Tales from Mu: Isle of the Throneless King — page 1

Hey there! As a sort of combination adventure/world primer, I’ve been working on a side project for the site – Tales from Mu! A series of comics to help everyone understand how the world works, get adventure ideas, and even get across some of the mechanics. The first installment is titled the Isle of the Throneless King, and I’ll be putting up new pages for the next few days to get the introduction out of the way, and will then be switching over to a more paced schedule of Monday and Wednesday afterwards. I’ll also have a better set up for the comics here soon, so stay tuned! But for now, enjoy!

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Mu: Age of Adventure — The Humans of Tradewind!

Hey everyone! Today, we’ll be taking a look at the 4 most common groups of humans that are seen in and around Tradewind in Mu: Age of Adventure. We’ve gone over the other intelligent species, so now it’s time for a quick run down of the oldest group on the block.

Craglanders — Seen as “western barbarians” in the times of the Pelagian Empire, the fair skinned and dark haired Craglanders held off being subsumed by the Empire until late in its life. Since the fall, the strong willed and charismatic people from the grassy plateaus of the west have enjoyed relative stability unlike their neighbors to the east and south. The laws and customs introduced to the Craglands by the Empire have brought a unity to the previously disparate tribes, who now live as a part of a centralized magistracy that oversees all things great and small. The magistracy views itself as the pinnacle of modern governance, and while willing to work with the various kingdoms and regencies that exist on its borders, finds those methods of rule archaic and stifling. The magistracy uses a system of appeals and rulings to constantly update the law to best serve the people. The heavy emphasis on self-representation in this system has lead to a much higher rate of literacy in the Craglands than the surrounding nations, which is something the magistracy greatly prides itself on. Cragland scholars and lawyers have a very strong presence in Tradewind to make sure the magistracy is well aware of what goes on past their eastern borders.

Pelagians — While the old Empire is gone, broken into many smaller nations, the people of Pelagos, Avellais, and western Lachlan all greatly resemble one another and owe a lot of their current cultures to their rule under the Pelagian Empire. These individuals are of swarthy complexion with dark curly hair and dark eyes. Most of the human population that lives in Tradewind is of Pelagian decent, and are what most mim think of when humans are mentioned. Pelagians have a highly shared religious culture, and many carry symbols and trinkets of the Church of the Divinities with them. The arts and sciences have come in vogue with the well-to-do Pelagians lately caused by the influx of wealth from the modern trade Accords, and has been slowly working its way down to the peasantry. Modern prosperity has lead to a pervasive optimism, which leaders have been quick to capitalize on, and are loathe to let go.

Lachlanders — The stern, powerful features and thick, dark hair of the eastern Lachlanders cause them to stand out amongst the rest of the humans in Tradewind. Long, well kept beards are a common theme among the men, and both men and women traditionally wear their hair long. Theirs is a rough history, from one of the strongest seats of power in the old Empire to a kingdom divided. While the nobility from the east seem aloof and assured of their eventual victory over the populist forces of the west, those caught in the middle bear many tales of strife from the warring kingdom. Not all Lachlanders who make their way to Tradewind are refugees, but certainly a great number have come to the town to seek a more stable life for themselves and their families. This has caused some friction between those of western Lachland origins, but to those unfamiliar with the strife in their nation this animosity is largely ignored.

Tradelanders — Across the Sea of Voyages to the south lie the Trade Principalities, or as they’re known to those that live there: the Pelagian Empire. Despite their claims and strong ties to the old Empire, the Trade Principalities are not quite the military and cultural powerhouse that the Empire was. They are certainly in contention with their economy, however. The tall, dark skinned, kinky-haired men and women of the Trade Principalities are an increasingly common sight in Tradewind, as the wealthy merchant families from the Principalities have been sending envoys and negotiators north with increasing frequency, trying to get as big a piece of the pie as they can. Their strong ties to the Church of the Divinities has engendered them with a great deal of the Pelagian populace, and despite the sometimes haughty attitudes of the nobility, those who have made it to Tradewind seeking work find it easy to integrate into the city. The coleops are well acquainted with Tradelanders, and usually think of them first when humans are mentioned.

