An Introduction to Clades [Deviant: The Renegades]

Deviant: The Renegades

Eric Zawadzki here. As there seems to be a lot of interest in the Clades, I thought I’d share a bit more about these. To that end, I’ve provided the introduction to Clades, most of the write-up for the Mutant, and the current version of one Mutant Variation – Rapid Healing. A usual caveat applies: This game is just entering the first round of playtests, so things (especially mechanical things) could change.

Clades

Origins are how you went into the Divergence; Clades are how you broke. Which of the five Clades a Deviant belongs to depends on how her mind and body adapted to the process that fractured her soul.

While individuals within each Clade transformed along similar pathways, every one of them is unique and carried specific variances into their transformation. The Divergence brought the inevitable conclusion that the human subject would be altered into something inherently inhuman, either through dying or breaking and accepting becoming one of the Remade. While the outcome was unavoidable, the specifics were never certain. Despite any similarities that may exist in appearance, function, or powers of Broken within the same Clade, every transformed is unique. Each survived the Divergence in their own way and came into their Variations and Scars as individuals. No one within a Clade need have consistency or predictability with their peers.

Every Deviant has three Adaptations – two as a function of their Clade, plus Stubborn Resolve (p. XX), which is universal to all Remade. However dissimilar various Broken are, the Adaptations denote shared experience in surviving the horrors. For some Remade, the fact that others share their Adaptations is the only comfort they have in knowing they’re not alone.

Cephalists: The minds of these Psychics lashed out at the trauma of their Divergence, reshaping themselves as their souls cracked and giving them power over the world through sheer mental will, beyond anything a Baseline would understand.

Chimerics: Also known as Hybrids, these Remade combine human and foreign species to try and gain the best of both worlds. Hybrids may incorporate animal organs, plant genes, hastily attached limbs, or play host to voracious pathogens and parasites to merge human and other and see what results.

Coactives: The Infused blend the intangible with the solidity of human flesh. The precise power bound to the Broken that shattered her soul could be nearly anything. One harnesses deadly levels of electricity or radiation while another channels angelic light or demonic darkness. The intangible source is irrelevant to belonging to this Clade, only that the human controls it.

Invasives: The Cyborgs gained power as their flesh grew around invasive, inanimate matter, taking it in and incorporating it to be one with the human. Some Invasives benefit from shiny technological marvels while others make do with tarnished jury-rigged devices, but gadgets aren’t the sole province of this Clade. Magical artifacts, alien devices, and other exotic materials bonded with human meat also mark Invasives.

Mutants: Something in the genome of the Grotesques rebelled at the horror of the Divergence, rejecting whatever was trying to force change by responding with a change of their own. As the Mutant’s soul cracks, his body becomes something more, something with the ability to refuse the alternative insult to his flesh.

Classifying the Unclassifiable

Conspiracies focus on Clades because it gives some predictability to the Divergence, but this is far from perfect. It may be somewhat logical to think that slicing open a subject and surgically implanting mechanical parts produces an Invasive, but the victim’s body may reject the cold metal and latch onto the warm electricity inside the machines, becoming Coactive, instead. Or some quirk of genetics may force her body to violently destroy the foreign substances and rewire her Mutant physiology to be inimical to all machines. The stimulus of the Divergence is impersonal, while the response of Clade is nothing but personal.

Clades are not truly random, as statistical clusters do exist. The individual subject is important but not the only factor. Divergences appear to follow certain trends based on the events that brought about the rupture of a Broken’s soul. As an example, overcharging energy supplies — even with ephemeral energies poorly understood by science — while performing procedures may help skew results towards producing Coactives. Implanting living biological material is best suited to achieving a Chimeric result, just as grafting machines to human flesh most often gives an Invasive, when it delivers anything at all.

