The Encyclopedia Biotica : A compilation of biotics
A/N: Updated 2-6-2016
With the exception of the Glorious, there's not a ton here that contradicts established Canon, so feel free to use this in your own works if need be.
What is Biotics?
Biotics the ability for some lifeforms to create mass effect fields using element zero accumulations embedded in body tissues, bones, or nervous systems. These powers are accessed and augmented by using some form of mechanical amplification device, usually surgically installed. Biotic individuals can knock enemies over from a distance, lift them into the air, generate gravitational vortices to tear obstacles or enemies apart, or create protective barriers.
Biotics is extremely powerful, but the practitioners are not invincible. While a biotic who is prepared for a fight can be almost impossible to kill, they can be taken by surprise or overpowered. Biotics can grow weary, and some races biotic users can become weakened from lack of food, water, or rest.
Biotics tends to be heavily regulated by some races, as it allows what would appear to be an unarmed, unarmored civilian to fight on the level of highly trained and heavily armed soldiers, or to bypass and nullify conventional military tactics.
At it's simplest, a biotic is a living being with eezo contamination that utilizes their bodies natural electrical nervous fields to generate various mass effects. Most biotic abilities fall into one of three categories. The simplest of these are instinctive abilities, such as barriers, biotic martial arts, and direct kinetic effects. These rely on a direct manipulation of mass effect energies.
More complicated are invoked effects, which require some level of control over the mass effect field. Most of what people term 'biotic powers' fall into this category, such as warp fields, biotic explosions, and other indirect applications. These use the body's nervous system to shape the field, almost like a pulsar field.
The most complex biotics are evoked effects, which use the mass effect fields to directly manipulate energy or gravity as a force instead of upon an object. The most spectacular effects that biotics offers, such as singularity or blaze, fall into this category.
Biotic manipulations are taxing on a user. They consume a great deal of energy to perform and put a great deal of stress on a lifeform's nervous system. Most biotics begin to lose potency around middle age, and with the exception of krogan, volus and asari, by the time a being is considered "old" for it's race it's biotic potential has faded to nothing due to nerve system damage.
Most biotics requires some sort of electrical amplifier or neural sheath amplifier to work. These are dubbed "bio-amps" and are either surgically implanted (in the case of humans, batarians, volus, turians, and salarians) or worn close to the skin (as such with krogan, asari, and drell biotics). The differences are minute , with the exception that only asari are natural biotics – without an amp, all other races can only generate very weak effects.
Bio-amps come in multiple strengths. The Asari Conventions on Biotic Usage define amps in one of several 'bands' – civilian, military, and specialist. Various races define their amp types – the SA uses L ratings, while turians use claw ratings. Asari amps are the best for races who can wear them externally, but salarian amps are better for those who require surgical implantation.
With the exception of the asari, no race has natural biotic abilities that are expressed enough for use without surgical alterations of some kind. Biotics in varying races are expressed in a dizzying number of ways.
Humans: human eezo contamination concentrates in the human lymphatic system, specifically in lymph nodes , during uterine development and after birth. Humans can only become biotic if exposed as a fetus, and then only usually if the mother is exposed to airborne contaminants of low toxicity. If exposed to high eezo levels after birth, the corruption of the eezo tends to cause rapid onset lymphatic cancers, sterility and death. But in the development of a fetus, the lymphatic system is mostly composed of totipotent stem cells that can reconfigure themselves around the eezo filtering through the child's body. Few mothers survive the exposure in the long term without immediate medical care, but the resulting child has a portion of their lymphatic system converted to a makeshift eezo-conductive system. As a result, human biotics are measured by the number of 'eezo nodes' in their bodies.
Human biotics typically have between 6 and 8 such nodes, mostly in the torso and neck regions. The compromised immune system means biotics are rarely as healthy as a normal human, more subject to certain bacterial infections, and with a higher baseline of several disorders , including lymphatic cancer in later life, and a neuron-sheath degenerative condition that is lethal unless the biotic is cleansed of all eezo and their nodes removed early on.
