Mutation and Ableism

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Herr Arnulfe
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Any ideas for adapting the usual mutant tropes to modern sensibilities, while still adhering to WFB8e Chaos canon? Do NPCs in your game distinguish between congenital disorders (e.g. extra finger, clubfoot) and Chaos mutation? Are 'gifted children' subject to discrimination, and if so, how are they different from mutants?
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Overlord
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Well if i remeber in WFRP 2 ed there was a treat that make You see in the darkness (night vision) - i would speculate that is a mutation, same as griphhons, pegasi, unicorns ect. i dont see people discriminate that, but taking example of our world - in many places people are racist and others not. In group of racist there are people who are more radical than others - I generalised this one but i wanted simple example. For me is GM decision. After Storm of Chaos people would be less tolerant for mutations even if it not even conected to Chaos but there are reasons for that. Its a matter of perspective how dark You want Your world to be. In my games I bet on realism - real world is cruel enough to be inspiration how society should look like - mix with history of medieval/renessaince and wild west behaviour and You get great background for Your players. Small village with apodictic overzealous priest with some compassionate elder - who try get some compromise between him and priest, Remote tavern with settlement each autumn raided by beastmen (overprotected closed society), northern borders where Chaos influence is stronger and people accepted they marked children but they are "reinforced" by Sigmar/Ulric zealots with young son of Baron wanted to prove the world how great he is. Man that some crazy, dark things in here :twisted:
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Herr Arnulfe
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Overlord wrote:
Thu Oct 21, 2021 2:43 am
After Storm of Chaos people would be less tolerant for mutations even if it not even conected to Chaos but there are reasons for that. Its a matter of perspective how dark You want Your world to be.
Would the average Imperial citizen even be able to recognise the difference between a congenital disability and a Chaos mutation? How about witch hunters or College wizards? In TEW there were a couple of Gossip table rumours suggesting that even in 2512 IC, witch hunters were quite indiscriminate with executions. On the other hand, the 'mutant baby' on that Gossip table was born with horns and hooves, which are extreme mutations. I'm thinking that if Imperials are portrayed as being too ableist it can resemble eugenics, which probably isn't what GW intended.
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Wyrmslayer
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I remember re-reading the old Jack Yeovil Warhammer novels and there being a dwarf that works for Detlef's theatre company. That is, a human with dwarfism. I guess people just regard him as a Dwarf with a capital D.

The Imperial Witch Hunters do seem quite absolute. At least until the "Mark of.." pair of novels James Wallis wrote that had them infiltrated by cultists. That absolute trait is rather supported by the background, in that a mutant is going to corrupt further. That the chaotic seed in them will have a detrimental effect on their mind and will, and eventually they will step into chaotic behaviour.

There was a warband of mutants in the second "Mark of" book that were rather interesting. Some where new to being mutants and had fled to the woods to avoid persecution, some had been on their path to damnation a while, but none of them had a clue about Chaos, the religion of it all.

