Starting on SciallaMud
It's pretty easy to start, if you've read a little. Our game is a roleplay intensive game, meaning that 100% of what you do should be in character, but we all know how hard it is to get used to a new game. When you enter the game, it's probably best to listen and learn a little while to get the hang of things. Don't wander outside or go anywhere that looks dangerous, at least till you've learned the lay of the land.
You'll find that the town you'll be starting in, Valrona, acts a lot like "normal" life in terms of rules to follow. You'll also notice that food and drink do cost money, unless you want to scrounge and drink fountain water! So you'll need a job or some way of finding money. The links on the left will get you started, and in addition, at the end of the page are some links to help you.
Ingame, you'll notice our gameworld-specific helpfiles generally refer back to webpage URLs. This is intentional; since most of our documentation is here, it makes more sense to write full details about things here. We do want complete helpfiles ingame, however, and we have helpfile software that logs whenever someone tries to access a nonexistent helpfile. So feel free to look ingame if that's where you are! But the glossary and "people" pages will have just about everything you need to start learning about things.
Please do take the time to learn about the general gameworld, and you'll find (especially thanks to its less "medieval" aspects) that you should be able to fit in fairly quickly. We welcome you!
A Foreword to New Players
Imagine what it'd be like if you were used to a very technological life and suddenly had to rough it in a world with no power! Most strangers to Valrona find themselves in that situation, but for most folks, it's just normal. The divide between the "used-to-haves" and the "never-had" can be very great, with the former group ranging from disgruntled to thinking it's all very quaint, and the latter not seeing what the fuss is as they get along fine without it.
We hope you enjoy our game. You'll be joining a game that is half science-fiction, half fantasy, and all original. Though plenty of technology exists, the area of the game you'll be playing in doesn't get most of technology's benefits. The government is feudal and monarchical, with lots of combat, intrigue, and political scheming. If you want to get into a game with a lot of depth, we hope you'll find something you enjoy here.
It's also important to know that Valrona itself is pretty sophisticated, with students and scholars from all over the Empire. There are hip musicians, brilliant archaeologists, unapproving clergymen, and bright-eyed rich college students, sometimes all mingling in the same places. Artists, streetworkers, government officials, soldiers, all come together as part of plots run by players and staff alike.
Our character application process is a little different than most games', due to the fact that we have active plots running that we will want to fit your character into. It's entirely possible we won't see how your 17-year-old orphan dockworker could fit into any current plots and ask you to rework him a little bit. We do this not to drive you crazy but to better fit you into our plots, and as the game grows and the number of plots grows, these requests will dwindle in turn. Please do not be offended if we do ask you to rework your character concept a little; we do it purely because we want you involved in as many plots as possible, as quickly as we can get you into them.
We also pursue a slightly different roleplaying philosophy than most games do. We ask players to pursue an inclusive vs. exclusive philosophy that allows them to get into plots and get other characters involved, especially as the game gets going. Quiet, sullen tarts who sit all day in bars and sigh and flop around and silently beg people to draw them out can certainly play, but they sure won't get as much staff attention as people who'll get other players involved in turn!
That's really what it's all about: community. We want players who want to be part of a tight-knit, thriving group who trust each other to have good intentions and work together to tell a story.
Your PC can be either male or female. With few exceptions, professions are open to either gender in Valrona (most of the exceptions involve military service. To join most military orgs, your PC will need to be strong and quick enough to qualify regardless of gender). Whichever gender you pick, you'll likely just be Sciallan, a basic human type, and probably lower or middle class. Your PC is almost certainly literate, too, unless he's from outside the Eastern Cities. The main language ingame is Eshtenel, though there are certainly others.
The Church of Haran figures quite prominently into life around Valrona. Your PC can be as religious as you like. Most people aren't overly religious but anybody of good birth or having (or desiring!) good connections will at least tithe and attend church each week. Someone known for an irreverent attitude won't go far among the well-to-do. Considerations of employment and perks will usually go to the person who is best known for a reverent demeanor. That said, people who aren't religious at all will fit in just fine around Valrona as long as they don't care about advancement.
Class and birth matter quite a bit here. Nobility have carte blanche to do just about anything they want, while commoners have to dodge to get out of their way. Having well-connected parents can get someone far. That said, players will generally begin game as commoners without a lot of connections. Our game philosophy follows tabletop roleplaying: if you're dedicated and competent, you can go just about as far as your PC's blood will allow. We're completely open to someone becoming a crimelord or clan head of some huge org, or even to rise to nobility! There is not a tabletop game in existence that caps a PC's skills or ability to rise through the ranks, and we're not about to do that. As time goes on and you earn more RPPs through your good roleplay, you can improve your PC and "purchase" roleplay opportunities for yourself. If you want to retire your PC and start over as another race or someone with an actual bloodline, you can, but we'd love to see you keep your character for years and become part of our ingame mythology!
