Sunday, September 20, 2009

General Campaign Background

As an artist, writer and musician I find it is always easiest to start with something I know well, something familiar. No matter what crazy place I end up in, there is a level of comfort and detail I can get when starting close to home that is impossible to get if I begin in the wild blue yonder. I know the Eugene/Springfield area very well, so when I decided to run a Mutant Future campaign I set the action in my backyard as it were. My players have been rambling around in the swampy ruins of what used to be west Eugene, and I set the date of the first Apocalypse to April 20th, 2010 so that I could easily improvise what they found in the ruins. While the wacky names in the following post may seem obnoxious or unnecessary, they are merely a continuation of the grand Gamma World tradition of slightly tweaking modern names; I should add that they have been well received by my players. I even received one excited phone call at work when James T. finally figured out exactly where his character was and couldn't believe that it had taken him so long to make the connection.

General Campaign Background

The characters are based in Skinny Butt, a warren-like community dug into the basalt flow that forms a small hill overlooking a bend in the Willing Mate River to the north and a vast swampland that extends to the south, east and west. Skinny Butt is composed mostly of Mutant Humans, Mutant Animals and Mutant Plants (hereafter MH, MA and MP), and is known for its tolerant attitude towards physical oddities. Until last year, a low-lying fog covered the swamp and effectively isolated Skinny Butt from the surrounding world; swarms of vampire bats roamed the swamp both night and day, under the cover of the cloaking mists (the bats’ flesh burns in the sunlight). Skinny Butt was an oasis in the middle of this deadly swamp, as the leader of the town (an ancient mutant cheetah named Grandma Dots who is at least several hundred years old) has the ability to control weather and used it to create a circle of clear skies around the hill. For hundreds of years, the mutants of Skinny Butt fished in the Willing Mate River, farmed rocky terraces carved into the side of Skinny Butt hill, and traded with the Cephalopoids who swam underneath the surface of the swamp to barter the nutritious roots and tubers of water plants that they harvested. Then, as mysteriously as the mists had descended in a long ago time scarcely remembered by even Grandma Dots, they lifted and Skinny Butt was once again in contact with the outside world. Even now, however, venturing outdoors at night is considered suicide because of the swarms of bats and their effective stunning sonar attack.

Important personages in Skinny Butt:

The government consists of a council of elders led by Grandma Dots. Particularly vital issues are put to community vote. The councilors are two elders from each of the MH, MA and MP communities:
MH - the two-headed Zzorbott Zzanderphone and emerald skinned Violet the Green
MA – Wooliandro the wise sheep-man and Chab the pithy rattlesnake
MP – mmPipsoo-uh-woo (Pipso for short, a sentient blackberry bush) and Treebeard
The town has one blacksmith, Bloxun, a 4-armed super-dense heat resistant slab of a man.
There is only one store per se (informal barter being the rule of thumb), run by Mookie Little, a 2’ tall dwarf with an uncannily keen eye and persuasive tongue. Mookie’s daughter Frita Little is something of the town bully, standing every inch of 16’ tall and tolerated because of her father’s importance to the town.
A babbling old idiot known as Skeezax is widely recognized to be the town crazy.
A winged mutant black bear named Hacker Bladwor holds the title of “Defender of the Butt”, bestowed upon a worthy warrior by the council. This title makes him responsible for the security of the settlement, and he takes this job seriously. He is authorized to raise a militia in times of trouble and has several trained underlings who act as his lieutenants.

Nearby Settlements

There are two nearby communities; a larger, walled town named Spanky Butt in the hills across the swamp to the south and a group to the east known as the Ooh-Oh Monks that inhabit a well-preserved complex of buildings on a low hill rising out of the Willing Mate River. Spanky Butt is a mostly pure-strain human community, but until recently many MH with few visible deformities lived there as well. The Ooh-Oh Monks are known as collectors of ancient technologies but little else is known about this secretive group. Rumors of communities to the north were confirmed when a trader arrived from far off Porrit Land, bringing sweet, pure water in 30 gallon containers and trading for the metal and artifacts of the Ancients that scatter the ruins which poke up here and there through the swamp.

Religion and Knowledge of the Ancients:

Lard Jeebus is the primary god worshiped in the Mutant Future. Lard Jeebus is portrayed alternately as a kind and loving (if somewhat condescending) human father, and as a terrible wrathful warrior wielding a mighty hammer and wearing a crown of living serpent vines. Lard Jeebus is closely associated with pure-strain humans but his reputation as a granter of healing blessing as well as terrible retribution makes him popular with all the residents of this scarred land. Colors: White and Brown, numbers: 0 and 7, Holy Day: Soond (days of the week are Soond, Moond, Toond, Woond, Thoond, Froond and Satoond)

Beetzel Bub is the next most commonly invoked deity, a terrifying figure portrayed as a three headed giant fly with sword-like bristles protruding from his bulbous body. Beetzel Bub is thought to cause mutations and is both feared and worshiped for this attribute. Some people whisper that Beetzel Bub and Lard Jeebus are in truth but two different aspects of a powerful universal godhead known only as New Clear. This view is considered heretical by most, and openly speaking of it could be dangerous if a devout follower of Lard Jeebus or Beetzel Bub hears it. Colors: Green and Black, numbers: 6 and 9, Holy Day: Froond

Intur Netz is an ancient diety worshipped by the Ooh-Oh Monks and the tribal communities in the Eastern Desert. A god of knowledge, Intur Netz is something of an oracular figure. Highly trained specialist priests interface with strange technological boxes to ask questions of the old god.

Other minor deities abound, mostly ancestral spirits and totemic gods associated with particular families or areas. These will not be mentioned here, as they vary from place to place and family to family. Some cults have sprang up around particularly powerful mutants as well who make claims to godhood.

Knowledge of the past is fragmentary and often purely speculative. That the world was not always covered in patches of radiation and roamed by strange mutants is self-evident by the ever-present ruins of the Ancients. Who these people were, how they erected such monumental edifices and why they disappeared are mostly unknown. Some say that the pure humans brought the collapse upon themselves with their obsession with technology. Others maintain that Lard Jeebus brought down his hammer because he was tired of being worshiped by only one race.

1 comment:

  1. My wife and I had a good laugh over your campaign cosmology. We agree it demands a special holiday scenario once the appropriate season is upon us. :)



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