Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"G" is for "Greatape"


No. Enc.:  1d6 (1d10)
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement:  90' (30')
Armor Class:  5
Hit Dice:  7
Attacks:  3 (2 fists, 1 bite)
Damage:  1d6 / 1d6 / 1d8
Save:  L4
Morale:  9
Hoard Class:  None
XP:  800

Sightless, slimy, and sickening, the greatapes are primate-like, man-sized hermaphrodites that congregate in jungles, swamps, ruined sewers, and cesspits.  Their hooting vocalizations carry for miles. 

Greatapes attack with bludgeoning "fists" and slurping maws.  With a successful bite attack, a greatape latches onto its victim, doing an automatic 1d10 blood-draining damage per round; a feeding specimen can still lash out for melee attacks.  Bite victims must make a Saving Throw Versus Poison or risk being flooded with eggs.  Greatape infections cause 1d12 damage per week as the host is ravaged from within, and upon death, 1d4 3 HD "tapelings" burst from the corpse.  Filter-doses [see p. 125 of the Mutant Future Core Rules] and select tribal remedies clear an infestation.

Due to their rubbery bodies, greatapes take only half damage from blunt weapons, and their slick coatings make them completely immune to fire-based attacks.

Some suggest that greatapes are the next phase of evolution of the prowlasite....

Mutations: Echolocation, Reflective Epidermis (Heat), Sensory Deficiency (Blindness) [D]

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mutants In The News — "The Carp That Ate Detroit" Edition

First came the nuclear primates...and now their finny friends want in on the atomic action.

Scientists have determined that "mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away — the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance."

"We were frankly kind of startled," said same scientists.

You and me both, brothers.

And now a germane musical interlude from The Glob.  Play us out, Globby....

Mutants In The News — "Rave Of The Apes" Edition

Humanity better hope The Animals never unlock the mysteries behind glowstick-and-pacifier technology....

Thanks for your patience.  Regular updates will commence this week.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let's Go To Gamma World. Meet... The Hoop.

Hoop  ("Floppsy")

No. Enc.:  1d20 (1d20)
Alignment:  Chaotic
Movement:  120' (40')
Armor Class:  6
Hit Dice:  12
Attacks:  1 (weapon)
Damage:  by weapon
Save:  L12
Morale:  9
Hoard Class:  VII, VIII
XP:  3,600

The militant, iron-willed hoops are 8'-9' tall leporoids with seemingly conflicting aesthetic sensibilities, as they favor Archaic gear and garb but covet Ancient artifacts and gizmos.

With but a touch, a hoop can transmute a metal item (and all its connected metallic parts, in up to a 3' "radius" of initial contact) into rubber.  [The Mutant Lord must determine on a case by case basis how this impacts armor, weaponry, robots, and the like.]

Hoops can make 40' standing leaps, and 20' vertical jumps, with ease.

Mutations:  Metaconcert, Neural Telepathy, Unique Mutation ("Rubber-Touch")

Not-The-Designer's Notes:  The Hoop first appeared in 1978 in the 1st edition of Gamma World, by James M. Ward and Gary Jaquet, and again in the 2nd edition of Gamma World from 1983, by Ward, Jaquet, and David James Ritchie.  The solo illustration is by Larry Elmore from 2e, and the group shot  is by Dave Trampier from 1e.

Not-The-Designer's Notes Addendum:  There is no mention at all of Hoops being particularly "Chaotic" in alignment, but the classic depictions of them give this reader the jibblies.  So my versions are more ominous than perhaps originally intended.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mutants In The News — A '...Versus Sharktopus' Sequel Is Inevitable Edition

Roger Corman continues doing The Lord's work.

And speaking of both Messrs. Corman and Sharktopus, I finally have an excuse to post these.

Because they're pretty much My.  Favorite.  Pictures.  Ever.

The Woman,  The Monster, The Mogul, and Me  (2011)

Sharktopus vs The Woman  (2011)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mutants In The News — "It Looked Like Kermit The Frog, With Teeth." Edition

So said my childhood chum Scott's mom with mirthful incredulity in 1981, describing the featured creature after an honest-to-Gods drive-in viewing of The Boogens

Which, according DVD Drive-In (one of my absolutely favorite websites for cult movie news and reviews), is arriving on DVD and Blu-Ray this August 8th.

