Source of version: 6 (current)
;:''I'll tell you a secret, boy,'' one of the mad old Druids told me when I was on a "vision quest," also known as starving and risking getting killed in the wild, ''we're all of us mutants. The Druids aren't here to keep any particular strain of human being 'pure.' Once you learn to see the ''Ruach'' properly, you'll see how different it is from one village to the next, the structures of life that make us, more or less, human. But we will keep humanity's future--the best we could be--as on track as we can. And we don't do that by growing wings and certainly we don't by becoming so different we can't even recognize each other. Doesn't mean we can't make deals. You know about the bees, of course.''
;:''It means caring about more than animals do--the next lay, the next fight, where your food is going to come from. We did great things--we went to the stars!--and will again. At least mutants are creatures of Earth, somehow. We don't have to hate them. But we can't do anything to be what we should be while the Daemons use us for food. That's not negotiable.''
It's common for people to talk about "mutants," but their very mutability makes such an idea hard to talk about. Mutation, though, is a fixture of the world.
The Daemon's eruption into the world brought devastation but also a new lease on life for a dying planet. As their dominance spread, at the same time, life's basic strategies diversified further, accelerated, and seemed to gain in intelligence. Radioactive hellholes have become perverted fountains of life, producing crazed variety instead of the fatal mutations, cancers and organ failure they would have centuries ago.
Still, no one spontaneously grows a new arm from being near atomic decay. Actually no terrestrial being.
Daemons fear the hot spots of the world. Their bodies are in a constant state of cellular renewal, so one vulnerability they have in spades is cancer. And when a tumour is likely to harbour its own, fiercely competitive intelligence, an oddly-shaped mole can turn into a fight to the death for precious biomass.
In play, Mutant entities are distinctive for their bizarre Needs that run against or across humanity's own. (See [foo] for more on this.)
Mutants ordinarily are derived from identifiable Earth life--of course, much of Earth life is extremely bizarre, to a human, already. Given the evolutionary tools to compete on equal footing with the former apex predator of the entire planet, they can be weirder still, and a lot more dangerous.
Here are a few examples to use or inspire.
Hymenoptera generally (hive-making, collective-minded insects) are a major problem for travel and commerce in the world of ''Chimaera''. The bees--descendants of the humble European honeybee, in most places--have organized to a degree that gives them a full, collective intelligence. Any one is capable of no more than the well-known, suicidal sting. But they have developed a few more specialties so that their structures, once hives of a few thousand individuals not much bigger than a basketball, now encompass vast underground caverns and bulging earthworks as big as good-sized human towns. Sacrificing enough drones to kill a typical human is a small matter for such a colony creature.
Their vulnerability, though, is their genetic monoculture. Daemons might easily wipe out whole populations with a properly engineered virus or drone parasite. The bees parlay with humans for mutual protection.
A bee colony needs ''selflessness''--its very existence is predicated on togetherness, and the more bees, the smarter and more "whole-feeling" the colony. Their ability to communicate with other entities is compromised by this and they find the idea of separateness anathema.
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