Friday, December 30, 2011

Obligatory Top Ten 2011 Posts At The Savage AfterWorld

I use Google Analytics to track hits and visitors, as well as which posts are generating the most interest. And, as is customary for bloggers on this date, it's time to review...
The Top Ten Most Popular Savage AfterWorld Blog Posts of 2011!

And here we go, counting down to the most popular post...

10. Mutant Future RPG Stuff Giveaway! (Second Attempt) - My first attempt to give away a bunch of Mutant Future-related prizes was met with a lot of no shows. My second attempt was better received.

9. Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Fhtagn! - The release of Realms of Crawling Chaos was announced. Its compatibility with Mutant future is something I've been itching to try!

8. [Savage Menagerie] Octoshark - Inspired by producer Roger Corman's "Sharktopus," I brought the toothy multi-armed creature into the Mutant Future.

7. [Thundarr Thursday] Thundarr RPGs Found Throughout The Blogosphere - Turns out I'm not the only person inspired by the classic Ruby Spears cartoon!

6. The Savage AfterWorld's Customizable "Do-It-Yourself-You-Cheap-Bastard" Gamemaster's Screen - Tired of looking for instructions on how to create my own GM screen, I cobbled one together and shared the how-to instructions with readers.

5. Giant Mutant Chickens? Call In LEGO Hazmat Guy! - Here's where it gets interesting. This was just a bit of a "throw-off" post, but my guess is that LEGO enthusiasts have been giving me the hits.

4. Gamma World Coming To PSN, XBL, and PC This Fall - Big announcement from E3 on an upcoming videogame based on the Gamma World game system.

3. Notorious NPC: Feldspar the Geologian - A nifty NPC based on my Geologian race. The hits were caused by -- of all things -- the word "golem" embedded in the image's file name. No idea why this term was searched for so much, but that's what made this post so popular. (I've since changed the file name to keep the hits to a normal level.)

2. Hot Post-Apocalyptic Chicks! Elven! Cyborg! And "Other!" - This meme was sweeping the OSR blogosphere as we all basically pandered to the masses offering HOT ELVEN CHIXXX!!!! And whatdya worked!

And the Top Post of 2011:

1. Post-Apocalyptic Ruined City Map Generator - This incredibly useful map generator has just been HAMMERED over the year. There are a lot of folks getting a lot of use out of it as it's my most popular post by far.

And onto 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mutated Mayhem At Gary Con, March 22-25!

I'll be attending Gary Con IV in Lake Geneva, WI, on March 22-25! This celebration of gaming's roots looks to be breaking attendance records this year! (OK, technically "next" year...) Gaming legends playing and hosting classic (and more modern) games in the town where it all started? How come you haven't signed up yet?!?

And here is a preview of the games I'm scheduled to run this year. Yup, one Mutant Future game is scheduled (and more pick-up games may occur):

DGS Presents: Ghostbusters - How Dry I Am
Thursday, 2 pm – 6 pm
Several class 5 free-floating vaporous manifestations are tearing up a college kegger. The Ghostbusters are called in to dispatch these Prohibition Poltergeists. But is this a single case of ‘spirits' versus 'spirits,' or is there something more malevolent trying to end drunken debauchery in our dimension?

DGS Presents: It Came From the Late, Late Show - Arbor Day!
Thursday, 8 pm – Midnight
8:00 PM [HOR] MOVIE-Thriller "Arbor Day!" (1968) Horrific axe murders begin to occur in the forested Pacific Northwest similar to those committed by the legendary "Paul Bunyon Killer" 20 years earlier. Has the crazed lumberjack returned from the grave? Hosted by Dr. Phil Mel DeHyde.(CC)

DGS Presents: Timemaster - Postage Due
Friday, 10 am – 2 pm
An undelivered letter in mid-1800 America has thrown the timeline into chaos. What does this single piece of correspondence contain that makes it so critical to future events? Time Corps agents will be dispatched to the point of incursion to ensure the mail goes through!

DGS Presents: Mutant Future - Weed World
Friday, 4 pm – 8 pm
Within the last month, the growth of all forms of vegetation has visibly accelerated, threatening to overrun and choke off your tiny post-apocalyptic village. Does an Ancient children's bedtime story of "The Devil's Greenhouse" and the mutated plantlife lurking within hold the key to surviving this floral horror?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas at Ground Zero - Weird Al Yankovic

Been waiting most of the year to roll out this radioactive Yuletide video!
Merry Christmas from The Savage AfterWorld!

Friday, December 16, 2011

[Deja Vu Blogfest] Last Chance For Gas / Nanomite Swarm

(Today's bit of "Haven't I read this before?" is inspired by DL Hammons of Cruising Altitude 2.0 and his idea for the Deja Vu Blogfest - Day of the Do-Over!)

The following are two blog entries that received zero Comments, both of which I was pretty pleased with. So I'm resurrecting both to give folks who may have missed them two years ago a chance to use them.

Dangerous Encounter: Last Chance for Gas
(posted June 22, 2009):
This small encounter can be placed alongside any isolated, long-forgotten road or highway. In the distance, the party will see a small building just off to the side of the road they travel. Any party members who are familiar with Ancient Architecture or History will recognize it as a small gas station. But even those unfamiliar with The Ancients should be able to puzzle out that it’s a refueling depot of some kind (especially if gas-powered vehicles and tools are used in your campaign world).

The gas station is now the lair of a pair of Skin Stealers (MF Rulebook, pg. 95) who call this outpost their home. The Stealers can see the approaching party through one of the windows of station. If there are three or more members of the party, one will exit out the back armed with a crowbar (1d6 damage) to get behind the party while the other Stealer arms itself with a sledgehammer (two-handed weapon, 1d8 damage) and lies in wait inside the building. Once the party gets close enough, they’ll spring out and ambush the party.

If, however, there are only one or two party members, the Stealers will instead try to garner the party’s trust. They’ll come out of the building and welcome them to their home, offering them a place to rest and camp. They shall try to get them to lower their guard in hopes of eventually surprising them unaware and skinning them. (The harvested skin on both Stealers is currently wearing out and starting to deteriorate. The Mutant Lord may want to mention to observant players that the two nomads seem to have very dark and leathery hides.)

Skin Stealers (2) (AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 6, HD 5, #AT 1 (sting or weapon), DG 1d4+poison or weapon, SV L5, ML 7, Mutations: toxic weapon, reflective epidermis (radiation), unique)

Once the Skin Stealers are dealt with, the party is free to explore the station if they wish. Over the years, it has been fairly well picked over and there isn’t much left to scavenge, but there are a few items of note to discover:
  • Hidden in a toolbox buried under some debris in a corner of the station’s garage are some of the items the Skin Stealers have collected from their victims. Within are 125 silver pieces, a Rad-Purge Shot, and one Healing Pack.
  • If anyone thinks of it, there is sadly no fuel in holding tanks, having been siphoned away a long time ago.
  • In a backroom storage area, the players can find two unopened cans of beef stew (someone's long-forgotten lunch) as well as a Visitor to the Area map. This pre-apocalypse map shows all of the roads, towns, and attractions in a 50-mile radius. Some of the attractions listed include things like Old Man's Cave, Mystery Hill, and other tourist traps. The current accuracy of the map is left up to the ML. Also the destinations listed could provide future adventure hooks for the party.
  • In the garage under one of the automotive racks, there appears to be a deep pit filled with old, filthy, discarded oil. This is not oil but rather a small-sized Black Pudding (MF Rulebook, pg. 62) that has taken up residence in the pit. The Skin Stealers treated it much like a “pet,” feeding it any animals they could trap as well as the discarded bodies of their victims. The Pudding never bothers the Stealers, but it may not take kindly to the strangers poking around the area.
Small Black Pudding (1) (AL N, MV 60' (20'), AC 6, HD 10, AT 1, DG 3d8, SV L5, ML 12, Mutations: toxic weapon)

If the Black Pudding is defeated and the pit is searched, the party will find many undigested bones of animals and humanoid creatures. They will also find a small metal box containing 24 copper pieces, 360 silver pieces, and 165 gold pieces. (The box belonged to one of the Stealers’ victims and was accidentally tossed in along with the owner’s body.)


