Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"G" is for "Groak"


No. Enc.:  1d6 (1d10)
Alignment:  Chaotic
Movement:  120' (40')
  —Swim:  120' (40')
Armor Class:  6
Hit Dice:  7
Attacks:  1 (bite or specific weapon)
Damage:  1d8 or 2d6+1
Save:  L7
Morale:  9
Hoard Class:  XIV
XP:  1,140

Found in swamps, lakes, and humid caves, groaks are lanky, 7' tall amphibioids with slick yellowish skin and blue stripes.  They usually eschew technology, and their only weapons are customized broad, razored blades atop long hafts [two-handed, +1 To Hit, 2d6+1 damage, 7 lbs].  How they procure them is unknown.

Groaks have an ancestral hatred of Pure Humans, and attack them on sight.  After slaying such victims, groaks slice open the body cavities and remove all the organs and innards, placing them in neat, specific piles next to the corpses.  The exactness of this ritual is universal amongst all groak-kind.

Groaks can spit venom up to 15' away, which causes Blindness for 1d6 hours upon a failed Saving Throw Versus Poison.  And when agitated or in battle, a groak raises its neck hood to intimidate foes.  Those seeing the threat display suffer a -2 penalty on all Morale checks.

One of the most grievous insults in the Mutant Future is telling someone that "their mother licks groaks."

Mutations:  Toxic Weapon (Spittle)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"G" is for "Gnawberry"


No. Enc.:  0 (6d6)
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement:  3' (1')
Armor Class:  9
Hit Dice:  1 hit point
Attacks:  See Below
Damage:  See Below
Save:  L1
Morale:  12
Hoard Class:  None
XP:  7

Master mimics, gnawberries are slugs that nest amidst ordinary (a fluid definition in the Mutant Future, to be certain) edible berries found on shrubs, brambles, and vines.  They can shift to any color, texture, and flavor, and assume any shapes up to 3" long.

Easy to chew and swallow, a gnawberry spends 1 full turn inside inside the stomach merging and healing its separated parts...and then begins devouring from within.  Each gnawberry consumed does 1d3 damage per round.  [If a PC eats a "handful" of the creatures, the Mutant Lord should randomly determine the quantity on 1d6+3.]  Upon the host's death, the creatures burrow forth from the body and slither back to the plant on which they were plucked.

Gnawberries cannot be distinguished from ordinary fruit by the naked eye; specialized mutant senses or advanced technologies are required.  However, grinding up a gnawberry reveals its true nature, as it leaks a rancid yellowish slime.  (This goo isn't present when the creatures are eaten, though, as saliva negates its production.)

Consuming salt pills [p. 124 of the Mutant Future Core Rules] will kill off a gnawberry infestation, as will receiving 2 back-to-back filter-dose injections [p. 125].

Mutations:  Chameleon Epidermis (Modified)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Radioactive Review — 'Wisdom From The Wastelands' #2: Monsters That Improve With Age

Full disclosure:  At Houston's OwlCon a few weeks back, I ran into Michael O. Varhola, the delightful Editor-In-Chief of Skirmisher Publishing.  You know Skirmisher.  They put out neat Mutant Future-compatible products like the Creatures Of The Wastelands series of books, and D-∞ Magazine...and the new Wisdom From The Wastelands weekly.

We got to chatting, and I told him how much I enjoyed his material, and how I owned almost all of it...and he kindly put me on the reviewer comp list for upcoming material.

So...issue #2 of the Wasteland Weekly publication is the first of my comps.  There's no funny business going on here.

Now on to the review!

Like Issue #1, Wisdom From The Wastelands #2:  Monsters That Improve With Age is a five page PDF (six, with OGL; I gander this is going to be the standard format).  The layout is also identical, with clean formatting and plenty of evocative pictures.  Same price point, too:  99¢.

Per author Derek Holland, the purpose of this supplement is to provide "age chart[s] scale monster encounters so that they are commensurate with the powers and artifacts possessed by the player characters."  

Several chart types are included, such as the Standard (the older the monster, the higher its number of Hit Dice and Mutations), the Variant (the older the monster, the higher its Hit corresponding changes in Movement, Damage, AC, etc.), the Multiple (breaks down monsters into distinct "classes" like Workers, Soldiers, Warriors, etc., with age-based abilities), and the Metamorphic (with creatures that change into "new" forms as they age, also with age-based abilities).

