as well as applying the same general level bonus to piloting, navigation, hacking, drone control, and other computer related tasks. In a D20 based system, this would be a 2-3 point bonus. For specialized fascias, this can go as high as +5. This would cover things like dedicated mecha control fascias, drone controller specific units, and so forth. These specialized units would have no modifier if used outside of their intended purpose. A fascia user can also multi-task, and can perform a basic action in a turn, as well as making a virtual or computer action at the same time.
This should make fascias popular pieces of equipment for average level ability characters, and for supporting NPCs.
The downside of the fascia is that it limits actual physical perception and anything that can hide from a machine is invisible to a fascia wearer, even if that means a digitially cloaked person, perfectly visible, could easily sneak up on a fascia use. This level of technology is also potentially vulnerable to hacking, and fascia users tend to panic and suffer negative penalties even beyond losing their equipment should they be disabled. This is something anti-tech factions are aware of and exploit whenever possible.
There is a fairly common trope in anime of characters who have full face concealing masks, often with just a few pin-points on them. This is likely done for a variety of reasons, ranging from stylistic choice (facelessness, loss of identity) to production choices (quick, cheap, and easy to draw and animate). The fascia is the Cosmic Era of this common piece of equipment.