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Creatures of the Future Gifted Saga


Rodford Edmiston


       Given that humanity had achieved a towering pinnacle of technical and magical development before the Fall, it is obvious that tools were readily available for making just about any creature imaginable. Dinosaurs were recreated, Vampires were a minor public health problem, werewolves became movie stars, and wealthy people had strange pets and even stranger children. Many of these organisms were one-of-a-kind; others were created in herds or family groups. Many were used for illegal purposes, but most were simply the result of honest curiosity or a desire to make or have something unusual. As society collapsed, the legal and regulatory controls vanished, and the last products of the genengineering labs were even more outrageous.

     Many individual creatures were built to last, and some of those survived into the Future Gifted Saga. Many species with enough members to be genetically viable also survived, and a few flourished. Additional species were created throughout the recovery, mostly by Gifted. Some new species were formerly humans, altered voluntarily, by accident or through the machinations of an enemy. Others were altered animals or plants. A few were created from scratch.


       This is a communal organism, an ancient Gifted known earlier as Fairy. It/they exist(s) as a swarm of tiny, winged creatures resembling the fairies of nineteenth century folklore. There are thousands of these creatures, and they are never all in one place, but instead are spread out in groups over a large area around the Great Lakes.    Int 23 Will 32, Per 28, Str 3, Agil 50, Fit 44, Speed 38, Mass 0.2 to 0.3 kg, HP 38 (Toughness bonus included).


       There are two basic types of caninoid species: those genetically engineered from canine stock and those genetically engineered from human stock. Additionally, some individual caninoids are transformed canines (dogs, wolves, etc.) or humans. Typical Characteristic scores are: Int 10, Will 10, Per 40, Str 30, Agil 30, Fit 30, Speed 35, HP 23 (Toughness bonus included). These scores can vary greatly, both between individuals of the same species and between species. Note that individuals who greatly resemble each other may actually be of different species. While dozens of different canine-based humanoid species were created during the Fall - primarily for entertainment or slavery purposes - few of these survived for long. Known groups of caninoids include one of about five hundred individuals in the Fairy Plains area (Western Kentucky) where they are protected by the Plains Folk, and another with about three hundred members on the eastern seaboard, along the wooded coast of what used to be North Carolina. Though these are two different species, members of the two groups are very similar and are the basis for the detailed descriptions. With the exception of the Perception, Strength and Speed scores, caninoids have Characteristics within the same 5 - 30 point spread as humans. For the three exceptions the spread is 15 - 50. All vary in height from 1.5 - 2.0 meters and in weight from 50 - 80 kilograms, with the females being somewhat smaller. Females tend to have two fully-formed breasts and from two to four vestigial nipples, with the males having from two to six vestigial nipples. Rarely, females will have more than one pair of breasts. Single births are the most common, but twins occur about twenty percent of the time. Larger litters are very rare.


       All centaurs known are descended from one person: Marian Holst. Over the centuries she has had children by three fathers, Adamant being the most prolific. The centaurs have formed a non-human society, but one with human roots. Below is a brief description.

       Calling themselves the Plains Folk, these beings live in what was once known as western Kentucky. With few exceptions they are free spirits. In as much as they have a leader, Marian Holst is their matriarch. They are civilized and very learned, but feel little need for the arbitrary bounds of society, or more than the most basic technological artifacts or other trappings of civilization. This has earned them a reputation for wildness, but in truth they are decent folk who are very forbearing with others. Adults stand an average of nearly three meters tall, and mass between 350 and 600 kg. They tend to be very muscular, males and females both. They are Gifted, with all the appropriate benefits. The centaurs vary in color from light palomino to deep black, with the head hair normally being the same color as that on the body. Solid colors are more common than patterns, and darker colors more common than light. Skin colors range from medium brown to very dark brown. Single births are by far the rule. Gestation lasts 10 months. The centaurs generally clothe only the human portion of their bodies, and during warm weather may leave that bare. This, unfortunately, adds to their reputation among other sentients as being licentious. The truth is that, being large animals, they retain heat better than something human sized.

     The society of the centaurs has evolved rather than being deliberately designed. This is not to say that many of the features of their culture were not purposefully chosen. Rather, Marian Holst and her family and friends were content to see how things developed on their own, without constraint, only altering the pattern of development when that seemed necessary. Given that the initial population of centaurs was quite small, incest was inevitable during the early days. Since there are almost no dangerous recessive genes among the centaurs, there were no biological reasons for banning incest. Understanding this, and that pregnancy is voluntary, it can be understood why today incest - though frowned upon - is not forbidden. Children are instructed in sex from the time they first express interest, and this instruction includes demonstrations. While they are taught that sex is a natural and pleasurable activity, they are also taught that a preoccupation with pleasure is wrong. The result is a population whose members enjoy sex from what many humans think is a scandalously early age, but are not obsessed with it. Many actually become voluntarily celibate for one reason or another. It should be noted that few centaurs show any sexual interest in members of other species, especially anything as small and fragile as a human. In spite of this, male centaurs have a (completely undeserved) reputation of seducing and raping human females.

