Thursday, December 24, 2009

Seasons greetings!

As I type this, it is 10:58 p.m. in my clock, December 24. My eldest kid is happy after tearing into his' and his baby brother's christmas presents. I guess it is early enough to wish you all a Merry Christmas! May we all have a blessed year ahead of us without any fear.

Here's to a lot more good gaming for us all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Encounter Tables

With this downtime I'm experiencing right now, I am hoping to take things slow and recover from a year of ups and downs. Mutant Future-wise, I'm drawing up my own encounter tables for my ongong games as our next expected scheduled game is still on Tuesday next week (crossing fingers desperately).

I figure if my players do survive the current mess with the Buggems, they may be ending up doing some wilderness treks in the mutant-infested radioactive wasteland that was once Cygnet Delta Colony. I'm not trying to invent the wheel- rather, I'm looking into customizing the Mutant Future critter encounter tables. I also plan to put emphasis on including great player generated Mutant Future monsters available on various excellent gaming blogs including those of Brutorz Bill, Sniderman,
Angry Man, Carl, and Eli. I've been thrilled by many outstanding critters stated out by my fellow bloggers (whether these be GW conversions or straight away MF creations) and I want to plug them in on my future games on a continuing basis to see how they perform in actual play. I guess this is also my way to paying homage to my fellow gamers' inventive talent and creative spark. Keep them coming comrades!

ps. Speaking of encounters, my previous musings on environment and terrain got me thinking a lot about how extremely rugged weather can prove to be quite a formidable adversary to one's player characters. I guess my fellow players who live in colder climes will be quick to confirm this (freezing to death in a snowstorm is bad enough when I read about it in a book - I would never want to experience it first hand), as I would be quick to confirm that a 40 degree per day tropical drought during an el nino year from where I live is not a pleasant thing. Imagine how much worse it can get on Gamma Terra. So speaking of the effects of weather in a post-apocalypse world, Sniderman's post here is spot on as regards this point. Great stuff I hope to use one day in our Mutant Future game.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Five Fingers, terrain and encounters

My gaming is rather curtailed until after the 25th, what with family obligations and real-world activities all competing for space in the final run-up before Christmas day. Plus the traffic situtation in the city I live in is just horrendous. Christmas season in my city always brings the inevitable choking of all roadspace with cars, cars and more cars. I guess I'm just witnessing the inevitable result of a government that consistently failed to implement a (1) rational urban planning system and (2) a workable family planning program since I was a little kid.

Pardon the rant above, I just needed to get that off my chest. This is not the point of this post.

I'm halfway through my much used, dogeared and tattered copy of The Five Fingers. This book is essentially one long wilderness crawl by a group of seven of the baddest bad-ass fighting men in the Southeast Asian theater of war (ok, ok so I'm over-simplifying this and stating it in D&D terms). I did not post this to debate the veracity of The Five Fingers as a military account (I recall an old argument to this effect in the Twilight 2000 forums sometime back). I posted this to relate it to my current gaming experience.

What really hit me was that the seven operatives of The Five Fingers practically walked from Northern Thailand, through most of Laos, part of North Vietnam and ended up just inside the Chinese border - then they walked back again, down to South Vietnam. Nothing stopped them: not the horrendous jungle terrain, the massive tropical rains (I've seen all that rain and dengue fever living here in the tropics) and the multitude of tribal mercs, enemy regulars and anybody else with a gun who happened to get in their way.

Without meaning to denigrade the book, reading it for the nth time made a part of my old school mind see the parallels between the Five Fingers' trek to and from China as a massive, difficult wilderness hexcrawl. Suddenly, looking at the map of the Five Fingers' route to China at the beginning of the book made me imagine a hexgrid superimposed on it. Yes, the book really had a lot of great qualities which made for a very absorbing wilderness trek in the old school tradition.

The NVA, Pathet Lao and tribal merc patrols they would collide into and promptly exterminate reminded me so much of wandering monsters generated on a DM's die roll. More signficantly, what impressed me was that the Five Fingers' biggest enemy was the terrain itself. Mountain ranges and ridges had to be crossed. Dense wooded slopes had to be penetrated. Grasslands of razorgrass, rain (and leech) swollen streams, malarial jungles, muddy slopes - name it and they encountered it.

This got me thinking that maybe I'll be modifying my Mutant Future encounter tables to include environmental and terrain obstacles and challenges. Now that I'm pretty much re-immersing myself in old school gaming, I am beginning to realize how absorbing a wilderness hex crawl overland can really get - and the terrain itself can be the biggest, baddest adversary.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Great player advise

In the course of refereeing many of my games, I often encounter players who whine about survivability and the pain of character death. I'm not generalizing but many players I have encountered (both as a game master and a fellow player) need to bone up on their player skills as opposed to their characters' skills (particularly when using games which are character skill and attribute heavy such as Gurps). This is by no means exclusively confined to newbie players either. So-called veteran players often tend to lose the sharp edge given time.

I remember playing in a friend's D&D 4th edition game for one session. I was appalled at the seemingly brainless tactics used by his regular players in finishing the dungeon: rush forward, attack, use powers, use powers to heal, and repeat the whole sequence - ad nauseam. No exploration, no problem solving, hardly even any role-playing.

Leaving aside the merits of the game system, I observed that the players acted the way they did because they were allowed to get away with the way they acted. This is by no means a condemnation of my friend's refereeing style in any way. I enjoy gaming under my friend and still believe he's one of the more serious dedicated followers of the hobby I know. I feel that his players learned this gaming style even before they met my friend (makes me wonder what kind of games they started out with) - and carried over their incompetence to my friend's game.

I would imagine the same players going up in arms if they played in one of my old school games these days. And maybe I'll get my chance to try them out in the future...

In any case, the point here is that I encountered a very informative post in Planet Algol, a sword and raygun genre gameblog which I regularly follow with great interest. The post can be found here

The article's last sentence captures the point quite succinctly (although it may apply to all games and not just D&D) - if you want to be a better player, then this is for you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Episode Five: More Buggems! - part two

Our story continues:

In the gathering night gloom, the party makes its way cautiously back to the village of Jeffton.

Upon arrival they are taken to Mayor Frump's cabin. The villagers are vastly relieved and happy to find that the children have been returned to them. However, their happiness is short-lived as the village healer pronounces that the children have to be taken for treatment to Sanly Bowitts immediately. The zarns evidently injected the children with their insidious larvae and even now, these horrid creatures are maturing inside them. In about two days, at most, the healer says, the children will die a horrible, painful death as the larvae hatch.

In the meantime, Max and Marcus Truman set down to arranging some much needed healing for many in the party. First, they break out the Medi-spray and then later, the more arcane but effective Healing Pack much to the amazement of the gathered villagers. Max and Zed attempt to use the Healing Pack upon the children but nothing comes out of this. The village healer thanks them profusely but it is now apparent that a posse of villagers will have to be organized quickly to bring the children to Sanly Bowitts at first light.

As the red rays of dawn spread along the eastern sky, the posse leaves. Our group has a hurried breakfast and restock what supplies they can find before returning to the pits once more. Before leaving, the ever-fussy Max explains to the village smith and leatherworker his proposal for the construction of a weapon he had once seen in his travels in the wilds. While this leaves the artisans scratching their heads in bemusement, he persists, and, with Zed’s support, manages to secure a best-efforts promise from the artisans for them to begin work on Max’s “terror weapon”. With this, they take leave from the Mayor and village council, and march off towards the Genser farm.

With torches alight, they return through the sloping passage they had recently quitted. Once inside the gloomy, eerie confines of the earthen tunnels, the group makes its way back to the three-way branch they had come from. Max only delays long enough to pick up a fallen battle axe from one of their erstwhile Buggem foes. This time, there is only the right fork passage ahead of them remaining unexplored.

They file through and Clem calls for a sudden halt. He notices that the soil at their feet gradually takes on a more yellowish-grey hue. This coloration extends to about twelve feet ahead of them in the light of Clem’s flaming brand. Max is suspicious. They use the haft of the salvaged axe and begin prodding the floor before them, oh-so-gingerly. There is a popping sound and the soil crumbles ahead of them, exposing a pit covered up by a brittle, dried paste-like substance. Below it is a steep drop of about twenty feet into brackish stinking water and slime-covered rocks. They breath a sigh of relief.

Mutant Lord’s note: Maybe Henry got more careful this time as he really made his intelligence rolls and asked the right questions thereby avoiding oodles of potential damage!

They pass along the pit’s edges and into the roughly-hewn chamber beyond.

In the light of their guttering torches, they find the chamber otherwise deserted. Three exits: one in front, one to the left and another to the right. The group files in silently leaving Zed, as usual, outside (just out of sight and watching the rear).

Suddenly, Albus detects movement from the passage ahead. A swiftly crawling insect, three feet long and very much resembling some sickly mottled ladybug emerges. It moves swiftly- faster than they expected; and without warning, sprays forth a cloud of noxious droplets in their direction. Everyone frantically scatters, and although no-one is hit, they are dismayed to see the room’s very soil and bedrock boiling away from effects of the insect’s toxic spittle.

Mutant Lord’s note: unbeknownst to my players this was baby Herp only so its spittle was only (!) doing half damage. Even then, it creeped them all out as everyone had visions of the Alien’s ‘acid for blood’ attacks.

Albus lays covering fire with the assault rifle and the rest cut loose with a fusillade of bolts. Max considers that this is now the time to use the remaining insecticide gas bomb and pulls the pin. The Herp does not fall to the gas but retreats steadily. The group closes in and steel themselves for a long and bloody fight. They are perplexed to find the Herp dead after another two hits from Albus’ rifle.

