Thursday, December 31, 2009

Obligatory Top Ten Posts Of 2009 At The Savage AfterWorld

I use Google Analytics to keep tabs on this blog's hits as well as what entries were most popular/useful to the readers. (By the way, The Savage AfterWorld welcomed its 3,000th unique visitor last night!) Anyway, "Year In Review" blog posts are popping up everywhere today. But since this blog began in June, a full year isn't even in the bag yet. But I thought it'd be fun (and helpful) to post the Top Ten Blog Posts as determined by the number of unique hits they got as of today. So if you'd like to review the most-visited entries, just click through on the links to follow:

1. Apocalyptic Stormfront MEGA-Table - Posted a little more than a week ago, this table of 50 bizarre storms leaped to the top of the heap in no time.
2. [Thundarr Thursday] New Character Race: Mok - The second of my weekly Thundarr Thursday entries and the one that lets you play Ookla the Mok and others of his race.
3. Random Post-Apocalyptic Settlement and Junk Generators - Links and discussions of two incredibly helpful random "blasted earth" stuff generators I discovered online.
4. Savage Menagerie: Sharks With Frickin' Laser Beams Attached To Their Heads - What can I say? I'm a Dr. Evil fan.
5. [Thundarr Thursday] Show Yourself Wizard! - Another Thundarr Thursday post and the first in which I addressed the subject of magic in the Thundarr universe.
6. Search/Label/Thundarr - Less of an entry, but folks have clicked on the search feature to call up all Thundarr-related posts. Thundarr Thursdays are very popular around here. I get a spike in hits each Thursday.
7. [Thundarr Thursday] Dangerous Encounter: Valley of the Man-Apes - What's not to like about an adventure that ends with a fight with a 100-foot-tall robotic gorilla?
8. [Thundarr Thursday] New Character Race: Barbarian - Grab your Sun Sword and swing into action as a rough-and-tumble barbarian just like Thundarr! "Ahhhhhhhhhhh-hee!"
9. Savage Menagerie: Bearsharktopus - A freaky mutant picture inspired this freaky mutant.
10. [Thundarr Thursday] New Character Race: Sorcerer - And now PCs can play a magic-wielding force for good in the Mutant Future, just like Princess Ariel.

And there you have it. It's apparent that Thundarr Thursdays are a very popular part of The Savage AfterWorld. But it's also clear that a lot of my original content has been well-received and enjoyed by the readers. For that, I say "Thanks!"

And now, onto 2010...

[Thundarr Thursday] Ancient Armory: The Black Pearl

The Black Pearl is an Ancient artifact capable of deadening the powers of wizards, sorcerers, and other magic wielders. It appears as a fist-sized glossy black sphere with no markings, openings, switches, or dials. Anyone who physically holds the Pearl is immune from the effects of magic, and any village that possesses the Pearl is enveloped by a magic-dampening field, protecting it from the wrath of evil wizards. It is undetermined if the Black Pearl is a mystical or technological artifact.

In the cartoon series, The Black Pearl was being transported to the village of Manhatt when the courier was ambushed by groundlings trying to obtain the Pearl for the evil Wizard Gemini. Fortunately, Thundarr and his party drove away the rat-like beings and delivered the Pearl to the villagers. While carrying the Pearl, Gemini’s magic had no effect on Thundarr, and at the conclusion of the episode, the Pearl was hurled at Gemini to explosive effect.

If your Mutant Future game has magic in it, the Black Pearl should act as a magic sink. Magic does not work within a 100-yard radius of the Pearl. Both wizards and sorcerers should find themselves powerless within the Pearl’s range. Also, any magic cast into the Pearl’s range of influence “fizzles out” once it comes within 100 yards. However, pre-existing magical effects are NOT canceled out if brought into the Pearl’s area of influence.

On the other hand, if your Mutant Future game does not encompass magic, the Black Pearl should rather act as a mental mutation dampener within a 100-yard radius. All mental mutations – both beneficial and drawback – are unavailable to the mutant. (Physical mutations are unaffected.) And, just like magic, mental mutation effects will be abolished if they are cast into the Pearl’s range.

NOTE: This artifact was inspired by the episode "Secret of the Black Pearl" from the classic Ruby-Spears post-apocalyptic cartoon "Thundarr the Barbarian." Stay tuned each week for "Thundarr Thursday!"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A God At First Level (Or “A Crap-Ton Of Hit Points”)

A few weeks back, I posted a new 3HD critter here at The Savage AfterWorld. Carl (blog-meister of Mutagenic Substance) remarked that he thought the creature had far too few HD. He wrote:

They seem more in line with D&D conventions - 3 HD in that context is respectable. In Mutant Future on the other hand, the puniest player character possible, with a 3 CON, is going to be roughly comparable to this large horse-size creature in terms of damage absorbing capacity. Not to get into a debate about what exactly HP mean, but even the most nebulous of HP definitions would be hard pressed to explain this discrepancy.

Carl got me to thinking about PC hit points in Labyrinth Lord versus their hit points in Mutant Future. Here it is in a nutshell: Mutant Future characters are powerful behemoths from the get-go, whereas Labyrinth Lord characters aren’t. Let’s compare, assuming that you’re miraculously maxing out all dice rolls:

Labyrinth Lord – I’m rolling up a Fighter with a CON of 18. So, at first level, I have 8 hit points plus 3 points bonus due to CON, for a total of 11 hit points. End of story.

Mutant Future – I’m rolling up a Pure Strain Human with a CON of 18. I roll an 8 for each point of CON, and so I start with 144 hit points.

11 versus 144. No contest.

At first glance, it would seem that Future Mutants would be able to roam the wastelands with impunity - after all, they have hit points to spare. But upon further examination, Mutant Future has some interesting built-in factors that makes having a huge hit dice pool more balanced.