Savage Menagerie: Nanomite Swarm
(posted August 18, 2009):
No. Enc.: 1 swarm
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: Fly: 75’ (25')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1
Damage: Special (depends on type; see description)
Save: L0
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: None

During the final wars of the Ancients, military scientists were experimenting with nanomites - microscopic robots with limited artificial intelligence. The plan was to program these microscopic automatons to attack the enemy and heal the wounded during a combat situation. The nanomites worked as planned. However, in The Savage AfterWorld, these still-activated rogue machines pose a substantial threat.

A nanomite swarm contains literally millions of cellular-sized bots. Individually too small to be seen, a nanomite swarm appears like a fine black mist or a swirling vortex of smoke. Once engaged, this "mist" will sweep in and engulf the party. (See the Insect Swarm entry in the MF rulebook, pg. 77, for more information on how a swarm may react to the PCs.)

There are two classes of nanomite swarm that may be encountered in the Mutant Future:

Combat nanomite swarm: Combat nanomites were designed to attack an enemy from the inside out. Upon a successful hit, have the PC save vs. poison. If the roll fails, some of the nanomites have burrowed into the PC's flesh. They will attack the character on a cellular level, flaring up and burning out, delivering 3d6 hit points of damage as they destroy themselves to damage the victim. The only way to stop the attack is to escape or destroy the swarm.

Medical nanomite swarm: Medical nanomites were designed for quick healing and repair on the combat front. Now that the wars have ended, they still seek out the injured to assist. But DNA has changed a LOT over the years. Any pure human successfully "attacked" by medical nanomites will instead find that they have been healed for 3d6 hp. However, since the nanomites were not designed for mutant DNA, any mutant PCs successfully attacked should roll 1d4. On 1-2, the nanomites are able to puzzle out enough of the DNA's quirks to heal the mutant PC for 2d6 hp. On a roll of 3, the nanomites instead alter the DNA in some way, bestowing 1 random mutation to the PC. However, on a roll of 4, the medical nanomite does more harm than good. The PC will need to save vs. poison or take 3d6 damage. Since the nanomites were never programmed for artificial life, all androids and robotic PCs are unaffected by medical nanomites.

Just like an insect swarm, a nanomite swarm sustains no damage from weapons. (It'd be like trying to stab, club, or shoot a fog bank.) Attacks from fire, cold, or other energy-based attacks will deliver full damage to the nanomite swarm. Any electrical-based attacks such as from an energy baton, shock gloves, EMP rifle, etc., will deliver double damage upon a successful hit.

Nanomite swarms are typically encountered on Ancient battlegrounds, though a swarm may have "drifted" over the years to nearby areas as well.

Mutations: none

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Violent Vehicles: Murder Cycle

Required crew: Only one rider and one passenger
Top Speed: 70 MPH
Cargo: 300 lbs. (limited cargo space)
Structural HP: 100 HP
Armor: AC 6
Weaponry: None

A "murder cycle" is a mechanical monstrosity made from a set of monster truck tires welded onto a heavily fortified and reinforced motorcycle frame. A murder cycle is about 30 feet long, 15 feet tall, weighing in excess of 15 tons. Due to the size and weight, a murder cycle is not a fast vehicle, topping out at 70 MPH. Its turning radius is also fairly wide, requiring an open berth to turn around. However, where a murder cycle lacks in speed and maneuverability, it makes up for in sheer crushing force. A murder cycle can flatten vehicles and small structures with ease. Few obstacles can hold it back, and it will crush any mutant foolish enough to get in the way. Due to the vehicle's wide tires, low center of gravity, and crushing weight, it is nearly impossible to "tip over". It will take 50 hit points of structural damage before being rendered inoperable. It can comfortably carry a driver and passenger, although it has very little additional cargo space. A murder cycle is more often used as an intimidating form of combat vehicle than as a practical form of transportation.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dangerous Encounter: Ghosts Of The Ancients

While traveling, the party should encounter the ruins of a smaller Ancient village. Perhaps it could be the remnants of a small town that was bombed out and abandoned during the Final Wars. They should feel free to poke around and salvage anything they can, but they will not find too much as this town was looted of anything of value long ago.

With enough poking around, they may encounter a small campsite set up on the very edge of town. A group of archeologists have set up a base of operations here. The leader of the expedition is a human named Scribe who, along with two other human archivists (Steff and Rogher), have been exploring and investigating the ruins to get a better understanding of pre-apocalyptic life. They have found several items of “academic interest” (some various hand tools, a TV remote control, a pair of eyeglasses, and perhaps some other items from the Assorted Junk list (MF rulebook, pg. 124). They ask the party if they would like to help with the exploration, promising that they may keep any weapons and items they find, after they catalog and record the item, of course. The day should be getting short at this time, and Scribe suggests they bunk down for the night to get started in the morning.

Late that night, a small band of Feeders (MF rulebook, pg. 71) who have been watching the expedition from the ruins sneaks in to make a meal out of the sleeping victims. Unless someone has been posted as a nightwatch, the Feeders get surprise when they attack.

Feeders (4) (AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 6, HD 3, #AT 1 (weapon or bite), per weapon or 1d6, SV L3, ML 8, mutations: thermal vision, night vision)

During the heat of combat, the party may notice one of the Feeders suddenly stop fighting, look about confusedly, then drop dead in front of them. After the combat ends, if they inspect the body of the feeder, they will find an Ancient knife (a kitchen steak knife) buried deep in its back. This weapon dealt the death blow. They may also see Steff staring off into the shadows. If asked, she will say she saw what killed the Feeder. “It was a ghost!” Steff exclaims. “I saw a ghost of one of the Ancients who lived here!” If questioned, Steff will say that she saw a ghostly skeleton dressed in Ancient garb step out from the shadows. It threw something and the Feeder dropped. The Ghost then dropped back into the shadows and disappeared. If the area where the “ghost” was spotted is investigated, nothing will be found.

The next morning, Scribe will begin yelling and shouting, as Steff has apparently gone missing. In a panic, he starts throwing out assumptions that more of the Feeders may have returned or, perhaps, Steff's “ghost” came for her during the night. He pleads for the party to help him locate her.