Mutant Lord’s note: it was a baby Herp after all! The important thing is now, they’ve used their last remaining insecticide gas bomb on a critter they could’ve easily hacked to bits. Still, for the price of the gas bomb, no one got melted away/massively damaged by the Herp’s very potent acid spit, so I reckon the group still came out ahead in this encounter.

The group gets their bearings together and, after checking out the side passages, hurriedly decides to exit out of the right hand passage. Torches are replaced and in the guttering light of Clem’s brand, they come face to face with three more of the Buggems walking towards them. Both parties are not surprised and in the tight confines of a ten foot wide passage, another desperate fight ensues!

The two of the Buggems rush forth, attacking Clem and Marcus Truman who meet them with bared steel. Max holds off from using his Laser Pistol. Amidst the clash of arms the third Buggem fires a bolt from his crossbow, hitting Albus with an envenomed dart. Albus takes damage but remains on his feet, double-tapping the insectoid. Unfortunately, perhaps the venom makes his aim unsure and he misses all his shots. Now, the third Buggem begins to generate a familiar sickening whitish gas – but Albus, the Mutie is ready this time around. Albus steps back, concentrates and unleashes his psychic attack fully upon the Buggem. The Buggem staggers and is bewildered as it finds out it can’t make a gas attack anymore!

Mutant Lord’s note: Albus has the Ancestral Form mutation – and successfully makes his mental attack, thereby forcibly stripping away the Buggem’s gas generation mutation. It’s the first time Doc Ben-g tried this and we were all hoping he would succeed his mental attack roll so we get to see the mutation in action.

Also, it seems Max is now hoarding the last remaining shot of his laser!

At the back of the line, the sight of even more insidious insectoids attacking the group proves too much again for Zed. He screams in fear and shakes uncontrollably- then, to everyone’s surprise, his cries of fear turn into bellows of unrestrained fury. Ignoring all caution, Zed pushes his companions aside, swiftly making his way to the front of the line and falls upon one of the Buggems with berserk abandon!

Mutant Lord’s note: this is in relation to my phobia houserule which allows Zed a d4 roll. A roll of a 4 means he goes bonkers and his hysterical fear turns into unreasoning berserk fury. He did roll a 4 and another 4 to see how long his berserk fury lasts. He had a healthy plus to attack but a corresponding whopping minus to AC. Doc Ben-g didn’t seem to mind: as far as he was concerned, it was payback time for Zed.

Zed’s unstoppable rush proves too much for his adversary which falls to his sword. The other Buggem is likewise speedily dispatched as the rest break through and begin closing in on the remaining Buggem which, by now, starts backing away further into the passage. For a moment, only the irises of Zed’s eyes are all that can be seen and he breaks into another paroxysm of terror. His friends instinctively form around him, aiming to protect him at his moment of vulnerability – but the unexpected occurs. Zed leaps forward like a Mutie possessed and charges the remaining Buggem still caught in a berserk frenzy!

Mutant Lord’s note: it was time for Doc Ben-g to roll that d4 again and he rolled another 4 so Zed kept going berserk. Everyone had to stand back and hold fire while Zed pummeled the last Buggem. I think they were all rather scared Zed would turn on one of them if he ran out of enemies to fight…. Hmmmm.

“Hold fire!” bellows Max. “Hold fire everyone! He’s going apeshit!” (cue in uproarious collective player laughter at this point)

Zed swiftly catches up with the last Buggem and likewise deals and bloody end to the insectoid. He then sinks slowly to his knees, breathless and dizzy from exhaustion.

This was the end of our game session that day. What a way to end it too!

Episode Five: More Buggems! - part one

Game session on 10 December 2009

We fortunately managed to get playing last Sunday even if people were unavoidably late. I had a bout of dyspepsia maybe due to tension from Coby's surgery but we did get started and what a game it was!

Dramatis Personae –

1. Clem- Human Mutie (Henry)
2. Clyde - Human Mutie (Henry)
3. Zed - Human Mutie (Doc Ben-g)
4. Albus - Human Mutie (Doc Ben-g)
5. Marcus Truman - Normal (JY)
6. Max Plissken - Normal (Nikos)

Our story:

The adventurers ready themselves for a foray into the pits of the Buggems by drawing up a marching order while standing in the gloomy cellar of the Genser house. Clem takes point. He is followed by Max, armed with his ubiquitous Laser Pistol, poised to shoot over his mutie friend’s shoulder. Next come Albus, then Clyde, then Marcus Truman. The insect fearing mutie, Zed brings up the rear. Both Clem and Zed light the lamps they scavenged from the rooms above in the house.

Gingerly, they descend into the earthen tunnel dug out of the soft loam which gradually slopes downward. The tunnel twists and turns eerily underground but keeps veering towards the southwest. After almost thirty minutes of padding around in the dark, they see no end to the weirdly twisting earthen passage.

“We’re not in a tunnel,” quips Zed. “We’re inside a monster – these are his intestines we’re walking in”. Nervous laughter greets his half-hearted attempt at levity. And yet the passage stretches on in the dark.

Mutant Lord’s note: this would make a good idea for a future monster!

Eventually, they come upon an entrance to a wide earthen chamber, similarly hacked out of the soil. Clem stops the party. There is a muted hiss and clatter as weapons are drawn and readied. Clem tiptoes forward, leaving the rest behind. He reaches the entrance and slowly peeps inside. He sees a wide irregular earthen cavern with a low ceiling – only eight feet at the highest point. Numerous football-sized ovoids dripping in a translucent gooey sap hanging from the ceiling. All is bathed by a strange phosphorescent glow emanating from some odd moss-like fungus growing on the walls. He sees an exit nearby but is startled to come face to face with a monstrosity!

He is only ten feet away from a giant insect lying on the ground facing straight at him. The bug is longer than a man is tall, encased in a sickly grey chitinous shell with fibrous wings folded down. Its’ sword-like antennae are still and lying flaccid. To his horror, he realizes that this is a twin to the Parn they earlier slew up above. This one, is silent and still for now.

Mutant Lord’s note: for some reason Henry, the player did not ask the right questions and never suspected why the Parn was so inert. They assumed that the creature was alive which I think was the intent of Mr. Gygax when he put this in the module!

Clem backs up silently and a whispered conference ensues. The party decides on a swift, silent and sudden assault on the Parn. Zed, shaking nervously, is designated rearguard. He is under orders not to enter the chamber until the ‘All Clear’ signal is given. One of the lamps is passed to Clyde.

As one, they attack swiftly down the earthen passage –bursting into the eerily glowing cave and find the Parn to be – DEAD! This throws the party into confusion and only the Muties Clem and Albus notice something is terribly amiss.
A few of the sticky, sap-covered ovoids break open. From each swiftly climbs out a wet wriggling six-limbed insectoid, hissing menacingly. The insectoids are a blur as they leap forth from what now appear to be their egg-sacs and launch themselves upon the closest targets. As chance would have it, these turn out to be Clem and Albus.

Clem is burdened with three of the blood sucking little critters while another lands squarely on Albus’ shoulder blades. Although the Muties frantically hack away at them, the insectoids successfully latch on to their targets and disgustingly vampire-like, start draining away precious blood and bodily fluids.

The fight is cramped and in extremely close quarters. Only after much frantic and bloody efforts are the insects dislodged and killed. Again, Clem’s poisonous dermal poison takes a toll on his attackers.

The party members collectively catch their breath and a debate ensues on what to do with the remaining ovoids hanging from the ceiling. Max observes that these are smaller ones, reasoning that they are, perhaps immature versions of the ones that hatched. They make ready to burn the rest which emanate a curiously sweet and not-unpleasant smell. Clem douses the nearest with the entire contents of an oil flask but they all stop short of putting their plan into action. They reason that a fire may just end up choking them all to death, not to mention the chance of prematurely attracting more enraged critters.

Instead, they decide to try the nearby exit and explore the passage that leads beyond. By now, the lamps have both sputtered into darkness making Clem, Max and Zed to light torches.

The passage out widens and after some distance, branches into three separate passages- one to the front and one respectively to their right and left. The party takes the one immediately in front and after some minutes of steady progress, come upon a dead end. Searches for hidden exits turn up no results constraining the group to double back to the head of the three-way passage branch.

Next, they try the passage to their left. Treading gingerly Clem fails to see a treacherous pit in front of him and falls suddenly into the darkness. Only through a frantic and lucky effort does he narrowly avoid plunging into the bottom of the bell-shaped cavity beneath the pit- hanging on desperately on its crumbly edge. His torch is dropped into the watery bottom of the pit and is promptly extinguished. Max drops his torch (which, fortunately does not go out immediately) and grabs on to Clem. Carefully, they pull Clem up to safety.

New torches are lit. The party finds what appears to be stable ledges lining both sides of the watery pit and make their way across oh-so-carefully. They continue into the darkness.

They presently arrive at another earthen chamber, this one smaller than those seen previously. On the far side of the chamber, they espy a tunnel opening into a gradual incline and an exiting passage. The chamber’s earthen floor is filled with trash – odds and ends of wood, a bit of rotting leather. On the far end are two still forms covered in a sticky mucous-like layer. Children!

The group swiftly crosses into the room with Zed taking up rearguard once more, just outside the chamber. Max confirms that these are indeed, two children – unconscious by the looks of it, but alive and breathing. He hurriedly brushes off the sticky coating off one of them, and instantly regrets it as his vision blurs and his limbs buckle and shake.

Mutant Lord’s note: Nikos who played Max was pretty careless handling all those poison-coated kids without gloves. He consequently failed his poison save. Good thing it was not a save-or-die venom!

