One of the many reasons why no-one has claimed the Badlands as their territory, despite it having the last known reserve of Coronatite, is mutation. Some claim that the Coronatite deposits themselves are the cause. Most scholars refute this, suggesting it is caused by the concentration of red powdery, sparkling rocks (“Badstone”) that litter the dead center around the area where the Coronatite is also found. And there are wild theories that the cause is something far more sinister – all the way to it being above the very site where the gods imprisoned Shemhazai during the War in Heaven..
Whatever the reason, humans that are conceived in the area are highly susceptible to this cruel and unusual affliction – in some places as bad as 1 in 10 births ending in mutations.
The effects of the mutation strike human infants in the womb, many mutants are born ‘non viable’ and either terminate or cause the death of their mother during childbirth from blood loss. But for every five short lived masses of flesh born, one has mutations that are ‘mild’ enough to survive into adulthood..
There is really no such thing as a typical mutant. All are basically humanoid in appearance, and some can – if they cover or disguise the worst of their mutations – even pass for human, though this fails on close inspection. Common mutations include (but are not limited to) seemingly random extra or distorted appendages (often resembling a known animal species), extreme musculature, tiny or massive, hairiness or complete lack of hair, extra or missing eyes and digits, the combinations are almost endless and some are so mutated they really cannot be defined as humanoid anymore..
However, in addition to deformities and distortions of normal human physicality, all mutants have two things in common. All are sterile (many do not even have genitals or identifiable gender) and all have low level psionic powers – such as the ability to communicate with each other despite being miles apart physically, or to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ when they lack the necessary appendage..
A handful, usually the leadership, are able to harness and hone their inherent abilities, becoming either full blown psionicists or dark aspect magic users.
Additionally, as they are still often killed at birth and rejected by human society in general, for the most part in return they harbor feelings of extreme resentment to the peoples who rejected them. As such, they band together, either to commit acts of banditry or to live in hidden and fortified xenophobic communities, and replenish their number by seeking out the abandoned mutant children, or ensuring weaker communities deliver the children to them, and raising them in a loose familial or tribal structure.