Home Is Where The Stars Are
Into the Mother Lands is a new sci-fi role playing game by POC creators that will leave you with stars in your eyes
It’s dark. The sound of the ships’ drums bounce across the cave system’s walls. Steady. A sign that they’re still together. Days go by. Perhaps weeks. Someone up ahead shouts out there is light and a bright, new future unfurls before the travelers.
Mansa Musa, ruler of the Kingdom of Mali during the 14th century, sent out an expedition across the Western ocean in search of unknown lands. After a strange storm swept up the expedition, they came across something more spectacular and beautiful than what lay across the ocean. They stumbled upon a new world.
Into the Mother Lands is a new sci-fi odyssey RPG that takes players and audience members to the Planet Musalia over a thousand years after that fateful day.
The Creators of the Universe
Into the Mother Lands, a Twitch-sponsored project, premiered on October 4th, audience members piling into the stream, watching sandy dunes on the waiting screen, chat buzzing with excitement. We could not wait to see what the creators of this universe and RPG had in store for us.
The creative minds behind Into the Mother Lands features a talented team of POC developers, artists, and cast who have come together to create this living world called Musalia and the stories surrounding it.
Everyone on the project has contributed and continues to mold a world bearing unique creatures, stunning environments, stories, and more.
This RPG allows you to explore other planets, but the main focus is being able to show the audience the world, cultures, life, and stories on Musalia.
The incredible chemistry and creativity shared across the team was out on display on Sunday. One moment that stood out to me was during the filling out of Krystina Arielle’s character sheet for their character Cyla-919.
Cyla-919 is a ceramic and silicone android, part of the Mansegene culture. Her braids are mixed with wires and some pieces can act as weapons in battle — yes, you heard me right. Battle braids!
Another tool Cyla-919 uses in their profession is their monocle.
Originally, the monocle bears programming to read living code. With the support of storyteller Eugenio Vargas, it soon grew into a spectacular piece of tech that does more than just read code: it can, also, act as a mini-lie detector.
Being able to watch the creativity and excitement unfold as these ideas and concepts bloom before our eyes amongst the cast left me with stars in my eyes. Behind every great project and RPG, is a strong team. Into the Motherlands has that and more.
A Peek Into Musalia
The premiere acted as an introduction to Musalia and this new RPG system.
We learn that when the travelers found themselves on Musalia thousands of years ago; they found a new beginning on this world with the help of the native cultures on the planet. Through cooperation, collaboration, and community, Musalia became home.
Into the Motherlands developer, Gabe Hicks, stressed in a recent interview the importance of being able “to tell the specific story we’ve been trying to tell of a civilization of people of color that are not defined by colonization” (GenConTV, 2020).
As players shared with audience members their characters, their backstories, and values, the recurring theme seen throughout was this love for their home, their life on Musalia, and community.
“We are all a community.” — Michael Sinclair II, character statement for Ilay.
Different Cultures on Musalia
Learning about the different cultures on Musalia had me on the edge of my seat, wanting more during the premiere. Give me all lore!
Here is what we’ve learned so far:
There are the Mansegene, briefly mentioned before, who can swap different ‘faces’ to express themselves. This culture values beauty, and beauty is cracks, tears, and exposed wires.
Next are the Misajai, which are Musalians who bonded with a symbiotic organism native to the planet. One player, Michael Sinclair II, plays Ilay, who made that decision a few years back. This bond is consensual and leads to the creation of a whole new being.
While primarily in a Musalian form, we can see the influences of this bonding in the eyes, now bright pools of color with tendrils that extend onto the face and beyond. This bonding can lead to an entirely new personality and sometimes loss of memories of who they once were.
Another culture is the Hyaenole. Hyaenoles are humanoids with features similar to a hyenas. The Hyaenole culture is one that values scholarship and the preservation of knowledge. They often live in grand cities with massive archives within. Tanya DePass plays Invicta, a Hyaenole who is more at home with a blade in the hand, than a book.
While this is in no way a full list, you can learn more by checking out this helpful world guide.
Bio Priests, Light Bringers, Spine Rippers — Oh My!
If resumes exist on Musalia, could you imagine typing down ‘Spine Ripper’?
Another part of character creation is the character’s profession and Into the Motherlands does not disappoint.
One of the professions that weaves together Musalia’s advance technology with the planet life is the Bio Priest. Originally developed by the Mansegene (androids), Bio Priests are able to view life as a series of code. Bio Priests can manipulate and repair with said code.
Into the Motherlands team touts two Bio Priests — Ikemba, a Musalian played by DeejayKnight, and Cyla-919, a Mansegene played by Krystina — and with a different set of values and stats.
Another profession that had me oohing and aahing was the Light Bringer. They are manipulators of energy, being able to take energy from anything about them, even the sun and the moons (yes! More than one moon!). Light Bringers can channel energy offensively, to protect, and even to heal.
If code and light aren’t your forte, another profession is the Blade Keeper. Into the Mother Lands Hyaenole, Invicta, takes on the profession where the focus is on weapons. From what I gather, the RPG does not restrict this profession to being skilled in one type of weapon.
Invicta wields a blade crafted of dark metal with a unique energy that makes itself known from time to time. The reason behind it? Or why during times of great need the blade seems to help Invicta turn the odds in her favor is a mystery. For now.
Finally, the last profession briefly mentioned and not played by any of the players is the Spine Ripper. Spine Ripper is another combat focused profession, but the focus is more hand-to-hand. While that was all we could learn in the first session on Spine Rippers, Mortal Kombat finishing moves flash in my mind.
We’ll just have to keep on tuning in to learn more!
Being able to watch the premiere of Into the Mother Lands live was an incredible experience. I need it to be Sunday now!
What I already enjoy about Into the Mother Lands system is that the profession and culture you select does not trap you into specific skills or values. The focus in Mother Lands is narrative freedom and allowing players to choose skills and values that best fit their vision of their character is a prime example of said freedom.
I eagerly wait for next Sunday to learn more of this world, the system, and watch the casts’ characters come to life. For now, my mind swims across the space and stars that surround Musalia.