Mutants and Magic
Mutants and Magic
(Using the BECMI / Mutant Future game rules, with parts of “The Empire of the Petal Throne” for Social and Religious background. It takes place in San Diego, CA; one million years in the future, with a sea level risen 200 feet. After world-wide ecological destruction, repeated violent social upheaval, and the Trans-Humanist / Morphological Freedom movement, our Earth and nearly everything on it resembles an alien planet)
Question 1. Where do we start the game at?
(Also: Where can we go to buy standard goods, or even custom-made equipment? Which way to the nearest tavern? Where do I find my first job? How can we get healing and curing? Where can we find weapon and magic training? How do we get into the City? What is there to eat around here? What happens if we get into trouble?)
Answer: You have come from the Wasted Lands to the famous port of the Sultanate of Dyaghou, ‘The Finest City” (where Mazes and Mutants begins). All travelers and castaways are housed in one of the Royal Rest Houses in the Foreigner’s Quarter, found in the yellow-misted ghettoes just outside the city walls. This runs a cost of ten gold coins per day and the food is abominable…stomach complaints and diarrhea are common. It is here that that Citizens and Nobles come to hire mercenaries or explorers (like the beginning player characters).Low-quality goods of nearly any sort can be bought here, but all custom items (like altering standard equipment for non-humans) must be purchased in the City. The Foreigner’s Quarter offers minor skilled training in weapons or magic, greater training is available in the City.
Small shrines to all of the major faiths are scattered throughout the Foreigner’s Quarter, where priests seek converts and offer magical healing for payment (as well as administering cures for poison and minor disease; but healing for curses, level drains, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, or even undeath can only be found in the great City Temples).
While dirty taverns and drug dens are very common in the Foreigner‘s Quarter, all are of terrible quality. Similarly, the seedy bath houses and diseased bordellos offer only the most paltry of pleasures. A newly rich explorer has few options to truly enjoy their spoils (a maximum of 300 gp can be exchanged for experience in a night of Reveling, but a player can SPEND any amount they have).
Legal access to the city requires the quarterly purchase of a City Pass (costing at least 300 gp). Non-citizens caught in the city without a Citizen as an Escort or their own current City Pass are considered to be guilty of Trespassing, and immediately executed by Public Impalement (the standard punishment for all crimes, and a common form of entertainment).
Question 2. What is the deal with Religion?
(Also: Can I be an Avenger/Paladin, or a Druid? Who are the Immortals? Why are some dungeons shaped so weird?)
Answer: Religious Faith is vitally important to the people of the Wasted Lands. In the City of Dyaghou, religion is based on two ‘Alignments’ (Stability and Change), each represented in the pantheon by five major ‘Gods’, who in turn are served five ‘Cohorts’, each with its own Temple (and each one can have many different Aspects). These Gods (and their cohorts) are Exalted Beings of vast power, called Immortals. They rule from the sky in a vast Celestial Bureaucracy.
Both Change and Stability are equally respected, each is considered part of a greater whole (like the concept of Ying/Yang). Although most people should be considered Neutral, this view is frowned upon and seen as shameful. All of the Clan Houses have a Patron Immortal, and most people of Status are allied to a particular Temple that they make offerings to in exchange for Clerical Healing. Fighters of Noble Citizen status who wish to take Vows of Temple Service (to become a Holy Warrior for either Change or Stability at about 8th level), must first have established strong bonds with a Temple.
Faithful clerics of Change or Stability, having proven their service to the Gods (at about 8th level), may take Vows of Neutrality. Thereafter they must follow additional restrictions in their behavior, but receive great Magical Power. These people are known as Haruspex, they Divine the Future from the inspection of the entrails of sacrificial creatures, especially the Liver. There are hundreds of ancient labyrinths composed of cobblestones scattered across the land, modeled after the intestines of a sacrificial victim (this means that many “dungeons” in this game are often shaped like a colon).
A full list of each of the Ten Deities of Dyaghou can be found in the Tekumel site online here:
http://www.tekumel.com/world_gods.htmlI will be sticking to most of these descriptions. In the interest of creative participation, any player who would like to practice a different/unscribed faith make create an “Aspect” of one of the established faiths, and then choose to follow that.
Question 3. Who is the richest person in the land?
(Also: Who is the mightiest wizard in the land? Who is the ruler of the City? Who is the greatest warrior in the land? Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? Are there any Monks in this game?)
Answer: The ruler of The Finest City is Nephissa-Khan IV, The Magnificent Sultana of Dyaghou, in her Palace of the Opalescent Throne. She is known as the single most powerful spell-caster within one hundred miles. He magic is legendary, second only to that of the Exalted Immortals, some of whose most powerful servants have fallen under her spells.