Human biotics can express DNA of their alteration to their own children but, so far, no human has yet expressed biotic abilities. Biotics born of two biotic parents , however , are known to be mostly immune to many of the disorders that human biotics suffer, as well as having slightly higher baseline field strengths. The DNA alterations appear to bolster the size and durability of the lymphatic system, meaning that such offspring can withstand the eezo exposure much better than a normal fetus would.
Due to the strain of supporting the changes to the eezo nodes as well as the energy requirements, humans are the most rapacious of energy consumers as biotics, needing to eat well over a third again what normal human could survive off of. Due to the fundamental nature of the changes in a human, pulse suppressors and phase inhibitors have very little effect at stopping human biotics, nor can human biotics be stripped of their abilities without severe (and usually dangerous) surgical operations.
Due to superstitious social beliefs and old stories, human biotics are treated with a great deal of suspicion by average humans. Despite that (or perhaps because of it) human biotics are also often used as political officers over normal humans. The SA takes extremely good care of it's biotics in most cases, but many of the older L2 biotics are frustrated due to issues with their implants and the fact that the newer L3 biotics can blend more easily into human society.
The primary source of human biotics is from accidents with eezo dust, usually from shipping accidents in low orbit. To date, no surgical methods for creating human biotics have been established, due to the fact that only fetal humans can survive the process. As such, many suspect the SA deliberately causes occasional accidents to ensure humanity has a stock of biotic potential children.
Human bio-amps are implanted along the brain stem at the back of the neck, near the base of the skull. They incorporate computers to assist the human nervous system in processing electrical impulses, and are designed for quick removal and replacement. There are currently several levels of implant, the higher the number the more modern the technology.
Turians: Turians can become biotics from birth through puberty upon exposure to eezo, either airborne contaminators or ground radiated. Turian skin is not fully plated during their growth stages, and exposure soaks their plating with eezo , eventually networking across the capillaries and nerves under said plates to form a biotic net. While somewhat resistant to eezo poisoning, due to the fact their nerves are shielded and regenerative, high exposures will kill them faster than low exposures while not increasing their baseline strength much.
Eezo is concentrated in broad bands between the plating itself and the lining that provides nutrients and cooling fluids to the plating. There, the eezo gathers in shallow pockets in the plating, with the turian immune system encasing the eezo in thin cysts called v'chan , or 'dust ponds'. The v'chan do not move much after puberty, and are mostly distributed equally across the plating of the turian torso. The v'chan typically run parallel to the primary nerve trunks in a turian's body, particularly the thick bunches of nerves near the spine.
However, the fact that all of the eezo for a turian is near the surface in packets makes it very vulnerable to damage, but even with severe trauma, most forms of damage do not cause a net loss of biotic power in the turian. The removal of plates, however, disrupts the membrane and will greatly disrupt the turian's ability to focus. As a result, while pulse suppressors do nothing, phase inhibitors can almost totally nullify turian biotics. Anti-biotic drugs are also mostly ineffective.
Since turian biotics doesn't compromise the body, the only real issues turian biotics face is the weaker nature of their plating and the fact that it's destruction weakens their overall biotic potential. Like humans, exposure to eezo after a certain stage of development just poisons them, as the body can no longer adapt to changes.
Turian biotics have between 65% and 80% of their plating soaked in eezo. This doesn't pass down to their children in any way, and biotic ability in turians is also somewhat of a social stigma. Turian biotics are not allowed to function in society or privately and must register as cabal members, for life. As a result, many turian biotics who do not wish to serve the government become criminals, rebels, or worse.
Turians require a higher amount of food to eat, but more importantly, require almost five times as much water, as their plating requires a higher level of cooling due to the eezo. Especially when in heavy armor, biotic turians have a tendency to overheat. Most prefer loose robes or partial armor as a result, further setting them off from other turians.
Turian biotics come disproportionately from the Valachan and Throcian districts of Palaven, near Lake Vidyana. Long believed to be haunted, turian science now knows that an eezo-laced meteor struck the region some 90,000 years ago, lacing the ground water table with eezo residue. Almost all the residents in the region have minor exposure , but for still unknown reasons, some turian youngsters absorb eezo rapidly rather than having it simply filter out. This makes the source of turian biotics completely random, and the Hierarchy has spent vast sums working on a surgical procedure. Thus far, surgically produced biotics are only half the strength or less of natural biotics, and the procedure has a 70% mortality rate.
