Mutant Settings

In our last post, we took a brief look at how to add mutations to NPCs in your games. So let’s follow up with some ideas on how to incorporate mutation into your settings.
The difficult thing about mutation is that it is a deviation from the norm. So to make mutation a part of the setting, you need to have a well-established norm already in place. Characters like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles work because they are clearly different from the norm. In some regards, the X-Men fail this test as there isn’t a significant different between them and other metahumans in the Marvel universe. Similarly, the Aces in the Wild Cards series represent mutation well because they are a subset of a subset of a subset, highlighting their difference.
So let’s look at a few sample settings where we can incorporate the idea of mutants. Today’s hooks are going to target modern settings, but with a little work, they could be applied to other genres as well.
  • They Live in the Tunnels – Under the tunnels of the cities, humanities outcasts dwell. These outcasts have adapted to their lives in the tunnels and have developed a sallow complexion and cat-like eyes. Each group of outcasts has founded their own cities underground, connecting them through a complex series of tunnels that loosely mirrors the highways of the surface dwellers.
  • The Atlanteans – During the homo sapiens ascent, a second species had developed, abandoning the land. This species had developed the ability to breathe underwater and slowly abandoned the surface world altogether. Driven to the edge of extinction by the pollution and warming of the modern world, they now seek revenge.
  • After the Bomb – After nuclear war breaks out, the modern world is shattered. Worse yet, large swaths of people have developed aberrations caused by the fallout. These people often band together in wild packs and prey on their fellow men. In this setting, mutants are introduced after the setting is established.
  • The One Percent – Roughly 1% of every child is born different. These children develop normally until puberty at which point they develop a more feral, cunning nature. Physical changes happen as well, including enhanced agility and strength. These mutant children often hide their mutation until they finally leave their homes, some meeting up with others of their kind, some striking out as loners. These mutants are considered a threat by all of the world’s governments and are routinely hunted and “cleansed.”

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