These aren’t all the human groups in Mu, merely the most common ones you’ll see in the setting’s main city. Next week I’ll be back to talk about some of the more uncommon groups, who don’t always make it to town. Until then!

Mu: Age of Adventure — A look at the Coleops!

Hey all, it’s Nick again, and this monday I wanted to take a look at the third non-human playable species in Mu: Age of Adventure – the insect like coleops!

Coleops are on average smaller than most humans, with the largest specimens standing as tall as if not a little taller than the average human. Their faces are vaguely humanoid, with wide set eyes that have large dark pupils, two lamellate antennae in middle of their forehead, and small mouths flanked by a set of palps. They do not have noses. Unlike their smaller cousins, the coleops do not use their palps to eat, but rather to cover or expose small holes in their cheeks to create different reverberating tones as part of their language. Coleops possess six limbs, two legs and four arms, but two of their arms are much smaller and serve mostly to assist them with tasks requiring very fine motor skills. They have four wings, two of which function as a thick shell that protect the other delicate, membranous wings. Of all the intelligent species on Mu, the coleops are by far the most sexually dimorphic. The women are upwards of 50% larger than the men, and have much sharper features, larger antennae, and brighter colors to their shells.

In the modernizing world, the coleops are at an unfortunate disadvantage when it comes to competition with the developing powers. Coleops society is largely nomadic, as the great swamps where they live flood regularly throughout the seasons, creating great stretches of mire which are uninhabitable for months at a time. This has lead to very few stable, large cities and governments, and leaves most coleops part of smaller, wandering tribes. The decentralized nature of the majority of coleops society has lead to a great deal of opportunistic, and some would say predatory, treaties and trade agreements with non-coleops explorers and merchants. While the swamps are a hassle to perform tasks such as mining or industry in, they produce a great deal of sought after plants and fungi, for use as food, recreation, or medicine the world over. Over harvesting and plant poaching operations are becoming more common, as news of the various “wonder” plants have reached the far corners of the known world.

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The rumors of the wondrous properties of the plants are not exaggerations, however. The swamp with its rapid turnover of life, death, decay, and rebirth, wears thin the veil between the living world and the spirit world. An entity known as Great Grandmother Swamp has watched over the Great Southern Swamps for thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years, and has a special fondness for the coleops. She has imbued much of the swamp itself with her latent powers, and the foliage and fungi that grow in it reflect this. This has given rise to the unique Mushroomists, shaman and gardeners who hold positions of importance in coleops society. Although their positions as envoys and ambassadors to the outside world, and to roving bands of adventurers, have become the metropolitan face of the coleops. Great Grandmother Swamp is bound to the geography of the swamp itself, so it is up to her more adventurous children to keep her aware of outside goings on.

To most members of the other species the coleops appear alien and awkward, but despite this the strange beetle-folk from the south integrate exceptionally quickly into most human towns. While it is almost impossible for non-coleops to pronounce their language, they are capable of producing a great number of sounds and have a knack for picking up foreign languages. This has made coleops liaisons and translators very popular among various noble houses who find novelty in their “exotic” nature and well spoken mannerisms. However, almost the entirety of the coleops who leave the swamp are men, and many human and mim nobles mistakenly believe the women must then be smaller and mild mannered, and are often greatly surprised when they encounter the brazen, gruff, and imposing women folk of the Great Southern Swamp.

The coleops round out the roster of the non-human playable species for Mu. They seem strange with their exoskeletons and antennae, but are just as heroic as their mammalian and amphibian counterparts. Until next time!

Mu: Age of Adventure — A look at the scharr!

Hey there! Nick here as usual, and this Monday I wanted to give a brief overview of another of the playable species in Mu – this time the burly, aquatic scharr.

scharr_headshotStanding a full head and shoulders taller than a human on average, the scharr are an immense, muscle bound amphibian species. While roughly humanoid in appearance, their faces are streamlined and simplified with broad chins and foreheads, flat almost non-existent noses, and small, beady, shark like eyes set in shallow sockets. They lack eyebrows and body hair in general, but do have a small patch on their heads that is straight and wiry and often worn long. Their skin is smooth and tough, much like a shark’s, and ranges from light blue to muddy red. Scharr have much sharper teeth than humans, and their diets are almost entirely fish but a variety of seaweed based dishes compliment their largely carnivorous meals. Scharr display very muted sexual dimorphism and the men and women very closely resemble one another, with the men being on average slightly larger. Their most unique physiological difference however is their lateral system. Special sensory nerves line the sides of their bodies allowing them to sense minute water pressure differences and electromagnetic signals over short distances while in the water.

