Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mutant Future A-B-C: B is for Bomb

Bombs. They come in many types, shapes, sizes and levels of lethality. Ever since the very first black powder-and-wick charge cobbled together in the distant past, things got a lot noiser and never were quite the same. What does this mean for the Mutant Future?

Bombs are iconic objects any post-apoc scenario can never have too little of. From the in-your-face, almost real and terrifying duck-and-cover stories of the seventies and the eighties (amongst which Threads, The Day After and The War Game stand out the most) to more exotic tales of mass-die backs such as that found in the Omega Man (redone lately as I Am Legend), the Bomb has always played a central role in the destruction of Life And The World As We Know It, thereby paving the way to a Mutant Future.

In all likelihood, Bombs are the main cause of turning a green planet into the ruined wasteland where adventurers, mutants and critters struggle to survive. Skynet turned humanity's considerable arsenal and brought about Judgment Day. The terminators that followed were only produced to finish the job already started by a considerable rain of nukes.

Bombs don't necessarily equate to nuclear devices of high explosives. The various hellish payloads available are legion, evident in the technology tables of the Mutant Future rules. If you can think of something really lethal to humans and their ilk, chances are you can design a bomb around this.

Most intriguing is the concept of the leftover Bomb after the apocalypse has occured and swept all away with it. Every good Mutant Future sandbox will never be complete without that intact missile silo just waiting to be stumbled into by a band of intrepid adventurers from the wastland. There is also the idea of a Bomb as God - something attributed with awesome powers worshipped by a cult of survivors after its original reason for existence has since been rendered irrelevant. Perhaps the most gripping example of this is the Alpha Omega Nuclear Device worshipped by the surviving mutants in old NYC in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Ideas/Applications to the Mutant Future- The different Bomb and Explosive types in page 120 of the Mutant Future rulebook can be readily expanded into a chart of its own, featuring strategic-level bombs with a few original ones added on for variety. Such a random table designed around these types of bombs can look like this:

01-15 Bio Toxin
16-25 Concussion
26-40 Mutation
41-50 Negation - the closest thing to the EMP Burst which saved Neo in the Matrix
51-65 Plasma (the closest analogue of a nuke)
66-80 Radiation
81-90 High Explosive (very large versions of the demo-packs mentioned in the rules)
91-100 Psibombs

The latter are of a class of weapons developed by the Ancients right up to the Final War. Along with Psionic Mind Shields, Neural Disruptors and Madbombs, psibombs use electromagnetic impulses which duplicate the effects of a concentrated Mental Blast, liquifying a target's brain synapses. Tactical and strategic applications of this weapon include flushing out all living beings within a target area (much like a neutron bomb is used) leaving the real estate, structures and equipment found there pretty much intact.

A typical small Psibomb would be grenade sized and, upon activation, projects a psionic blast within a 100' radius. Any creature possessed with at least a rudimentary intelligence (including normally non-sentient creatures such as beasts of burden and farm animals) must save against Stun or suffer 2d10 damage.

[this was adapted from the Psibombs used in David Brin's Startide Rising, although in that novel, the bombs were used as signalling devices]

Along with this is a following random table for groups or missions associated with the bomb generated from the table above. Put together, the rolls from both table would produce interesting results:

Group/mission associated with the bomb(s)

01-20 Worshippers- Depending on the kind of bomb generated, this leftover from a bygone age has become the object of worship of some faction or race in the wasteland. For instance, Radiation Bombs would, in all likelihood, be worshipped by the Irradiated or mutants. On the other hand some pure strain humans (fanatics) may worship High Explosives (or nukes) –perhaps have Androids as the priestly class who attended to their ‘God’. Just don’t have a warrior ride on a bomb as it hurtles at the enemy as we saw in Dr. Strangeglove.

21-35 Users – Androids who remain from the old days or mutant animals/regressed humans who are still carrying out the defense orders of long dead governments in some forgotten silo. Quite dangerous as they may take it upon themselves to unleash the Ancient WMD upon the world.

36-55 Defuse the thing! – The player characters have a chance to shine here: given a job to defuse a bomb- this is a ‘race against time’ type of adventure. Failure can be catastrophic not just for them but maybe for the world.

56-70 Recover the thing! - Similar to what's above, the mission here is to recover the bomb- by a merchant guild, a warlord, a cult or government. Maybe a bit of double-crossing involved too.

71-85 Bomb as an enemy – Maybe some master-type monster has a bomb inside him and killing it outright (unless from very far away) will not solve their problem immediately. This will call for a lot of creative thinking on the part of the players.

85-90 Bomb as a dungeon – Here, the dungeon is wired. Maybe it is a central computer/cyborg brain core wired to explode if shut down. Again, this calls for imaginative handling on the part of the players.

91-100 Bomb as a character – as in various SF stories, a bomb is within a character (whether knowing or unknowing). In a extreme case, this could be a one-of-a-kind mutation for an Android character.


  1. You missed bombs as monsters! I can imagine a cadre of Predators becoming sentient and giving rise to the buzzbomb. These aerial creatures are usually found solitary and guarding a waypoint. If the party comes too close to its "nest" it will attack the party. Initially with lead spitters but if the party continues it will commit itself to a dive bomb attack.

  2. Oh yeah, thanks for pointing that out to me! Would the Stage Trees in Larry Niven's short story qualify as a monster bomb? Or perhaps the Buzzbombs in Varley's Titan?

  3. @Sniderman- Yes! I believe it came earlier, A for Android. Let me set up a link so you can check it out.