New BASH-SF Content - Human 'Drifts' for Knights-marshall of the Commonwealth!

Clint Staples

Because of the relatively young genetic code of humanity [compared to the hundreds of thousands of years of stability in the Elohir genome, for example], certain advanced races have tampered with and mutated humanity for their own purposes. Some have done so out of benign interest, aiding humans to adapt to hostile living conditions or planets. Others, the Mandragora, or certain Elohir sects, have done so to create slave soldiers, servants, and playthings. And occasionally, isolate pockets of humanity have adapted without any apparent outside ‘help’. All such human offshoots are referred to as Drifts.

             Below, you will find the descriptions for some of the most common Drifts. The images associated with this post show a Wulfen Knight-Marshal, a Wight Mercenary, and the Hrimwulf [See Wulfen below].

 

Psyche – The Psyche have been genetically modified by the Elohir or other more advanced races to unlock their psychic abilities. This modification also encourages a certain phenotype. Psyches are usually slender, with pale skin and hair that may appear bleached or pale compared to natural coloration. The color of the iris of the eye is often red, violet, white, a very pale blue with a dark outer ring, or even black. Psionic Specialization seems to be linked to these epigenetic expressions, such that Red eyes are associated with Bio-Manipulation [often referred to as Red-Shifters], Pale Blue and white are associated with Telekinetics [The White Arts], and Black eyes color with Energy Manipulation [The Black Arts]. Empaths seem to be the most common of the Psyche, which has lead some to theorize that this is the most ‘natural’ form of human psychic ability. Empath eye color is not restricted.

            Speculation is rife as to the reason why these eye color /psychic discipline associations exist. Some human techs suggest that it was nothing more than genetic branding by the Elohir, to keep their property segregated, or simply a whim on the part of those advanced, seemingly ageless aliens.

Wight  - Certain psyches manifest a carnivorous, parasitic metabolism that forces them to eat meat exclusively, ideally raw and bloody and fresh. Whether this was intentional or a ‘design flaw’ on the part of their Elohir creators is not known, but ‘Wights’, as they are called in the language of Mankind, exhibit a number of other features that suggest intent.

            Wights are invariably red-shifters, adept at bio-manipulation and able to enhance their physical capabilities. Their dietary restriction appears to benefit them, as Wights can analyze and manipulate those whose tissues they have ingested more easily. This, in turn, has led to the practice of blood drinking among Wights, which allows them to establish and maintain a degree of control over those whose blood they have recently ingested. Wights gain a x1 Multiple Bonus on Psionic attempts to sense or influence [ESP, Mind Control, Suggestion] those whose blood they have consumed within the last three Common days.

Crossbreed – one of the few successful genetic manipulations by humanity are the Crossbreeds or ‘Crosses’. Generally produced by mixing some of the genetic material from animals from Old Terra still extant on Pembroke or elsewhere, there are a few more exotic crosses out there as well.

            One of the most successful crosses are the Wulfen. Though named for the mythical wolves of Terra Progenitas, the Wulfen are actually the result of a freakish similarity in genetics between Pembrokian Humanity and the Hrimwulf, the dominant predator of the temperate plains and woodlands that make up much of Murcada, the largest continent of Pembroke. This similarity was noted by the Elohir in the first years after depositing their human captives on their new home. It proved an irresistible temptation for some to comingle the genes of the two species. The result, after many mishaps that were turned back into the wilds of early Pembroke, was the Wulfen. The strength, toughness, cunning, and co-operative nature of Wulfen have allowed them to excel in active, physical careers such as soldiers and mercenaries.  Though not generally burdened with a tremendous sense of social responsibility beyond that of their ‘pack’, a number have been drawn, one way or another, to the camaraderie often found among the Knights-Marshal.

G-Drift – Not a genetic drift, but one prevalent in environments of high or low gravity, G-Drifts are adapted to unusual gravity environments. High G-Drifts are shorter, heavier built and stronger in the lighter gravities more common in much of the Commonwealth. Low G-Drifts tend to be slender and appear rather frail. They suffer discomfort or even actual medical difficulties in heavier gravity situations.

Dire – A Human sub-species created by the Mandragora as slave soldiers and gladiators, the Dire are above human norm in terms of size, strength and speed, driven to excel in physical conflict. Perhaps because the Mandragora thought it amusing or fashionable, the Dire are also grey-skinned, with limited capacity for abstract thought.

Freak - This term denotes individuals who do not fall into a recognized sub-set of human divergence like Psyche or Dire. They may be 'one-offs' created by someone with the means to do so, or even modified to suit their sense of self. Additional limbs, sense improvements, and physical enhancements of all sorts are commom Freak modifications, but the truly bizarre is also possible.

Other more exotic Drifts are certainly possible, and may well exist on an isolated world or moon. Scattered reports from Knights-Marshals operating on or past the Edge note certain humanoid hybridizations with indigenous life forms, in one case an aggressive spore-like colony-organism.