Mule questions

I have a few questions about the Mule lifepath/trait.

I assume that the requirement for the 10 year hermit lifepath at the end of the list of Psychologist lifepaths requires the Mule -lifepath-, not the Mule trait?

Is there a specific reason why the Mule lifepath (and only the Mule lifepath, as far as I’ve seen) requires the consent of the whole group? My inference is that it caused some sort of trouble during the playtest, but as I’m new to the Burning I’m not sure specifically how above and beyond being especially sneaky.

(Can’t someone with the Burning Mark just wear a mask/helmet, after all?)

Thanks. (This is, of course, my first post.)

I’m guessing it’s because the Mule lifepath has the Mule trait, which lets people use Psychology without anyone else noticing. I guess this is a big and potentially unbalancing advantage, compared to the Bright Mark.

Not sure about wearing helmets though! I’d rule that it shone through them!

Given the description of how the Bright Mark works (cells were genetically altered to produce light), I’m uncertain it could be bright enough to shine through a sealed steel helmet with a closed circuit camera system.

In regards to the Trait requirement. You could buy the Trait without the Lifepath with Free Trait Points (though it is as expensive as hell*)

In regards to the Bright Mark, it does not glow, it Burns brightly and scars the individual. You can tell a Psychologis just by looking at the burned mark on their face. From th comics it looks like they have burning magnesium on them.

Of course you could go around with a helmet on, and during War I am sure many do. but really are you going to wear it all the time? in court? while eating? I certainly woundn’t trust you then.

I wonder if you could get soem plastic surgry to give yourself a Bright Mark scar even if you were not a psycologust… would it give you a bonus to Intimidation, if they could see it?


  • = from my understanding hell should be cheap to get in, I have never understood this saying.

Also, I never have (successfully) read the Foundation Series, how is the Mule deformed in the story? I normally get in about 10 pages and give up, maybe I should try again though.

(from )

The Mule chooses his name as a reference to the sterility of mules, since he too is genetically sterile. Because he cannot have a child as a successor, the Mule’s empire does not last long after his death.

The Mule was a physical freak. His nose was incredibly long, sticking out over three inches from his face. The flesh of the rest of the Mule’s face seems stretched across his skull. The Mule’s body was spindly and gangly: he weighed only 100 to 120 pounds (45 to 54 kg), stretched out across a 5’8" frame. Thus his joints, such as elbows, seemed to jut out from his diminutive musculature. The Mule’s meagerness was glandular and could not be compensated for. Further, the Mule’s limbs met at awkward angles, giving the general impression of a scarecrow assembled poorly. It was said that one could not look at the Mule without derision. The only aspect of the Mule which was not blatantly farcical were his eyes, which were described as deep brown and perpetually sad.

As a result of the Mule’s freakish appearance, his childhood was one of torment, in which he was marginalised and alienated. The Mule became aware of his great mental powers in his twenties, and after becoming aware of his power, he developed a desire to compensate for his earlier life by taking revenge on all humanity in the entire galaxy,

First off, walking around with the power to rip minds open without ever being identified is going to seriously influence the game. With Bright Marked psychologists it is entirely appropriate for characters to point out the potential source of sudden shifts in one another. With Mules, not so much.

Second an observation from other games. There are some character types that attract problem players, borderline players, and over-aggresive sorts. Psychologists look a bit like that type, but Mules even more so. In a game without strict scene structures they fit the scene stealer perfectly, plus they have wicked amounts of in-game power.

So, paying a lot of trait points is fair, and giving it as a 1 point life path trait should require everybody to agree.

Hiding the Bright Mark is tricky, as it will simply scar again (possibly worse than before given the work in the area). However, faking a Bright Mark scar seems doable. I had an idea for a Mule that did that. The thing is people will be a little nervous, but assume they’re safe as the Bright Mark isn’t flaring…

From what I recall, there’s a fair bit of “balancing stuff” in the psychology chapter where other players can stick it back to a psychologist who’s trying to steal the show.

Also, the Mule idea is awesome, though what’d be more awesome is the scene where eventually the paranoid types spend enough time with the Mule and suddenly go, “Wait a minute, when has he ever flared?”

The_Tim’s got it on the nose.

And Dirk, you can absolutely wear a helmet to cover your Bright Mark. Check out Sheva and Vienne in Sheva’s War. But Psychology isn’t that useful in battle. After the battle, when that helmet comes off, is when Psychology is most useful and dangerous.


Thanks all.

Now that it has been pointed out that it is a “Twink Magnet” lifepath, it makes more sense to me.

I wonder if it will be harder to convince those who’ve played with me before to allow it, or whether it will be harder to convince those I’ve never played with. (If it is those who I’ve played with before who are most hesitant, I will certainly reflect on it.)

Are you a twink?


Actually, I’ve thought of a follow-up question.

Is there anything which prevents a Mule from cloning him or herself (apart from paranoia, and other story factors)? Would the tissue extraction process etc. require the destruction of his Mulish traits?

(I’d assume that the Mule trait is more than simple physical sterility. After conception, the Mule has undergone some kind of full-body genetic mutation such that successful extraction of sufficient genetic material to produce a viable clone with the Mule trait is not possible, and extracting enough information to create a non-Mule clone would destroy the Mule trait.)

I certainly hope not. I’d like to play a Psychologist, but don’t want a glowing “corner me, then stab me in the face” sign if I can avoid it.

The “rogue telepath ex-street rat” is also interesting to me. Should the party have grave misgivings about the Mule path, I’m likely to still start out on the street then take a lead to Apprentice (psychologist).

Ultimately, my gaming group(s) would be a better judge of my playstyle than I.

The bright mark entered the human dna chain way way back in the Federation’s hey-day, when psychology was a normal, accepted profession, but beginning to be abused by a few rogue elements. Etiquette back then was put in place to deal with bad-guys “hiding” a bright mark… no masks during business meetings or court hearings for example. Most of those “useful” habits have become formalized in modern times… no shaking hands with people whose faces are hidden, no touching during important negotiations, no masks or helmets or other face coverings either. Much like wearing a tie nowadays (why exactly do we wear a tie?). In the Karsan League and Theocracy where psychologists are active, these habits are more vigilent and conscious.

There’s a scene in Sheva’s War where Sheva and Karishun greet each other “formally” by shaking hands, with no barriers to a brief surface mind probe. That confirms that neither person is hulled, and that both are psychologists of an easily determined power level.