Maneaters are polymorphic humans: shape-shifters with unstable physical forms who manifest various animal characteristics and mannerisms. They are driven by the pain of having a form which is constantly in flux, and their irresistible craving for human flesh, which eases that pain. They live primarily in the forests near human civilization, with some venturing into the world of man in search of greater understanding of themselves or, perhaps just a reliable food source.
Humanity’s first steps into the wider galaxy were not auspicious. There were too few ships and too many people; over-eager mankind had not yet realized all of the troubles it could encounter on long-distance interstellar journeys. Traveling from one inhospitable system to another for decades, their numbers dwindled, their ships fell into disrepair, and it seemed humanity was on the verge of extinction.
Then they encountered the friendly Ithgish, a species of mammalian shape-shifters, who were just coming out of a long period of seclusion. The Ithgish offered humanity a place to settle, the facilities needed to repair their ships, and food for their people. What followed were several decades of relative peace and tranquility, with the two species collaborating and flourishing.
During this time it was found humans and Ithgish could interbreed. This mingling sparked fears among the more conservative portions of the human population. The rhetoric spread: what had appeared as an act of goodwill was nothing but a ruse disguising the true desire of the Ithgish: the theft of human identity, human advancement, human excellence. The aliens were attempting to end humanity by breeding it out of existence. While this faction represented only a small, but vocal, subset of the human population, the group nonetheless managed to convince the Machine Mother (who was at that time much less advanced than she was during the Ascendancy) that the Ithgish were a threat that had to be dealt with.
The extinction of the Ithgish came after 20 years of fighting. As their final act, the last of the once-peaceful Ithgish released a genetic virus into the human population. This virus was designed to slowly, painfully, rewrite the DNA of humankind into Ithgish – with one notable change. These new Ithgish would be filled with a hunger for human flesh that could never entirely be sated.
This would have meant the end for humanity had the Machine Mother not intervened. While she could not eliminate the virus, she could prevent its effects and limit its transmission. She released nano-machines into the human population to halt the virus’ progression. As a second layer of defense, she programmed a directive called “The Countermeasure” which would be initiated if the virus ever overcame the nano-machines.
The Celestial Ascendancy formed shortly after the extinction of the Ithgish. Humanity carried the virus without incident until The Fall. When the Machine Mother left, the protective nanomachines became inert. Fortunately, after hundreds of years of dilution, the virus only effected a small portion of the population. The first Maneaters began to appear: sub-sapient, rarely able to speak, driven by the pain of their unpredictable shifts and hunger for human flesh.
In later generations, as the virus became more and more attuned to its original purpose, a species that looked a great deal like the Ithgish began to appear and The Countermeasure was activated. Within the span of 200 years, Countermeasure machines managed to wipe out most of the Maneater population within the galaxy, quarantining or eliminating any remaining human bloodlines they determined likely to carry the virus. Just as they were close to completing this task, they received a recall order that appeared to come from the Machine Mother.
Now the remaining Maneaters, the legacy of the Ithgish, have emerged from hiding and have begun appearing across the galaxy. As time passes, they come more and more to resemble their extinct creators, and are slowly continuing their push for greater legitimacy.
You are creature that is more beast than man, a monster. You have a constant craving for human flesh that you struggle to control, the more you suppress it, the stronger the craving becomes and the less control over your constantly-shifting form you have. There are times when you let your hunger go too long suppressed, and you must give in to it or go mad in hunger and pain. The only way you know to satisfy it is to feed. Once you have fed, the craving subsides and you are able to regain your control and self-awareness.
Maneaters range in intelligence from barely sapient to highly intelligent, depending on how the virus manifested within them. If you were raised in civilization, with a reliable source of fresh human flesh, you would be able to maintain your form and self control – as long as your circumstances did not change. A change in environment is generally accompanied by discomfort and unrest, physical shifts and changes as your body attempts to adjust to the new surroundings. If you have been living in the wild or with other Maneaters, with situations and meat supplies less predictable, you might seem quite feral, potentially never knowing a state of calm, physical stability, and clarity of mind.
You have a strong affinity for nature. You may choose to hunt alone or in a pack, either way, you desire the company of your own kind, with whom you forge tight bonds. You are unshakably loyal to your companions, both Maneater and other (once they have proven trustworthy).
A note regarding Maneater genetics: As mentioned above, the base genetic coding of a Maneater is human. Their morphic nature is not significant enough to change their species. A Maneater could attempt to imitate and live within a pack of wolves – the result would be a form that still appears more human than wolf, and includes traces of other creatures. Maneaters produce offspring in the same manner as humans (a Maneater child is often human in appearance at birth), and only with species that humans are cross-fertile with.
Maneater Skill paths are based around the method they use to find their prey. Scavengers hunt by instilling fear, and causing exhaustion. Stalkers overpower their foes with strength and fury. Lurkers stalk the shadows, waiting for the right moment to strike.
Others may purchase Dirty Tricks at no cost.
Maneaters begin the game with +5 Body.