  • There are no clerics standing ready with a Cure Light Wounds spell, nor magic markets with plenty of healing potions. In Labyrinth Lord, instantaneous healing magic is fairly plentiful. No PC party is without a few healing elixirs, and the party’s cleric always has some kind of Cure spell at the ready. However, healing in Mutant Future may come by way of an occasional StimShot or a beneficial mutation, but gratuitous “fixer-uppers” are rare. You get hurt, you stay hurt for a while. 144 hit points is not that much if you’re down to 12 hp without any way of repairing your injuries.
  • The odds are stacked against a player gaining more hit points upon leveling up. In Labyrinth Lord, you get at least 1 hit point with each new level. In Mutant Future, it's not automatic. You only get more hit points if your CON goes up. Well, upon leveling up, you have an 80% of having an attribute go up. And even then, you only have a 1 in 6 chance (17%) of receiving a CON increase. So the Labyrinth Lord Fighter is guaranteed to get more hit points with each new level, but your typical Mutant Future mutie will probably keep his or her original hit point totals for many, many games to come.
  • The Mutant Future world is a savage place right from the start, so Mutant Future characters need to be able to tackle these threats head on. A first level Labyrinth Lord character may be challenged by weaker creatures the first time they wander into a dungeon: orcs, skeletons, giant rats, and other dungeon fodder. But those kinds of 1 or 2HD creatures would be no challenge at all to a character with an assload of HPs. Therefore, Mutant Future characters are fending off 9HD mansquitoes their first day out into the blasted lands.
  • Mutant Future weapons are powerful and do a LOT of damage. Both Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future characters can be armed with maces, swords, and clubs. But Mutant Future also has advanced weaponry like laser pistols (5d6 damage), blaster rifles (7d6), and inferno grenades (10d6). You wouldn’t encounter an army of wizards hurling fireballs at you in Labyrinth Lord, but you very well may have a small army of pigmen firing plasma pistols at you. So you’d better have more than 11 hit points in your reserve.
So if you feel the need to "pump up" your Mutant Future encounters so that you can offer your PCs a challenge, keep in mind that there are plenty of challenges already built into the system. No need to punish your PCs even further. ;)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Ancient Armory: Biobattery Power Clip

This small device was developed by the military for emergency use in the field when a weapon power source is unavailable. The Biobattery taps into the neural energy of the user to power small weapons.

The Biobattery appears as a standard small weapons power clip. However, attached to the end of it are two thin cables that lead into a compression armband (somewhat like a blood pressure cuff). The Biobattery is inserted into any small energy weapon that uses a power clip, then the compression armband is wrapped around the upper arm. Once the cuff is in place, the Biobattery inserts two small needles under the surface of the skin. This creates a circuit between the user's nervous system and the energy source of the device.

When the small weapon is fired, the Biobattery draws neural energy directly from the user, "draining" 1d4+4 (5-10) hit points from the weapon's firer. This drain powers the weapon and fires it for the appropriate amount of damage. The time to draw the energy from the user until the weapon fires is instantaneous. The energy drain from the user is painless, although the accumulated hit point loss will slowly begin taking its toll as the user becomes more and more fatigued. If the user has more than 40 hit points drained during the Biobattery's use, have them roll a save versus CON else they'll drop into unconsciousness for 1d6 turns.

The Biobattery only comes in one style - power clip. Only those devices that use a power clip are compatible with the Biobattery.

NOTE: Turns out a biobattery is a real thing - to a point.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

[Thundarr Thursday] A Christmas Gift From The Savage AfterWorld

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from
The Savage AfterWorld
and Your Friendly Neighborhood Sniderman!
Click the cover to read, download, or print.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Apocalyptic Stormfront MEGA-Table

NOTE: I created the original Apocalyptic Stormfront Table back in September. But many of you wanted more than just 12 different kinds of savage weather patterns for your Future Mutants. So here you go - 50 different stormfronts with which to vex your players. Have 'em pack an umbrella, 'cause it looks nasty out!
During the final days of the End of the World, the catastrophic explosions that destroyed the lands ejected a host of materials into the atmosphere. Over time, these orbiting materials have combined with each other and with the clouds to create a number of unusual stormfronts that may be encountered in the Mutant Future. If the Mutant Lord wants to give the players a bit of an environmental challenge, they should roll 1d100 and refer to the following chart:

1-2. Abrasion Storm – Coarse sand and grit are carried on gale-force winds, acting as airborne sandpaper. Clothing will be shredded, paint removed from vehicles and buildings, and armor could be eroded down an armor class level. Blindness could occur in unprotected eyes. Minor injuries (1d4 hit points) are possible.

3-4. Acid Storm – Pollution and ash have mixed with the moisture in the clouds to create a corrosive liquid that rains upon the lands. Roll 1d6 for acidity level with 1 = slight irritant (lemon juice) to 6 = dangerously corrosive (battery acid).

5-6. Amnesia Storm – Unexplained shifts in the planet’s magnetic fields create a memory-wiping effect on intelligent creatures. PCs and NPCs may not remember who they are, what they are, or what they can do. This effect may or may not affect artificial intelligence (i.e., robots, androids, and the like). The amnesia wears off after the storm passes.

7-8. Antigrav Storm – The gravitational field in the area drops to one-fourth of its normal level. Everything weighs one-fourth of its current weight. PCs can leap four times farther and higher than normal. Travel is faster since everything is lighter. (But watch out when the gravity returns!)

9-10. Ash Storm – Volcanic ash and cinders that have drifted in the atmosphere for years finally begins to fall, covering the area with dirty soot to a depth of 1d4 inches. It’s comparatively harmless, though it may play havoc with fragile technology.

11-12. Blood Storm – Microscopic rusting iron particles have combined with the moisture in the air to create a thick red rain that smells of iron. Exposed/untreated metal items exposed to a blood storm will rust at an accelerated rate.

13-14. Bone Storm – During the Ancient Wars, a major population center was bombed into oblivion. Those victims who weren’t vaporized had their skeletal remains thrown into the lower atmosphere. Eventually, those bits and pieces will come falling down. More disturbing than dangerous.

15-16. Boulder Storm – Large rocks ranging from 1 to 10 feet across start crashing down throughout the area, dealing 1d6 to 10d6 hit points of damage depending on size) if they strike. This may initially be mistaken for a series of meteorites, but it’s actually the remnants of a long-ago-blasted mountain chain.

17-18. Chill Storm – A driving rainstorm where the water is just above the point of freezing is encountered. Exposure to a chill storm will deal 1d4 hit points of damage per round to plant-based characters and may give other mutants a bad cold/flu.