     Centaur society is founded upon the concept of total equality for all sentients. They respect life, and the values and opinions of others. Centaurs are garrulous and like company. Anyone reasonably polite will be welcome to stay for as long as they want. The most common reason for travel outside the Plains is curiosity about other ways of life. There is a great deal of personal independence, with few marriages or other long-term relationships. Since females only bear young if they want to, it is assumed that any mother literally asked for her child, and should not complain unduly about having to tend it. Details on creating and playing centaurs as Characters are presented in the main Future Gifted Saga rules.

Dire Wolves

       Created as beasts of burden and companions by and for the Bluegrass Elves, these canines have average Characteristics of Int 5, Will 5, Per 50, Str 40, Agil 40, Fit 40, Speed 35, HP 28 (Toughness bonus included), with a range of only five points from average. Adults stand an average of just under a meter tall at the shoulder, and mass 50 kg. They are intelligent, cooperative and enjoy the company of Bluegrass Elves and - to a lesser extent - other human or human-derived species. Note that a few exceptionally bright Dire Wolves are equal to human average in intelligence.


       Another creature of legend held in high regard is the dragon. The Dragon species was created by two Gifted trained in both magic and genetic engineering. These creatures were more difficult to produce than the Elves, and required far more magic than science. There are two basic types, one following the European form and the other the Oriental, but both types are the same species and have the same abilities. Some individuals show a mixture of the two forms. Dragons have base Characteristics of Int 20, Will 20, Per 20, Str 40, Agil 20, Fit 40, and Speed 20, with HP 73 (Toughness bonus included). Adults typically range in shoulder height from 150 to 250 centimeters, with 170 to 220 being more common. Mass ranges from 1450 to 2550 kg. Initial age is determined by rolling 1D10 for the number of centuries (taking "10" or "0" as zero), another 1D10 for the number of decades (again with "10" or "0" as zero) and adding 18 as the base number of years. This gives an age range of 18 to 1008 years. All dragons are Gifted, with the appropriate benefits. Dragons have wings, and with them a natural flight ability, though this is rather limited without magical help, due to their size. Additionally, all Dragons have an alternate human form, much as Gifted humans do. These vary greatly in appearance. Dragons are hermaphroditic, but usually take on a role which is predominantly male or female, by choice or through a gradual realization of personal preference. They mate only when they want to produce offspring, with one parent generally taking care of the eggs and, later, the infant dragons. Normal clutch size is four eggs. It is possible for a dragon to fertilize itself, and many who want children prefer this method to mating. Eggs are laid about three months after fertilization, and hatch nine months after that. Dragons are solitary for the most part, and tend to avoid civilization. They like to collect "interesting" items, which can range from gems to computer games, depending upon individual tastes. The dragons see their collecting as an act of preservation. Humans who think the items actually belong to them may see this as theft. Details on creating and playing dragons as Characters are presented in the main Future Gifted Saga rules.


       A defense installed around a hidden piece of major military equipment in the mountains of western North Carolina. This drains people of their Intelligence, at a rate of 1D6 per minute, affecting everyone in a large area (100 X 100 meters). It also instills the emotion of fear, as through the power of projective Empathy. People who flee will recover their Intelligence at a rate of one point per Turn. (Include appropriate bonuses.) The Drow has the form of a dense, opaque mist (similar to the Power of Desolidification) and is immune to normal weapons. It has Characteristics of Int 5, Will 20, Per 38, Str 0, Agil 52, Fit 24, Speed 28, HP 25 (Toughness bonus included). It can range from 10 meters across to over 100 meters across, and take on any rounded shape. Mass is negligible. Energy attacks (including heat) do normal damage, as do magical attacks.


       These are creatures of some normally inert material which has been animated by magic. There are many causes and even more types. What defines these is that without the magic, there is no organization to the substance. Fluid materials will dissipate naturally and solids will freeze in whatever shape they were in when the animating magic was removed. Characteristics and abilities vary widely. (See the Gifted Saga Power Altered Composition for ideas on defining an elemental.)


       Among all the mythical creatures from human folklore, elves hold a special place. After magic entered the Gifted Earth it was determined that there were no real elves there, and may never have been. Several Gifted had new forms which resembled various types of elves from legend and modern fiction, but they were all originally human. Given the legal and moral constraints on altering human genes before the Long Slide, as well as the personal effort and sacrifice involved, it should surprise no-one that - on the Gifted Earth, at least - no separate species of elves were created until after civilization had collapsed. Finally, in the year 2401, two distinct but associated groups of people - known collectively as the Founders - began the long, difficult process of altering themselves and their descendants to match their conceptions of elves. There was and is considerable overlap between the Founders of the two groups, since the efforts and the interests of those involved had much in common. Additionally, the same expertise was needed for both projects, and duplication of effort needed to be avoided. More was required than simply altering the genes of those involved. For each branch of elves, an entire new culture had to be devised. The Founders used fiction and folklore as their framework, and sought the help of ethnologists, anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists to achieve their goals. Social codes, laws, behavior patterns and much more were developed. Even the styles of architecture had to be invented. Field experience often resulted in major modifications, physical, mental and cultural. However, the goals were met, and fans of elves can easily recognize the sources that inspired the Founders by the results of their work. Details on creating and playing Elves as Characters are presented in the main Future Gifted Saga rules. Outlined here are two different but related branches of artificially created elves. They are genetically compatible with each other and there are in fact some hybrids. While both groups are derived from human stock, the accumulated genetic changes are extensive enough that without special help these elves cannot successfully breed with humans, or with other species derived from humans as they themselves are. The Bluegrass Elves and Mountain Elves have less in common genetically with humans than do any of the great apes, but are closely related to each other, enough to produce fertile offspring. (There could be other groups of elves on the Gifted Earth or the colony worlds, but if they are not associated with the Bluegrass and Mountain Elves they will most likely be very different, genetically.)