Just then, the group detects movement within the rubbish strewn about. From under the debris they see two swiftly advancing beetles –bright orange and five inches long. The beetles begin spitting wads of a sticky, sickly substance, narrowly missing the adventurers who now scramble out of their line of fire! In the meantime, Max weakly slumps to the floor, prone and unconscious.

Albus starts blasting away with the assault rifle – again and again until one of the beetles are shot into many tiny pieces. The others rush the beetle and hack it to pieces swiftly. Zed cowers just outside the entrance – not wanting to see what is going on.

Presently, as the shooting stops from within the room, Zed’s hackles rise and he senses he is not alone. He turns swiftly and is greeted with a blood chilling sight – three shiny insect men hissing and waving sharpened cutting weapons are fast approaching from the passageway.

This proves too much for the already edgy Mutie. With a scream of dread, Zed drops his torch and runs into the room. He rushes past his shocked companions, out the far exit, and up the inclined passage –away from the main fight. He then disappears from sight. His companions through, have little time to give chase. They have bigger problems on hand.

Mutant Lord’s note: Zed with his insect phobia ran off. I have a house rule which says Zed rolls a d4. A roll of 1-3 means he runs in fright per the rules. A roll of 4 means he goes berserk attacking wildly. I cobbled this up from Squad Leader when the Russian squad under fire rolls for morale and gets snake eyes which instead makes them go berserk instead of breaking.

The Buggems burst into the room, weapons raised and into attack mode. The party rushes forward and gives battle. The cramped, darkened interiors of the room, deep within the bowels of the earth become a desperate battleground resounding with the clash of steel and the occasional sound crack of an assault rifle.

Mutant Lord’s note: Albus rolled so badly he kept missing the Buggems despite having plusses from using an Ancient slug thrower against the attacking critters!

To make matters worse, the rear-most Buggem begins to excrete an unpleasant whitish mist that fills the chamber, blocking everyone’s sight. This affects everyone except Albus, who has the thermal vision mutation. Marcus Truman fights desperately with sword and dagger, hacking away at an unseen foe amidst the misty, swirling gas. Desperately, he leaves Clem to fend off the attacking Buggem, and turns to the unconscious form of Max. Hurriedly, he searches for the last remaining cylinder given by Mayor Frump – the one that contains the bug-killing gas. He fails to find it, and rejoins the others hacking away at the Buggems. It is a vicious fight until the Buggems are cut down bloodily.

With the fight over, the party quickly takes stock of the situation. Marcus Truman finds out that water easily washes away the slime covering the children. He rouses them but fails to get any intelligent response out of any of them. Max is also awakened. He is weak and groggy from the Zarn’s venom.

With everything secured, they head up the upward-sloping passage, after Zed. After minutes of following his trail, the passage emerges into the surface. They find themselves in a forested clearing, some distance away from Genser’s farm. The cool evening breeze under the night stars is a godsend after the claustrophobic pits below. Above, green Aleph and silver Bas, the twin moons are hurtling across Cyget Delta’s sky.

Some distance away, they find Zed, who has by now, considerably calmed down.

By now, they decide to head back to Jeffton first and see to the children’s safety before pressing on deeper in the pits below.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One down

As I write this, I am in the midst of recapping our Mutant Future game which pushed through yesterday despite my bout of dyspepsia. Also, things have managed to calm down at bit at home now that our son Coby succesfully got through his operation. I'll be posting a game session account asap and the xp tallies my players have been constantly pestering me about. May we all have a pleasant week ahead of us.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I know I should be doing some other things at this point in time (gaming-wise, reading-wise and otherwise) but I am currently distracted by my latest acquisition- the DC archives of the Unknown Soldier. I'd been debating for a long time whether or not to pick this volume up so when I saw it on sale in a nearby bookstore during my lunchbreak, I failed by Willpower save and promptly plunked my GP on the counter and took it back to work.

So far I'm enjoying it - I read a lot of Unknown Soldier comics back in the day (along The Losers, Haunted Tank and Sgt. Rock).

Something he always said resonates in my head even to this day:

"One guy can affect the outcome of a whole war! One guy in the right place at the right time..."

I always loved Joe Kubert's evocative covers and his interior art was great! Gerry Talaoc also did great interior art (I wonder if he's the same guy who also did some artwork for Weird War Tales - now that is one comic I really miss!). Wouldn't it be something to see if Jack Kirby tried a few issues of the Unknown Soldier?

Game is on this Sunday

This is sent out to my players who are enjoined to read this and fail not under sanction of law:

Game resumes this Sunday, December 13, 2009 1-6 p.m. at Henry's. Please confirm your availability. I am introducing a few more houserules which I will take up with you briefly before the game. Barring any upsets in our schedule, I hope you see you all then.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Episode Four - Buggems!

Game session on 27 November 2009

Mutant Lord’s note: This is the beginning of another “packaged” adventure I am running for my players. This time, it is the first short ‘dungeon’ found in the old Gamma World module Legion of Gold. As the default starting location in my Mutant Future games is set in my reality’s incarnation of the fortress of Horn (Sanly Bowitts), I find it quite apropos to continue on with a short sharp dungeon crawl-type scenario found in Legion of Gold.

Mutant Lord’s note to players: I know that some you guys are reading this, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t read through Legion of Gold while we are on our present involuntary gaming hiatus. If, for some reason you managed to get your hands on Legion (through fair means or foul), then please be fair enough not to read beyond the description of Horn. Stay away from the maps too!

We’ve been playing together for quite some time so you know I’ll know if you’ve all been going over the parts of the module you should not be reading, eh?

With that out of the way, I present the following account of our last Mutant Future game. It’s a bit short as our game started late, what with everyone’s schedules getting in the way. Doc Ben-g (Zed) rolled up another mutant (name escapes me now as my notebook is not here) as we thought Nikos (Max) could not make it. As it turned out Max was able to make it after all a little later that night!

Dramatis Personae:

Clyde - A dual-brained Mutie who secretes an intensity 7 level poison

Clem - A twin-headed Mutie with the Damage Turning mutation

Zed - A scaled Mutie with Thermal Vision and Quick Mind mutations

Marcus Truman – A Normal warrior who fights with longsword and dagger. Think Grey Mouser.

Max - A Normal armed with a Mark II Laser Pistol and a bad attitude

? - Another Mutie

Our Story:

Our characters begin the day early as the blood red sun rises in the east and have a hearty breakfast at the Strontium Ninety. Provisions are re-checked and the party is fully stocked after our adventurers spent the balance of the previous day’s afternoon going through the town market, replenishing supplies- particularly stocking up on their depleted amount of crossbow bolts. Clem and Zed also decided to put much of the money they earned to good use by paying a visit to the armorers and trading in their respective combat-worn suits of leather armor for spanking new hauberks of mail.

ML’s note: I was hinting that my players could hire henchmen or mercenaries but they refused to do so, reasoning that they did not want to share xps or loot with non-party PCs. Oh well, I guess time will tell if this is a good decision…

Amongst the items our group received as pay included a sturdy farmer’s wagon and two tame draft lizards hitched to it. Without further ado, our characters climb aboard their new ride and, with two of the farmers in their company leading the saurian beasts, plod off away from the town’s gates. Their destination is the village of Jeffton, in the northeast.

Their trek through the wilderness is unremarkable and without incident.

ML’s note: I rolled repeatedly on the encounter table but fate would appear to have the story move swiftly on, and no combat with critters or other such eventrs occurred. So the party found itself in Jeffton in a short while.

By mid-afternoon, they find themselves on a dirt trail leading up to a smallish village near a lush, verdant expanse of forest. The village is surrounded by a sturdy palisade around which are cultivated fields. Almost at once, our group notices the presence of armed folk on the palisades as well as a few groups patrolling the fields. As they come closer, Max confirms from their farmer companions that these are merely armed villagers, not true professional fighting men, evidently from their mien and bearing.

Having peacefully announced their presence (with the introductions of their farmer companions), the group finds themselves surrounded by simple but hardy folk dressed in homespun and buckskins. The crowd seems peaceable enough if not curious. It parts as a tall, shaven-headed man in his thirties strides forward. Although he is garbed as a farmer, he also speaks with authority and carries himself with an air of leadership. The villagers appear to treat him with a friendly sort of respect.

He is introduced as Wilber Frump, mayor of Jeffton. He invites the characters to the hospitality of his home and bids them to rest after their journey through the wilds. As always, Max accepts gracefully on behalf of all.

In Mayor Frump’s cabin, his wife serves our group a plain but refreshing meal. The rest of the family is promptly shooed away and three other grave-looking men are admitted. These turn out to be members of the village council, and with them in attendance, talk turns to the urgent matters at hand.

Frump tells the group of recent complaints from trappers and hunters about slowly diminishing prey in the forests beyond Jeffton. This is rather unusual considering that this should be the season of the year when game is aplenty. This was followed by complaints from troubled farmers who spoke of livestock that went missing and whose gruesome remains were later found nearby. The corpses of such cows, sheep or goats were almost often found bloated and dismembered, as if something had eaten them from the inside resulting in the animals’ horribly painful demise.

Worse was yet to follow. A few days back, three villagers’ children were playing in the wooded are south of the fields near Jeffton when they were reported to have been set-upon by ferociously wild insect men. Of these children, only one, named Petey, returned to the village. The others were, to the best of everyone’s knowledge, abducted by these insect men and dragged off to the woods. Worse still, the parents of these children, most certainly distraught by these events, marched off into the woods in the company of four other adults, in an attempt to bring them back. They had not returned since and the village council fears the worst.

Frump now earnestly solicits the party’s help in stopping this menace to Jeffton.

The group now throws questions at the village council. It is learned that the surviving child from the attack is Peter (Petey) Humfriis, son of Thammas Humfriis, a dour-faced member of the council. Although reluctant at first, Humfriis is finally prevailed upon to allow the group to speak to Petey.