Progenitors who work under controlled conditions tend to have some level of repeatability to their methods, or at least try to limit the variables as much as possible to channel the results down the pathway they desire. To help deliver the control they so desperately crave, conspiracies specializing in producing certain Clades may use psychological profiling and genetic screening to identify those subjects with similar characteristics to what has previously yielded favorable results. What worked to make one subject of given background and health characteristics may work on another.

Despite these efforts, the Divergence is more art than science and any method can just as easily result in psychic Cephalists or genetic Mutants instead. Overall, Progenitors know every population has its outliers, and statistical anomalies exist. Sometimes, accidents just happen. Ignorant bystanders or isolated observers in the right place at the right time can undergo the Divergence as readily as carefully prepared subjects. In the end, which Clade a Deviant joins depends largely on the physical, mental, and spiritual state of the transformed herself.

Mutants: The Grotesques

Adapt and survive.

Every Mutant is a miracle, a statistical anomaly that, by rights, should have died as a result of the Divergence. Somehow, they didn’t. Their body rejected the cybernetic implant, or transplanted organ, or infusion of exotic energy as though allergic to it. Then it went a step further, transforming into something that would never suffer another such incursion. Unfortunately, this aggressive immune response still splintered the Grotesque’s soul.

The Mutant can endure almost any environment, for a time. Grotesques only rarely encounter situations that they can’t adapt to overcome. If a Mutant doesn’t have what it takes to thrive at that moment, she can change herself and triumph. If the Grotesque needs some advantage to save the day — or tear down a conspiracy — she will adapt and make it happen. These changes carry a cost — always a cost — but many Mutants are willing to pay this price if it advances their cause.

Welcome to the Freak Show

Mutants embody humanity’s adaptability to overcome any situation, including the Divergence. Regardless of whether the Remade was willing and prepared for the transformation, something within her genome refused to obey. Her body changed to survive, developing its own way of coping, and rejecting what was on offer.

Most Progenitors agree that this surprising immunity has roots in some quirk in the Grotesque’s DNA, but they argue vociferously over whether it would have occurred in the face of a different Divergence trigger. In short, no one knows with certainty whether the Mutant’s genes would have reacted the same way to a nanotech injection as it did to the implantation of a unicorn’s heart, or even whether the heart of a lion would have succeeded where the unicorn’s heart did not. Genetics might predispose a person to mutation, but it is equally reliant on the much less likely possibility that she is exposed to a Divergence-triggering stimulus that will unlock this potential.

Inhuman Resources

The very adaptability that refused compliance is what conspiracies want with Mutants. Every loyal Grotesque is a wildcard giving power to the conspiracy. Rivals may plan for attacks from many fronts, but they can never fully prepare for the Mutant dedicated to the conspiracy’s disruption or destruction. This unpredictable power makes Renegade Mutants just as terrifying to the conspiracies they’ve betrayed. Even Mutants who have worked within a conspiracy for years as Devoted could return for vengeance from any direction and despite the obstacles placed in their way.

This risk and uncertainty prompt smart conspiracies to approach identified Mutants carefully. Recruiters would rather proffer the carrot than the stick, enticing the Remade to join on her own terms, and under what she at least believes is her own free will. The cost of keeping a Grotesque onside and at ease is usually far less than forcing her to comply. Among several conspiracies, Mutant assets enjoy a freedom unmatched by other Clades, and coexist with the organization as a valued freelancer or consultant rather than a slave. The main question is how long can the Mutant turn a blind eye to the treatment and propagation of other Broken in the conspiracy’s clutches before her maladjusted conscience realizes the truth of her ‘business partners’?

Mutant Variations

Mutant Variations penetrate the Deviant’s anatomy down to the cellular level. Grotesques suffer frequent comparisons to cancers, for their most common capabilities are disturbing perversions of normal bodily functions, and they are the Clade most prone to fatal deterioration due to Instability.

Rapid Healing (• to •••••)

Subtle
Discrete, Perpetual

The Deviant’s body works tirelessly and unerringly to restore itself.

