In the world of The Citadel, there are only two boundaries that are defined at birth; who your family is, and what your strain is. You can leave your family, finding another Tribe in the Outlook, but you cannot choose your Strain. There are two strains in this setting, the Dead-Strains, who appear like modern-day humans and show aptitude with technology, especially the AI, and the Gene-Strains, who have the capacity to mutate, and who have discovered the power of Psionics.
Dead-strains are “humans”. They appear recognisably and completely of the human genus, although their clothing reflects the tough times they live in. Due to their appearance matching those of ancestral humans, and their heredity being similar to them too, they have a closer relationship with AIs than that of the gene-strains. This includes the power to control the potential of their hereditary genes, and learn the secrets of Techgnosis. Their closeness to their ancestors also leads to their ka being more receptive to AIs, meaning that they can house more AIs than Gene-strains.
Dead-strains may choose to be technopaths. They cannot be psions, but can be involved in the communions lead by other psions. They cannot mutate in play. They may house two basic AIs in their ka.
Gene-strains are “mutants”. They appear to diverge from the modern human genus by some margin, expressing anomalous details such as scales, fur, antlers, markings, oddly coloured skin, or even tails. Thanks to their physical and hereditary divergence from their ancestors, they are distrusted by AIs, and ancient devices do not recognise them as human. However, their divergence has also led to them expressing new powers. Using the forces that cause these mutations, they can enact changes upon the world with focus and will.
Gene-strain humans vary greatly in appearance; some are at first glance indistinguishable from dead-strain humans. AI are able to tell the difference with minimal interaction. As mutation effects are limited by “active” mutations, it is possible to possess cosmetic mutations that provide no active benefit. However, these mutations should never be complete, to the stage one looks like an anthropomorphic animal- they should be more patchy in nature.
It is inappropriate to use metallic colours as a Gene-strain; this is supposed to emphasise the “organic” nature of the mutations.
Gene-Strains can be psions. They cannot be technopaths but may be cooperate with technopaths in techgnostic rituals. Gene-strains may mutate and they may house one basic AI in their ka.
Attitudes to Mutations
A Symbol Hope
In Tribes led by Gene-Strains, they gift of Psionics can be seen as a personal expression of a bright new hope. The previous world failed, and we are different, they say. These Tribes believe that novel mutations are a great blessing, and they praise individuality for the good of the community. Sometimes these Tribes all adopt a single mutation, in memory of a great good it did for one of their leaders. Some few take this philosophy of beneficial mutation to its logical conclusion, and believe in "The Shaper", a consciousness guiding humanity collectively through its changes, ensuring a guiding hand.
Through Psionics, togetherness arises. Psionic abilities not only become more powerful when multiple people cooperate, but they also benefit multiple people. Some Tribes take advantage of this communal aspect, making sure that as many group activities as possible can occur. In these Tribes, dead-strains might be seen as a little surly, because they don’t initiate activities such as a breakfast melding, or a pre-hunt shaping communion. In these Tribes, mutations and Psionics are just as likely to be treated as abstract objects of worship or as specialised tools; often these Tribes also have a second belief system melded into this psionic focus, and Psionic communions are seen as a medium for worship.
Psionics are never seen as a curse, but can be viewed as a mixed blessing. In a few Tribes, it is believed that Psionics are a sign of continued divergence from the righteous path. It’s not the Psionicists’ fault, and they should definitely master their powers rather than letting their power master them, but in these Tribes it’s considered improper to go about with your mutations visible. A few of these Tribes talk about the great Citadel, and say that the role of the psionicists will be to purify those who enter the Citadel when its doors open, such that the great AI guiding the fabled city will accept those from the Ancient Way.
Its Proper Place
Your Tribe might have a unique and specific view on what mutations represent. Feel free to chat with the refs to bounce some ideas.