Mutations are one aspect of character creation in Caves of Qud. They provide the bulk of character customization for players playing as mutated humans due to their variety and number, and can be considered roughly analogous to the cybernetics available to True Kin.
Mutations are attributes of a character that grant them new abilities, alter their anatomy, or bolster their stats, among other things. Each mutation has a mutation level that can be raised via mutation points, increasing their power. These points are most commonly obtained from increasing one's character level, which will grant mutants 1 point every level. Other potential sources of mutation points include gamma moths, sparking baetyls, and Eaters' nectar injectors.
Some mutations give the player the opportunity to Customize them during character creation, which can alter their location on the player's body or simply provide flavor.
There are over 70 mutations available. They can be split into a few main categories:
- Morphotypes: Limit what mutations can be selected and obtained. In the case of Unstable Genome, randomly mutates into another mutation after some time.
- Physical Mutations: Positive mutations that physically alter the player internally or externally.
- Mental Mutations: Positive mutations that are related to controlling things with mental energy.
- Defects: Physical and mental mutations which hinder the player. Choosing defects provides additional points to spend during character creation.
It should be noted that, because the mutation system is used to handle any special abilities, many creatures have "mutations" which can be thought of as much closer to natural traits or abilities than actual genetic mutations, such as the Heightened Smell and Dark Vision common to all Snapjaws. These mutations are not available to be selected during character creation (though in some cases, they can be obtained during gameplay through cooking effects or other means). For a list of these, see innate mutations.
On character creation, mutants start with 12 mutation points to select starting mutations. These do not carry over to the main game, so any left over points will be lost. The only way to gain more than 12 points to spend is through taking defects.
Mutants gain one mutation point each time they level up. The player can spend these points in two different ways:
- Spend a mutation point to increase the level of an existing mutation. The new level must be less than or equal to Player Level/2 (or, more precisely, floor(Player Level/2)+1) and the level cannot exceed 10 (excluding any levels added by Rapid Advancement or Ego Bonus).
- Spend four mutation points to buy a new mutation by pressing
Mon the character sheet screen. The player will be given a choice between three random mutations (limited by morphotype).
Randomizing Mutation Buys
Normally, the choice of random mutations is deterministic based on world seed. Simply reloading a save or using Precognition will not allow the player to change the set of mutations offered when buying a new one; the same three will be offered each time. However, there are certain conditions under which they can be rerandomized:
- Gaining a permanent (not meal- or relic-based) mutation that could have been rolled, regardless of whether it was one of the next three choices.
- For example, if a character who can learn mental mutations permanently gains a positive mental mutation using brain brine, the choices will change, but not if it was a negative one.
- Injecting an Eaters' nectar injector.
- Cooking with a drop of nectar (the drop of nectar need not succeed in granting the boost).
- Cooking with a canned Have-It-All, and getting the drop of nectar cooking effect. (The same considerations apply; this is also relatively rare.)
- Halfway through the duration of the mutating effect from a gamma moth. (This is in addition to the fact that it may grant a permanent mutation and thus change the offerings for that reason.)
- Gaining a chimeric limb.
Physical mutations are mutations that grant the player various physical attributes and abilities. Players with the Chimera morphotype will only manifest physical mutations.
Physical mutations possess a unique mechanic known as rapid advancement. Starting at player level 5, and every 10 levels after that, the player's genome will enter an excited state, and they will be given the option to rapidly advance one of their physical mutations, causing it to gain a permanent 3 level bonus. Levels gained in this way do not count towards the usual 10 level limit set on mutations. They can also exceed the (Player Level/2) limit, but the mutation's effects are temporarily capped at that limit until the appropriate level is reached. If the player has at least 4 mutation points, they will be given the chance to buy a new mutation before rapidly mutating. If the player has no physical mutations upon reaching the appropriate level, this prompt will be skipped.
Mental mutations are mutations that grant the player various mind-based abilities. Players with the Esper morphotype will only manifest mental mutations.
