Thursday, September 29, 2011

In 2012, I'm Heading To Where It All Began

Just put in my lodging reservations today. See you in March 2012.
ETA: And for this event, I won't repeat my Gen Con mistake. Lords of Light, it'll be awesome!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Savage Menagerie: Jacket

No. Enc.: 1d6 (3d10)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30') Fly: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 6
Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite or sting)
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d8 or 1d6/Special
Save: L3
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: XVII

Jackets are 4' tall intelligent humanoid wasps. They may initially be mistaken for a giant bee or hornet, but rather than a set of multifaceted insectoid eyes, they have a pair of large, leering, mammalian eyes. Jackets have four "legs" which hang beneath them in flight. When standing, the limbs are used as clawed arms and legs, respectively. In combat, they can claw for 1d6 hit points of damage, and their mandibles can bite for 1d8 hit points. Jackets also have a poisonous stinger that they can use as well. If stung, a PC takes 1d6 hit points of damage, then must save vs. poison or take an additional 2d6 points of poison damage (half-damage with a successful save).

Jackets live in large beehive-like nests they construct out of any materials they can lay hands on. These cobbled-together abodes are huge -- often 50 to 100 feet tall -- housing 3d10 Jackets within. Jacket colonies work on a hierarchy system, with all Jackets answering to one primary king or queen who makes the decisions for the entire colony.

There are currently four known species of Jackets found in the Mutant Future, each "tribe" acting independently of each other. They can be distinguished by their coloring and personality, as well as the specific additional mutation they have:
  • Yellow Jacket -- The most aggressive of Jackets, Yellow Jackets will attack any interlopers they encounter near their nesting grounds. They are tinted a dull ochre-yellow and they may be found wearing clothing and trinkets scavenged from those they have killed. Yellow Jackets can fire an electrical energy ray from their eyes once every three rounds. This ray will do 3d6 hit points of electrical damage if struck. Yellow Jackets are usually found in Ancient ruins and other formerly inhabited regions.
  • Blue Jacket -- Blue Jackets are the only Jackets found to use weapons in combat as well as their own naturally occurring claws and stingers. Any Blue Jackets encountered may be equipped with a club or spear that they will use in combat. (There is a 20% chance that one may have a pistol or rifle at the ML's discretion.) Blue Jackets have a light robin's-egg blue coloring, and they can fire an ice energy ray from their eyes once every three rounds. This ray will do 3d6 hit points of cold damage if struck. Blue Jackets are usually found in icy Arctic tundra areas.
  • Red Jacket -- Red Jackets are the most intelligent of the Jacket races, speaking fluently and living in a more civilized manner. However, they are more cunning and devious in their dealing with strangers. Red Jackets have been known to befriend a foe against a common enemy before turning around and betraying their "ally" once their usefulness has ended. Red Jackets have a scarlet coloring, and they can fire a heat energy ray every three rounds. This ray will do 3d6 hit points of heat damage if struck. Red Jackets are usually found in arid desert areas and near geothermal pockets.
  • Black Jacket -- The most secretive and little-seen of the Jacket races, Black Jackets are also the most feared. It is whispered that spying a Black Jacket is an omen of death itself, as the creatures so value their solitude that they will wipe out entire villages to protect their hidden nests. Few have seen a Black Jacket and lived. They are rumored to be an ashen-grey in color, and they use their killing sphere mutation to permanently silence those who stumble upon them. Black Jackets are said to live in rocky, mountainous, inaccessible regions.
The various Jacket colonies do not interact with each other, as each one views its specific color as the "primary" one. All other Jackets are viewed as offshoots or "poor copies of the original." Due to these prejudices, Jacket colonies are often at war with each other. Heaven help the village that finds itself between two warring factions.

Mutations: complete wing development, toxic weapon, energy ray (special), killing sphere (special)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ancient Armory: Weed of Godly Strength

Weed of Godly Strength is a much sought-after edible plant in the Mutant Future as it bestows a temporary increased strength mutation upon the consumer. Sometimes referred to by its Ancient name of "spiny itch," Weed of Godly Strength appears as a leafy green plant about 15 cm tall with oval-shaped leaves. Upon eating a handful of the plant, the consumer will feel strength and vitality coursing through his muscles. He will deal an extra 3d6 hit points of damage in hand-to-hand combat for the next 4 rounds. He may also be capable of a single feat of lifting twice his normal maximum carrying capacity at the discretion of the Mutant Lord.