It's a good idea to peruse the links up top of this page if you're new, so you can learn how to fit in. This game isn't like a lot of others, and there is stuff to know so you get maximum enjoyment out of your character. Welcome to the game!
Technology and You
On Scialla, however, things work very differently. Electricity--circuits, breakers, transponders, electronics, power cells and collectors, you name it, none of it works outside a narrow range around the capital city. There're a lot of speculations about why and just what burns power cells out almost instantly after leaving the Perimeter, and why guns don't work and transports don't fly and all of it. So far nobody's figured it out to everybody's satisfaction, so people on Scialla have learned to live with it.
The odd breakdown of chemicals that happens right outside the Perimeter is known very well by most people except those from the very outer fringes of society. Gunpowder breaks down, most notably, but other compounds that cause explosions or combustion also break down. The Sciallan environment attacks and destroys them by means of an enzymatic process that is not well understood. The few attempts to bring power to Scialla have failed miserably, so most attempts die in utero.
The important thing to note here is that Sciallans know their planet isn't friendly to technology, but that doesn't mean they're backwards or ignorant. That is a mistake sometimes made by outsiders or even by those living in the capital. Living on Scialla means living without technology, just like living on Lirwhin means living in a Dome or living on Flamehold means living within the Ribbon. Sciallans have learned how to cope with it, and many pride themselves on being able to do without and how to be inventive and ingenious within their constraints. Fights have started in Valrona over exactly this issue!
If you're going to play a person from Scialla, you'll likely be from outside the Perimeter. In that case, you may not know about a lot of this stuff. You may not ever have seen a spaceship or a burstfire pistol. You may not ever have seen a solar collector or know that cancer can be cured. How you deal with the sudden realization is up to you: bitterness that your Aunt Mae died of diabetes complications? Joy at the wonder of all the new stuff to be learned? An aching desire to get to the Perimeter to live among all of it? Or a solid satisfaction that you can get away from all that sinful sophistication?
Worse yet, imagine the people who're used to all that technology who now live in Valrona and haven't got it.
Things You Can Refer To
Printing presses are common throughout the Empire, but the ones outside the Perimeter look more like a Gutenberg-style movable-type press than anything modern. Typefaces go line-by-line, with leading and all that fun primitive stuff. Way out west, books may even be hand-written one by one. Scriptoriums stay busy transcribing some of the older ones, but presses back in Priascialla and offplanet do sometimes reprint and re-issue classics.
Lithographic prints are available, but most people buy paintings or other forms of handmade art. Sporting venues and the like use the lithographs. Prints of the four-color variety (posters) are too expensive for most purposes. You still may see lithographs floating around, especially in bars or gathering spots.
Architecture is about what one would expect of a fairly high-tech society. Concrete isn't really used; the machines for mixing and distributing it don't exist per se. Stone is used for most things. In Priascialla, concrete does exist, but outside of it, there's not much of it. Cobblestones are common for fancy paving, and more fitted stones for the mass-produced stuff. Lirwhinites have a spray-on concrete and considerable tech around making buildings; they also have a form of plastic (cleargel), a gel that hardens to rocklike consistency that is derived from the shells of microscopic mollusks. Lirwhinite goods usually have a 100%-200% markup off Lirwhin, due to their nearly magical properties.
Speaking of materials, most people outside the Perimeter really wouldn't know much about factories, mass production, or removable parts. Machines are rare without power. Windmills and watermills are known everywhere, though ironically people offworld wouldn't know much about them while those outside powered areas would know quite a bit! Cotton isn't used much on Scialla due to the difficulties in hand-harvesting and refining it (remember Eli Whitney and the cotton gin?), and while it makes a softer lawn than most linens and takes dyes very nicely, it can be prohibitively expensive--either it'll be produced on-planet, and be expensive due to manufacturing costs, or it'll be imported from Bilashe and be expensive due to import costs.
Most people outside the Perimeter would know about selective breeding programs, birth defects being physical and not spiritual, and the like. Farming's in pretty good shape, with a Green Revolution every 20-30 years and discoveries about how to increase yield or deal with pests or crop illnesses.
Plumbing is complex, effective, and widespread. Even the most primitive villages have indoor plumbing. Bathtubs aren't always common, but toilets and sinks are. Hot water heaters are not always common and usually involve stoves, and most Noble households have them. Though ingame builders usually gloss the "water closet," these can be understood to be there. If there is a bathtub, however, it will be mentioned by name.
Obviously there's no way to take into account every conceivable technology a player might need to reference, so we are happy to work with you to make your RP more three-dimensional. Important: If there's a specific piece of tech you want to refer to, please use these guidelines: Nothing copyrighted by Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly/Serenity, or the like, and please run the idea by staff first. Until you hear one way or the other, play it general; don't use specific words or techs till you know.
For specific examples of technology (brand names, specific gadgets, etc.) by planet, please see the Races page under the culture you want.