Turian bio-amps are implanted under the plates of the torso in the back.
Batarian biotics are produced through surgical infusion of eezo-laced blood plasma into the body of mature batarians who have a natural mutation. Despite the simplicity of the batarian nervous system, batarians can produce extremely powerful biotics through this procedure.
The procedure requires a batarian with a mutated glandular condition called Girifon's Disease. The mutation causes batarian nervous systems to expand beyond their normal state, resulting in dozens and dozens of nerve bundles building up along the nervous pathways. Untreated, the nervous system tends towards cancerous. The procedure that infuses the batarian with eezo kills a large part of the nervous system, particularly some of the surface nerves. In a 'normal' batarian, so much nerve tissue would be lost that the batarian would no doubt die, but the enhanced nerves of a batarian with Girifon's means it roughly balances out. The fact that, due to this, most batarian biotics can't feel much pain at all is a bonus to the Hegemony.
The infused eezo clusters along the nerves, and over time the power of the eezo destroys the nervous system. Over time, and with use, the eezo pulses through the nerves wear away at the sheathing. Once it's gone, eezo rapidly breaks down the nerves themselves, and multiple nervous system cancers erupt all over the body. The time this takes depends on how much eezo is pumped into the subject in the first place.
Batarian biotics can be infused in one of three strengths – honored, fated, and Glorious. Honored batarians can expect to live another 30 years after the procedure, fated 20, and Glorious perhaps 2 or 3. Glorious batarian biotics are pumped so full of eezo their eyes sometimes glow, and can express biotic power surpassing even an asari commando matriarch in some cases. They become living weapons, so strong they sometimes can't control the dark energy and literally detonate.
Batarian biotic ability is, thus, a death sentence. But the Hegemony has made these volunteers out to be heroes – they are feted, given plush accommodations, positions in the SIU, and every luxury. The cynical outcome of this, in the miserable masses of the Hegemony, is there is no shortage of batarians offering themselves up for service.
The mutation that confers Girifon's disease was once natural – eight years ago, batarian scientists managed to create a retro-viral agent that would give the mutation to any batarian. As such, the Hegemony can create biotics at will and does so with worrying regularity. While the majority of them are only Honored and thus fairly weak, even a handful of Glorious batarian biotics can be a threat.
As with other biotics, batarians require additional food intake and more rest. They are also required to take several anti-rejection drugs and regular eezo infusions to maintain their power – otherwise it begins to fade and eventually toxicity issues will kill the biotic if not treated. This limits their long-term field usage.
Batarian bio-amps are implanted in the folds of the skull near the neck.
Krogan biotics are extremely rare. In the time before the genophage, they were more common, but in modern times there are less than three thousand of them across the entire race. Krogan biotics are unique in that they come in two forms – battlemasters and warlords.
The krogan battlemaster is the 'natural' form of the biotic. Tuchanka's wild diversity was further enhanced (or corrupted) by the pollution from several asteroids laced with element zero that struck the planet in the Wargha valley system some ten thousand years prior to the salarian uplift. The valley systems rivers fed the large krogan cities there until the nuclear war, and krogan from the area absorbed eezo naturally. Krogan warlords were an adaptation created by salarian scientists during the uplift, and is a manual procedure that mimics the natural process undergone by battlemasters.
Krogan bodily functions incorporate both highly regenerative totipotent stem cells sourced in krogan bone marrow as well as multiple redundant systems. As such, eezo contaminants that would overwhelm lesser living beings are an irritation to krogan. Indeed, almost 80% of all krogan have eezo levels in their body on par with other races biotics, which is why most biotic attacks do not perform as well against krogan, as they have adapted to this by forming an unconscious and weak mass effect field that helps to nullify biotics.
