I have not posted for a long time as I (along with the rest of many of you, I presume), am up to my eyeballs with a shitload of real world worries and concerns. Nonetheless, I am pleased to report a successful Mutant Future game session on the evening of Friday, the 22nd of January. Apart from a lot of my regular players showing up on time, we were very fortunate to have Patton, Mika, Matt and Prin as new players who just joined our gaming group and decided to throw in their luck with the rest of our dastardly crew. The following constitutes the proceedings on said Friday night game-
The deranged Mutant Lord - Spielmeister
Max Plissken – Pure Human (played by Nikos)
Albus – Mutant Human (played by Doc Ben-g)
Zed- Mutant Human (played by Doc Ben-g)
Marcus Truman – Pure Human (played by JY)
Ratchet - Android (played by Henry)
Mirage - Android (played by Henry)
Shai - Pure Human (played by Justin)
ML’s note: With the demise of both of Henry’s mutants from last game, he came bouncing back with a Basic Android duo. He has a pretty well-crafted backstory which I, admittedly, have not read up completely yet. Suffice it to say that the Androids are constructs of the Brain Lashers. In fact, these Lashers are very much related to the band that occupied the Mine of the Brain Lashers. Justin, on the other hand, is our resident GURPS expert and decided to field a Normal with very developed tactician and merchant skills. Sort of like the group’s strategos-diplomat.
Our new players, on the other hand, came up with these eclectic characters:
Putanesca – Mutant Plant (played by Prin). This was a first for our gaming group, and we were very thrilled to see how a mutant plant would shape up in a game. As things turned out, Prin did not disappoint us. Her mutant resembled an intelligent, ambulatory, thorny tomato. From my recollection, it had the Metamorph mutation and sported inch-long thorns all over its’ prehensile roots and tendrils. ‘Puta’ (as it was affectionately called by all) tended to amble along and had a self-admitted life goal of finding a suitable floral mate.
Kyoshi - Mutant Human (played by Matt). Matt’s rolls on the mutation tables were gonzo. His mutant had dwarfism, making him only one foot tall. He also had the Mind Thrust and Dual Cerebellum mutations. Sure he’s short but then again, so was Master Yoda- and you saw how he squared off against Count Dookoo.
Link Seyz- Android (played by Patton). Pat insisted on having an android who looked and talked like the Terminator (at least that was my take on it). His backstory also provides that the android itself does not know that it is an android. For as long as he could remember, he was just another human. He does not know he has a hidden Energy Ray in his hands, amongst other “mutations”.
Another Pure Human – played by Mika. Now Mika insisted on some value-added enhancements in the interest of good gaming. After a short conference, I agreed. Her human is the Mutant Future version of River Tam from Serenity. Certain ‘triggers’ tend to unlock an extremely focused technical savant aspect of her nature (sometimes when they’re lucky, just at the right time it is really needed). Most of the time, she’s a slightly autistic youngster. As of this writing, I haven’t received info on her character name so I’ll provisionally call her River.
Character generation took up the first third of the evening’s gaming time but this immediately showed one of the strengths of Old School gaming: enabling players to generate characters ready for gaming in a few minutes, flat. It would have been an altogether different story if we were using Gurps. I don’t even want to think about how it would have been if we were playing D&D 4th ed. Probably would have had to dedicate an entire gaming session for character generation. I learned that this was the first time my new players would be playing an Old School game. Happily, Old School appeared to agree with them as will be seen later on.
As an aside, my notes are still incomplete as I write this, so I’ll be constrained to refer to some of the characters through their players’ names for now.
Finally, I instituted a houserule (heeding Brutorz Bill’s sound advice from last game’s comments ) granting each player a single d30 roll usable at any time during the game. A sort of safety net for the players in view of the deadly toll the scorpions’ poison attacks did last time (save or die attacks are very nasty).
Fortunately, no one got to use this during the game.
The armed panther crew and their leopard officers clambered aboard the Cat-Tamaran, grudgingly hoisting aboard Albus, Zed, Marcus and Snake. They soon discover that the ship is a veritable floating fortress, festooned with guns, rockets, not a few missile launchers, the odd (but formidable) energy weapon, siege engines, and yet even bigger guns. It seems Captain Krat wasn’t kidding when he said they were just about ready to commence the main attack on the Rats.
