Friday, April 5, 2013

095: Orcamorphs

ENTRY 095: Orcamorphs

Most of whale species were lost with the flight from Earth. Transhumanity abandoned them in the blackening oceans, too massive to transport up the gravity well, and transhumanity’s final scramble for the safety of space was marked by the dying cetaceans that beached themselves en masse, giving the scavengers one final feast as those cousins of the deep stared up at the fleeing contrails. A few carried with them genetic material taken from captive cetacean populations, but many of the grandest specimens—the sperm whale, the blue whale—are lost species. Even with this material available, few whales have been cloned since the Fall; without a habitat that can sustain them indefinitely, there is no point in setting up a self-sustaining population.

The majority of whales that do remain in transhuman space are orcamorphs: uplifted and heavily transgenetically modified biomorphs based on the orca whale with neo-atavisms that recall some of the creatures’ distant past as land-dwelling mammals such as functional front and hind limbs. While small by comparison with true orca, the standard orcamorph is between two and three meters long and one to two meters tall at the shoulder when on all fours; the largest orcamorphs are thus severely restricted in the habitats they can actually maneuver in, and their weight can cause significant health issues in environments greater than 1 g. Orcamorphs retain their triangular teeth, distinct black and white coloration, and a vestigial dorsal fin, and look very much like stunted orca whales with thick, hippopotamus-like limbs, the foremost pair of which ends with long-fingered hands. They are capable of a hunched bipedal stature, but generally prefer to walk on all fours.

Orcas were considered prime subjects for uplift because of their massive brains, with many transhumans considering them sentient even before the neural hacks were applied. Now the orcamorphs enjoy a reputation as some of the most innately intelligent biomorphs in the solar system, though with significant drawbacks: orcamorphs enjoy a vastly increased “life of the mind” and tend to daydreaming, attention deficit disorders, and a tendency to withdraw from everyday life; nearly forty percent of the population display some form of autism. Despite this tendency to get lost in their own heads, orcamorphs are highly social and tend to form deep relationships with small groups, and many feel the need to keep in close contact with their groupmates at all times, either by physical proximity, infrasonic calls, or a Mesh feed.

Orcamorph Stats

Orcamorphs are biomorphs; moreover they are marine mammals rather than fish, and observe the same requirements for food, oxygen, water, etc.—just more of it than smaller folk! They do not normally possess gills and cannot breathe underwater unaided, but can hold their breath for long periods of time. Their natural echolocation is usually accomplished by clicking vocalizations.
Implants: Access Jacks, Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Cortical Stack, Echolocation, Eidetic Memory, Enhanced Respiration, Oxygen Reserve, Temperature Tolerance
Aptitude Maximum: 40 (35 SOM)
Durability: 60
Wound Threshold: 8
Advantages: Bite Attack (1d10 DV, use Unarmed Combat Skill), +10 COG, +5 COO, +10 INT, +5 SOM, +10 Swimming
Disadvantages: Orcamorphs counts as a large target (+10 modifier to hit in combat)
CP Cost: 80
Credit Cost: Expensive (minimum 45,000)


This section is an alternative or addendum to the Neo-Cetaceans presented on pp.110-1, 142-3 of Panopticon. Orcamorphs represent a more extreme humanoid adaptation than the Neo-Orca, designed for walking rather than swimming.

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