My project Mūtō is a worldbuilding design guide about an RPG designed futuristic world that revolves around genetic modification and how this could affect the different aspects of society in the future. The inspiration for this world came from my interests such as sci-fi, DNA and the current technologies that are being worked on to modify our DNA. Within this style guide I touch on the different world aspects of Mūtō such as narrative, character, prop and environment design.
Mūtō is a world that I have created which is about the future of genetic and technological modification. In Mūtō there are different classes with their own unique modifications and abilities and they live in their own sections within the city. These classes interact with each other differently and have different morals and values based on who and what they surround themselves with.
A breakthrough in genetic modification technology in the year 2279 has allowed us to edit both somatic and germline genes with different proteins. The first major modifications were for medical purposes, being able to remove most known genetic diseases.
The success of these medical genetic drugs has led to mass commercialisation of different genetic modifications where people started focusing more on their appearances as well as non-visual advantages. Simple modifications are being sold as injections that you need to regularly inject, with the help of a GMDD (Genetic Modification Distribution Device), for an extended period of time until the process is irreversible. An example of the most expensive gene therapies that became available is one that will lengthen the lifespan of those who can afford it. These gene therapies help against the ageing process that happens within DNA, genes and problems with tissue renewal. Complex modifications require surgical procedures or modification “baths” that help speed up the process. These baths consist of plastic sacks that are supposed to simulate a womb. The person will be sealed in while being attached to several wires filled with the genetic mixtures. There are also very expensive clothing mods that make it possible for some to wear the genetic tubing so you can still move around while getting your genetic fix.
There are four different classes based on their wealth and modifications. To make modifications more widely available for this range of different wealth groups there are cheaper options which are more temporary or tend to be less potent. In the long run these can become costly since you have to regularly inject yourself with them but they are something people are willing to splurge on to be able to modify themselves.
The Womb - Key frame
This is all about one of the different types of genetic modifications processes. It is supposed to show how genetic “baths” work and what they look like. I wanted to make a person in a plastic bag type of setup with lots of wires that feed the person oxygen and different genetic substances. The special plastic bag is supposed to hold all the liquid in and help the process of modification by acting as an adult womb. People stay in this womb for different periods of time to speed up the modification process when compared to the simplified genetic liquid vials that you have to insert into your body regularly. These wombs are also used for experimental and complex genetic modifications that need to be monitored closely. The womb is a practical and easy method of keeping track of the process while the person in it is in a sleep state.
The different modification processes
Simple modifications are being sold as injections that you need to regularly inject, with the help of a GMDD (Genetic Modification Distribution Device), for an extended period of time until the process is irreversible or indefinitely depending on the modification. The most common mods are enhanced sight, speed and strength or simple changes to ones appearance. One of the most expensive gene therapies that became available is one that will lengthen the lifespan of those who can afford them. These gene therapies help against the ageing processes that occur within DNA, genes and problems with tissue renewal. The drawback of these therapies is that the process needs to be repeated since the ageing process cannot be stopped. These complex types of modifications often require surgical procedures or modification “baths” that help speed up the process. These baths consist of plastic sacks that are supposed to simulate a womb where the person will be sealed in the sack while being attached to several wires filled with the genetic mixtures. There are also very expensive clothing mods that make it possible for some to wear the genetic tubing so you can still move around while getting your genetic fix.
Modification station - Key frame
The second key frame shows one of the many modification shops around the city that the player will be able to visit. At these shops they sell liquid vials, modification upgrades and certain shops also sell body mod suits. Besides selling supplies they also fix GMDDs (Genetic Modification Distribution Device) and offer subscription based services so people can have their supplies delivered to their homes or pick them up at different locations. On most lucite windows there are projected advertisements that change regularly to display the newest modifications.
The Slums - Key frame
The slums consist of the lower class living areas and the black market. A lot of the buildings are worn down and broken since the lower class don’t have and cannot afford the proper new materials to renovate. There are lots of tubes and wires going through the zones to provide them with electricity. The streets of these areas don’t get cleaned up like the other areas do which is why there is a lot of clutter and it looks unclean. There are a lot of illegal trades going on in and around these parts. People trade mods, vials and other parts for money and items that help them survive.
The different classes
There are different classes within the city with each class being split into smaller gangs, cults and social circles. The four classes are Animal, Upper, Middle and Lower. This is an overview of all of these classes.