Examples of these charts tie into four new Monsters:  the Grape Mass (strangling plants), Lazra ("asymmetrical mutant moles"), Giant Green Crayfish (hive-based crustaceans), and Dekodecs (nasty ants that far surpass the standard Giant ones in the Mutant Future Core Rules).

The new monsters are really well done, with lengthy descriptions, and detailed charts.  And I'm a known sucker for mutant moles and crawdads.  This product is pretty much right up my alley.


...well, the material provides just "too much" for my own sensibilities.  Too much detail.  Too much elaboration.  Too much work.

Lemme 'splain.

Part of what got me into Mutant Future in the first place (and the whole OSR thing by default) is that I wanted a return of some simplicity in my RPGs.  I'd both GMed and played Champions for the better part of a decade, and that game makes you detail everything...and when HERO System 6th Edition came out, I recoiled at having to re-learn some rules I never thought needed changing in the first place.  (Not that there was THAT much difference between HERO 5th and 6th; it's just that the changes were significant enough to vex me.)

And I've tried to maintain that "OSR vibe" simplicity in my own blog here, by keeping my monster descriptions brief, and with plenty of wiggle-room for other GMs to customize them as they see fit.  (As to whether I've succeeded is up to you readers.)

What these Age Charts do is essentially turn each monster into a Dragon from the classic Monster Manual, with every variance in age corresponding to new "stuff".  And the charts are thorough, with some including not only months and years of the monsters' lives, but weeks and hours.  That's not really something I need.  (I confess to having one monster—my Armigo—that corresponded thematically to the Age Chart concept, but  that write-up irritated me halfway through typing it out.)

I guess what I'm saying is that I like the minimalistic elegance of the Monsters in the Mutant Future core book.  And if I need to toughen them up for players?  I'll just add more Hit Dice and Mutations and such as appropriate.


I guess that means that, yes, I'd end up in the same place as if I'd used the Age Charts, after all.  


In conclusion:

If you like more detail in your Mutant Future critters, pick it up.
If you like neat ideas to spice up your own beasties, pick it up.
If you like mutant crawdads, or moles, or both...DEFINITELY pick it up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"C" is for "Crodillo"


No. Enc.:  1 (1)
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement:  60' (20')
  —Burrow:  90' (30')
Armor Class:  2
Hit Dice:  11
Attacks:  3 (2 claws, 1 bite)
Damage:  2d6 / 2d6 / 2d8
Save:  L6
Morale:  10
Hoard Class:  VI
XP:  4,400

Crodillos are mighty, lumbering, 12' tall bipeds with wicked claws, nigh-impenetrable hides, and snapping jaws powerful enough to crush rock and steel.  Their writhing antennae both detect electrical impulses and fire radioactive beams.

Crodillos burrow through the earth, and burst forth to grab unsuspecting prey (gaining +1 to both Surprise and Initiative rolls, and a +2 To Hit bonus, in the process).  Such victims are dragged underground to be devoured.

Territorial loners, crodillos only gather during the rainy mating season.  The bellows from their primordial wallowing and rutting drive away all game and mounts within a 3 mile radius.

Mutations:  Energy Ray (Radiation), Reflective Epidermis (Lasers/Light), Unique Sense ("Electro-Sense")

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"M" is for "Malignid"


No. Enc.:  2d4 (3d6)
Alignment:  Chaotic
Movement:  165' (55')
Armor Class:  4
Hit Dice:  5
Attacks:  4 (2 claws, 2 bites)
Damage:  1d4+1 / 1d4+1 / 1d6 / 1d6, + Poison
Save:  L5
Morale:  10
Hoard Class:  VIII (x3), 3 Foodstuffs / Junk
XP:  500

Malignids are screeching, scurrying, aggressive insects that nest in tainted areas such as glowing waste dumps and seeping landfills.  They reach 4'-5' high at the shoulders of their powerful, ape-like forelimbs, and their bizarrely-jointed back legs provide great speed and leaping ability.  The angrier the malignid, the more its tympanic membranes throb and flutter.

