- The Main Article was written by Renae, with Notes by Babs Yerunkle and Poetheather; they were originally published on the Crystal Hall Forums, Canon Material: Gross Structural Dystrophy; further information should be added under Supplemental Materials.
GSD is the colloquial acronym for Gross Structural Dystrophy
Gross Structural Dystrophy (GSD) is when a person's body changes permanently, and not infrequently for the worse. As far as anyone can tell it isn't related to the Exemplar syndrome, but is genuinely a direct expression of their genetic code. Almost by definition, these powers or disabilities and or changes cannot be turned off.
While the change of eye color and hair color may not be a Gross Structural Dystrophy as opposed to a person whose skin becomes marble or crystalline, the changes in physical form from the Human Normal Genotype do bear noting. While many of the changes resulting show up externally, the onset of mutation does not preclude internal GSD changes. Extra organs, missing organs, the odd brain structure, essentially anything that can be easily hidden with cosmetics or clothing would fall under this category.
Fangs, skin composition changes, horns, cloven feet, stench, or other odor etc.
Major deformities of physical structure, additional limbs, wings, exo-insect carapaces, bug eyes, etc.
GSD (Very Severe)
People who don't so much walk as ooze. Stuff so weird and far out that the classification folks are not sure how to classify it, much less figure out how the person lives, if it can be called living.
Note that informally, anyone whose appearance is outside of the human norm can be said to have GSD. This particularly applies to exemplars. There are quite a few exemplars who have mental images and adaptations that make them (from a functional perspective) better, stronger, etc. But a side-effect of their adaptation is that they look non-human. Even something like a cat-girl adaptation makes you less human looking, and thus, informally, any catgirl might be called an example of GSD.
Technically, this is completely incorrect. True GSD is only as described above.
Does it make a difference? Well, yes. Exemplar traits are powered by ... uh ... whatever powers mutant stuff. There are some place / people / spells / situations / devises that may turn that power OFF. In which case, exemplars no longer get their superhuman boost. It is possible that exemplars may revert to a more normal-looking physical form. True GSD cases cannot be turned off in such a manner. So with the bad, perhaps comes some modest advantage.
Gross Structural Dystrophy might also be something of a misnomer. Is the baseline the researchers are using actually valid? Are these differences actually changes to a human or have they become something else entirely and therefore not really GSD of the supposed human norm? People like Fey and Sara really screw this system up because neither is really human anymore. Nikki, as a Fey, is technically a member of a different race. True it is a race that was long considered dead, but still. And Sara, being a demon, is also not really human.
The scientific community has a great numbers of debates about GSD's, as they challenge the human norm. For example, look at shifters. Are they a different race or people with GSD? Some of them have the "classic" were problem of passing along the trait through either blood or saliva. So how do you actually classify people like that?
This also has an effect on the attempts to make identification cards for mutants. What is GSD and what is a basic racial trait? So this particular aspect of the "metahuman" experience has more questions than answers.
Other syndromes that get informally called GSD include:
- MATD, Manifestation Augmented Tissue Deformity, which is a condition specific to manifestors where their manifestations change their body to become like whatever is manifested. This is neither part of the person's genetic sequence, like 'textbook' GSD, nor caused by an exemplar's BIT, but the end result can look similar.
- Spirit Hallow Mismatch Deformity, which is caused by an avatar housing an spirit too powerful for one's hallow.
Changes causing a mutant to look different from a baseline can also happen through magic, crossing or just getting the attention of a powerful spirit, and probably a number of other ways that have not been mentioned yet, and most people use the term GSD to refer to all such cases.
For a list of people with GSD (in the informal sense), go to the Category:GSD page.