Thursday, June 25, 2009

Savage Menagerie: Crocotinae

No. Enc.: 1d2 (2d4-nest; 2d10-migratory flock)
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 70' (30'); Fly: 140' (60')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d8
Save: L2
Morale: 7
Horde Class: None

The crocotinae (krow-KOT-in-ay) is a small duck-like creature with the head of an alligator or crocodile. Crocotinae (also called "snapping waddlers") make their nests in swampy or marshy areas, though they have been occassionally encountered in fresh water ponds and lakes. Brutally vicious and territorial, the crocotinay will attack anything it views as a threat to its nest or territory. It is also carnivorous, so a hungry crocotinae is a dangerous one. Crocotinae have developed a mental link amongst the flock. Whatever one snapping waddler sees, the entire flock sees and will react accordingly.

One particular danger: As winter approaches, crocotinae will abandon their current nests and begin a southernly migration. These V-shaped migratory flocks contain 2d10 crocotinae. During migration, the birds eat whatever they can find on route. Herd animals and wandering travelers spied by an overhead flock of crocotinae are often later discovered stripped to the bone. If a party spies a flock overhead, they had best find cover and hide while the crocotinae pass over. There is a 40% chance the party will be seen by the flock if they're out in the open or caught by surprise. And if they've been seen by one crocotinae, they've been seen by all of them, and the flock will swoop down to feed.

Mutations: Metaconcert

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lances versus Lasers

In a typical game of Mutant Future, the Mutant Lord must take great pains to make sure the tech level remains balanced and fair. Why? Well, the genre cheerfully encompasses three technological eras:

  1. Primitive - The world has been torn asunder and society has only managed to scrabble back to a pre-industrial tech level on its own. Simple machines such as rope-and-pulleys and oxen-drawn carts are commonly encountered. More complex devices such as crossbows and tumbler locks are less common and represent the highest level of mechanical aptitude achieved.
  2. Modern – This is our tech level in 2009. Internal combustion engine vehicles are plentiful. Firearms are prevalent, but more esoteric weapons are rare. Consumer electronics from televisions to computers are in every home. Even simple, but incredibly useful devices like lighters and flashlights are found everywhere.
  3. Futuristic – Although this era is the Mutant Future “past,” this is the tech level of The Years To Come. Strange and powerful weapons involving lasers, soundwaves, and otherworldly energies are used. Vehicles that seem to defy gravity transport the citizenry. Intelligent robots are not only common, they can become a PC in the game!

With such a wide variety of devices, gizmos, and gadgets from across the centuries at your disposal, it’s vitally important to ensure that your campaign world doesn’t become horribly lopsided. If your PCs find and repair an intelligent battletank equipped with tacnukes, they’ve just become the most powerful force in the lands – unless you introduce an even more powerful villain in an even bigger battletank. Then you may as well start playing O.G.R.E.

Here are some suggestions I have for you to keep the tech levels balanced without completely tossing out those futuristic doo-dads the PCs love to find and tinker with:

  • Try to keep the tech level discoveries at 50% primitive; 30% modern; and 20% futuristic. Rather than rolling on a random treasure table, cherry pick those modern/futuristic items that would be of use to someone in the Mutant Future (matches and/or Rad-Purge Shots) without handing them something incredibly powerful.
  • If a powerful weapon is discovered, don’t just let them start blasting away. Have the weapon in need of repair. (Finding an experienced technician to fix it could be an adventure in itself!) Or maybe the weapon needs a power cel or ammo. Or it could fire three times before shorting out permanently.
  • On the other hand, don’t let the brigands in your game world have a lot of powerful items either. Either they’ll overpower the players or – even worse – the players will help themselves to those powerful items once the villains are overtaken.
  • Your players are primitives in a destroyed land who may never have encountered devices like these before, so play up their initial ignorance. To your 1st-level players, a hover car could be some kind of flying beast and a flashlight is a sword hilt with the blade broken off. And no matter how much they pull the trigger, a gas pump nozzle will not fire any kind of projectile.
  • If it helps, just envision MF devices and weapons as if they were magic items from That Other Fantasy RPG. You wouldn't hand a Wand of Unlimited Fireballs or Staff of Immediate and No-Save-Throw-Allowed Screaming Doom to a 1st level Fighter, would you? Use that same kind of philosophy to limit the more powerful stuff until the characters are at a level high enough to handle it.
With a little bit of creativity, the ML can gradually introduce the devices of the near-magical and fantastic without throwing off the game’s balance.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dangerous Encounter: Last Chance for Gas

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.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Welcome to The Savage AfterWorld!

Greetings and welcome to the launch of The Savage AfterWorld! I hope you find the material within of use in your post-apocalyptic science fantasy RPG!

I've always been a fan of the "Ruined Earth" genre. The planet is in shambles - whether through natural disasters, extradimensional crises, or humanity's own hubris. Mankind struggles to climb its way back to a civilized society through the ruins of "what once was." Some survivors wish to rebuild. Other wish to take. And still others wish to burn all that remains. Films, books, and television shows have been based on this concept for many years. Perhaps I'll discuss some of these in a future post. (However, if you're here, it stands to reason you have more than a passing knowledge of this subject.)

During the 1980s, I was heavily involved in TSR's Gamma World RPG. This game took the post-apocalyptic genre and turned it on its head. "What if," if posited, "the Earth were poisoned by radiation fallout, biological warfare agents, and other remnants? What if humans, plants, and animals mutated due to the poisons? And what would that world be like a thousand years later?" Adventures in the Gamma World were like no other. A talking evolved housecat with laser eyes, a human barbarian with the strength of 10 men, and a four-armed red-skinned lizard-dog may join forces to recover some advanced weapon from an ancient stronghold while fighting through hordes of blood-sucking mutant rabbit-fish. Great fun fighting and adventuring in the ruins of the world. But as happens with most RPG campaigns, it eventually ran its course; the players either moved on or moved away; and the "mutant future" of gaming past faded into memory.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled across a brand-new RPG in the same vein. Goblinoid Games' Mutant Future (see how I worked that in earlier?) very accurately and stylishly emulates the feel of those adventures of long ago. Billed as a "retro-clone," Mutant Future drops players into the same kind of radioactive wasteland populated with mutants, monsters, ruins, and ancient artifacts. It does this with a genuine old-school design that today's older players with recognize and appreciate while giving younger players a truly tight system that is also simple to play. And the setting just wraps everything up in a nice package (if you can consider anything with spider-goats as "nice).
Oh, and did I mention that the RPG is free? Here's a download link to this great game:
Enough blathering about myself and about my RPG history. I am truly impressed with Mutant Future and have decided to start this blog to better show my support. In the coming weeks, I plan to resurrect some of my old gaming RPG notes and files and present them here for the use of MF players and GMs. More than just The Mutant of The Week and a list of ancient artifacts to be discovered, this site will hopefully give you some ideas of running a campaign in The Savage AfterWorld. My hope is to also flesh out some of my own ideas for supporting the game with the input and review of the readers of this blog.
Anyway, thanks for stopping by. And be on the lookout for the denizens of The Savage AfterWorld who will be making their initial appearances here on this site.