Mutants

In Life Science, a mutant is an organism with genetic variation from its original species. The alteration of a single a gene or chromosome within a DNA sequence causes an organism to mutate resulting in a new type of creature. Over the course of many generations genetic mutations is a natural occurrence and is integral to the process of evolution. Although many of the mutations found in this section could potentially be the result of natural evolution, it is more likely these often-extreme mutations are the product of unnatural causes or are intentionally induced using the latest bioware and gene therapies. Different environmental factors are responsible for the evolution of a species and its rate of mutation. Variation within a population of organisms exist and organisms with the traits most suited for a specific environment pass on their genes to future generations while those with less suitable traits die out. Eventually, the population evolves into a new species or entirely new organism.

For example, rats reproduce rapidly (even in space) and can produce thousands of generations over just a few years. The rats on a space station might gain adaptations allowing them to survive in near vacuum conditions by storing air in mutated cheek compartments. This mutation would allow the rats to survive behind stations walls and in low atmosphere areas while their cheek poaches serve as rebreathers. Rats on a newly terraformed moon might evolve and mutate into several new species filling every available niche. When their mutations diverge one branch of the rat family might become extremely large and only eat a specific low nutrient lichen like an herbivore. On the same moon, a second branch of the rat family might gain a set of predatory mutations which makes them better suited to hunt their larger cousins.

Since this is a science fiction/fantasy game accelerating the rate of mutation within a species isn’t going to ruffle too many feathers. But if you have a scientist in your group that insist that a new species simply would not have had time to evolve there are a few factors that can make the science in your fiction a little more believable. Radiation, its everywhere in space. We know from science it can accelerate the rate of mutation and we know from comic books it can cause rapid and exotic mutations. Second, scientist love to tinker with genetics, an endogenous retrovirus could have been introduced to a species accelerating their mutation rate allowing those mutations to get passed down to future generations.

Playing a Mutant

Mutants are members of an existing species that have genetic variations which distinguish them from average members of their species. Player character mutants are usually the first individual within their community to display their specific set of mutations. Genetic diversity as well as the commonality of mutations will vary by community. In the Gravity Age setting mutants are rare enough a mutant player character might not ever know another mutant, but there are also a few communities in known space where mutants are common.

Mutants like different alien species tend to be discriminated against in communities which are dominated by a single race where everyone shares a common appearance and racial abilities. Players with mutant characters will likely need to hide their mutations to avoid unwanted attention. If there is a community of mutants it will be well hidden. On the other side of the verse, there are regions of known space where the diversity of alien species is so great no one would recognize a mutant for what it is because there are either too few samples to form an opinion or they are mistaken for an entirely different race all together. In both cases, mutants would still be rare, and a player character might not know more than one or two fellow mutants.

Usually player character mutants are the first of their kind, or in rare cases the member of a small group of similar mutants. Many times, the conditions that cause genetic variation result in a wide variety of different mutations amongst the same population. In these instances, mutants might be common to a community but the mutations they possess are completely different.

A player character can become a mutant in a variety of ways but here are a few of the most common. The PC could have been born on or grown up on a moon, space station, or mining colony with insufficient radiation shielding, and radiation exposure leads to their mutations. Occasionally, parents which have knowingly or unknowingly underwent different forms endogenous retrovirus gene therapy pass incompatible genes down to their child resulting in a mutant offspring. A PC might choose to undergo “Endogenous Metamorphosis” gene therapy later in their career to become a mutant. Finally, a player character could suffer from exposure to a mutagenetic virus during one of their adventures and have a mutant template forced upon them. No matter how a character becomes a mutant they must select the minor mutant, major mutant, or true mutant template before they can take advantage of the mutations presented in this section.

Before taking a mutant template, players should get approval to play a mutant from their Game Master. Some GMs may also limit which mutation templates and mutations are available in their campaigns.

Metamorph Archetype
The metamorph archetype is designed specifically for characters that want to make the most out of their mutant abilities. Characters can gain the archetype at second level it includes many alternate class features which enhance a mutant’s beneficial mutations while lessening the effects of their deformities.

Mutant Monsters

Game masters can create memorable encounters by adding a minor mutant, major mutant, or true mutant template to an existing NPC or creature. For the GMs convenience, each of the mutant types are also presented as grafts for use with the creature and NPC creation mechanic presented in the recent Starfinder Roleplaying Game ® publication featuring an archive of aliens.

Mutants will allow you to reuse some encounters. As the GM you know it’s the same encounter your players faced in a previous gaming session, but the players won’t. Mutations are a convenient way of recycling old encounters while giving them a completely new feel. Remember as a GM you can essentially do whatever you want to create your story. If you are pressed for time and the “True Mutant” template seems like too much work then take a common creature from any source and throw a mutation or two on it. Just remember to increase the CR for the encounter by 1 or 2 for creatures with Tier 3 or higher mutations if they don’t have compensating deformities.

Types of Mutations

Mutations are broken down into four basic categories; Cosmetic, Deformity, Mental, and Physical Mutations. Both physical and psychic mutations are commonly referred to as beneficial mutations throughout this work.

Cosmetic Mutations

The simplest and least genetically complicated mutation is a cosmetic mutation. A cosmetic mutation has no game effect other than to change a creature’s appearance in some fashion. Cosmetic mutations do not require deformities. A mutant with any template can select any number of cosmetic mutations.

See the Cosmetic Mutations page for more details.

Deformities

A mutant takes deformities to gain points in their Gene Pool which can be spent on purchasing beneficial psychic and physical mutations. Deformities are special disabilities or vulnerabilities that negatively affect a creature. Many deformities are difficult to disguise and make the mutant stand out from more common members of their race.

In addition to creating a Gene Pool to purchase mutations from, the deformities presented below can be used to counterbalance retroviruses. When a character has more retroviruses than their body can handle it induces a deformity. For more information on retroviruses see the Bioware Augmentations page.

For the full list, see the Minor Deformities page.

Physical Mutations

Physical mutations grant the creature extraordinary (Ex) abilities in most cases. Creatures with physical mutations can benefit from a wide variety of advantages. Improved attack and damage rolls, saving throws, and skill checks are common. While others gain new movement types or defensive bonuses. Like deformities, physical mutations are often difficult to hide.

See the Physical Mutations page for more details.

Psychic Mutations

Psychic mutations are usually supernatural (Su) abilities awakened at birth or when the creature first becomes a mutant. Psychic mutations mimic the effects of spells and psionic powers. Other psychic mutations allow the creature to mimic abilities normally limited to specific classes. These abilities are easy to hide when not in use.

See the Psychic Mutations page for more details.


Mutant Characters

This section covers how to turn a normal character into a mutant.

Mutant Feats

Mutant feats support mutants and their abilities in various ways.

Mutant Grafts

This section covers how NPCs and monsters can be turned into mutants.

Extreme Mutations

These are particularly powerful mutations intended for use by Game Masters, not players.


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