Steff actually left the camp before sunrise to try to locate her “ghost.” An excellent tracker, Steff returned to the scene of the appearance and found some faint footprints and signs that she was able to follow. If the party returns to the scene, they find Steff's footprints scattered about (where she was searching) and a rather obvious trail she left as she chased after the ghost. Her trail leads to a long-forgotten Ancient graveyard. If the party approaches quietly, they may catch a glimpse of a humanoid skeleton wandering about, then entering a open stone tomb. Rather than “ghosts,” the graveyard is inhabited by a small tribe of Vitossein – shy, private humanoids with transparent flesh. From a distance, these creatures look like skeletons as their bones are not transparent.

This band has lived in the area for many months. They have dressed themselves in scavenged Ancient clothing, and their small graveyard location and their appearance keep the curious away due to rumors of hauntings. The Vitossein have been fighting with the Feeders for a while now, as they have been attacked by the little fiends as well. One of them heard last night's combat and “helped” the strangers without becoming personally involved.

Vitossein (6) (AL N, MV 120' (40'), AC 3, HD 8, #AT 1, DG weapon + 1d6, SV L4, ML 5, mutations: chameleon epidermis (limited), reflective epidermis (radiation), intellectual affinity (martial))

Steff has followed the path to the Vitossein encampment and is watching them with interest as her specialty is anthopology. This new humanoid species facinates her and she's trying to make as many notes and observations as she can in private. If the party makes too much noise upon approach, she race up and quiet them, explaining that these creatures are a new humanoid race that she wishes to observe. If the party charges in, the Vitossein will make short work of them, as they have a highly developed martial intellectual affinity as well as being very hard to see. If they are beaten in combat, they will be taken prisoner while the Vitossein leader demands an explanation as to who they are and why they attacked.

During this interrogation (or if the party had remained hidden while observing), a larger party of Feeders makes an attack on the Vitossein base. They realize the Vitossein interloper helped the strangers, costing the Feeders last night's meal. When the Feeders attack, the outnumbered Vitossein will need help. If the party is captured, the Vitossein will release them and ask for help. If the party is hidden, Steff will race in the help, yelling at the party to follow.

Feeders (10) (AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 6, HD 3, #AT 1 (weapon or bite), per weapon or 1d6, SV L3, ML 8, mutations: thermal vision, night vision)

Once the combat has ended, any Feeders still remaining will abandon the ruins as a base and will run off, never to return. The Vitossein will thank the party as they can now live in peace. Scribe will promise to keep the secret of the Vitossein safe in exchange for their help in cataloging the ruined village. The Vitossein, having explored the area at length, collecting many items of intellectual value, are happy to make the arrangement. The party may also be rewarded with some of the more unusual items discovered, including weapons or valuables.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Savage Menagerie: Slimenoid

No. Enc.: 1 (0)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 60' (20')
Armor Class: 8
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 1

Damage: See below
Save: F2
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: None

Green Slime (MF rulebook pg. 75) is a slow, mindless, flesh-melting goo that usually fully consumes its victims. But there are times when a powerful mental mutant's consciousness "lives" on upon absorption. It is then that a Slimenoid is born

A Slimenoid is a humanoid-shaped creature made entirely out of Green Slime. The creature is formed by the sheer mental willpower of a former victim, giving it
its shape and form of locomotion. A Slimenoid no longer has the memories or identity of the former victim -- only the mental energies of the victim is present. But due to the powerful mental energies at play, a Slimenoid will sometimes (50%) still retain the use of one of its mental mutations. The ML should roll randomly on the Mental Mutations table if this is the case. (However, mental attacks are useless against a Slimenoid as no true "brain" is present.)

Like a Green Slime, a Slimenoid only wants to attack and eat. A Slimenoid will shamble forward and attempt to grab and enfold a victim, digesting all clothing and armor in 6 rounds. In 1d4 rounds after that, the slime will coat and dissolve the victim, creating more slime and absorbing it into its own "body. A Slimenoid is impervious to most attacks, although it is susceptable to fire.

Mutations: toxic weapon, special (see description)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

NaGaDeMon / NaNoWriMo Winner! (And What's Next)

At 50,472 words, I officially crossed the finish line of National Novel Writing Month shortly after Thanksgiving. Yay me! And, because I was participating as a Na No Rebel as part of National Game Design Month, I also consider this a "win," as I was able to churn out the following:
  • A Mutant Future “monster manual” with stats and descriptions of over 80 creatures...
  • A compendium of 45 one-night Mutant Future adventures for quick pick-up games or for running at conventions (still need seven more)…
  • An outline of a new RPG to be announced next year...
  • A good start on TWO full-length adventure modules for Mutant Future
  • And fleshed-out outlines for TWO full-length adventure modules for Goblinoid Games' recently acquired Timemaster RPG!
Whew! So, with all of this material now on paper (realistically in electronic ones and zeroes), what's the next step? To actually get some of these laid out, illustrated, and distributed. Zak S, blog-meister of Playing D&D With Porn Stars, inspired me with this post to get something -- anything -- out there into the hands of OSR aficionados. So stay tuned for updates on these projects!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ancient Armory: Crosscut Gauntlet

Weapon: Crosscut Gauntlet
Damage: 2d6
Attacks: 1
Range: --
Weight: 3 lbs.
Battery: Minifusion cell
Charges: Can run for 10 minutes before depleting cell

Crosscut gauntlets were used as both a cutting tool and in close quarters combat. It appears as a wristbrace with a large sharpened rotary saw mechanism attached to the back of the hand. When activated, the blade spins when the fist is clenched. The spinning blades do 2d6 hit points of damage when striking, plus any STR bonuses the user may have. The Crosscut (also called a "Reaver") is particularly useful as a normal saw and can be used to cut through obstacles and debris in the user's way. The saw will run for 10 minutes before depleting its minifusion cell.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Notorius NPC: Joey Gills

Hello Mutant Neighbors. Welcome to the final day of our series highlighting some of the survivors living in my Mutant Future neighborhood. Today's neighbor thinks of himself as a powerful crime lord with designs of controlling the region's black market. Can you say "sadly incompetent?" Sure you can!

Joey Gills
3rd Level Mutant Human

STR: 9 --- INT: 7
DEX: 6 --- WIL: 15
CON: 11 --- CHA: 9
HPs: 37 --- AC: 8
Mutations: water breathing, shriek, teleport

Joey Gills is a short, squat mutant human with a fish-like face and delusions of grandeur. Taking his inspiration from old holovids of "Goodfellas," "The Sopranos,"and "The Jersey Shore" (as well as a few Dick Tracy comic strips), Joey Gills has begun setting himself up as the leading crime lord for the city he resides in. However, Joey Gills is neither smart nor strong, is a coward when confronted, and can't formulate a plan to save his life. He runs a small black market operation, trading and dealing in weapons and contraband. However, most of the weapons he has are either junk or underpowered, and his "contraband" are whatever scraps and bits he salvages from ruins and steals from the unwary.

Joey Gills is weak in a fight, receiving a -1 to hit penalty when using a ranged weapon. Most of his wares are misidentified because of his -5% Technology Roll penalty when figuring out devices. However, he does have a fairly strong WIL, as his ego and self-delusion carries him through most social situations. Joey Gills may have two or three "henchmen" that follow him and do his bidding, but they will be even less intelligent and more cowardly than Joey Gills.

