This is a heavily edited version of articles that have appeared in the Canon Material forum, combined with sources from stories and forum posts by canon authors. Not everything is sourced. The best way of telling what came from the Canon Material forum, other than going there and looking, is writing style.
Mutants and other meta-humans. Edit
Most people think of super-powered humans as mutants. Nothing could be further from the truth! Many meta-humans gain their powers in other ways, such as direct bestowal from a god (or similar entity, such as a demon), chemicals, devises or whatever. In reading this, it's important to keep this in mind.
Meta-gene complex Edit
What defines a mutant is the meta-gene complex. This is a collection of 18 changes scattered over a number of chromosomes. Most people who have the meta-gene complex (at the last survey this was about 1/6th of the population) aren't "mutants". That requires activating the complex. Nobody knows how that happens. The whole concept of a "mutant" is, therefore, rather fuzzy. It's solid enough for the mass media and politicians, but once you get beyond the rabble rousers it becomes less and less precise.
- There is a serious universe inconsistency here. Most stories that describe it in any kind of detail say that it's a number of changes scattered across 18 chromosomes. E. E. Nalley's stories, on the other hand, all say that it's on the X chromosome.
The modern variant of the meta-gene complex appeared late in the 19th century. According to one authority, the first known possessor was a woman named Gian Han, in China. Since information on her is very sketchy, it's impossible to say whether she was born before or after the members of the Mystic Six. (Whether they possess the modern meta-gene complex is also not certain.)
While the modern variant of the meta-gene complex is relatively recent as such things go, variations on it have shown up through the centuries. These have all been rare and do not breed true. The modern variation breeds true and appears to be inherited in a non-Mendalian fashion. Normal laws of genetics that apply to the spread of highly advantageous mutations do not appear to apply here: it is starkly impossible that a mutation could spread from a single individual to a sixth of humanity in around four generations. There is apparently something else going on, but so far nobody has figured out what. Goodkind Research and Dr. Hammond are pursuing the notion that there is a retro-virus responsible. On the contrary, Mephisto the Mentalist thinks it may have something to do with the military's WW II super-soldier research. Mephisto is not, however, the most reliable character.
It is also not necessary to have a meta-gene complex to have preter-human powers. There are a wide variety of treatments that can give a previously normal person preter-human powers, ranging from chemical through magical and various devises (see Dr. Pygmalion)
The distribution of preter-human powers is also not even worldwide. North America (in particular New York) appears to be a hot-spot, with Europe, Australia, Central and South America in second place. In other places around the globe there are relatively fewer expressed mutants. China is a black hole: whether they don't have any, or whether the Government of the PRC is controlling the situation is unknown. There are a number of discussions of this on the forums. WOG is that the New York hot spot is a tribute to the comics industry tending to put a disproportionate number of super powered individuals there.
One of the fundamental universe concepts in the Whateleyverse is that most super-powers have a biological basis. Thus you will find weird organs or people's bodies being modified to support a super-power.
Explanation of Power Terminology Edit
When metahuman powers first emerged in the 1930's, they completely caught the scientific community napping. Across the globe, people were blithely ignoring many of the laws of physics, and no one had the slightest idea as to how they were doing it. Scientists immediately started studying these remarkable people, and started coming up with theories and terms to define and explain what these people did. Most of those theories have been discarded as obsolete, but many of those terms are still with us.
The thing to remember about mutant power terminology, is that it's trying to describe not only what a mutant does, but how they do it, as well. One of the more confusing things about power terminology as it's currently used is a tendency for people to confuse traits and syndromes. A trait is the cause, whereas a syndrome is the effect. A trait is the actual genetic sequence or biological mechanism that causes a mutant ability. A syndrome is the more obvious display of power that comes from a trait. The thing is, a syndrome can be produced from many different causes. For instance a mutant who produces a fire effect might be the avatar of a fire spirit, an energizer who creates plasmas, a manifestor whose manifestations take on a fire aspect, a pyrokinetic, or wizard with a fire attunement.
Whenever possible, these classifications prefer to describe the trait rather than the result, but all too often in everyday use it happens that people describe the syndrome.
You'll sometimes see the prefix faux- or pseudo- used to describe a power. The two terms are interchangeable. They may be a shorthand for a power that looks like the corresponding mutant power but was acquired in a different fashion.
