Everyone signed the Tycho Conventions, everyone agreed that they wouldn't go back home to their Frankensteinian labs and start or resume working on creating genetic super men. But a lot of those men and woman who signed the Conventions had their fingers crossed, because the Convention had almost no effect on the status and progress of the large Super Human genetic projects.
In Huxley's Brave New World, humans were divided into 5 classifications, Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, with further divisions within those classifications. This nomenclature was useful, and is used, but only in the meta-context. No one in the Cosmic Era would consider themselves as part of any specific caste or level.
Gamma is the baseline human, same in the Cosmic Era as today, and Gammas represent the largest percentage of the human population.
Gamma+ is the end result of genetic screenings and basic repair of hereditary diseases. Gamma+ are very common through large portions of the Atlantic Federation, Pacific Rim Coalition, and in parts of the Eurasian Alliance. Gamma+ populations are healthier longer, and have a much lower level of medical burden on society. Aside from a general better quality of living and much lower instances of chronic diseases, there are almost no differences between G+ and G.
Gamma- is the end result of genetic coding that rather than removes hereditary diseases can activate them if dormant or recessive, creating high instances of the appearance of said disorders and illnesses. Gamma- is uncommon as it is the result of 'genetic sabotage' (more on this elsewhere)
The first tangible rewards from the pursuit of Homo Sapiens Superior was the creation of panels of genetic screenings, with the associated therapies and procedures to eliminate many hereditary conditions. This burst of technology was greeted with great joy, and as polio, cholera, and smallpox had been made memories centuries before, the seemingly insurmountable foes of cancer, diabetes, and hypertension were turned into ghosts.
While the tech was used by many adults, it's effects weren't really felt until in utero screenings were carried out, and the children were born free from many known genetic defects and faults. As this progresses, fewer and fewer fetuses tested positive for genetic defects and flaws, and the former invasiveness of a genetic screening test became as casual as a blood test.
The goal of genetic manipulation is the Alpha, Homo Sapiens Superior, Human+. There is enough literature and public fear and insecurity over the fate of 'inferior' humanity once the supermen show up to keep these projects from going through larger trials. But the Alphas exist. They are stronger, faster, and tougher than the normal human (though only typically 15-20%) but they are are more intelligent, more resistant to disease, and have much longer lifespans.
The goal of creating Alphas isn't creating supersoldiers. At the end of the day, the two goals are very different and in some cases mutually exclusive. The supersoldier is a biological weapon, and breeding an entire population of bioweapons is a really bad idea. Anyone who has seen the damage a rogue supe can inflict knows this. The goal is to produce the new ruling class, the new biogenic elite. These Alphas are wiser, longer lived, and when tinkering with things as complicated as preventing age based degeneration, making alphas physically attractive is so easy that its basic equipment.
The core of most Human+ programs is the creation of supersoldiers. In an era where the most expendable commodity is human life, making said humans more powerful, durable, and threatening just makes sense. Most supersoldier programs took advantage of genetic augmentation and manipulation to create physically incredible subjects, stronger, faster, and able to heal rapidly from serious wounds. More exotic augmentations would follow, and eventually the goals of most supersoldier programs delve into creating genetically induced parapsychics. The fate of the Supersoldier is one that is balanced out against the position held by the Powered Armor trooper, Special ops and elite but mundane soldiers, cyborgs and bionics, and full on robotic soldiers.
One of the few aspects of the Tycho Conventions that is followed is the creation of Human-, or deliberately crippled or handicapped humans. Epsilons existed to perform menial and basically slave labor but in the Cosmic Era, this sort of work is handled by automation and robots. The machines do the thankless work, and there aren't populations of deliberately damaged and intentionally handicapped humans.
The is an exception to every rule, and the Epsilon Exception is the genetic brute. Physically imposing and massive, the brute is a giant, made of thick muscle and dense bone, driven by hormonal rages and controlled by only a very primitive and child like mind. The Brute is a super soldier that is kept under sedation, in a double or triple max security location until they are activated and given their instructions. Most brutes are unleashed like raging bulls let loose inside confined buildings. A few brutes are augmented with combat computers to make them passable competent at following orders.
PermaKids are a peculiar sort of Epsilon mod. The PermaKid has certain biological triggers disabled and hormone functions shut down. The PermaKid or PK will never go through puberty, never reach sexual maturation, and will remain a generally undersized human. The intellect grows, and the personality develops but given the hormonal neutering, their bodies don't develop the growth spurt never hits. PermaKids have been created by people who want children without the hassle of having teenagers. There are rumors that PKs have abbreviated lifespans, 20-30 years.
The Delta is the ideal consumer, smart enough to press buttons and buy things and show up to work productively or semi-productively, but not smart enough to question authority figures, or solve serious issues without outside guidance and help. Other hallmarks of Delta genetics is a rather abbreviated lifespan, most Deltas are going to average out reaching the basic age of retirement, they remain productive and economically involved until they become too old to function in this role and then they die.
Yes, this is horrible.
In the pragmatism of the Cosmic Era, following the long lean years of the Second Dark Age, the concern of having a large number of senior citizens acting as a 'drag' on society and the economy reaching the conclusion of having a working/labor caste with a very specific shelf life was not nearly as offensive. Old people get sick, have lots of medical bills, create all sorts of moral and societal issues over health care. If they only get slightly old and then die, that solves so much of the problem right there. The average Delta lives 50-65 years.