As a mutant fish-like being, Joey Gills is able to breath underwater through his water breathing mutation, staying underwater indefinitely. He uses this ability to escape when needed. Joey Gills can also release a piercing shriek if cornered, allowing him time to escape during the confusion. Joey Gills also has the ability to teleport, but because he is cowardly, he only uses it to escape to a well-hidden hideout rather than for any other kind of travel. In other words, Joey Gills uses all of his mutations only to runaway when the going gets tough.

Joey Gills is horrible with names, so he has the habit of giving nicknames to everyone he meets, calling everyone "Joey Something." A mutant plant may be "Joey Greenleaves" or a dual-headed mutant would be "Joey Two-face." Two other speech patterns Joey Gills has is that he talks about himself in the third-person all of the time. He also patterns his speech after Ancient mobsters and wiseguys, speaking with a cliched New Jersey accent. ("Yeah, Joey Gills ain't likin' dis at all. Youze guys better watch it, that's all Joey Gills gotta say 'bout dat.")

Joey Gills will work with the PCs if he feels there's a profit to be made or if it will bolster his reputation. He may have inside info on criminal dealings in the area as well as connections in the underworld (who view him as worthless and laughable). Joey Gills will not befriend the PCs as they aren't worthy to be members of his "crew," but he may be useful as an informant as well as a weapons supplier -- if the PCs aren't too choosy and if they can give him something he wants. Threats don't really work on Joey Gills, as he'll teleport out of the area the second he fells he's in danger. But buttering him up and stroking his ego will work wonders. "Youze guyz are all right. What can Joey Gills do fer youz?"

Hope you enjoyed this visit to...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Notorious NPC: Splinterthorn

Hello again Mutant Neighbors. Welcome to the third day of our series highlighting some of the survivors living in my Mutant Future neighborhood. Today's neighbor actually resides far from here in a briar-strewn valley where he plots to one day rule over a world without animal life of any kind. Can you say "extinction-level event?" Sure you can!

9th Level Mutant Plant

STR: 18 --- INT: 10
DEX: 9 --- WIL: 20
CON: 16 --- CHA: 7
HPs: 85 --- AC: 6
Mutations: projectile thorns, abnormal size (12 feet tall), regenerative capability

Splinterthorn is a 12-foot tall tree-like mutant plant composed of hardened saplings and thorn-laden vines. When he's not moving, he appears to be a leafless dead tree. Some unobservant folks could walk right past Splinterthorn without knowing he was "alive" in the truest sense. This would be very dangerous though as Splinterthorn hates all animal and humanoid life and he would not hesitate to attack.

Due to Splinterthorn's abnormal size, he receives a +3 to hit bonus in combat as well as a +2d6 crushing damage bonus with hand-to-hand weapons. Splinterthorn can also fire out a salvo of fist-sized projectile thorns that do 1d8 hit points of damage to the victim. Splinterthorn's regenerative capability allows him to heal 10 extra points of day as well as grow back missing limbs and extremities over time. He is large, powerful, and difficult to harm.

If examined closely, observant PCs will see that Splinterthorn's outer bark is covered with charred and blackened areas. Decades ago, the mutant plant was caught in a sweeping wildfire carelessly started by a neglected campfire. His rage at having nearly died at the hands of humanoids fueled his hatred of all animal lifeforms. Splinterthorn now views all creatures as nothing more than the slaughterers and oppressors of plantdom. Humans and mutants cultivate, cut, burn, consume, and harvest plants. Animals feed on them. Even caretakers and farmers who tend to plants and gardens are viewed as nothing more than horticultural slavemasters. Splinterthorn would like nothing more than eliminate all forms of animal life from the planet -- which is his longterm goal.

Splinterthorn resides in a hard-to-reach valley known as The Devil's Greenhouse. This valley is overgrown with briars, thorns, poisonous plants, and dangerous flora. It is said no animal life can survive in this inhospitable jungle. It is here that Splinterthorn hides, gathering information and supplies needed to carry out his plan of world domination by plantlife via the extinction of humans, mutants, fauna, waterlife, and avians.

Fairly tales and bedtime stories of Splinterthorn's tragic past and his plans for revenge have been passed down amongst generations of mutant plants over the years. Most consider these stories as folklore and fairy tales. But these "fairy tales" are more real than anyone realizes, and Splinterthorn is mere months away from enacting his extinction-level event.

Stop by later and we'll visit another resident of...

NaGaDeMon Midway Status Update

Just reporting in with a status report on this year's NaGa DeMon project. Thus far, I’ve cranked out/compiled well over 30,000 words towards these projects:
  • A “monster manual” with stats and descriptions of over 80 creatures for Mutant Future...
  • A compendium of 32 one-night adventures for quick pick-up games or for running at conventions (Aiming for 52)…
  • A two full-length adventure modules for Mutant Future…
With this one-month drive, I’m finally getting some real progress accomplished on a myriad of projects I’ve been trying to motivate myself to write. With luck, I’ll have the rough drafts of everything ready by month’s end, with the winter months spent editing, laying out, illustrating, and producing with releases (finally) planned for spring. Will be contacting playtesters, proofreaders, and artists sometime in December.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Notorius NPC: Hazardous Matthew (HazMatt)

Good afternoon Mutant Neighbors. Welcome to the second day of our series highlighting some of the survivors living in my Mutant Future neighborhood. Today I'll introduce you to a man who is literally "untouchable." Can you say "environmental isolation?" I'll bet you can. Sure.

Hazardous Matthew
4th Level Pure Human

STR: 10 --- INT: 12
DEX: 16 --- WIL: 18
CON: 11 --- CHA: 13
HPs: 76 --- AC: 2
Mutations: none

Hazardous Matthew ("HazMatt" to his friends) is a pure human who makes a living in the Mutant Future by exploring and scavenging in places others fear to tread. Although HazMatt is of average build and intelligence, he has one thing others in the wastelands do not have -- a very powerful experimental suit of Environmental Armor.

Matt discovered the flexible yellow suit during an expedition to an Ancient research facility. After donning the suit (so he could safely explore the facility's highly toxic radioactive areas), Matt discovered that the suit was actually a powerful set of experimental Environmental Armor. rather than the usual bulky plates and stiff plexisteel mesh, the armor was made of a highly resistant ballistic nylon treated with a special mixture long-forgotten to the ages. This armor effectively protects Matt against radiation through class 6, most known poisons and toxins, as well as other hazardous environments. He is impervious to heat and cold attacks. Additionally, the suit functions underwater, in a vacuum, and in most other deadly environs. The suit also has an air recirculator, waste disposal, and endless nutrient supply. The wearer can stay in the suit without adverse effect indefinitely. Which is good, because Matt hasn't been able to figure out how to remove the suit in more than 5 years.

The suit Matt wears was specifically designed for long-term deep space exploration. The wearer was to be sealed into the suit prior to departure and to keep the suit from being accidentally breached, a timing mechanism was installed which will open the suit in 10 years' time. (So Matt has another 5 years to go, unbeknownst to him.)

Matt (as "HazMatt") eventually figured out the strength of the suit's protection, and he now hires himself out as a soldier of fortune...the ultimate scavenger...the man who can go places others cannot. He can explore places too dangerous for even the hardiest of mutants. And the armor (along with his high DEX) makes him difficult to injure. His nickname is "The Untouchable One." Many have tried to remove the suit for their own usage, but all have failed. Those who tried to harm HazMatt have failed. Matt enjoys the reputation he has garnered, and he has come to accept and enjoy the all-encompassing protection the suit offers.

