Monday, November 30, 2009

Ray-Coons of Doom!

After defeating the dreaded Swamp Turtle, forcing the Red Silt Horror to turn tentacles and run and riding a nuclear missile, the party was more or less laid low by a bunch of thieving Ray-Coons tonight.  The Ray-Coons, mutant raccoons that can shoot laser beams from their eyes (among other mutant abilities), proved to be one of my most dangerous creations to date.  Working in a small pack, four of them managed to steal the party's jeep and killed two party members in the process.  Worse yet, Dataan very nearly disabled the hovercraft by crashing it into a wall while attempting to dislodge two Ray-Coons from its windshield.  As it is, the hovercraft has taken some significant damage to the skirt that holds in the cushion of air, so it is has lost a good deal of maneuverability and speed.  So how did it all go down?

The party was split up into two groups, half of them scouting out the Redeemed City of Spanky Butt after hearing that a helicopter had dropped off a crack squadron of Knights of Genetic Purity there, while the other half of the party was back at the Badder warrens, enjoying turtle soup and moonshine and waiting for the morning when they had a scheduled meeting with Nicodemus the mutant mouse.  Dataan was sitting in the hovercraft monitoring the video feed from the remote controlled robot dragonfly that Beyonce was piloting, and new party member Kunta Kinte (a 19' tall deaf giant with claws for fingers) was dozing off on the roof of the hovercraft.  Things had been getting interesting over at Spanky Butt, so Bozko and Beyonce got inside the hovercraft just in case they needed to jet over to help their fellows.  Kunta Kinte spotted movement in the cavern and saw some shadowy figure skulking around the perimeter of the cave.  He banged on the roof of the hovercraft and pointed in the direction of the movement - Dataan flipped on the Swamp Orca's floodlights and aimed them in the direction that Kunta Kinte pointed.  They saw a large raccoon, wearing a tool belt diagonally across his chest, frozen in the light.

Dataan saw the raccoon start to swell in size, growing larger and larger until it towered over the hovercraft, scraping the thirty foot tall ceiling of the cave.  Its eyes began to glow with red light as if they were building up some kind of charge.  While Dataan was freaking out about this turn of events, Kunta Kinte saw the raccoon (normal sized as before) scamper over to the jeep that sat unmanned in the corner of the cave.  Dataan (victim of the Ray-Coon's mutant ability to cause illusions in his mind) saw the giant raccoon advance on the hovercraft firing lasers from its eyes, so he threw the hovercraft in reverse and tried to evade the creature.  Bozko jumped out of the hovercraft and saw the raccoon attempting to hotwire the jeep, so he turned into root form and flowed across the ground towards him.  Just as the raccoon got the jeep started, Kunta Kinte jumped down and grabbed on to the back of the jeep, planting his massive heels in the dirt and attempting to stop the raccoon from driving off.  The jeep spun out, flinging dirt everywhere and slowly began to drag Kunta Kinte across the cave toward the exit.  The massive giant did manage to slow down the jeep enough that Bozko was able to get over and make an attack on the thief - he engulfed the raccoon in his body, changing his shape to completely immobilize the little guy, leaving only his face uncovered.  With its driver unable to step on the gas, the jeep came to a halt.

Just about then, all the party members in the cave mysteriously took some damage from an unknown source.  Kunta Kinte began looking around and spotted another raccoon flying around above the party and two more hiding on either side of the tunnel leading away from the cave.  Bozko began shouting that raccoons travel in packs, then addressed the one that he had grappled, attempting to come to a non-violent resolution to this encounter.  The raccoon inside his body laughed at him and did not respond in any other way.

Meanwhile, Dataan was still dealing with the hallucination of the giant raccoon monster, and started driving toward the exit in an attempt to escape from what he thought was certain doom.  Two of the more mobile party members who were staking out Spanky Butt (Dante and Richard) took off back toward the Badder warrens (a distance of just over three miles), one flying and the other running in mutantly fast mountain lion form.  Kunta Kinte began striking at the flying Ray-Coon above him, and all the party members again took damage from an unknown source (the flying Ray-Coon's vampiric field mutation, which drains HP from a 30' radius and adds them as temporary HP to the mutant).  Despite scoring several good hits on the flying Ray-Coon, Kunta Kinte seemed unable to damage it (due to its temporary HP).  Meanwhile, Dataan was still attempting to evade the giant figment of his imagination, which was blasting impressive looking lasers out of its eyes.  Bozko, after negotiations and threats had failed to evoke any response from the Ray-Coon he was engulfing, grew a bunch of thorns around the creatures genitalia.  Instead of hurting the Ray-Coon, Bozko felt the damage reflected back upon him and he realized that the maniacally laughing mutant had some sort of damage turning ability.

Several more rounds of generally unproductive tactics by the party passed as they continued to be drained of energy from the vampiric field.  Dataan finally swerved the hovercraft around his phantom menace and drove into the exit tunnel, only to have the two Ray-Coons that had been waiting there jump onto the windshield and start smashing it with crowbars.  He attempted to shake them off by throwing the hovercraft into reverse but failed badly at the dexterity check I had him make to pull off the tricky maneuver (Dataan is not the best driver in general, trick driving on turtle shells not withstanding), and he crashed the hovercraft into the tunnel wall.  This did throw one of the Ray-Coons off the hovercraft, while the other somehow hung on and shattered the windshield with a mighty swing of its crowbar.  It blasted Dataan with laser beams from its eyes, hurting the robot badly.  Meanwhile, Beyonce had been riding in the back of the hovercraft and shooting at the flying Ray-Coon, but she was knocked around pretty good by the crash.

Bozko, who had sprayed his hallucinogenic spores into the face of his captive with seemingly no effect, decided that he would attempt to drag it under ground.  As he was doing so, he saw that he was covered in oil dropped by the flying Ray-Coon, who then set him on fire with a well placed laser blast.  Fortunately for Bozko, this was another illusion, although he was unaware of that.  Thinking that he was engulfed in flame, he tunneled rapidly into the dirt, abandoning his captive.  The newly freed Raycoon jumped into the jeep and started to drive off as the flying Ray-Coon swooped down and joined him.

Back in the hovercraft, Dataan had managed to slay the Ray-Coon that had shattered the windshield with a very well placed Plasma Pistol shot.  His slave boys, however, had no luck whatsoever as they attempted to shoot the Ray-Coon that had been flung from the hovercraft with the craft's lasers.  Seeing the firepower of the hovercraft, and not wanting to test his luck again, this Ray-Coon jumped into the jeep with its comrades as they drove past.  It manned the heavy machine guns in the rear of the jeep.

Kunta Kinte had more or less turtled up at this point, he had activated his force field mutation and was hanging back out of harms way because he had born the brunt of the vampiric field and was severely injured.  Bozko was underground, also severely injured until he used a mutation that allows him to restore his HP to full, and Dataan had to reverse the hovercraft out of the wall before he and Beyonce could do much.  It looked at this point like the Ray-Coons had made off the jeep, but at the price of one of their own.  And thats when the suicidal cavalry arrived on the scene...