General Considerations

     The Founders wanted their offspring to have all the benefits held by second and subsequent generation Gifted. Moreover, they also wanted to provide as many similar benefits as possible through biological means, since null-magic fields and similar effects are common ways of neutralizing magical creatures. As well, they wanted their offspring to possess natural psionic abilities. A great deal of work was required to genetically engineer a species which had most of the base advantages of the Gifted without magic, but this was done. Even in a world where magic does not exist, the Elves would have indefinite life spans, strong resistance to disease, complete and rapid healing and strong psionics.

     Keep in mind that these are telepathic societies. Privacy is valued among the Elves, largely because it is so easy to know what is happening through psionic abilities. Gossip is frowned on, as is discussing an event where someone accidentally let slip an embarrassing thought. Deliberately spying on someone through psionic means is a major social crime. However, since it is impossible to remain shielded all the time, and since accidents and misjudgments occur, tolerance is strongly encouraged. This is aided by the fact that members of a telepathic society are much more likely to have a high degree of empathy. Among the Elves, the norm is for people to show a great deal of sympathy for the troubles of others.

     Elf societies aren't perfect. For instance, there is a tendency to place too much value on psionic abilities. Many Elves consider someone with more or stronger psi powers inherently superior to anyone with fewer, weaker ones. Arguments of the "I'm more Elf than you are!" sort have been known to occur, most often between youngsters under the age of 100. This problem is more prevalent among the isolationist Mountain Elves than their cousins, but elitists can be found among both groups. In fact, many Mountain Elves consider the Bluegrass Elves inferior, due to their lower average number of psi abilities and low-tech life-style. The Bluegrass Elves just smile and ask their taller, leaner cousins if they want to race or arm wrestle.

     Some of the differences between humans and Elves are due to the deliberate attempt to replicate the characteristics of fictional elves; some are a by-product of the general improvements designed in by the genetic engineers; and some were added for aesthetic reasons. This is an ongoing process, and sometimes subject to short-term fashion whims. For instance, about the year AD 2600 there was a fad among the Bluegrass Elves to give themselves lupine characteristics, with many of the practitioners altering their genetic structure so that they would breed true. Fortunately, the people who made these genetic alterations had the good sense to ensure that they were recessive, because the fad quickly (within 150 years) faded. However, some wolfish features still occasionally recur among the Bluegrass Elves.

     If you are going to engineer a species, you might as well do it right. For instance, female Elves don't have human-style menstrual cycles, and in fact are born without eggs. Both growth of an egg and ovulation are volitional, making accidental pregnancy almost impossible and avoiding the problems experienced by older humans who become pregnant. Only if a released egg is not fertilized will there be any of the familiar cramps and bleeding as the unused egg is flushed from the body, and those are reduced. Neither do female Elves have a hymen. Likewise, male Elves don't experience prostate trouble, due to careful re-engineering of that gland. Elves do not have an appendix, or a restricted carpal tunnel. Thanks to an emulsifier in the blood, Elves have little tendency to form nitrogen bubbles during sudden drops in atmospheric pressure. This same substance also helps prevent plaque deposits from forming on the walls of blood vessels. Overall, the Elves are much more adaptable to different atmospheric mixtures and pressures and temperature ranges than humans. All major organs are served by at least two arterial flows, with special attention paid to the brain. Similarly, the venous return blood flow from the nose and orbit are routed through a new vein which runs near the facial artery, instead of directly into the cerebral sinus, as in humans. This eliminates the risk of direct infection from the sinuses into the meninges.

     Many alterations, simplifications and elaborations were made in the flow of fluids in the bodies of the elves. Instead of one minute canal to drain cerebrospinal fluid from brain cavities, there are five, all larger than the human singleton. Because of this, and biological pressure sensors, dangerous rises in intracerebral pressure are unknown among elves.

     Elimination of introns - "junk" DNA - has made Elf cells smaller and more efficient than those of mammals (though much of what was considered useless DNA in the Twentieth Century was later discovered to be important for non-obvious reasons and retained). Elves' tissues are denser than those of humans; an elf will sink in salt water. Their collagen fibres are both more elastic and stronger than those found in other mammals, so that while they are more flexible than most humans, they have less trouble with joint dislocations. Their immune system can muster a full T-cell mobilization in two days, instead of the two weeks humans require. Their hemoglobin gives up 76% of the oxygen it contains, instead of the 25% humans can make use of. Besides the changes mentioned above, a number of other improvements were also made. For instance, Elf biochemistry is far more resilient than that of humans. Eight times the amount of neurotoxin would be required to produce the same effect it would have for a human, in spite of the Elves' lower average body mass. This is largely due to a tolerance for relaxed homeostasis, which allows them to survive changes in blood chemistry and cell plasma chemistry which would kill most animals.

