The decraniated

Is owning and/or creating decraniated (person body with droid brain) illegal during the Empire?

I want to give my players a moral quandary when they deliver medical supplies to a doctor who creates decraniated.

Wasn’t that what Lobot basically was? The Empire was all about slavery, so I’m not sure they would care about a decraniated sentient, as long as it wasn’t an imperial officer or someone the Empire was contracted/obliged to protect.

Lobot had a cybernetic that allowed him to process faster or connect to computers or something. But he still had his own brain. A decraniated is like the servant person Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) had in Solo. The vacant chick that had half a head. The brain is removed.

The moral question exists regardless of legality. Quandary would not be quite the right word there, as it is quite simply morally appalling. The most charitable read possible is that only those who cannot live a conscious life are decraniated, and thus suffer nothing*, but even then the practice is utterly appalling. I would use a different word, but none is more suitable than the word I used.

*One might argue “What if it saves a life?” but can it be called “saving a life” when the person’s conscious experience is voided?

But to specifically answer your question:
In the Rogue One visual dictionary, it describes how “Doctor” Evazan took casualties of the violence on Jedha and performed the decraniation surgery, subsequently selling the now-wholly subservient cyborgs as servants.

Later, after Solo, it was expanded upon that he originally made such cyborgs for Dryden Vos of Crimson Dawn.

Even if the Empire tolerates slavery of certain species, there is no way it would legalize decraniation. The ONLY way it could exist is through obscurity and loopholes.

To further determine this, we have to first ask several more questions:
What defines slavery? What defines a person? Does personhood require sentience? Or merely belonging to a species recognized as sentient? How much can you change of a body before, like the ship of Theseus, what remains is no longer an enpersoned being?

Perhaps they can make an argument that no person exists within the body, and that it is merely a “meat-puppet.” Perhaps documentation can be presented that proves the body was brain-dead.

Decraniation is very rare, so may well have not come to the attention of a governing body and so does not yet have laws governing the practice. In fact, some may think it better to not publicize the practice for fear it would become more well-known, sought after, and performed. Therefore, someone may well be able to get away with owning decraniated persons.

What I do find fascinating about this topic is how it relates to the philosophy of the body, mind, and spirit, and the conversations surrounding what their relationship is to the concept of “personhood,” but I’m afraid that is perhaps only vaguely relevant to the question at hand.

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The players won’t immediately know the situation. To them, they are simply delivering medical supplies to a customer in Mos Espa. Once inside, they’ll hear some faint screams/moaning from further in the building.

I suppose that’s more the quandary bit. Do they mind their own business and leave, or do they investigate what may be someone needing help.

If the latter, they’ll certainly uncover the workshop of horrors. What happens then is whatever happens then.