Richard the Cat-Man came sprinting up the tunnel just as the jeep was rumbling down it.  Without pausing to overthink things, Richard leaped onto the hood of the jeep and started unloading with his shotgun.  He blasted the driver and the Ray-Coon manning the heavy machine guns, but the driver swerved and nearly lost control of the jeep when he was shot and Richard went flying.  While he did manage to roll out of the way of the jeep and avoid being run over, he was a sitting duck for the gunner on the back of the jeep and ate a lot of hot lead.  Richard died in the dust of the badder tunnel just as Dante the winged plant with grenade fruit flew on to the scene.  Perhaps in a salute to Richard and his tactics, Dante barrelled straight for the jeep, grenade fruit flying.  He did manage to kill the machine gunner in the blast, but was himself killed in mercifully quick fashion by the Ray-Coons laser eye beams.  The jeep rumbled off out the tunnel and into the swamp as the surviving party members re-assembled in the hovercraft and tried to make sense of what had just happened.

Norman Harman said, in a comment on my recent post about the Swamp Turtle, "I suggest next you try the small, insidious, seemingly insignificant threat.  That will lay them low if not properly recognized / dealt with."
I think this encounter was successful in that regard.  When the party first saw a lone raccoon in the cave, they were pretty certain that this was no big threat.  After the melee with the pack of Ray-Coons, they know better.  But more than just the physical threat that the Ray-Coons provide, the psychological threat that they might come back to pilfer more of the player's precious artifacts is the true measure of the encounter's worth.  As Dataan's player put it, "I'm never going to leave the hovercraft again.  Those Ray-Coons may come back and try to steal it!"

I will present the game stats for Ray-Coons in an upcoming bestiary post, along with the infamous Death Bots.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turtle Soup, Mutant Future Style

Feeling that my players had gotten a little complacent with all their zig-zagging through the swamp in their hovercraft and snorkel-equipped jeep, I decided to throw a truly terrifying creature at them to bring back a little of the fear that they used to feel when they set off into the mucky-muck.  I have been setting this encounter up for a while by occasionally mentioning the legend of the Swamp Turtle, a giant, two-headed snapping turtle that is widely held to be at the apex of the swamp food-chain.   I felt it was the perfect time to throw the encounter at them, because the session so far had been combat-free, focused on negotiations with many of the power groups that the PCs were hoping to turn against the Warangutans and Julius Corple.

For the second session in a row we had a very small turn out for various reasons (sickness and school commitments chief among them) and the jeep was being driven by Dataan the robot, with Bozko the shapeshifting plant riding shotgun and Richard "Don't Call Me Dick" the dragon-man standing behind the twin heavy machine guns on the back of the jeep.  The sun was setting behind the clouds as the jeep was climbing up a small hummock in the drizzling rain (it is early fall in the Willing Mate valley in the campaign).  The low hill shuddered, then rose up out of the water.  Dataan brought the jeep to a halt and the party realized what was going on as two huge heads on thick necks emerged from either side of the "hill" and turned towards the jeep, massive jaws snapping.  The jeep was parked on the armor plated back of the Swamp Turtle!  Neither of the two heads (the second head takes the place of a tail) could quite reach the jeep where it perched on the center of the shell.  The party instantly thought of the plastic explosives that they had just received as a result of their meeting with Flipsham Eggwar, the leader of the Ooh-Oh Monks.  Bozko pulled a four pound chunk of C-4 out of his chest cavity where he had been storing it and declared that he was inserting a detonator in it and was going to stick it to the shell.  

Not so fast!  Time to roll for initiative, I said with a little glee in my voice.  I should mention here that I use d20 rolls for initiative, diverging from the Mutant Future rules (which follow Labyrinth Lord's B/X style d6 roll for initiative).  I can't say exactly why I use d20 for initiative - I grew up playing 2e with its d10 initiative rolls, so it isn't nostalgia, and I am not a big fan of 3e which is where I first encountered the d20 used in this manner.  I think it is just because with a large party and many combatants, I like the finer granularity that a d20 provides for initiative.  In any case, the party all rolled pretty decent rolls, and I declared that I was going to use my once a session d30 roll for this initiative check!  The look on the players' faces when I grabbed that big ole die and let it fly was priceless.  As it turned out, I got a 17 and Bozko still beat me!  

Bozko (after a brief out of character interlude where he asked if his character would know anything about what the most effective way to shape a plastic explosive charge was and I told him no, you are a mutant plant from the Mutant Future, what the hell would you know about plastic explosives?) slapped the putty-like explosive charge down on the shell of the turtle and pressed it into a cone shape.  The turtle, angry at the annoying chunk of steel that sat just out of reach of its snapping jaws, rolled over in the swamp to dash the jeep into the cold waters.

At this point the party was pretty certain they were going to be swimming while dealing with a creature that looked like it could swallow them whole and not even notice it, not to mention that they would be within the blast radius of the explosion if they detonated the C-4.  Yup, things looked pretty grim.  I figured that with a little creative thinking and the use of all their technological artifacts they could probably escape without incurring a TPK, but I certainly didn't foresee them KILLING the damn turtle!  The thing had nearly 400 HP for Jeebus's sake!  I thought at the very least they would lose the jeep, as I was going to have the turtle attack the jeep next round.  What happened was one of those great moments where the dice gods smiled on the players.  

Dataan tried to ride the jeep up and over the corner of the shell as the turtle rolled, in an attempt to keep the jeep from being spilled into the swamp.  I have been using a dexterity check mechanic for particularly tricky driving maneuvers, so I told Dataan's player that he could roll a dexterity check.  I told him that he would have a significant penalty to the roll, but I wasn't telling him what that penalty was.  I had already made up my mind that he would have to roll a natural 1 to successfully drive the jeep up the shell as it was rolling and crest it at the perfect moment to be able to descend to the other side and end up on the stomach of the turtle.  

The die rolled, and rolled, and... came up with that perfect 1!  Many people decry the fact that older editions of D&D do not have a unified mechanic for resolving situations like this.  Why should some things like attack rolls call for a high roll, while other things call for a low roll?  I personally like this.  How many times have you cursed that unlucky "1" when it pops up its ugly little head on an attack roll?   Isn't it about time that the down-trodden "1" gets to bask in the same glory that its big brother the natural "20" gets?  

Dataan floored the jeep and rode off the turtle before it could roll again.  Once the jeep was clear, Bozko pressed the remote detonator and the C-4 exploded, raining chunks of turtle shell and flesh over the swamp.  Looking back from the jeep, the party realized that they had failed to kill the monster and it was crashing after them, gaining steadily with its huge strides.  Richard unloaded on it with the heavy machine guns, scoring some hits on one of its heads, but hardly slowing it down at all.  Bozko turned his body into a hang-glider and jumped off the jeep, never one to stick around when fleeing might save his bark.  The turtle had closed the distance and was about to catch the jeep, but I ruled that Richard could have one more round of attacks with the heavy machine guns.  These guns can each discharge a whopping six shots per round, so Richard was rolling twelve attack rolls.

This time, he rolled up a storm and scored a ton of hits (I don't remember exactly how many, but he rolled ridiculously well), including a critical that he rolled excellent damage with.  He just managed to do enough damage to drop it, and it fell dying, massive jaws clenched just short of the rear of the jeep.  This was very lucky, because even one round of attacks from the turtle would have crushed the jeep.  The party cut off all the parts of the turtle that stuck out of the shell, then tied it to the jeep and slowly towed it across the swamp to the home of the badders where they gave the shell to the those master armor crafters to make turtle-plate mail.  The badders are eating turtle soup even as we speak!

