Saturday, September 17, 2011

"The Pig?" "The Cow?" "You're Waaaaay Off. Think Smaller. Think More Legs."

Here's the cover of the Mutant Future 2e core book.

And here's some pictures from the interior of said book:

Now, some images from assorted vintage (1st through 4th editions) Gamma World products:

Finally, here's artwork from William McAusland's awesome new game, The Mutant Epoch Hub Rules:

The unifying theme is obvious:  in post-apocalyptic games, multiple parts—eyesballs, limbs, and even heads—are commonplace.  Mutants are CRAZY with additional anatomy.

But the official Mutant Future rules make extra body-bits almost impossible for Player Characters to acquire. 

Let me drop some SCIENCE! on this travesty, and attempt to right this egregious wrong.

Here's the Mutant Future Random Mutation Chart from the core book:

From the list, any given mutant has a 2% chance (10-11 on d100) of being Dual-Headed.  That's pretty much in line with every other mutation...but not really all that much fun.

Sure, you also theoretically have another 2% (01-02 on d100) chance of having an Aberrant Form, which includes the non-noggin multiples...

...but that really boils down to just a .5% chance, given that roll of 5-6 on d8. 

All said, any given PC has a fraction of a tiny percent to get Extra Parts that aren't face-based.  Madness!

Figgerin' that out made me realize that I have other problems with the whole Mutant Future Random Mutation process.

Look at the Drawbacks.  Any given mutant has a 43% (roll of 58-100 on d100) of having a physical disability.  I get that the Mutant Future is a cruel and horrible place, but that seems somewhat excessive, particularly when compared to the granddaddy of all post-apoc games, Gamma World.

Let's break Gamma World and its Defects down by edition.

Here are the First Edition Random Mutation Charts:

If you exempt the "Roll Again" freebies from the list, you have a 31.1% chance (28 out of 90) of getting a Defect.  Harsh.

But Second Edition is even more cruel...

...because you have a 36.1% chance (35 out of 97) of a Defect.

Mutatin' ain't easy, yo.

Third Edition takes a kid-gloves approach:

Only 5.6% odds (5 out of 90) of being defective?  That's some shamefully candy-ass, weak sauce.

Fourth Edition cranks it back up again... something a bit more brutal, with a flat 20% (18 out of 90).

Clearly, Gamma World 2e was the most unforgiving with dishing out the pain at 36.1%...

...but that pales when compared to Mutant Future 's 43% of being flawed. 

Combine that with MF's complete removal of any chance of picking your own mutations with a 90+ percentile roll, one thing is clear:  Dan Proctor and Ryan Denison are monsters!

[Brief digression.  Looking at same four charts, multiple body parts were also relatively rare in the Gamma World days.

1e:  2.2% (2 out of 90).
2e:  3.1% (3 out of 97).
3e:  2.2% (2 out of 90).
4e:  5.56% (5 out of 90, but actually slightly higher if you factor in how New Body Parts allows a 1 in 10 chance of a second head).

Huh.  Who'da thunk it.]

Another issue I have with the Mutant Future Random Mutation Chart is its whole "Roll High, Get Hosed" design scheme. 

With the (much debated) exception of Armor Class, OSR game systems—including Mutant Future itself—adhere to the "The Higher, The Better" ethos.

Our current chart just violates the whole concept.

So, after all that bellyaching, what do I propose?

Simple.  I made my own custom Random Mutation Chart that fixes all my issues, with just minor tweaking.

I reorganized the list, with Drawbacks listed at the low end.

I got rid of Dual Headed, and just lumped it in under Extra Parts.  (Aberrant Form can still work as written, I reckon.)

I retooled the numbering scheme a bit.  Not only does this better  allow for a bevy body parts (at a flat  5%), but it also dropped the percentage of getting a Drawback to a more comfortable 36% (which is in line with Gamma World 2e).  [An added bonus:  I reduced the chance of rolling Density Alteration (Self) to only 1%.  That mutation is just too complicated with too little bang for the buck, when compared to the relative simplicity of its fellows.]

I also added in Seizures to the Mental Mutations list as a shout-out to early-edition Gamma World disadvantages (Epilepsy [D] and, obviously, Seizures [D]); plus, it let me have each Mental Drawback come in at a flat 2%.

New Mutation

Seizures [D]:  When faced with a stressful situation (especially a Surprise attack), character has a 15% chance of having a fit that acts as Paralysis for 1d4 Turns.

Oh, yeah.  When Shriek is rolled, there is a 1-3 chance on d6 that it is the standard version of the mutation, and a 4-6 chance that it is my own custom Greater Shriek.

I apologize that Blogger won't let me do up a prettier version of the chart.  But if anyone wants the Excel file, I'll happily email it out.  (Contact info is in the "About Me" box on the sidebar.)

When it comes to RPGs, the very last thing I am is a Rules Guy, so this post was really outside my usual comfort zone.  Go hog wild with any and all comments and criticisms.

"V" is for "Vespot"

Vespot  ("Yellow Tyrant")

No. Enc.:  1d4 (3d10)
Alignment:  Chaotic
Movement:  75' (25')
         —Fly:  105' (35')
Armor Class:  6
Hit Dice:  10+1
Attacks:  3 or 1 (2 claws, 1 stinger, or 1 weapon)
Damage:  1d8+1 / 1d8+1 / 1d12+1 + poison, or by weapon +1
Save:  L5
Morale:  10
Hoard Class:  VII, XXI
XP:  5,200

Vespots are imperious, towering insectoids that stand 9'-11' tall.  They possess human-like extremities, and are quite adept at utilizing Ancient technologies, and modifying them to their needs.  Vespots build elaborate subterranean complexes, often using slave labor (including repurposed Androids) in the construction.

Vespots are highly vulnerable to toxic compounds, including those of their own kind.  It is a capital offense in their culture to sting one of their fellows.

They relish devouring intelligent Mutant Plants...preferably alive.

Mutations:  Aberrant Form (Humanoid Hands/Feet), Gigantism, Increased Sense (Touch), Mind Thrust, Poison Susceptibility [D], Toxic Weapon (Venom)