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View Full Version : Mutant or Abhuman, the $64,000 question



Lothlanathorian
07-11-2006, 14:41
So, this thread topic was spawned from the debate over the Imperial policy on Xenos thread and needed it's own, since it had nothing to do with Xenos.

Okay, so there are what the Imperium classifies as 'abhumans' and what they call the 'mutant'. Views, opinions and how all view this and the Imperial policies on them, please.

My view: Abhumans are human settlers that evolved to their environment on alien worlds where mutants as sudden, deviant genetic aberrations that occur in a single generation and usually involve Warp taint.

Scythe
07-11-2006, 14:51
Point is, as I also said in the other tread, evolution means mutation. You can't evolve without mutating, and selective breeding does not get you Orgyns or Ratlings instead of humans.

Furthermore, to my knowledge, reproduction of Ratlings or Ogryns with humans is not possible, while it is possible with most 'mutants'.

Hence the imperium is rather hypocrite in my opinion by burning mutants while leaving the generally accepted abhumans alive (while they are, technically, also born from mutation). Mutants are a lot closer to humans as Abhumans.

Toastrider
07-11-2006, 14:54
I think you just nailed it in one. Abhumans are deviations from the baseline norm, but acceptable ones (squats, ratlings, and ogryns are all abhumans). Navigators and bonded psykers are also, technically speaking, abhumans (although continued exposure to the warp does bad things to Navigators in the end).

All abhumans have a, for lack of a better term, stable and sane pattern. They're not really malformed or asymmetric; they're just different.

Mutation, on the other hand, is almost uniformly pernicious and random.

This has been a bone of contention for puritanical and Redemptionist elements in Imperial society, as they usually want to purge everything that doesn't look human -- even Navigators and astropaths.

*smirk* I remember in Faith and Fire, one of the Sisters even referring to Space Marines as 'abhumans'. All I could think was 'Yeah, show me how tough you are and say that to a Marine's face, kiddo...'

--TR

manicmarine
07-11-2006, 15:09
As I understand it, reading through the rogue trader book,Toastrider is right abhumans are stable and will reproduce in a stable patern this means that the children of an abhuman will have the same abnomallities. This is either through evoulution (I.e. Ogryn) or exposure to warp (i.e. navigators). Generally abhumans are accepted In the Imperum to a greater or lesser extent.

Mutants are mutated humans that may have started as a normal or have an unstable mutation that will not reproduce or will become more server as the generations go on...

Darkseer
07-11-2006, 15:17
I say burn them all, just to be sure.

Slaaneshi Slave
07-11-2006, 15:22
*smirk* I remember in Faith and Fire, one of the Sisters even referring to Space Marines as 'abhumans'. All I could think was 'Yeah, show me how tough you are and say that to a Marine's face, kiddo...'

--TR

My Canoness said it to Marneus Calgar, right before she cut him in half.

Minister
07-11-2006, 15:23
I'll just quote myself and make it easier:

Firstly, ignore any understanding you may have on modern understanding of genetics. Even if they have this understanding in the Imperium, the strict usage of the various terms does not translate to foreign or domestic policy or dogma.

Mutation is single-generation variation in a human's (or other creature's) genetic code, producing significant alteration from the established and pure form. These traits are out with natural variance in form, and may be attributed to physical, mental or spiritual corruption on the part of the parents. In some cases, this corruption does not manifest itself until later in life (typically puberty). In extreme cases, exposure to taint may be of such magnitude as to cause mutation to occur spontaneously or gradually in an originally normal individual.

Damage to the genetic structure is passed down to a mutant’s child, but the aberrant nature of such creatures makes the results of such breeding unpredictable. In all cases, however, the tainted child shows a vastly increased likelihood of further mutation.