19-20. Concrete Storm – The miscellaneous gritty mineral flotsam in the atmosphere combines with water to create actual concrete. This pasty material will begin splattering down, covering everything. If allowed to harden, it will be as hard as stone. Huts could collapse under the weight. Villagers could find themselves sealed in and trapped within their shelters.

21-22. Critter Storm – A small tornado or waterspout picks up creatures from one area and drops them elsewhere when the funnel cloud dissipates. A large quantity of frogs, locusts, fish, or other small animals will begin falling upon the PCs. It could be interesting for the PCs if scorpions, poisonous spiders, or rot grubs began to fall on them.

23-24. Dark Storm – A massive cloud of ash and debris blocks out all natural light, throwing the area into absolute darkness. No sunlight, moonlight, or starlight will be visible. Nocturnal and light-sensitive creatures will come out to hunt. Due to the size of the cloud (from horizon to horizon), the darkness could last for weeks.

25-26. Dead Storm – Bizarre radiation waves cause the dead to reanimate. After a strange red glow of light blankets the area, the PCs will encounter 3d10 of the Walking Dead clawing their way out of the ground. (See MF rulebook, page 101.) Treat as a one-time encounter rather than an on-going stormfront.

27-28. Deafness Storm – Changes in air pressure cause sound waves to increase in frequency and pitch, rendering them undetectable by those with “normal” hearing. However, those with special hearing (i.e., many animals or mutants with increased hearing) will be able to hear normally. All others will be effectively deaf until the storm passes.

29-30. Deluge Storm – Huge raindrops begin to fall, as if the area was being pelted with water balloons. Because an incredible amount of water is falling in a short period of time, dangerous flash flooding and river swells are assured. PCs could be swept away by a sudden wave of water appearing out of nowhere.

31-32. Disease Storm – Biological warfare agents have mixed with the natural rainwater creating a virus-laden “soup” that coats everything. Characters who exposed for a lengthy period have a 65% chance of contracting the Superflu. (See MF rulebook, page 48.)

33-34. Fire Storm – Bits of phosphorus debris have somehow remained inactive and dormant until they start falling onto the area, flaring up at more than 250 degrees and burning through anything they land on. PCs will take 2d6 hit points of damage per round of exposure.

35-36. Funnel Storm – A series of tornadoes sweeps through the area, destroying buildings, uprooting trees, and hurling massive items through the air. PCs caught in the open may be crushed by debris or, worse, whisked a half-mile up into the air, then dropped.

37-38. Fusion Storm – Named for the effect it has on biological tissue, a fusion storm fuses two creatures into one being. When this storm passes through, any creatures in contact with each other will find themselves melded and fused together. For example, a man on a horse warps into a centaur-like creature, or two humans warp into a two-headed, four armed mutant. Allow PCs to save versus energy attacks to avoid this fate.

39-40. Glue Storm – Chemicals in the atmosphere have combined into a thick mucilage. When it rains down, this sticky green goo will act as a powerful adhesive. If allowed to dry, this glue will bond almost any two surfaces. (It does not bond to glass, oddly enough.) Acid or fire will dissolve the glue’s bond. When bottled, it may fetch a good price with a trader.

41-42. Hook Storm – A violent windstorm with barbed bits of metal and wire whips through the region, ripping and shredding through anything softer than AC7. Exposed characters will suffer 1d4 per round of exposure, plus they may need to see a medic to have any remaining barbed materials removed from their skin and flesh.

43-44. Infrared Storm – Sunlight refraction through airborne materials causes the infrared light spectrum to become visible. Everything with any degree of warmth has a reddish-orange glow to it. This effect is barely noticeable during the day. But at night, treat everyone as having the mutation of thermal vision.

45-46. Junk Storm – The remnants of a research satellite or orbiting science platform begins crashing to the surface. Once the hazard of falling refuse has ended, allow the PCs the chance to scavenge the debris field. (45% chance of finding 1d4 working gizmos, MF rulebook, page 109).

47-48. Light Storm – A massive cloud of light-reflecting chaff unnaturally bends sunlight so that it’s as bright as noon on a 24-hour cycle even when the sun’s on the other side of the planet. Creatures with light sensitivity will be in agony as the brightness runs around the clock. Due to the size of the cloud (from horizon to horizon), the light could last for weeks.

49-50. Lightning Storm – No precipitation, but bolts of lightning strike the area regularly during the storm. The chance of a PC being struck is only 5% (10% if a robotic character or in metallic armor). Being hit by lightning will do 4d10 hit points of damage (save versus energy attack for half damage).

51-52. Magnetic Storm – Somehow, the clouds are emitting a low-level electromagnetic pulse. During the storm, any Ancient electronic technology will malfunction and/or be inactive. Robotic PCs will deactivate but will not suffer damage. Once the storm passes, all tech works as normal.

53-54. Micro Storm – Microwave radiation bathes the region. Roll 1d6 for danger level with 1 = no effect, slight warming sensation on the skin to 6 = dangerously high, third-degree burns occur instantaneously.

55-56. Mind Storm – A strange wave of mental energy descends on the area granting all intelligent creatures within the storm the mental mutation of metaconcert. All creatures are mentally linked, thoughts are shared, and secrets are laid bare. Fortunately the storm only lasts for 1d4 hours at most.

57-58. Mold Storm – Mold spores coat everything in a blanket of grey dust. Within hours, this mold will have rooted and grown to the point where everything appears covered in grey fuzz. Foods will be spoiled, and plant-based creatures will suffer 1d4 per turn unless treated with a fungicide. There is a 10% chance that the mold storm will drop yellow mold spores. (See MF rulebook, page 103.)

59-60. Mutie Storm – A blast of energy explodes overhead, changing and warping the DNA structure of all exposed mutants. Have PCs completely reroll their mutations (See MF rulebook, page 21). A mutie storm has no effect on Pure Humans or characters without mutations.

61-62. Nuke Storm – Radioactive fallout from the Ancient Wars begins to drift down. Mutant Lords should roll on the Radiation Class Table (see MF rulebook, page 51) to determine the level of radiation exposure and its lethality.