     Elf digestive tracts are much more efficient at extracting trace nutrients from their food than those of most animals, and their biochemistry can manufacture vitamins and many other nutrients from raw materials in a deficient diet. They can also extract more energy and raw materials from a meal, and digest it more quickly. This comes in handy, since their normal metabolic rate is quite high. In many ways, they are adolescent throughout their entire lives. However, in times of privation their metabolism can become quite parsimonious, allowing them to exist at energy levels nearly as low as those of reptiles. If water is short they stop perspiring, allowing their body temperatures to rise several degrees. This process is helped by the formation of heat-shock proteins, which stabilize other proteins and postpone the unfolding due to temperature increase which would kill most organisms. Capillaries in the sinuses cool the blood going to the brain, and that organ can sustain without being harmed temperatures which would be fatal to humans.

     Normal Elf body temperature is 311 Kelvins. They can operate normally with body temperatures ranging from 280 Kelvins to 320 Kelvins. They can withstand body temperatures of sub-freezing (see below for hibernation capabilities) to 350 Kelvins without permanent harm, though biological activity will be at a standstill at these extremes.

     Elf have senses are quite keen, especially those of the Bluegrass Elves. Their neurons work more quickly and efficiently than those of any other mammals, and have less system noise. Elves actually think faster than nearly any other organic creature, though physical inertia keeps their movement slower than they could potentially react. (See below for how this affects the use of psionics.) Other neurological improvements include a dispersed medulla, with multiple duplicate paths for redundancy.

     As an example of how much keener than human their senses are, the sense of smell of the average Bluegrass Elf is 50 times more discerning. This is still less than half the ability of a bloodhound. The eyes of the Elves came in for particular attention. The outer layer of the cornea contains substances which filter out far infrared and ultraviolet light, protecting the cornea and retina. The fovea is larger, and hourglass-shaped, to provide a larger area of sharp vision. The optic nerve connects to the rear of the retina instead of the front, so there is no blind spot. Because of their faster neural signal transmission, for purely psionic abilities - such as Telepathy, Attack and Defense - the Elves can take five times as many psionic actions in one combat phase as do humans. However, they are also spending Endurance five times as quickly, and this produces a pronounced physical strain. Therefore, they normally only do this for the first normal action in each combat phase. For each additional attempt to use the extra psionic actions in the same combat phase the Elf must make a (Will + Fitness) / 2 success roll, with a penalty of 20 percentage points for each use (including the first one) in the same combat phase. Then, at the end of the combat phase in which this is done, the Elf must make a (Will + Fitness) / 2 success roll with the same penalty simply to remain conscious!

     Gestation lasts 18 months, and it is common for mothers, fathers and, occasionally, others to communicate with the infant while it is still in the womb. As one wry comment puts it "Humans have it easy. Our kids start talking back before they're even born!" The first six months of development for the fetus are roughly the same as for humans. Then, the growth in size slows, while the child begins acquiring more mature characteristics. An Elf child is more physically and mentally developed at birth than a human child, and somewhat larger in proportion to the mother, being roughly the equivalent of a human one-year-old. However, because their proportions are those of a one-year-old the infant's head is the same size in relation to the mother's pelvis as in human infants. Elf children begin their adolescent growth spurt at the same age as humans, but sexual development - the actual puberty - doesn't start until the late teens. Elves generally reach full physical maturity in their early twenties.

     Sexual attraction is primarily through telepathic contact, with scent and appearance vying for second. The more mentally compatible two Elves are, the more likely they are to be attracted to each other. ("I love your mind.") On occasion, especially complimentary couples experience something known as life-bonding, similar to what happens to Gifted who share a place of power. Their mental processes are so compatible that their Gifts link, and they also form an especially intimate telepathic bond which is difficult to break or interfere with. The Elves are very open about natural processes, and parents often allow young children to watch - or even participate in - their sexual activities. Since hiding any common activity from a curious and telepathic youngster is close to impossible to, this is quite understandable. Incest is common, though limited to relations between cousins, with sexual intimacy between closer relations being strongly discouraged. This practice is biologically harmless due to the careful genetic engineering, though there have been some psychological problems.

