Since the appearance of mutants in 1963, baselines have attempted to gain powers themselves with mixed success. Through the cold war, many superhuman creation projects operated but very few obtained reliable successes. Below are a few methods that have been used.
Forcing a Manifestation
Although useless on those not gifted with two copies of the Von-Neumann gene (Which can be uncovered with a relatively inexpensive test), it is somewhat common for pre-manifestation mutants (or clueless non-mutants) to put themselves in the way danger in order to force their powers to manifest.
This can be exceptionally dangerous as powers only manifest when an appropriate stimuli is experienced. A mutant with pyrokinetic potential would not manifest jumping off a rooftop.
Primarily created during the cold war, dozens of superhuman serums exist, some of which are available on the black market, but most have been archived and forgotten or are only available to select elite military or intelligence agencies.
The most successful ones typically only grant very minor abilities (Faster healing, slight boost in strength, endurance or cognition) While more effective ones are often loaded with side effects which either drastically shorten the person’s lifespan or alters their mental capacities for the worst. Most serums also require periodic doses or stop working (which itself can be fatal) and are often addictive.
Excelsior is the most wide spread and stable of those Serum, so much some military divisions across the world have allowed its use.
A few street drugs such as Nexus, Dyne or BRZK are commonly used by gangbangers as a cheap, dirty and quick temporary power boost at the cost of addiction, post-dosage crash and long-term side effects.
While cybernetics have become extremely common in recent years, the superheroic or military use of cybernetics as a ‘power’ granted has remained minimal.
Creating a cybernetic superhero or super-soldier is not as simple as putting a super-strong arm which would simply rip off as the supporting muscles wouldn’t be strong enough.
Thus cybernetic enhancement requires massive amount of surgical alterations (until the subject is little more than organs and brain in a metal case) which are both costly and can take a very long time to recover from.
Many groups have been working on creating human chimeras for decades and the process is a fairly reliable way to obtain very minor enhanced abilities at the cost of shortened lifespan, sterility and additional medical complications. As the chimerization process on already existing subject works better on prepubescent children (adults experience much more negative side effects,) chimerization remains an option typically for only the most desperate.
The most common and reliable way to get enhancement, Omega the ego-maniacal biotech genius offers enhancements to those who can afford his hefty price tag (in the hundreds of thousands for minor stuff.) Omega has become a favorite of super-villains due to his reliability and lack of attached strings. However Omega enhancements are almost exclusively basic physical and mental augmentation or chimeric alterations rather than true flashy superpowers.
Thorough the world, a few dozen imbued parahumans were granted their powers through some form of freak accident (including the Legion’s own Tachyon) however the current belief is that the accidents triggered something which already existed within the subject as virtually all attempt at recreating these accidents resulted in injuries or death.
Although the Cauldron is widely known as the best power-granting organization, no method of contacting them has so far surfaced, with all known Cauldron-capes having been contacted by the organization first. The Cauldron is capable of granting virtually any type of powers.
An oddity only found in New York, the Trogg mutagen is found in underground pools which seems to appear sporadically under the city. Consumption of the mutagen slowly transforms to user into a Trogg, giving them enhanced strength and endurance but severely impairing their mental aptitudes.
After humanity destroyed a mid-sized asteroid in collision course to Earth, its debris fall across Europe and Asian, most of it disintegrating harmlessly entering atmosphere. Fragments of the meteor are found to contain exotic particles granting powers to those who wield them.
Although permanently bonding with those who touch it, it was discovered that other meteor children can forcefully (and often lethally) extract the fragment of other children, gaining stronger powers. Several less moral of them have began hunting their kin.
For every superpower granting methods which works, dozens more are created or even just rumored to exist. Sometimes these methods are even attempted by the desperate or truly stupid.
- Mutant blood transfusion: Although thoroughly debunked, some desperate fools still sometimes attempt receiving transfusion from mutants believing it might give them powers. The immune reaction is typically dangerous, especially if the person avoids treatment believing the reaction is a sign the transfusion is working.
- Von-Neumann Gene Therapy: All attempt at infusing the Von-Neumann gene responsible for mutants into baseline humans have so far failed at creating them. Whether the VNG is only part of the mutant-creation process or simply the failure of those having had gene therapy to manifest is unknown.
- Engineering & Recreating Accidents: Despite the small portion of Imbued parahumans, most ‘freak accidents’ result in nothing but injuries or even death. No attempt at replicating those accident has yet to result in the creation of a new non-mutant parahuman (Which manifest naturally from the danger of the accident).