I'm stoked for the opportunity to update my previous write-up of the turtacular tentacled toothy terrors with better screen-caps, instead of using those from an old pan-n-scan VHS tape.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Let's Go To Gamma World. Meet... The Blight.

Blight  ("Cloud Worm")

No. Enc.:  1d4
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement:  30' (10')
        —Fly:  180' (60')
Armor Class:  9
Hit Dice:  12
Attacks:  1 or 2 (bite, or 1 squeeze, 1 bite)
Damage:  3d6, or 5d6 / 3d6
Save:  L6
Morale:  10
Hoard Class:  None
XP:  5,200

Dreaded predators, blights are 10' long worms with expansive 30' wingspans.  The always launch their initial attacks while invisible (gaining automatic Surprise), and can generate strobes of light that blind everyone in a 25' radius for 1d4 rounds on a failed Saving Throw Versus Stun.

Blights prefer to coil around their prey, constricting and biting with abandon.

Mutations:  Control Light Waves, Reflective Epidermis (Heat, Radiation, Sonics)

Not-The-Designer's Notes:  The Blight first appeared in 1978 in the 1st edition of Gamma World, by James M. Ward and Gary Jaquet, and again in the 2nd edition of Gamma World from 1983, by Ward, Jaquet, and David James Ritchie.  Illustration by Jeff Easley or Keith Parkinson (specific credit unknown) from the 2e set.

Not-The-Designer's Notes Addendum:  I assume that the AC 9 (second worst in the original bestiary, after the obb!) was to offset the deadliness of the blight's powers and raw damage output.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Radioactive Review — 'Wisdom From The Wastelands' #7: Planar Creatures & Concepts'

You ever have One Of Those Days?  And then it turns into One Of Those Weeks, and maybe blurs into One Of Those Months?  Ugh.  Annoying.  Even my weekend getaway was, at times, more stressful than any vacation should be.

I planned for this review to be up last Tuesday, making it waaaaayyyy late.  (And I'm running behind on the rest of the WftWs, too, because they're up to #12 as of now).

My apologies, Skirmisher Gang.  I'll be getting caught up wit' a quickness.

As a young GM, I really didn't appreciate—as in "grasp the awesomeness thereof"—the open-endedness of certain aspects of my favorite games.  Take Gamma World 2e, and the mutation Planar Travel.  Usable once per week, it read:

Character can make a 3-meter square door into alternate plane of existence anywhere within range. Opening lasts for 30 seconds.  Plane into which opening faces is randomly determined and there are billions of such planes.  Anyone moving through this opening will never find his way back to his own plane.

That description just freaked me out.  The players could run amok!  They could leave the entire Gamma World setting behind!  They could ruin my campaign!  What was I supposed to do if someone actually rolled that mutation...and, even worse, used it?!!!!

I'm feeling much better now.  I get it.  And Wisdom From The Wastelands #7: Planar Creatures & Concepts goes above and beyond to mollify my panicked inner 10-year old (who annoyingly rears his li'l ol' head from time to time) because it's just chock full o' inspiring bits.

In a delightful bit of understatement, author Derek Holland opens with the line, "One mutation that could greatly influence a campaign setting and its population is 'plane shift'."  And in the most ambitious issue of the weekly series so far, WftW #7: Planar Creatures & Concepts presents a myriad of ways to "greatly influence" your campaign world.

5 new beasts.
19 new mutations.
10 new "energies" that alter the physical laws of the Mutant Future-verse.

All in 5 pages.

The word "impressive" doesn't do it justice.

The bestiary offers the following:

) Broken Seals:  ornery, acid-dripping pinnipeds that 'port over, and then just flop around in agony as they dehydrate to death, dissolving everything around them...and making 300' deep pits in the process.  Horrifying, tragic, and gross.  (And I've already established that I'm a sucker for flippered mutants.)

) Brooms Of Doom:  freaky, gigantic, The Mist-ian predators that float about like sky-jellyfish and gobble you up with their sting-tendrils.

) Hairy Stars:  vibrantly colored, 30' diameter, super-fast, poisonous starfish that are more arachnid than echinoderm.  Awesome, and I would use these in a heartbeat (but probably rechristen them "Spiderstars" or something similar, just to fit in with my own naming whims).

