What is “Mana Punk” ?
Mana Punk’s creation springs from a desire for a high magic fantasy gaming world with steam-punk or clockwork technology to support it without having said technology feel “shoe-horned in”. Just imagine if a world existed where people really could command the magical energy known as mana. how long would it be before mana gets used as an energy resource to drive mechanical devices (almost as a substitute for the discovery or harnessing of electricity)? Such an innovation could revolutionize any society that witnessed its creation, producing waves of change that would ripple out through the rest of that world inducing both order and chaos in the process. The world of Zethyria, in which Mana Punk takes place, resides comfortably some 50 years after this conceptual point. While mechanical contraptions may have existed for hundreds of years (depending upon the culture you are talking about at any given point), these devices were usually very primitively animated using a complex system of spells and magical affects all tethered to a single technological conundrum. These items were vastly time-consuming in their creation, requiring hundreds of hours in man power and strong financial resources to achieve genesis.
The ability for someone to manipulate a certain volume of mana into a state where it is on the verge of creating hot steam, then locking this virtual state into a physical casing yields a Master Piston. This Master Piston effectively works on steampunk principles while still being powered by magical energy (or mana) at its very core, giving birth to the idea of “mana punk” in the process. Now mechanical creations that previously required arduous marathons of ritual sorcery and understanding of complex magical principles can be produced and powered with just one single key component. Master Pistons are created to imbue mechanisms with the raw brute strength of steam. Gear Hearts transfer the quiet clicking grace and quickness of clockwork gears into whatever they are linked. All of these mana-powered motors then quietly sit and wait for the touch of an engineer to bring them to life, moving and working at the whim of their master’s will.
Mages rebel, panties get knotted
Once an innovation as powerful and as useful this comes into existence, it becomes nigh impossible to get the monster back into the metaphorical box. Engineers start banding together, pooling their resources and talents to advance the ease of creation and use for mechanical contraptions designed to further empower all of those not born with the gift of spell casting. Previously famous wizards, druids or shaman who held almost rock-star social status as a result of their ritual participation in the creation of once elaborate artifacts are now left to feel obsolete as technological innovation gives rise to the “Era of the Engineer”. Conversation in most social circles quickly swirls with the engineering buzz, tying the collective panties of the conservative magical front into even larger metaphorical knots than were hitherto thought possible. Mages inevitably wind up worrying over a wave potential unemployment that never comes, as day-to-day problems only conquerable via magic still present themselves in society. A tenuous social peace has now been reached between these two factions, despite the occasional nasty looks being thrown across the battle lines.
All of this means that the core meaning behind the phrase “mana punk” being used to define our game world inherently requires the presence of magic. Without some latent magical capability, an engineer would never be able to create the master gears or master pistons that drive there mechanical creations… reverting them back to the more traditional “steam-punk” existence. Mana Punk engineering ends up both tying itself to the existence of those considered magically gifted as well as empowering those people not magically gifted, granting them a wider range of capability and survival tools during a growing “Golden Age of Adventuring” sweeping its way across the land.
We are Jennifer & Jeremy Tully, the co-creators of the Mana Punk role-playing game. We are based in Austin Texas, a creative city perfect for fueling our imaginations. We both have a varied history with pen and paper based role-playing games, having played in systems too numerous to mention. If you wish to contact us, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments!
Mana Punk, The System
Mana Punk was born out of necessity, as there seemed to be a distinct shortage of fantasy gaming systems that didn’t take themselves too seriously. None of them had the real ‘spark’ that we were looking for, so we sat down and started to brainstorm creating our own. It is a system born as much out of a sense of humor as it is a sense of creativity, designed to spark a laugh just as equally as it should spark imagination. Mana Punk makes use of six-sided dice only, and has been written to facilitate as much role-playing as it does action or adventure.
Mana Punk, The World
Set in the world of Zethyria, constant opportunities for adventure await any players choosing to take up the mantle of hero (or villain). Characters can fight their way across the fire fields of the Smoking Crown, or battle side by side with orc war bands as they try to push back invading hordes of monsters in the Grey Wastes. Available races vary from the standard humans, elves, gnomes and dwarfs… all the way over to faeries, orcs, goblins, minotaurs, giants or trolls. Be an axe swinging warrior, a spell slinging arcanist, or a fearsome inquisitor breaking the wills of those who cross you. The combinations are vast, the possibilities endless, and the experience priceless.