- "I wish I’d been born with horns and a tail, like my sister—at least I wouldn’t have ended up here."
- — Rudi, Great Altdorf Asylum inmate
Mutants include those born with Chaos mutations, as well as those that develop them later in life. Mutants range from individuals desperate to belong to the rest of society who conceal their deformity to the best of their ability, to those that embrace Chaos completely, join a cult, and turn all their efforts to overthrowing the Empire. Regardless of their intentions, many Mutants try to live as humans, if their mutations will permit it. If not, they are only alive because they either fled from the authorities or they were abandoned in the woods as children and the life of an outcast is the only one they’ve ever known. Some, particularly those with the animalistic appearances, may be adopted by Beastmen warbands.
Mutants in the Empire
The Empire is far from the Chaos Wastes. Most of its citizens wouldn’t dream of risking their souls through the worship of the Chaos Gods. However, mutant children are occasionally born, and some adults find themselves becoming altered in later life, even in centres of civilisation such as Altdorf.[2a]
Scholars provide a number of possible reasons for these occurrences. Morrslieb, the smaller of the world’s two moons, is alleged to consist wholly of warpstone. The light of the moon is said to cause mutation in those who dally too long beneath it. Warpstone dust is sometimes blown in on strong northerly winds and shards of it fall from the night sky as meteorites. People say that wizards who cast spells too recklessly risk mutation, and that trafficking with Daemons or the Undead is a sure fire path to mutation. Many believe that mutation can result from sinful behaviour and impious desires.[2a]
The authorities of the Empire take a hard line on mutants. Ancient edicts deem them tainted by Chaos and therefore enemies to be destroyed, no matter how rational or benign a particular mutant might appear.[2a]
Imperially sanctioned Witch Hunters and members of the Knightly Orders track down and kill mutants with the same pitiless zeal they show sorcerers and daemons. Nobles and town councils levy bounties on mutants as aggressively as they do on outlaws and goblins.[2a]
Folk in the Empire regard mutants as physically disgusting and morally abhorrent. Whenever a mutant amongst them is exposed, many people gather in droves to witness its execution. The preferred way to put a mutant to death is to burn it at the stake, a spectacle sure to delight a crowd. Witch Hunters who uncover a number of mutants in one area have been known to hold them prisoner for weeks before their execution. News of such a mass burning can draw crowds from miles around, and works wonders for a Witch Hunter’s reputation.[2a]
Surviving as a Mutant
Those who find themselves altered by mutation do not immediately fall into the worship of Chaos, despite the proclamations of nobles and priests. To develop a mutation is an incredibly distressing occurrence, not only does the unfortunate mutant find his own flesh in revolt, but his neighbours will view him with horror and sell him out to the authorities – assuming they don’t just kill him themselves.[2a]
There are those who find it hard to turn over mutants. Some parents of mutant infants don’t have the stomach to conspire in their offspring’s execution. In rural areas it is common for parents to leave such babes in the woods. The luckier mutant children abandoned in this way are discovered by roving herds of beastmen, who raise them as their own.[2a]
It is a widespread belief that as a mutant’s body changes his mind warps as well. Certainly priests of Sigmar teach that mutation and wickedness go hand in hand, and that the deformities mutants bear are a mark of the malice in their souls. Most other religious authorities in the Empire agree. Even relatively broad-minded experts on the subject of mutation state that to become a mutant marks the beginning of an inescapable moral degradation.[2a]
Some members of the Shallyan and Verenan cults defy conventional views of mutation. Such radicals are careful in voicing their beliefs, for their superiors invariably support the authorities on the matter, but they privately assert that judging people based on appearances is wrong. Rumours persist of certain remote Shallyan temple hospices that offer mutants sanctuary, even treatment. Senior members of the cult are quick to hush up such gossip.[2a]
Some mutants seek the aid of medical professionals. This is a risky business, as many physicians would sooner alert the authorities than attempt to treat a mutant. That said, a minority of them are open-minded enough (or venal enough) to attempt surgical removals of mutated body parts. Even if a mutant is lucky enough to find a sympathetic physician his problems are not over, undergoing surgery is a dangerous business in the Empire at the best of times.[2a]
Most mutants are too poor to afford a competent surgeon, and don’t have the connections to find sanctuary amongst radical Shallyans. They try to remain inconspicuous amongst the ranks of paupers who inhabit urban rookeries. Some of them may be able to conceal their afflictions indefinitely, though most will either be exposed as mutants and executed, or inducted into the ranks of Chaos Cults where they make useful pawns.[2a]
Folk Tales & Rumours regarding Mutants
Many scholars in Altdorf are aware of the sad fate of the Bretonnian playwright Bruno Malvoisin, whose work The Baneful Lusts of Diogo Briesach was rumoured to be so salacious that it delighted Slaanesh himself.[2b]
Bruno allegedly became a mutant shortly after the play was premiered, developing a rill of tentacles around his neck and other deformities. He vanished before the Witch Hunters found him but his fate remains a warning to all those who mock the gods.[2b]
Such a cautionary tale is typical of those that are told to young children who behave badly, or take the names of the gods in vain. Quite what it was that so pleased the Dark Prince of Chaos is unknown, as the play was subsequently banned and all known copies of the first folio were thrown onto a bonfire in Altdorf’s Konigplatz.[2b]
It is common for mothers to warn their children off from certain antisocial habits on account of them “making a mutant of you!” Some naïve folk believe such scolding even in adulthood, so common superstition in the Old World holds that mutation can result from nose picking, onanism, pulling faces, refusing to wash behind the ears, disrespecting your elders, and so on.[2b]
Some optimists believe mutations can be cured. They speak of a young nobleman from the south who was captured by a champion of the dark gods and taken to the Chaos wastes. Gone but not forgotten, members of his family organised an expedition to rescue him. They did not realise what sort of beast he had become, a hulking creature with a wolf’s head and claws.[2b]
He discarded his bow and rapier, preferring to fight tooth and nail. Confronted with the mutant, a family retainer gave his life in order to save the man who was now a monster. The act of self sacrifice redeemed the altered beast, who became the young aristocrat he had been before his ordeal.[2b]
Few tales about mutation end so happily, and the moral guardians of the Empire deny that such a story is true. Or even remotely possible, for that matter.[2b]
Interestingly, not all mutants are evil, nor does becoming one immediately render one subservient to the Ruinous Powers. This is shown in characters like Reikwald Max, Karl Hoche, and even the forlorn town of Uesin.
- Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Old World Bestiary (pg. 11, 102).
- 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 3rd ED: The Book of Change