The animal class is the class that stands out the most when compared to the other classes. They are the ones that have modified themselves with animal DNA, giving them certain abilities. The majority of the animal class consists of different animal gangs.The gangs live around the middle and upper classes, doing different (illegal) jobs for the rich and getting rewarded with advanced modifications and money. Each gang has one animal that they have modified themselves with and is also their gang symbol. A few examples of these animal gangs are the Vipers, the Chameleons, the Medusae and the Axolotls. All gang members also has different modifications that suit them and help them do their job. Some lesser known gangs have started experimenting on themselves by mixing two or more animal genes with their own which mutates their own DNA even further. Mixing this many animal genes together is illegal which is why these groups usually stay hidden. There are also individuals that have modified themselves with animal genes but do not partake in any gang activities or have left their old gang. These people can usually afford to live comfortably because of their old gang status or because they work under the upper classes as special assets. Some of these people have even become famous for how they look with their animal modification and profit off of this niche.
The upper class consists mostly of business owners and wealthy families that have investments in other companies. They employ different gangs to protect them, spy for them or sabotage their rivals. They pay these gangs in genetic enhancements and/or money. Some other upper class people are celebrities that have become famous due to their visual aesthetic and talents that have been enhanced with genetic modifications. These celebrities are usually sponsored by companies and become “the face” of these companies because of their uniqueness.There are also a lot of upper class individuals that modify themselves to perfection. They live to flaunt their wealth and status to others. Some of these people consider perfection to be the purest form of themselves, striving to look as flawless and clean as possible. On the other side of the scale there are the people that want to be heavily modified to the point where they are unrecognisable. A lot of these individuals tend to be religious, believing they have been chosen to become their maker. They think highly of themselves and look down on others that are not up to their own standards. Some of these religious individuals have created their own churches for people from other classes to join. These churches all follow similar principles with perfection being their main value. Most of these churches are harmless, but a handful of them seem very cult-like. These select few have strange, unconventional and sometimes even morbid rituals and practices.
The middle class is the main working class which is why the most common modifications are work related. A few examples of these work related mods are increased strength, increased speed and enhanced eyesight. There are lots of different jobs that require different mods. A few examples of jobs are factory work, city agriculture and modification production. A lot of people tend to also have different personal modifications to make themselves stand out more from the crowd or to help with their daily activities. One big modification that a lot of people strive to have is the augmented lucite modifications that the upper class has. These modifications are very expensive if you have a lot of them, which is why people try to “rent” them by getting them installed in exchange for having to walk around with an advertisement projected onto it at all times until it is paid off. These people also tend to try to copy the upper class style, mixing it with their own to try and be more like them by buying more of these expensive modifications to flaunt their fake wealth or try to join upper class churches in hopes that it will help them become more like them.
The lower class consists of the poorest people in the city. They are a tight knit group that care about each other unlike the other classes that are more self centred. Most people within this community follow a select few leaders that they have chosen due to their leadership skills and reliability. Some of these leaders tend to be shady, sly individuals that are good at manipulating their peers, which is how they ended up leading them. But, they also have good qualities such as being loyal and caring about the people that they vowed to take care of. The shady business they partake in tends to stem from a good place of just wanting to protect their own. The lower class people mostly have broken and/or infected modifications or no modifications at all. This is due to the work they used to do in factories and other jobs they had or as a result of the drugs they abused before becoming a lower class individual. A lot of them work together as thieves to steal necessities and modifications to resell at the black market to make money. This class knows their way around the city which is how they are able to hide quite easily and find out secrets about anyone. They tend to work together with the middle class the most, providing them with knowledge in exchange for necessities. They do not like the other classes because they do not treat them well or pay them fairly when trading information.
The Medusae gang
The Medusae are the jellyfish gang within the city. They are easily spotted since they all have neon bioluminescent hair that they can control like jellyfish tentacles. These tentacles can also become charged with electricity when the wearer chooses to do so. They tend to spark when the wearer becomes emotional. Another ability that some of the group members have is electricity charged hands which is why they have to wear special gloves when they do not want to use this ability. The colour palette of the Medusae is based on jellyfish colours with some blue toned neutrals to subtly nod to the jellyfish environment (the ocean). They usually have one or two bright accent colours within their outfits that match well with their glowing hair colour.
The Chameleons are one of the most unique gangs in the city. The members can camouflage themselves and blend into their environment if they want to, which is why some of them wear tight fitting bodysuits that blend with them. These bodysuits are very expensive and only a select few of the gang have them as a reward from one of the company owners that they work with. The Chameleons can choose whatever colour their skin turns so their colour scheme tends to change quite frequently. They usually base it on the current season they are in so for example in the summer they tend to mostly go for warmer tones like yellow, orange and red. They are a stealthy gang which is why their preferred weapons are small and compact. The most common ones being tanto’s and kunai.