Mental mutations possess a unique mechanic whereby their effective level is increased in proportion to the player's Ego bonus. Levels gained from Ego bonus can bypass the usual 10 level limit set on mutations. These levels are not permanent and will decrease if the player's Ego bonus decreases for any reason. Additionally, the level of mental mutations will be decreased in proportion to a negative Ego bonus.
Glimmer is a mechanic unique to mental mutations. A player's Glimmer score is proportional to the combined total of all of their mental mutations' levels, including levels granted by their Ego bonus. A one-point mutation counts as one glimmer. The more Glimmer one has, the more desirable they are to esper hunters.
Defects are mutations with various detrimental effects. Rather than costing points at character creation, they will grant the player additional points to spend when taken. Just like normal mutations, defects come in the form of physical defects and mental defects. Unlike normal mutations, they cannot be leveled.
Defects can only be selected during character creation and will not appear as an option when buying a mutation using mutation points. However, there are various methods by which the player can be afflicted with a defect after character creation, such as through the mutating effect inflicted by gamma moths, or through drinking brain brine.
Typically, the player is only allowed to take one defect at character creation. However, there is no limit to how many defects the player can obtain through other sources. Additionally, the character creation defect limit can be disabled via the Options menu, allowing the player to take as many defects as they'd like.
Gaining temporary mutations
Mutations can be temporarily gained using other methods besides mutation. This is often the only way for True Kin to gain mutations:
- Equipping a relic
- Eating a recipe
- skulk injectors provide Burrowing Claws when injected by a mutated human.
List of Mutations
|Chimera||1||You only manifest physical mutations.||Esper • Mental Mutations • Mental Defects|
|Esper||1||You only manifest mental mutations.||Chimera • Physical Mutations • Physical Defects|
|Unstable Genome||3||You gain one extra mutation each time you buy this, but the mutations don't manifest right away. Whenever you gain a level, there's a 33% chance that your genome destabilizes and you get to choose from 3 random mutations.|
|Adrenal Control||4||You regulate your body's release of adrenaline.
You can increase your body's adrenaline flow for 20 rounds. While it's flowing, you gain +(level-based) quickness and other physical mutations gain +(level based) rank.Cooldown: 200 rounds
|Beak||1||Your face bears a sightly beak.
+1 Ego You occasionally peck at your opponents.+200 reputation with birds
|Burrowing Claws||3||You bear spade-like claws that can burrow through the earth.
4 successful attacks dig through a wall Claw penetration vs walls: (level based) Claws are also a short-blade class natural weapon that deal (level based) damage to non-walls.
(if prerelease content is enabled):Can dig passages up or down when outside of combat
|Left Hand • Right Hand|
|Carapace||3||You are protected by a durable carapace.
+(level based) AV -2 DV +(level based) Heat Resistance +(level based) Cold Resistance You may tighten your carapace to receieve double the AV bonus at a -2 DV penalty as long as you remain still. Cannot wear armor.+400 reputation with tortoises
|Corrosive Gas Generation||3||You release a burst of corrosive gas around yourself.
Releases gas for (level based) roundsCooldown: 40 rounds
|Double-muscled||3||You are possessed of hulking strength.
+(level based) Strength(level based) chance to daze your opponent on a successful melee attack for 2-3 rounds
|Electrical Generation||4||You accrue electrical charge that you can use and discharge to deal damage.
Maximum charge: (level based) Accrue base (level based) charge per turn Can discharge all held charge for 1d4 damage per 1000 charge Discharge can arc to adjacent targets dealing reduced damage, up to 1 target per 1000 charge EMP causes involuntary discharge (difficulty 18 Willpower save) You can drink charge from energy cells and capacitors. You gain 100 charge per point of electrical damage taken.You can provide charge to equipped devices that have integrated power systems.
|Electromagnetic Pulse||2||You generate an electromagnetic pulse that disables nearby artifacts and machines.