However, this benefit comes at a price. Swelling commonly occurs as the consumer's forearms swell to gargantuan sizes and one of his eyes will swell shut. He may also be afflicted with a speech impediment causing him to add a hard "K" sound to words ending with an "S". (For example: "Hmmm, I thinksk I hearsk some noisesk coming from around the cornersk.") The consumer may also find himself attracted to unhealthily thin women and corn cob pipes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ancient Armory: Harvester Bot

Harvester Bot

Harvester Bots were used for a variety of agricultural uses such as plowing and tilling sod, harvesting crops, baling and raking grains, and other large farming projects. Sturdily built to weather years of rugged outdoor labor, many Harvesters survived the apocalypse and are still out in the fields -- tilling, turning, baling, and harvesting. Their programming is very limited, as they have been instructed to remain working in the same acreage they originally were programmed for. It is not unusual to see these behemoths still cultivating the same fields over many decades.
Hit Dice: 20
Frame: Armature
Locomotion: Wheels
Manipulators: Claws, jaws
Armor: Duralloy Armor (AC 3)
Sensors: Class IV
Mental Programming: Programming
Varies; can be any assortment of agricultural attachments
Weaponry: None

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dangerous Encounter: You Should Stay Awhile

This encounter should be one that "sneaks up" on the unsuspecting PCs. At some point in their travels, let them stumble upon an Ancient apartment complex that has been converted into the self-contained village of "Oakwoodapts". Long ago, the village founders discovered the building containing numerous self-contained living spaces for their people. They moved in, turning the bottom floors into homes for the villagers, whereas the upper floors are the residence of the elders and shopkeepers. With lookouts and armed security on the roof and an easily secured main entrance, Oakwoodapts is a perfect self-contained village.

Oakwoodapts is a bit off the usual paths, but the villagers are welcoming and accommodating to travelers for both information, trading purposes, etc. The PCs should come to view Oakwoodapts as a nice place to stop by and equip themselves, perhaps even performing an occasional job for the elders. They should come to know some of the villagers and they may even consider moving into one of the few remaining apartments as their own base of operations.

The next time they return for a visit, they may notice the villagers seem very excited to see them return. If they haven't already set up a home there, they may start hinting that they should "settle down among friends" and "having a place to come home to is important in this uncertain world." Something should seem "off" though. Some of their closest acquaintances seem to have forgotten details from previous visits. A small child may seem afraid of his own parents. The PCs may notice something scuttling by in the shadows.

During their absence, the village has been invaded by a small group of 10 Soul Riders. These creatures have taken over eight of the villagers already, and are looking for two new hosts for the remaining two Soul Riders.

Soul Rider (10) (AL C, MV 180’ (60’), AC 8, HD 2, #AT Special, DG Special, SV L2, ML 7, mutations: possession, metaconcert, quickness)

The Soul Riders have taken over most of the stronger villagers or those holding leadership positions using possession. They have determined that two of the PCs will make perfect additions to their nest. They hope to take over the PCs while they have their guard down, perhaps as they sleep or if one is separated from the group. If successful, the "ridden" PCs will demand to stay at Oakwoodapts, refusing to leave and offering to become one of the village's sentries.

If the Soul Riders are discovered, they will attack the PCs using the mind-controlled villagers as thralls. They'll use their metaconcert mutation to keep in contact with each other and with their "puppets," coordinating their movements as they try to capture the PCs. Any non-controlled villagers will be deceived by the controlled villagerss, as the PCs will be accused of theft, murder, etc. in hopes that the other villagers will join in the capture. The PCs will have their hands full as they should not want to harm their mind-controlled friends, but they will have to find the Soul Riders hidden somewhere within the village. A tense game of hide-and-seek could ensue as they try to avoid their pursuers while trying to locate their masters.

If more than half of the Soul Riders are found and dispatched, the others will break their control and skitter off using their quickness mutation to make their escape. The PCs will be lauded as heroes and Oakwoodapts will gladly offer them their own upper-level living area to use as a base of operations.


Captain Kordon, Queen of the River Pirates, wishes all of you scurvy seadogs a very happy Talk Like A Pirate Day today! Avast! Fosooth! Arrrrrrr...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

More Apocalyptic Comics From the Digital Comic Museum

(A continuation of today's earlier post...)

And while I was reading issues of Whiz Comics (Captain Marvel FTW!) and Plastic Man, I also found these gems in the Digital Comic Museum archives:

Here are the links to get you started:
Atomic War:
Atomic War 001 -fixed
Atomic War 002 -fixed
Atomic War 003 -fixed
Atomic War 004 (missing cf)-32pgs -fixed

World War III:
World War III #01
World War III #02

Prepare For Armageddon With Free Civil Defense Pamphlets

I stumbled across the Digital Comic Museum archive over the weekend, and I'm really enjoying what they have there. Scans of hundreds upon hundreds of classic public domain Golden Age comics from the 40s and 50s, up to around 1959. Superheroes, horror, romance, westerns, combat, etc. Check this time sink out when you have a sec, and you'll never leave.