In 2e I played an ex-student turned sigmarite warrior priest that eventually turned witch hunter. Was a constant shifting of lines to cross, reconciling the academic background with the absolutism of the faith he was following. One of the divine spells he had access to was to negate a mutation in someone, briefly. Had an encounter with some mutants and the kindest thing he felt he could offer was for them to volunteer to be blessed by that spell, and while having their corruption lifting also volunteer to die and trust their soul was similarly uncorrupted and could have a decent afterlife. Was either that or run off and eventually succumb to the chaotic taint, or suffer the purification of a flaming violent death.
Herr Arnulfe
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Wyrmslayer wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 10:48 am
I remember re-reading the old Jack Yeovil Warhammer novels and there being a dwarf that works for Detlef's theatre company. That is, a human with dwarfism. I guess people just regard him as a Dwarf with a capital D.
Good point, although he spent most of his time hiding under the theatre IIRC. I recall several of the characters rolled up using Apocrypha 2 charts were even more irregular-looking than minor Chaos mutants. Perhaps the various Sigmarite Orders have different positions on what constitutes a mutant. This would allow for a certain number of odd-looking personalities to survive infancy, yet still support traditional WH witch hunting zealotry. The most hardcore Sigmarite body purists could even be considered heretics by the other orders.
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skerrigan
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Herr Arnulfe wrote: Good point, although he spent most of his time hiding under the theatre IIRC.
That's the other mutant who pops up in Book 2. Vargr Breughel is the dwarf and is the one who they name the new theatre after.
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Herr Arnulfe
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skerrigan wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 7:49 am
That's the other mutant who pops up in Book 2. Vargr Breughel is the dwarf and is the one who they name the new theatre after.
Ah right, the stage manager from Drachenfels who resents being seen as a Dwarf.
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Orin J.
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 6:32 am
Overlord wrote:
Thu Oct 21, 2021 2:43 am
After Storm of Chaos people would be less tolerant for mutations even if it not even conected to Chaos but there are reasons for that. Its a matter of perspective how dark You want Your world to be.
Would the average Imperial citizen even be able to recognise the difference between a congenital disability and a Chaos mutation? How about witch hunters or College wizards? In TEW there were a couple of Gossip table rumours suggesting that even in 2512 IC, witch hunters were quite indiscriminate with executions. On the other hand, the 'mutant baby' on that Gossip table was born with horns and hooves, which are extreme mutations. I'm thinking that if Imperials are portrayed as being too ableist it can resemble eugenics, which probably isn't what GW intended.
this is assuming that there's some agreement on what counts as a mutation, as opposed to having one village where they beleive crimson locks is a sign of chaos and are all normal, dark-haired folk, then another villiage a few miles down the road where everyone's got red hair and sees children born "with the thick dark hair of a beast" as chaos spawn.
Herr Arnulfe
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Orin J. wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 11:13 pm
this is assuming that there's some agreement on what counts as a mutation, as opposed to having one village where they beleive crimson locks is a sign of chaos and are all normal, dark-haired folk, then another villiage a few miles down the road where everyone's got red hair and sees children born "with the thick dark hair of a beast" as chaos spawn.
I'm assuming there are various definitions of mutation amongst commoners. So if the group wants to play a game in which peasant mobs burn people for having large noses, that's up to them. However, if a suspected mutant is put on trial, I'm thinking there should be methods or standards by which mutants are identified by authorities. I double-checked 2e RoS, ToS and ToC but couldn't find anything. The witch hunting section in RoS focuses on spellcasters rather than mutants.
Wyrmslayer wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 10:48 am
The Imperial Witch Hunters do seem quite absolute. At least until the "Mark of.." pair of novels James Wallis wrote that had them infiltrated by cultists. That absolute trait is rather supported by the background, in that a mutant is going to corrupt further. That the chaotic seed in them will have a detrimental effect on their mind and will, and eventually they will step into chaotic behaviour.
2e ToC actually models this theory partially. Once you have your first mutation, you have to roll a T test whenever Morrslieb is full, or gain another one. It doesn't cover Chaotic behaviour following from mutation though.
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Orin J.
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:33 am
Orin J. wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 11:13 pm
this is assuming that there's some agreement on what counts as a mutation, as opposed to having one village where they beleive crimson locks is a sign of chaos and are all normal, dark-haired folk, then another villiage a few miles down the road where everyone's got red hair and sees children born "with the thick dark hair of a beast" as chaos spawn.
I'm assuming there are various definitions of mutation amongst commoners. So if the group wants to play a game in which peasant mobs burn people for having large noses, that's up to them. However, if a suspected mutant is put on trial, I'm thinking there should be methods or standards by which mutants are identified by authorities. I double-checked 2e RoS, ToS and ToC but couldn't find anything. The witch hunting section in RoS focuses on spellcasters rather than mutants.
to the best of my understanding, mutant trials are actually pretty informal, and handled by witch hunters as it comes up. so there's probably some general guidelines that might be in that witch hunter's handbook they put out once, but nothing set in stone and those witch hunters are anotoriously unorthidox bunch...
Herr Arnulfe
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Orin J. wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:12 pm
to the best of my understanding, mutant trials are actually pretty informal, and handled by witch hunters as it comes up. so there's probably some general guidelines that might be in that witch hunter's handbook they put out once, but nothing set in stone and those witch hunters are anotoriously unorthidox bunch...
Good call, there's some information on mutants in the "Beastmen" chapter of the Witch Hunter's Handbook. Mutations are divided into Metamorphoses of Flesh (physical deformity), Intellect (mental illness) and Power (psychic ability). Apparently no special mercy is granted for mutations received from innocent contact. The most common Metamorphoses of Flesh are: skin changes, limb elongation, limb multiplication and bestiality (animalistic features). Oh, and apparently it's considered blasphemous to cry at the execution of a mutant; if the mourner persists after a warning, they can be hanged themselves. :)