At Humfriis’ cabin, his family is at first, surprised to a see a band of warriors enter with Thammas.

“Is that ugly one a Mutie, mommy?” asks Thammas’ youngest son, pointing at Clem.

“What what yer sayin ya blasted whelp,” growls Clem’s left head, causing the boy to hide in fear behind his mother’s skirt.

Everyone else in our group then finds themselves desperately trying to calm the family’s fears as it seems that the stories about these Muties’ ferocious habits are true. It isn’t easy at first, but cooler heads prevail and Thammas is reluctantly prevailed upon to allow Max and Zed (who is adjudged to be the least malformed looking of the Muties) to see Petey who is resting in the next room.

Max finds Petey in a sad, shocked state. The boy’s right arm is wrapped in bandages and appears to have been slashed and then broken. At first he does not respond Max’s gentle coaxing, even with his father around. He even looks askance at the scaled features of Zed.

Max changes tack and gingerly draws his laser pistol. He begins to display it like a trinket and speaks animatedly of its powerful lore, telling of a thousand and one encounters with death in the wasteland. This appears to capture the boy’s attention. After all, boys much like men, are ever attracted to stories of adventure and derring-do as well as shiny bright toys. Very soon, Max is sitting beside Petey and even Zed has joined the circle of stories and tales of the World Outside the Village.

ML’s note: this took quite a bit of roleplaying but it was great fun! As a result, the players managed to get first hand info from the NPC. I also loved how Henry played the part of a grumpy mutant carrying on a conversation with himself in two voices!

Petey recounts that they played in the woods that afternoon. He was with Miko and Nica when what appeared to be black shiny ant-like mutants suddenly tunneled up from below the ground and grabbed them. These mutants were tall – almost man-sized, with sharp mandibles and equally sharp protuberances from what passed as their fingers. Petey recalls pulling away desperately, breaking his arm in the process and later suffering a wicked gash as the mutant swiped him with his claw-like appendage. As he ran off, he heard Miko and Nica screaming desperately and then nothing else as they were dragged off into the woods.

He says he was later found by Kharl Genser, a prosperous farmer whose family settled the land near the woods. His Uncle Kharl took him back to Jeffton and safety. Thammas then begs the group to stop for now as the boy, obviously still weak from his ordeal visibly needed rest.

Later, they returned to Mayor Frump, and talk turns to compensation for the group’s almost certain coming efforts in harm’s way. The Mayor opens a locked chest and pulls out what appears to be a near kin to Zed’s jezail. This, he claims is powered by small reddish thick cylinders rather than the thin brass tubes of Zed’s weapon. Beside it is a laser pistol which all recognize, though seemingly of a smaller type and make than that of Max’s. Frump agrees to pay them with these Ancient relics if they perform their part of the deal and rid Jeffton of the insectoid menace. They agree and a deal is sealed.

Knowing how this endeavor could be more dangerous than anyone realizes, Frump turns over to the group two greenish cylinders of worn metal, each sporting a ring-pull and lever extending down one side. He claims that these were bequeathed to the village council in the past and are expected to be efficacious against insect life. The group gratefully accepts.

They decide to pay a visit to Kharl Genser to learn more about the insect men. Although it is late afternoon, they agree to push on and arrive a the Genser farm before sunset.

It is a short and peaceful walk in the wilds outside Jeffton when, cresting a rise, our adventurers are greeted by an alarming spectacle. In the light of the setting bloody sun, what appears to be a much roughed-up pure human is being dragged off into the treeline a few hundred feet away.

“No! Buggems!!!”, they hear a wailing despairing cry from the human as he disappears into the woods.

This galvanizes the party into instant action! With a cry Max draws sword and pistol leading the group into the woods. The party draws steel and nocks bolts as they speed off into the trees. Bursting into the woods, they see tracks and trampled foliage leading into a clearing. In the midst of this is the human, prone and bloody, and standing over him is a man-like insect covered in black, shiny chitin. It resembles a monstrous intelligent termite, with antennae waving and sharp claw-like appendages waving menacingly. Unsettling clicks and hisses fill the air from the monster.

“So this is a Buggem,” spits Marcus Truman with sword and dagger at the ready.

ML’s note: Max’s player wanted to finish off the Buggem fast and kept worrying about pheromones being excreted by the critter. Little did he know that the worst was yet to come…

As they close with the Buggem, Zed and Clyde stand off, firing bolts at the monster. The bolts are envenomed as Clyde rubs each off his poisonous skin before shooting them off.

ML’s note: My players came up with a cheesy tactic by smearing crossbow bolts on Clyde’s poisonous skin-gunk. I allowed this but they had to roll a d4 first to see if the quarrel got poisoned enough. I should expand this as there should be a built in chance Clyde punctures himself during the heat of combat!

Surrounded, vents on the Buggem’s shell now excrete a nauseous, thick, whitish gas that fills much of the clearing and impairs its’ attackers’ vision. Worse, our adventurers hear the soil about them cracking and moving. They can’t see them, but they sense the earth shifting and creatures digging themselves up from the loose soil and begin to attack in the misty gas. All of a sudden, the group’s fire support is well nigh neutralized for lack of targets to see. Fighting becomes desperate and confused.

Max now pulls out one of the metal cylinders given by Mayor Frump. He pulls the pin but continues to hold on to it. There is a muffled burst of heat and fire, burning Max who drops the object. Now, a thick odorless current of gas streams out of the relic, mingling with the fumes of the Buggem. As the relic’s own gas spreads, one of the Buggems drops dead, much to the adventurers’ collective relief. They redouble their attacks and down another one which generates the blinding fumes.

As the Buggem’s fumes thin out, the others break and run, having lost stomach for fighting. They are ran down and speared in the back.

Taking quick stock of the clearing, they find the man on the ground dying. He manages to whisper softly before expiring.

“Help Genser…”, he mutters before death finally silences him.

The tunnel holes dug by the Buggems are too unstable to follow. The party elects to head towards the Genser farm as night is fast approaching.

ML’s note: Apparently, I really snared the group successfully this time as they opted not to wait for the next day to visit Genser. Not bad for a sense of urgency.

Returning from the woods they find the Genser farm. It is a large compound, about a hundred feet to each side, fenced in by sturdy wooden stakes and planks. A thick, well made gate of lumber bars the entrance. There appears to be no other means of ingress visible from the ground. They can just make out the tops of a barn, a tool shed and the second-storey of a well made house.

Marcus Truman tests the gate which is barred from within. They all decide to climb the palisade and successfully find themselves inside the premises. All seems peaceful – too peaceful. The forest sounds are dead. Even the insects and little animals are silent. Only the creaking of window shutters moving in the late afternoon breeze amidst the fading light of a dying sun is heard.

Before them is a cone of earth thirty feet high and just as wide. It reminds all of a monstrous termite mound. The cone tapers slightly to the top and flattens. After a brief discussion, they decide the scale the cone – but not until weapons and drawn and held at the ready.

This holds them in good stead as halfway up their ascent, a monstrous, disgusting sight meets them. Over the top of the cone climbs out a giant grey insect topped with hideously long antennae waving forth in a menacing manner. The grey bug is longer than a man and whips its antennae like impossibly long blades slicing again and again into Clyde. It flutters its fibrous grey wings and sharp quill-like spines shoot off again and again like arrows. As one, the group rains blows and missiles at the creature and a well-placed shot from Zed’s jezail finally kills it, sending it reeling and shuddering down the lip and out of the cone.

“At least we now know this weapon really works”, Quips Zed to his grinning comrades.

ML’s notes: It’s a good thing my players took the time to ready weapons. Maybe its just me or I’m getting predictable but they really seemed to be expecting trouble when they climbed the earth mound. Also, the Parn (that’s what the bug was under Gamma World rules) was very easy to convert on the fly to Mutant Future stats. I guess this shows how versatile rules Mutant Future can be as it lends itself to quick conversion of stats from monsters found in its earlier game ‘progenitors’. Finally, Doc Ben-g (Zed’s player) and I completely forgot about Zed’s Insect Phobia which he diced up during character generation!!! It only occurred to us at the end of the night’s adventure.

They peer down the open top of the earthen cone and see it is hollow. Down, at the limits of the dying daylight, they find a circular tunnel about five feet wide branch off into the ground. They decide not to climb down that way, and instead, check out the house.

The house is empty, with everything where it should be. It’s almost as if its occupants just got up and left. They search the second storey but find nothing else. All they help themselves to are two sturdy looking oil lamps which they proceed to light as twilight now falls in earnest.

“Could it be that this Genser fellow has questionable dealings with these mutants?” muses Max aloud.

They see dirt scattered throughout the common room of the house which lead to a trapdoor in one corner. Zed notices that the dirt is of the same color as that of the layers of earth inside the hollow cone outside.

Readying weapons once more, they gingerly lift the creaking trapdoor and carefully – oh most carefully, shine a light inside. They find a rough wooden stair frame leading about eight feet down into a cellar. Descending carefully, they find the cool damp of the cellar slightly unsettling. The floor is packed earth and the cellar appears empty. Glancing around they discover that they are wrong.

There is a hole dug along the southern face of the cellar’s earthen wall. It is five feet wide and tunnels off into the earth. Something has already been inside the Genser house.

Now, they know they will have to follow it into the hole it made.

ML’s note: I had to stop the game at this time as I had to take my kids to the pedia the next morning. Nonetheless we were all happy to end it at this point and such a cliffhanger ending could not have been more appropriate at this stage of the game. As we ended, my players were already fixing up their ‘marching order.’ It was shaping up to be a Mutant Future dungeon crawl.

