A Mütvian’s Guide to Survival

by Ion Alexandrescu, Farmer

I write this to warn you.  Stay away from Mütvia.

If you must go, read this.  Memorize it, carve it on your flesh, I do not care, but do not enter into this dark land without this knowledge:

Mütvia will kill you.  She will smell your ignorance, lull you into the lie of safety, hunt you by night, and eat you.

If you need proof of Her dangers, you only need stay one night or travel by road during the day.  You will hear the fake screams of help in the woods or the wail of lost souls from a nearby graveyard.  You will know what may happen if you do not leave offerings to the sanji at night or place a braid of garlic on your home’s doors and windows to keep the strigoi away.

You may not see these things we protect ourselves against.  This is why we do what we do, so we will never see them.

The Basics of Survival

Trust no one.  Every stranger could be a spirit come to drink your life.  Close your doors unless you are expecting someone.  If your relative acts strange, put iron on their flesh or hold garlic to their face.  See what they do.

Be weary by day, stay inside at night.  Only fools leave the village at night.

Do not answer the door on the first knock.  Certain creatures will call out your name.  They know it, it is their power.  Do not answer the door, do not make a sound.  They will leave after the first knock.  Otherwise you will die in two days.

Know the wards.  Outsiders call us fools because we hold to the old ways.  We call them fools because they do not know them.

Kill the witches.  Any who consort with daemons and spirits only invite trouble.  Know the signs of their presence: rotten food, spoiled milk, disease and famine, blight, plague and death.  If these things happen, a practitioner of the Dark is nearby.

All magic is evil.  Magic draws its dark energy from all things nearby and destroys them.  This is why even our vrojiti—the makers of luck charms, warding amulets, and protective talismans—must stay away from the village.  Do not even trust them for they consort with evil.

Do not mingle with drósti.  They do not fear the Dark because they are of the Dark.  Many consort with daemons, summon spirits, and work with evil by sacrificing our babies.  Even if they do not, they all lie, cheat, and steal.  They survive by taking from us.

Heed the noble.  A strong noble will execute you if you steal one piece of bread because they know and wield the Law of the Land.  One piece of bread can feed one person, keep a sanji away from your home, or keep a vodnik in the water.  If you steal a piece of bread, you may cause mischief and harm to others.  Only the nobles can speak with the Land.

If you see it, run.  If you fight it, you will die.  Only iron and fire can kill a sanji.  But no iron or fire can kill a spirit, a vodnik, or other evil things.  They say everything has a weakness.  I do not know this.  We have a weakness.  It is called Mütvia.

Use your head.  I have seen many outsiders come to Mütvia with a sharp axe and a strong arm.  They think they can come here and earn fame and fortune by “rescuing” us.  We do not need rescue.  We are part of the Land and we know Her, Mütvia Regestöi!  They will need the rescue when they see one little sanji and think it only a plant person.  We will laugh as the sanji devours that axe arm as we leave out our porridge and butter and bread.

Great Ones

Bördu Moma

Here in the north, we call Her Bördu Moma.  In the old times, we all called Her Nor’dagha.  She is the Land.  She is all of nature from the dirt to the worms, from rivers to the sleeping Mt. Verich.  Know She is alive and whispers to you in the wind and in the babbles of a brook.  She gives you life and takes you into her bosom at death.

She controls the two moons.  We call them Her Eyes.  One peers into other worlds; we cannot see this one.  The other She blinks slowly every 30 days.  This you can see.  She watches us, provides for us, and destroys us.  She cares for us as we care for a flea in our hair.  If She knows you are there, She may kill you.  If you see her, leave.

If you see her, do not let her see you.  She may appear as an old crone sowing seeds in places of impossible growth.  The seeds of the dead, they say.  She wears a belt of the skulls of children who died by murderous hands.  Her staff has a larger skull, that of the last person who murdered a child.

Her dress is soaked with blood, the blood of the Land, the blood of the dead.  Every night she wrings out her dress and drinks it to make seeds she plants.  These become the sanji.

Do not seek her out.  If she sees you, you will shrivel up and die.  This happened to Piotr the farmer.  We know this to be true.

Bordü Sastri

She is the Protector of the Drósti, the Woman at the Crossroads.  To us, She is the sister of Bördu Moma and evil.  She can trick you, flay you with a glance, seduce you, and make you think you deserved it.  She is a trickster, the “One who Devours” princes, and the keeper of the secrets of midnight.

If you see a tall, thin woman at a crossroads at midnight and you are not a drósti, run.  She is their daemon queen and will steal your soul, eat your body, and somehow sell the remnants to some unlucky fool.

