Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Radioactive Review — 'Wisdom From The Wastelands #21: High-Tech Melee Weapons'

I'll come right out and say it:  I'm a stingy Game Master Mutant Lord.

Don't get me wrong—the players in my Don't Mess With Wrexus campaign are trundling around with warp-field maces and x-laser rifles and more energy cells to power 'em than you can count, but they came by them "honestly".  And by that, I mean I roll up every NPC's loot, every monster hoard, and every secret bunker stockpile randomly, using official treasure charts and Grand Unified Junk Tables and the like.

Part of the reason I've gone full-on random is because I like the surprises.  Another is I'm a big believer in The Gamma World Aesthetic, where players whomp on big-ass robots with nothing but broken plumbing and fenceposts and screwdrivers.

After The Bomb, Susan Storm fell in with a weird crowd.

But the Real, Honest, True Reason?

I can't be trusted.

See, I love giving presents.  Unique presents.  Weird presents.  I'm the guy who hands out adorable plush venereal diseases at Christmases and toddlers' birthdays.  Or gets beloved authors to inscribe antagonistic personal notes ("Dear Chris, You're wrong, and your opinion is terrible. Love, Jim Butcher") to the recipient.

I'm awesome, I tells ya.

Flesh-Eating Streptococcus agrees...I rule!!!

And when a snazzy supplement like Wisdom From The Wastelands #21:  High-Tech Melee Weapons comes along, I get giddy and loopy and I really, really want to give the treasures within.

I truly have to fight going all Mutanty Haul at the table...and this supplement doesn't make it easy.

WFTW #21:  H-T MW offers five sections over as many pages (ignoring the 6th with the OGL).

The first covers Alternate Construction Materials, so your biker-raider's morningstar can be fabricated from crystalline obsidian or conductalloy instead of soldered fishhooks and rebar. Each material has a unique descriptor that really adds flavor, ups the damage, and increases resilience (if using breakage rules, natch).

The Edging section discusses fancy new blades, like carbon filament (atomic-realigning nanites!) and gamma xenon (it irradiates!) and vibrating (it, um, vibrates!).  These up the chances of Critical Hits, and also the damage output.

Section III details Enhancements that really trick out your baseball bat with the nails driven through it.  You can make it go all cryonic or energetic protonic or harmonized (slices through force fields!) or paralytic!  My favorite bits, though, involve the crystals which turn run-of-the-mill blasters into unique death-sprayers:  gammas turn lasers radioactive, thermals make lasers go all fiery, etc.  A sackful o' such crystals turns your PC into a one-man sentinel of the spectrum!

I do too, buddy.  I do, too.

New Melee Weapons come under Section IV.  While I'm not sure the Mutant Future Core Rules need an expanded weapon table that adds glaives, halberds, katanas, and/or bo staves, the idea of dura-aluminum, monomolecular, proton-nunchakus makes my inner 10-year-old deliriously happy.

The last section covers Optional Combat Rules, such as Throwing Melee Weapons, Wielding Two Weapons At Once, and Wielding A Two-Handed Weapon In One Hand.  These are elegant, simple, and to the point, and in no way broken.  I usually hate crunch in my fluff, but I'll actually use these rules at the table.

Okay, okay.  I freely admit that most of the material in WFTW #21:  H-T MW could be written off as standard D&D gimcrackery.

You know:  This material makes your sword do +2 damage / +2 To Hit, but THIS one makes it do +2 damage / +2 To Hit...while on fire.

And Lord knows I'm a sucker for razzle-dazzle and ridiculous hype ("Oh, look...new Mountain Dew comes in purple!  IT MUST BE MINE!!!"), and I'm not exactly discriminating when it comes to bells, whistles, and gewgaws.

But there's some really, really neat flavor stuff enclosed in these pages.  The descriptors make all the difference, and each is novel and unique.  I know they'd totally jazz up some of the artifacts in my home game, and best of all, the players would have a hoot running amok with them.

I like sizzle just as much (if not more, embarrassing truth be told) than my steak, and author Chris Van Deelen and his Skirmisher cronies deliver.

And...seriously.  The crystals rock.

You can't stop at just one!

Still only 99¢!!!  Buy it here.