ML’s note to players: I’ll be posting your xps asap on this blog. Please stay tuned guys. Sorry we couldn’t continue our game this Friday night.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Real world concerns

I may be posting intermittently and irregularly in the coming days and real life concerns need attending to. In particular, our one year old son Coby may be undergoing elective surgery for an inguinal hernia tomorrow, assuming the doctors clear him for this. Our regular Mutant Future game isn't pushing through tomorrow as well but I'll keep posting a running account of our past games. I apologize for not being able to respond as often and as promptly as I want to to your emails - I will endeavor to do this.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Critters: Homo Wampyricus (or Vampires in the Mutant Future?)

This is my first attempt at a Mutant Future critter post so please bear with me if it turns out a bit too weird. By way of background, I got this idea after I accompanied by wife to watch Twilight- New Moon at the theater the other day. I kind of enjoyed the special effects and fight scenes between the vampires and lycanthropes in the movie.


No. Enc.: 1 (1d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40')
Fly: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 9
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d10 or as mutation
Save: L9
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: XVI

Commonly known as 'Vampires' these mutant humans are amongst the more insidious threats to sapient life (and pure humans in particular), in the wastelands of the Mutant Future.

It is believed that these creatures are the descendants of pure strain humans who were infected by an unusually malignant strain of virus in the distant past. The virus seems to have affected only pure strain humans giving rise to speculation amongst the learned that this is a leftover from the time of the Ancients. Whatever the truth really is, these mutants have, with the passage of time, evolved into a distinct and separate race of their own. The virus which gave rise to their existence has either become tame or mutated itself further into dormancy.

A Vampire always outwardly appears as a tall, unusually charismatic pure strain human endowned with unusually strong animal magnetism and an unsettlingly pale pallor. The mutant's irises are a disturbing shade of red, much like that of an albino.

Vampires have all highly intelligent and posses prodigous strength and constitution compared to their pure strain human ancestors. They are known to have succefully understood and gained access to all forms of Relic Technology which they hoard jealously and use with great efficacy. Unfortunately, a genetic imperative compels all of them to harbor a great hunger for blood. Although the blood of Mutant Animals and Mutant Humans are acceptable to Vampires, it is the fresh warm blood of Pure Strain Humans which they crave with a vengeance. This, coupled with their clearly superior personal traits has generally fostered a most unwelcome outlook in this race as they tend to percieve other intelligent humanoids as "cattle".

Vampires are often found in well-stocked, well-defended lairs guarded by various co-opted minions. Regardless of location, a Vampire's lair will contain a "stable" of intelligent humanoids as slaves who provide the Vampire with sport and ultimately, with food. Vampires tend to suck the blood from their slaves, savouring the substance as people do when they milk cows. Eventually, the more careless vampires tend to kill off their "cattle" after a few months.

These mutants have a dependency on blood which is hardwired into their system. They have to have a constant supply of fresh blood in their diet or they suffer a long term -1 to constitution for every week such blood is denied them.

Mutations: Flight, psionic (which makes them appear to perform prodigous gravity-defying leaps), Fragrance Development (pheromones), at least two increased physical attributes, (modified) albinism.

Mutant Lord's note: this monster for Mutant Future was largely derived from the post-apocalypse vampires of James Kahn's World Enough and Time. Dr. Kahn's novel makes for good inspirational reading for post-apocalyptic gaming in general and Mutant Future in particular. It has the right elements treated in an innovative and interesting manner: intelligent animals, geneered sentients (centaurs!) and vampires. His treatment of androids or cyborgs [?] is also highly interesting. A good read if you'd care to give this a try!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Episode Three - Mopping up and coming back

Game session on 20 November 2009

Episode three followed on the heels of the big battle in the core of the Mine of the Brain Lashers leaving our adventurers low on crossbow bolts, hit points and juice for Max’s Laser Pistol. The unfortunate Puccini, the intrepid Animal Mutie was unlucky enough to fall to a Brain Lasher’s Possession mutation resulting in his gruesome and untimely death. We were down two players due to real-life causes but were fortunate enough to have Doctor Joseph, one of our otherwise regular players, drop in unexpectedly at 10 pm. and play the role of two missing Normals.

Our Story:

The survivors of the harrowing fight in the core of the Brain Lashers’ mine regrouped in the aliens’ central chamber. Therein, they managed to learn just enough to functionally make the devices they retrieved work properly. Apart from these choice items was a long, heavy-set, coffin-like slab of smooth, extruded matter. Successful tech rolls and some interesting role playing revealed the controls which activated this construct (which turned out to be my version of a Regeneration Tank). Getting over their surprise when the construct began to speak to them in strangely accented Norte, our lads found themselves carrying on a conversation with the processing unit of a functioning pre-disaster Mark J Cybernetic Surgery Unit. Getting over their initial fear, our lads found themselves heeding the construct’s spiritual voice and taking turns lying in its coffin-like interior and pleasantly experiencing having their hit points restored to full capacity after a brief induced dreamless sleep.

Mutant Lord’s note: My Mark J resembles an autodoc unit from Larry Niven’s Known Space novels. Essentially, all you do is step in and it does all the work restoring you back to normal status. Otherwise, it produces the same effect a Regeneration Tank of the Mutant Future rules has on a character.

Finding themselves more whole in body, our adventurers now picked up two torches from wall their sconces and proceeded to explore the rest of the caves. Carefully working their way from darkened passages to dripping caves, they find nothing more of value, save a few wandering Homo Erectus who prove to be unresponsive to their repeated attempts at communication.

Mutant Lord’s note: I decided to depart from the map provided in the Mutant Future rules and decided to use my own based on some caves I personally walked/crawled/climbed into sometime in the past. Nonetheless, the map in the Mutant Future rules is a straightforward and solidly designed one which I may yet spring on my hapless minions sometime in a future game or ten…

Presently, they come upon a roughly-fashioned gate of twine and planks closing off what appears to be an entrance to the mine. Exiting from this, they are surprised by another pair of live laser drones, emplaced by the now-departed Brain Lashers. Left with no choice, the band attacks decisively, hacking away at the nearest while pelting the farther one with missiles and the odd laser beam. Apart from a few superficial burns, our party successfully destroys the drones swiftly.

Beyond the gate is an underground lake fed by a swiftly moving-river emptying from an adjoining cave. They find a narrow stone walkway at the edges of the cave walls which they follow in the darkness. A roll at this point provides a random critter encounter but our lads successfully evade the giant leeches that unsuccessfully attempt to drop in on them. The cave branches to the left and right with the right fork emerging into the sunlight. Still beyond, they can see the green shore and their moored boats.

They decide to take the left fork first and move in single file along the river’s banks, deeper into the caverns which seem to go one considerably farther. They pace off about two hundred feet and keep going, noting how the river appears to be moving swifter now. At about five hundred feet, the cavern still goes on without any signs of ending. After a hurried discussion, they opt to turn back to the sunlight and their waiting boats.

Mutant Lord’s note: Although my players came away with a respectable haul, they could have gotten even more. They just missed or opted to by-pass the other encounters I set up for them.

The trip back

The trip back south along with Lesser Azure is largely uneventful, save for an attack by a gigantic mutant crocodile that wandered into their camp in the dark that night. Clem, in particular, appeared to be awfully relieved for not being swallowed whole by their erstwhile reptilian attacker and, with the help of Clyde spent a few hours at daybreak beheading the crocodile’s corpse and skinning it as well. The croc’s gigantic head was then affixed by the group on the boat’s sloping bow thus providing it with an obscenely gaping figurehead.

Mutant Lord's note: this time the dice were with my players. the giant croc was 15HD but I rolled the lowest result in the Carcosa variable hit dice table giving it lower-than-expected HP. As expected, this boosted player morale considerably.

A hero’s return?

By late afternoon of the second day after leaving the Mine, our group returns to Sanly Bowitts, mooring their boats at the water’s edge on the town’s southern rampart. Naturally, they draw a gaping crowd especially with the bloody gaping saurian figurehead mounted on their riverboat. They turn the boats over to the militia and make a snap decision to donate the croc’s dismembered remains to the town’s University. The militia officer of the day gladly accepts on behalf of the Surgeon General and the Chief Resident. They now hope that this gets them remembered at the right time by those whose decisions count in this town.

The merchants who own the recovered boats are an altogether different kettle of fish, so to speak. As one, they demand the immediate return of their property from these wastelanders with nothing said about compensation. This prompts the Normals to raise the issue of ‘proper salvage rights’ (with Doc Joseph being the player arguing the loudest alongside a lot of bantering and laughter). On cue, the Muties vociferously add their voices to the argument (my player Henry who portrayed the two-headed Mutie Clem, ended up role-playing in two voices- how he does this without getting schizo is truly one of his talents). Trader Myles is then called in and, along with a Captain of the Militia, attempt to arbitrate the matter. This results in a lengthy and interesting role-playing session which took a large chunk of the night’s gaming. Eventually, all were prevailed upon to settle their differences amicably in the taproom of the Strontium Ninety with a salvor’s bounty negotiated at 900 gold pieces. This is witnessed and sanctified by two notarial clerks and the Militia Captain. Along with Trader Myles’ expected payment in gold, the group now has some disposable income to play with.

By the next day, our boyz are met by Trader Myles who claims he needs additional time to call in his debts and raise the money to fully pay them. They are not pleased with this news but later are considerably heartened when Myles instead offers to part with a rare, yet functioning device of apparent arcane construction. He shows them a longish, wood-framed object resembling a crossbow, save for the fact that the bow itself is missing and it’s muzzle terminates in a curious tube-like aperture, crowned by a curious rectangular fitting of shiny steel. Myles further demonstrates how a curving box-like object fits beneath the thing which he claims is actually a weapon of not-inconsiderable power. Making their tech rolls with the aid of the trader’s instruction they learn the weapon’s secrets and readily accept it as payment and call it quits. Zed is designated by the group as the weapon’s bearer.