For krogan battlemasters , however, eezo levels spike higher. Krogan absorb eezo through their skin during childhood and puberty. These eezo contaminants are filtered, like all poisons, through the hump on the krogan's back and through six sets of kidney-analogue organs. In most krogan the eezo is filtered from the system, with only minute amounts accreted over time. Battlemasters have higher than normal amounts of absorption into hump tissues and kidney tissues – for reasons that are unknown at this time. (Krogan pursuit of biology is haphazard at best). What is known is that the traits that allow a krogan to become biotic are definitely hereditary.
Eezo that builds in the hump diffuses towards the nerve-packed fatty lining of the hump 'core', an area that regulates water retention and serves as a secondary motor-control center. Eezo in the kidneys flows through a subsystem of capillary-vessels that go throughout the krogan form to absorb and filter poisons from the blood. The nervous system of a krogan is wrapped around this system, and when wounds occur the area is flooded with fluids that retard infection and speed regeneration. As a result, the nervous system of a krogan is almost exposed in it's full entirety to eezo, contributing to the horrific level of raw power krogan biotics wield.
This process takes a great deal of time – almost a full century – and as a result of the high mortality rates on Tuchanka (and the relatively low birth rate) krogan biotics are rare. Furthermore, the process retards bone growth in early years – eezo damages the nerves, which are constantly replaced by the bone marrow stem cells, and this forced constant replacement over centuries weakens bone and slows overall regeneration. It can take up to three hundred years for the krogan body to finally 'adapt fully' to the eezo in the body and cease this over-regeneration of nerves.
The warlord process is similar, but relies on IV injections of eezo and hormone slurry, combined with traumatic injuries to nervous areas and the hump. The resulting forced regeneration, along with the growth hormone, forces the krogan body to adapt and incorporate eezo-contaminants into the repaired nervous system. Since the repairs are completed by the end of the process, there is no need for long waits and the process can be performed on any krogan. However, there is a high chance of rejection, leading to the nervous system literally decaying and killing the krogan within weeks. Furthermore, since the kidneys are not also laced with eezo, the warlord tends to have less biotic strength.
Krogan biotic ability is called the 'soulgrip' and has religious significance among the krogan, although this varies from clan to clan and from shaman to shaman. The cultural difference between battlemasters and warlords are subtle to non-krogan. A battlemaster can be a non-biotic, but all natural biotics are battlemasters. They are clan leaders and tend to lead the krogan in times of war. Warlords, on the other hand, are seen as living weapons. They are not as respected as a battlemaster, but only krogan warlords are given the honor of leading multiple clans into battle, as warlords usually live only for the fight and not for what passes as krogan politics.
Krogan biotics eat and drink a great deal more than other krogan, due to the stress of biotic use, but only when they've exerted themselves. A krogan's natural resistances and regenerative factors means they do not suffer biotic degenerative diseases or other failures of the nervous system. Krogan battlemasters are immune to pulse suppressors and phase inhibitors, and laugh off almost all anti-biotic drugs. Warlords, on the other hand, due to the lesser integration of eezo in their bodies, are vulnerable to such tactics.
Krogan bio-amps are worn on the bare skin of the arm, in an armored bracelet. Many krogan built entire armored gauntlets around their bio-amps Some krogan wear the bio-amp in a torc around the neck instead.
Salarian biotics are , unsurprisingly, a development engineered by salarian science and brought into being by the STG. Salarians had no early exposures to eezo, and it was only after examinations of asari biotic talent that the salarians decided they needed some of their own.
Unfortunately, salarian biology is both resistant to eezo contamination and vulnerable to metabolic imbalances due to their already high metabolic state. Salarian neural complexity is very high and alterations to it tend to either cause paralysis or death.
The salarian approach to creating a biotic was injections just prior to hatching and through the first four years of life. Each phase injected minute amounts of eezo, encased in restriction-enzyme jacketed protein capsules. These targeted Salarian DNA in precise sections, disrupting neural growth. Combined with a form of adaptive retro-viral therapy, the process overlaid the natural nervous system with force-grown , eezo laced nerves.