63-64. Oil Storm – A viscous, petroleum-based liquid covers everything in a thin, slippery coating. This oil makes everything hard to hold onto, and surfaces are treacherous to walk on. Land vehicles are impossible to drive without careening into obstacles. Have PCs constantly roll DEX checks to keep from slipping and falling.

65-66. Parasite Storm – Although this appears to be a standard rainfall, the water contains millions of deadly, dangerous living organisms. These parasites will invade a host organism where they will begin to feed and grow. It is left to the Mutant Lord as to the nature of the parasites, the effect they have on PCs, and the way to deal with and/or cure them.

67-68. Pheromone Storm – Naturally occurring pheromones are carried in on the winds, playing havoc with the emotions and sex drives of those exposed. Depending on sexual preferences, intelligent creatures will find each other undeniably attractive. Long-time enemies may hook up and/or find one another completely trustworthy. (Steer clear of the clichéd “Everybody humps each other” scenario.) The effect wears off within 24-48 hours.

69-70. Poison Storm – The toxins that fall are poisonous to all living creatures. Mutant Lords should roll on the Poison Class Table (see MF rulebook, page 50) to determine the kind and level of the poison and its lethality.

71-72. Razor Storm – Metallic and glass shards in orbit from satellites and missiles destroyed long ago starts to rain down. These razor-sharp pieces will slice like a knife through anything exposed. Fortunately, they will not penetrate anything over AC6, but anything less will be cut to ribbons (1d6 hit points of damage per round of exposure).

73-74. Shatter Storm – A wave of pure sonic force explodes overhead. This concussive blast causes anything brittle to shatter into fragments. Fragile technology could be rendered useless. Small animals could be injured, and plants could be harmed. PCs should roll a save versus stun attacks or become stunned for 2d10 turns due to the sudden blast of force.

75-76. Sleep Storm – A cloud of anesthetic gas washes over everything. All air-breathing creatures will be rendered unconscious. Any PC exposed to the gas should save versus CON or drop into a deep sleep for 3d10 turns.

77-78. Slime Storm – This thick gooey material splatters down, coating the area in a slimy mess. This is actually a harmless slime mold – disgusting and worrisome, but harmless. However, there is a 5% chance that the slime storm is actually dropping small green slime creatures. (See MF rulebook, page 74.)

79-80. Smoke Storm – A suffocatingly dense cloud of black smoke moves through the area. Breathing is difficult while in the acrid smoke, but it’s not dangerous (unless the Mutant Lord wishes it to be). Eyes and lungs will burn. Sight is cut to a distance of 3-5 feet at best and visual mutations like thermal vision are rendered useless.

81-82. Smother Storm – The barometric pressure wildly fluxuates, increasing to a crushing level. Until the storm passes, breathing is labored as everyone feels the weight of the air compressing upon them. Physical effort is difficult at best. Characters may find themselves temporarily deaf. Flight is impossible for airborne creatures.

83-84. Sonic Storm – An ear-piercing shriek of sound splits the air. Those with uncovered or unprotected ears will suffer 1d4 hit points of damage due to the agonizing pain due to the noise. Any creatures who possess echolocation or other sonic/hearing based mutations will suffer an additional 1d4 points of damage per round until they take cover.

85-86. Splinter Storm – Similar to a hook storm, a violent windstorm with wooden splinters and shards whips through the region. These toothpick-sized wooden barbs will puncture exposed skin for 1d2 points of damage. Characters should be able to remove any remaining splinters from their skin by themselves.

87-88. Spore/Germination Storm – A super-fertilized rain sweeps down, watering all of the plantlife with a strange quick-grow formula. All plants in the area will double and triple in size within an hour. Vines entangle everything; trees grow to monstrous heights; and grass and weeds grow to several feet. Plant-based PCs be allowed to roll for one new plant-based mutation. (See MF rulebook, page 22.)

89-90. Static Storm – A low-level static electric charge fills the air. Hair stands on end and teeth are set on edge. Contact with ungrounded objects will cause a painful static discharge to occur. Items may cling to one another. Computers and sensitive electronic equipment won’t work and may become damaged.

91-92. Steam Storm – Similar to a chill storm, this is a driving rainstorm where the water is just below the point of boiling. A thick hot fog covers the area, making it almost tropical in nature. Plant-based characters will actually thrive in this weather (have them heal twice as fast) but other mutants will find the moisture and heat unbearable.

93-94. Stench Storm – A wave of the most foul, fetid, retched odor imaginable washed through the region. One whiff of this disgusting aroma will cause uncontrollable retching in anyone who smells it. PCs should have to save versus death (yes, death) to keep their cookies down. Failure means they throw up uncontrollably for 2d10 rounds.

95-96. Thunder Storm – Huge crashes of thunder rumble through the area while threatening black clouds gather overhead. No rain, wind, or lightning is encountered – just ominous thunder echoing everywhere. And that’s it. Just a lot of noise. Nothing to fear. Really.

97-98. Vertigo Storm – A sudden shift in the planet’s magnetic field plays havoc with the sense of balance of all intelligent creatures. Everyone should feel as if they were drunk while wearing the wrong eyeglasses. A creature’s innate sense of perspectives is thrown out of kilter, and the world seems to spin. PCs should have to save versus DEX to do anything more complex than standing up.

99-100. Roll THREE TIMES on the table, combine the results, and have the PCs hang on for their lives!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Newest Member Of The Order Of The D30

It has arrived at last. My own 30-sided, golf-ball-sized randomizer. I had heard of The Order of the D30 for nearly a year now, seeing the coat of arms proudly displayed on many blogs. Although I couldn't think of a use or purpose for this monstrousity, I had to have one. And after all, what is a 30-sided dice? I'll tell you what it is - it's a MUTANT. And therefore it takes its rightful place of honor within my Radioactive Waste dice cup. (Although it barely fits in there with the rest of my dice.)

I like the current Order of the D30 House Rule that states, "Once per game session, a player may choose to roll the d30 in leau of any other dice roll. This cannot be used during character creation, however, nor for hit point rolls." This could be devastating when rolling for damage ("You hit with the dagger. Roll 1d4." "I'll use the d30 instead. Neat! I stab for 18 points of damage!") as well as when rolling to hit ("You need to roll 9 or more on 1d20." "I'll use the d30. Oooh, does a 27 hit?"). The possibilities are endless.

