One of the greatest driving forces of evolution in Lyra are the rampant mutations caused by the Seeding. Those spectacular events of green-purple comet-like pods falling down from the sky, and the clouds of spores they release when they impact Lyra, have brought to life the most amazing and most horrifying creatures currently alive.
Due to a Seeding thousands of years ago, the Vulpe rose up into sentience and built one of the greatest civilizations to ever walk the planet. Also true, is that most of the monstrocities that inhabit the Duskbelt, as well as the terryfing Saurian and Megafauna living in the vast jungles of Nyria, were also created when pods fell deep into the darkest ocean or in the thick jungle.
In the civilized lands of the Old World ( Thebia, Viliria and Azun) it is common practice when a Seeding occurs for the spores and the pods to be burned to a crisp the moment they are detected. The Theban Empire has a dedicated watch scanning the skies when Achelois, the green moon, is ready for a seeding, and a specialised force of knights protected by custom-made armour, weilding flame producing weaponry to destroy the affected area and everything else several hundred meters around it.But things do not always go as planned...
Mutations in Lyra
Once an organism is affected by a mutation, either during its life or at any point during the evolution of its species, it can no longer be affected by the seeding. There are some exceptions to this rule but they are extremely rare (see Wild and Forced Mutations). Humans, being the only species in Lyra that has not been affected by the seeding throughout its evolution, is the only species with access to mutations.
Mutations are the will of the planet-goddess Achelois manifested. Once an organism inhales a spore, or a spore comes in contact with an open wound, the mutagen will start taking its course. The spores look like a purple-green irridescent, rather sticky, dust that it is described as smelling like sweet wine.
The Mutagen works almost in an intelligent fashion. It sits with the organism it has infected for anything between some hours to several months learning from it and trying to understand what is it that this organism needs the most. For example, if the creature is a grass grazer often hunted by predators, the mutagen will alter the physiology of the creature to make easier for it to survive. That might mean faster running speeds, harder skin, or even a way to actively fight against the predator.
Once the mutagen has concluded its incubation period, the creature will enter the manifestation phase. This phase normally takes 1 to 3 days. During this stage, depending on the type of mutation, the creature will experience incredible pain, fever, hallucinations, coughing and other symtpoms. Its body will twist and warp as the mutagen runs its course changing every single cell of the body it infected. A good part of the creatures affected will die during this stage, but those that do survive the process will come out the other side of it stronger and better adapted to the environment they inhabit.
Creatures mutated by the seeding have their genetic code forever changed. Further more, the mutations take precedence and when the creature procreates, these are passed on to their genetic descendants without modifications. In the very special case that a creature is the result of two creatures carrying separate, non-overlapping mutations, that creature will in fact attain both mutations.
As with everything in nature, there is always an off-chance that a mutation will take place even if another is already in place. Although the chance is very low, when it happens it's always to the detriment ... of others. All recorded wild mutations exclusively cause the creature affected to become maddened, almost rabid, and lose any sense of itself. In sentient creatures that is known as "Verda's Madness" and in most cases it is the cause of havoc and murder.
One of the most lucrative illegal compounds is the practice of gathering mutagen spores before they are exterminated or consumed. "Goo-hunters", as they are commonly known, scour the open valleys and mountains of Thebia in search of the comet-pods and once they find them, collect as much of the mutagen as possible before the "Cleaners" come in to burn the whole area down.
Once someone has procurred a vial of a mutagen they can consume it and enter a state of training that forces the mutagen to mutate the subject in a particular way. In many cases, those who consume the mutagen also practice meditation in order to speak to the mutagen. As astonishing as it sounds, reports seem to indicate that this is successful. For example, consuming the mutagen and spending the coming days fencing, running, training and using mantra-like meditation such as "I want to become the best fencer I can be", is known to have given the subjects incredible, somewhat supernatural, reflexes, strength and prowess.
Althought the practice of procuring and selling the mutagen is illegal, consuming it is not. In some places the practice is shunned but, due to the fact that this is a rather common practice for the nobility and the really rich, no law has ever been enacted against it.
Many alchemists have managed in their labs to procreate creatures to carry in some cases 8 distinct mutations. The practice of experimentation with the mutagen is highly illegal, so most of those experiments never see the light of day.
A small amount of the Ogres, Orcs, Goblins and generally horrible and disgusting monsters of the world are people affected by the mutagen. The rest are just greedy nobles with no morals.
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Warning Choosing Gamemaster will reveal to you secrets of the world and hooks that should only be read by people aiming to run games in Lyra, do not choose this if you wish to play as a player ar some point