As a result, salarian biotics are very rare. The cost to produce a single biotic ranges in the low millions of credits per egg, and it often takes hundreds of eggs to produce a single viable offspring. Even when hatched, the young biotic has to be fed a diet of anti-rejection drugs, enhanced with system-monitoring cyberware to adjust hormone levels and laced with nanotech repair drones to stop cancerous nodules form forming around the artificial nervous system.
The artificially grown nerves collect eezo at nerve "bundle points", in the armpits, chest, and groin. These function similar to human eezo nodes, and have a similar size. Overlaying the secondary nervous system onto the primary means a salarian biotic has exquisite neuromuscular control, and renders them capable of feats of impossible speed and coordination. Many biotics implant themselves with further cyberware to augment their biotic ability.
Due to the delicate nature of this growth, the salarian biotic methodology relies on hypnotic education and an almost mystical set of meditations and mind-clearing exercises. While the salarian method produces skilled biotics, they are nuanced, not powerful. The end result of the process is a salarian with an entire nervous system packed with eezo, but delicate adjustments are required to ensure the electrical manipulations that allow biotic control don't disrupt the normal nervous system.
Salarian biotics are emaciated looking, even for salarians, and extremely twitchy. Eezo tends to channel from the nerves into the eyes, giving them a faint blue glow that is extremely unnerving to face. Due to the subtle and complicated nature of the nervous system, Salarian biotics cannot function when highly agitated, requiring calm and focus to perform.
The demands of a secondary nervous system not only drive a salarian to eat more, but put a drain on their heart, lungs, and other systems, shortening their already brief lives to perhaps 30 years. Salarian biotics are thus seen as highly expensive limited time assets, and are almost never risked in open battle, aiding STG units with a bewildering array of support biotics.
Salarian bio-amps are implanted in a pair, in the armpits, near the main bundle points.
Volus biotics are a creation of the Vol Protectorate's VDF. Volus expressed a handful of biotics during their history, mostly from eezo pollution in their shipbuilding factories. The use of proper robotic assembly lines, however, eliminated this factor, and until twenty years ago the volus had forgotten about the few biotics that had arisen in their race.
The VDF, however, in looking for ways to enhance it's soldiers, had not forgotten. It took records, research and even autopsy records from the older days and began a crash program designed to engineer biotic abilities in their kind.
The resulting experiments were beyond the volus's expectations. Volus biotics are created by simple injections of eezo-laced materials (usually protein matter mixed with nervous stem cells) into the volus spinal column. The volus nervous system is utterly unlike the systems of other races – it is a mix of conductive fluids and special "nerve nodes" that act as nervous switching stations.
As a result, the volus nervous system can hold and generate higher electrical charges than other races, and can be easily modified by eezo injections. The injections in the spine allow eezo to gather naturally in the nerve nodes, where it binds to the nervous structure.
Volus VDF recruits that meet a series of physical requirements are injected, and the process takes around a year to fully enter the nervous system and begin affecting the volus. Since eezo is suspended in the liquid of the nervous system, it means a heavily wounded volus can lose strength. Then again, a heavily wounded volus is almost certain to be dead from suit ruptures anyway, thus the drawback is not that great.
The volus physiology is not as adversely affected by eezo as most races are, and the nervous system – being little more than electroconductive fluids attached to proto-nerve endings – cannot degrade over time, meaning that volus lose very little of their power over time as they age.
Volus already require a great deal of food due to the higher energy requirements to operate in higher gravity environments, but volus biotics require additional intake as well. Most volus biotics require regular injections of various drugs to assist in regulating eezo in their system and preventing it from filtering out of the nervous system and into other tissues.
Volus bio-amps are implanted in the neck, and are not designed for removal.
Drell, much like humans, discovered their biotic potential by accidents. During their transference to the hanar home world, fleeing the destruction of their own, several thousand drell were heavily eezo poisoned by an engine malfunction on one of the transports.
There was a high mortality rate, but most survived. When the drell women became pregnant later in life they discovered that their offspring were biotic. These mothers discovered that any children they had expressed biotics, and were given some level of religious mania by some drell, convinced their gods had given them this gift to aid them in service to the hanar. Regardless, the Drell Compact sees this as a valuable asset, and has cold-bloodedly continued to expose volunteer females to eezo dust.