     In designing the Elves a number of radical alterations from the human norm were made. For instance, their bodies store small amounts of important substances - such as cholinesterase - in special ductless glands, with some of these substances actually being kept in organelles within each individual cell. These substances act as a built-in pharmacy, and are one reason that the Elves are so resistant to neurotoxins and other poisons. In conditions where cardiac arrest has occurred, organelles in each cell excrete a powerful antioxidant, which extends the time they can survive without oxygen. (Such as in full arrest.) The limit is about an hour, after which time irreversible damage occurs. Meanwhile, a number of chemicals - including ATP, adrenaline and a buffering solution - are excreted by similar organelles in the cells of the heart muscles and specialized glands attached to the heart, to stimulate a return to beating. In the case of life-threatening physical damage, cells at the injury site will be stimulated into rapid growth. If the body is arrested, the cells will use an internal oxygen reserve for this activity. If that is not enough, they will then switch to a less-efficient and slower anaerobic metabolism. Only the cells needed for repairing the damage do this, as it produces dangerous waste products and puts an enormous strain on the cells. If arrest has occurred, then once the damage is sufficiently repaired that the body can support minimal activity, a cascade of hormonal signals jumpstarts the metabolism, as described above.

     In addition to the normal repair mechanisms, the Elves have dedicated platelet-like cells in the blood which break down into long filaments at an injury site. These threads stick to the edges of injuries, weave together for several seconds, then contract, helping to close the wound. If an Elf is frozen a slightly different sequence of events takes place. Once the core body temperature drops below 250 Kelvins the antioxidants are released, followed by a special glycoprotein, which acts as a cryopreservative. This latter substance reduces the freezing point of the blood and prevents the formation of ice crystals, causing vitrification instead of normal freezing. If the body temperature later rises above freezing, a special enzyme is released. This breaks down the cryopreservative in an exothermic reaction, generating enough heat to warm the body and trigger the jumpstart.

     Because Gifted in general and Elves in particular can survive head injuries which erase memories, continuous backups of these memories are kept in specially tailored plasmid rings located in cells throughout the body. This procedure was developed by a Founder who was also a computer expert. Both personal memories and operational memories - the learned procedures for interpreting sensory data and manipulating the body and brain - are stored in this way. All Elves are Gifted, as well as being the result of a long-running genetic engineering program that has used both magic and technology to shape them. Except for the Founders, they also have all the standard benefits of 2nd generation Gifted. In many ways the genetic alterations performed to create the two types of Elves are quite conservative. For instance, the majority of changes in the genome were performed to remove known "bad" DNA. This consists of both genetic defects and "parasitic" DNA, fragments which are not necessarily harmful but which may displace or corrupt useful segments as they propagate themselves. (See Note below.) These were replaced with either beneficial coding or introns, which are blank DNA segments.

     Note: By the time of the Fall just about all of the genetic defects in the human population were known, and most had already been removed from the genome. There were a few left, however. Some were simply not known, in spite of all the studies performed to that time. Others were known but considered too minor a problem to bother with. Some defects were the result of a common mistake in replication, and spontaneously reappeared in the population with the passage of time. The extensive research and experimentation performed as part of the work of creating the Elves uncovered many of those unknown and recurring defects, and provided the opportunity to make a clean sweep. Sensory Enhancements


       The team responsible for designing the visual equipment for the Elves didn't just improve what nature had already provided for humans and other animals, but came up with something new. In one intense brainstorming session the idea was presented for creating a neurological imaging buffer. Starting at the back of the retina, an additional nerve bundle carries information into the brain. At first this secondary optic nerve runs parallel to the primary optic nerve, being wrapped coaxially around it, but it soon separates from this and goes directly to the hippocampus. The neurons in this bundle pass along the information in the same way as the optic nerve, but every few seconds each neuron takes a "snapshot" of a portion of the data being processed and stores it, encoding the imagery in specially designed plasmids. When the encoding is completed, another snapshot is made. Each plasmid encodes data equivalent to about a tenth of a second of imaging, and each cell has portions of several image "bursts" stored. This additional neural pathway - known as the "witness system" - is designed so that the visual data reaches the hippocampus at the same time as the images processed by the visual cortex.

       An additional image processing bulb added to the hippocampus compares what arrives by this path with what it gets from the standard source. This provides a large degree of error correction for visual data before it is sent to storage, without interfering with the normal perception process. It also reduces the alteration of the images by conscious processes before storage. Each plasmid is marked according to date and time of the image it contains, and is recycled on a FIFO (First In, First Out) basis. A plasmid being re-coded is first read, and this old data, with reference coding, is passed along parallel to the current, real-time visual data, though at a lower priority. Visual memories are therefor repeatedly reinforced. Additionally, through meditation these separately stored images can be accessed directly, and compared with the processed data stored in standard memory. The ages of these visual memory elements range from immediate to several weeks old, though most are cycled through in less than a day. Though multiple copies of images are stored along the neural pathway, the algorithms used mean that the oldest images are generally those in neurons closest to the hippocampus, which helps in finding what is being sought. Since the storage is holographic, and since older memories will have fewer samples surviving the recycling, resolution decreases with time. This procedure allows an Elf to see a still image of an event which can be as vivid as a good photograph, without the bias introduced during standard visual processing and storage.