As the Queen of Midnight, she can foresee your future.  Some say she can even change it.  Do not trust her.

Bathü Moma

Her name means Great Mother .  They say she is the creator of all things, they say.  Others call her “Sythlia” and is known by the oritel flowers she leaves behind with each footstep.  These three-petaled flowers are of great value to many.  They say oritel can raise the dead, but to get them you must have a goddess walk in front of you.

Bathü Moma was said to create all things and then create Bordü Moma, but left the worldsoon after.

Others tell tales of how Bathü Moma had a lover and he was killed.  Some say it was with the first weapon created by humans and the sanji are his descendants.  This is why the sanji can be hurt by iron, the first fully man-made weapon.

Creatures

Know what lives here just out of your sight.  Bear, mountain lions, deadly snakes, and venomous spiders are the least of your concerns.  Though they are children of Bördu Moma like you and me, there are more deadly things out there.  Things you cannot see so easily.

Forest spirits, water spirits, daemons, deceased ancestors, and all other things you must never see.  Ward against them.  They can take shapes and look like a loved one.  They will trick you, steal from you, kidnap you, and eat you.  You must never befriend any of these things, even if they seem friendly, even if they sing to you or give you advice, even if they mimic cries of help from the woods.  They only do so to lure you away from your village.  If a friend goes to the woods at night and later you hear his cries of help in the woods, let him die.  He is just one, we must protect an entire village.

To you, the outsider, this is cruel.  No, this is Mütvia.  By the time you scream here, it is already too late.  They are playing with him, causing him great pain to make you come closer, to lure you away from the safety of your homes which you have warded.  No, he is already dead.  He just does not know it yet.  Let him suffer for his stupidity.  For now you will know better.

The Sanji – Forest Spirits

They will invade your home when you are sleeping, steal your food and clothes, and take your young to replace with their own.  They are agents of Bördu Moma, but so are all deadly manner of things.

Humanoid in appearance and size, they wear masks crafted of bark and moss, twigs and branches to hide what lies underneath.  Horrible, beastly little plant things, rows of fang-like thorns in a maw capable of ripping flesh from bone.  Man-eating spirits that inhabit bodies designed to walk, make clicking sounds, and steal shiny things or living children.

They see our homes as nests like theirs, and like theirs they will invade, take over, and remove anything that stands in their way so they may inhabit.

Lore: There many kinds of sanji, none can withstand the light of the sun.  To keep the more common ones away, leave out bread in the summer or butter in a bowl of porridge.  They will take this and never invade the home for another two or three days.  Fire works against the big ones, too, but they can disappear into the nearest tree to escape.  None are known to speak human words, but some can croak out sounds like human words.

Affected by:  Only iron weapons and fiery torches can do long-lasting harm.  Even the sharpest of steel blades do nothing permanent as they can regrow their limbs faster than you can swear at them.

Vodnici – Water Spirits

They often sit by waterways, ponds, and lakes to tempt some to play games, others to swim to find “lost fortunes” in the water they call home.  Some can steal your soul if you lose a game to them and then dive into the water to make sure you can’t get it back.  Only the cleverest of people can outsmart them at their game.  If they lose, they will turn vicious or demand another try, “double or nothing”.

Do not fall prey to these creatures or try to win against them.  If you win, they could unleash Drowned Ones to seek vengeance.

You can know a vodnik by the scaly skin on their necks, green and blue colors like a fish.  Sometimes they smell like fish, too.  They have a fondness for alcohol and can sometimes be bought off using potent liquors.

If you lose your soul to a vodnik, you will become like the walking dead.  If after 24 hours you do not have your soul back, you will die and will become a Drowned One.

To get your soul back you must bargain for it, steal their soul cup, or find the giant pearl in their watery home and break it.  Careful, though, to leap into waters containing vodnici is to call upon certain death.

Lore:  To make a vodnik go away, throw a piece of bread into its watery home.  The vodnik cannot deny the taste of bread.  Also, vodnik cannot venture far from their water.  Sometimes vodnici have on them powerful healing medicines, the Waters of the Eddei.

Affected by:  Like other physical spirits, vodnici can be affected by iron weapons.  Fire does nothing against the skin of the vodnici.  Careful, though.  To attack a vodnik is to invite all vodnici to the area.  They have other watery friends, too, and will call upon them for assistance.

Drowned Ones – Water Spirits

Servants to the vodnici, the Drowned Ones are the cursed remnants of humans who drown by murder by another human or by a vodnik tricking them into water where they die.  They are only sent out for acts of vengeance and will not stop until vengeance has been served.