Once exposed, a drell female either survives or doesn't, based on their health and a number of other genetic factors. Survivors incorporate the eezo contaminants in the yakadi nodes, a part of the drell immune system. The nodes swell and become heavily inflamed, and necrotic pus from them enters the bloodstream of the drell in question. This can also kill the female, but if it doesn't , this eezo laced pus ends up contaminating the egg sacs of the female.
A fertilized egg of a drell woman so contaminated is itself doused in eezo, which overwhelms the forming yakadi nodes of the infant. As with most fetal organisms, stem cells end up making adaptations to the presence of eezo in the body – in the case of a drell, making additional yakadi nodes to disperse the contaminants. The nodes end up swelling slightly, but do not decay over time like those of a drell primary victim.
Once born, as the drell grows, the electromagnetic field of these nodes induces nerve growth towards them, ending up wrapping them in bundles of nerve endings, linking the entire drell nervous system to the nodes. Drell discover the power at around age nine or ten, as the nervous system finishes growing, and from then on can use their biotics as normal.
Drell have various attitudes towards biotics. The mothers of biotic children rarely survive for more than a decade after contamination, and in the modern era, most are volunteers. The women in question will strive to have as many children as possible prior to death, but most obvious end up as orphans and wards of the Compact, raised in special schools and gifted to influential hanar as living weapons.
Drell biotics are built around stealth, evasive action, and skill, not sheer power. Most drell biotics are tightly muscled and graceful, and use their biotics to support their other skill sets.
Drell are very resistant to anti-biotic drugs, but vulnerable to phase disruptor items. The bio-amp they wear is against the skin, usually in a belt worn near the waist, with the amp itself near the base of the spine.
Thessia is a world with massive eezo contamination, and the asari have evolved around this, or have been altered to fit. The asari, unlike all other species, are born with biotics.. A series of semi-permeable membranes in the area behind the jaw and in the lower back hold a slurry of protein, glucatonic suspensions, and eezo, circulated throughout the body in a secondary distribution system closely following the main arteries.
Circulation of this mix is achieved through involuntary muscle contractions , and this eezo system is interlaced directly with both the asari's multitwined nervous system and a portion of the brain that acts much like an electric eels electrogenesis organs. This allows the asari nervous system to carry far higher voltages and charges than any other race, and provides a weak bio-electrical mass field by itself in combination with the body's natural eezo.
As a result, asari are fully capable of using powerful biotic attacks without any form of neural amplifier. Most wear a neural amp, against the skin, not surgical like that of humans, but this is mostly convenience and for focus and discrimination, not raw power.
Asari absorb eezo and are able to sustain electrical charge at varying rates.
Nullifying asari biotics is not hard, compared with some other races. Pulse disruptor fields break up their innate bio-electrical field, and phase dissipation devices make it impossible for them to form a real mass effect field. Even so, one must not underestimate their power.
Quarians, elcor, hanar, and vorcha: Prior to the Morning War, quarian biotics were on par with turians, but since then their habit of sterile environments and sealed suits has meant almost no quarians have been exposed to eezo. Elcor react extremely poorly to eezo, and to date, no elcor has survived eezo exposure to demonstrate biotics. Hanar and vorcha do not form eezo concentrations – hanar expulse them through uncontrolled immune reactions, vorcha adapt to encyst and neutralize them. None of these races have demonstrated any biotic potential in the past fifty years.
It is worth noting that the hanar have very deep experience with biotics based on Prothean records, and a number of devices that appear to completely nullify biotics.
Geth: Geth are machines. In theory, if their electro-neural nets were complex enough, they could manipulate such forces, but thus far geth do not appear to be willing to experiment with such.
Animals: some native fauna on eezo-corrupted planets have demonstrated simple biotic abilities. Research is ongoing, but krogan are known to use such animals as warbeasts. There have been instances of biotic varren on Tuchanka, some fish and wildlife on Thessia, and a wide variety of monsters on ruined garden worlds.