By contrast, abhumans are the result of natural changes in the human form to adapt to environmental conditions, which go beyond the norm of human form. Such variation is yet another sign of Humanity’s right to rule the galaxy as a whole, as Man cannot be expected to rule a world upon which life cannot be maintained. Ogryns and other abhumans with variance in structure are the most prominent of these, but there are other forms. Indeed, the line between abhuman and standard human is very blurred. Consider those worlds where ambient conditions have brought about a variance in skin colour, regardless of the tone held by the majority of original settlers, or those worlds where inhabitants have built up immunities to native toxins or poisons which might prove lethal to offworlders.

grimsnagga
07-11-2006, 22:24
To summerize, the difference between abhumans and mutants is that abhumans are acceptable and mutants are not. :)

orangesm
07-11-2006, 22:48
The mutants parents would appear to be normal humans. The mutant shows some amazing odvious difference between it and its parents. A single eye or three eyes instead of two, a tentcale instead of an arm, scales instead of skin. These are also changes that are more than basic differences. '
An Abhuman is a evolutionary progression, where a particular trait is favored over another one. An Ogryn is a large built human that lacks some of the upper level brain functions to retain energy for survival. A squat is a short stout human, leading towards time spent mining heavy worlds. When a tunnel collapse kills alot of your tall people and your skinny people, the result is a stout population.

Space Marines are not abhumans, they are born as humans and then surgerically changed to be more than human.

Evolution does not require mutation, it requires variation in the initial gene stock. Mutation is a sudden change to the genetic code and thus the genetic stock, if the mutation is favorable it will survive and spread, even in the Imperium - thus Navigators and the presence of pyskers. The first pyskers who manage to hide themselves and pass the possible latent gene on also allows the gene to be carried throughout the population. Navigators marry other Navigators and thus the offspring are Navigators. I like to think about these genes as being similiar to say blue eyes. A couple with blue eyes will have children with blue eyes - Navigator couples produce Navigators. A man with brown (we will say dark brown and assume carries no blue genes) eyes and a woman with blue eyes produce a brown eyed child - normal human and psycher produce normal child with the resessive gene. A couple with one set of the resessive gene will always produce children who are normal, but if a normal couple both have the resessive gene there is a chance that their child is a psycher. So this explains the presence of pyschers appearing in the general population and the pure strain navigators.

The mutations that are extra-ordinary are those that are similiar to the psycher, but the result is far different. Where the psycher or hyper intellegent mutant can survive long enough to pass on the gene, the physically malformed cannot or at least not outside their own mutant population. Mutants are the beginning of a Xenos race, something alien to humanity, if the mutation is being tall and lean, having pointy ears, and being psychically attentuned you suddenlly have Eldar. Enough mutations or drastitic enough mutations and it becomes Xenos.

Minister
07-11-2006, 23:00
Yes, but not all mutants are spawned from pure stock. Many are stable mutants who are born with the same abberation from the true human form as was posessed by their parents (scavies and beastmen are particularly noted for this), and some are born with extra mutations on top of the parents'.

There is also the phenomenom of the "Mutie Messiah", a child born apparently normal from mutant stock. These children are often the cause of uprisings, either as unwilling figureheads or as leaders, and are often tainted in mind and/or soul to a great extent.

schoon
08-11-2006, 03:03
I think that the simple answer is this:

Abhumans evolved that way gradually over a prolonged period of time (Ogryn, Ratlings, Navigators, and even Psykers fit in this category).

Mutants are spontaneous and significant abberations from the norm.

Scythe
08-11-2006, 07:33
Evolution does not require mutation, it requires variation in the initial gene stock.

No variation is possible without mutation of the gene. Enough live forms can only reproduce by themselves. It is not as effective as the variation gained due reproduction by combining the genes of two individuals, but it exists. These live forms rely purely on mutation to evolve. Likewise, no new traits (variation) can be introduced without mutation.


Yes, but not all mutants are spawned from pure stock. Many are stable mutants who are born with the same abberation from the true human form as was posessed by their parents (scavies and beastmen are particularly noted for this), and some are born with extra mutations on top of the parents'.

Doesn't this make them awefully close to accepted abhumans then?


I say burn them all, just to be sure.

Seconded. Only pure humans in my IG force. :p

Voronwe[MQ]
08-11-2006, 07:34
I do not see psykers as abhumans, merely as humans possessing slight psychic mutations, but not something 'extreme'.

Abhumans: ogryns, feral ogryns, nightsiders, 'beasts', ratlings, subs, slave levies, Afriel strain, Navigators.