Malignids are ferocious combatants, with rending claws and dual sets of razored mandibles. And everything about them is toxic, as their nails inject a Class 10 paralytic agent, and their bites a Class 4 venom.

For reasons unknown, malignids hoard refuse, trinkets, and broken artifacts.  And some claim that they've seen the creatures using tools....

Mutations:  Toxic Weapon (Venom) (x2)

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Who Will Save New Jersey?"

Saturday night, I took The Woman to see The Toxic Avenger musical in beautiful downtown Houston.  Front row, center seats, final performance.  I even put on cologne.  Yeah, I knows how to show a broad a good time.

It's a gloriously giddy piece of Pop Culture trash, and the game and energetic cast deserves praise by the rusted, leaking drumful (particularly Nancy Opel, who does a rowdy dueling duet with herself that involves ridiculous 2-second costume changes.)  I'm not qualified to review Theatre-with-a-capital-T, but we had a great, great time.

And I think my favorite part was watching the mink-stole-and-tuxedo bluebloods laughing themselves silly at what may have been their very first encounter with Troma.  I would love to be a fly on the wall of their home theatres if they rushed out and bought the original movie.

If you like mutants, music, and mayhem, go see it if a roadshow comes to your town.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm Delirious For Experience

Journey Master Tim said we'd get extra XP if we drew up our characters in Encounter Critical! style.

Ask any kid who attended Ford Elementary with me:  I'm a sucker for Extra Credit.  (No, wait—DON'T.  Those stories about my Safari Cards bonus reports are EMBARRASSING.)

Anyhoo, here's Creighton-9, in all his candelabra-clubbing glory.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Murderous Mr. Belvedere"

That's the simple descriptor I gave Mr. Tim of No Signal! for a nasty-tempered and obnoxious robodroid in his play-by-blog Labyrinth Critical game.

I've had so much fun in the few days we've been delving that I decided to post my PC here. Meet Creighton-9, a stuffy, pompous robot who wants to cave your skull in and take your stuff.  

Rolled-up under the Labyrinth Lord rules, he's totally compatible with my usual Mutant Future silliness.  (And as should be the case with all 1st level PCs, his bio is very brief.)

Majordomobot Gone Rogue

Player Character
Character Type:  Robodroid
Alignment:  Neutral

Level:  1
Hit Points (d6):  4
Armor Class:  3
Movement:  120' (40')

STR:  13
DEX:  8
CON:  8
INT:  16
WIL:  13
CHA:  7

To Hit / Damage (Melee) / Forcing Doors:  +1
To Hit (Missile) / Optional Initiative:  -1

) Hit Points Per Die:  -1
AC:  +1
Reaction Adjustment:  +1

Saving Throws
Breath Attacks:  15
Poison / Death:  12
Petrify / Paralyze:  13
Wands:  13
Spells / Spell-Like Devices:  15

Special Abilities / Notes
) Immune to poison, disease, sleep, and charm effects
) Doesn't breathe, and can function underwater
) Advanced Optics (60' Infravision)
) x2 Damage from cold-based attacks and effects
) Electricity Addiction
) Alcohol-Fueled
) Metal-Skinned (base AC 3)

Languages:  Common, Binary, 2 more (TBD)

Attacks / Weapons
) Severance Package (candelabra morningstar, 1d6+1)

) Shiny Silvered Serving Tray Shield (-1 AC)

) "Internal Storage" (as Backpack)
) 5 Wine Bottles
) 120 GP

XP:  150

Background / Description

After decades of loyal service to space-billionaire, coconut magnate, and all-around boorish lout T. Howell³, one greasy backrub too many caused majordomobot Creighton-9 to snap. He clobbered his master, purloined some valuables, and set out to accrue wealth (and an army of human servants, natch) for himself.  He's been dodging the authorities throughout the galaxy, and ended up on Vanth after exhausting his funds.

Creighton-9 is a mustachioed, 6' tall robot with tuxedo-like styling, and foot-treads.  He wields a bloodstained golden candelabra (nicknamed Severance Package), and uses a shiny silver platter as a shield.  

