The Changed Flesh Condition in Dark Epoch | World Anvil

The Changed Flesh

The centuries humans have spent in Otherverse has seen the rise of a strange disorder that induces mutation in both their physical and mental states. Exposure to the Aetheric Sea without protection is a common cause, the esoteric energies of that alien realm being quite dangerous for humans and indeed most other races and there are worlds where the Sea's touch is strong enough to affect its inhabitants. Those afflicted exhibit physical mutations such as odd coloured flesh, feathers, fur, claws and even more grotesque alterations like enlarged limbs and extra heads. Perhaps more insidious are the changes one cannot see with the naked eye, the alteration of the mind that can drive some mad, or gift them abilities like telepathy and psychokinesis amongst others.

Void Touched. The Tainted. Cursed Blood. This condition has a number of names yet the most accepted one is The Changed Flesh. For many it is a curse, an affliction dreaded by all right thinking folk. And for others it is a blessing, a way of transcending the weakness of human flesh and becoming greater, a path toward enlightenment and being able to see the universe as it truly is. There exist communities of humans and aliens alike who seek to catch the Changing Flesh, forming cults around powerful afflicted individuals who see that which others cannot see and know truths from beyond the veil of reality.



Despite endless speculation and innumerable theories, the Aetheric Sea remains a mystery to conventional academia. It is another reality, or the remnants of a dead universe, a pocket realm. The list goes on and on. For every theorist there is a theory and for every theory there is an argument against.

That regular humans cannot survive unprotected in the Aetheric is undeniable. There are certain races that can exist, even thrive, within it and there are the various entities and beings found within the Aetheric Sea such as the Void Drakes, the Deep Krakens and the numerous other eldritch horrors unfortunate travellers may encounter. Whether or not the latter are native to the Aetheric Sea is unknown yet even they exhibit mutations that show some deviation from the norm.

Humans though are particularly suspectable to the metamorphic energies of the Sea and for those who must expose themselves to it onboard ships have to wear specially constructed suits to protect them.


The Changed Ones

There are a great many seemingly random mutations the afflicted with exhibit from the cosmetic such as oddly coloured skin shades to more grotesque body morphs like extra limbs and limbs. Some are beneficial if unsightly to most such as inhumanly strong arms, fingers tipped with claws, digitigrade legs bequeathing greater speed. Even tails that are strong enough to use as an extra limb or aid in balance. With practise the afflicted individual may find great use for their mutations in their lives. Criminal cartels are always on the lookout for those with mutations to add a little muscle and fear to their ranks and many gladiatorial and fight pits welcome fighters with the more overt and vicious gifts.

Others are not so fortunate. They be reduced to boneless blobs and retain their minds or they may become sluglike or swollen to monstrous proportions. Some may discover they can the thoughts of others and be driven mad by the cacophony before they learn to control it and filter out the noise. A rare few learn to harness their awakened minds and use their newfound abilities for good or ill. Most become cult leaders gathering followers about them. Or they may become prophets, seers and oracles who make coin through reading the paths of fate for others.


The Afflicted in Society

On some human worlds those with the Changed Flesh are outcasts, exiled from their homes and families and forced to live in ghettos away from the so called untainted. And on others they are accepte and on occasion welcomed if their gifts are beneficial in some manner. In most cases though the afflicted rarely rise to posisitions of power outside those within the more criminal parts of society. For those who have been ostracised from their old life, crime is often the only way to survive.

The Changed Flesh afflicition affects everyone differently and thus far it has eluded definition by researchers. Why are some gifted with mutations that make them stronger or psychically gifted and others it reduces to mewling protoplasm or screaming madman who just want the voices silenced?

Like so very much in Otherverse, it is unlikley there will ever be a satisfactory answer.



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