Note:  The two-headed snapping turtle was inspired by a very similar but much smaller creature created by 
DMH and posted in this amazing thread over at  If you have not already check this out, he has created hundreds if not thousands of mutant monstrosities for use with the Mutant Future game.  Thanks, DMH!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Updating my Guns post

I have been updating my "Guns" post as the party has acquired new armaments, but I keep forgetting to tell my players this.  So consider this your notification, guys:  If you want the "official" stats for the weapons you lucky mutants keep finding/stealing/negotiating for/looting from dead bodies, look no further than that post.  I just added the C-4 plastic explosives that you received from Flipsham Eggwar, and other recent additions are the plasma pistol and the shotgun.  Now go blow some shit up!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Using "real" life in your games.

Thanks to Ken at The Rusty Battleaxe and his kick-ass d30 Random Blog Topic Table, this post will deal with three real life locations that I use in my Mutant Future campaign.  First, let me say how much I have loved having a d30 around; one of my players recently procured one and has been bringing it to the Sunday game night.

We are now proud members of the Order of the d30, and in addition to scaring the shit out of my players when I used my once-per-session roll of the d30 for the 40' long, two headed snapping turtle's initiative, I borrowed the 30 sided behemoth for a quick roll on Ken's table and got a 22.

"22. Three Actual Historic/Geographic Settings for Campaigning"

My entire Mutant Future campaign so far has been set in post-apocalyptic Oregon, and most of it has occurred in the Willamette Valley in the Eugene/Springfield area.  In the grand old Gamma World tradition of naming things based on their present names with a twist (and preferably a funny twist), my players have been trudging around in the Willing Mate Valley.

Location Number One:  Skinner Butte

This small butte rises over downtown Eugene, just south of the Willamette River.  It is known for its columnar basalt rock formations, and it is also known for the parking lot on top of the butte where people go to make out in their cars and look out over the city at night.  In my Mutant Future campaign, it is known as Skinny Butt and is the home base of the players.  Skinny Butt is a community of mutants living in tunnels dug into the basalt, farming terraces cut into the sides of the butte and fishing over the cliffs into the swamp below.  I have found that using real life places for my campaign has made my life as a DM much easier; I can describe what the players are seeing, I know what sort of ruins they are likely to encounter, and I can use Google maps for my campaign maps!  Here is Skinny Butt on the map:

I use the "terrain" feature in Google Maps, which gives me a much more detailed map than I was likely to ever draw.  This has come in very handy, particularly when the PCs were chasing some Knights of Genetic Purity through the Sottles (Mutant Futurese for the South Hills of Eugene); I was able to point to each little ridge that they were cresting and tell them, "You catch a glimpse of your quarry in the gully below you, then they round a corner and you lose sight" and everyone was looking at a beautifully rendered 3D map of the terrain and knew exactly what was going on.

Location Number Two:
 The University of Oregon

Home of the best college football team in America, not to mention some pretty cool old brick buildings and extensive underground science labs that make for a great "dungeon" in the Mutant Future.  The University of Oregon, or UO, has become the home of the Ooh-Oh Monks in my campaign.  Worshiping the great god Intur Netz, the monks seek to understand what causes and control mutations through experiments carried out in their underground labs.  Three things make the University a perfect location for my campaign - the brick buildings would have survived pretty well, a good portion of campus is located on a small, sloping hill that would keep the buildings above the level of the swamp, and the campus is situated over a labyrinth of underground complexes.  The present day University of Oregon has such an extensive network of underground science labs that when I was eating a delicious Indian meal the other night across Franklin Boulevard from the UO, I was sitting directly above the world's largest zebra fish breeding facility! There are also very hush hush primate research labs as well as all kinds of other crazy stuff going on underground at the UO.  I will be posting more about the Ooh-Oh Monks soon, because the party has finally made contact with them and learned quite a bit about the reclusive monks.  Heck, they even got an audience with his Magnificence the Dean Docco Profus Flipsham Eggwar himself!  

One teaser - the lowest levels below the Ooh-Oh Monks have been sealed off for centuries, because the lab mice mutated and revolted.  These mutant mice reprogrammed a robotic manufacturing center and created "giant" (human sized) mech suits to run around in and were thoroughly overpowering the hated scientists before they were shut off from the surface.  These mice have been living for centuries under the delusion that the outside world was completely destroyed, and their "kingdom of the pure" was the only remaining life on the planet.  My players just made contact with Nicodemus the door guard and are seeking an alliance with the mice - so more Mice in Mechs coming soon!

Location Three: The John Day Fossil Beds

When my players spent several weeks out in the Eastern Desert trying to prevent the Knights of Genetic Purity from procuring a nuclear missile or three, the locale was the amazingly beautiful painted hills of the John Day Fossil Beds.  This would make for a great location in your typical fantasy campaign as well.  The terrain is very rugged, with steep gulches eroded out of sandstone hills, and there are frickin' dinosaur bones everywhere!  What more do you want, people?  Once again, Google Maps Terrain feature came in invaluable here.  Check it out:

The players spent quite a while manipulating the three desert factions that come together once a year for the Ramming Dan festival that culminates with the burning of a giant wooden statue (Burning Dan) and the ceremonial descent into the missile silo by the three High Priests to ask the god Intur Netz questions.  Unfortunately for anyone in the Mutant Future that wants to visit this picturesque area, the party ended up nuking the place!  That will definitely have to be explained in more detail than I can go into here in a later post, but the short version is that the players accidentally let a dimension spanning blob of alien flesh of unknown dimensions (possibly larger than the entire planet, once it finished coming out of its wormhole) out of the bottle.  They were rightfully scared, and figured that just setting one of the missiles off on a trajectory that would take it back to the silo to detonate while they fled in the hovercraft was the best thing to do.  Oh, those rascally PCs!  

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Tragic Tale of Julius Corple, part two

After the players discovered the still living but unresponsive body of Julius Corple, naked and attached to a room sized mass of glowing tissue, they took his keycard and left him to his fate.  Using his keycard to open the door marked "Alien Weapons Division", they found a a short hallway, a locked door and a computer screen prompting them to enter a password.  They still had not discovered what the password was, but my players rarely let little details like that stop them.  Logan teleported to the other side of the door, only to find himself in another long hallway.  An alarm started blaring and a deathbot (look for this fiendish robot in an upcoming Bestiary post) emerged from a hatch in the ceiling.  The player of Logan's character had not two sessions earlier lost his previous character to a different deathbot, and indeed, the entire party very nearly died in that encounter.  Finding himself alone and facing the four armed, grenade spewing monstrosity he teleported back out of there, and fast.

Fast Forward to the next session:

This time, Millard Filmore was in attendance, and he decided to use his telepathic abilities to make contact with the catatonic Julius Corple.  With the curious party clustered around watching, Millard worked his magic.  He instantly realized that he was in a little over his head (out of his head?).  He found that he was actually making contact with two intelligences, that of Julius Corple and that of an immensely powerful alien intellect.  Corple's mind had been nearly totally subsumed by the alien thought processes, and at first Millard could get hardly more than fragmentary thoughts.  Millard reported to the rest of the party that the organic tissue behind the glass walls of the room was apparently a vast brain or organic computer.  The party had learned about the existence of organic computers (essentially disembodied, artificially created alien brains that served the Oozyxphg for all their computing needs) earlier in their explorations, but they had never heard of one this large.  Millard was concerned, because the alien thought processes being generated by the huge mass of tissues seemed to be "waking up", and he felt the alien mind begin to reach out and tentatively explore his own thoughts.  Pulses of energy began to run through the massive alien brain in great, rhythmic waves.  However, Millard bravely continued his efforts and began to establish a rapport with the mind of Julius Corple.  Corple seemed confused and defensive, and a mental barrier, something that was causing Corple feelings of intense shame, was preventing Millard from making further headway.  The rest of the party began to be alarmed as the intensity and frequency of the energy pulses running through the organic tissues surrounding them continued to pick up.