Stop by later and we'll visit another resident of...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Notorius NPC: The Grim Ripper

Hello Mutant Neighbors. Welcome to another series of blog posts highlighting some of the survivors living in my Mutant Future neighborhood. Today, we meet a voiceless mountain of a man who likes nothing more than to terrorize weaker folks with a set of very special weapons. Can you say "chainsaw nunchucks?" Very good.
The Grim Ripper
7th Level Pure Human

STR: 20 --- INT: 11
DEX: 18 --- WIL: 10
CON: 17 --- CHA: 9
HPs: 72 --- AC: 5
Mutations: none

The ultimate "muscle" in the Mutant Future, The Grim Ripper is usually found in the employee of a local warlord or baron. Used as an enforcer, The Grim Ripper is nearly 8 feet tall, stocky of build, and wearing a full-face hooded mask.

The Grim Ripper doesn't speak; even if severely injured, he will not make a sound. Some say he had his vocal chords removed, whereas others say his willpower is such that he doesn't feel pain. Either way, The Grim Ripper wordlessly goes about his business of enforcing the will of his employer, whether single-handedly destroying a village and its inhabitants, enforcing the will of his "boss," or competing (and winning) in gladiatorial games for others' amusement.

The Grim Ripper can rip a person from limb-to-limb with his bare hands, and he's pretty competent with an assortment of hand-to-hand weapons. But his preferred method of combat is with a pair of chainsaw nunchucks. Once he sets them whizzing and buzzing around his body, he becomes a frightening limb-severing behemoth. Chainsaw nunchucks do 7d6 hit points of damage if he successfully hits. The Grim Ripper gets a +4 to hit/damage bonus as well as a +2 initiative modifier, so entering into combat with him is a foolhardy and dangerous event.

The Grim Ripper will usually be found standing at the side of his employer, to whom he is mindlessly loyal. Other times, he is seen leading the henchmen forces as a type of general. (Would YOU defy his commands?) He cannot be reasoned or bargained with. It is unknown if The Grim Ripper works for financial gain, a display of power, or if he just enjoys spreading destruction and death for the sake of the chaos and fear he sows.

The Grim Ripper is inspired by similar characters such as The Humungus from "The Road Warrior" or Master Blaster from "Max Max: Beyond Thunderdome."

Stop by later and we'll visit another resident of...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Devastation Drive-In: A New Mutant Future Supplement Available!



...twisted mutated beasts from the worst B-movies come alive!

COWER! terror as these creatures lurch from the silver screen and into your Mutant Future game!

SCREAM! horror as they terrorize your post-apocalyptic wastelands and devastate your players!

Justin Davis, blog-meister of A Field Guide to Doomsday, posted a fantastic series titled "Devastation Drive-In" throughout the month of October wherein he discussed some of the worst B-movies ever to be set to film. He then statted-up the Featured Creature for use in your Mutant Future games. Justin has compiled these abominations into a newly released Mutant Future supplement now available for download at his blog.

Devastation Drive-In is 56 pages long, featuring 21 creatures from some truly horrific films including: Blood Beast, Blood Freak, It's Alive, Octoman, Prophecy, Robot Monster, The Astro-Zombies, Uninvited, and two of my personal favorites, The Stuff and The Incredible Melting Man. The download is free and full of info on these films as well as Mutant Future conversions for each monstrosity.

And remember, Justin will pay for your funeral costs if any reader drops dead of fright while reading the horrific contents of this supplement! MWA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Would You Be Mine, Could You Be Mine, Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Hello once again genetically altered neighbors. It's been a year since our last visit, and in that time, new citizens have moved into my bombed-out neighborhood. Can you say "toxic-dripping evolutionary freaks?" I knew you could. Sure.

Very soon, you'll meet some of my new neighbors here in the Mutant Future. Some of them are good. Some are bad. Some are just trying to scratch out a living here in the blasted wastelands. Can you say "wastelands?" Of course you can. So be sure to stop back, and we'll visit five of my most interesting neighbors as we return once again to...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gimme Five!

...Five followers, that is.

I appreciate each and every one of the 195 folks who have decided to follow this blog over the years, and I humbly thank you for your support. However, I just can't seem to break the 200 follower mark. That next plateau has remained just out of reach for months. It's a personal goal that has remained tantalizingly close, and yet I just can't seem to attract those last 5 folks. So here's my plea:

Since going live in June 2009, I hope I've added some useful material to your games -- whether Mutant Future or something else post-apocalyptic. (Heck, because of the inter-game compatibility, most of the stuff here will also work in games of Labyrinth Lord and similar Ye Olde Fantasy Games.) If you've enjoyed The Savage AfterWorld over the years, but haven't felt the need to click on the little "Join This Site" button to the right, why not take a second and do so today? Heck, if you just stumbled across the site today and you like what you see, do me a favor and sign on the dotted line. Membership is free, and we only accept attractive, successful, intelligent mutants to our ranks. So follow us, and increase your social standing in our apocalyptic community!

EDITED TO ADD: Many thanks to everyone who decided to throw caution to the wind and follow my blog. We hit 200 followers today! Thanks again to everyone!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Savage Menagerie: Skwirm

No. Enc.: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120' (40'); Dig: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 8
Attacks: 1 (weapon or constriction
Damage: per weapon/2d6
Save: F4
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: XIV

Skwirm are worms that have developed a hive-like mind, joining together and working in sync to form a roughly humanoid shape with a human-like intelligence. Due to this metaconcert, Skwirm in their humanoid forms can also mentally communicate with each other. Skwirm are incapable of speech and are found in underground locations that are dark, cool, and damp.
Skwirm often disguise themselves in robes or loose-fitting clothes and masks, hiding their true nature from outsiders.

feel that the world is theirs to exploit as their true worm form far outnumber any other creatures on the planet. And because they feed on rotting, decaying plant and animal life, they feel that they are at the top of the food chain and, thus, are the true masters of the Mutant Future. When a Skwirm assembles itself, it has two worm-bundles within its "chest" which act as a dual cerebellum. Mental attacks must succeed twice to be effective against a Skwirm. Also, a Skwirm is coated with a thin dermal poison slime which does 2d6 points of damage to anyone who comes into contact with it. A Skwirm usually attacks using a weapon of some sort, although it can also form its "arms" into two 10'-long rope-like tendrils that can grasp and constrict a victim for 2d6 hit points of damage per round. Skwirm take half-damage from cutting and slicing weapons, as the blade slips easily between the various wriggling worms that make up its body. However a Skwirm takes double damage from heat- and cold-based attacks.

If a Skwirm feels threatened or is severely injured, it will collapse into a pile of individual worms which will then burrow into the earth using its hyperburrowing ability. Although separate, the worms still remain in contact with each other, and they will reform into its Skwirm form within one week, adding new worms to its "body" and effectively healing itself.

There are rumors of Skwirm made up entirely of Rot Grubs (MF rulebook, pg. 93), but this has not been confirmed.

Mutations: metaconcert, hyperburrowing, dermal poison slime, dual cerebellum

Friday, November 4, 2011

Savage Menagerie: Chronophage (Time Eater)

No. Enc.: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 90' (30'); Flying: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d10 plus special
Save: L3
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: None

A Chronophage is a large (1 foot long) locust-like insectoid with large glassy red eyes, sharp teeth, and a hard green shell-like exoskeleton. They are able to fly fairly well due to their complete wing development and their natural armor makes them harder to injure. However, unlike a locust that eats plantlife and crops, the Chronophage devours time.