Pretty harsh overall, but there seems to be room for letting people with congenital deformities survive. The common thread appears to be changes in behavior or appearance (i.e. metamorphoses). So if someone was born with an extra finger, they probably wouldn't be pegged as a mutant. Likewise, someone born with a mental disability wouldn't be a mutant (but someone who developed a mental illness would be). Psychic ability would only be considered a mutation if it developed after birth. The one exception is animalistic features; those are considered mutations even at birth.
Wolf
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Vargr Breughel is the dwarf
As I recall the position is a bit more muddled than it first appears:

SPOILER
Spoiler
At first he is presented simply as a human with restricted height unfairly rejected by many humans as being a dwarf and not accepted by dwarfs as he is a human. As such, there appears to be no concern that he has a mutation.

Later however, I recall he is tortured on suspicion of being a mutant, given his abnormal height. This appears to be an unfair accusation- until it turns out he really is a mutant, with other Chaotic mutations.
All in all, it’s unclear the extent to which that character helps!

I would suggest an element of uncertainty is always possibly best. In the not so great stories about Konrad, the hero had different coloured eyes: is that a Chaotic mutation? It seemed it was but no one called in witchhunters. In a world where there are people who can cast magic but still live within their own local society and be accepted to some extent, those with long standing unusual physical characteristics often would be too.
Herr Arnulfe
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Wolf wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 6:49 am
I would suggest an element of uncertainty is always possibly best. In the not so great stories about Konrad, the hero had different coloured eyes: is that a Chaotic mutation? It seemed it was but no one called in witchhunters. In a world where there are people who can cast magic but still live within their own local society and be accepted to some extent, those with long standing unusual physical characteristics often would be too.
Agreed, uncertainty opens the setting up to a wider variety of stories. Mainly I'm trying to frame the setting (for new players) in a way that shifts the cult of Sigmar more towards the side of 'good'. New players are inclined to sympathise with mutants and witches because of RW history, so details like Wyrmslayer mentioned re: Chaotic behaviour might help to explain why execution of innocents is sometimes necessary.

I'm also starting up a campaign including a Wizard's Apprentice who's being run by a player new to the setting. Since we'll be playing the first few sessions around their home village, I'd like to portray NPC reactions in a manner that's genre appropriate but doesn't make the Empire seem too backwards or fascist. The bits from Witch Hunter's Handbook are useful, because if other villagers can attest to the fact that he was born with magical sight, then the law is ultimately on his side if push comes to shove.
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Hyarion
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Perhaps there is a Church of Sigmar (or Shallaya) ritual (requiring a priest of sufficient ability, a quest in and of itself, then payment, etc) that can determine whether or not a deformity bears the taint of chaos or not. And perhaps that person can be given a certified letter from a priest that says the deformity in question does not bear the taint of Chaos?

Perhaps that letter has an expiration date (it's only good for 2 years or something). Perhaps if the priest who signed it himself falls to Chaos, then it invalidates any certificates signed by that priest; so there's a race to get a new certificate?
Perhaps some larger Shallayan Monasteries can be designated by the church of Sigmar as "Safe Havens" for those with non-tainted mutations (I'm thinking of a parallel with Hunchback of NotreDame /Quasimodo hiding out in NotreDame for this one)?
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Herr Arnulfe
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Hyarion wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 8:27 am
Perhaps there is a Church of Sigmar (or Shallaya) ritual (requiring a priest of sufficient ability, a quest in and of itself, then payment, etc) that can determine whether or not a deformity bears the taint of chaos or not. And perhaps that person can be given a certified letter from a priest that says the deformity in question does not bear the taint of Chaos?

Perhaps that letter has an expiration date (it's only good for 2 years or something). Perhaps if the priest who signed it himself falls to Chaos, then it invalidates any certificates signed by that priest; so there's a race to get a new certificate?
Perhaps some larger Shallayan Monasteries can be designated by the church of Sigmar as "Safe Havens" for those with non-tainted mutations (I'm thinking of a parallel with Hunchback of NotreDame /Quasimodo hiding out in NotreDame for this one)?
Nice idea re: Shallyans providing sanctuary for people with congenital disabilities. I'm inclined to follow The Witch Hunter's Handbook's notion that birth irregularities aren't usually considered mutations by the mainstream cult of Sigmar, only by extremists or heretics. The Drachenfels character mentioned above was technically on trial for murder IIRC, not for his dwarfism. It was only during the course of investigation that his mutations were discovered. Granted, people might be accused of witchcraft (or other crimes) more often because of their birth disorders, however I think mainstream witch hunters would only declare someone a mutant if there was evidence of metamorphosis. Sadly, this would probably include people with degenerative physical or mental health conditions too.

