Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Human Family

In Mythic Space, the central society is that of the Galactic Concord, a very Star Wars/Star Trek/Mass Effect space opera cosmopolitan society containing a vast number of different species all working together for mutual benefit (for the most part). However, Humans and their genetic brothers and sisters make up a startling array of life. Starting in the late 21st century and only increasing as man began to colonize other worlds, the human genome has been not unlike clay in the hands of a sculptor. There have been mistakes and some research into genetic modification has drifted too far into the realm of "mad science," but genetic manipulation has allowed mankind to leave its mark on the cosmos in ways that would have been impossible otherwise. This post delves into the rocky history of man "playing god" and details the various new breeds of man that make up the human family.

Genetic modification has had a sordid history for humankind. Slave owners applied animal husbandry techniques to their slaves in order to try and bring forth certain traits. Eugenics also came from this idea to try and create a "master race" by selecting certain traits deemed most desirable, finding people with those traits and having them mate and bear young. Cloning was first outlawed by many of the nations of old Earth out of fear of the unknown or oftentimes out of religious-born fear of God's wrath for essentially trying to trump him/her/them at their own game. Early cloning techniques were crude and created "copies" that simply weren't viable due to susceptibility to diseases or bringing forth genetic conditions due to an incomplete understanding of the genetic code. Some geneticists declared that they could manipulate the genetics of a child in the womb to bring forth certain traits like being more physically capable, being more intelligent, or even changing the sex of a child to what the parents wanted; most of these doctors will little more than charlatans and frauds and others danced too closely to the line of morality of the times. Then there was the birth of the Moreaus, a mixture of animal and human DNA, that helped spark the riots in places like the USA and Russia that helped Moreaus earn their freedom.

In the early 22nd century the desire to create a master race of man once again reared it's ugly head. With the competition for work becoming ever more cutthroat, parents were willing to go to great ends to ensure that their children had every advantage possible. Some turned to geneticists to give their kids those advantages. In India, a group of "super-humans" (also known as "Franks", short for Frankensteins, which were also created by certain nations as a form of better soldier) staged a bloody coup of the government, convinced that their superior genetics made them the only logical choice to lead humanity into a new golden age. In other parts of the world, similar groups gathered together with also similar goals. This lead to the short-lived Gene Wars and lead many nations to outlaw the practice of genetic modification for the sole purpose of improving upon a person's natural abilities. While there were still places where such modifications could still be had, the practice became like other socially unacceptable practices like being racist or smoking. Those that received genetic modifications had a higher chance of developmental issues, and even those that were able to conceal the fact that they had been enhanced had to forever keep their secrets due to the social backlash that would inevitably occur should they be found out.

Once man had began to colonize parts of the Sol System, it was decided that certain colonists should receive modifications to their genetic structures in order to make them better able to handle specific rigors of life on certain moons and planets. These "Neo-Humans" (Franks being a highly racist term) weren't met with the fear and derision of their ancestors, but were seen as the next step forward to cementing mankind's place among the stars.

Since these early days, genetic science has cured many maladies that once plagued mankind. Plus, it has allowed humanity to colonize entire star systems, a feat that would have been impossible without alteration. Many of these changed beings are now essentially new species in and of themselves, adding new branches to the human family tree.

The top of the human family tree is your garden-variety human with all the wondrous diversity that entails. These are people like you and me, only they live in an amazing future filled with starships, aliens, and advanced technology.

Moreaus and their history have been covered here. (For Savage Worlds, I use Interface Zero 2.0's Hybrids for the rules for Moreaus. For Rogue Space, the Simians make perfect Moreaus of several primate species. I'm working on adding several others to cover the more common breeds.)

Neo-Human is a blanket term that cover several specific genetically modified human types. A few have even bred true to become their own race, but those are covered elsewhere. These beings are much like those that started the Gene Wars in Earth's pre-Concord history. They have the best genetics that money can buy and that tends to make them arrogant. However, most Neo-Humans keep their origins to themselves, and some have no idea that they have been modified as their parents never told them. Still, arrogance and over-confidence seems to be a common trait among Neo-Humans. (For Savage Worlds, use the Human 2.0 race for Neo-Humans.)

Europans are race of humans that was born from genetic modifications made to allow humans to better survive aquatic environments such as the frigid oceans of Europa. The initial Europans bred true and are among the first colonists called upon to colonize and explore oceanic worlds. Europans tend to be an adventurous, but easy-going people. They are most comfortable in aquatic environments where their gills and their webbed fingers and toes are more useful, but they can function on land as well as underwater. (For Savage Worlds, Europans use the Aquarian race package found in the Deluxe Sci-Fi Companion.)

Spartans are the descendants of Brute and Praetorian-class Franks from Earth. During the Breakaway War, several companies of these beings split off from the Sol Systems Alliance to form their own government on a planet in the Yaro system they named Sparta. Since that point, the Spartans have become little more than a society-wide mercenary unit. (Many of the early separatists, gave up the idea of a new Sparta and rejoined the SSA.) They are an aggressive and war-like people that feel that might makes right, relegating them to the fringes of cosmic society. However, their reputation for being fierce and highly disciplined soldiers has made them highly sought after as mercenaries throughout the Alpha Quadrant. (For Savage Worlds, use the Fury race from the Nemezis setting for Spartans.)

Nords are the descendants of the first humans modified to better survive the rigors of arctic environments. Nords require little rest, none of which being sleep, in order to function normally. They can also safely withstand the effects of temperatures well below freezing. They are a tough and hardy people who are hard-working and value courage and efficiency. Their ability to go without sleep allows them to make more use of every solar day, which also leads them to look down at many normal humans as being lazy. (For Savage Worlds, use the Ashite race from the Nemezis setting for Nords, but I add in the Hindrance of suffering a -1 penalty to rolls when in 70-80 degree temperatures, and a -2 penalty when in temperatures over 80 degrees.)

Serrans are a hybrid of Fraal and Human DNA. These being first became public knowledge after a raid on a Cerberus (a very well funded pro-human terrorist organization) facility. They were using genetic techniques gleaned from the Illithids and possibly Gene-Techs to create a human with more psionic potential. Their experiments had been going on for some time, as Serrans were in their third generation. Since that point most Serrans have entered into Sol Alliance society as citizens, while others travel the cosmos trying to find their place in the cosmos. (For Savage Worlds, use Serrans as is from the Deluxe Sci-Fi Companion.)

Psi-Stalkers are a breed of human that was developed first by certain factions on Earth that feared the psionic abilities that the Fraal were helping to unlock in humans. They saw psionic ability as evil and something to be stamped out as ruthlessly as possible. Psi-stalkers are able to track psions by sensing the psionic energies they give off in little pulses that are not perceptible by most species. The original Psi-Stalkers were supposedly all wiped out shortly after their discovery, but Cerberus and other terrorist organizations throughout space, both human and not, have made use of these beings. While there are no known Psi-Stalker colonies, it has been determined that these being do breed true, so they have evidently been active for a long time. Most Psi-Stalkers today, if they are not in the employ of a specific terror cell, tend to be bounty hunters and mercenaries. They are aggressive, almost bestial when closing in on their prey, and are regarded as a threat species by both the SSA and the Galactic Concord. (These are from Rifts, and I do have Savage Worlds stats, but until Kevin Siembieda loosen his restrictions on posting conversions of his work, these stats are going to have to stay secret.)

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