) Kettles:  Two words:  "steampunk nanites".

) Zanders:  Like D&D's own piercers, but arboreal, and pheromone-based.  Much cooler than their progenitors.

Of the 19 new mutations, some standouts include:

) Chemical Gland:  Lets your mutant secrete a useful (note that operative word) chemical.  Takes the standard Toxic Weapon mutation and cranks it to 11.

) Filter Food:  You like baleen?   We've got baleen!

) Imprint Data:  Reverse-psychometry.

) Restore Life:  Resurrects a subject (whether they want it or not) for 36 hours.

) Summon Ghost:  "The mutant can bring forth a dead creature's memories as a phantom."  Fun.

) Webbing:  "I make my own 25' rope.  Extra wineskins are on me!"

) Wormhole:  Super-teleport that can crush your foes within, if you're feeling just plain mean.

Post-apocalyptic wastelands are built on "strange radiations", and here's 10 to give your own Mutant Future a fancy new flavor.  Just think of all the mayhem your PCs can unleash with these!

) Animator:  "Maximum a can!"  (I'm particularly fond of this one.)

) Biocide:  Save Versus Death, indeed.

) Brain Twister:  Alignments-A-Go-Go!

) Gravity Ripples:  Crushing waves and levitating beams.  Fun!

) Magic:  Ok, this one is kinda lazy.  But it's a genre staple, particularly in our hobby.

) Mental Parasites:  All-encompassing "invaders from beyond" that get all up in yo' stuff.

) Time Slip:  Welcome to the Mutant Future, Enik!

) Transformation:  The mush-pot.  Anything goes!

) Translocation:  Teleporters.  Man, these are really running out of steam.

) Transmutation Field:  Philosopher's-Stones-A-Go-Go!  (Ok, I'm repeating gags.  Let's wrap this up.)

In past reviews of Skirmisher's Wisdom... materials, I've griped that they sometimes just do "too much".  That they fill in "too many blanks" that may be better left unfilled.  That they go overboard with a concept and don't let it breathe.

And reading over this particular issue, it finally clicked what was needling at me:  I sometimes have the same feelings as when I'm reading a modern era HERO System product.

I have a 3-decade history with HERO, and in recent years, the game has both bloated AND had all its lifeblood drained out.  (Lucha Libre HERO is the only thing with any magic written in the last half-decade.)  The modern Hero is dry and dusty and dull, but also completely, utterly thorough in its dry, dusty, dullness.

So, when I'm reading through, say, 19 new mutations from the most recent WftW, my gut reaction is frequently, "Do we really NEED that?"  And I have HERO System flashbacks, and I chafe.

But that's not entirely fair to the Skirmisher Gang, and just because I've gotten more minimalistic in my approach doesn't mean others won't find all the "extra toppings" useful and welcome.

In conclusion:  WftW #7: Planar Creatures & Concepts is ambitious, creative, and delivers more bang for your gaming 99¢ than almost anything else out there.

Buy it here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"S" is for "Shunk"


No. Enc.:  1 (See Below)
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement:  75' (25') (See Below)
Armor Class:  5
Hit Dice:  2
Attacks:  1 (bite)
Damage:  1d10
Save:  L2
Morale:  6 (See Below)
Hoard Class:  None
XP:  38

Shunks are 2'-3' long, low-slung creatures with sleek builds, shiny blue fur, and prominent dorsal "fins" made of bone.  Their jaws are filled with rows of serrated teeth.

Upon encountering prey or predators too large to handle itself, a shunk lifts its tail and discharges a cone of bloody mist 15' long and 5' wide at the end (which requires an Ability Check Versus DEX to avoid).  It then trundles off into the brush...

...but in 1d4 turns, every shunk in a 1 mile radius descends en masse in a ravenous frenzy on those coated with the spray.  Such slunk "schools" move at 135' (45'), contain 4d12 members, and have a Morale of 12.

Even if a sprayed victim immediately bathes and washes their gear, 2d12 shunks will still arrive, thanks to their hypersensitive olfactory senses.  Only extracts from select citrus-based Mutant Plants neutralize the scent completely.

The musk's effects last 4d6 hours, meaning further travel beyond the initial radius is a risky proposition....

Mutations:  Increased Sense (Smell), Toxic Weapon ("Blood-Musk")