       An attempt was made to incorporate similar memory buffers in the other senses, but these proved either unnecessary or too complicated to implement, or both. Additionally, a number of more mundane improvements were made. Noise in the neurological system was reduced, which greatly improved effective sensitivity. (The rods in the human retina are already capable of reacting to a single photon, but this small signal is normally swamped by neural noise.) Visual perception was expanded into the near infrared and ultraviolet, and color definition made more positive. An additional color was added at each end of the sensitivity range, and the band of sensitivity for the three existing rearranged, to provide even coverage.    The frequency range and sensitivity of hearing were likewise improved, and the sense of small was made more keen. Because the frontal lobes of the human brain grow so big, the olfactory bulb is pulled away from its normal location near the brain stem. As the cortex develops the bulb becomes flattened, its nerve fibers stretched in order to maintain connection with the frontal lobes and the brain stem. The accessory vomeronasal section is flattened into a thin layer. In the Elves, the olfactory bulb is placed at the rear of the sinuses, near the brain stem, and is reshaped to more closely resemble those of apes. Connections with the frontal lobes are maintained by lengthening the neural pathways making those connections. The vomeronasal organ (VNO) - which is atrophied in humans - is similarly relocated and reshaped, and enlarged to provide an increased response to pheromones. The olfactory cleft in the sinuses was increased in size, improving sensitivity and range of response.

       These changes combine to give elves a slight protrusion of the center of the face, which results in large, extended noses. The change in appearance from human average is actually minor, if somewhat comical to those unfamiliar with Elves. Taste sensitivity was increased in concert with the olfactory improvements, and several accessory bulbs added to the tongue and palate to identify specific harmful substances. The improvement in touch sensitivity and reliability resulted from the general neurological revamping described above. The Founders determined that nothing more was needed. The prefrontal lobes are the source of psionic activity in humans. These lobes are enlarged in Elves, giving them a flat, slightly protruding brow. This if offset by the slight protrusion of the center of the face, due to the alterations required for improving the sense of smell. To provide balance, the jaw line is also pushed slightly forward, allowing a full set of wisdom teeth to erupt without problems. Elves therefore have heads which are slightly larger in proportion front to rear than side to side than do humans. The difference is small, and not normally noticeable.

There's Elves Loose in the Woods

     The creators of the Bluegrass Elves are 10 Gifted who were fans of folklore and fiction about elves, especially those in a long-running series of illustrated fantasy stories. Most of these people had alternate forms reflecting their tastes. The majority of them were off Earth during the formation of the Illuminati committee, but returned late in the Long Slide. They knew of the committee and offered to work with it in the creation of a new habitat in Central Kentucky, to be populated with several new species. Since this fit in well with the planned goals of the Illuminati, an agreement was quickly reached. When this was learned, others asked to join the project, and still others proposed a similar effort to produce a related but different type of elves, to be located in the Appalachian mountains. This was approved, with some of the people in the first group deciding to join the second. The eventual distribution was ten working on creating the Bluegrass Elves and eight working on creating the Mountain Elves, with a considerable sharing of effort and information. They also had considerable help from others, such as the Last Dragon.

     The Founders - as these eighteen became known - established an enclave in Central Kentucky, near Lexington. They altered their genetic structure to breed true to their chosen forms, and set about producing offspring. As soon as the populations became large enough to be viable, the Mountain Elves split off, moving to their new home in the Appalachians. Additional members joined both groups later, but for the most part all members of both clans derive from the early efforts of the Founders.

     The average Bluegrass Elf has stats of Int 25, Will 25, Per 30, Str 10, Agil 30, Fit 30, Speed 30, HP 30. (The maximum stats without magic are Int 30, Will 30, Per 40, Str 30, Agil 40, Fit 40, Speed 40.) Adults stand an average of just over a meter tall, and mass 35 kg. They are heavier than they look, due to a lower water content in individual cells, and will sink in salt water. They also tend to appear quite juvenile, regardless of true age.

     To create a BE Character you use the basic Interworld rules, with the following changes. Bluegrass Elves have base Characteristics of Int 20, Will 20, Per 30, Str 10, Agil 30, Fit 25, Speed 25. Heights range from 65 cm to 150 cm, with most members between 110 cm and 130 cm. Beginning age is determined by rolling 1D10 for the number of centuries (taking both "10" and "0" as zero), another 1D10 for the number of decades (again with "10" or "0" as zero) and adding 18 as the base number of years. This gives an age range of 18 to 1008 years. Note that this age range includes the early, second generation Elves.

     If a current Elf is being created, use instead a D10 roll each for centuries and decades (counting both "10" and "0" as zero) and add 18 years. Bluegrass Elves are naturally psionic, with 2 + 2D6 abilities. In decreasing order of occurrence, the most common abilities are: Telepathy, Defense, Empathy, Healing, Telekinesis, Cell Manipulation, Blending, Matter Manipulation, Domination, Attack, Astral Projection, Warning Sense, Remote Sensing, and Pyrokinesis. For each ability possessed there is a 5% chance of having an advanced psionic ability. For each advanced ability there is a 5% chance of having a super psionic ability. There is also a 10% chance of a BE having the Power of Telekinesis. In this case, there is also a 50% chance of having the Power of Flight: Levitation. The above describes the current generation of Bluegrass Elves. The older members will be different in some ways.

