|Kim Nguyen / scuttlebuttin|
Thelychromahomo sapiens cambiatum thelychroma
The arid deathworld of Dreamland is home to one of the few successful large-scale metahuman initiatives. The initial goal was a variant engineered for low aggression and high pro-social behavior, leading to social sustainability in resource-strapped environments. To that end, the experiment was a grand success: Dreamland supports a stable and sizable population of H.s.c. thelychroma, well beyond what the planet was projected to support and absent of any crippling social strife. The population is so large that thelychroma are not an uncommon sight offworld.
The catch (and there always is one), is that H.s.c. thelychroma is almost completely unfit for interaction with the rest of humanity. Their typical social structure is anarcho-syndicalist commune, so the Company hates them. They're indefatigably chipper, so the typical beaten-down teamster can't stand them. They have a great aversion to revolutionary violence so the anarchists think they're wimps. They tend towards such universal goodwill that they are marked as suckers for every scam artist and bad actor in human space, up until the point when those scammers realize that thelychroma rarely have more possessions than what they can carry in their pockets.
The rumors are an entire other ballgame:
- Thelychroma are venomous (False: They do not have venom glands)
- Thelychroma are poisonous (True: Gut flora transfers and offworld diets solve the problem within a few months)
- Thelychroma are disease-ridden (Complicated: While their significant vaccination suites leave them immune to most diseases, there have been incidents of diseases piggybacking on unsuspecting thelychroma into baseline populations.)
- Thelychroma are sex fiends (False: They tend towards more non-sexual physical intimacy on the whole, often misread by outsiders. Otherwise, there's nothing fiendish about it.)
- Thelychroma are clones (False: All gene samples used in exowomb production are hybridized before fertilization.)
- Thelychroma are cannibals (True: In lean times, a wasted corpse is wasted meat and water.)
- Thelychroma are lazy (False: Excess / pointless work is considered a survival threat and avoided.)
- Thelychroma are stupid (False: there is a bridgeable, if wide, communication gap regarding social expectations.)
- Thelychroma are part of a conspiracy to undermine the culture and values of interstellar society. (False: It isn't a conspiracy, they're very open about it.)
Stat Bonuses: +5% Intellect / + 5% Strength
Saves: Sanity / Fear / Body / Armor | 45 / 20 / 45 / 20
Stress & Panic: Once per session, a thelychroma can help a friend reroll a result on the Panic Effects Table. If there is another thelychroma present, it will default to that individual if possible.
Starting Skills: Scavenging, Athletics, Hydroponics, +3 pts.
A terraforming nanoplague discarded by the posthumans as they passed on through the outer margin. The name is for Warden convenience - no one knows about it, so there's no real name for it. All things considered, it doesn't actually exist.
Alienation Syndrome is adaptive, self-replicating, and unknowable. There are hundreds, if not thousands of variants out there, primed to play around with both flesh and tech according to some inexplicable algorithm. If there's no easily-modified biomass or technology nearby, it's not unheard of for the plague to generate its own out of whatever raw materials are on hand. Give Alienation Syndrome enough carbon and water, and you will have a monster.
Each variant is unique, to the point where strains will occasionally start up arms wars against each other when they come into contact. Most are paradoxically small-scale - the strain will complete whatever task it assigned itself and then burn itself out, even if it has only birthed a handful of creations.
Nearly all of the monsters found out past the Margin are the result of Alienation Syndrome. Actually tracing the links between instances is impossible for mundane humans or their computers.
What happens when the Company requires upgraded hardware but doesn't pay enough to keep the creditors away (and is usually the one footing the loan in the first place). A common sight in habitats run by Companies that either can't afford androids or don't like using them for PR purposes. Repo'd debtboys are a common object lesson parents show their children (either to instill a hardy outer systems work ethic or to introduce them to the horrors of capitalism).
Debtboys still on the payroll will keep their chrome, but they are kept on the shortest of leashes and expected to do whatever the Company asks of them.
Debtboys that have been repo'd are stripped of their mods and auctioned off to other Companies willing to pay their debts. Most of the time they end up hosting advertising spam botnets with what's left of their cyberware.
Stat Bonuses: +5% Intellect / + 5% Speed
Saves: Sanity / Fear / Body / Armor | 30 / 30 / 40 / 25
Stress & Panic: Failing a Fear or Sanity save triggers either a submission-to-authority response or catatonia (as per panic effect) until the danger has passed.
Starting Skills: Computers, Linguistics, Mathematics or another science (Chemistry, Geology, etc)
A small asteroid captured in the orbit of an otherwise unimportant venusian hellhole and an unsettled star might potentially be the most important object in the universe.
Beneath its cracked and dusty surface, there is a diamond a quarter kilometer across. Its surface is marked with regular rows of bumps and depressions, up and down its entire length, each about the length and width of a thumb. Code.
The Company clamped down quick on it, never let the discovery go public. Bought up the colonization rights to the entire system, put down a few potemkin mining facilities and an automated killsat net, and then silently went out of business. The rights got passed over to another Company, but the ships they've sent to investigate have been shot down without statement.
There's a reason that AI development is locked down tight. Not just because the posthumans will drop rods from god on the first sign of competition, but even in lesser forms it is dangerous. Machines do not think, they compute. They cannot process context, they do not reflect. Self-awareness is wasted processing power.
Automated war-swarms have left entire systems uninhabitable. Hardly better are those worlds where the web of linked systems has become so inescapable that humanity has become domesticated cattle at best, and more often an expendable resource.
Algorithm Wars are the last stands of planets like this: the apocalyptic spasms of humanity trying to re-assert itself in the face of the unfeeling, mechanistic prison they find themselves trapped within.
Sometimes they succeed.