A Chronophage consumes temporal energies, causing objects and creatures to wither and age as its "future potentiality" is absorbed by the creature. A Chronophage activates its temporal absorption ability in one of two ways. A Chronophage can absorb temporal energy by making constant contact with an object or creature. This "passive" absorption is very slow as the Chronophage may not move while feeding. For every 48 hours a Chronophage feeds in this manner, it will absorb 10d10 years of the object's temporal energy, aging the object in a like manner. It usually does this with inanimate objects or unconscious creatures. Because of this, the area around a Chronophage lair will seem more aged and decrepit as all of the trees and plantlife will be dead and brittle, stone will be crumbling to rubble, ruins will be particularly hazardous, and dusty skeletons of animal life will be found. A few months of exposure will age the area by centuries.

A Chronophage can also feed more directly by latching onto an object with its toothed mouth during combat. Upon a successful bite attack, a PC will need to make a save versus death. Failure means that the Chronophage has absorbed 2d10 years of the victim's temporal energy, aging him by that amount. A lone PC who stumbles into a Chronophage nest may find himself dying of old age within minutes.

If a PC has been aged by a Chronophage, it is suggested that the PC be penalized for extreme aging. If a PC is aged by 30 years, he should roll another save versus death. Failure means that he suffers a catastrophic shock to the system and dies of age-related causes (stroke, heart attack, etc.) This save versus death should then be rolled for every additional 10 years of "aging damage" thereafter. (The ML should determine if a PC simply dies of old age in extreme cases, say, if a Chronophage ages a victim by 60 years or more.) Also, for every 25 years aged, a PC should suffer a -1 penalty to his STR and DEX scores.

Mutations: temporal absorption, complete wing development, natural armor

NOTE: I came up with the concept of a "time eater" as well as the name "chronophage" some time ago. However, when I did a GIS on chronophage, I discovered this critter and the info on the Corpus Clock!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Savage Menagerie: Salvo

No. Enc.: 1d4 (3d4)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 1 (
bombardment or bite/rend)
Damage: 4d6 or 2d6/1d6
Save: F3
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: IV

The Salvo is large headless quadruped known for its ability to hurl rocks and gravel at its victims. A Salvo -- also known as a "Bomburst" or "Cannon Creature" -- feeds on stone, preferring granite and marble. It stores the chunks of minerals in a bladder-like appendage at the back of its "throat." When threatened, it spits these deposits out at a high rate of velocity and with deadly accuracy (+2 to hit bonus). Being hit with these projectiles deals 4d6 hit points of damage. A Salvo has only 1d6 of these deposits available to fire at any time, however, entire armies have been decimated when entering a valley lined with hidden Salvo lairs. The crossfire was devastating.

A Salvo can only use its bombardment attack against characters further than 20 feet away. Any who come within that range, the Salvo will attack using its toothed maw and clawed legs, biting for 2d6 and rending for 1d6 hit points of damage.
The hide of a Salvo is rubbery in texture, and it takes only half-damage from any blunt or club-like weapon attack.

When attacking a Salvo with a hand-to-hand weapon, a character must be careful that the creature not grab hold of it. If a PC rolls a natural 1 on such an attack, not only do they miss, the Salvo will swallow their weapon and "fire" it out to a distance of 2d6 x 10 feet away! A Salvo cannot digest metals or certain minerals, so cutting a dead one open has a 20% of yielding precious metals or gemstones per Hoard Class IV.

Mutations: none

Monday, October 31, 2011

[Festival of Fright] Contest: The Stars Are Right!

For the Halloween edition of this year's Festival of Fright, I'm giving away a softback print copy of Goblinoid Games' Realms of Crawling Chaos. This Cthulhuesque supplement is fully compatible with Mutant Future, with new races, creatures, and rules for psionics. What better way to frighten your mutant PCs than by having a Great Old One stomping through the ruins!

To enter, just post in a Comment to this thread with your email contact in the Comment. Feel free to "de-Spambot" it in any way you wish, ie, name (at) whatever (dot) com or something. (See my email address over there in the right-hand column.) That's all it takes. Sometime later today, I'll take everyone who commented and will randomly draw a winner from the list. It's that simple. To keep things fair, only one Comment/entry per person. If I see a dupe entry, I toss 'em both, so reply only once. Also, don't enter multiple times under different names/accounts. That's just an ass thing to do. Next up, this is open to folks worldwide, as I'm happy to ship globally. I'll update this thread when the contest has ended and when a winner has been drawn and contacted.

EDITED TO ADD: And we have a winner! Of the 12 folks who entered, the lucky winner chosen by random d12 die roll is...well...I'm not sure how to pronounce "8afec12a-040d-11e1-8cfb-000bcdcb5194" so we;ll just use the first bits of his email address and claim "Stephan.LH" as the winner! Stephan, I've sent you an email telling you how to claim your prize. And thanks to everyone else for playing!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

[Festival of Fright] Dangerous Encounter: Dusk Of The Dead

This encounter best takes place on the road as the PCs travel to their next adventure. They should hear gunfire coming from up ahead. When they arrive on the scene, they'll find a man standing over another man laying face-up in the road. The standing man will be seen shooting the prone one in the head. There will be another victim laying nearby, a spreading pool of blood forming under their head. The man, panting heavily will look up when he hears the party approaching. When he sees their weapons (or if they make any noise), he'll wave them silent, trying to keep them quiet.

"Shhhh! You'll attract more of those!" he'll say, pointing to the dead men. "The dead walk in this area, and you need to be alert for them!" The two dead men are covered in blood with several obvious bite wounds on their arms and neck.

If the PCs ask, the man will explain that his name is Darion and that he and his family live in a nearby farmhouse. He was out gathering firewood when he says he heard groaning nearby. He says he stumbled across two of the Walking Dead (MF rulebook, pg. 101) and was just finishing them off when the party arrived.

"And where there's two, there must be more nearby! C'mon! My home is this way!" He'll point to an overgrown trail leading off the road while he also checks the ammo in his pistol. Satisfied that he's got plenty left, he'll begin running up the trail, motioning for the party to follow.

Darion is only telling half the truth. Yes, there are Walking Dead in the area. It just happens to be Darion and his family. Darion and his "family" are Walking Dead who happened to retain their human intelligence after they turned. Knowing they would be destroyed when discovered, Darion moved his small zombie clan to the isolated farmhouse. To keep the zombie virus from spreading out of his control, he and his family feed, then shoot their victims in the head to keep them from rising. When the party arrived, Darion had just finished off two unfortunate victims he had attacked on the road. And the PCs arrived just in time to feed the rest of his family.

Darion plans to lead the PCs back to the house where his clan lies waiting. They have not fed in a while and are borderline feral with hunger. However, the Mutant Lord should keep in mind that these are intelligent Walking Dead who have managed to survive this long through guile and subterfuge. When the party arrives, the the "family" will be seen cautiously looking out of the home's windows. "They're with me!" Darion will shout. "Let us in! There are Dead about!" The family (his "wife", "brother", "uncle" and two teen "sons") will eagerly unbolt the door and welcome the party.