Most scharr live on the large archipelago chain that starts at the mouth of the Pelakos Sea, where its equatorial climate and warm waters can keep their semi-cold blood active. It is on this island chain that the two great scharr empires live. The Southern Imperial kingdom, which resides on the tail end of the archipelago and maintains a vast empire of colonies along the Broken Coast of the southern continent where they control a great deal of iron mines. The other being the Divine Empire, which while it maintains fewer of the islands than the Southern Imperial kingdom, controls the waters in around around the mouth of the Pelakos Sea. This gives them a tremendous amount of control over many trade routes. So much that despite the Divine Empire’s small size, they are one of the wealthiest nations in the known world.

Both empires are feudal in nature, and have a rigid social hierarchy. Marriages are seen as being solely political, and marriage for love is an awkward concept many scharr don’t quite understand. Many of the smaller islands function as vassal states of the larger, chaining back to the capital islands of both empires. While fealty is considered exceptionally important in both empires, this functions as somewhat of a double edged sword in cases of political consolidations or annexation. Often when islands are annexed the populace retains fierce loyalty to their previous lord, with disdain for the new lord goes as far as to create vast numbers of self-imposed exiles. This has lead to a great deal of scharr diaspora making their way into the surrounding nations. Many infamous scharr pirates have their origins as self-imposed exiles during bloody annexations. These exiles often still fly old banners of dispossessed lords and nobles in a sign of undying loyalty to their lord and burning hatred towards those who dispossessed them.

great_wallMany of these exiles who don’t turn to piracy however find great success as adventurers. Their size and strength make them imposing comrades and the world renowned Great Wall bodyguards from the Southern Imperial Kingdom are always able to find work. The scharr languages are deep and resounding, to match the extremely low registers needed to project words underwater, and as such their words and by extension names are exceptionally difficult for the other intelligent species to pronounce. Most scharr use loan names when dealing with others, but will try to get close friends to learn how to pronounce their actual names as a sign of respect.

The scharr are loyal and strong companions, ready to jump to the aid of their smaller companions. That’s it for for this Monday, but come back next week for Mu: Age of Adventure beta rules 1.1! We’ll have some updated formatting, some new background, and hopefully some new art for the rules! See you then!

Mu: Age of Adventure — A look at the mim!

Hey everyone, Nick here again! Back to Mondays as usual, this time with a look at one of the four playable species in Mu — the Mim.

mim_guy_websiteSmall in stature and almost resembling woolen haired dolls with large eyes, broad noses, and big fuzzy round ears, the mim are native to the temperate foothills and forested plains of the central northern continent. Their hair ranges from dark black to bright white, with a light greyish being the most common coloration. Most mim are somewhat pale in skin tone with darker noses, but very dark almost coal colored mim, while rare, do exist. Unlike humans, mim exhibit very little sexual dimorphism, with both the men and women being equal in size and stature. The women tend to have slightly rounder facial features and less curly hair, while the men have exceptionally thick and woollen curls.

Politically the mim are a small but motivated group who have seized some of the biggest opportunities in trade that have occurred in the last century on Mu. While many small independent “nations” exist on the fringes of mim territory, these are more often than not protectorates of the Central Mim Kingdom which holds court in the capital city of Frimble. It was the previous king, the illustrious Angbar VI, who used the influx of money and goods from the founding of Tradewind to transform the relatively small city into a cultural juggernaut.