Minister
08-11-2006, 09:15
No variation is possible without mutation of the gene. Enough live forms can only reproduce by themselves. It is not as effective as the variation gained due reproduction by combining the genes of two individuals, but it exists. These live forms rely purely on mutation to evolve. Likewise, no new traits (variation) can be introduced without mutation. You're confusing real-world science with fictional dogma. Put away your New Scientist and go dig out your X-Men comics.

Doesn't this make them awefully close to accepted abhumans then?It does, which is why early in Imperial history beastmen were concidered to be abhumans before the chaos-based nature of the original mutation was uncovered.

In all cases, it's the results of single-generation changes that are concidered dangerous, even if this change proves to breed true in the future.

Scythe
08-11-2006, 09:23
Allright, point taken. Real world psychics and the 40k universe do not always match...:p

But then, how does one mark the difference between a Chaos based mutation and a normal one? Is there a way to really be sure? Couldn't all mutations in the 40K universe be Chaos based then?

orangesm
08-11-2006, 11:51
That is why the Imperium has the policy of burning all Mutants. It is unable to make the distiniction between those that are a natural mutation and those that are driven by some outside Heretical or Xenos source.

Minister
08-11-2006, 12:01
As a rule, mundane sources of mutation give mundane mutations, hunchbacks, club feet, abnormal tallness or shortness, odd skin and so-on. Chaos tends to be the source of the baboon heads and tentacles crowd.

Scythe
08-11-2006, 12:02
Which leads to the logical question: why didn't they burned the Ogryns, Ratlings etc once they reestablished contact with the planets they lived on?

edit: meant as a reply to orangesm post. Still, I don't think the imperium is keeping a handbook for all mutations with a classification Chaos or natural next to it. You mention skin color. How would you know a red tint was caused naturally, or is a mutation by Khorne?

DantesInferno
08-11-2006, 12:09
Which leads to the logical question: why didn't they burned the Ogryns, Ratlings etc once they reestablished contact with the planets they lived on?

Possibly because they realised they were useful to use in battle? ;)

I got the feeling that the use of Ogryn and Ratlings goes back so far that noone questions it, possibly all the way back to the Great Crusade. The much more tolerant era of that time wouldn't have had a problem with slightly mutated but still loyal troops fighting, so they became part of the Imperium's forces. As the Imperium got more dogmatic and intolerant, attitudes towards mutants hardened noticeably, but Abhumans had been part of the forces for so long (and possibly sanctioned by the Emperor himself or an early Saint of the Imperium), so that they were never questioned. Doublethink in action.

I think it's beyond doubt that if Ogyrn were only discovered in the 41st millenium, they would never have been accepted into the Guard in the way they are.

orangesm
08-11-2006, 14:31
Also the abhumans as a seperate species tend to predate the 'modern' Imperium and date from the Age of Strife or Dark Age of Technology. The mutants of the underhive tend not to carry the same mutation from generation to generation. Abhumans have a stable world wide population that you can tell was once human, at the time of orginally settling, but then changed to fit their enviroment. Of course the Mutants of the of the underhive may just be adapting faster to their polluted dung hole. But the Imperium despises rapid change and is slow to change anything, even introduction and authorization of battle refitted but effective tanks.

Minister
08-11-2006, 15:14
Which leads to the logical question: why didn't they burned the Ogryns, Ratlings etc once they reestablished contact with the planets they lived on?

edit: meant as a reply to orangesm post. Still, I don't think the imperium is keeping a handbook for all mutations with a classification Chaos or natural next to it. You mention skin color. How would you know a red tint was caused naturally, or is a mutation by Khorne?
In the case of the established abhuman breeds, the Imperium has maintained records on them for millennia. The Inquisition has sancationed them as being pure, as has the Administratum and the Ecclesiarchy (grudgingly). New discoveries on isolated worlds are, if the invasion commander isn't overly trigger-happy examined in the same way. Note that many which are neither highly unstable nor warp-tainted will be exterminated as undesirable in any case, because the Imperium's nice like that.

