Everything you see in the Matrioska Multiverse may constitute spoilers for other worlds I'm working on. Proceed with caution!
Many blanks who are aware of their nature can - usually with the assistance of others, particularly former Patch-class skyphoforms - exert direct control over the traits of their progeny. While the Committee on Instance Design Standards may suggest traits suitable for new blanks to be inserted into instances - encouraging traits likely to promote survival while discouraging those that break the 'theme' of the instance - blank couples are given a wide leeway in the way that they beget their offspring. The 'genes' of a new blank are known as their 'rootcode.'
As a purely information-based structure, rootcodes are ideally designed for compression, allowing the 'seeds' of skyphoforms and other human-like artificial intelligence to be transmitted or contained in small volumes of digital storage space. Attempts to make these pre-packaged intelligences run in software emulation and to compress them into ever-smaller volumes are ongoing, as the space, computing, and power requirements of a blank or skyphoform are the true limiting factor on their ability to travel. Importantly, though, rootcodes serve as an important intermediary language between The Word and the physical machinery of the stellar engine in which all blanks are embedded, allowing those with more limited knowledge of the science involved to engage in reproduction with significantly reduced risk of complications.
Rootcodes are classified into several different categories based on what they do for their recipient:
- Forma rootcodes relate to the physical form that a blank will take in both their unembodied and, to a certain extent, their state. Forma rootcodes are essential to creating viable blanks, as without them, a blank is a disembodied intelligence unable to sense or interact with their environment. A damaged forma can result in and vulnerability to corruption, both of which are considered 'diseases' among the otherwise inorganic citizens of the Matrioshka.
- Catalyst rootcodes relate to how a blank responds and develops in response to stimuli. Catalysts provide a 'biological' basis to shape a blank's later behavioral set. Without catalyst rootcodes, a blank is incapable of learning and developing normally or responding in a coordinated manner to stimuli. Corruption causes catalysts coding for contrasting responses to commingle, causing the corrupted blank to respond in erratic and maladaptive ways.
- Reactant rootcodes function like forma rootcodes, but have a more granular affect on the capabilities of the new blank and tend to accrue over the lifetime of the blank as it experiences new events. Reactants are like a combination of genetic and experiential memory, and may encode for behaviors more complex than those found in forma or catalyst. A blank without reactants can still respond to their environment and act in their 'factory default' capacity, often exhibiting significant amnesia if not cognitive impairment. As with catalysts, corrupted blanks retain some of their prior reactants, albeit in a jumbled and fragmentary state.