The Twilight of the Known Worlds
Humans have been tampering with their genetic makeup for millennia, but the practice became especially common during the Second Republic. During this time, corporations and other groups created entire races of genetically altered beings, fine-tuning them for use on uninhabited planets; for use as slaves, warriors and workers; and just for fun. During the decline of the Republic, the Changed became a popular scapegoat as people saw their universe crumble about
them. Millions were killed in the ensuing havoc, and most of the rest have been in hiding ever since.
Almost every one of the Changed can be considered part of a secret society, because being revealed as such often leads to death at the hands of the government or scared citizens. While none of the larger sects specifically preach against the Changed, many of the smaller sects do. Even the larger sects see the Changed as something unnatural, perhaps contrary to the Pancreator’s will. Thus the changed do their best to stay hidden, quietly remaining in contact with one another in order to keep tabs on whomever is after them now.
Of course, their enemies believe that the Changed are one of the most successful conspiracies, with an eventual goal of subjugating all humanity. These opponents believe the Changed are united under a ruling body, sometimes called The Circle of the Change, which includes incredibly powerful mutants. Few educated people believe in The Circle, but it is a popular bogeyman amongst the peasantry.
During the Second Republic, genetic engineering got… well, out of hand. Scientists experimented on many non-sentient earth animals and alien races, creating all sorts of recreational playmates or sporting targets. However, some scientists didn’t know when to stop, and began experimenting with sentient races (almost all of them unwilling victims). The results were whole new races of animal/alien/human combinations, capable of breeding. As soon as the government found out, the experiments were covered up and the new races banned. In other words, they were to be exterminated. But, as is to be expected, some of them escaped. The lucky ones led their pursuers on mad chases across the stars before finding sanctuary with some odd interest group or other. Enough of them escaped to create a serious ethical issue for the Republic. News of the government’s attempted genocide spread like wildfire, and rights to life for what were being called the Animalized were quickly ushered into law. Since the Fall, however, these laws have been ignored.
The Animalized are now few in number, but they have bred and spread across the Known Worlds. They have won the rights of similar sovereign races in the Known Worlds, which means they are “free” only in word, but rarely practice. They are second class citizens whose very existence is considered blasphemous to many. Their close ties to their animal instincts also make them dangerous, as not a few have reverted to their non-sentient and hungry origins in the midst of a human populace.