Time to time, I write up an explication of characters I’ve played in RPGs or made for my own purpose. This is an exercise in character building and creative writing.
Roughly one person in a thousand has enough Mu blood to get the attention of the primal forces that drove the magic of antedeluvian Oranbega. Roughly one person in a thousand had the rare linked genes that help the mind tap the process, and most of the Mu you see use intense concentration and sensory deprivation to maintain that mindspace, to use that power.
Tanner, however, got lucky. A simple mutation, a hiccup in his DNA, and that whisper of Oranbegan power is, to him, a shout. When these powers came into their own, the boy took to the streets of Paragon to use his powers, without the oversight of the Mu hierarchy or Arachnos.
At least that’s what he tells people.
And it’s not like they need to know.
You know those Mu mages? The dudes in the bondage gear, with the masks and chains and the locks on their bodies and the straps? And it is usually dudes, but not always – they float around in the Rogue Isles looking creepy and travelling with Arachnos patrols. Yeah, he’s one of them.
But don’t worry, he’s a fun one!
Mu’tant – Tanner, he insists – definitely doesn’t seem to work with Arachnos. You don’t see him working against the Arachnos forces in general, but you will see him fighting against almost everyone else in the Etoile, often for no reason that seems important in the Etoile. You might even see him in Paragon doing (whispered voice) good.
Tanner’s a Mu Mage, one of those powerful ones that mess with people’s heads and throw around big red lightning bolts. But also, he flies in close and punches people, which is definitely nonstandard. He’s a real nerd about different secret texts from the ancient times of his people, but also doesn’t seem to have studied them very hard, mostly remembering them in terms of ‘oh yeah that time this guy did that thing.’
Tanner does have weaknesses, of course – for example, bullets. He’s a mage, sorta, and his magic is the pretty inflexible kind of ‘do red lightning at things’ kind of thing.
I feel like when I built Mu’tant, what I wanted to do was have a 50 of every Dominator primary available, as befits my title of Dominator Jesus. I ripped him through the levels and he got all cool and special and fancy and all and then I gave him a build but that build had to be reasonably easily attained and not particularly expensive. This is because I am lazy. Also, because I am lazy, I didn’t want his build to have any problems managing endurance, which pushed me towards a combo I’ve become really fond of:
- Cardiac Partial Core Revamp, for endurance reduction (means you can run lots of toggles), damage resistance (makes resistance toggles better), and range increases (makes cones hit more targets)
- High ranged defense from set bonuses (which protects you from a lot of mezzes and reduces the incoming damage from the alpha strike portion of combat)
- The fighting pool (which gives you a resistance toggle and a defense toggle to improve the other two)
The result is a build like Tanner’s, which gets:
- 45% ranged defence
- 65% resistance to smashing and lethal damage
- 22% global damage buff
- 160% global recharge, for permanent domination
If you want to look at the build proper, here’s a link!
Thing is, this build, as it is, he’s kind of a melee character. Conductive Aura wants you to be in melee so you can turn off people’s endurance recovery, and dropping static fields on yourself to control enemies and benefit from the buffs is kinda nice, but things have changed a lot since he was made. Particularly, Hover and Evasive Maneuvers are both a lot better as a package, and I can seriously consider rebuilding him to be a purely ranged control type, blasting down on people at range and acting more like a ‘mighty spellcaster.’ In that case, I’d swap his Thunderstrike for Static Discharge, and pick up Ball Lightning.
Basically, at this point, Mu’tant is doing things he doesn’t ahve to and he could be better at them. See, if you’re flying, hovering, over an enemy group in a reasonable open space, then they can only attack you with ranged attacks, and most of those ranged attacks tend to be smashing or lethal, which basically encourages a lot of enemies to attack his best defense with the damage type he resists the best.
I’d say his build is cheap – I mean it doesn’t have the Dominator Archetype IOs in it for example, or Winter IOs- but there are ten purple IOs in this build, and those are only cheap to me because I have tubs full of them.
Thinking about it for another time!
It’s embarrassing to remember the ways in which I’ve been playing this game for twenty years with or without the game being there for me to do it. Particularly, the Mu cult? I was writing and roleplaying in the tiny drop of lore we had for those characters back in 2005 when we first got Electric Melee and Electric Armour for brutes, which led to the first long-lasting Mu character I had: Mu’rder.
Rder is an old favourite and I miss him but also, he reminds me of a way I was a shitty friend to the person who played his sister. Hey, Check, if you’re reading this: Hi! I think of you very fondly and I hope you’re having tons of fun with VR toys. Anyway, during this time, I built up a lot of lore about the Mu, and the ideas of competing colleges and ancient families and the haunting ghosts of old Mu, and the soul exchanges we get to see them do and what that implies and is added to the story space and all of that jazz, and then, when we got Homecoming, and I met new people I had to awkwardly confront that: Hey, I have no idea what of this lore I straight up just invented.
With that in mind, some things about the Mu, the way I play them:
- Mu are people who can connect to the energy of a dead god
- This power was more available in the past and is less available now
- Mu compete with the Thorns for that access to energy
- Since the access to divine energy is so difficult, the Mu commit to programs of eugenics to try and ensure that the descendants of each generation are best suited to engage with that divine energy
- This results in a bunch of Mu ‘dynasties’ that are are related a little, but track birth and relationships in a big complex web
- Despite these projects, the Mu that are born are still trying to siphon up a drop of ocean water in a desert with a straw, so they take to practices to focus their attention
- This is why you have these physically weak modern Mu because they spend their whole lives eschewing everything that isn’t focusing on connecting to this Dead God Energy
- This is also why they float around in bondage gear – because even touching the ground is sensory noise enough to risk disrupting the connection, and looking at things similarly risks disruption
I play the Mu, therefore, as a sub-organisation under Arachnos who are happy to go along with ideas like eugenics and world conquest in the name of their Dead God who nobody likes, and think that it’s okay to do things like torture and kill people who aren’t Mu, because, like, fuck those people. They are, in a lot of ways, a hyper-focused nobility type of evil bastards, who nonetheless have a lot of power and believe they have the rights to fuck with people’s lives.
Rder was a prince of one of these families, and it was a family that had done a good job of lasting through the aeons. He was so powerful and his power was well sustained because, secretly, the heirs of his family were all being possessed by the same dude, a single scheming genius asshole known to Rder simply as ‘Grandfather.’ That was the gimmick for Mu’Rder — literally haunted by his grandfather as he tried to find ways to escape the only way he knew that was definitely a cult.
And I like Rder! I liked his story! And I didn’t want to do it again without Check, so I let it go.
But I still like the Mu’ name prefix and the aesthetic of red and black and chains and lightning, so when I made an electrical control dominator, damn right I was going to make a Mu. Tanner is the result – Mu’tant, who escaped the enclaves to explore the world. Except the thing that’s important to his story is that Mu’tant isn’t actually a powerful Mu mage.
He’s a mutant.
All the inbreeding and weirdness and cheating nobles sneaking around out in the world, and there’s just this one guy who has powers that make him look like a super powerful mage in his society, but whose powers do not behave the way they’re supposed to. And like what do they know? They’ve been dealing with maximising 1% of power and then he shows up looking like he can fling around 50% of it, and how are his elders going to know if they’re talking bullshit about his powers or not?
Anyway, Tanner is a bit like Rder, but instead of being important, his thing is seeming important and trying to work out a way to sneak away from people who think they want to keep him, but mostly are just going to be pissed that they don’t.