Current members of The Order of the D30...Sound off in the comments below!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Savage Menagerie: Braindeer

No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1 (electrical shock)
Damage: 3d6
Save: L2
Morale: 5
Horde Class: None

Braindeer are large mutant deer capable of delivering deadly electric shocks. All Braindeer - both male and female - have a large set of antlers as well as eyes that grow with an eerie blue tint. The antlers constantly fire out random arcs of blueish-white electrical current, much like a Tesla coil apparatus. This is due to the Braindeer's energy-retaining cell structure. These arcs of electricity can be directionally "fired" by the Braindeer, doing 3d6 hit points of electrical damage upon a successful hit.

Braindeer also have the mutation of body adjustment. Once per day, they can heal all points of damage they have taken. Also, in a life-or-death situation, the Braindeer can double its movement rate to 360' (120') for 3d10 rounds, making for a speedy escape.

Although they may seem to be fairly courageous due to their offensive and defensive abilities, Braindeer are very skitterish when around primitive firearms. They have a phobia of "hoplophobia" - a fear of firearms - perhaps left over from the Ancient years when they were hunted for sport and food. If a Braindeer hears a primitive gunshot or sees a primitive pistol or rifle being brandished, they will use their body adjustment mutation and - with their movement doubled - will take off in a panic. Oddly, they will not react this way to handheld weapons (clubs, spears, etc.) nor to futuristic weaponry.

Mutations: energy-retaining cell structure, body adjustment, phobia (primitive guns and gunfire)

NOTE: I heard my nephew mispronounce "reindeer" as "braindeer," and thus a new Christmas creature was born!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

[Thundarr Thursday] Savage Menagerie: Equort

No. Enc.: 0
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 2 (hooves)
Damage: 1d6/1d6
Save: L2
Morale: 9
Horde Class: None

Primarily used as a means of transport, the Equort is a large horse-like creature with a beak-like mouth, cat-like eyes, and a thick reptilian tail. Equorts are hairless, covered instead with a thick pale-yellow hide, with pointed ears that could be mistaken for horns at a distance.

Equorts are incredibly strong creatures, often used as pack animals and cart-pullers. They can carry up to 450 pounds and move at full speed, and up to 900 pounds and have their movement halved. Because of their size and strength, they are the favored mounts of Moks, who often use them for transport. When threatened, an Equort will rear up and kick with their front hooves for 1d6 hit points of damage. Equorts are not agile creatures when at a full gallop, often crashing through smaller barriers rather than leaping over them the way a horse will. They are also somewhat slower than a Riding Horse (MF rulebook, pg. 76) with a max speed of 90' per turn.

Equorts are as loyal as horses and are incredibly protective of their master. They will never be found in the wild, however, since they are specifically bred, raised, and trained by Equort handlers. A PC who wishes one as a mount will have to find someone willing to sell theirs.

Mutations: none

[Thundarr Thursday] Savage Menagerie: Synthekoid

No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 9
Attacks: 1 (fist)
Damage: 2d6 + 3d6 (strength)
Save: L5
Morale: 9
Horde Class: XIII

Synthekoids are 7-foot-tall humanoids with a stone-like outer shell. This rocky coating acts as a natural armor, bestowing an armor class of 4 to the creatures. However, this granite skin inhibits a Sythekoid's movements (treat as per the slow mutation), causing them to move only 60' per turn. They are voiceless, soundless, and seemingly without any means of communication. It is thought these creatures are driven only by instinct, though there may be a rudimentary telepathy amongst the members of a Synthekoid "family," but this is unconfirmed.

Due to their decreased speed, Synthekoids only attack once every other round. But although slow, Sythekoids deal a lot of damage due to their increased strength. Their hardened fists deal 2d6 hit points of damage, plus an additional 3d6 hit points due to their strength. In other words, a Synthekoid may not hit very often, but they will deal a lot of damage when they do.

Synthekoids live deep underground in massive caves and caverns. They will always be found living near a mineral-rich underground pool. Upon hatching from a boulder-like egg, a baby Sythekoid is carried to this pool and dipped into it. The pool's minerals instantly bond to the child's flesh, hardening it to the rocky shell unique to the Synthekoid race. However, although it is safe for Synthekoids to come into contact with this liquid, the mineral-rich pool is incredibly dangerous for others. Anyone who so much as touches this pool (or falls into it) will be instantly encased in the same rocky, unbreakable, unmoving shell, trapped forever in the stony cocoon. Synthekoids will often set these "living statues" at the entrance of their cave complex as a warning to outsiders to stay away.

Synthekoids are usually peaceful, wishing only to be left alone with no contact from the outside world. They may, however, be found working with a wizard if it suits their unknown purposes.

Mutations: slow mutant, natural armor, increased strength

NOTE: This creature was inspired by the episode "Last Train to Doomsday" from the classic Ruby-Spears post-apocalyptic cartoon "Thundarr the Barbarian." Stay tuned each week for "Thundarr Thursday!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Savage Menagerie: Dropbear

No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 2 (bite, claw)
Damage: 1d6/1d6
Save: L2
Morale: 8
Horde Class: None

The Dropbear is a vicious creature indigenous to the Ancient continent formerly known as Australia. However these large mutated koalas are now found in temperate zones throughout the Mutant Future. A Dropbear is a large carnivorous marsupial with savagely sharp fangs and claws. When initially encountered, a Dropbear may be mistakenly thought of as cute and cuddly - almost like a children's toy. However, when it attacks its true savage nature is exposed.

Dropbears attack by simply dropping out of trees and onto a victim. If they hit, they will latch onto their prey with their claws and begin biting the head, neck, and shoulders of a victim. This attack method can be unsettling to the unwary. Some travellers may think they can avoid Dropbear attacks by simply avoiding trees or by watching the branches overhead. Not necessarily so. Dropbears have developed two distinct mutations that enables them to attack in this manner almost anywhere. First, a Dropbear will use its telescopic vision mutation to spy on a victim. The Dropbear can see nearly 1 mile away using this ability. Once it has located its prey from a distance, the Dropbear will teleport to a point 6 feet above the victim's head, dropping out of nowhere and launching its attack. It has been reported that Dropbear attacks have occurred in the middle of open fields and plains.

