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!