Lore: Drowned Ones are slow moving but should never be attacked with steel.  Your weapon will rust and you will be without anything.  Instead you must trick them back into the water and then drain the water from the land to kill them.

Affected by:  Iron will affect a Drowned One, but not like other physical spirits; they will still heal their wounds but it takes a long time for them to grow back a limb.  Keeping them in the sun until they dry out to dust is another way to kill them, but only the foolish would try such things.  To breathe in that dust, even accidentally, can cause you to turn into a vodnici.

Ancestor Spirits

There is this world and there is the other world.  Our family who do not pass into the next world were cursed during life to forever remain here.  They cry for life and these are the wails we here.

Some can speak and seem normal.  They may even be kind.  Do not trust them, they wait for you to show weakness.  Then they can feed on your spirit.  This is how they feed.

Some say they stay here because they are reminded of something.  Find that something and you will control them.  Give them what they need to pass beyond and they may give you a gift in return.  Sometimes they will feed on your spirit.

If you have what they need, they will become more like you.  Then they will realized they are not alive and will harm everyone around you until you give them what they need.

The guilds know about these spirits and can sometimes help.  Other times the guilds can force them to teach guild members lessons and forgotten skills.

Lore: Some say some are born with the ability to talk to the dead.  Do not trust mystics who claim this.  They will be taken over in time.  Others allow spirits to possess them so they may fight in battle.  Kill these users of dark magic whenever you can so our ancestors may rest finally.  Some spirits can take you over or take over objects and move them.  Lure them out with a song they may known and back to their body.  It may help them to move on.

Affected by: Spirits can only be affected by other spirits or spirit objects, or so I am told.  There are some who claim they can make weapons out of spirits.  Burn these people who use our ancestors like a weapon.

Lupesici – Wolf Daemons

Sometimes violent and crazed people die horrible deaths even they were not meant to.  Their rage carries over to the grave and they return more crazed than before.  If a body becomes a lupesik (loo-PESH-ik), it will change in the grave and emerge as a wild beast of the living dead.  A daemon of rage transforms them to look more like a mad wolves.

You will know them at a distance from their screams and howls at night.  They cry to the Eyes of Bördu Moma why they have been cursed.  She will not give an answer and this drives them mad.

Lore:  To kill a lupesik, you must lure them back into the grave, make it drink extract of wolvesbane and remove the head once swallowed.  Jori did this once, the creature died.  Also, they heal very fast.  A spring of wolvesbane by the door will sometimes keep them at bay.  Then the rage takes over and they can ignore it for a short time.  This is how Jori died.

Affected by:  Weapons treated with silver by a master smith will cause wounds they cannot heal.

There are many more things to know, outsider.  Know them.  Learn them.  They will save your life.

A Player’s Guide to Survival

The main guide contains crucial information your character may know when living in Mütvia.  But what about you?

This section is for you, the player.  Whether you’ve player in other LARPs before or are completely new, this guide will help you get the most from your experiences.

A different kind of LARP

If you don’t know Croatian Simple LARP or German DKWDDK, you may find Mütvia alien in premise.

This is a LARP of few rules and many possibilities.  Abandon the notion of stats.  They exist, but you will thrive if you let go and just do.

BE YOUR CHARACTER.  DIVE IN.

Don’t charge into combat

In LARPs featuring heavy combat and heavy rules, rushing into combat can be fun and exciting.  In Mütvia, however, combat is extremely deadly and warrants extreme caution.

Think tactics and strategy instead.

There is no story.
Instead, there is cause and effect.

Like real life, there is no story that dictates what happens next in Mütvia.  No railroading, no forced plot, no directed storyline you must follow.

Instead…,

Join in the story by doing

Explore and discover the world around you.  Ask questions, try new things, let your actions define your character instead of a sheet of paper with stats on it.

Nothing comes to you and asks you to help.  Get up, go out there, and make a story.

Learn the ways of the world

This setting has 30+ years of real world development.  There is lore, lost deitiens, hidden ways of defending one’s self and your friends, secret societies, and machinations of things and people you can’t see.

Delve into it, learn it, become a part of the world and reap the benefits by being a part of Mütvia.

Be unique, don’t rely on stats

Stats don’t create unique character.  No matter how many stats appear on a character sheet, only you can make it unique in how you play it.

Hidden World features

We don’t hide rules, you need to know those.  But what’s out there and what it can do is a mystery.

You need to discover on your own.  Take risks.