It is rumored that simply holding a sharpened knife or stick over one's head will impale and kill an attacking Dropbear. Thus far, however, no one has lived to confirm if this deterrent works.

Mutations: telescopic vision, teleport

NOTE: While researching the jackalope and hoop snake, I stumbled across this legendary Australian creature. G'day to my Australian readers!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Savage Menagerie: Caw-Caw

No. Enc.: 1 flock (consisting of 1d100 Caw-Caws)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: Fly: 140' (60')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: Hit points equal to No. Enc.; HD = HP/5, rounded up
Attacks: 1 (multiple pecks)
Damage: 1d12
Save: L2
Morale: 8
Horde Class: None

The Caw-caw is a miniature version of the common crow or raven. It is a small black bird, about 4 inches in wingspan, about the size of a large butterfly. The Caw-caw gets its name from the "caw-caw" call it makes. A single Caw-caw by itself is hardly a threat. However, the Caw-caw always travels in an insect-like swarm. The birds stay in constant contact with each other through its metaconcert mutation. For all practical purposes, the Mutant Lord should treat a Caw-caw flock as one large entity consisting of 1d100 individual Caw-caws.

When attacking, a Caw-caw flock will engulf a victim in a swirling mass. The numerous pecks of the many Caw-caws will do 1d12 hit points of damage. Since each Caw-caw has only 1 hit point, the entire flock's hit point total is equal to the number number encountered. Since they travel in a tight mass, a successful hit will "kill" as many Caw-caws as the amount of damage rolled. (For example: A flock of 30 Caw-caws is hit for 6 points of damage. Six are killed, and there will be 24 Caw-caws remaining in the flock.) When rolling for their attack, take the Caw-caws' current hit point total and divide by 5, rounding up, for their HD "total." Therefore a flock of 40 Caw-caws will attack as an 8 HD creature. If a party kills 15 of them during a round of combat, the flock will be down to 25 hit points and will therefore attack as a 5 HD creature during the next round of combat.

Because of the strong mental unity of these birds, the flock has the ability to "bounce" mental attacks back upon an attacker through a form of mind reflection. It is not a wise idea to try to drive them off with mental abilities since this could be disastrous for the PC.

Caw-caws live as one unit in large trees or in multiple ground nests. If a PC sees a large mass of small black birds approaching, it best to hide and wait for them to pass. There's a reason a flock of Caw-caws is referred to as a "murder."

Mutations: metaconcert, mind reflection

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

[Thundarr Thursday] Dangerous Encounter: Valley of the Man-Apes

While entering a long-forgotten valley, the PCs will come across a disturbing sight: A small army of 14 man-apes (use the Apeman stats from the MF rulebook, pg. 60) are excavating something from the valley floor. "Dig faster, my faithful ones!" says the one who is obviously overseeing the digging. "We have much work to do this night!" The man-apes will then lift something that appears to be a giant hand from the ground. If the PCs do nothing, the man-apes will load it onto a cart and drag it off. If, however, the PCs are heard or if they attempt to make contact, the leader will scream, "There are spies among us! Attack the humans!" A group of eight man-apes will attack while the other six (and the leader) carts off the hand.

Man-Apes (8) (AL N, MV 120’ (40’), AC 6, HD 7, #AT 1 (weapon), DG as weapon +2, SV L5, ML 9, mutations: none)

When the battle has ended, the PCs' next mission may be to follow the man-apes to find out what mischief is afoot. Following the path the ape-man took will lead them to a large walled fortress. This fortress is not the lair of the man-apes (they took another well-hidden path) but rather the fortified village of Zett and the dwarf people who have been under attack from the man-apes for many months. If the PCs are able to gain the villagers' trust (and as long as none of the PCs resemble apes), they will open the large doors and invite them in to rest. Zett, their mayor, explains that they have been at war with the man-apes "for untold ages" and built the high walls to keep them out. "Now Simius, their leader, is rebuilding The Mighty One - an Ancient warrior who will destroy our city!" Zett offers to handsomely reward the PCs if they will spy on Simius and find out what the status is of The Mighty One's reconstruction.

Following Zett's directions, the PCs will come to an Ancient movie studio lot. A great deal of commotion is coming from the Old West area of the lot. Inside a saloon soundstage, Simius and six other man-apes are dragging out another hand of The Mighty One. (The Mutant Lord is encouraged to start up an old-fashioned Old West barroom brawl!) If the man-apes get the best of the PCs, they will tie them up and drag them to the medieval castle soundstage, leaving them for a small gamma wyrm (MF rulebook, pg. 73) to eat. If the PCs begin to win, Simius will run off, leaving the hand behind. If the PCs pursue, they'll encounter the gamma wyrm, which will attack on sight.

Small Gamma Wyrm (1) (AL C, MV 90' (30'), AC 2, HD 8, #AT 3 or 1 (2 claws, 1 bite or breath), DG 1d4/1d4/3d6 or 5d6, SV L12, ML 10, mutations: psionic flight, toxic weapon, reflective epidermis (radiation))

While distracted by the gamma wyrm, the PCs should hear a loud crashing in the distance and the boom-boom-boom of echoing footsteps. The Mighty One has been activated and it's on the way to Zett's village! The Mighty One is a 100-foot-tall robotic gorilla used as a prop in some Ancient movies. The robot is fairly mindless, but since it was used in Hollywood monster films, it's basic programming consists of "Go to the nearby village and crush the puny humans." The hands were the last things Simius needed to complete the repairs (though it may have only one hand depending on how the barroom brawl went).

The robot can be defeated in one of two ways: The PCs can tackle it head-on and attempt to destroy it before it reaches Zett's village. Although it is incredibly strong (50 HD and hitting with its fist for 8d6 damage), it is also incredibly slow (-1 to hit). It also has very poor sensors (adding another -1 to hit) as well as no true armor to speak of (only a fur covering giving it a AC of 7). So fighting it is not out of the question. The other way to defeat it is to locate and stop Simius who is running The Mighty One with a remote control base unit. Simius has positioned the unit very close to Zett's village. Once The Mighty One reaches the village, Simius plans to trigger the remote and use it to control The Mighty One to destroy the walls. If the PCs can find Simius and the remote, they can shut down The Mighty One. (However, it will be much more exciting if the PCs fight the giant monster rather than simply pulling the plug!)