Meanwhile, Millard had finally made a breakthrough with Julius Corple.  He had penetrated the wall of guilt and shame and discovered that Corple had caused the downfall of the military complex by secretly constructing this massive organic computer.  He learned that at first, Corple had been able to control the alien intellect and used it make quick strides in understanding and reverse engineering Oozyxphg technology.  Corple was the rising star of the resistance movement, and his breakthroughs seemed to signal a shift in the tide of battle against the Oozies.  Unfortunately, Corple eventually lost control of his creation.  The last time he connected himself to it, it overpowered his brain and left his body an empty shell.  The room-sized brain reached out telepathically and made contact with the nearest Oozyxphgian organic computers.  It coordinated an assault with the Oozies; first, it used its incredible mental powers to seize control of the men stationed in the main security control chamber in the hangar level.  It had these possessed pawns release a deadly nerve gas throughout the complex, then disabled the nuclear power generators and physically cut the cables connecting the control chamber to the rest of the facility.  Then, when most of the men in the facility were dead from the nerve toxin and the security systems were disabled, the Oozies opened a wormhole from their planet directly into the hangar level using the coordinates that the brain had given them.  A massive alien cannon strafed the military vehicles, melting them into piles of twisted metal.  Oozies in their robotic suits poured through the wormhole and within minutes the complex was abandoned by the resistance.

During this entire ordeal, Corple was conscious of everything the brain was doing but was powerless to stop it.  The Oozies did not take the brain or any of the other Oozy technology sequestered in the base - they may have reasoned that it might have been trapped, or they might simply not have cared enough to bother.  In any case, both the brain and Corple lay undisturbed for hundreds of years, sustained by the energy generated by the brain's "batteries" (small areas of wormhole generating tissue that linked up with a massive mat of tissue soaking in a nutrient rich solution on a far off alien world).  Corple's body was kept alive by the brain, which needed to be connected to something to function (a safeguard that Corple had built in when he constructed it).  Centuries trapped inside an alien mind with the weight of hundreds of deaths on his conscience had driven Corple quite mad, but the contact with Millard seemed to be doing him good as his thoughts had become more coherent and more distinct from the alien thought processes of the giant brain.

Once Millard had learned this history from Corple's disembodied mind, he asked Corple for the password to the Alien Weapon Division, telling him that it would help in the fight against the Oozies.  Just then, the alien brain flexed its figurative muscles and attempted to possess Millard - I needed to roll a 3 or higher to succeed on the mental attack roll, but luckily for the party, I came up with a 2!  Corple told Millard the password and the party yanked Corple's body free from the brain, ran up the ladder and dropped a bunch of grenades down to blow the brain to kingdom come.

Unfortunately for the party, around that time is when they began to run into the Warangutans and ended up fleeing the complex before they ever actually got into the Alien Weapons Division, so that tempting chestnut remains uncracked.  The party took Corple's body (which seemed to be just as catatonic as ever and Millard was unable to establish any contact with his mind) to Skinny Butt and left it in the care of a skilled mutant healer.

Under the care of the healer, Corple eventually regained consciousness just as he began to show the symptoms of the FDF7 virus.  He survived the virus but manifested quite a few mutations, including a second brain that grew out of the side of his head.  He was last seen, after grabbing the deathly sick body of Laura Hazelton (a soldier from the complex who had survived to the present in cryostasis only to be revived by the party and succumb to the FDF7 virus), flying over the swamp in the direction of the military complex.

Once the party learns more about his present goals and activities, I will post more!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More New Players! Can I handle more than 10?

I just learned that I will be Lording over at least one and possibly as many as three new players tomorrow for our weekly Mutant Future session.  Brent has been watching the last few sessions and obviously enjoys what is going on in the game, but has no roleplaying experience and had so far turned down our invitations to just roll up a character and jump in the game.  But I guess curiosity finally got the better of his worries that he "won't do good enough", as he told me last night that he was going to play on Sunday.  I assured him that there is no such thing as not doing good when you are playing in one of my games - the worst thing that could happen is your character dies and then you just roll up a new one!  Several other newbies will be joining the game soon as well, either this Sunday or in the next few weeks.  For those of you who have ever seen my band play, lead guitarist Josh "Master of Rock" Marks may soon be experiencing life in the Mutant Future as well, which I am personally very excited about.

I believe that makes 14 or 15 (possibly even 16) people that  are going to be rotating in and out of the game as they see fit, and it probably means that I will occasionally be DMing for groups larger than 10.  Thats a lot of mutants in one room!

I have already been presiding over some pretty large groups for this campaign, so in general I am not that worried about it.  I have a few tricks that make it go easier - when the group gets that large, I more or less abandon individual initiative for combat.  I still have everybody roll for initiative as normal, then I have any players that beat the monsters go first, then the monsters, but from that point on all the players go then all the monsters go.  I just go clockwise around the table when it is time for the players to go and if somebody is not ready they just get skipped until everyone else has gone.  I have found that this makes combat go much faster, not to mention the fact that combat in Mutant Future is much faster than 3.5 or 4e D&D, for example, as it is based on Labyrinth Lord's B/X ruleset.

The more complicated part is how to ride herd on a large group outside of combat.  Very few problems in my world can be solved by simply riding in guns a blazin' - I do not believe in balancing encounters to the power level of the PCs, and my players could easily be destroyed by pretty much every faction in the Willing Mate valley if they did not carefully plan their actions and engage opponents on favorable terms and terrain.  This means that there is normally a lot of conversation and planning about what to do next, and this can get a little time consuming with large groups.  One device that I have used to make this sort of conversation among the players, if not go faster, at least seem a part of the game rather than a part of the meta-game, is the use of com-links among the characters.  My group found a bunch of com-links that are basically like the little bluetooth headsets that people use for their phones, except for that they are walkie-talkies with a five mile range.  This means that the party can always be conversing amongst themselves, so any conversation at the table between players about what to do next is also happening in game amongst the characters.  This may seem like a small point, but I think it has really helped my players gain full immersion into the world and their characters.

I also am not afraid of occasionally providing a little spur or subtle hint to get things moving on again.  Obviously, I try to let the players come up with everything on their own, but sometimes my job as Mutant Lord is to keep the action moving on.  This may become more of an issue with groups larger than 10, so I will have to keep on my toes.  Luckily, my players genuinely enjoy the time spent figuring out what to do next and they come up with some pretty wild and crazy ideas.  The more people putting in their input, the crazier the end result - all in all, I am more excited than nervous about having such a large group.

Another point in my favor is that Mutant Future is a very rules light system.  I normally do not have to open the rule book at all, and when I do it is usually to read the text of a particular mutation if some new issue with it comes up in play.  That doesn't happen very often, and when it does it only takes a couple of seconds because the text of all the mutations are very short  and mostly rely on DM interpretation to cover any complicated cases anyway.  I have printed out the few pages that I have to refer to often (the mental combat chart, the regular combat chart, the savings throw chart and a few other odds and ends) and eventually I am going to get around to making a Mutant Lord screen that has all that information on it.  I shudder to think about trying to run a session of 3.5 or even 4e D&D with this many players, but I think Mutant Future is close enough to its old school roots to be able to handle the large groups.

So I say bring 'em on!

If you are in the Eugene/Springfield area and you want to play Mutant Future, just let me know!