Walking Dead (6) (AL C, MV 120' (40'), AC 8, HD 5, #AT 2 (rend/bite), DG 1d6/2d6, SV L4, ML 7, mutations: none)

Darion and the family will make a big production of barring the door and watching out the windows for other "zombies in the area." The family will try to separate the party. ("You stay here at the front window, and you come upstairs with me.") When the PC's guard is down, that's where they will attack. Darion is the only one armed with a pistol, but he will hesitate to use it as his ammo is running low and he plans to use the bullets on the PCs once they've been defeated, eaten, and before they turn as well.

This encounter could potentially turn very deadly, so the Mutant Lord is encouraged to give the PCs every opportunity for heroic life-saving actions. Perhaps one of the family could snap under the pressure and attack the party prematurely before they are separated. Or the party could hear moaning and groaning from the basement and, upon inspection, they find a future victim tied up for future feeding.

If things go badly, Darion will abandon his family and escape. He could become a threat if not tracked down as he may create a massive Walking Dead army just for revenge upon the PCs. These newly created zombies may not have Darion's intelligence, meaning the zombie plague could run wildly unchecked throughout the Mutant Future!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

[Festival of Fright] Notorius NPC: "Mort" the Mortician Bot

"Mort" the Mortician Bot
4th Level Synthetic

STR: 13 --- INT: 14
DEX: 15 --- WIL: 15
CON: 9 --- CHA: 16
HPs: 50 --- AC: 6
Mutations: increased sense (smell), force screen, quick mind

Somewhere on the outskirts of a ruined city is a long-ago-forgotten funeral home -- dilapidated and run down. Its caretaker -- a mortician bot named "Mort" -- sat silently for decades, waiting to be of use again. A few months ago, Mort's circuitry reactivated for a self-diagnostic and something went wrong. When Mort's circuitry reactivated, a small electrical spike caused a causal loop in his programming. He now views every living thing as a potential "client."

Mort's back in business.

Mort initially kept himself busy by embalming and mounting birds and small animals. As he became bolder, he "serviced" larger creatures and the occasional traveler he'd encounter on the nearby trails. Mort is now lurking near villages and towns close by, catching folks tilling the fields or tending their herds and bringing them back to his funeral home for processing. But Mort's not evil; he just has a job to do.

Mort is very hard to attack head-on as his increased smell enables him to detect when he's about to have company. He can also use this sense to detect and find hidden clients. His quick mind gives him a 100% chance to determine if someone is lying to him. And mental attacks are difficult as an attacker must successfully roll three times to have a mental attack succeed. He also has a built-in force screen that he can raise if he feels the "dearly departed" is being particularly troublesome. Mort has a +1 to hit/damage bonus due to his STR and his CHA gives him a -1 Reaction Adjustment.

Mort is not a skulking villain looking to kill villagers. He sees himself as providing a much-needed community service. He takes pride in his work and will be highly insulted if his motivations are brought into question. He may even show off his "displays" to anyone interested. Little do they know that he has already selected them as the next clients who will benefit from his services.

Mort should come across as creepy, but initially harmless. He's charismatic, pragmatic and fairly straightforward when discussing what he used to do for The Ancients. "But I no longer prepare the Dearly Departed for their final destination," he'll sadly tell the party. He'll then sweep back a curtain, revealing his collection. "I prepare those who have not yet departed," he'll state as he reaches for a scalpel and embalming needle. "So who's first?"

2011 NaGaDeMon Website Updated

After stumbling across this post at The Free RPG Blog, I discovered that there was a new website for the 2011 NaGaDeMon event. (I was afraid it had been cancelled as last year's site hadn't been updated.) But it appears that Nathan Russell, NaGaDeMon overlord and coordinator, simply moved the site to his primary account. So for those who want more info on National Game Design Month, what it is, how to participate, and if you can tie this into your 2011 NaNoWriMo project, simply click this year's banner (over yonder to the left) or click on this link.

As for me, I'll still be using my combination NaNo/NaGa logo to tag any news and announcements as I plan to combine both events into this year's maniacal writing push.

[Festival of Fright] Ancient Armory: Silver Shamrock Masks

Silver Shamrock masks are simple rubber face-coverings that come in three styles: a pumpkin head, a skull, and a green-faced witch. These disguises were used by The Ancients during the Festival of Fright to frighten others and hide their identities while they extorted "treats" from the community. But these masks are even more sinister than originally realized, as the creator of the masks had a much more nefarious purpose for them. The masks -- created by Conal Cochran, president of Silver Shamrock Novelties -- were designed to bring about the End of the World.

Each Silver Shamrock mask has a small label located on the back of the head. Underneath this label is a small microchip with a small sliver of Stonehenge embedded in the circuitry. This combination of high science and occult witchcraft will cause the wearer of the mask to suffer ahorrid fate when a specific signal is sent to the chip. When this signal is sent via radio waves or broadcast signal, the chip sends out a transformative ray directly into the wearer's skull. The brain dissolves into a festering pile of goo, pus, and ichor. Within this fetid mass will hatch a swarm of deadly insects and vermin which will pour out of the mask, attacking all within range. Cochran wished to bring about the End of the World via the masks, but was stopped before he could put his plan into effect.

In the Mutant Future, the true nature of these masks is still unrealized. Some of the pumpkin masks may be kept by and worshiped by Pumpkin Men (MF rules, pg. 90). The party may encounter Tricker Treaters wearing them on their nefarious rounds. Regardless, the true nature may indeed be known by these villains. Picture a Pumpkin Man ritual where they sacrifice a victim to their Pumpkin God using one of these masks and a tape recorder with an Ancient recording of the signal...

Five more days 'til Halloween... Halloween... Halloween... Five more days 'til Halloween... Silver Shamrock!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

19th Century Post-Apocalyptic American Fiction

Blog-meister JDJarvis over at Aeons & Augaries has discovered something far too cool not to mention. He discovered a book titled The Last American, which is a post-apocalyptic view of the United States written in 1889 -- more than a century ago!

Written by John Ames Mitchell (co-founder of LIFE Magazine), the short book offers a twisted view of what life in the long-ago-fallen U.S. as seen through the eyes of Persian archaeologists visiting the ruins of the crumbling continent. I'll hush up now about the book (I don't want to steal his thunder) and will point you to JDJarvis's entry over at his blog for more info on this fascinating piece of fiction. But I will post a couple of eerie pictures from the book which set the mood:"The Great Temple" in Washington, indeed...

[Festival of Fright] Savage Menagerie: Gill-Man

No. Enc.: 1 (1d6)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 120' (40'); Swimming 120' (40')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 2 (claw/claw)
Damage: 2d6/2d6
Save: L3
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: IV

Gill-men are amphibious humanoids thought to be the so-called "missing link" -- the point at which water-breathing creatures evolved the ability to breathe air and survive on land. They are fully amphibious, able to breathe both water (through a set of large gills on their necks) and air (with a fully developed set of lungs). Gill-men possess superhuman strength, so they can lift heavy objects with ease as well as throwing around a foe they're fighting. They possess large webbed claws and feet, allowing them to swim underwater as fast as they can run on land. Their claws are quite sharp, and with their increased strength, will do 2d6 points of rending damage in combat.