The Mighty One
Hit Dice: 50
Frame: Armature
Locomotion: Legs
Manipulation: Basic Hands
Armor: None, but covered with fur (AC 7)
Sensors: Class I (-1 to hit)
Mental Programming: Programming
Accessories: Remote Control Unit
Weaponry: Fists deal 8d6 damage

Once The Mighty One has been stopped and Simius and his man-apes dealt with, Zett and his village will treat the PCs as the heroes they are. It is left to the Mutant Lord to determine the reward Zett presents to them.

NOTE: This adventure and its creatures were inspired by the episode "Valley of the Man-Apes" from the classic Ruby-Spears post-apocalyptic cartoon "Thundarr the Barbarian." Obviously some liberties needed to be taken with the original episode's plotline, but I tried to stay as true as I could to the feel of the show. Stay tuned each week for "Thundarr Thursday!"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dangerous Encounter: Exploring The Rockeez

Rather than provide an encounter today, I decided to post a sandbox area for Mutant Lords who need a ready-made wilderness map for their mutants to explore. The Mutant Lord is encouraged to populate the map as he sees fit. Some notable landmarks and areas of interest are described below.

This map (click for a larger version) encompasses a very small portion of a massive mountain chain that runs through the area. Known as "The Rockeez," a part of this massive line of mountains runs from the northwest to the southeast in this map. During the Ancient Wars, many battles were waged in the area since the mountains made for excellent cover, holding many bases and strongholds. It is because of this that the mountain range was subjected to heavy bombing and destruction during the final moments of the Final War. In this map, a large valley (marked in orange) was carved out by a final bombardment. This blasted zone is flattened, gravelly, and without life or vegetation. Radiation levels are minimal, but a threat to those who linger.

There are two populated areas on the map (1). The one to the southwest is called Lead Village. After the massive land upheaval, many new ore veins were exposed and are now being mined in this thriving little town. Silver and gold has been discovered, but more importantly are the radiation-deadening lead deposits. Numerous humans and mutants have descended on this village, hoping to strike it rich. Numerous mining operations litter the surrounding countryside. The town is falling into lawlessness as a true "Old West Mining Town" has developed.

The other village to the north is known as Steaming Springs. Named due to the numerous geothermal hot springs in the area, Steaming Springs has a small colony of tinkerers and inventors who are trying to harness the geothermal power. Steam-powered cars and machines clank through the streets and steam-powered generators provide much of the electrical power. The village, though small, is heavily fortified and protected.

An Ancient road connects Lead Village and Steaming Springs since they have a trading route set up. The inventors of Steaming Springs needs the raw ore for their devices whereas Lead Village benefits from the cutting-edge mining equipment designed by the tinkerers to the north. The PCs could be hired by a caravan of traders to escort a shipment of ore to Steaming Springs, or they could be hired to deliver some heavy-duty equipment to Lead Village.

Other features to consider:
  • There are three highly radioactive zones in the area (2). Camps of The Irradiated and other radiation-dwelling mutants have been reported in these areas. The danger from these creatures - and the Level 5 or higher radiation found there - should be enough to keep the curious at bay.
  • There are two bandit encampments (3) just off the road. These bandits have been raiding the towns (when they're feeling brave) as well as attacking travelers on the road. The PCs could be hired to drive these brigands out of the area.
  • Two Ancient ruins (4) could be explored. These massive Ancient cities are avoided by the denizens of the two populated towns as explorers have a tendency to not come back at all. It is unknown what they hold since no one has returned. The ruin to the southeast is known as Deever and the one in the central blast zone is Buildor.
  • A deep subterranean cavern (5) was opened up when the lands were destroyed. This cavern is rumored to hold Ancient riches as well as ravenous cave-dwelling creatures. The area is known as Veil, though some have nicknamed it Death Shroud.
NOTE: The overland map was created with Inkwell Ideas' Hexographer hex map-making software. (You can try it for free too!)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dangerous Encounter: Out To Sea

This encounter revolves around sea travel and combat, so this is a good chance for a Mutant Lord to use the "Adventures at Sea" section on page 52 of the Mutant Future rulebook as well as the "Monster Encounter Table (Sea)" on page 105.

The PCs should find out about a battery of Ancient military sea bases just off the coast. (This encounter could take place in an ocean, a sea, one of the Great Lakes, or any large body of water requiring "sea travel.") Since this was a military stronghold, the likelihood of interesting weaponry and devices is certain.

The bases should be about a mile away. As the bases appear on the horizon, the PCs will see a series of four turret-like structures on long legs. If they have something that allows for seeing at a distance (or if anyone has a mutation allowing for it), they can see some kind of human-like shadows at some of the window and doorway openings. It is at this point that a pair of Great White Gulls (new creature, click here for a description) attacks the PCs and their craft. (The gulls have a nest on the roof of one of the bases.)

Great White Gulls (2) (AL N, MV Fly: 240’ (80’), AC 6, HD 3, #AT 1, DG 2d8, SV L2, ML 8, mutations: echolocation, know direction)

As the PCs draw within 100 yards, they'll be able to clearly see who now lives in the bases. A colony of cephalopoids has taken up residence (MF rulebook, pg. 66). Their initial appearance may startle the PCs. As they get closer to the bases, they will hiss, burble, and shriek, waving wildly at the approaching boat. If they get even closer, the 'poids may even fire a few shots at the PCs.

Cephalopoids (8) (AL N, MV 120' (40'), Tentacles: 150’ (50’), AC 7, HD 10, #AT 5 or 2 (4 tentacles and a bite, or two weapon attacks), DG 1d6 tentacle/2d6 bite or per weapon, SV L3, ML 9, mutations: toxic weapon)

In actuality, the cephalopoids are trapped by a patch of kelpers (MF rulebook, pg. 79) that have floated in. There are two kelpers clustered around the bases of each of the four towers, silently laying in wait. (They claimed two cephalopoid victims before they figured out what was going on.) The cephalopoids are actually trying to warn the PCs of the danger.