Mutant Lord Carl

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Tragic Tale of Julius Corple part one

A while back my players spent a couple of sessions searching for keycards and passwords to give them access to various places in the ancient military complex/megadungeon that they were exploring.  They knew, from some snooping around through personnel records on a computer, that the two head scientists in the facility were Julius Corple (in charge of the Alien Weapons division) and Hodges Craigslist (in charge of the Biological Weapons division).  Earlier, they had found a door labelled "Alien Weapons Research" that they had been unable to open.  Reasoning that the head of the Alien Weapons division must hold the key to this tempting area, they made their way to Julius Corple's quarters.  

Right away they realized that something was different with Corple's chambers - they could not access any interior cameras through the buildings computer network, and in fact, it seemed that the suite of rooms was not connected in any way to the power and computer networks of the rest of the facility.  They could not cut the power to the door and the normal spiderbot access shafts that connected almost every other part of the facility had been sealed off.  

Undeterred, a party member capable of teleportation bravely transported his body blindly through the closed door and luckily did not end up materializing in a space already occupied by a solid object!  He was greeted by an enthusiastic robot dog (named "Woody" according to the engraving on its water bowl) and a rather spartan set of apartments.  Corple apparently took his work home with him, as his bed, chairs and couch were low disks that utilized the alien repulsor field technology to suspend a body in mid-air above them.  The door opened easily enough from the inside, and the rest of the party entered.  Woody seemed overjoyed to have company after centuries alone, and instantly took to following the party around.  They found very little in the way of information on Corple's computers, which actually seemed to have been unused at all.  Likewise, they found no books or journals that might contain a clue or a scribbled pass phrase.

On Corple's bare desk sat a holo-portrait, the only furnishing in the entire suite that spoke of human warmth, depicting a woman with long brown hair and a pleasant smile.  The holo-projector was engraved with the words "Darling Alyssa".  Saying those words aloud resulted in the large repulsor disc that served for a bed rotating to the side and revealing a shaft opening up into a chamber below.  Descending down the short ladder, the party entered a room that unnerved them greatly.  The chamber that they found themselves in was glass-walled and circular.  Behind the glass walls pink and blue organic tissues throbbed and pulsed with visible electrical energy.  A confusing tangle of cables and what seemed to be umbilical chords passed through portals in the glass and connected with the naked body of a man lying in the middle of the floor.  This body was apparently Julius Corple, as the pile of synthetic military issue clothing next to the man contained his keycard.  Interestingly, and this is what really creeped out the party, they soon realized that Corple was still alive. His hair and fingernails had evidently been growing for centuries, and he did not respond to any stimulus, but his heart was beating and he was breathing.  They grabbed his keycard and beat a hasty retreat.

Part Two reveals how Julius Corple brought about the downfall of the military facility.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mutants vs. Monkeys

As promised, here is the sordid tale of what my PCs have resorted to while trying to pit one faction against another in my Mutant Future campaign.

The first thing they came up with was to somehow turn the Knights of Genetic Purity against the two bands of apes.  There was talk of killing three birds in one bush, or something like that.  The Knights are the mother of all factions in my campaign world, a continent spanning organization dedicated to the complete eradication of all mutants and the restoration of pure humans to their former position of unchallenged supremacy.  The party captured two members of the Knights way back at the beginning of the campaign, and the two unfortunate bastards have been languishing in a dark hole in Skinny Butt, their only contact with anyone being the occasional visits from Chab the rattlesnake, one of the village elders and the self appointed "interrogator" (read as "torturer").  So the party takes their prized camcorder and their only tape and brings one of the captured Knights out into the swamp.

Warning:  the following paragraph may be a little disturbing, so if you are faint of heart, please skip it and go watch a family movie like Silence of the Lambs instead.

This campaign has been a campaign full of firsts for me.  First openly gay PC, first time running a session with 10 players, and... first time my players have shot a snuff film in game?  WTF?  They decided that they would stage the gruesome massacre of the captured Knight at the hands of a "warangutan" (really Bozko the shape-shifting plant assuming the general form of a great ape and covering his body with shaggy red moss).  They filmed this Blair Witch Project style, from the point of view of the other Knight who "got away" after capturing the horrible death of his comrade on film.  The party wanted to really get the Knights pissed off at the Warangutans, so they had Bozko actually rip the poor dude to shreds in front of the camera.  Interestingly, of the six players participating, only one (my girlfriend, playing Beyonce Chai) expressed any reservations about this plan and she still drove them out into the swamp so that they "didn't do anything even stupider".  The truly disturbing part is that Dataan the robot became aroused during the filming of this movie and there may or may not have been robot masturbation involved.  The party  arranged for the video to make its way into the hands of Chaplain Squaldorf, the true power behind the recent incursion of the Knights into the Willing Mate valley, and then they sat back to watch the fireworks.  However, the PCs soon grew bored waiting for a response from the regional headquarter of the Knights up in Porrit Land, so they decided to take a stab at stopping the apes themselves.

Their next plan was to ally with the War Chimps and attempt to wipe out the Warangutans once and for all.  However, when they flew an unmanned drone that they had just spent a week repairing from the parts of several nonfunctional drones they had secured many sessions earlier, they discovered that the War Chimps had posted a horrifying "keep out" message in the swamp; a roughly circular ring of cut trees marked their territory, and flayed corpses of swamp creatures and mutants alike adorned the tree trunks like bloody post-it notes.  Zooming in on one body with the drone, the party saw that it was flayed from the neck down, and its eyelids had been removed.  And thats when they realized that this poor mutant (a swamp trapper from Skinny Butt town) was still alive - it turned its bulging, dried out eyes at the drone as if it were silently begging to be put out of its considerable misery.  Dataan flew the drone in low, planning on ramming the flayed mutant in the head to put it out of its misery... and he flew the drone right into the War Chimps trap.  They had a ring of concealed blinds a ways in from the outer perimeter of stumps, and a War Chimp with a missile launcher blew the drone up with one well placed shot.

The PCs now decided that maybe they didn't want to ally with the War Chimps after all! Their next brilliant idea was to ally with the Warangutans and convince them to leave the complex and wipe out the War Chimps with the party's help.  They journeyed to the Badder warrens and made their way to the now filled in tunnels leading to the Hangar level of the military complex.  The two shapeshifting plants in the party burrowed through the dirt in root form, creating just enough of a pocket of air behind them to drag a pair of spiderbots down with them.  Once Swampy (one of the shapeshifting plants) got in to the long cross tunnel that leads from the hangar level all the way under the swamp to the sublevels of the Ooh Oh Monks (yet another faction in the swamp), he soon heard a vehicle rumbling down the tunnel at him.  He hid, and saw a jeep driven by a Warangutan pulling a covered troop transport, heading down the tunnel towards the Ooh Oh Monks.  Dataan, controlling a spiderbot, sent it down the tunnel towards the hangar while Swampy set off after the jeep.  Soon, a terrific explosion echoed down the tunnel, and the party surmised that the Warangutans were attempting to blast their way into the lowest levels of the old university complex that the Ooh Oh Monks inhabit.  Dataan's spiderbot reached the blast doors to the hangar, and attempted to use the door's control panel to access the complex's computer system - when to the parties considerable dismay, it became apparent that some true computer wizard had overridden the codes that Dataan had left in place in the complex and the party no longer had access to the still active security networks.  The door began to shut, and Dataan had his spiderbot scurry through and into a maintenance shaft in the wall (the facility is riddled with tiny shafts designed to let the spiderbots scurry around and do their job of maintaining and repairing the electrical, computer, ventilation and water systems of the base).  Peering through a small opening in the wall, Dataan saw through the spiderbot two large Warangutans wielding rocket launchers come up to the door, accompanied by a Terminator looking robot - picture the shiny metal terminators that don't have any skin covering their terrifying metal bodies.  The Warangutans covered the doorway with missile launchers while the Terminator opened it up - of course, they saw nothing.