Area: (level based) centered around yourself Duration: (level based) - (level based) roundsCooldown: 200 rounds
|Flaming Ray||4||You emit a ray of flame from your (hands, feet, face).
Emits a 9-square ray of flame in the direction of your choice. Damage: (level based) Cooldown: 10 roundsMelee attacks heat opponents by (level based) degrees
|Hands • Feet • Face||Freezing Ray|
|Freezing Ray||5||You emit a ray of frost from your (variant).
Emits a 9-square ray of frost in the direction of your choice. Damage: (level based) Cooldown: 20 rounds Melee attacks cool opponents by -(level based) degreesYour brittle temperature is set to -(level based) degrees
|Hands • Feet • Face||Flaming Ray|
|Heightened Hearing||2||You are possessed of unnaturally acute hearing.
You detect the presence of creatures within a radius of (level based).Chance to identify nearby detected creatures
|Heightened Quickness||3||You are gifted with tremendous speed. +(level based) Quickness|
|Horns||3||Horns jut out of your head.
20% chance on melee attack to gore your opponent Damage increment: (level based) Goring attacks may cause bleeding Horns are a short-blade class melee weapon. +(level based) AV Cannot wear helmets+100 reputation with antelopes and goatfolk
|Metamorphosis||4||You assume the form of any creature you touch.
Cooldown: (level based) roundsMay only assume the form of creatures level (level based) or lower
|Multiple Arms||4||You have an extra set of arms. (level based)% chance for each extra arm to deliver an additional melee attack whenever you make a melee attack|
|Multiple Legs||5||You have an extra set of legs.
+(level based) move speed+(level based)% carry capacity
|Night Vision||1||You see in the dark.|
|Phasing||4||You may phase through solid objects for brief periods of time.
Cooldown: (level based) roundsDuration: (level based) rounds
|Photosynthetic Skin||2||You replenish yourself by absorbing sunlight through your hearty green skin.
You can bask in the sunlight instead of eating a meal to gain a special metabolizing effect for (level based) days: +(level based)% to natural healing rate and +(level based) Quickness While in the sunlight, you accrue starch and lignin that you can use as ingredients in meals you cook (max (level based) servings each).+200 reputation with roots, trees, vines, and the Consortium of Phyta
|Albino • Carnivorous|
|Quills||4||Hundreds of needle-pointed quills cover your body.
(level based) quills May expel 10% of your quills in a burst around yourself ((level based) Regenerate quills at the approximate rate of 1d3)(level based) per round +(level based) AV as long as you retain half your quills ((level based) AV otherwise) Creatures attacking you in melee may impale themselves on your quills, breaking roughly 1% of them and reflecting 3% damage per quill broken. Cannot wear body armorImmune to other creatures' quills
|Regeneration||4||Your wounds heal very quickly.
Your full natural healing rate applies in combat. +(level based)% faster natural healing rate (level based)% chance to regrow a missing limb each round(level based)% chance to remove a minor physical debuff at random each round
|Sleep Gas Generation||3||You release a burst of sleep gas around yourself.
Releases gas for (level based) roundsCooldown: 35 rounds
|Slime Glands||1||You produce a viscous slime that you can spit at things.
Covers an area with slime Range: 8 Area: 3x3 Cooldown: 40 roundsYou can walk over slime without slipping.
|Spinnerets||3||You can spin sticky silk webs.
While spinning, you leave webs in your wake as you move. Duration: (level based) +(level based) to saves vs. forced movement Cooldown: 80 rounds You don't get stuck in other creatures' webs.+300 reputation with arachnids
|Stinger (Confusing Venom)||3||You bear a tail with a stinger that delivers confusing venom to your enemies.
20% chance on melee attack to sting your opponent
|Tail||Stinger (Paralyzing Venom) • Stinger (Poisoning Venom)|
|Stinger (Paralyzing Venom)||4||You bear a tail with a stinger that delivers paralyzing venom to your enemies.