Myles calls it a ‘jezail’, but it means little to the lads.

‘You need protecting from what?’

Later in the day, they wander the market and are approached by four weather-beaten men who are identified as farmers from a nearby village, about a day’s march from Sanly Bowitts. Their spokesman speaks in rough curiously-accented Norte and beseeches them for aid. He claims that their village is in need of protection as it is being menaced by what he describes as insect-men from the wilderness. He adds that their Mayor is prepared to pay generously for the services of a fearless band of plucky lads whose recent exploits have just become the talk of Sanly Bowitts. After all short discussion, Max announces to the farmers that they will help their village solve this problem with the so-called ‘insect-men’.

We ended the session at this point and were able to determine that all surviving characters managed to advance a level with points to spare. Not bad for a few days of adventuring!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mutant Lord's postscript to Episode 2

Having succesfully concluded our biggest battle yet in the Mutant Future, I was elated to say the least. Our friday night games really have a calming and recharging effect on me after a toxic week of work. Something to look forward to at the end of a work week.

With this, I shook hands with my buddies and bid them a good morning (we over-extended our curfew this time around and it was about 12.30 am when we ended). Arriving home, I did the rounds of the house as I often do before going to sleep. Imagine my surprise when I checked into my sons' 'playroom' and was confronted by a very irate and jumpy black and white tomcat!

Naturally, my first thoughts were on our baby who was sleeping in an adjoining room and had just recovered from a cold. So my mind goes into high gear and I shut the door immediately, effectively trapping Tabby in the room.

What the fuck was a neighborhood alley cat doing in a second floor room of my house?!!!

How the fuck did it get in there in the first place?!!!

By then my wife was awake and actually thought for a moment that some burglar had broken into our place (these things are known to happen where we live).

So there I go, turning all the houselights on, securing the rooms, putting my shoes back on and finally grabbing the hardwood club I keep in my car. Not that I had any intentions of fighting it out with an already shaken and unstable feline intruder who was getting all claws and hissy on me. My plan was to shoo him out and get him running out the front door which my wife already opened. She suggested stuffing it into a sack but seeing how Tabby seemed ready to take me on convinced me of the merits of Plan A instead.

I finally entered the room and looked for Tabby. I couldn't see him but I could hear him hissing under the spare bed. So I start rapping the steel frame of the bed to flush him out and zoom! He bolts out and zips across the floor. Looking back I would imagine I looked funning jumping up and down while chasing Tabby trying to steer him towards the stairs (which he luckily turned to immediately) and into the living room. Seeing the open door, Tabby ran out into the street and disappeared into the night.

By this time, my wife was perched on the coffee table 'just to get out of the way'. Come to think of this, she did this too when I went after a humungous rat in her mother's house, a few years back - but that's for another post.

As if this wasn't excitement enough, the Mutant Lord must have rolled another 1 on the encounter table and I came face to face with another alley cat in our dirty kitchen at the back of the house. This one seemed to be female and I would not be surprised if it was Tabby's mate. She also beat a quick exit after the lights came on.

I checked and all our windows were closed at the time Tabby managed to infiltrate into the house? Hence the remaining question, how the fuck did he get in? The culprit, it turns out, was the slow-closing kitchen door at the back of the house. For some reason, everyone seemed to be pre-occupied in the house at about dinner time and Tabby must have been able to sneak in as the kitchen door slowly closed shut after somebody came in.

I told my dad about Tabby during my son's birthday party next day and you can see he was a bit creeped out - and believe me, my dad doesn't get creeped out by just anything. I guess the image of a tattered dirty, cantankerous, feral-looking feline intruder unexpectedly showing up in your house at 1.30 a.m. can induce one to undergo a morale check. Good thing it failed its roll this time.

I guess it would have been worse if this happened in the Mutant Future as Tabby would have had some weird, slick and deadly mutation up his sleeve. Maybe Irradiated Eyes. Wouldn't have touched him with my three foot hardwood stick in that case....

Oh well.

The Adventuring Party

I'm certain many folks have alluded to this picture before but I just can't help but post it here. I recall going over a friend's hard copy of Metamorphosis Alpha as a high school kid, a lifetime ago. This picture screamed "Adventuring Party" to me then, and it still does now, with my return to old school gaming via Mutant Future. I always dreamed being that human leader in the picture even if I never got to play Metamorphosis Alpha back then. I guess this is the default image that comes to my mind when I try to visualize a group of intrepid adventurers about to wander off into the wasteland of my Mutant Future.

Episode Two: Mine of the Brain Lashers- part II

A Long Way Down

They lower down a rope and Puccini volunteers to rappel down. He goes down halfway without mishap but rolls a 1 (critical failure) on the second half of the descent. Up above, Max and the rest of the group manage to tighten their grip on the rope thereby ensuring that Puccini does not fall all the way down. However, the mishap causes the Animal Mutie to swing violently, causing him to strike the rock face of the chamber wall and making a ruckus in the cave.

Puccini safely hits the ground but sees two hulking primitive near-humans come into the chamber from the western exit. These are Homo Erectus guards armed with swords who burst in and attack. He successfully uses Empathy Sense on one of them and neutralizes him, but the other hacks at him savagely (dealing better than usual damage on a d12 due to my exceptionally good roll on the CVDT).

Unbeknownst to all, they had just stumbled into a stronghold of a group of Brain Lashers and their regressed Homo Erectus minions. This was then the start of the group’s first real “dungeon”-type adventure in Mutant Future as I used the sample scenario found in page 140 of the Mutant Future rulebook.

And what a fight it turned out to be.

Our first fatality

A hidden Brain Lasher lurking in an adjoining cave has been alerted to the intruders’ presence and hits Puccini with a Mental Thrust. The Mutie is stunned by the sudden mental attack and releases control of his attacker. With both Homo Erectus now hacking away at him, Max and Zed hurriedly rope to down to join the fight. They arrive too late as in the meantime, the Brain Slasher had already successfully taken mental possession of the hapless Puccini. The Mutie is then compelled to move towards the Brain Lasher’s cave. Zombie-like, Puccini shambles and then crawls into the tiny entrance of the Lasher’s cave, with Zed vainly pulling at him every step of the way. To be fair, I gave the players every chance to let Zed roll a test of strength against that of Puccini’s to restrain the Animal Mutie, but Zed kept failing his rolls spectacularly.

Now, more Homo Erectus minions flood into the chamber. Things are beginning to look grim and everyone else except Marcus Truman clambers down hurriedly to take on the onrushing savages. The cave floor becomes slick with blood and its’ stony walls echo with the sound of clashing steel. Truman keeps up a steady stream of bolts and he has no shortage of targets.

Meanwhile, the hapless Puccini remains under the Lasher’s control and inexorably moves puppet-like to his doom. The Mutie disappears into the Lasher’s cave whereupon he is promptly attacked by his tormentor. Steely claws slice into the Mutie’s temples as the alien abomination of another world efficiently siphons off his brain matter. Zed can only look on in horrified fury while Puccini breathes out his last in a strangled, final death rattle.

A desperate fight to the finish

This galvanizes Zed who puts a bolt through the gore-covered Brain Lasher doing a gratifying above-average d12 of damage on the CVDT. However, this is not enough and it is Zed who is now under the Slasher’s mental possession. Zombie-like, Zed helplessly follows in the wake of the deceased Puccini into the Slasher’s cave.

Seeing this, Max charges in with sword and laser pistol, leaving the rest to hold off the minions.

Max emerges into an eerily-lit chamber hacked out of the solid bedrock. Alien, arcane energies are alive in this place, flowing in an insane rhythm. At the far end are two alien metallic pylons standing twenty feet apart. Between these appears to be weird ultra-telluric field displaying a dark other-worldly vista: alien constellations, a disturbingly bleak skyline and the russet soil of another reality. It now appears that these abominations have succeeded in opening a gate into another world.

There are two other Brain Lashers are in the chamber.

Max fires at the nearest rolling a natural 20- a critical hit! He rolls low on the CVDT but still does a respectable 31 points of damage due to successive maximum rolls on the damage dice (my houserule allowing re-rolls of every maximum result on the damage dice from a critical hit).

Angered, the wounded Brain Lasher retaliates with Possession but fails spectacularly by rolling a natural 1! I make a snap ruling that the Lasher suffers psionic feedback and cannot attack for
the next 1d4 melee rounds. Unfortunately, Max misses his next shot and the other Slasher successfully puts him under mental possession!

At this point, my players have decided on a concerted attack on the Brain Lashers is the only way to end this and, leaving Clem to deal with the three remaining Homo Erectus, charge the Brain Lashers. In the meantime, the Homo Erectus, despite having sustained considerable damage, easily make their morale roll and continue to attack.

Marcus Truman and the poisonous Mutie Clyde arrive first, attacking the last unengaged Lasher who puts up a stiff fight. By now, most of the boyz are down on hit points, with Kendrick reduced to one single point left! The other Lashers mentally compel Max and Zed to shamble into Clyde in an attempt to get him to ‘rub off’ his poison on them. Clyde successfully dodges Max but Zed gets a dose of his intensity 7 poison.

The sorely wounded Kendrick and Marcus Truman keep up their fire at the Lashers, practically firing off all their bolts. Truman then draws sword and dagger and rushes the Lasher controlling Max. His incessant attacks succeeds in causing the alien to release his mental grip on Max. Now freed, Max aids in attacking the Lasher controlling Zed. The fight is in close quarters and now, the group’s numbers are an advantage. Zed is also freed and the Lashers are set upon by the group in deadly earnest.