The meretrix is a genetically designed female sex worker. Meretrices are engineered to have very low fertility rates, increased sex drive, and a greater resistance to STDs and infections. The typical meretrix phenotype is a rather squishy pneumatic body type that isn't particularly attractive, but certainly 'available'. These sex trade workers are most commonly found in the fringe areas of the ACPS, and the USSA. The ACPS designed Meretrix strain is a dominant phenotype, so that the children of meretrices themselves are delta/meretrix as well.
Betas are where the money is at. Better, stronger, faster, smarter, and longer lived than the average gamma type human, but not so much so that the larger number of gamma level humans are aware of it. The Beta isn't threatening, isn't scary. But the Beta is transitional.
The Beta is the gateholder, ushering in the next generation of Betas. Adults can get a functional Beta upgrade through genetic therapy (6-8 months) provided they have the money and contacts. Children can also be upgraded in the womb, under the aegis of a follow up genetic screening test and treatment session. Which children get these? The right ones, of course. The children of certain gifted people, people in positions of wealth and power, and so forth. Politicians and CEOs have beta augmented children. Some children are augmented seemingly at random (the AISCs tasked with tracking population demographics pick the parents whose offspring are to be upgraded). The number of betas will increase, until there are enough betas to create a buffer between the alphas and the gammas, and then the gammas will start being phased out.
Oh don't look so upset, machines are upgraded every year. Out of consideration of your fleshy sentimentalities, this program is going to run about 200 years.
The element of the superhuman take over story is that the genetic supermen show up and immediately threaten humanity with their superior power, and a frightened and inferior humanity is forced to lash out with its two greatest weapons, superior numbers and a capacity for violence. There are forces at work within the Cosmic Era that have their own agendas and are working behind the scenes for their own purposes.
The ACPS is advancing its own plan, Gaochao is a generation plan that aims to expand the borders of China by increasing the numbers of people who are genetically Chinese in each area. Rather than being aimed at the enemies of the ACPS, this plan is aimed at the allies of China within the ACPS. The introduction of Chinese sourced genetic screenings was initially met with joy, as it meant that generations of crippling cancers and other diseases were on the way out. The populations have started noticing that their birthrates are going down, and that while cancer is gone, the first people who accepted genetic therapies are starting to die off younger than their untreated parents. Sex workers in Thailand and SE Asia are seeing the normal prostitution based birthrate plummet, as the number of sex workers increases (meretrices).
All the while, there is no shortage of Chinese people immigrating into these countries, to take up the slack. Once the majority of people in a region are Chinese, that region becomes part of China.
The Atlantic Federation has its own Coordinator Program and it is aiming at creating a population profile that is 10% Alpha, 35% Beta, 50% Gamma and 5% Delta. This push is largely being supported by the same factions that are pushing the Atlantic Federation into space. The larger number of Federation ships, space colonies, habitats, and offworld sites like the Lunar cities, Martian cities, and the asteroid belt mining stations require exceptional humans to maintain, and standard humans to populate
What About Clones?
Clones have already been discussed in Cloning in the Cosmic Era but most codex and series clones are going to generally be Gamma or Beta level, and unless there is a specific reason, clones are going to start with a clean genetic code, so wont have inheritable genetic conditions. Soldier and other high risk clones are more likely to be expendable Delta types, as are menial labor clones, but again, clones and robots are competing for the same jobs and in the realm of low pay, low initiative, low difficulty jobs, the machines have a solid track record of winning.
Gamma is normal, Beta is transitional between Gamma and Alpha. Delta is transitional between Gamma and Epsilon. Epsilons are undesireable as they are considered a waste of resources (electricity is in much higher availability than organic food, shelter, etc). Alphas are desireable, but due the potential of public backlash (And toss in a couple of high profile Alphas losing their marbles Sephiroth style) they cannot and are not immediate goals. The Beta has to be transitioned through before the alpha will be accepted.
I could see this used for developing a stellar society. Imagine Earth after the upgrades are finished and your characters are the aliens from the frontier.
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? Responses (4)
This was just a great read. I can see a multitue of ways to include this into a number of games, and I'm going to bookmark it for the next setting I run that this will fit into. (working mostly on fantasy at the moment)
Question: How perfect is the process for creating these sub-catagories, and could it possibly go wrong, ending up with something that could not be defined as one of the above?
The categories are vague, and the path should be littered with dozens of examples of the process going wrong. The path to getting those basic genetic defect screens and fixes would have footnotes of where test groups all ended up with the affliction ramped up to 10, or unexpected genetic expression. This would all be tied into the cosmetic genetic augmentation in the setting (breast enlargement therapy, changing hair color, extreme skin pigmentation) where people in the early phases go in to get their baldness cured and come out blind, or some shadowrunner goes in to get enhanced reflexes and comes out with a slow onset neurological disease, etc.
As for creating genetic abominations and monstrosities, certainly, but these are more commonly going to be one off and government/megacorp special projects rather than a mainstream consumer product. They aren't going to make an over the counter genetic hair dye kit that has a 2-4% chance of turning users into She-Hulks. (they would exploit that tech to make mass produced she-hulks for the military)
This makes a great backdrop to such things as Gamma world and Fallout - these changes could have been in progress when the shit hit the fan. As a result, your survivors can draw from the various castes listed.