Meanwhile, Swampy was making decent time heading down the tunnel toward the Ooh Oh Monks, a distance of several miles, with the second spider bot accompanying him.  Soon, the party heard over their comlinks (stolen from the military complex a while back) the Warangutans back at the door to the hangar level warning the Warangutan party up ahead that there was something in the tunnel.  Swampy began traveling much more carefully, in long extended vine form taking cover behind all the heaps of scrap metal that line the tunnel.  The spiderbot went up ahead, under the control of Dataan the robot, who trusted in its small size to escape detection.  The spiderbot came to a juncture, where the the jeep and troop transport were parked, guarded by a single Warangutan standing behind the twin heavy machine guns mounted on the back of the jeep.  Dataan cautiously snuck the spiderbot past this point and came into a room that had evidently once held a large door which had since been blasted away.  A squadron of Warangutans was exploring the chamber beyond, which was filled with what seemed to be massive boilers and other strange rusted out hunks of motionless machinery.

Swampy, alternating between his normal vision and gamma ray vision, continued on slowly and carefully.  He spotted the tell-tale radiation leak from the fusion cell powering a plasma rifle up ahead, and realized that two Warangutans were concealed behind the cab of car that was leaning against the side of the tunnel ahead of him.  Deciding that he could take on two of them with the help of the hypnotic fragrances he could emit, he painstakingly inched a viny protrusion of his body towards the apes and released a cloud of mind-controlling goodness into their hidey hole.  He instantly realized that they were far too powerfully built to succumb to his tricks as they burst forth, plasma rifles blasting.  Luckily for Swampy, they had not spotted him as he was concealed behind the everpresent stacks of scrap metal.  Never known for his discretion, Swampy rolled the lone grenade that he was carrying directly between the two apes who frantically hurled themselves to the ground as it exploded.  Before the smoke even cleared the apes were laying down covering fire as they called for back up.  "We've been hit!  Taking fire from unknown assailant!  Alpha Squad leader, send back up!"

A squad of five Warangutans set out to assist the two fighting Swampy - only to be grenaded themselves by Bozko who had been waiting in the collapsed tunnel to the Badder warrens.  Bozko dropped four grenades from more or less directly above the squad, and killed three of them on the spot.  Now convinced that they were experiencing a serious assault, the Warangutan leaders  called the exploratory party that was moving under the Ooh Oh Monks back.  In the meantime, Dataan had stolen their jeep with his spiderbot, ramming it into a wall and breaking the neck of the Warangutan who was manning the machine gun in the process.  Then, the spiderbot turned the machine gun down the corridor and opened fire on the exploratory party.  With the enemy now apparently coming from all sides, and not even sure what was making the machine gun fire (as the spiderbot was completely concealed behind the gun), the Warangutans broke formation and ran.

 Swampy had continued his fight, and when the two Warangutans he was engaged with started retreating to join up with the larger contingent of the exploratory party (who were now getting into a second jeep that was parked in the large room by the Ooh Oh Monks), Swampy couldn't just let them go and he popped out of cover and took another pot shot at them with his trusty shotgun.  As he dropped back down, they let him have it and I rolled a natural 20 and killed him on the spot... When his player asked if he could roll a savings throw to survive since he was a shapeshifting plant and most of his body mass had never left cover to take the shot in the first place, I decided to be a merciful overlord that night and told him to roll a save vs. energy attacks.  Of course, he still had to get a 15 or higher on a d20, so I figured he was probably toast anyway... then he goes and rolls a 15 on the dot.  I ruled that Swampy was alive but unconscious, mostly blasted to smithereens, and clinging to life only as a small globular mass of unrecognizable plant matter.  The Warangutans all retreated in their Jeep back to the hangar level and shut the blast door, not at all sure what had been attacking them from three sides.    A spiderbot was sent to check on Swampy, as he had suddenly cut off communications.  His quivering remains were retrieved, and the party beat a retreat back to Badder Town to plan their next move!

One important thing has been missed so far; the role of Julius Corple in all this.  Corple, a brilliant roboticist and all around mad genius from the year 2135, had recently been released from centuries of confinement within a massive alien computer/brain.  Exposed to the surface air, he contracted the FDF7 virus and soon grew a second brain and began exhibiting strange powers.  He was last seen, after grabbing the body of Laura Hazelton (a footsoldier from 2135 who was dying of the virus), flying over the swamp in the direction of the military complex.

Many small clues in the last session led the players to speculate that Julius Corple had become the leader of the Warangutans and was directing them as well as the strange Terminator robot the party had seen.  Are they right?  Only time will tell....

I do intend to post the full tale of Julius Corple soon, he is a tragic figure and was directly responsible for the downfall of the military complex all those long years ago.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NPC Factions (Or how to be a lazy DM)

Despite my players' often repeated claims that I am an awesome DM, I know the sad truth - I am a very lazy game master, running my games with a mixture of way too little prep work, a good dose of fly by the seat of your pants and a little bit of luck from the dice gods.  The honest truth - for the last 10 sessions (or 40-50 hours of real life time spent playing), I have spent a grand total of two hours doing preparation work!  I spend FAR more time on this blog then I do my game, and I am not a particularly prolific blogger either.

How do I do it, you might ask?  While my background in competitive extemporaneous speaking and improvisational theater certainly helps, I don't just make it all up as I go. One of my favorite lazy DM tricks is an oldie but goodie, the use of NPC factions.  The vast majority of the two hours of prep work I have done recently was statting up a few different groups that the PCs have been interacting with.  I first come up with the leaders of the group and write a sentence or two describing their personalities and motivations.  Then I stat up a sample member of the group, a tough member of the group, and make a few notes about different weapons or armor that I can use to make members of the group seem unique (for instance, one Warangutan might be wielding a plasma rifle and wearing flak armor, while another is clad in plasteel armor and is carrying a rocket launcher and a vibra-dagger).  When statting up the typical faction members, I write down a range of HP (50-80 for your average Warangutan) so that I can pick a number in the range whenever an individual is encountered.

One amazing thing about using factions is that once you place them in your campaign world, they just keep on surprising you with all the things they do.  It is very much like getting to watch your world come to life before your eyes.  Knowing what the goals of the faction are and the personality of its leaders means that you should have a good idea of what they are doing when the PCs aren't looking.  For instance, when the PCs in my campaign left the military complex in the western swamp, they for all intents and purposes forgot about the warring groups of War Chimps and Warangutans that they had inadvertently set free from the level they had been trapped in for centuries.  While the PCs spent a few weeks out in the desert trying to prevent the Knights of Genetic Purity (another faction in play) from gaining access to nuclear missiles, the War Chimps left the complex and took over a section of the swamp centered around the complex, while the Warangutans focused on seizing control of the complex itself and the tunnels that lead away from it far underground.  This brought the Warangutans into conflict with the Badders, who the PCs had left with the codes to unlock the doors into the lowest level of the complex so the Badders could scavenge scrap metal from the ruined vehicles in the hangar to offer to Glargorion.

