Half-Deads, for all the fun that could come with extra hands or running really fast, live a personal hell. They share their brainspace with a network of Wendigo laid across a shadow-brain which can communicate directly with its host.
The Wendigo colony presents itself in whatever manner best gets the host to comply with its desires, namely to infect and feed. They might appear or sound like a beloved companion, a deity, or warp their experiences into some bizarre wonderland. There’s no limit to what can happen within the brain.
- But that projection is only seen and heard by the host. There is no method of viewing that projection by an outside party. It’s no more likely than being a telepath (something impossible in Umbagog’s universe).
- The shadow-brain can assume direct control of the body, but it fights its host’s neural commands to do so. This takes energy and the parasite prefers to get its host to do the work instead. Hence, manipulation as a preferred device.
Half-Deads vary from Dead Space levels of creeptastic body horror to looking perfectly human, with one exception. Every Half-Dead has eyes with grey sclera (the eye-whites), white irises, and black pupils. There are no exceptions.
Half-Deads stick to primarily mammalian methods of body modification. Easier for Wendigo to manipulate the host’s DNA to initiate change than to create piece together unique genetic material for some wholly new integument (ex. feathers). Similarly, Wendigo prefers to modify existing structures than to tack on random unrelated body parts. It can distort and duplicate limbs and pieces easily enough. A literal crocodile head sticking out of your back? Not so likely.
This said, we’re open to most every kind of mutation here. Just try to keep a reminder that the character was once human.
To avoid over-powered characters, we prefer you keep your character’s abilities within the bounds of actual creatures. They cannot be Hulk levels of superstrong, but maybe they’re as strong as a bear. They can’t be invincible ala Superman, but maybe they are as durable as an armadillo. If you can find a real-life analogue to what you’re making, we’re probably ok with approving it.
Wendigo doesn’t waste energy on looking pretty. It opts for function. So mutations aren’t as beautiful and evolved as similar features on extant animals. Elegant Half-Deads are rare and usually look that way to serve a specific purpose. Almost everyone bears scars from their time in the lesser stages.
All Half-Deads suffer from a strange kind of dyslexia that prevents them from grasping more than simple written sentences at a glance. They’re prone to misspelling and strange grammatical errors if they write, no matter their education. Some learn to cope and their mathematical skills aren’t impacted, but no Half-Dead is going to be picking up nuclear physics any time soon. At least not from a written textbook.
All Half-Deads have varying degrees of amnesia. They cannot recall their time as a lesser level zombie (stages 1 through 3). This is because when the host is effectively "dead", it's under the Wendigo colony's complete control. Colonies during initial stages go through high turnover, making long term memory creation difficult. At best, some can recall snippets of their time as a Stage Three (when the colony became more developed and structured).
- All Half-Deads forget some or all of their past lives. Some Half-Deads recall only snippets of their time among the living. Others have zero recollection. Some might remember people or places with incredible clarity, but the rest is a fog. But nobody can remember everything with exacting detail. Their whole childhood or significant moments of their lives might be completely forgotten.
- The amnesia's function is unknown. It may be an adaptation to placate hosts into accepting their parasite. Perhaps it's a side-effect of brain-death. Maybe Wendigo rewiring the brain fusses with the host's memory recall. Whichever the case, no Half-Dead walks away mentally whole from their time unliving.
- Uber Half-Deads recall their time as Half-Dead. However Ubers experiencing a high degree of mental distortion between Half-Dead and Uber stage might find their perception of past events altered or augmented.
All Half-Deads experience some kind of diagnosable mental disorder. These are not mild and often seem like an exacerbated version of whatever conditions or personality traits the Half-Dead had in life.
Please refer to diagnostic manuals and research when presenting these disorders. Recall that real people have these problems and we want to expand on our knowledge of psychology, not perpetuate myths, stereotypes, and misunderstandings.
There is no condition that makes a person, by default, evil. Even folks with antisocial personality disorder are not serial killers as a rule. Remember this!!
Few people experience ALL symptoms of a mental disorder. Ten people could have the exact same condition and yet display them uniquely. They are individuals, not stereotypes. TV shows are generally not good references for psychology. Better to refer to real life instead.
Half-Deads have an extremely high chance of infecting hosts, above a 90% rate. So get bit (or worse) and it’s a nearly guaranteed death sentence.
Half-Deads heal at a higher rate than humans. While some Half-Deads recover from terrible wounds but retain scars, others make a full recovery. It depends on whether their Wendigo focuses energy on healing and whether the Half-Dead can quickly replace Wendigo used up fixing its body (ie. eating the nearest zombie).
If a limb or organ is hacked off, there’s a chance it can be reattached without issue. That is if you can find it in time. If it’s too horribly mangled (like a jelly’d eyeball or a woodchipper’d foot), it’s not going to heal back to normal.
Half-Deads can’t coopt other Half-Deads’ body parts for the same reason people can’t stick just any organ or limb on themselves.
The time it takes to heal varies, but a shallow cut on a Half-Dead usually takes less than a day to fix up.
- It’s tough to kill a Half-Dead. Even removing their head is dicey; their bodies go apeshit slicing and dicing everything its hands can latch on to. But after a minute or so, the thing goes down. There just isn’t enough Wendigo laced through its body to function independent of its shadow-brain. That lucky trick is an ability reserved by Uber Half-Deads…