     Besides the Dire Wolves (see above) the BE are also responsible for creating the Great Forest, and for populating it with a balanced, varied and flexible ecosystem. Social organization is tribal, with some tribes as small as a single extended family. In 3304 there are twelve tribes, all of them recognizing the ultimate authority of the Founders. In later years the number of tribes will grow, finally stabilizing at around 15. An occasional individual or group will break away from the Founders, moving to an empty part of the Great Forest or even farther away. Most BE recognize and revere all of the ancient Gifted, especially the Founders and those who helped them. Bluegrass Elves tend to be a bit isolated, but will trade with humans in their area. A few of them do feel, to varying degrees, that humans are obsolete and should be replaced by Elves and other engineered species. The BE enjoy life and rarely hold a grudge, preferring to live for the present. In spite of this they are good at long-range plans, and under the guidance of the Founders should flourish for millennia.

     Among the Bluegrass Elves, status in several categories is indicated by the position and type of earring. The bottom holes in each ear, for instance, are made at birth and designate the individual's tribe and family. Some of the others are made at puberty, and the rest on special occasions. A minor spell is used to painlessly open a hole, and keep it from healing shut. The earrings are the only form of jewelry most Elves wear, and are very important in BE society. An Elf without earrings is an outcast. The earrings allow Elves and knowledgeable outsiders to tell at a glance the affiliation, marital status, age and so forth of an Elf. This comes in handy in avoiding confusion about who is associated with whom, and is especially useful in a society where appearance is not a guide to age past the late teens. Below are the explanations of what each earring means, this first group starting at the bottom of the left ear and moving up.

     The Membership earrings are all identical within a tribe, and simply show that the wearer is a member in good standing. The pattern on the earring reveals which tribe the wearer belongs to. The Magical Ability earring has symbols that reveal the wearer's skill with both spell magic and mind magic (psionics). Service to Tribe earrings are optional, given as an award in recognition of some effort or feat which goes beyond the normal, expected duties. The individual's Council Position earring, where there is one, shows the position, duties and years of service. The Intelligence earring is a badge of honor worn by BE who have an IQ above 200. Starting at the bottom of the right ear and moving up , the Family Group/Maturity Level earring has a pattern which identifies the mother and father and, where appropriate, the family group. Additions are engraved and inlaid at various stages in the BE's life, such as Second Growth, Puberty, marriage, birth of first child, and becoming head of a family group. Mate(s) earrings are a public record of the current status and previous status. Sexually mature individuals who for whatever reason are celibate wear a plain band. Offspring are recorded on the next earring, which shows gender, maturity level and, optionally, the other parent for each child. Family Position is displayed on this indicator, which is only used in large family groups who have chosen to remain together instead of splitting off with each marriage. In the formal structure adopted by most of these groups everyone has an assigned role, which is marked by the pattern on this earring.

The Wise Ones of the Mountains

     The Mountain Elves were created by 8 Gifted who were fans of fantasy and folklore about elves, and how they were represented in fiction, especially those in a long-running series of illustrated fantasy stories. These people were off Earth during the formation of the Illuminati committee, but returned late in the Long Slide. They knew of the committee and offered to work with it in the creation of a new species. Since this fit in well with the planned goals of the Illuminati, an agreement was quickly reached. Unlike their friends, the creators of the Bluegrass Elves, these folks decided to pattern themselves more closely after the elves of European tradition. The Mountain Elves are very similar to the Bluegrass Elves, the primary difference being a matter of appearance. They are taller and less feral in looks and manner than their lowland cousins, and behave in a more cultured and "refined" manner. The Founders - as the first eight Mountain Elves became known - established a village in the mountains of Appalachia. They altered their genetic structure so that they would breed true to their chosen appearance, and set about producing offspring. A number of others - both Gifted and normal - joined in the effort later, adding their resources to those of the Founders.

     The average Mountain Elf has stats of Int 30, Will 30, Per 20, Str 10, Agil 20, Fit 25, Speed 25. (The maximum stats without magic are Int 30, Will 30, Per 40, Str 30, Agil 40, Fit 40, Speed 40.) Adults stand an average of two meters tall, and mass 68 kg. To create a Mountain Elf Character, use the standard rules with the following modifications. They have base stats of Int 20, Will 20, Per 20, Str 10, Agil 20, Fit 20, Speed 20. Heights range from 165 cm to 210 cm, with most members between 180 cm and 200 cm. Beginning age is determined by rolling 1D10 for the number of centuries (taking "10" or "0" as zero), another 1D10 for the number of decades (again with "10" or "0" as zero) and adding 18 as the base number of years. This gives an age range of 18 to 1008 years. All Mountain Elves are naturally psionic, with 6 + 2D6 abilities. In decreasing order, the most common abilities are: Telepathy, Defense, Empathy, Healing, Telekinesis, Cell Manipulation, Blending, Matter Manipulation, Domination, Attack, Astral Projection, Warning Sense, Remote Sensing, Pyrokinesis, Machine Rapport, Teleportation, Precognition, and Probability Alteration. There is also a 90% chance of a Mountain Elf having the Power of Flight: Levitation.