This proves too much for them. One falls to combined attacks of laser, steel and poison. The other two fail their morale roll run out of the dimensional gate.

With the party looking very worse for wear, Zed and Marcus Truman begin search the rock wall behind the dimensional gateway (which eventually flickers off in a few minutes). They find a secret door built into the stone face of the chamber wall. Opening it, they enter a passage
that leads into a strangely shaped room filled with various goods and artifacts.

The characters eventually managed to find the relic healing technology provided as treasure in the sample scenario as stated in the rulebook. There was an interesting bit of role-playing as they struggled to get the relics to function. This and a series of successful tech rolls enabled our group to live to fight another day.

A little facelift

You may notice that I've given my blog a few changes here and there. I'm learning how to use the different functions available in the dashboard menu. It's still pretty early and rudimentary for me but I guess I'm learning more as I go.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Episode Two - Mine of the Brain Lashers (part 1)

Game session on 15 November 2009

Dramatis Personae:

Clyde - A dual-brained Mutie who secretes an intensity 7 level poison

Clem - A twin-headed Mutie with the Damage Turning mutation

Zed - A scaled Mutie with Thermal Vision and Quick Mind mutations

Marcus Truman – A Normal warrior who fights with longsword and dagger. Think Grey Mouser.

Max - A Normal armed with a Mark II Laser Pistol and a bad attitude

Puccini - An Animal Mutie (or mutant animal in rules-speak). Looks like an intelligent, bipedal turtle-man with the Empathy mutation

Kendrick – Another Normal warrior.

Der Spielmeister – The deranged Mutant Lord

Mutant Lord's note: For those who follow the exploits of our ne'r do wells, it may be noticed that there are more characters this time around as compared to the previous episode. Yes, this is true. I had to bring in these newcomers as the reality of my gaming group is that I have quite a group of players who want to play but can't play due to real life concerns. It's a reality I really have to struggle with.

This adventure is my take on the sample adventure found in the Mutant Future rules. I took the core and mutated it to suit my needs.

Our Story:

The group camps out in the wilderness on the western shore of the banks of the Lesser Azure River. No wandering beasts, mutants or critters came close to the camp that night. Nonetheless, Puccini and Zed spy out some bestial, shambling humanoid figures out in the distance on the opposite bank of the river. By morning, they see nothing but glimpse some curiously shaped footprints in the mud.

They start the next day’s travels by paddling anew up north. By midmorning, they find what appears to be an abandoned riverboat drifting aimlessly near the eastern shore. Covered by the readied crossbows of his companions, Zed gingerly boards it. Upon searching he sees little signs of a struggle. Curiously, he finds no metal articles of any kind aboard. The crew is missing. Barrels of ale appear to have been broken open and their contents spilled about. Boxes of salted meat which appear to form the rest of the boat’s cargo are also scattered haphazardly about.

The boxes appear to be missing the metal nails which hold them together while the barrels’ metal hoops are also gone. The boyz decide to boards the boat tow their canoes behind. Max insists on gathering up much foliage from the woods by the shore and emplacing them on the riverboat to break up its silhouette.

Presently, they come upon a fork in the river, with a smaller tributary heading east. They decide to follow the tributary eastwards. The river here is heavily forested on both sides.

Shortly after midday, they come upon a barren stretch of shore. The remnants of ruined walls stony mounds as well as an ancient crumbling road are evident. The crew comes ashore to investigate the ruins. Finding nothing of value, they re-embark and continue eastwards.

Upon leaving the ruins Max and Puccinni begin feeling ill. Both begin to retch uncontrollably over the stern and shake all over. It is suspected that they all took a whiff of radiation while they searched the ruins.

By midafternoon, they glimpse a mountain rising in the distance. Later, the tributary gently turns left and empties into a small lake adjoining a sheer mountainside. There is a cave in the mountainside and the waters empty into it in what appears to be the entrance to an underground river. The crew disembarks on the left shore of the lake and secure their boats.

They see the overgrown remnants of another crumbling ancient roadway some ways from the shore. It is just visible enough to show that it snakes up the mountainside, continuing up the slopes into a large artificial cliffside overlooking the lake. After a hurried discussion, they decide to travel up the mountain following the ancient road.

Picking their way up the overgrown, scrub-covered slopes, they attain the artificial cliffside and find two bunker-like stone structures on the far end. They decide to by-pass them and continue up the forested slopes, sticking as much as possible to cover. Someways up the group comes upon a barely-evident footpath which goes even higher.

The footpath abruptly ends at what appears to be a jagged tear in the rock face of the
mountainside. Before them is a rough, cave-like opening more narrow at its width than it is high. Water trickles into the opening from the mountainside.

Approaching gingerly, they are greeted by a weird machine-like humming as two dome-like constructs, smooth and worn with age come to life. One is emplaced beside the opening while the other, a few feet away from the footpath. The group scatters as tiny apertures on the constructs’ faces iris open and shoot reddish-green beams of energy which are painful to the eyes. Anything the beam is struck instantly burns with bright flames.

The group retaliates with a fusillade of bolts, missiles and the occasional laser beam. They manage to destroy both but not before Zed takes a nasty burn on his side. They salvage the burnt-out shells of their erstwhile attackers for valuables, and creep up close to the opening.

The find themselves looking into a cave which opens downward into a natural chamber of stone fifty feet below. There, in the center of the stone chamber below them, is a pool of water weirdly giving off a steady flow of steam. There are three exits from the chamber – caves by their looks.

Puccini takes a deep breath and attunes his Empathy Sense. He feels what he later describes as bestial hunger pangs emanating from inside the chamber. These sensations quickly fade out, as if their source had wandered off through one of the chamber’s exists.

They look at one another and after another hurried conference, they decide:

“We’ll have to climb down.”

The Mutant Lord's Impressions: Episode One

Episode One was the first experience I had in running Mutant Future and the first time any of my players ever played in a Mutant Future game, so this essentially was a learning experience for all of us.

The rules were pretty straightforward and being from a Basic D&D background a long, long time ago in my distant childhood, every thing came back to me smoothly. I liken this to not riding a bicycle for the longest time and just hopping on one and taking off down the street. Analogy-wise, running Mutant Future as a game system was a smooth ride.

The addition of variable damage rules and variable hit points from Carcosa (what my players now term as the ‘Carcosa Variable Damage Rules’ or CVDR) provided an additional level of uncertainty and tension during combat. Overall, that translated into a whole lot of fun, particularly when a player would satisfyingly roll high on the variable damage table and throw a whopping d12 when stabbing a critter with a “puny” dagger.

Checking under the hood - Sanly Bowitts and its environs

As soon as I made up my mind to run a Mutant Future game, I knew I’d have to make a few departures from my default settings for my other games. Science would have to be ‘softened up’ from the normal Traveller-Twilight 2000-Gurps Ultratech background in my usual game to a more rubber-science feel. Hence, the giant insects, lizards, vermin and glowing green mutants (not that the ladz have ever come up against a glowing green humanoid yet…). The point is, I relaxed quite a bit on my usual hard-science SF aspects of my game and threw the players into a real science fantasy universe that almost makes the Known Worlds of Fading Suns seem like hard science SF.

Also, with the drastic reduction in my overall game prep time brought about by an ever-increasing work at the office as well as the usual demands of bringing up two little kids, I was forced to take a more “laid back” approach in campaign development and world building. When I say “laid back” I refer to adopting a “kitchen sink” approach. I took what I wanted and what I could from existing post-apocalyptic sources and inspirational material, tossed them into my collective pot, stirred the mess around a bit, and fed them at will to my players.

Yes, the result was stew but so far, my players have yet to complain of the taste.

I know some of my players could be reading this, but what the heck, they’ll find out anyway. Some of a few odds and ends related to the setting at the start of my Mutant Future include the following:

Sanly Bowitts is a respelled name of a village at the edge of the desert in the post-nuclear war America of Walter M. Miller Jr.’s ‘A Canticle for Leibowitz’, if memory serves me right. I always felt that the first part of his work captured the feel of a world emerging from the destruction of the War to End All Wars, into the Shadow Years that follow.

Being my default start location for the ongoing game, Sanly Bowitts had to be fleshed out to a more organized degree as I expect my players to be spending some time meandering around town, hatching plots and raising their usual brand of mayhem. Hence I took the town of Horn from the excellent 1981 Gamma World adventure module Legion of Gold and plunked it right into the Cygnet Delta of my Gamma World. Gary Gygax, et al really did great on that module and I’m unabashedly ripping off bits here and there for use in our game.

The Hub is a larger, ostensibly more powerful city-state north west of Sanly Bowitts. I named it after a town in another post-nuclear America wherein the Normals war with the Mutants. This is in Michael Resnick’s 1969 novel ‘Redbeard’. I regret losing my copy of this book but I always considered Redbeard to be one of those stories that go so far in capturing that Gamma World-Mutant Future feel.

The musicians from the Strontium Ninety who were seen to have rendered a performance of a ditty with a chorus which goes somewhat like “Whip it Good!”, I’ll leave to my readers to figure out themselves. If you don’t get it, don’t feel too bad- I’ll attribute this, amongst others, to generation gap. I’m pretty old and my music tends to show this.

In relation to the musicians in the Strontium Ninety, I’d say the bar fight involving a stunningly beautiful, scantily clad, platinum blonde swordswoman and the three hulking verdure brutes should be another giveaway for those who’ve seen the animated Heavy Metal Movie. This, and the great white bird should bring the name “Taarna” in mind, if it hasn’t done so yet.