For the past 50 years the city of Frimble has seen great leaps and bounds in the realms of the arts and philosophy. Angbar VI imported artisans, scholars, and all manner of cultural ambassadors in great droves to his city using the wealth he gained from his father’s trade options power play. Most notably was the elevation of the arts to a lofty status in the culture, which sired a complex and stratified social order in mim society that has taken strong root. Men are expected to study art, philosophy and science, and further the understanding of the culture. It then falls to women to perform the tasks seen as effete and unmanly – such as cooking, cleaning, fighting, and adventuring. The most manly of the arts is high fashion, with the current trend being one of of ostentation and elegance. The most famous designers, wig makers, and tailors all come from Frimble and their works fetch exorbitant prices the world over.

mim_gal_websiteIn the larger adventuring world however, they have become very popular recently among the other intelligent species for their unique brands of cultural magic that allow them to preserve food, purify drink, and repair cloth. A walking, talking, ship’s repair kit and refrigerator will always find employ on trade voyages and many have taken to vying for positions on the extremely well funded expedition voyages many of the current nations have been putting together. Not to mention the welcoming arms of those on the other side of the kings’ notes in this time of burgeoning piracy.

The most unusual thing however, combined with their strange appearance, is their proclivity for the magical arts. Mim mages and hedge wizards seem unnaturally gifted, and although theirs is a magic derived from culture and society, they show alarming attunement with any magical task put before them. Some anthropologists and archeologists have hypothesised the mim might be an engineered species, as they have yet to find any artifacts dating back before the age of wizardry, but that debate is currently ongoing in the halls of Mu academia.


And that’s a bit of an intro for the mim! Their size and appearance leads them to often be treated with kid gloves, much to their chagrin, but they are an important part of the Mu adventuring landscape!

Hey everyone, Nick here! Sorry things have been so slow. Updates will resume as normal next week, but for today I’d like to briefly discuss perhaps one of the most important bits of background history for Mu — the Age of Wizardry.

Tens of thousands of years before the current Age of Adventure that has settled on Mu, a great number of powerful wizards lived. Humans who had discovered the secrets to the powers the gods themselves wielded and styled themselves the rulers of the world. And for a time they were. This Age of Wizardry lasted for close on fifteen thousand years, but the human mind wasn’t meant to contain the gods’ power. It took only a couple hundred years for the minds of these nearly omnipotent individuals to degenerate into fevered obsession and neurosis. For the next several millennia they stayed locked in their own minds, controlled by whatever flight of fancy or stray compulsion made its way to the forefront of their thoughts.

Dungeons, artifacts, creatures, a veritable cornucopia of strange and dangerous creations they made over the years. The wizards went from the undisputed masters of Mu to distant, reclusive feudal lords in only a couple generations, but their experiments and creations changed the face of the world for thousands of years. As their minds slowly left them, so did their power and eventually, as their inevitable demise dawned on them, they sought to stash away what they had done. They would keep their precious inventions, pets, servants, and baubles to themselves – forever.

So they sealed away their creations. Their houses, laboratories, dungeons and factories were locked up, shifted outside of time and space, held inside the foam on the Sea of Possibilities that exists just beyond what mere mortals can comprehend. There, inside these pocket realities would their creations live in stasis, forever unchanging, forever outside the reach of the rabble and diminutive beings of Mu who could never understand them. Or so they thought.

Finally, insanity consumed their minds and bodies. All that they were, all they thought they would ever be, eroded by the very powers they were certain would keep them as gods for all time. Such was their hubris and trespass on the fabric of reality, that as their lights extinguished all memory of who they were was scrubbed from the universe itself. No one remembers their names, faces, personalities, or motivations. All that remains are the scars of their inventions. Inventions that they hoped would remain locked away forever.

But as with any living being, foreign bodies illicit an immune response. Mu has been slowly working to unravel the locks and seals on these magical splinters that have been wedged into it, in the hopes that the creatures upon its surface could clean out these infections. During the Age of Quiet that preceded the current Age of Adventure, a small handful of these dungeons were unlocked and opened; aired out purged by the early predecessor of the modern adventurer. At the dawn of the current Age however, the flood gates have been opened and that which was locked away has surged back into the world.