When looking at the individual descriptions, there are a few things to remember. First, power rankings go from 1 to 7 in some categories, from 1 to 3 in others. In general, the higher the ranking, the fewer people there are in the category. Some groups have two rating scales, for example most Espers have a 1 to 3 scale, but the Gadgeteer sub-category uses the 1 to 7 scale. Then there's the entirely bizarre scale for Shifters, which looks like the 1 to 7 scale, but has a quite different basis.
Second, this isn't a Role Playing Game, so powers don't "balance" the way you'd expect in a RPG. The MCO, for example, uses a completely different 1 to 10 scale of Threat Rating.
Here's the --> list of powers
General Rankings Edit
This is due to J.G. in the Canon Material forum. I've lightly edited it.
|0||A level that's used in a single very exceptional circumstance: a mutant who does not have a Wizard talent, but is still a trained mage. This is not used for any other circumstance, including a baseline Mage. There may be a similar use for a mutant who's also a trained psychic without any mutant psychic talent, but if so, it hasn't shown up in any stories.|
|1||an exceptional individual in their level. After all, even a weak ability to channel magnetism, electricity or telepathy is a potent weapon when combined with a creative mind.|
|2||a paragon, one of the great people whom you can look upon in awe of their achievements and wish you were as cool, even though they were clearly mortal, they were POTENT mortal. Heroes and Savants and rulers alike. (NOT the Paragon Esper trait.)|
|3||considered a demigod, or the greatest of mortal heroes in most early cultures. These would be people for whom epic ballads would have been constructed.|
|4||a clear, definable power in their own right. Anyone with a 4 would have been worshiped as a God in less modern times|
|5||an EXTREMELY powerful character. We're talking capable of punching some of the greats in the face and walking out alive - if they're not stupid. As far as mortal men would have been concerned in earlier times. This would be, not considered, but BE a God walking among men.|
|6||"We can measure the upper limits of this power with modern day techniques. We think." In the dark days of Christianity a Six ANYTHING could be likened to a Seraphim of Biblical Lore. Unstoppable, Indescribable, and a destroyer of nations, or a world-class conqueror, or a living Holy Icon.|
|7||"fuck all, we have no goddamn clue what we're dealing with here." This is truly beyond the ken of mortals. A Seven would have been considered one of the primordial forces that the Gods had to harness and chain to forge the world. This may be mistaken, but that is the perception. A Seven is the absolute limit of the Scientific, Wild-Ass Guess classifications that comprise the Mutant Classification system. Fey is a Seven because the Fae magics she use DO NOT seem to operate in any way a normal human wizard operates, beyond following the laws of magic. Hence, she gets thrown into a 7 classification because she can tap God's own lightningrods, ley lines, without dying instantly. Yes friends, if Sir Wallace Westmont tapped an actual Ley Line, he'd be mage on Flambe without some EXTREME precautions.|
List of PowersEdit
Each of these has its own page, which more fully describes the cause or effect. Many of them also have pages that list the people with that power.
- there was originally a suggestion that powers pages use the present participle (that is, the -ing verb form) if grammatically possible. For example, Manifesting instead of Manifestor or Shifting instead of Shifter. Then pages that list people with that power would use the -er or -or form of the corresponding noun, possibly in the plural, so it would be Manifesting and Manifestors.
Mutant Powers by CauseEdit
This list describes the basis for a mutant's powers. It does not describe the actual manifestation, or effect, of that power.
- Empath (a common ESP subtype)
- Gadgeteer (a common ESP subtype)
- Package Deal Psychic
- Power Mimic
- TK Superman
- density, electromagnetic, gravitic, interdimensional, teleportation, probability, reality, size, limited time travel or distortion, other effects
Non-Mutant Powers by CauseEdit
These are ways of getting super-powers that don't involve being a mutant. Much of this is described in the second chapter of Silver Linings.
- Batson Factor - Shazam!
- Modified - e.g. bit by a Mad Scientist. Also called Experiments
- Origin - e.g. bit by a radioactive gerbil
- Power gem - e.g. Green Lantern
- Power Suits - or the Science Hero. e.g. Iron Man.
- Science Hero - or villans. Many, but not all, are also Power Suit jockeys.
- Training - e.g. Batman
Powers by manifestation or effectEdit
The following list is extremely incomplete. However, it's the basis for powers descriptions used in the sims.