In Araea, mutations are a fact of life. From industrial pollutants and twisted magic to Blight and Far Deep dangers, there are any number of things that can twist the flesh of mankind into new and bizarre shapes. Humanity has in turned learned to live with these deformities as just another aspect of a hard life.
Mutant With familiarity comes a certain degree of understanding. The term "mutant" is sometimes used by medical experts to refer to particularly unfortunate individuals or beasts that have warped beyond their norm, but it is not a common term outside these scholarly circles. Mutations is something that you acquire, like a cold or a bad rash, it isn't something that you are.Aberrations are anything that is neither minor nor a deformity. Mutations that cause disease, weakness or debilitate the mutated are all considered aberrations. Things that interfere or warp the functionality of the mutated's body also qualify as an aberration. At this point, many of the mutations are not only life-threatening but often strange. Abominable mutations are in essence everything that defies the other classifications. Flesh that is turning to stone or bone, mushroom-like growths across the arms and back, entire extra limbs are all abominable mutations. These never have simple causes and most are the results of either Thaumaturgy or visits into the Far Deep.
Homo superior Very rarely, mutations can prove useful - even beneficial. But mutations are never pleasant or desirable, more often than not they are debilitating and sometimes crippling afflictions. Even a mutation that seem useful at first often progress to a point of becoming a danger to the health and sanity of the mutated.
A Medical View
The Atma on MutationsThe Atma believe that mutations are a manifestation of extreme internal imbalance, permanent afflictions brought on by too much imbalance for too long a time. Exactly what is where their theory gets muddied but the Atma Medikari try their best to assign most mutation one or two traits that they embody; tumors being wet, an extra finger being warm. It doesn't always make sense, but that doesn't stop them from trying. The Medikari advice that the best way to avoid mutations is to avoid imbalance: diet and careful environmental immersions as required. Read more about Atma - the Science of the Balanced Body
The Deva on MutationThe Deva theorize that mutations are brought on when external elements infiltrate the body and grow inside of them. They are unnatural invasions of the human body, akin to parasites or infections. As the premiere surgeons of Araea, they are more willing to deal with mutations in a more aggressive manner, believing them to have a cure just like any venom or illness. They haven't found it yet, but they have grown skilled at amputation and reconstructive surgery for minor or sometimes deforming mutations.
Read more about Deva - the Art of Healing
The Exiled One group of unfortunate souls bear particular mention as it related to the topic of mutations: the Exiled. Forced to spend generations on the Surface, living in Blight and under malignant stars, the Exiled often showcase an impressive array of mutations. There are not many elders among the Exiled.
Example Mutation: Minor Growing (or losing) a finger is a common example of a minor example. If the sufferer it lucky, it will be on her hand. Many chose to amputate the offending aberration, but those too poor to afford proper treatment risk infecting the wound and so many simply chose to live with it.
CausesThere are many things that can warp a persons body. These are the most common and the most well-understood by the people of Araea. Blight - the name given by the denizens of Araea to radiation and radioactivity, it is one of the most common causes of mutations and by far the leading cause among any Exiled. Pollutants - the working poor often find themselves handling dangerous industrial alchemical componds or wading hip-deep in strange offal that mix mushroom, fungi with dangerous toxins. Much more vague than Blight, it is a convenient scapegoat for doctors if no other source seem obvious. Thaumaturgy - power has its price. Theurgs possess the power to warp reality and often find that it warps them too. Channeling the power from beyond through their own flesh, Theurgs inevitably begin to change. Into what depends in large part on what sort of magic they have chosen to wield. Thaumaturgy... As a victim - Less common, some Theurg sculpt flesh like others sculpt stone or shape fire. These theurgs are sometimes known as Mutatomancers for their propensity of afflicting their enemies with terrible, debilitating mutations. "Others" - Araea is a world of many unknowns and everything from the reality-rending visits of the Q'x to strange primordial things in the Far Deep can cause the human body to change.
Example Mutation: Deformity Persistent and ugly skin-rashes and tumor-like growths can be an example of a deformity mutation. While not yet life-threatening, they set the mutated apart from others.
Cures and TreatmentsMinor mutations and sometimes deformities can be treated, but such treatment take the form of surgery that cuts away tainted flesh and hope it will regrow healthy. For aberration and abomination mutations, the best a mutated can hope for is the false hope of some snake oil. Theurgs, on the other hand, can offer things no surgeon can.
Example Mutation: Aberration The left eye can no longer see, as the tumors that cover the mutated's face have grown bulbous and swollen enough to cover it. They bleed often and reek of decay - the result of extended immersion in Blight.
Example Mutation: Abominable This patient returned from the Far Deep, gibbering of things too terrible to recount. His arms have grown hard chitinous scales, which he insists are growing to cover more of his skin. The nails have elongated and become hard claws.