His RoBritish sarcasm always drips with disdain and contempt.  And he can mix thousands of exotic cocktails the likes of which you could never imagine (but he hates you, so don't even think about asking him to make one.)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"T" is for "Time Viper"

Time Viper

No. Enc.:  1d4 (1d4)
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement:  60' (20')
Armor Class:  4
Hit Dice:  4+1
Attacks:  1 (bite)
Damage:  1d6 + Poison
Save:  L3
Morale:  8
Hoard Class:  VI
XP:  365

Time vipers are sluggish, stocky, 12'-15' long serpents with thick, lumpy scales and three lifeless eyes.  They inhabit warm and wet environs, and often lurk in underbrush or dense foliage to surprise rodents and small game.

The bite of a time viper is feared throughout the Mutant Future, as their venom acts as the Ancestral Form Mental Mutation [p. 28 of the Mutant Future Core Rules].  Upon exposure, a victim must make a Saving Throw Versus Poison, or start losing mutations each round as written.  Furthermore, the subject regresses to a more "youthful" state, losing muscle mass (-1d6 STR), libido (-1d6 WIL), and secondary sexual characteristics (-1d6 CHA).  Lost points recover at a rate of 1 point per Ability per calendar year.

A time viper's "pubescent poison" loses its toxicity 1d4 turns after being removed from the living serpent, so malefactors wishing to use it offensively breed the snakes in captivity.  In most communities, anyone caught with a time viper in their possession is put to death without trial.

Mutations:  Enhanced Vision (Night Vision), Extra Parts (Eyes), Toxic Weapon ("Pubescent Poison")

Designer's Notes:  Inspiration for this beastie came from an article on Russell's pit vipers and their nasty pituitary-disrupting venom.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Radioactive Review — 'Wisdom From The Wastelands' #1: Artifacts, Manuals, and Toolkits

Although I bought Wisdom From The Wastelands #1 from RPGNow the second it went live, my fellow apoca-bloggers beat me to mentioning I wasn't gonna bother, given that I'm already worried enough about biting peoples' styles.

But I don't think anyone's actually reviewed it yet, so I thought I'd step up.

Short review:  It's a slick little publication, and I anxiously await the next volumes.

Read on for the longer version.

Wisdom From The Wastelands #1:  Artifacts, Manuals, & Toolkits is a five page PDF (six, with OGL).  They layout is clean, the art is evocative, and the formatting makes it fit right in with the Mutant Future Core Rules.  It has the look and feel of a "proper supplement", if that makes any sense.

The introduction provides a nice overview of the intentions and methods behind the madness. (Nitpick:  the word rules got way too much play for my tastes, appearing 5 times in 3 back-to-back sentences.  Thesaurus, people!)

Then comes the crunch, with Rules Option: Bonuses To Figuring Out Artifacts.  The Technology Rolls section in the main rulebook only gets 3 small paragraphs, so these expanded modifiers for success—and penalties for mishaps and maiming—are welcome additions.  

(Brief digression.  In my Gamma World games of yore, I dreaded the whole process of figgerin' out artifacts, because it invariably went like this:

GM Me:  "You find a small, cracked rectangle with some faded writing reading "EWINO" or maybe "EWIND", and attached is a thin, knotted-up cord—"

Player:  "It's a Walkman.  NEXT."

GM Me:  "Damn it."

I like to think I've gotten better, but I welcome any mechanics that make my efforts less prone to lameness.)

The next sections involve the care and feeding of your techno-treasures, with Rules Option: Manuals and Rules Option:  Toolkits.  These sections not only expand the types of goodies available in the Mutant Future, but capture the "rediscovering, rebuilding, and maintaining The Past" aspects that I like in my post-apocalyptic gaming.  And the fact that manuals are essentially spellbooks is pretty clever.

So what do you do after you've lovingly figured out and repaired your new toys?  Why, you break them, of course...and the last pages offer all manner of charts (Item Strength, Item Saving Throws, and Damage Modifiers Based On Damage Type) to facilitate the destruction.  I'm no rulesmonger, but I have enough HERO System GM in me that I like knowing the degrees of oomph required to blow up wood versus ice versus plastic versus rock versus metal.  This section is gold for a Mutant Lord with carnage-minded PCs.

When all is said and done, this is just about the best 99¢ I've ever spent on a gaming product.  It's not necessary by any means, but it really fleshes out the mechanical, um, mechanics.