20% chance on melee attack to sting your opponent
|Tail||Stinger (Confusing Venom) • Stinger (Poisoning Venom)|
|Stinger (Poisoning Venom)||4||You bear a tail with a stinger that delivers poisonous venom to your enemies.
20% chance on melee attack to sting your opponent
|Tail||Stinger (Paralyzing Venom) • Stinger (Confusing Venom)|
|Thick Fur||1||You are covered in a thick coat of fur, which protects you from the elements.
+5 Heat Resistance +5 Cold Resistance+100 reputation with apes, baboons, bears, and grazing hedonists
|Triple-jointed||3||Your joints stretch much further than usual.
+(level based) Agility(level based)% chance that Agility-based skills don't go on cooldown after use
|Two-headed||3||You have two heads.
Mental actions have 5 * Level + 15 lower action costs50% chance initially and each round to shake off a negative mental status effect
|Two-hearted||3||You have two hearts.
+(level based) ToughnessYou can sprint for (level based)% longer.
You travel over land at (level based)x speed (level based)% reduced chance of becoming lost While outside, you may fly. You cannot be hit in melee by grounded creatures while flying. (level based)% chance of falling clumsily to the ground +(level based)% move speed while sprinting You can jump (level based) squares farther. You can charge (level based) squares farther.+400 reputation with birds and winged mammals
|Albino (D)||-2||Your skin, hair, and eyes are absent of pigment. You regenerate hit points at one-fifth the usual rate in the daylight.||Photosynthetic Skin|
|Amphibious (D)||-3||Your skin must be kept moist with fresh water.
You pour water on yourself rather than drinking it to quench your thirst. You require about two-thirds more water than usual.+100 reputation with frogs
|Brittle Bones (D)||-4||Your bones are brittle. You suffer 50% more damage from blugeoning attacks, falling, and other sources of concussive damage.|
|Carnivorous (D)||-2||You eat meat exclusively.
You get no satiation from foods that aren't meat. If you eat raw food that isn't meat, there's a 50% chance you become ill for 2 hours. You can't cook with plant or fungus ingredients. You don't get ill when you eat raw meat.You can eat raw meat without being famished.
|Cold Blooded (D)||-2||Your vitality depends on your temperature; at higher temperatures, you are more lively. At lower temperatures, you are more torpid.
Your base quickness score is reduced by 10. Your quickness increases as your temperature increases and decreases as your temperature decreases.+100 reputation with unshelled reptiles
|Electromagnetic Impulse (D)||-2||You involuntarily release electromagnetic pulses, deactivating robots and artifacts around yourself. Small chance each round you're in combat that you release an electromagnetic pulse with radius 3, deactivating robots and artifacts (including those you carry) for 11-20 rounds.|
|Hooks for Feet (D)||-4||You have hooks for feet. You cannot wear shoes.||Feet|
|Irritable Genome (D)||-4||Your genome is irritable and unpredictable.
Whenever you spend a mutation point, the next mutation point you gain will be spent randomly.Whenever you buy a new mutation, you get a random one instead of a choice of three.
|Myopic (D)||-3||You are nearsighted. You can only see up to a radius of 10.|
|Nerve Poppy (D)||-2||You lack a developed sense of pain. You only know your general state of health and not your precise number of hit points.|
|Spontaneous Combustion (D)||-3||You spontaneously erupt into flames. Small chance each round you're in combat that you spontaneously erupt into flames.|
|Tonic Allergy (D)||-4||You are allergic to tonics.
The chance your mutant physiology reacts adversely to a tonic is increased to 33%.If you react adversely this way to a salve or ubernostrum tonic, the adverse reaction effect is chosen randomly from among other tonic effects. You will still heal.
|Beguiling||5||You beguile a nearby creature into serving you loyally.
