The term 'Feral' is widely used to describe any victim of the Promethean Nanites who has either been utterly subsumed by his or her animalistic nature, or to describe someone who has embraced a pattern of behavior considered dangerous or unstable. Many ferals are in the latter category - they are capable of speech, but they seem utterly dominated by their new behavioral patterns. Whether or not either type of feral is recoverable is continually under debate, with both Zephyr and RSX trying to save those they find using their cocktail of nanite effecting drugs, while the Prometheans seem to prefer to try and save via training and self determination. See Category:Monsters for a list of encountered creatures.
Ferals, then and now
During the occurrence of P-Day, the massive majority of people were completely unprepared for such an event. With nothing at all to assist in keeping their minds in one piece, the vast majority of people went insane, assuming they didn't die. With pregnancies taking minutes to hours when this all first started, the young, the old, and a lot of the generally unprepared lost their lives in the occurrence. The ferals that immediately followed were a mix human and animal, with only their nanites commands to guide them. Using Fairhaven as an example, this command was almost exclusively to breed.
Nanites and Ferals
Ferals tend to follow the commands given them by their nanite instincts. This said, PC Ferals tend to be above blindly following this instinct, using it more to their advantage then their detriment. NPC Ferals, however, tend to revolve more around this instinct, which is derived from what the programmer thought the creature in question would act like. Again, in the beginning ferals would pretty much only follow the commanded instincts from the nanites. As this progressed however, those without mental inoculations would have to either rise above, slightly, their feral state, or let it sink in deeper, completely losing themselves to it in order to survive. As time has gone by, it would seem that some continue to sink down further, while others rise up from their low mental status.
Degrees of Ferality
Of course, being feral is not something that is simply on or off - there are different degrees and extents to which different people sink into their new instincts. Technically, most Prometheans are actually feral and have not had the inoculation that Zephyr and RSX agents have had. The Mall Rats are ferals as well, but as they are still peaceful and seem to have an aptitude for tinkering most agents do not call them feral either. Basically, anyone who is infected but has not been inoculated with the mind-protecting drugs is a feral, but because each person has the potential to react to the instincts and the urges in a different way, it is hard to draw the line separating 'infected mutants' from 'savage ferals.'
If a character's feralness/sanity were viewed on a 1 - 100 scale, most player characters and other trained agents would fit comfortably in the top 10% - they are entirely functional and cogent, able to use tools and fancy equipment to gain an advantage over the environment. A character with All Natural, the RSX Agent dedication, and Self Control would be a good example of someone at the 100% mark, while Feral Mode characters could conceivably fall anywhere between 1% and 25%. Some Mall Rats, Prometheans, and a good amount of the Library skunks are all at the high end of the feral spectrum, the Ember are in the middle/lower end, and then ferals like the husky girls, skunk girls/skunk beasts, and goo girls are down in the 1% - 10% zone.
- Some examples for feral mode characters, it would be perfectly acceptable to play anywhere between someone who dresses to the nines, does advanced math, and is otherwise fully functioning except they just cannot figure out door knobs, handles, and other machines or all the way down to someone who identifies only as their mutation, and has no capability, personality, or identity except the form they are in at the time.
The Ember, for example, have a social order, they can be bribed and reasoned with, and they comprehend the idea of interacting with other people in ways other than attacking and/or raping (even if they do really, really enjoy the raping part). They aren't very keen on using tools, though, preferring the natural abilities of their mutated forms. They also are not very inclined to book learning - reading is soooo slow! You could have sex with at least a dozen people in the time it takes to read a chapter.
Types of Ferality
Not all feral actions involve sex however. While a good amount of Mall Rats are not what one would think of as feral, they actually exhibit a great deal of their feral traits. The Mall Rats feral traits mostly have to do with hanging out, doing little that is productive, and saying 'Duuude' a lot. Other ferals may be violent, like the behemoth or the ankylosaurian. Others may actually be kind, like the Kangaroo, or some of the wonderful cow girls. Still others might actually feed off of others due to their infection's general push and pull on their behaviors. It all depends on what form the feral is in.
Causes of Ferality and the Mental Inoculation
The causes of Ferality are actually quite simple. The nanites that caused the mutation are speaking to the person's behavior more then their rational and logical thinking does, this usually only starts with a person's brain has been flooded with the nanites however (IE acquires or reacquires a head mutation for the first time). This can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is sudden sensory overload. Becoming an new species, at least on the outside, along with all the new senses and urges of that species can overwhelm the typical human mind, which will then resort to 'listening to the nanites' to compensate. Next, repeated performance, intentionally, of a feral act can cause one to gradually 'go native'. Next, ferality can be forced on someone, by repeatedly assaulting their mind and body with generally feral actions, typically against the person's will, at least, against their will at first.
The Mental Inoculation ties directly into this. It will help an agent's mind compensate for the usual overload of sensory data that comes in, and curb the urges for their new form. Basically, it helps keep your behaviors nudged toward the middle, not too feral, not too 'sane'. However, this doesn't stop someone from engaging in various feral acts willing, which will still lead to increased feral behavior, and eventually going feral even with the inoculation, so do be careful. However, this process is longer for those with the inoculation, as they tend to 'level off' at a new 'middle' ground depending on their actions.
The mental state of a Feral
For the unfortunate ferals, again, those who are not PCs, the world at large is a very confusing place. Your average feral is going to be lucky to understand how to use a door knob, let along anything more advanced then that. Simple machines make very little sense to your average feral, and complex thoughts are easily interrupted by more base urges from nanite input. That is not to say that small sections and tribes of ferals can't uplift themselves into a more stable situation, in fact, that is pretty much what the Prometheans Faction is, a group of mutants who were either partly immune to the mental effects of the nanites, or recovered their sanity later on. However, for your average feral, this results in using what instincts you have that don't come from the nanites to try and better your situation.
Assuming the person was born human, and shows only moderate feral tenancies, returning their form to human should be more then enough to release them from their feral feelings. Those that are born feral or in a form other then human, or have gone completely off the deep end may require a bit more to help them stabilize. This typically is done through rigorous conditioning and training. The person would have to be trained or retrained to use their rational and logical thinking processes again versus just relying on their nanite based instincts to get them by. This process can vary, both in intensity needed and time required, but usually is not an easy feat.
The Life of a Feral
The life of your average feral is pretty rough. Most natural urges and instincts are overridden by what the nanites say should happen and you should do. To take the classic case of the Female Husky, in the early days and for those who have completely given into the infection, the usual urges for food, water, and sleep, would be replaced by the desire to breed. In fact, a feral who is completely consumed by their infection would forgo just about everything else in the world to satisfy their infection's desires. Even if the feral has not completely given in, life is still far from easy. The mental condition will be discussed in the next part of this page, but in addition to this, ferals rarely if ever have good access to basic needs, like food, water, and safety. Even if a feral were to start recovering their mind once more, a very rough road is ahead of them without help.
Why do Ferals Attack?
There are a few reasons why a ferals will attack an agent. If the feral is currently completely under the influence of the nanites, then they may be trying to spread their infection, or otherwise follow their new urges and instincts. If they are recovering from their feral status, then they may be trying to satisfy some returning needs and urges, such as food and water, while not understanding how to do this, nor why. Remember, a great portion of ferals do not have memories from their old lives, and even while recovering, these memories tend to say lost. In short, the life of a feral is a hard one, filled with desperate hunger, terrible thirst, sleepless nights, and verious other conditions that just make for a horrible existence, if the feral is high enough up on the sanity chain to be aware of it.