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 it...so 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.