Mental attack versus a creature with a mind Success roll: mutation rank or Ego mod (whichever is higher) + character level + 1d8 VS. Defender MA + character level Range: 1 Beguiled creature: +(level based) bonus hit pointsCooldown: 50 rounds
|Burgeoning||3||You cause plants to spontaneously grow in a nearby area, hindering your enemies.
Range: 8 Area: 3x3 + growth into adjacent tiles Cooldown: (level based) rounds+200 reputation with the Consortium of Phyta
|Clairvoyance||2||You briefly gain vision of a nearby area.
Vision radius: (level based) Vision duration: (level based)Cooldown: 100
|Confusion||4||You confuse nearby enemies.
Affected creatures act semi-randomly and receive a -(level based) penalty to their mental abilities. Cone angle: (level based) degrees Cone length: (level based) Duration: (level based) roundsCooldown: 75
|Cryokinesis||5||You chill a nearby area with your mind.
Chills affected area over 3 rounds Range: 8 Area: 3x3 Round 1 Damage: (level based)d2 divided by 2 Round 2 Damage: (level based)d3 divided by 2 Round 3 Damage: (level based)d4 divided by 2Cooldown: 50 rounds
|Disintegration||3||You disintegrate nearby matter.
Area: 7x7 around self Damage to non-structural objects: (level based) Damage to structural objects: (level based) You are exhausted for 3 rounds after using this powerCooldown: 75 rounds
|Domination||5||You garrote an adjacent creature's mind and control its actions while your own body lies dormant.
Success roll: mutation rank or Ego mod (whichever is higher) + character level + 1d8 VS. Defender MA + character level Range: 1 Duration: (level based) roundsCooldown: 75 rounds
|Ego Projection||4||Through sheer force of will, you perform uncanny physical feats.
Augments one physical attribute by an amount equal to twice your Ego bonus Duration: (level based)-(level based) roundsCooldown: 200 rounds
|Force Bubble||4||You generate a force field around your person.
Creates a 3x3 force field centered around yourself Duration: (level based) rounds Cooldown: 100 roundsYou may fire missile weapons through the force field.
|Force Wall||3||You generate a wall of force that protects you from your enemies.
Creates 9 contiguous squares of immobile force field Duration: (level based) rounds Cooldown: 100 roundsYou may fire missile weapons through the force field.
|Kindle||1||You ignite a small fire with your mind.
Cooldown: 50Range: 12
|Light Manipulation||4||You manipulate light to your advantage.
You produce ambient light within a radius of (level based). You may focus the light into a laser beam (doing so reduces the radius of your ambient light by 1). Laser damage increment: (level based) Laser penetration bonus: (level based) Ambient light radius increases by 1 every 15 rounds until it reaches its maximum value.(level based)% chance to reflect light-based damage
|Mass Mind||4||You tap into the aggregate mind and steal power from other espers.
Refreshes all mental mutations Cooldown: (level based) Cooldown is not affected by Willpower. Each use attracts slightly more attention from psychic interlopers. Small chance each round for another esper to steal your powers-200 reputation with the Seekers of the Sightless Way
|Mental Mirror||2||You reflect mental attacks back at your attackers.
When you suffer a mental attack while Mental Mirror is off cooldown, you gain (level based) mental armor (MA). If the attack then fails to penerate your MA, it's reflected back at your attacker.Cooldown: 50
|Precognition||4||You peer into your near future.
You may activate this power and then later revert to the point in time when you activated it. Duration between use and reversion: (level based) roundsCooldown: 500 rounds
|Psychometry||4||You read the history of artifacts by touching them, learning what they do and how they were made.
Unerringly identify artifacts up to complexity tier (level based). Learn how to construct identified artifacts up to complexity tier (level based) (must have the appropriate Tinker power).You may open security doors upon touching them.
|Pyrokinesis||5||You heat a nearby area with your mind.