In the middle of the PCs adventures in the desert, the now deceased Logan teleported back to the hangar level to look for material to repair the parties hovercraft with - while there, he saw a pile of Badder corpses and the door leading into the tunnel that accessed the Badder warrens standing wide open.  So when the party returned from the desert, they decided that they had to assist the Badders and somehow thwart the militaristic apes that they had unwittingly unleashed on the area.  Two sessions later, and it looks like I can mine this particular little conflict for quite a few more sessions as the PCs have been coming up with one crazy idea after another, trying trickery and diplomacy to pit the Knights of Genetic Purity against both factions of apes, attempting to ally with both factions of apes against the other and, at the end of last session, it looked like they were moving towards trying to get the Ooh Oh Monks involved in this affair as well.  This tickles me pink, because the Ooh Oh Monks are one of the original factions that I set up at the very beginning of the game, and so far the PCs have been content to completely ignore them (in part because Dataan escaped from servitude to the Monks and is more than a little afraid that they may reformat his CPU and put him back to work processing data should he ever run into them again).  My next post will detail some of the crazy antics this little set up has led the party to attempt; the last two sessions have been wild, woolly, a little disturbing and tons of fun.

Next Post:  The Party shoots a snuff movie and meets a Terminator!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dark Sun Monsters in the Mutant Future

I have been converting a lot of Dark Sun monsters with psionic abilities to use in my Mutant Future campaign, and have found the conversion to be very easy - I even did it on the fly during the last session, with successful results.  Dark Sun monsters are perfect for Mutant Future because for the most part they look like mutant freakazoids to begin with, and psionic abilities are really just mental mutations going by a different name.  When my PCs headed out into the eastern desert a while back I grabbed some Dark Sun monster manuals, my copy of the 2e Psionics Handbook and spent a half hour making notes on possible encounters.

The creature that I converted on the fly was a Red Silt Horror from the Dark Sun Monstrous Compendium Appendix II (a really cool if lesser known monster book, illustrated all in color by Thomas Baxa who did, for the most part, a great job).

  I beefed it up considerably to make it a challenge for my heavily armed PCs - the Dark Sun version has 8 HD and a 12' body, I made mine roughly 30 HD (180 HP) with a 30' body.  I had it lurking, antlion style, in the sand.

The Red Silt Horror, according to the notes in the book, uses its ESP to discover what its intended victim desires most, then uses False Sensory Input to create a complete illusory image of the desired object in the victim's mind.  It also possesses the abilities of Attraction (just what it sounds like, creates an uncontrollable desire in the victim to approach the desired object), Repugnance (pretty much the opposite of Attraction, except the victim also wants to destroy the object) and Psionic Blast (save vs. death or lose 80% of remaining HP in the victims mind!).

What I have done when converting psionic abilities to mutations is to ignore the PSP cost of an ability - I usually just make it an at will ability, unless it is particularly powerful and the original monster only had enough PSPs to use it once, then I make it a daily power.  Then I assign or roll a willpower score for the creature and use standard mental attack procedure from Mutant Future.

In this case, the Red Silt Horror used its abilities to lure the pilot of the hovercraft into its sand pit.  This made for some interesting role playing as only the pilot of the hovercraft saw the incredibly inviting oasis, while everyone else saw the hovercraft slowing down and turning towards a sand pit.  When Dataan wrestled Beyonce Chai out of the pilot's chair and attempted to drive away, he in turn experienced the mental abilities of the Silt Horror (Dataan has a pitifully low willpower).  I had some fun with describing what exactly Beyonce and then Dataan saw out in the desert that made them want to stop the hovercraft and investigate - suffice it to say that I tailored it carefully to each player's desires, and in the case of Dataan and his player Carter, that made for some pretty hilarious moments.

In any case, soon the hovercraft was teetering on the edge of the sand pit and only  the extremely quick thinking of Bozko the shape-shifting plant (riding behind the hovercraft in the party's jeep) saved it from slipping down straight into the gaping maw of the waiting desert behemoth.  Bozko wrapped some tough fibrous roots around the jeep's tow hitch, made most of his body into a bow of sorts, strung with a vine, and made a small part of his body into an arrow attached with a thin fibrous cord to the rest of his body.  He rolled an attack roll to shoot his body-arrow at the hovercraft, and as it flew he spooled more and more of his body into the trailing cord.

Last session marked the first appearance of Senor Carter's new d30, and I happily proclaimed us proud members of the Order of the d30.  For the uninitiated, that means that each participant in the session (your humble Mutant Lord included) gets to substitute the d30 for any one die in any dice roll, once per session.  Bozko grabbed the d30, and rolled something ridiculous like a 28 on his attack roll.  I ruled that not only did he hit the hovercraft, he nailed its tow hitch attachment, so he turned his arrow into a loop of vine, grabbed the tow hitch, and poured the rest of his body mass into strengthening the vine-y rope that now linked the Jeep and the hovercraft.  Logan, driving the jeep, put something on the gas pedal to keep it pulling the hovercraft out of the pit while he teleported into the fray that was just beginning.

The Silt Horror, realizing that its dinner was no longer sliding down towards its waiting gullet, erupted fully out of the sand and revealed its 8 writhing tentacles as it grappled at the hovercraft.  Logan, arriving in the back of the hovercraft, grabbed his four-barreled  missile launcher and ran to the front.  Just as he opened the cockpit and put the missile launcher to his shoulder, the Silt Horror hit him with three tentacles and grabbed the hovercraft with 4 more.  Undeterred, Logan took his last action as a living mutant - firing three missiles directly into the horrific beast (Logan has a mutation that allows him to take an extra attack a round, and also gained an extra attack from leveling up, so he gets to take a lot of attacks!).  Two of the missiles hit, enveloping almost the entire hovercraft in the radius of the explosion (Logan may not have thoroughly thought this course of action through), instantly killing the already wounded Logan and two newly acquired slave boys (Dataan was quite upset) who were stationed at the forward guns and seriously messing up the exposed cab of the hovercraft and its other two occupants.  Feeling generous, I ruled that the PCs still in the back of the hovercraft were unaffected.

Luckily, at this point the forward guns of the hovercraft were more or less directly pointing at the Silt Horror, so the badly burned and extremely ticked off Beyonce Chai and Sage (a mutant plant, a new character played by one of the original players who has missed a bunch of sessions recently) pushed the smoldering corpses of the slave boys out of the way, grabbed the guns and let the monstrosity have it.  They both also rolled higher than a 20 on the d30, and I go with the old "a natural 20 is a double damage critical hit" house rule, so between the two of them and the damage the critter had taken from the rockets the Silt Horror was reduced to 3 HP.  It used its escape tactic (using its air jet to creat a huge could of sand) and disappeared under the sands.

