Monday, August 9, 2010

Micro-Mutations (or "Cantrips For Mutants")

Back when I played a lot (a LOT) of AD&D (1st ed.), my DM had what he called his "Bogie List." (I'm fairly certain he got the idea from Fantasy Wargaming.) This was a list of 100 minor quirks, abilities, skills, and disadvantages. After rolling up a character, you were allowed to roll for one or two "Bogies" which could give you such beneficial abilities such as Clever Barterer (get stuff from merchants at a 20% discount) or Sense of Balance (+1 DEX bonus). Later, with the advent of Cantrips (0 Level Spells), I was enthralled with these minor spells. Summon Bee or Change Color were hardly "useful" spells, but it was neat to have these extra chances at roleplaying. A clever player could figure out some use for these micro-spells.

It's an easy matter to bring this same concept to Mutant Future. If a player wishes, allow him to roll for one or two "micro-mutations." Take whatever mutation he rolls and "dilute" the effect to the point of near-uselessness.
  • Gigantism - Adds an extra 2 feet to the player's height.
  • Optical Emissions - The player's eyes always glow with a bright red light.
  • Prey Scent - Every dog in the area will follow the player around.
  • Control Weather - The player can increase or decrease the temperature in the area by 10 degrees.
  • Mind Thrust - The player can induce a mild headache in a victim.
  • Teleport - The player can teleport 1d4 yards in any direction once a day.
This should give the players a bit of extra roleplaying incentive without giving them any extra abilities that would overpower the game. Use your imagination and give them some "0-level mutations" to play with.

"And now before we liquefy you and your friends, I want you to know that...that...ugh, I have got the WORST headache all of a sudden."


  1. This is a great idea. And FWIW, I read "summon bee" as "summon beer" - but then, it's getting late. :)

  2. I remember the random traits table from FWG, I really enjoy such a thing.

    In my games, I like the mutants to be as freakish as possible, so I allow players to have an Aberrant Form for free if they also take Bizarre Appearance - up to 3 times.

  3. Teleport might be a little much for a cantrip level effect. Maybe 1d4 feet would be OK, but 4 yards could be quite a life saver in combat.

  4. One could generalize this effect, having PCs roll a multiplier/divisor for every mutation:

    2 ---- all variable numbers at ~1% ("cantipized")
    3-5 -- all variable numbers at minimum*
    6-9 -- normal magnitude
    10-11- all variable numbers at maximum*
    12 --- multiplier of 1d4+1 to key variable

    That should Wahoo The Works.

    * ie a damage of d6 would be come 1 point/6 points