A simple fix that I can think is–have the game check for certain mutations when fitting clothing. Maybe have mutation fit be a selection from sewing kits and soldering irons.
It would work like this: Let’s say you have a heavy survivor suit, wings, thorny skin and a spiked tail–you have two options at this point.
1: Tailor to mutations - The game checks your current mutations, then removes environmental protection, adds weight or cuts volume/armor out of the equation as needed. This would be checked each time you choose to use that particular function–so if you lose your tail for example you could/should refit the outfit when given the chance.
2: Force Fit - For particularly obtrusive mutations such as insanely strong, chitinous plate, wings, etc etc you could try to wear something that would fit you poorly regardless. In this case ((Or when wearing something and gaining a mutation)) I think the following could occur.
*Damages clothing, not repairable beyond that level while worn
*Adds 1 encumbrance via a Poor Fit status
*Negates effects like keeps you dry and lowers warmth, Environmental Protection.
This way a mutant with mandibles could make due with an ill-fitted gas mask, but should fit it given the chance. As a side note, mutation friendly tags for certain clothing should be part and parcel to this–and maybe a few articles of clothing added with mutation needed requirements ((Antler mounted spike rack anyone?))
It could also add some interesting give and take mutations like…
Mutation: Increases overall health pool, reduces dodge chances
Clothing Effect: Clothing is much heavier, bigger pockets means more volume as well
Mutation: Decreases overall health pool, raises dodge chances
Clothing effect: Clothing is much lighter, smaller pockets means less volume
Mutation: This would be a slime trait. Reduces encumbrance by one for each level of the trait. But by level 3 you CAN’T wear anything that isn’t water tight. Rain dilutes you, doing more damage, you can seep through bars/under doors when naked at level 3.
Clothing effect: See above
I’d also like to float the idea of two new concepts for mutations, those being triggered effects and associated skills. As an example let us suggest the following:
Mutation: Your forelegs have bloated with taut sinew, allowing you to leap great distances in a single bestial lunge.
Clothing effect: Only skirts, shorts and hotpants are mutation friendly with this…also chaps. Mutation fitted clothing would need to be baggier to allow you to move comfortably, so minor additional weight for fabrics, weight and encumbrance for hard armors.
THE NITTY-GRITTY: With this mutation you would be able to assign a key to its use via a MUTATIONS MENU–when you press said button you leap–which basically makes you aim yourself like a projectile. This will be great once Z-Levels make rooftops and skyscrapers a reality. Once having selected a square to leap you can collide with obstructions, miss your mark or in the case of an enemy unleash a sweet dropkick. How does it decide the outcome you ask?
When you get this mutation you gain an otherwise unobtainable skill called Leaping, since the act does not come naturally to human beings. Using the skill progresses your rank like any other–losing the mutation only eliminates the ability to train it, with the only downside being skill rust from disuse.
These two suggestions combined could allow such great moments as: Learning to charge like a bull, learning to fly by jumping off progressively taller structures, slowly acclimating to initially crippling mutations ((I.E. learning to ‘walk’ again with tentacle legs/serpentine lower body, extra legs which come out of the box with various speed debuffs))
You could even have professions that give you a bonus to these otherwise difficult to raise/attain skills and equipment for training them. For example a hang-glider starts with a wing-suit and some skill ((Allowing for graceful leaps of faith off of an infested high-rise)) Football player starts with charge and a helmet, gymnast gets leaping and a small trampoline etc etc.
I’ve a slew of suggested mutations relating to this concept, and on the whole I think they would greatly effect a much needed diversity between the current mutation branches. Especially if some need a certain point value of bad mutations to show up at all.
FINALLY - One last suggestion. Conditional Mutation Branches.
Otherwise hidden or unattainable mutation branches that require certain favorable conditions to be gained. An off the head example? Fungal Branch.
Requirements - Get infected with fungal spores
Drink some mutagen.
Slowly progress into a fungal-hybrid until the normally crippling symptoms transform into unlikely benefits. Probably super bad for the health of your pets and companions.
Other conditional mutation branches and there requirements off the top of my head…
Hive branch - Bugs under skin
Distinct from the insect/arachnid branches this makes you into a habitat for creepy crawlies instead of joining their ranks. While you would have to deal with the pain of these things living inside you it would have a mitigating mutation in the form of three tiers of masochist available. ((Ending with you positively elated by intense pain.)) Progresses towards spawning “Crawling Masses” of small, agitated vermin that are shaken loose by enemy blows and surge forth to defend their hive from danger. Makes you super susceptable to smoke, as your brood will bite their way out of you in fear of suffocation.
Carrier/Bacterial branches - Several infected wounds
Carrier makes you more akin to the various special zombies, mutagen having tossed you into a weird half dead limbo. Expect to excrete zombie pharamones, spit acid and be on every NPCs hit list.
Bacterial would slowly convert you into a walking colony of eurosocial bacteria. At its heart you would need ALL LIMBS EMPTY to die, but suffer massive debuffs for each empty limb. For example, losing your head makes you deaf and blind, arms remove the ability to weild weapons, open doors, legs is your movement. You’d also be much easier to damage, but have regeneration as a way to compensate.
Stimulated branch - Suffering a fatal overdose
In a nutshell you NEED stimulants to live. Period. Food doesn’t even phase you anymore. Your just riding out the high until you quite literally crash and burn. Increased buffs and durations from all drugs, immunity to overdoes ((And a benifit for being so doped up it would kill anything else)) and a slow spiral towards death should you run dry on things to snort, smoke or shoot up.
Technomorph - Several faulty bionics installed
Try not to think of this as the marriage of man and machine, but rather a pained train wreck of flesh and metal. You are much more likely to get failed installations as you progress through this branch, but it would have the benefit of adding utility to the various failed and installed bionics. ((For example making acidic discharge an activated, targetable spray, but adding nausea to your character if you don’t periodically discharge it. Solar panels and the internal furnace could reduce your hunger/thirst. You should also be able to just choose to install burnt out bionics.