They are led to a large hallway and kept under guard. Although it was made clear to them that they were not considered prisoners, they weren’t given free reign of the vessel either. Inside, they come upon a few more outsiders, who, upon questioning, reveal that they were “persuaded” to come aboard the Cat-Tamaran as “guests” of Captain Krat.
First, they meet two humanoids who affect the dress of wasteland travelers. These turn out to be Androids, named Ratchet and Mirage. They are accompanied by a Pure Human called Shai, who appears to be quite learned and well-spoken. Ratchet, to their surprise, exhibits an uncommonly keen technical acumen and set out to modify some of the muskets they recently liberated from the Rats.
Later on, they are joined by a strange Mutant Plant bearing a most unsettling name of Putanesca. Putanesca’s other companions are Kyoshi, a foot-high mutant humanoid, Link Seyz, a strange humanoid with a stiff expression and another pure human who appears barely out of her teens. She is named River, who always seems to have a dreamy look in her face and talks in riddles, causing much obfuscation amongst the party. As they all appear to be in the same boat (if you’ll excuse the pun), they decide to band together in common cause.
Later, Captain Krat, joined by some of his officers and crew, enters. He makes a proposition to the party, offering each member a generous sum of five hundred gold crowns, in addition to free transportation to as far as Sanly Bowitts, if they successfully aid him in the coming attack. Along with Urgall, the apparent Homo Erectus ally of the Panthers, they are instructed to infiltrate into the Mine of the erstwhile Brain Lashers using an indirect land route. If things are done right, Captain Krat expects the party to gain entrance to the Mine just before the main attack. The party is enjoined, under no uncertain terms, to create as much havoc and confusion in the Rats’ lair, capitalizing on the element of surprise. This, Krat reasons, should tip the balance in favor of his attacking force, and enable them to overwhelm the Rats’ defenses, which are known to be quite formidable at this time.
While Captain Krat repeatedly makes it clear that he is offering the party a business proposal, they can’t shake the feeling that they’re being pushed into a potentially lethal situation. Not a few are suspecting a set up.
There is a lot of argument and muttering on the side but finally, the party is prevailed upon to accept the job. They are left alone for the rest of the night as feverish preparations continue aboard the floating fortress for the coming day’s assault. Plissken and Shai are crestfallen to learn that the Cats have denied the party’s request for additional firepower. Nonetheless, they consider themselves lucky as Krat agreed to part (albeit with some reluctance) with a box of explosives to be used by the party for their diversion. Shai, the party’s de facto diplomatic adviser, likewise noted about a fighting strength of two hundred effectives in Krat’s force. He also keenly observed the prodigious rate at which Krat’s troops were consuming their supplies.
ML’s note: To be honest, getting started was a bitch as the group still could not quite ‘gel together’ yet. While there was a lot of role-playing and verbal sparring, I also had to keep tabs on a lot of questions (particularly from the logistics-savvy Justin) on crew strength, dispositions, weapons, etc. It’s bound to be interesting to see how things are going to be when these players manage to run their own army.
At dawn, the party is landed on the riverside as the floating fortress sails away in the swirling mist. The blood red sky is just beginning to lighten at this point in time. To maintain contact with the party, Krat turned over a pocket communicator to them, apparently of no mean sophistication. Kyoshi takes possession of the thing.
ML’s note: The comm unit was supposed to be roughly the size of a small cell phone. That meant that Kyoshi carried this much like a PRC-90[?] backpack radio!
The party heads off to the east, their destination being the mountain in the horizon.
Very soon, they notice that River is beginning to wander off with a dreamy look in her face. The others are deep in discussion on what to do next, as they admit that they do not relish the prospect of doing Krat’s dirty work for him notwithstanding his offers of generous compensation. Only Link Seyz notices two malevolent shapes emerging from the waters of a nearby bog, stealthily approaching River. These look like gross, feral Toads, massing about the same as a cow with bloated bubble-like eyes of the deepest red-green. A stick rope-like tongue shoots out from the closest one and narrowly misses River who, right at that moment, bent over to pick up what she saw as a curiously interesting blade of grass.
With a yell Link Seyz charges and hurls a dagger straight at the mutant’s eye.
ML’s notes: This was a tough call. Link Seyz was a 1st level Android and the mutant had a base AC of 4. Since the eye was an even smaller target, I imposed a further -2 to the attempt giving the critter an effective Armor Class of 2. He needed at 17 on a d20 to hit. Despite the odds, Patton rolled a gratifying 18 and hit home!