One section that caught my eye was the Government Pamphlets section. I poked around for some Civil Defense materials from the 1950, during the height of the Red Scare, and found three pieces that could be used as fodder for your End of Times game sessions. Don't forget to Duck and Cover, kids!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

!3781637 ?335

Nope, we're not discussing leet speak today, but you could consider it a grandfather of sorts. Type in today's title into any handy LED/LCD calculator (ignore the punctuation):

Turn it over, insert the punctuation in its new position, and you'll get:

Ever since I got my first LED Texas Instruments calculator back in the '70s, I've loved "calculator spelling" (apparently called "beghilos"). I'd hammer out various number sequences, turn the screen over and see if I spelled a word on the screen. C'mon, how many times have you spelled out "HELLO" or "BOOBIES"? Thousands of times, I'll bet. Well, a simple calculator screen can spell more than those two words. In fact, when the numbers 0 through 9 are viewed on the upside-down calculator screen, you have access to a 9-letter alphabet:

1 = I
2 = Z
3 = E
4 = h (lower-case)
5 = S
6 = g (lower-case)
7 = L
8 = B
9 = G again (though I prefer the lower-case g)
0 = O

So what can you do with this trick in your Mutant Future games? Well...

1. Your robot/android/cyborg NPCs can have both serial numbers and formal names. I had a bodyguard android with the designation "Model #317537." "But you may call me 'Leslie'," he said. Other good model number/names can include 7718 (Bill), 808 (Bob), 37738 (Belle), 317718 (Billie), 173 (Eli), and 35173 (Elise). Other good ones are Ellis, Eloise, Elsie, Gibbs, Giselle, Hobbes, Isis, and Lee. (I'll leave it up to you to figure out the model numbers on those last ones.)

2. An Ancient password could actually point toward a numeric code instead. Let's assume the PCs are trying to access a blast door sealed with a numeric codepad. They've found a scrap of paper hinting that the code means "honey makers". With a little creativity (and some INT rolls), they may come upon the solution of "BEES" or a numeric code of "5338".

3. Clever characters and NPCs may use the system as a code of sorts. A message that reads "0715 @ 1600" could be a message to meet at the nearby abandoned missile SILO at 1600 hours (or 4 p.m.).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This Blog Is Rated "Red Dawn"

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

The first movie to be released in the U.S. with a PG-13 rating was Red Dawn, a movie depicting the onset of World War III. Seems somewhat apropos for this blog then, eh?

Monday, September 5, 2011

"I Think It Says, 'You Should Enter.' C'mon!" ZAP ZAP ZAP ARGH

One issue that pops up in games of Mutant Future or other post-apocalyptic RPGs is the reading of Ancient signs, manuscripts, books, computer monitors, and texts. It seems like everything is marked and labeled, and whether the adventurers survive an encounter will occasionally hinge on whether they can properly translate an Ancient bit of signage or a long-forgotten map or tome. In the Mutant Future, reading is not only fundamental, it can be life-saving. But the game system for translating and understanding these Ancient bits of text is lacking. So here are some ideas on how I play those "So what's it say?" events.

A character can be proficient in the languages of other races and creatures per the MF rules, pg. 15, but I'd like to think that the Language of the Ancients is a bit more complicated and esoteric. Without going into overly complicated explanations and detail, I imagine that the "common tongue" of the Mutant Future is descended from the Ancient language of the region your games take place in. For instance, my Ancient language is English; yours may vary. Ergo, for roleplaying purposes, Mutant Future survivors have a basic chance of understanding any Ancient texts as their own base language is derived from it. This way, it's not required that someone choose "Ancient" as a language as everyone has the ability to fumble through a translation.

My base chance for a character to attempt an Ancient translation is a d% roll versus triple their INT. Someone with an INT of 10 has a 30% chance of correctly translating a bit of Ancient text. Someone with an INT of 15 has a 45% chance. And so on. A generous ML could also add the character's Tech Roll Modifier, to increase their likelihood of a correct reading. If a roll succeeds, the character should be able to get the general "gist" of the text as well as the major words on the sign/page. (This should only be for a sentence or two. A successful roll doesn't mean the character can suddenly read their way through The Great Gatsby.)

However, what if a character fails? Ah, this is where it gets interesting, and where I take a cue from one of my other favorite RPGs: Toon. Yes, the cartoon game. You see, in Toon, if a character fails a Read roll, they aren't told "You can't make it out." Instead, the character is given a mistranslated bit of text to deal with. "Caution: Danger Ahead!" becomes "Crazy Dances Ahead!" Whenever a PC tries to Read something, I make a secret roll instead of one out in the open. The PC doesn't know if he succeeded, nor does he know if the text I provided is correct or not. The same technique can provide a bit of tense mystery to your Mutant Future games as well.

PC1: "So what's the sign on the steel door say?"
ML: (rolls behind screen) "It says, 'You should enter.'"
PC1: (to the party) "I think it says 'You should enter.' C'mon!"
The characters swing open the door with the "Do Not Enter" sign and are promptly fired upon by laser turrets in the ceiling.
And since everyone has a chance at reading Ancient texts, it's a simple matter to have someone else double-check.
PC1: "So what's the sign on the steel door say?"
ML: (rolls behind screen) "It says, 'You should enter.'"
PC2: "I look at the door's sign too."
ML: (rolls) "You're pretty sure it's a warning to stay out."
I've used this system for years in post-apocalyptic games where the translation of Ancient texts plays a vital role. If you have a similar system in place, I'd love to hear about it.