This Variation must be Persistent. This Variation cannot heal damage caused by Scars (such as Perilous Variation) or Adaptations (such as Adrenaline Surge or Overclock).

At Magnitude •, the Deviant’s natural healing times are halved.

At Magnitude ••, the Remade heals one bashing damage per turn in action scenes and heals all bashing damage at the end of each scene. This also removes minor ailments such as colds, food poisoning, or sprains.

At Magnitude •••, as Magnitude ••, but the Deviant also heals all lethal damage at the end of each chapter. This also cures most diseases and purges the Broken’s body of toxins.

At Magnitude ••••, as Magnitude •••, but the Deviant instead heals one bashing or lethal damage per turn in action scenes, heals all lethal damage at the end of each scene, and heals all aggravated damage at the end of each chapter. This also regenerates damaged or destroyed limbs and organs, eliminating relevant Persistent Conditions such as Blind or Crippled.

At Magnitude •••••, as Magnitude ••••, but the Deviant is nearly invulnerable to death, except as the result of Instability. Even if decapitated, dismembered, or incinerated, his body still makes itself whole. After being killed, the Broken’s body can remain inert for as long as his player wishes, such as to wait for enemies to leave the scene or until he is no longer immersed in a vat of strong acid. When he rises from the dead, the Deviant heals points of aggravated damage equal to Scar Power.

The Coactive Symbiote doesn’t remember the assassination missions her body carried out on behalf of her old employers because the spirits they coaxed into possessing her never let her — at least not until she convinced one to help her escape (Amnesia; Persistent).

The Invasive contains powerful nanites capable of rebuilding his body from a fragment, if necessary. They have done her mental health no favors, however (Murderous Urge, Persistent).

The Mutant possesses regenerative abilities that would make a starfish jealous. Although he heals quickly, he also feels pain more keenly (Fragility; Persistent).

  8 comments for “An Introduction to Clades [Deviant: The Renegades]

  1. Elf
    June 6, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Can´t wait for this game!

  2. Grant
    June 6, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    *Grabby Hands Intensifies*

  3. Fore
    June 7, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    Beautiful work.

  4. SunlessNick
    June 8, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    That all looks so good! I especially like that variations come with suggested ways to reinterprete them for other clades.

    A while back, I saw a reference to an “Atypic,” which seemed to be a catch-all for one of a kinds that didn’t fit into another clade. Are they still there, or has their role been taken by the Mutants? (It seems like it could have.

    • Eric Zawadzki
      June 8, 2019 at 7:16 pm

      What was previously called Atypics became Mutants. Partially, we decided we didn’t like the name as much, and partially, the Clade concept required a bit of fine-tuning so that it wasn’t an “other” category (as implied by calling them Atypics).

      Being able to reskin Variations and Scars to match your Clade (and even your specific character concept) was an important design goal from the start, and it has been fun during the playtests to see what players come up with while riffing on the mechanics to come up with something cool and flavorful to “explain” the way they work for their characters.

  5. Phaolan
    June 10, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    It’s neat to see the work “behind the scenes” for Deviant: The Renegades! Watching this game come together has been really fun for a crazy skeptic like me. When it was announced, I had NO IDEA what the game would look like, how it could work, or even why it was needed…

    And in all that, it reminds me of Promethean: The Created. That is, before that game’s release, I could only see the ONE archetype that fit – the Frankenstein monster – and I couldn’t even imgain any others that would work much less be at all compelling.

    Needless to say, I was VERY pleased with the final version of Promethean AND its Second Edition (my favorite CofD game, as a matter of fact), and I’m looking forward to seeing Deviant do the same!

  6. Zen_Hydra
    June 11, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    Can the Kickstarter include a stretch goal for a custom musical score by Howard Shore? In my mind’s ear, his work with Cronenberg plays in a loop while I read these Deviant updates.

    • richt
      June 11, 2019 at 10:21 pm

      Oh, I wish! I don’t think any of our KSs could have funded his time with a stretch Goal amount! 😉

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