The mutant’s eye bursts in a spray of ichor-like gore, spoiling its intended attack. Most of the party follows up with bolts and arrows but the unusually tough scales of the mutants prove more than adequate proof against their missiles. The other mutant toad lashes out with its sticky tongue, effectively pinning Link Seyz.
“Use the explosives,” someone yells, whereupon River pulls out a sticky clump of C4 and absently hurls it, sans any blasting cap, at the nearest Toad. The clump of valuable explosive misses widely and falls into the nearby bog, sinking to the bottom.
“My explosives!” yells the dismayed Plissken, running for the water’s edge to search for the C4. In the meantime, River remains oblivious to the fighting while one of the Toads’ bubble-like eyes is glowing malevolently. The air is rent by a pair of fiery burning beams of energy which strike Plissken and bring him down painfully. At this, Putanesca lets up a keening wail of vegetative distress.
Link Seyz frees himself with great difficulty and begins hacking away at the other Toad.
All of a sudden, River straightens up, eyes widening as she takes on an expression of uncanny alertness. It becomes clearly apparent to her that her companion is an Android and something, some hidden feature, is built into his right fist. This may be just the thing he needed to take on the Toad which was beginning to set upon him with huge scimitar-like claws.
ML’s note: Per my agreement with Mika, her hidden “River Tam” qualities were triggered somehow enabling her some incredible intuitive leaps for 1d5 rounds. I rolled a 5 for the fugue’s duration. At this time, I was surprised to note that Henry and Justin were not helping out the party in combat and decided to walk off ahead towards the mountain to carry out their ‘plan’. The change in River caused everyone to sit up and take notice!
Link Seyz appears to take the hint but merely plunges his fist into the Toad’s eye. He misses and connects instead with a meaty splat on the side of the critter’s head. To his surprise, his fist erupts in a blast of radiant burning light- burning much of the Toad’s head. Amidst the smell of burning meat, the freakish, misshapen amphibianoid crashes lifelessly to the ground.
At this, the others charge the remaining Toad, who fires another radiated blast, this time, badly burning Kyoshi. This enrages him and the mutant leaps upward, slashing and parrying with deadly skill.
ML’s note: Matt made clear that his mutant was doing a Yoda-esque maneuver. The mental image was very apt!
Putanesca flails away with her thorns while bashing the Toad with her trusty mace. Zed and Albus keep up a fusillade of bolts while moving to outflank the beast. Plissken finally gets his chance and blasts away with his laser, searing away large gashes on the mutant’s scaly hide. Link Seyz makes a leaping attack, and tragically entangles himself on one of Putanesca’s stringy root-like tendrils. He crashes heavily to the ground.
ML’s note: Patton now rolled a 1 thereby scoring a critical miss. The resultant effect was my ruling to inflict a cinematic effect to his equally cinematic failure at inflicting an Achilles-eque attack straight out of the movie Troy. Nevertheless, it was an inspired try on his part!
River follows all this closely. Somehow, unbidden, arcane words of command come clearly to her mind. Ancient words of power in a language older than Wasteland Norte. An awakened part of her rewired brain somehow makes the connection between Link Seyz’s newly-discovered ability and the code words she now shouts out.
“Menu-seven-sigma-twelve-overide. New protocol -Seven-sigma-thirteen: Engage!”
Link Seyz, who was just getting up, suddenly straightens – and very much against his will, shoots the Toad again with another searing blast. Kyoshi leaps up once again, landing lightly on top the Toad’s skull. Balancing for a moment, he plunges his impossibly sharp dagger-sized longsword into the thing’s eye, and then even deeper. In a moment, the Toad is dead.
ML’s note: Killing a 12HD monster without modern firepower isn’t easy even in Mutant Future. Much of this android override was admittedly a big surprise to me and 100% improvised. Seeing how well my new players took this concept and ran with it, I found it impossible not to go along with them! Tech rolls and Intelligence checks started coming in fast and furious but we managed to move things forward swiftly!
Kyoshi, also possessed a modicum of above-average tech ability and intuition (thanks to his Quick Mind mutation). Together with Plissken, they caught on to this and things got even more- er, strange.
With the mutants dead, the party took stock of the situation. Far off, they catch a glimpse of Ratchet, Mirage and Shai, marching steadily towards the mountain. Kyoshi turns on the comm-link as Krat demands a report. The feline commander is displeased with the slowness of their advance. He abruptly breaks off transmission.