I can't wait to see what else they do.  I'd love to see an issue on vehicles, as I feel that they really get short shrift (particularly pertaining to combat) in the Core Rules.

A worthy purchase, so give 'em your lucre.

Monday, February 6, 2012

"H" is for "Hanivore"


No. Enc.:  1d6 (2d6)
Alignment:  Chaotic
Movement:  75' (25')
     —Swim:  150' (50')
Armor Class:  6
Hit Dice:  7+1
Attacks:  3 or 1 (2 tentacles, 1 bite, or by weapon)
Damage:  1d6 / 1d6 / 1d4, or by weapon
Save:  S7
Morale:  9
Hoard Class:  XVI
XP:  1,700

Hanivores are freakish, rubbery creatures that stand 8'-9' tall on their multiple spindly, tentacular legs.  Every aspect of their appearance exudes disquiet and menace, from their wheezing gills to their grinding teeth to their black, soulless eyes.

Hanivores dwell deep within toxic seas, but launch surprise raids—often while wielding Ancient weaponry—on beachside communities.  They make the diabolical most of their ability to survive an hour out of water.  And given the flexibility of their hides, hanivores only suffer half damage from conventional weapons and firearms.

Their use of technology indicates intelligence, but all attempts at communication (including Neural Telepathy, to which they are immune) with the hanivores has failed, and no evidence of their culture has been observed by surface dwellers.

Mutations:  Aberrant Form (Lungs and Gills), Mental Barrier

Friday, February 3, 2012

I Love You, Space Yeti. And Your Lobsturtle Sidekick.

I owe Arcadian at the No Signal! Encounter Critical blog a debt of eternal gratitude (or at least a sixer of his favorite libation), because he put to rest something that's haunted me for over 30 years. 

I'm talking about the names of these guys:

My beloved Great-Aunt Meoma bought me a bag of these figs at a local TG&Y (a long-gone Southern five & dime chain) when I was but a wee one, but they went the way of the garbage during my teenage years.  I tried looking them up at the dawn of The Internet, but eventually gave up because my searches for "day-glo turtle-crab Star Wars knockoffs" got me nowhere.

But just two days ago, Arcadian changed the header pic on his blog, and...THERE THEY WERE.  He told me to Google the GALAXY LASER TEAM by Tim-Mee Processed Plastics. So down I went down the rabbit hole of nostalgia, and discovered more info about the little guys at the Secret Fun Blog, and found a great photo-history of the cheap plastic crap that filled my childhood.

Many, many thanks, Arcadian.  You've made my week.

I was CRUSHED AS ONLY A KINDERGARTNER CAN BE CRUSHED when the stickers wore off.

I am soooooooooooooooooo statting-up these guys.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"U" is for "Uligin"

Uligin  ("Murkbird")

No. Enc.:  1d4 (1d4)
Alignment:  Chaotic
Movement:  30' (10')
         —Fly:  90' (30')
Armor Class:  5
Hit Dice:  12
Attacks:  3 (2 claws, 1 bite)
Damage:  1d4 / 1d4 / 1d8 + poison
Save:  L12
Morale:  8
Hoard Class:  XV
XP:  4,400

The Uligin (both singular and plural), also called "murkbirds" or "blackheart birds", are hefty, 10' tall feathered fiends of demented intelligence and cruelty. Their nausea-inducing reddish / greenish / blackish coloration reflects the foulness of their twisted souls.

A uligin can generate a roiling cloud of oily darkness up to 60' in diameter around itself. Those caught inside suffer three effects:  they are Blinded [see p. 36 of the Mutant Future Core Rules], take damage as if within a Vampiric Field [p. 31, with the damage going into a reserve pool, as well], and lose -2 to Morale.  The Uligin are completely immune to any and all effects of these clouds.  Their saliva also teems with germs, and acts as an effective Class 3 poison.

While most uligin are content to bully and terrorize rural communities, exceptionally ambitious specimens become bandit kings and crime lords.  These nasty individuals lead gangs of 3d6 mutant hooligans of all stripes.

Mutations:  Enhanced Vision (Night Vision), Mind Reflection, Toxic Weapon (Venom), Unique Mutation ("Miasma Generation")