     ME maintain a youthful appearance longer than humans, some never looking fully adult, but most gradually mature until they seem to be in their middle thirties to late forties. Many of them have silver hair, causing some interesting contradictions between hair color and apparent age. The above describes the current generation of Bluegrass Elves. The older members will be different in some ways. If age is being randomly selected, use 2D6-1 for the centuries, 1D10 for the decades and add 18 for the years. Note that this age range includes the early, second generation Elves. If a current Elf is being created, use instead 1D10 for the number of centuries (taking both "10" and "0" as zero), another 1D10 for the number of decades (again with "10" or "0" as zero) and adding 18 as the base number of years. This gives an age range of 18 to 1008 years. Mountain Elves are very insular and isolated, tending to look down on humans. They view their cousins, the Bluegrass Elves, as being rather immature, but decent folk. They revere the Ancient Gifted, as they call any survivors of the original Gifting. They are aesthetic and austere. Several ME display to some extent the attitude that humans are obsolete and should be replaced by Elves and other engineered species.

Ghost Deer

       These are non-magical creatures, identical to ordinary deer except for their white color. These are not albinos. First discovered by accident in a small, confined population of deer on a military installation in the late twentieth century, their increase was encouraged by naturalists. After the Long Slide a couple of Gifted interested in them made sure of their survival.

Giant Elk

       Recreations of the prehistoric animals. Average characteristics are Int 5, Will 5, Per 50, Str 80, Agil 20, Fit 40, Speed 35, HP 33, with a range of only five points from average for Per, Str, Agil Fit and Speed, and only two points for Int and Will. Adults stand an average of just under two meters tall, and mass 500 kg. They all have the Special Talent of Toughness. These have most of the same behavior traits as standard elk.

Snow Goons

       These are actually more of a nuisance than a danger. They started as a joke, around the year AD 2160, and got out of control. An eradication program was thought to have removed all of the activating spells, but as the ice age pushed cold weather south after the Long Slide, dormant activating spells were exposed to conditions which triggered them.

     Snow Goons are similar to elementals in that they are a normally inanimate material given a synthetic life through magic. They are different in that the magic is designed to go dormant and re-activate depending upon conditions. Snow Goons are unintelligent and mostly harmless. Their primary behavior is to find humans and follow them. If their target stops, they will surround it, staying just out of reach. If given enough time (2 hours per generation if there is no other activity) and raw materials (snow) they will reproduce, but only when they have humans surrounded. Otherwise, they spend their resources on moving. Their characteristics are irrelevant, except that they have HP 3 and move at a maximum of 5 kph. Once they find a human they can track him or her up to 15 km away.

Spam Golem

       This also started as a joke. This creature is unique, and is a magically animated construct made from a meat product. The elaborate spell prevents the meat from spoiling and provides the motivation, but to repair damage it needs a source of flesh. Normally it will scavenge this from dead animals, but it has been known to use living things.


       There are two types of Vampires. Both types are alive, and have beating hearts and a need for air, though they are far more resilient than normal humans. The Type I Vampire is a human (or other animal) body occupied by a parasitic magical creature from another dimension. These are almost always unintelligent, but rare exceptions are known. The persona of the host organism is burned out when the Vampire possesses the body, so the original creature is effectively dead. Their average Characteristics are:
































     To create a Type I Vampire, begin the Character as usual. Then, add 20 points to Fitness. An additional 5D10 points are distributed among the Characteristics. The Endurance is then multiplied by 10. Vampires do not recover Endurance as other creatures do, they must absorb it from another source. Vampires have many of the same benefits as Gifted, but to a lesser degree. Also, they have no bonus for working magic. In the Future Gifted Saga, Vampires may spend their accumulated points on the same things as Gifted, but the cost is 15% greater. Note that most Type I Vampires, being animals rather than thinking, rational beings, will spend all their points on Characteristics and appropriate skills.

     Vampires must drain energy from other creatures to survive. Most Type I Vampires absorb the energy merely by touching a living creature; a few (those with a Fitness of 30 or greater) can drain from a distance. The range for the remote drain = (Fitness + Will)/2 in meters. The amount of Endurance a Vampire can absorb is determined as for the Gifted Saga Power of Leach, including the chance for an area affect.

     Type I Vampires generally don't reproduce. However, they can transfer their entire essence to another body with a minor effort. If the rightful occupant of the new body has a particularly strong Will this may be resisted. The determination is made as for the Gifted Saga power of Physical Domination/Possession.

     Type II Vampires are descendants of human wizards who developed a way of living in symbiosis with the magical organisms which animate the Type I. They are able to produce other vampires by budding their symbiont and giving the bud to someone else, a process that normally requires intimate physical contact.

     Characteristics for an average vampire are: Intelligence = 10; Will = 10; Perception = 20; Strength = 30; Agility = 25; Fitness = 20; Speed = 10.

     Details on creating and playing Type II vampires as Characters are presented in the main Future Gifted Saga rules.

Were Creatures

     There is an incredible variety here, from the classic werewolves of folklore to the various movie and modern story incarnations, to a peasant who happens to have inherited a charm that lets him change into a hawk. Go wild.

The End

     This work is Copyright 2002 by Rodford Edmiston Smith, who can be reached at: stickmaker@usa.net. Please contact the author for permission before reposting or reprinting. Thank you.