Insanity probably also needs to be differentiated from Mental Corruption, but that's a whole other project. The example of Metamorphosis of Intellect from the Witch Hunter's Handbook was someone who develops a habit of crouching on rooftops and throwing sticks at passing children. That type of Warhammery mutant behaviour is ripe for development IMO, as a separate thing from RW mental illness with serial numbers filed off. In 2021 it just seems wrong IMO to have a setting in which the good guys burn people for mental illness, especially when so many Warhammer characters are raving mad.
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Wyrmslayer
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There was a Witchhunter trilogy of novels from GW that had some useful elements. The main character wasn't a softie, but also seemed driven to do his job correctly. A few times he seemed harsh to the reader, but never didn't make sense for the character and way chaos is presented in the setting.
It also featured a witchhunter than wasn't a member of the Sigmarite order of Templars that pretty much defines "Witchhunter" in the Old World. He was more driven by the fact as an independant witch hunter he would only be getting paid if he found chaotic evidence. Seemed a bit like a serial killer finding a way to operate.

I found that more useful than the Witchhunter Handbook as a player with witchunter on his PC's career path. It also had some politics among the Witchhunter's management structure. Think it mentioned the chaos in their own ranks that was explored in James Wallis. "Mark of..." duology. Those would be useful for a player contracting a mutation. With the lead character getting one, and fighting the corruption spreading inside him.
Herr Arnulfe
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Wyrmslayer wrote:
Thu Oct 28, 2021 11:39 am
There was a Witchhunter trilogy of novels from GW that had some useful elements. The main character wasn't a softie, but also seemed driven to do his job correctly. A few times he seemed harsh to the reader, but never didn't make sense for the character and way chaos is presented in the setting.
It also featured a witchhunter than wasn't a member of the Sigmarite order of Templars that pretty much defines "Witchhunter" in the Old World. He was more driven by the fact as an independant witch hunter he would only be getting paid if he found chaotic evidence. Seemed a bit like a serial killer finding a way to operate.
I've been curious about the Matthias Thulmann novels for years. If you recommend them I will order the trilogy. How were regular citizens portrayed in terms of attitudes toward witches and mutants? i.e. Did people generally cooperate with witch hunters or side with their neighbours who were being investigated? The independent witch hunter sounds like a nasty character.
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Wyrmslayer
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I enjoyed the series enough to read them a second time. One of the upsides of a poor memory is value for money from books. I think there was a mix of reaction to witches, mutants, and to the upper-class witch hunter and his low-born torturer lackey. An odd thing about that series is the main baddies are vampires rather than mutants, that does allow it draw in a Morrite Templar. It visits the areas of law and authority the watch, witch hunters and the Morrite Templars have a remit to rule upon.
Kriegtanzer
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Tue Oct 19, 2021 9:00 am
Do NPCs in your game distinguish between congenital disorders (e.g. extra finger, clubfoot) and Chaos mutation?
The answer really is "it depends". There is a lot of room from NPC to NPC to hold different views. Other factors come in as well. Is the person with the disorder known to the NPC or a stranger? Have there been any strange occurrences lately? Any disappearances? Anything that may turn up suspicion of Chaos taint? In general natural deformities and disorders would be seen as such, natural...until you don't want them too as a GM.

Having the opportunity to save someone falsely accused of being a mutant is a great plot hook for an adventure. If you want to run something like that then turn up the fear, suspicion, and superstition and bring out the torches and pitchforks. If it is not a part of the story I would not bring it up.
Iltherion
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Herr Arnulfe wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 6:32 am
Overlord wrote:
Thu Oct 21, 2021 2:43 am
After Storm of Chaos people would be less tolerant for mutations even if it not even conected to Chaos but there are reasons for that. Its a matter of perspective how dark You want Your world to be.
Would the average Imperial citizen even be able to recognise the difference between a congenital disability and a Chaos mutation? How about witch hunters or College wizards?
College wizards have Witchsight; they'd know if a mutation was magical (read: Chaotic) or not.
Last edited by Iltherion on Sat Nov 20, 2021 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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