Sceleris
08-11-2006, 15:31
One other reason (and this goes back to a lot of the early fluff in Rogue Trader) was that the ogryn had a simple, childlike devotion to the emperor (hence grudging acceptable from the Ecclesiarchy) while ratlings were not seen as a real threat. The old beastmen conscripts again were seen as a stable mutant breed who could be exploited.

In the Inquisitor books mutants (`twists') were allowed to live and work on some planets but would obviously not be acceptable on others

Minister
08-11-2006, 15:36
There are indeed several instances of a mutant underclass being maintained as slave labour, but even then the most twisted forms are removed with extreme prejudice.

Lothlanathorian
08-11-2006, 17:21
I also remember a short story in an Inferno where an IGman of some sort gets stranded on a high G planet alone somehow. Here, he meets a race of Human-like beings that disgust and appall him, they have fours arms, two of which are on the abdomen and act as a second pair of legs. Then one of them ends up speaking the same language as him and he learns that they are fervent adherents to the Imperial Creed and believe he was sent by the Emperor to save them. They look like they do because they were starnded on this planet a long ass time ago and the AdMechs with them made these arms and grafted them to them and alter their genetics, via STC tech, so that they oculd survive here until they were saved. There is another clan of these 'people' on the planet that worship Khorne and attack them all the time. He helps the Imperial clan fight and kill the Berzerker clan and then his rescuers show up. When he gets off world, he tells them that aliens live on the planet and that they are not a threat so that they won't be exterminated as mutants.

If anyone has a copy of this story, a little polish to this would be appreciated as I read it a looooong time ago.

Voronwe[MQ]
08-11-2006, 17:39
Sounds almost like Zoats.

Mr Zephy
08-11-2006, 18:28
Lothlanathorian: It's in the Let the Galaxy Burn compilation of short stories, and you have a pretty good summary of the story but with a Commisar landing with him and wanting to kill all the abhumans, but the guardsman changes the commisar's log after he dies.

EarthScorpion
08-11-2006, 19:09
There are basically 3 types of "Mutants", which are treated in different ways by the Imperium. I, and Inquisitor Yosef Breton (who is an Istvaansian, admittedly) like to summerise them as follows:

Evolutionary Mutants - Stable types, which breed true, and are a result of natural selection on their home planet. Include Ogryns, Ratlings etc

Chemical Mutants - Your typical underhive scum, produced by exposure to toxic chemical in the womb/ genetic degredation. Killed on birth on some planets, used as slave labour on others. Scaly skin, atophied limbs are common;

Chaotic Mutants - The evil force of chaos has twisted and blah blah blah. Killed on sight, but some may be able to pass as Chemical Mutants. These are the eyes on stalks, shape shifting sorts.

swordwind
08-11-2006, 19:38
A Ratling is basically a human except he's shorter because his world has higher gravity. Now a guy with a tentacle for a face...

Lothlanathorian
09-11-2006, 00:56
Lothlanathorian: It's in the Let the Galaxy Burn compilation of short stories, and you have a pretty good summary of the story but with a Commisar landing with him and wanting to kill all the abhumans, but the guardsman changes the commisar's log after he dies.

Thanks much, kind sir! I purchased that book recently, but I have not gotten that far into it yet as I am only reading one story per night. And, with the addition of the Commisar, it adds that much more insight, IMHO, as to the different forms of indoc the Imperium uses.

schoon
09-11-2006, 01:12
Evolutionary Mutants - Stable types, which breed true, and are a result of natural selection on their home planet. Include Ogryns, Ratlings etc

Chemical Mutants - Your typical underhive scum, produced by exposure to toxic chemical in the womb/ genetic degredation. Killed on birth on some planets, used as slave labour on others. Scaly skin, atophied limbs are common;

Chaotic Mutants - The evil force of chaos has twisted and blah blah blah. Killed on sight, but some may be able to pass as Chemical Mutants. These are the eyes on stalks, shape shifting sorts.
Well said.

I might add that the first two are tolerated within the Imperium, though obviously with varying degrees of prejudice.

orangesm
09-11-2006, 02:03
EarthScorpion has said in a 6 lines what the rest of us where trying to say in paragraphs of detail.

Minister
09-11-2006, 22:06
But with less style. :)