Gill-men are solitary creatures; only one is usually encountered at any given time. However, rumors circulate of small "nests" or lairs of Gill-men in which 1d6 lay in wait. These lairs are found in underwater caves or grottos, accessible only through an underwater entrance in a freshwater lake, river, or lagoon. Gill-men do not usually attack interlopers unless they fell threatened or are attacked themselves. They may lurk and silently watch the strangers, but will make no motion to interfere as long as they are not molested. However, if they feel threatened, they will use their knowledge of the area to cut off the party from the outside world before starting their attack.

Mutations: water breathing, increased strength

Friday, October 21, 2011

Roll Versus Perception - Thoughts On A New Ability Score

"Release me! I've told you everything I know!" the captive pigman spat. Goldar considered the bound creature's words before leaning forward with a sneer. "You're lying," he said matter-of-factly. "You stink of deception."


As they entered the warehouse, Snaxix held his hand up, motioning for the group behind him to stop. As they stood in silence, he swept his eyes across the open area. "We're being watched," Snaxix said. "I think we're walking right into an ambush."


"Where'd he go?" Dr. Faustion asked as he glanced around the library. "I though we saw him dart into here!" Cygus-14 clanked over to a rug on the wooden floor. Reaching down, she pulled it away, revealing a hidden trapdoor. "Open sesame," the cyborg stated with just a touch of humor.


It's a situation that often surfaces in your games -- An NPC is telling a bold-face lie. An enemy lies in wait for the PCs. An important MacGuffin is hidden from the party. In each case, it is important for the party to deduce the nature of the deception, but how do you role-play these events? Well, I've seen this handled in a few ways:

AD&D - My DM had two methods: If it was a "find the hidden thing" roll, he'd have us roll the standard "Detect Secret Doors" check (1 out of 6). If it was a "detect the lie/make a leap of deductive logic," it'd be a check versus Wisdom (d20 versus your ability score). So either you had a straight 16% chance of finding a hidden thing (crazy low chance) or, with an 18 WIS, you had a 90% chance of catching someone in a lie/detecting an ambush (crazy high chance). Both of these seemed wildly out of balance.

Villains and Vigilantes - This superhero RPG was unusual in that it had a specific check specifically for these events. There is both a "Detect Hidden" and "Detect Danger" score given to each PC based upon his INT score. Higher the ability score, the higher the percent chance for your "Spidey Sense" to kick in. It was elegant, although it seemed like it skewed low. With an 18 INT, a PC had a 14% chance to Detect Hidden and an 18% chance to Detect Danger. A hero had to have some kind of super-mega-ultra senses to keep from stumbling around oblivious to dangerous situations or to find anything that's been concealed.

Mutant Future - Many Mutant Lords I've encountered use a roll versus a PC's Intelligence score to notice something amiss or to discover something hidden. But I always thought of INT as a measure of how smart the character is, not how observant the character is. Smart people aren't necessarily the most observant. There is no "Wisdom" equivalent to work with in Mutant Future, as Willpower is in play now. And that is a measure of a PC's internal fortitude and mental strength. So we're a bit stuck...

As you can see, I've given this a LOT of thought.

Mutant Future really doesn't have a system in place to role-play these "flashes of intuition." So I've endeavored to try to work out something to simulate those sudden moments of intellectual clarity. As I see it, everyone's ability to notice minutiae is different. Some are more observant than others. Also, some folks have a more intuned "sixth sense" when it comes to intuition. They pay attention to that prickly feeling on the back of their necks when something is wrong. To reflect this, I offer a new PC ability score -- the attribute we'll call "Perception." This score -- unique to each PC -- comes into play when the PC has a chance to intuitively notice when something is amiss, or when he and the party are in great danger.

*** Perception As An Ability ***
Just as a character's physical and mental prowess are given ability scores (STR, DEX, INT, CON, WIL, CHA), a PC's Perception (PER) should also be graded. When a PC is first generated, he should also roll for his PER using the same 3d6 method as his other scores. Once generated, refer to the Perception Ability Table to determine the PC's Insight % score and To Hit/Damage modifier:

PER --- Insight % --- To hit/damage modifier
3 --- 5% --- 0
4-5 --- 9% --- 0
6-8 --- 12% --- 0
9-12 --- 15% --- 0
13-15 --- 18% --- +1
16-17 --- 21% --- +1
18 --- 25% --- +2
19 --- 28% --- +2
20 --- 30% --- +2
21 --- 33% --- +3

Any time a PC is trying to locate a concealed item or enemy, or if immediate danger is in the area, the ML should call for a roll versus his Insight % score. Average scores (9-12) reflect percentage chance that's close to the 1 in 6 Secret Doors detection chance. Using that as a base, those PCs higher than average are more observant, and thus have a higher Insight %. And, conversely, lower PER scores equal a lower Insight %.

Standard Perception checks on a d20 can be made for fairly obvious observations. ("Which of these mutants is the tribal leader?" (PER roll) You're fairly sure it's the guy with the top hat everyone is gathered around.") I would also use a standard PER check if the PC is trying to recall a bit of information. ("Which direction did the trader say to go? (PER roll) "You remember that he said to go west, staying on the trails.")

In my opinion, a character with a high PER is probably very observant during combat. He intuitively knows a foe's weaknesses, giving him a slight advantage during combat. This is reflected in the To Hit/Damage bonus for high PER scores. However, there is no combat penalty for lower PER scores, as the PC just doesn't pick up on those subtle "tells" in a fight.

To wrap up my thoughts on this, the ML is encouraged to adjust the PER score of any PC who has a mutation giving them enhanced senses. To keep things simple, any mutation that enhances any of a PC's physical senses should be reflected in a +1 to his PER score. Certain mental mutations could also increase this score as well at the ML's discretion. (This is why the table goes up to 21, although I suggest that this score is the uppermost limits of perceptive ability.)


NEW MATERIAL BEGINS HERE: I had it pointed out to me that an article appearing in Dragon Magazine Issue 133 discussed a similar concept. I found the article mentioned and -- I'll be damned -- "Notice Anything Different? The Perception Score: A New Way of Looking at Things." Nearly identical to my post too. So, here's another idea:

*** Perception As An All-Encompassing Average ***
A character's ability to "sense" the unseen could be said to encompass all of his senses. What he sees, hears, smells, and feels all contribute to his perception of the world around him. Therefore, a person's Perception as an all-encompassing heightened ability could be said to derive from all of his other abilities, ie, his Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Willpower, Intelligence, and Charisma.

To reflect this, the PC should calculate an average of all of his scores (rounded up), then multiply it by 1.5 for his final Insight % score. So:
STR -14
DEX -12
WIL -12
DEX -9
CON -17
+ CHA -16
TOTAL = 80
80/6 = 13.333 = 14
14 x 1.5 = 21% Insight score

Rather than a new ability score, this quick calculation will give each PC his individual Insight percentage chance. Not as cumbersome as a new ability score, and the better a PC is at everything else, the better his chances of being in touch with the world around him.


The band of nomads walked nervously along the bottom of the canyon. Suddenly, the scout riding at the front of the caravan sat up in his mount's saddle. He brought his blaster pistol up and, without a word, fired a shot into a nearby tree. A hidden sniper tumbled from the upper branches and hit the ground with a thud. Still silent, the scout re-holstered his gun and motioned for the caravan to keep up with him.