Toasts affected area over 3 rounds Range: 8 Area: 3x3 Round 1 Damage: (level based)d3 divided by 2 Round 2 Damage: (level based)d4 divided by 2 Round 3 Damage: (level based)d6 divided by 2Cooldown: 50 rounds
|Sense Psychic||1||You can sense other mental mutants through the psychic aether.
You detect the presence of psychic enemies within a radius of 9.There's a chance you identify detected enemies.
|Space-Time Vortex||3||You sunder spacetime, sending things nearby careening through a tear in the cosmic fabric.
Summons a vortex that extinguishes everything in its path Cooldown: (level based) You may enter the vortex to teleport to a random location in Qud.+200 reputation with highly entropic beings
|Stunning Force||4||You invoke a concussive force in a nearby area, throwing enemies backward and stunning them.
Range: 8 Area: 7x7 Creatures are pushed away from center of blast, stunned, and dealt crushing damage in up to 3 increments. Damage increment: (level based)Cooldown: 50 rounds
|Sunder Mind||4||You sunder the mind of an enemy, leaving them reeling in pain.
For up to 10 rounds, you engage in psychic combat with an opponent, dealing damage each round. Taking any action other than passing the turn will break the connection. Each round you make a mental attack vs mental armor (MA). Damage increment: (level based) After the tenth round, you deal bonus damage equal to the total amount of damage you've done so far. Range: sightCooldown: 80 rounds
|Syphon Vim||3||You bond with a nearby creature and leech its life force.
Mental attack versus an organic creature Duration: 20 rounds Cooldown: 200 roundsDrains (level based) hit points per round
|Telepathy||1||You may communicate with others through the psychic aether.
Chat with anyone in visionTakes you much less time to issue orders to companions
|Teleport Other||2||You teleport an adjacent creature to a random nearby location. Cooldown: (level based)|
|Teleportation||5||You teleport to a nearby location.
Teleport to a random location within a designated area. Uncertainty radius: (level based)Cooldown: (level based) rounds
|Temporal Fugue||5||You quickly pass back and forth through time creating multiple copies of yourself.
Duration: (level based) Copies: (level based)Cooldown: 200 rounds
|Time Dilation||4||You distort time around your person in order to slow down your enemies.
Creatures within 9 tiles are slowed according to how close they are to you. Duration: 15 rounds Cooldown: 150 rounds Distance 1: creatures receive a (level based) Quickness penalty Distance 4: creatures receive a (level based) Quickness penaltyDistance 7: creatures receive a (level based) Quickness penalty
|Amnesia (D)||-2||You forget things and places.
Whenever you learn a new secret, there's a small chance you forget a secret.Whenever you return to a map you previously visited, there's a small chance you forget the layout.
|Blinking Tic (D)||-3||You teleport about uncontrollably. Small chance each round you're in combat that you randomly teleport to a nearby location.|
|Dystechnia (D)||-2||You are befuddled by technological complexity.
You're much worse at examining artifacts. You can't have artifacts identified for you because you don't understand their explanations.When you fail severely during artifact examination, the artifact explodes.
|Evil Twin (D)||-3||Acting on some inscrutable impulse, a parallel version of yourself travels through space and time to destroy you. Each time you embark on a new location, there's a small chance your evil twin has tracked you there and attempts to kill you.|
|Narcolepsy (D)||-3||You fall asleep involuntarily from time to time. Small chance each round you're in combat that you fall asleep for 20-29 rounds.|
|Psionic Migraines (D)||-4||You suffer from power psionic migraines that render your head extremely sensitive. You can't wear hats or helmets.||Horns|
|Quantum Jitters (D)||-3||Your willful acts sometimes dent spacetime. Whenever you use an activated ability, there's a small chance your focus slips and you dent spacetime in the local region, causing 1-2 spacetime vortices to appear. This chance increases the longer you go without using an activated ability.|
|Socially Repugnant (D)||-2||Others find it difficult to tolerate you in social settings. -50 reputation with every faction|
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