When the first Norn of this generation was born and introduced, I assumed she would have something special about her. Indeed, Athahain simply loved riding the lift! She added even more talent by closing her eyes and picking a button. It wasn’t very random, considering there were only two floors to visit, though she looked quite content as she felt her body rising and falling. Athahain also had another talent: She could scratch her right elbow with her right hand! That was courtesy of a body data issue, yet it was still rather funny. While she showed off her many talents, I took the liberty of putting her genome under a metaphorical genetics microscope.
Chemical receptors define parameters for a certain chemical. When these parameters are met, an element in the Creature is affected. These genes can increase drives, define life stages, control fertility, and more.
Mutation: 44 Emb B MutDupCut Creature, Drive Levels Crowdedness, chem=Pain, thresh=0, nom=0, gain=255, features=Analogue
Default: 44 Emb B MutDupCut Creature, Drive Levels Pain, chem=Pain, thresh=0, nom=0, gain=255, features=Analogue
This gene is one of the receptors responsible for linking chemicals with drive levels. By default, a chemical usually corresponds with its identical drive level. For Athahain, this is not entirely true. Her mutation means that when she feels pain, administered as a chemical, her crowdedness drive will increase. Effectively, she will never actually “feel” pain, at least as a drive. I noticed that she still flinched when she got too close to the cozy fire, though. As with nearly every mutation, this has its advantages and disadvantages. Athahain will learn to associate pain with feeling crowded. Should this happen in a group setting, it might work to help her move away from a bunch of violent Norns. Yet it breaks the link between the pain chemical and the pain drive, which opens the door for confusion.
Chemical reactions define rules for individual chemicals and chemical combinations. These genes can also state the rules for how chemicals are used up, and each reaction has a defined half-life to determine how often it occurs.
Mutation: 61 Emb B MutDupCup 1*Hotness++ + 1*NFP => 1*Hotness + 1*Punishment; half-life=8
Default: 61 Emb B MutDupCup 1*Hotness++ => 1*Hotness + 1*Punishment; half-life=8
Mutations in chemical reactions can be quite interesting! Even the slightest change often has a profound effect. In the default genome, this chemical simply states that hotness increase produces hotness and punishment. That hotness chemical then increases the hotness drive. Some may ponder over the inclusion of punishment. Why punish a Norn for experiencing an increase in hotness? This is part of the learning process associated with drives. Typically, anything associated with increasing a drive includes punishment. On the other hand, anything associated with decreasing a drive includes reward. Athahain’s genome kept this element in play, with one very interesting change. Hotness increase must now combine with need for pleasure (NFP) in order to complete the reaction. The result? She can actually reduce her NFP by staying near a heat source, and her hotness can be moderated if she has no NFP in her system to be used in this chemical reaction. Quite a neat mutation! I expect Athahain to enjoy heat, and possibly be a lot happier without so much need for pleasure in her system.
Instincts define the expectations for certain behaviors. These genes do not state exactly what happens when the parameters are met, but rather provide the basis for Norns to base their decisions on.
Mutation: 302 Emb B MutDupCut Verb i/ps Left and I Left => 255*Reward
Default: 302 Chi B MutDupCut Verb i/ps Left and I Left => 255*Reward
This mutation has occurred in several other Norns before, and all had no trouble with navigating around the world. The only change for Athahain is that this gene will switch on in the embryo stage, rather than in childhood. She might be slightly more inclined to travel left early on, though it hardly seems realistic to expect her to only go in one direction! Another non-event, though it is worth noting.
I also included the majority of updates introduced in Grendel Man’s genome, which was the basis for this generation’s Grendels. I took a visual look inside Athahain’s brain, which looked lovely! Those lobes would now be locked in place for the future generations, with no chance of going awry. It might sound like I wanted to remove all chances of learning disabilities, but there were still several areas that could be affected. These genetic updates were designed to eliminate the most crippling mutations. Chances are there will still be plenty of special needs cases! I say that positively because Norns and Grendels are remarkably adaptable, and I enjoyed all of my previous Norns. No loose brain connections here!
The sound of my voice droning on about genetics tired out Athahain, and I was very proud of her when she laid down to catch her breath. Many of her lobes were silent, yet that was exactly what I hoped for! The most difficult habit to teach in Creatures 1 is the simple act of rest. A Norn’s brain is often lit up like a busy city at night, which is the exact opposite of the requirement for settling down! Perhaps the single aspect that makes rest so difficult in Creatures is the fact that it is largely self-taught. I taught Athahain the verb for it, but it was up to her to actually rest. Fortunately, she was quite intelligent!
Firelight danced across Athahain’s face for a short time, likely since her mutation made hot places quite cozy and happy! Then, it was a mad dash right back to that incredible lift. She decided that it was time to send it up without her, yet she still pressed the button with her eyes closed. As I expected, Athahain was somewhat disappointed that she missed the ride. She summoned the bamboo cage again, determined to use it properly the next time! There was the one task of leading her to meet the Grendels, and then the time seemed just about right to hatch another Norn. We will see if I live up to my goal of completing this generation in a shorter period of time. I would not count on that idea, though! I tend to get attached and document everything. Every little thing. Ha!