The wealth of the Sultana is so fabulously large that it can only be guessed at. It is stored in several hidden vaults deep under the city, guarded by devices so horrible one is said to die from simply facing them. Her riches have attracted many fine suitors, most have displeased her and found themselves tortured and impaled.
Her latest lover and victim is blalala, a mighty Avenger (Holy Warrior) in the service of the temple of the Volcano God. He was the Despoiler of entire nations and the most famous swordsmen of the last 20 years. His recent drunken tirade against the Sultana was considered an unforgivable act of public disgrace. He is currently in prison, being feed and pampered with every need, as the Suzerains of the City decide on a sufficiently impressive means of torture and death. They have promised it will be the spectacle of the year…
All of this has angered the war-like people of his homeland to the south, Eya’Whuna. The southerners of the Burning Lands have recently begun hiring mercenaries and building huge siege machines; war could break out at any moment.
Guarding the Sultana are the Mystics, a group of warrior monks devoted body and soul to the defense of the City Rulers. They are known to gather information on dissidents and extremists, often kidnapping suspects in the middle of the night. Those taken will face the “information gathering” tortures of the mystics, who have supernatural knowledge of anatomy, none remain unbroken for long. Countless screaming victims have cried out their confessions in the bowels of the City Palace…some were even guilty.
Question 4: Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Answer: The wearing of armor is illegal in the City, but you can conceal leather or studded leather armor under some sorts of heavy clothing. Of course, if your armor is exposed, that will still lead to trouble. Legally, anyone can carry a dagger, walking stick (club), or quarterstaff. Nobles may carry longswords. Short swords, darts, and slings are illegal, but easily concealed. Armor or weapons that have been recently purchased must be kept wrapped in cloth and tightly bound with cord while traveling inside the City.
Bans on two-handed weapons and ranged weapons are forcefully pursued since such weapons are more of a threat to the Guard. Likewise, since armor can stop someone from being harmed, it is looked on poorly, too.
Licensed bodyguards may wear armor and carry one-handed melee weapons in the execution of their work. Members of the Guard, soldiers, licensed mercenaries, pit fighters, and assassins may use armor and arms in pursuit of their work.
These laws are generally not enforced in the Foreigner‘s Quarter, the Docks, or the Ghettos.
Casting harmful magic (or controlling charms) on any member of the Nobility, High Priests, the Guard, or the Mystics is a crime punishable by immediate Public Impalement.
Question 5. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
(Also: Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC? Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?)
Answer: There are no “Magical Colleges” in Dyaghou, the mighty Temples hoard all such knowledge for themselves. Each Temple has its own teachers, even offering the learning of unique magic that fits the Temple divine portfolio (so, the Volcano God’s Temple has unique fire magic to teach). Theses “sacred” spells are only given to those magic users who have shown great commitment to the Temple, after swearing Vows of Loyalty. Powerful Temple magic-users are seen as valuable resources, and are kept close (and watched). The standard spell lists can be taught at most temples, but is does not come cheap.
Although there are no public libraries, each Temple keeps vast records of history that is important to the faith. Sages can be found at each one, the Temple of the Lawful God of Knowledge is the most open and generous with historical information (meaning it only charges standard prices).
The secretive hoarding of all this knowledge (especially magic knowledge), has not surprisingly given rise to all sorts of secret societies, many with strange agendas. The Chaotic God of Magic is notorious for this, with its Ndulu Society being the most infamous (players can expect high chances to get involved with secret societies, sometimes from the very start of the game).
Question 6: What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
(Also: Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for? Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?)
Answer: In the East lies the Valley of Ka’Hoon, a realm of vicious monsters ruled by the mighty Dragon Khan, Phalf-Nour. After decades of vicious attacks and failed attempts of killing the dragon (who is said to be an Amphisbaena), the City simply pays a tithe to the beast to be left alone. The creature’s hoard must be in the millions after all these years. All who tried to attain it have failed. Phalf-Nour’s brood terrorize nearby areas, but the Dragon Khan cares little for them; many have be slain and looted by courageous explorers. But many more have tried and met only a burning death…
Question 7: How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
Answer: Duels of Honor in the Arena of Justice are common, but most Clansmen of higher rank will not bother with an itinerant foreigner and will simply call for the City Patrol.
The new citizen can now sponsor champions to defend their honor in the area
no amount of money will restore a person’s honor that is lost from accusations of blatantly shameful acts; that must be regained through combat in the arena.