Whew, what an encounter!  I should mention that the PCs chose not to follow the old road ways, but rather headed straight across the desert to save time, so I felt that they needed to run into something terrifying to remind them that cutting cross country across a Mutant Frickin' Desert is not without its perils.  Danny (Logan's player) had a back-up character already rolled up, so I told the party that their fight had been witnessed by a stranger who came up and offered to guide them around "all the other Sand Monsters"!  They gladly took him up on his offer, and we continued the session with the party's sense of fear and awe at the Mutant Future successfully restored!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Robot (homo)Sexuality

Random tables for harlots and bust size speak to the long history of PCs seeking sexual satisfaction in RPGs.  The latest example of this occurred last night as Dataan the robot tried to persuade his five newly acquired slave boys to sample his sweet, intoxicating robot man-love.  This is interesting to me in several respects - first, I believe Dataan represents the first openly gay PC in any of my campaigns, and frankly, I am a little surprised it has taken 17 years of DMing to get to this point.  I mean, it is 2000 frickin' 9, you would think that barrier would have been broken by now.  Second, I am a little taken aback by the concept of robot sexuality in general.  I don't know why, but the concept of a robot with a libido is a little disturbing to me.  Somehow, it seems like that sort of thing would be left out of the basic programming, but perhaps it is a necessary consequence of self awareness?  I will have to think about this further.  Thirdly, the mechanical aspects of robot sex are far from clear cut.  It is unclear which of the requisite tools Dataan actually possesses- we know he has a mouth (which he consistently puts to brash use over the loudspeaker of the Swamp Orca) and hands, but what other equipment is this former data entry bot packing?  As I learn more, I will probably post it here - hopefully I do not have to change my blog's G-rating!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Amazing Blown Glass Monster

I think this is a candidate for the "coolest monster ever" award.  Local artist and glass blower Hamm crafted it out of one piece of blown glass, with the exception of the tongue, white teeth, and eyeballs, which were added in separately.  I commissioned this piece as a birthday present for my girlfriend a few years ago, and I just told Hamm to "create some kind of cool monster" and left it up to him.  I am sure it was a welcome break from all the requests for custom pipes that he normally gets!

I have been waiting for a chance to sick this bad boy on my players, and I have a feeling that they may run into it very soon if they follow the course of action that they have been discussing.  Game statistics will have to wait until they actually run into it.  If anyone wants to stat this thing up for other systems besides Mutant Future, be my guest and feel free to use these images (please give a credit or link to my blog if you do so).

Nameless Alien Creature:

Campaign Timeline, Part 2 - The Second Apocalypse

During the last session my players learned quite a bit about the history of the alien invasion, and in particular the events that led to the current Mutant Future that they know and love.

April 20th, 2010 - January 7th, 2151 - These years marked a struggle for survival by the remaining civilian population and a similarly futile struggle against the alien invaders by a resistance movement made up of a scattered handful of hidden military bases.  A long, cold nuclear winter followed the disastrous events of April 20th, 2010.  With large swathes of the Earth covered in deadly radiation and the sun hidden behind a cloud of smoke and fine particulates that cast a pallor over the land, it was extremely difficult for the isolated population pockets to eke out a subsistence living.  Temperatures plunged below freezing even in the summer, so what little fertile land remained radiation free was covered with frost bitten crops and shallow graves filled with the gaunt bodies of those who succumbed to starvation.  While the Oozyxphg for the most part went back to ignoring humanity while they proceeded to methodically strip the Earth of her resources, they did act with terrifying force whenever they uncovered one of the secret military bases that continued to search for a means to defeat the aliens.  As the years turned into decades, humankind came perilously close to extinction.  Scattered bands of hunter gatherers chased herds of elk and deer across the frosty landscape, scavenging canned goods from the eerily quiet ruins of cities rendered empty in a split second by the neutron bombs of the aliens.  However, humans are marvelously adaptive animals and soon they began to increase in numbers again.  Even though they had lost most of the knowledge of their forefathers, their innate cleverness and drive to survive stood them in good stead and a new, tribal society began to develop.

The resistance movement:  While the majority of the human survivors devolved into a stone-age level struggle for survival, the hidden military bases advanced scientific understanding in leaps and bounds by reverse engineering Oozyxphg technology.  Most of the truly brilliant scientific minds had been safely sequestered by their respective governments well before the fateful day that saw humankind brought to its knees, and these scientists feverishly worked to understand the principles behind forcefields, organic computers, wormholes, and a whole host of other alien innovations.  Soon, the force-field generating tissue utilized by the Oozies had been successfully cultured and military vehicles were outfitted with portable force-field generators.  Military robots were constructed based on the secrets gleaned from the Oozies imposing robotic suits.  Captured aliens were subjected to all manner of testing in an effort to create a biological agent effective against an alien immune system.  The foot-soldiers of the resistance chaffed under the knowledge that while they sat well fed in underground bunkers, enjoying the latest advancements in holographic technology (holodecks ain't just for Star Trek, baby!), their civilian counterparts were scrapping for their very survival on the surface.  Only the belief that they represented the best chance to defeat the alien invaders once and for all and restore humanities position of dominance on the planet through their carefully safeguarded technology kept the resistance movement going for almost 150 years.

The Oozyxphg:  During these years, the Oozies finished their major excavations for mineral wealth on land and began the long process of vaporizing the oceans and collecting its dissolved mineral bounty.  They constructed immense machines that automated this process, and the result was a drastic increase of evaporated water in the atmosphere, and consequently, increased rainfall across the world.  This eventually led to the end of the nuclear winter and, combined with the tremendous amount of greenhouse gases released in the raging fires that followed the nuclear detonations, precipitated a dramatic period of global warming.  Many low-lying areas became vast swamps as the perpetual rains generated by the alien machinery continued to fall.  Many species that had survived the alien neutron bombs and the errant nuclear armaments went extinct during the rapid climate shifts in the century following the first apocalypse.  The Oozyxphg paid no heed, continuing their single-minded pillaging of all the mineral wealth that had ever been washed out of the earth by millennia of erosion and rainfall and swept into the oceans.

January 7th, 2151 - A fleeting victory was achieved.  The biochemists in the resistance movement had finally created a biological weapon that was highly contagious, air borne, could survive for days without a host, and was nearly 100% lethal to Oozyzphg and harmless to humans.  Large quantities of the virus, codenamed FDF7, were produced and simultaneously released near a score of Oozyxphg operations.  Successful beyond even the wildest dreams of the resistance movement, FDF7 not only resulted in the rapid decimation of the Oozyxphg on Earth, it traveled through the wormholes to the Oozyxphg homeworld.  The few aliens who did not succumb to the virus were so weakened that they put up little resistance as they were hunted down and destroyed.  Earth was once again ruled by the human race.

January 7th, 2151 - June 16th, 2156 - These years marked a brief resurgence of human culture, as the resistance movement joined the civilian survivors and shared their knowledge of technology with the now primitive tribes of hunter-gatherers they found roaming the world.  Some of the long abandoned cities, which had become the subject of elaborate mythologies among the tribesmen, were repopulated.  The human population exploded as birthrates skyrocketed, driven by the suddenly abundant food sources made available by the incredible technology that the resistance movement had developed over the years.

June 16th - July 1st, 2156 - The Second Apocalypse.
Sometime around the middle of June, 2156, the FDF7 virus began to mutate rapidly.  Whether this was simply a chance occurrence or if it was a side-effect of the alien gene sequences that had been inserted into the virus is unknown, but the results were deadly.  The virus soon infected all living organisms, plant and animal, on Earth.  For most, it was fatal.  For the survivors, it had the peculiar effect of causing rapid alterations in their genome.  Strange mutations arose, and while the mutations themselves were not passed on to the offspring of the mutants, the virus was passed on from mother to child and newborn children also exhibited the bizarre mutations.  Plants, animals, and insects alike passed through the equivalent of thousands of years of evolution in several short lifetimes as the mutations caused a bewildering variety of new species to arise.  Some plants even achieved sentience, and over time, societies of mutant plants and animals came to share the Earth with mutant humans.  Only a select few incredibly healthy humans proved resistant to the mutated virus, and their descendants shared their immunity.

And that, folks, is how you get to the Mutant Future of today (hundreds of years later, of course)!


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