Much Ado about Norns, issue 2

Norns in the Blood?

Everybody has their own way of playing the Creatures games. Some people spend hours trying to get a certain colour, others like to reach generation 100, or let the little darlings run amok. Jcarrcwalk likes to get into their guts and change their biochemistry.

He's produced a new type of Norn for Creatures 3, the Immune Norns. These Norns feature much more biologically realistic immune systems than before. Rather than just having antigens and antibodies, as normal Norns do, they have a true blood system, containing platelets and red and white blood cells.

So, where do we start, explaining how it all works? The platelets are as good a place as any. In our blood, platelets are little bits of cells that gather around wounds to seal them. Norn platelets do the same thing. When an Immune Norn is injured, it bleeds until platelets clog the wound. This means that a Norn could bleed to death if it evolves to produce less platelets - a true haemophiliac Norn! Norns can also bleed to death if too injured.

So, what's the positive side of this genome? So far, they sound like delicate Norns that'll die in five seconds. Not true! The benefits outweigh the problems. The red blood cells, the second kind of blood cell, act as oxygen carriers, like the myoglobin/oxymyoglobin system in C2. This gives the Norns an 'oxygen reserve', so they can hold their breath (or blood, as the case may be), and stay underwater longer without any ill effect. Unless, of course, they have lost a lot of blood through injury. Someone care to make a bandage cob?

Finally, and this is where it gets complicated, are the white blood cells. There isn't just one sort of white blood cell in our immune systems, but several. In fact, immunology is coming up with new ones all the time! The Norns have a number of these, such as the big, beefy macrophages that wander around being bullying any passing bacteria, to T cells that produce antibodies to prevent future infection. This is where this genome excels - the Norns have a much sturdier immune system, and once infected and recovered, they keep their immunity to that particular bacterium a lot longer. They are also less prone to multiple infections, since if they are infected, their general immunity against all nasties goes up, just like ours does (does this mean we'd be ill less if we always had a cold? Don't answer that!).

Definitely a genome to try out, especially if you enjoy studying biology! Next week, Jcarrcwalk will be making Norns that are capable of writing symphonies. Honest.