The Neothanderals, frequently called "Neos", are a Neanderthaloid species of clan-based humanoids dwelling in caves and itinerant hunting communities on the surface of iceball Earth. They hunt the retrocloned megafauna of past ice ages, as well as a number of cold adapted alien species apparently imported from other worlds. A few clans also have a taste for human flesh, hunting the Eloic abhumans living in the scattered verdant green valleys created by geothermal springs.
Neothanderals have an extremely low reproductive rate, which is balanced by the fact that they never starve. Neos have the ability to sustain themselves in lean times by draining energy from great machines found in the ancient Deeps far below the Earth's surface. This adaptation, combined with the fact that Neos frequently situate their clans in the caves connecting with these deep spaces, has led to a perpetual state of war between the Neos and the subterranean machine-tending Morlocks.
Mentats and star-scholars have put forward several contending theories to explain the origins of the Neothanderals:
- Perverse Autoatavism: One popular theory is that the Neos are derived from a group of sensualists, mystic seekers, or religious enthusiasts in the Final Days of the Star League. These individuals are alleged to have modified their genetic structure to have a direct experience of the life and meat-rich diet of Ice Age Neanderthals. DNA analysis of the Neos provides some evidence for this position, since 99% of the Neothanderal genome is identical to that of Galactic Standard humanoids.
- Adaptive Exile: The accumulation of residual temporal energies within the fat tissues of Neothanderals has led to the second theory regarding their origins. This theory asserts that the Neos are the descendants of temporally-exiled political prisoners, cast from the future into the neo-Ice Age gulag of contemporary Earth. The presence of small amounts of alien DNA in the Neos' genome, and of retrograde temporal weak points both above and below the neo-Ice Age Earth's surface, are cited as further evidence for this theory of adaptive exile.
- Inhibitor Theory: A third theory is that the Institute, that time-lost precursor of Omega House in the pre-Diaspora Era, anticipated a future global catastrophe, and developed the Neothanderals as a survival-oriented curator species to ensure human survival and continuous occupancy of the home world. They then placed the Neos into stasis until they were needed. Proponents of this view often also contend that the Neos were designed to protect a future Ice Age Earth from intrusion and colonization by other-planar entities. It can't be an accident that most sedentary clans of Neos make their homes in close proximity to invasive transplanar, transtempral species such as the Morlocks. Neos have the ability to diffract the energies that accumulate in Nexus Points, making transplanar and transtemporal intrusions more difficult.
Neo-Ice Age Neanderthaloids
- High Concept: Protector of Ice Age Future Earth
- Trouble: The Morlocks are our eternal enemies
- Aspect: We never starve
- Aspect: Our clan-caves ward the ancient Deeps
- Aspect: Our shamans build their huts on Nexus Points
- Careful: +2
- Clever: +3
- Flashy: 0
- Forceful: +2
- Quick: +1
- Sneaky: +1
- Drain Machines: Take +2 to Clever Approach to Create an Advantage by psionically draining energy from a machine.
- Planar Diffraction: Once per session, a Neo may use its psionic abilities to close an inter-dimensional Nexus Point or temporal gateway.
- Power Lifter: Like the average Neanderthal, Neos can bench press 300-500 lbs. Take a +2 bonus to any Forceful attempt to lift, move, or hurl something.