The Age of Wizardry was a strange, unknowable time that created things that can make perfect sense or no sense at all. When designing dungeons from the Age of Wizardry the themes of obsession, master craftsmanship, and rampant creativity should be at the forefront. Physics, biology, and even the fabric of time and space take a back seat to the uncontained creativity the wizards of old drowned themselves in.

We’re Back with Tradewind!

Returning from a rather unfortunate and unforeseen absence, we’re back with some background to the central city of Mu! This update comes to you from our lead world historian, Ian Auger.

Hi, my name is Ian, and I’m the Senior World Engineer/Contracted Word Monkey here at Gearheart Games. Nick asked me to put together some blog posts on the world of Mu: Age of Adventure to introduce you all to the game’s world. Without further ado, allow me to present the centerpiece of the setting: the city of Tradewind.

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Eighty years ago, four ships sailed into the harbor of Dellaporta.  The banners flying on the tall masts both raised a celebration and sent riders from the gates of the city — the Ninette Expedition had returned.  Named after the Mim explorer leading the small fleet, the expedition was a joint venture between the kings of Frimble and Lichlen, seeking a second route into the heart of the southern continent.  The city-states of the Pelakos League had long controlled the overland routes from the southern shore of the Sea of Voyage into the heart of the continent and therefore had a monopoly on the lucrative trade in spices and silken fabrics flowing out of it.  Ancient records mentioned passages through the mountains lining the continent’s western edge, however, and armed with records dating back to the Empire, Ninette had ventured forth in search of a route that would bypass the League’s hold on the inside of the continent.

On her return, however, she brought back more than just a map laying out a new trade route.  The expedition had taken rock samples as they made their way across the newly named Ninevene Mountains, and assays taken on the voyage home revealed that they held traces of iron, copper, and more importantly, gold.  Riches lay along the route to the Great Swamp as well as in it, enough to radically change the balance of power along the shores of the Sea of Voyages, and the two kings deliberated over what to do with the bounty they’d been handed.  Between them, they could exploit the treasures they’d found, but holding them for long would be difficult, especially should the League unite or possibly even ally with one of their neighbors to dislodge them.

Inviting leaders of the other nations formed out of the fall of the Pelagian Empire, they instead proposed a compact — extracting the wealth would take people, equipment, and money, and all those who contributed could share in the rewards.  In order to ensure equitable distribution, goods flowing from the south would come through one port, a city governed by the signers of the compact. The signing of what would come to be known as the Tradewind Accords by Lichlen, Frimble, Avellais, Pelagos, and the Craglands changed the face of Dellaporta forever.  The city that had launched and received the Ninette Expedition would become the city that received the bounty it had unlocked.

Since the signing of the accords 75 years ago, the port has exploded in population, attracting workers, artisans, merchants, artists, and adventurers from across the five nations signing to the treaty.  Belonging to all of the Accord nations, but a part of none, Tradewind offered the possibility of a new life, either in the city itself, or in the burgeoning colonies on the Ninevene coast.  It is a cosmopolitan city, with vast markets selling seemingly everything to be had in the world, narrow cobble streets on which a dozen languages are spoken, and opulent villas built by the city’s new monied elites springing up on seemingly a daily basis.

Examine the city a little closer, and the peaceful, prosperous aura fades.  Tradewind has rapidly become the center of the world for mercenaries and adventurers, two groups that rarely leave peace in their wakes.  Both ship out from Tradewind to troubled spots across the two continents, and both bring trouble home with their gold when they return.  While the Adventurer’s Guild and Mercenary Board attempt to keep their unruly members in line, they only sometimes succeed.  While the Five Nations — six, now that Lichlen has been consumed by civil war for nearly a decade — are officially at peace and the Accords guarantee a share of the riches, that has never stopped them from trying to undercut each other for a larger share of the wealth.  Their representatives on the council are at each others’ throats as often as they’re in agreement, and their disputes boil out equally onto the ballroom floor and the shadows of the market streets.  In the midst of all this, however, the people of Tradewind grow and prosper. Nearly four generations after the founding, more and more people are proud to style themselves Tradewinders.

And now I’ll turn this back over to Nick!

Many thanks to Ian! Look forward to more of his writing and setting as we continue to bring Mu: Age of Adventure to life!