Humans. In Aliens & Asteroids, the universe is running lousy with them! And that’s just what the Dominion of Humankind was hoping for. 🙂
However, that doesn’t mean that humankind is done tinkering with the formula that has allowed them to spread from one system to the next. The human body may have plateaued as far as evolution on Earth, but as we moved beyond those bounds, we needed to change.
Some of this emerges in the system via selecting a “Point of Origin” during character creation. For example, if you are from Earth, you have a bit of a sense of a moral superiority over other folks, so you get a +1 Morale attribute boost. Or if you were raised working in the Asteroid Field, you might have gained a +1 Toughness or a +1 Awareness boost due to the tougher conditions and need to remain hypervigilant.
You can also take traits such as Cybernetics, which grants your character a +1 to an attribute, but I’m hoping folks use it as more than just a way to bump a number. For instance, if you were to take Cybernetics: Eye, you could hack that a few ways. Yes, maybe it gives you a +1 Awareness boost. Or maybe it gives you a +1 Accuracy. But WHY does your character have a cybernetic eye? Was it due to an injury? An illness? Or was it a conscious choice to ditch an old biological component that needed an upgrade? Questions like that really can define a character in my mind.
In the case of cybernetics, you are replacing a body part. Perhaps an organ such as an eye, heart, or kidney. Perhaps a pair of legs, an, arm, or a hand. Where does it stop? Could a character completely replace their biological body with cybernetic parts over time? I suspect they could get pretty close.
And there may be some storylines around groups focused on the amount of humanity a particular individual maintains. Are you 100% human? How much does a cybernetic eye count against that value? And how much before you’re no longer considered human by certain organizations or even the law?
Lastly, there’s the idea of bio-hacking a character, likely through some form of genetic modification. This could be as brutal as a Grey Man kidnapping a human being and taking whatever biological material they may need to stay alive, then leaving the poor victim behind to perish. Or as fine tuned as injecting a genetically programmed virus to actually alter a character’s DNA to achieve some desired effect. In the one case, it’s clearly a one-off approach. But in the second, could the DNA changes be passed along to their offspring?
Where cybernetics will focus on replacing individual body parts, genetic modifications in A&A will focus on various systems of the human body. For example, a particular treatment might increase bone density of the skeletal system to grant a character a +1 Toughness. And another might affect the integumentary (skin) system to grant a character an armor-like skin to do the same thing.
In these cases, does such direct manipulation of the genetic code make these beings less human? Does it change them into “mutations” of a sort? How would those same organizations focused on “human purity” deal with that?
The main idea behind this sort of enhancement is that it’s minimal (only a +1 bonus per trait), infinitely flexible, and could ultimately create some quite unique characters.
If the system goes another thousand years into the future, will there be genetic adaptations to living among the stars, on other systems, or in zero-G for their entire lives? I would say definitely yes. Such an approach could even be used for almost a comic-book mutant approach where characters gain super powers…
The sky is the limit. I’m excited. But I don’t want to put a damper on anybody’s creativity — so we’ll have some basic rules for cybernetic and genetic manipulation and see where player and referee stories take us!