So far, this is it for Episode One. As I write this, I remember a recent post in James Maliszewski’s Grognardia wherein he did a review of the old SFRGP Space Opera. Having never played Space Op myself, I was intrigued (as most old style-SF rpgs tend to do so to me). One thing that struck me was the impression that FGU’s Space Op was essentially a happy mish-mash of different SF themes, tropes and icons all unabashedly placed in one game. Hence the cover of the gamebook as appearing in James’ blog had something that looked like a Wookie mixed in along with some other character types.

I couldn’t help say “Yeah, I can relate to that.” It dawned upon me that my Mutant Future is shaping up to be a mish-mash of post-apocalypse themes. A mixed stew. I hope it retains its flavor without going stale on me.

Episode One: Beginnings

Game session on 8 November 2009

Dramatis Personae:


A twin-brained human mutant ( ‘Muties’ as they are commonly known in these parts) known for the disgusting slime he involuntarily excretes throughout his body. Of course, this slime also happens to be a potent level 7 dermal poison. He can also control the weather with a thought. Unfortunately, he was born with a reduced immune system making him more susceptible to diseases than most others of his kind.


Another Mutie. Born with two heads and the power to gradually
turn back any damage inflicted upon him during combat as well as the ability to
boost his attributes by mere concentration.


The third Mutie of this team of ne’er-do-wells. He looks normal save for a dusting of scales giving him natural body armor. He can hear better than an average human, see in the dark, and has boosted mental reactions with an
affinity for all warlike martial things giving him a plus in combat. Unfortunately, he has a phobia for insects hardwired into his nervous system.


The only Normal in our group, Max resembles a sword-swinging young George Peppard from the old movie Damnation Alley.

Our story:

It starts in the walled town of Sanly Bowitts, a fortified settlement peopled mostly by pure humans (‘Normals’ as they are known in what passes for wastelander patios) in southern parts of a larger wilderness called the Eastern Marches.

Having traveled from their respective villages in search of fame, fortune and
loot, our band of four hardy, plucky lads pass into the massively fortified gatehouse of Sanly Bowitts. There, they are challenged by the militia bearing the town’s insignia emblazoned on their wicker shields in the form of a white staff entwined with two criss-crossing serpents.

They are promptly assessed a customary the tax on mutants and an additional excise to gain the privilege of bear arms within town limits.

Upon entry to the town, our lads saunter around the market square fronting a massive tower of ancient, unsmeltable metal which flares larger at the top than it is wide at the bottom. The standard of the town’s overlord, His Excellency the Surgeon General himself, flutters in the brisk summer wind. The tower is his citadel and serves as the town hall as well.

Presently, they overhear an argument amongst some burly, beringed folk of serious calculating mien. Recognizing one of these as merchant caravan-master Darius Myles, a trader from these parts, they hear these men in heated discussion complaining about trading boats and crews that have recently turned up missing in the Lesser Azure River heading north from Sanly Bowitts.

Later on they follow Myles as he heads off towards the Strontium Ninety, a tavern fronting the market square.

Inside the Strontium Ninety, a band of musicians in garish outfits, festooned with various bizarre instruments pound away at what appear to be relic devices keeping up a loud, constant rhythm which, though unsettling, appear to capture the tavern's assembled clientelle. Their blindfolded singer shouts out the words of an unfamiliar ditty:

"When a good time turns around
you must whip it
you will never live it down
unless you whip it
no one gets away
until they whip it..."

Marcus flashes Myles his winning smile, and with the aid of a massive helping of liquor, manages to convince the merchant to hire them to undertake a trip up north near the Poison Forest to find out what is going on. As it turns out, Myles and his fellow traders are just about getting a tad upset about their missing merchandise and agree to a generous bounty if the disappearances are brought to an end.

As negotiations were going on, a fight develops between what appears to be a stunningly beautiful platinum blonde woman and three beefy men with
sickly-green tinged complexions. It appears that the woman resented the unwelcome and salacious intrusions of the trio of greenish brutes. A crash from a breaking mug brings the music to a halt, as the garishly garbed singer raises his blindfold to take in the scene that unfolds.

The woman swiftly and skillfully draws a silvered longsword and promptly beheads one attacker while fighting off another. The third sidesteps the fighters and draws a laser pistol in an attempt to shoot down the woman. On cue, Marcus steps in to intervene and succeeds in lopping off the gunman's gun hand. Clyde then steps up and promptly slimes the gunman who expires horribly after failing his save against poison. In the meantime, our swordswoman disposes of her remaining attacker.

The mysterious blonde thanks them gruffly and walks out of the bar. Before a slightly astonished crowd, she mounts up on an equally-mysterious albino bird-like steed and promptly flies off to parts unknown.

Still later that night, Marcus figures out how to use the laser pistol effectively but not first without burning a suspiciously charred smooth hole in the wall of their room at the Strontium Ninety.
they occupied for the night.

The boys leave Sanly Bowitts by daybreak and paddles up north along
the Lesser Azure on canoes loaned by trader Myles. They think they are trailed by what appear to be riverine snakes of disturbingly large size at midday but they keep going anyway.

By late afternoon, Marcus wants to set up camp on the riverside. They make
for the right bank which now turns out to be heavily obscured by reeds. Upon beaching their canoes they hear a stirring in the reeds. What follows is an attack by a pack of six, filthy, two-meter tall sickly brown-yellow hued Mutie savages. The Muties have long claws, mottled leathery skin, black eyes with no irises, long protruding noses and kinky hair with the consistency of steel wool. The action that follows is fast and furious as the boys make their stand on the riverbank, slashing away at their attackers. Marcus uses up a couple of charges and manages to down an assailant leaving it a sizzling corpse. They kill off their attackers with Clyde doing most of the killing through the liberal use of his poison slime.

The attack convinces them that it is a tad too risky in this part of the river. They then board their canoes and paddle off, heading even further north. The dying sun sets turning the endless sky of the wastes into a sanguinarious shade. They finally find a quiet bit of sandy shore on the left bank of the river. It fronts a grassy plain that stretches widely for miles around. Small copses of trees and vegetation dot the plain. They set up camp a settle in for the night. Aleph, the Elder Moon is rising in the night sky.

They have just survived a day in the wasteland.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Carcosa Rules!

Carcosa is what its author, Geoffrey McKinney describes as Supplement V of the original Dungeons and Dragons rules of 1974. It contains a lot of new material and some innovative game mechanics to enhance any enterprising GM’s ongoing swords and sorcery game. Well, as my Mutant Future has a lot of swords and sorcery feel to it, I was very intrigued when I read about Carcosa. In a way, I can confidently describe the style of gaming I have adopted for my Mutant Future as one of “Swords and Mutants”. Instead of the dreaded eldritch sorcerer muffled in black robes waving a coruscating ebony staff of power, my players are more likely than not to encounter a dreaded maddened sorcerer muffled in black robes aiming a Mark XX Blaster Rifle at them. Although I did not know it for sure then, I felt that Carcosa would contain a lot of material to support this flavor of gaming.

I eventually got a copy of Carcosa from Geoffrey sometime back and I was definitely not disappointed!

A lot of the background material contained in Carcosa now serves to enhance the weird and dangerous wastelands of Cygnet Delta of my Mutant Future. A mere perusal of its contents really shows the wonders Supplement V promises for our upcoming games. Weird technological tables –check! Weird and dangerous creatures from the Mythos – check! Variant humans – check! A homebrew style campaign hex-map to fuel inspiration for Cygnet Delta- check! Unique encounters- check! Spells and rituals –check!

The latter item actually sparked a conversation between me and my players a little while back about weaving in some magic which had managed to ‘leak’ into our Mutant Future universe and is slowly but surely beginning to make itself felt. I’m presently open to this idea and feel that eventually, we’ll be seeing this being built into our game.

One particularly significant thing which I really got to use from Carcosa is the innovative game mechanic which allows player characters to roll for variable hit points-or hit dice, in our game-from a table at the start of each combat. I was very intrigued by this rule so I took it, mutated it, and plunked it straight into our first game. While my players seemed rather shocked to see it being used at first, I was very glad to see that they took to it naturally and embraced it wholeheartedly. From our experience, having variable hit points for every character which are only determined at the start of every combat session tends lend a level of tension and randomness which makes the game even more uncertain and thus exciting.

Next, I adopted the same rule for all my monsters and critters in the wasteland. Now, the players had to contend with trying to second guess the probable results of variable hit points of not only their own characters but the monsters they faced as well! This idea came to me after reading a post by Zulgyan, in the Original D&D Discussion Boards. Zulgyan also has a blog called Zeta Orionis, which served as one of my inspirations to get serious about my Mutant Future game.

Finally, I carried over another Carcosa rule into our Mutant Future combat – that of variable damage caused by player characters and monsters. I adopted this too as another of my houserules and gave the players the option to decide to use variable damage rules when their characters scored hits on their enemies in combat. This, of course, was up to the player to decide and any player could always decide to go per the damage tables in the Mutant Future rulebook instead. This led to every combat session opening with the following challenge given by me to the players: “So are you feeling lucky today?”

I feel that it is these innovative rules which tend to enhance one’s gaming experience – allowing an enterprising and open-minded group of players to take an existing rules set and customizing it in such a way as to make it truly something unique, something they can call their own. I guess I can see that these days, when we start our game and my regular players explain to a newbie player what it means when we’re using ‘Carcosa Rules’.

As an aside, it seemed that as I was first reading Carcosa, typhoon Parma was unleashing the full force of its fury and was rampaging its way across the country. For a while there, I fretted whether this signaled the start of a real Mutant Future for me and the family. I’m just glad it passed by leaving our rented house intact and possibly postponing the apocalypse sometime in the distant future.

C’est la vie.