In the early days following the Watershed Event, science struggled to define the physical and mental metamorphosis that some humans underwent after being exposed to opening rifts. Some scientists offered hypotheses involving accelerated radiation-based mutation, and others suggested pathogenic infection, but no true consensus could be reached. No documented scientific evidence suggested that the level of radical DNA alteration inherent to the metamorphosis process could even be possible, let alone survivable. It was as if the concept of cancer had taken on a symbiotic relationship with humanity.
Answers came only when the whole of the Event was considered. The beings that flooded through the rifts corresponded to humanity’s wildest and oldest fantasies. Creatures of myth, legend, and dogma poured into the world as if being conjured from a child’s mind. Dragons, faeries, and angels walked with crawling horrors, undead monstrosities, and organisms from other galaxies. Phenomena that defied rational explanation and undid mortal comprehension of reality became actual. Moreover, the metamorphosis process seemed to align with the fantastical beings themselves. The true heirs of the Earth had returned, and in the process, the human or half-human legacies they had left long dormant in the ancestry of modern man began to awaken in a manner that could only be described as “magical.”
Scholars of ancient mythology worked alongside contemporary literature professors and theologians to quantify and classify the former humans whose latent genetic heritage had been awakened by the power emanating from the rifts. Each type of human-hybrid subspecies fell in line along one of a handful of specific lines of thought that had pervaded human culture since the earliest days of storytelling and religious thought. These lines represented pillars of human supernatural creativity, and so in time the classifications came to be called Pillars.
Pillar classification is both a physical and a metaphysical division. Each Pillar’s members share characteristics of one or more supernatural beings. Evidence suggests that the members of a Pillar are linked by metaphysical characteristics, such as familiarity with magic and the arcane or negative reactions to otherwise harmless materials (think vampires and garlic). Pillar classifications can be further subdivided into three categories revolving around the physical. Members of a Pillar category will share traits known to a specific kind of creature: for example, while a gremlin and a sprite might both be fae creatures, one has vastly different physical characteristics from the other, and both will have grown into a culture that suits their specific physical needs.
All humans whose latent supernatural DNA has been awakened into Pillar classification enjoy the benefits of a more robust physicality, especially a significantly enhanced durability of the body. Many Pillar metahumans experience heightened reflexes, greater mental acuity, and a sense of euphoria that has been described as a “lust for life” or “joie de vivre.” Essentially, a metahuman (especially one dwelling within a Lost Territory near the rifts) feels, behaves, and perhaps measurably IS more alive than an ordinary human. Because of the significant physical differences between ordinary humans and Pillar metahumans, a push has been made to create a taxonomic differentiation: a new species, Homo prognatus, meaning “begotten man.” Each Pillar, then, is its own subspecies.