Design notes: the ambition is a simple system that allows everyone to have fun with conflict or to avoid it if they prefer.
Conflict in the world of Mutant is direct, honest and often has serious consequences. Advanced healthcare is mostly a remnant of the past. With enemies lurking everywhere and the very environment presenting dangers like the ever-growing, ever-hungry rot, entering a fight means taking a major risk. Running away or surrendering when faced with a stronger enemy is often the best choice.
Non-lethal combat and conflict resolution
There are plenty of alternatives to lethal combat when it comes to solving conflicts, especially between members of the same group or culture. Examples: ritualized dueling, shouting matches, wrestling, competitions, negotiating in devious ways. Losing a conflict might not always have physical consequences, but the social and emotional scars can be almost as bad as the infected wound from a raider’s blade.
Rule: Lethal combat uses weapons
When you pull a weapon and threaten or attack someone with it you are in lethal combat. Prepare to hurt or get hurt. And remember to play safe with each other.
Rule: Weapons are either rubber replicas or guns that go “bang” (or KAZZZING) but fire no bullets
Any cool-looking and safely padded close-combat weapon is allowed. Arklanders usually use knives, glaives and short blades crafted from the hull of ships, and have almost no guns except a couple of terrifying cannons and machine-guns mounted on ships. Zone dwellers tend towards weird weapons made from ancient junk, clubs, shields made from traffic-signs and similar, as well as ancient or scrap-built guns.
Guns never fire projectiles but always make a loud-ass sound of some kind. The best are blank-firing replicas, or single shot muskets made from scrap, firing black-powder of some sort. But these kinds of larger “knallskott” are also great. If you use the type of soft airgun that makes a loud sound and ejects a cartridge, but ensures it does not actually shoot projectiles, that’s ok.
Guns have EXTREMELY limited ammo, almost no one has more than 10 rounds for their gun. Except the hull-mounted great guns of the Ark.
Rule: Pause after each hit before resuming battle
A hit is a blow that connects solidly and is felt. Blows against the head never count and should always be avoided. Any shot fired in your general direction also counts as a hit. Boom and you’re hit. Guns are dangerous shit.
Always back off after scoring a good hit - giving your opponent some space and a chance to have fun playing out their injury, flee, surrender or launch a counterattack with redoubled fury!
In reverse, when you get hit or shot - always make a big show of it, screaming and clutching your wound and so on. This lets your opponent see you are hit and allows them to follow this rule and back off a bit.
Rule: Three hits and you’re Defeated
If you choose to fight on to the bitter end, you’ve been defeated when you get hit for the third time. When you are defeated, you fall to the ground, crawl up in a safe corner or fall from your watercraft into the sea. When the dust (or waves) settles, the defeated losers are at the mercy of the winners. It’s too late to run away when you get hit the third time.
Rule: Defeat means you have Trauma and can’t fight until it’s healed
Based on how the battle went down, the wounded party decides what kind of Trauma they have suffered. A Mutant needs to heal from their Trauma before they can fight and be fully functional again. As a general rule, you can’t enter a new fight or duel while you are suffering Trauma. Even if you are not Defeated in a fight in which you got hit, you should still play out the consequences of the wound or other trauma you suffered.
Fun with Trauma, Death and healing!
Playing Traumatized is a collective effort. If a fellow player wants to play out a leg injury, accept it as real. If you need to take the cripple anywhere, help them walk. If someone has gotten hurt, bind their wounds or get them something to eat. Ask, if it isn’t clear, how hurt they are.
Examples of Trauma and how to heal it:
You were wounded and need care, food and rest. Playing out medical care is great fun and makes the danger of the setting palpable to all players witnessing it. Bring some fake blood. Use a hacksaw. Make it a show! Have a solid meal and then you’re back in action!
Doubt: You weren’t really hit badly, but scared into submission. Now you’re an emotional wreck, perhaps you are shaking or retreat into a silent daze of self-loathing. To help you, your goup might make a fire to keep you warm, taking turns listening to your anguish and stroking your snout tenderly. Perhaps they make a toast to your bravery. Or a stranger shares a meal with you and swears bloody vengeance against your enemies.
Other examples: You could be confused, blind, disoriented, or poisoned and heal through a shamanoid ritual on top of the Ark as the sun rises.
Personal need: Each character has a deep need, something they miss and crave to get. It might not be a nice thing, but it’s at the core of your being. You can almost always heal Trauma by fulfilling your need.
Rule: The winners of a fight dominate the scene
When a battle has ended and one of the parties has been defeated or surrendered, the winner decides what happens next. They could take the losers as prisoners or slaves, interrogate them for information, take their stash and ammo or move into the building they were defending, and so on. Winning means the story is yours to progress. This is a privilege and a responsibility to those you have defeated. Example: Quick victory. If you’re in a hurry and feel you can’t give your victims the attention they deserve, simply leave them where they lie, believing them to be dead/defeated. This gives them a chance to slowly wake up, shout for help or hobble back to their camp.
Example: Prisoners. If you choose to take your enemies prisoner, you are responsible for making sure they are fed and have a good time. A good time does not mean a nice time; playing the victim of torture is great fun for many. But being left in a cage all night isn’t fun for most people. So if you can’t give your prisoners lots of attention, make sure they can easily escape with their gear, take back their weapons and go back to their own group.
Rule: You may ONLY plunder and steal marked objects
These include any item stored in another player’s stash, their ammo and items provided by the event. You may never dig through or steal from another player’s private costume, weapons or equipment without their prior consent. Weapons may be temporarily confiscated, but must always be stored where the owner can see them.
Rule: How to die
Only you can decide to die, and serious trauma is the default alternative. Should you choose to die, make sure to make it obvious to your co-players. After your death scene, wait for people to leave your deathbed, then get up and go to the organizer-area. Here you can get help to get a new character, mod your costume and jump straight back in. Or rest up and chill with the crew behind the scenes; play a monster for a while.
You will not be able to get your character back, once they have died.
Follows: If you’ve played out a death scene with someone and they’ve died in a very populated part of the Island, it’s always a good idea to get some help to carry them to a more secluded area. It’s good for camp sanitation and death scenes are just cooler if no one has to see the corpse walk away.
Photo of Sarah Burchill aka post-apocalyptic Puck by Nick Jenkins/Kim Synnerborn