Kelpers (8) (AL N, MV None, AC 7, HD 3, #AT 1 (vines or feeding tube), DG None/2d6, SV L1, ML 12, mutations: prehensile tendrils, dermal poison sap)

If the PCs help the cephalopoids drive off or destroy the kelpers, they will be very grateful and will present the party with a rusty metal footlocker that contains the following: two laser pistols Mk 2; a laser rifle; and two nonlethal photon grenades. The pistols and rifle are completely discharged and will need new power sources.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

[Thundarr Thursday] Notorious NPCs: Gemini the Wizard

11th Level Sorcerer

STR: 13 --- INT: 16
DEX: 11 --- WIL: 20
CON: 16 --- CHA: “Good”-17; “Evil”-8
HPs: 60 --- AC: 4
Mutations: optic emissions

The evil wizard Gemini is the closest thing Thundarr has to an archvillian. He is the only foe to face Thundarr on more than one occasion, and he even appears in the opening credits of the show. Gemini should be considered the most dangerous being in the Thundarr universe.

Gemini’s most striking feature is his dual-faced head. He reveals one face – his “good” face - when initially dealing with people or when trying to win over strangers to his lands. This face has an effective Charisma score of 17. However, when angered, Gemini’s head spins around and a face shield slides up, covering his “good” face and revealing his “evil” face. This evil face has glowing red eyes and is covered with wrinkles and scars. Although most sorcerers and wizards are without mutations, Gemini has one special ability. When his evil face is exposed, Gemini is able to use his mutation of optic emissions which blast out a laser-like beam for 4d6 hit points of damage if they strike.

Like other evil wizards, Gemini has established a massive stronghold where he lords over his domain as absolute ruler and master. At his immediate beck and call is an army of 12 known as “Gemini Knights.” These Knights are actually mindless robotic drones dressed in armor from various periods throughout history (taken from various Ancient museums). Gemini will send these warrior Knights out to fight for him before he will enter combat himself.

As an 11th level wizard, Gemini has the following numbers of spells and levels memorized: four 1st level spells; three 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level spells; two 5th level spells; and one 6th level spell. The Mutant Lord should use the magic-user/elf spells from the Labyrinth Lord rules. Even without his spells, Gemini is a powerful fighter. He receives 2 attacks per round and gains a +2 damage bonus when in hand-to-hand combat.

When encountered, Gemini may very well have a small number of Groundlings and Hawk-People with him, as these creatures have served him as minions in the past. It really would not be unusual to encounter Gemini with any number of loyal minions, as disloyalty to Gemini is punishable by any number of very painful deaths.

When first encountered, Gemini will have his “good” face in place. A PC party may very well mistake Gemini as a benevolent and kindly ruler. But once crossed, Gemini’s true face and nature will shift into place and his true evilness will be revealed. Once angered, Gemini will never forget the party and will resurface to torment them for years to come until either he or they are destroyed. And with his abilities and resources, the odds are squarely in his favor.

NOTE: This villain was inspired by the episodes "Secret of the Black Pearl" and "Last Train to Doomsday" from the classic Ruby Spears post-apocalyptic cartoon "Thundarr the Barbarian." Stay tuned each week for "Thundarr Thursday!"

[Thundarr Thursday] Savage Menagerie: Hawk-People

No. Enc.: 2d4 (2d6)

Alignment: Chaotic

Movement: 120' (40')

Armor Class: 6

Hit Dice: 7

Attacks: 1 (weapon)

Damage: as per weapon

Save: L6

Morale: 9

Hoard Class: VII

Hawk-People are wingless, bird-like bipeds who are fairly strong and fearless. However, Hawk-People have no real motivation or drive of their own, preferring to follow the orders of a strong charismatic leader. Because of this blind loyalty, Hawk-People are often found working as muscle for wizards. Hawk-People do not have wings or any other ability to fly, although they have the face, beak, and feathers of a bird. They are never found without their backpack where they keep all of their valuables. (It is thought that the backpack also helps hide whatever vestigial stumps remain of what was once their wings.)

Hawk-People have the mutation of shriek, preferring to let loose with a bloodcurdling scream when they enter battle. The Hawk-People can be found using any kind of weapon, although – when trying to accumulate slaves for its master - they prefer to use a man-catcher. This large fork-like polearm ends in a large claw-like apparatus and is used to snare, entrap, and otherwise capture a victim. On a successful hit, the man-catcher has ensnared a victim. If three or more Hawk-People ensnare the same target, that victim is immobilized. This ensnaring does no damage though.

Mutations: shriek

NOTE: This creature is inspired by the episode "Last Train to Doomsday" from the classic Ruby Spears post-apocalyptic cartoon "Thundarr the Barbarian." Stay tuned each week for "Thundarr Thursday!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Savage Menagerie: Carnivorous Cave Deer

No. Enc.: 1d4 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 2 (butt, bite)
Damage: 1d6, 1d4
Save: L2
Morale: 5
Hoard Class: None

Certainly one of the more frightening underground dwellers for a future mutant to encounter, the Carnivorous Cave Deer lurks deep in the recesses of the earth, watching and waiting for victims to enter its lair.

Cave Deer attack with a head butt for 1d6 hit points of damage, followed by a toothy bite for 1d4 hit points. Attackers need to be wary when making contact with a Cave Deer since they are hairless and coated with a thick dermal poison slime. This poison is Class 4, doing 4d6 hit points of damage if a save versus poison fails (half damage if the save is successful). A Cave Deer lair is doubly dangerous, as the walls and floors are also coated with this poisonous slime, making it a very dangerous chamber to enter.

Cave Deer have adapted well to the dark recesses of the caverns. They are able to see very well using their thermal vision and night vision mutations. They prefer to lurk in the shadows and recesses, attacking a victim from behind. Cave Deer also have the empathy mutation, preferring to instill blind terror in their victims. While the victim is racing around in a panic (or, better yet, cowering in a corner), the Cave Deer will strike.

Mutations: thermal vision, night vision, dermal poison slime, empathy