There are many advanced human and alien cultures in the Hyperstorm Universe , but not all of them are playable. They would either be impractical to play as player characters because of their physiological or psychological traits or they might represent the unknown or be antagonistic in nature.
There are seven different cultures available for the player characters.
A clade (from Ancient Greek: κλάδος, klados, “branch”) is a life-form group consisting of an ancestor and all its descendants—representing a single “branch” on the evolutionary “tree of life”.
When the first Enigma was found on Mars in the Sol system, humanity was already on the verge of technologically assisted evolutionary transition. But the emergence of the technological singularity truly made genetic manipulation, nanotechnology and cybernetic augmentations available for most of the human population.
For hundreds of years, there was a great deal of cultural resistance against the manipulation of the human genome, and most of the more radical alterations to human biology were banned by international laws and regulations. Still, this did not prevent the powerful megacorporations, the rich, or certain extremist transhuman groups from manipulating the human genome.
Eventually, as humanity spread into the stars, new human cultures were born. With the new cultures, also known as tribes, more drastic changes in human evolution also started happening as humanity broke free from the moral restraints of earth-born cultures. Over time, this resulted in three very different branches, or clades, in human evolution.
A clade is a broad definition for a group of humans sharing the same distinctive innate traits or evolutionary vector. This is not to be mixed with the Human Culture as a whole. There are countless cultural groups under the umbrella definition of Human Culture.
Also: Lineals, Statics
Baseliners are humans with only slight genetic alterations or none at all. They form the largest population in the Human Culture and typically resemble their earth-born ancestors. There are exceptions, of course. Some baseliners can have minor adaptations or enhancements. It is not uncommon for the wealthy to undergo basic genetic sanitation or for the early colonist populations to have undergone more radical adaptive genetic redesigns resulting in exotic physical features like blue skin, ridges on forehead or elongated limbs.
Also: Hybrids, Splices
Of all the clades, the genics are the most easily distinguishable from baseliners. Genics are usually descended from various transhuman cultures or human-animal hybrids originally created as slave labor or military purposes. In addition to hybridization, the genics also exhibit some other exotic genetic adaptations.
The usual physical traits for genics are different animal features, a radically changed physique, additional body parts like tails or wings, or completely new genetically engineered organs and adaptations, such as a limited resistance to vacuum of space.
Genics are especially common among original colonists populations on hostile worlds, and within nomad clans.
Also: Fracs, Linkers
The fractal population originates from the attempts to form a symbiotic relationship between human biology and nano-swarm based AIs. The enhanced nervous systems of the fractals offered the AIs a perfect platform to inhabit. In turn, the AIs provided the fractals with enhanced mental capacity and the ability to directly interface with other fractals, networked computers and devices without any hardware. Many fractal populations are also biologically attuned to neural uploads and cybernetic implants.
Cybernetically unaugmented fractals look very much like baseliners, but there is a certain feel to them that makes them stand out in normal social interaction. Regardless of, or because of, the fractals’ enhanced mental capacity and constant information stream in form of fractal collective communication and augmented reality gives a certain “autistic” feel to them. Still, on the inside the fractals are very much aware of their surroundings – usually much better than anyone else.
The druski are an insectoid alien species that go through various physical forms during their lifespans. The most commonly encountered adult druski resemble six-limbed giant spiders walking on two legs.
The Druski Empire forms the largest allied alien culture in the Consortium. Were the the Druski Empire not divided into several rival broods, each controlled by a single drusk lord, the empire would be much more powerful than it currently is.
During its lifespan, a drusk will usually undergo two metamorphoses, and three under certain rare occasions. There are rumors of a fourth metamorphosis, but many believe that this is just the stuff of legends and old sagas.
The first phase is the nymph stage. The druski nymphs skitter around on four legs while serving their lord mindlessly. As the druski reach the adult stage, they will start walking on two legs and the middle pair of limbs atrophy to form a pair of smaller assisting “hands”. They also develop their own will, but are still controlled by their lords through pheromones. As a drusk adult matures, it will grow resistant to its lord’s pheromones. At this point, the mature drusk adult usually faces one of the three possible fates: it will submit and continue to serve its lord and retain it’s adult development stage, slowly losing its own will; it will challenge its lord’s rule and grow in size and eventually try to take over the control of the brood or; it will be exiled from the brood – either through banishment or voluntary exile – and retain its adult stage and free will.
All of the drusk characters are mature adults exiled from their broods.
The druski have a protective exoskeleton and they are naturally quick. They have also an excellent sense of smell and sense of pressure changes making them exceptional pathfinders and bounty hunters.
Louhos are an underground-dwelling alien species with a knack for fine craftsmanship and trading. On average, louhos are a bit shorter than baseliners, and have a strong, muscular build and a thick hide. As the louhos age, their hide will thicken, eventually forming a hard turtle or armadillo-like carapace on their backs. Their skin color and carapace offer natural camouflage in rocky terrain.
Louhos were enslaved by humans a long time ago, before the founding of the Consotium. For the most of humankind this is ancient history, but because of their long lifespan and strong tradition in passing down knowledge to the younger generations, the louhos have not forgotten the cruelties humans committed on their people.
Despite the fact that louhos are usually honorable and polite, they can be distrustful and aloof towards most humans. Surprisingly, this unwelcoming behavior does not seem to concern the nomad clans.
The nibirans are a species descended from opportunistic carrion-eating scavengers. Regardless of technological advancements, most likely accelerated by an Enigma located in their homeworld, the nibirans are still what their ancestors were – opportunistic carrion-eating scavengers.
The nibirans look like huge beak-faced rats walking on two legs. They have a prehensile tail that can be used to grab things or to assist in climbing, for example.
The nibirans are known for their advanced optical camouflages and portable force barrier technology, but besides this, their technology is mostly reverse engineered from other cultures. The nibirans are excellent scavengers and pilots. This is the likely reason why many nibirans work in salvage crews or enlist as pilots for exploration missions.
The qu’ari are an amorphous, silicon based species that has lived in a sort of symbiosis with the druski for perhaps thousands of years. The qu’ari inhabit the druski cities, space stations and capital ships. Being resistant to small amounts of radiation and extreme temperatures, the qu’ari find their dwellings in places that are inhospitable for the druski or most other carbon-based species.
The druski leave the qu’ari alone, and in return the qu’ari provide technical maintenance and security support. The amorphous form of the qu’ari allows them to move unresticted in confined spaces, such as ventilation ducts. The qu’ari do not “see” as humans do. Instead, they sense electromagnetic fields, such as magnetism, infrared and the like, around them. This makes the qu’ari excellent technicians as they can sense electric currents and radiation leaks without any tools or sensors.
The qu’ari do not have a need for clothing or other apparel, but many qu’ar living with other Cultures grow pseudopods to mimic the physique of their fellow species. Some even carry armor, weapons or other equipment when they prove useful.
The qu’ari do not have a gender and they reproduce asexually by dividing their mass into 2, 4 or 16 qu’ari younglings. Before reproducing a qu’ar turns into a hard leathery cocoon. When the division is complete, the offspring emerge from the chrysalis. The offspring inherit fragments of their progenitor’s memories and personalities, but each of them is a new individual with it’s own personality and slightly altered DNA. In practice this means that every qu’ar can reproduce only once in their lifetime.