Monday, October 26, 2009

Bestiary part the third - Alien Critters

I mentioned in my last post that when the choking alien atmosphere was filling the complex, only robots and alien creatures were moving around.  Here are two of the alien creatures the party encountered.  Please check out this amazing series of posts at by DMH, he created the Hell Slug and has made literally hundreds if not thousands of creatures for Mutant Future!  Thanks, DMH!

Gas Jelly:

These floating monstrosities are native to the homeworld of the Oozyxphg.  Gas Jellies resemble the jelly fish of earth, but are filled with buoyant gases which enable them to float in the air.  They direct themselves with jet blasts squeezed from special cavities that ring their body. They are capable of generating intense electrical pulses that are transmitted through their tendrils to shock and stun unsuspecting prey.  Gas Jellies spend much of their time in a dormant state, nearly invisible in the thick atmosphere, drifting along dangling their 50' long tendrils just above the ground.  When aroused by the presence of prey (they can sense electromagnetic fields) bright green and blue lights course through the center of their body, indicating the build up of electric charge.  Like many other creatures from their planet the Gas Jellies reproduce asexually, splitting into two smaller Jellies when they reach the upper limit of their size.  They are solitary hunters but on occasion congregate together in great numbers to exchange eerily beautiful displays of rippling light.  Despite their potentially lethal tentacles, the most dangerous thing about a Gas Jelly is the tremendous explosion that can result from overheating their hydrogen filled body.

Number Encountered: Solitary or 10d10 congregation
Movement: 120'
Armor Class: 7 (body), 5 (tendrils)
Hit Dice: 10 (body), each tendril has 10 HP
Tendrils: A Gas Jelly has 4d6 tendrils

Attacks: 1/2 the total number of remaining tendrils (rounded up) may attack in any given round.

Damage: 1d10 electrical shock damage and if three or more tendrils hit a single target in a round, the target is grappled and takes automatic damage from each grappling tendril until a strength check at a -2 penalty is made to escape or the grappling tendrils are destroyed.  During the duration of the grapple the Gas Jelly gets +2 to hit the grappled character and each subsequent tendril that hits is considered to be grappling the character as well for purposes of automatic grappling damage in subsequent rounds.

Save: L5
Morale: Fearless
Hoard Class: None

Special:  The Gas Jelly's body is 30' in diameter and is mostly filled with hydrogen.  Every time the body is hit with a laser, fire, bullet, plasma blast, or any other form of attack that might cause it to explode, there is a 15% chance of a massive explosion resulting.  If the Gas Jelly is killed with such an attack, the chance of explosion rises to 50%.  Those within 60' of the explosion take 20d6 damage, between 60' and 100' take 15d6 damage, between 100' and 300' take 10d6 damage, and within 300' to 1000' take 5d6 damage from the force of the blast - a save vs. Energy Attacks halves this damage.  Every time a Gas Jelly consumes a creature of medium size, it gains 1d8 HP (1d4 for a creature of small size or 1d12 for a creature of large size).  When the Gas Jelly reaches 80 HP it fissions into two 40 HP Gas Jellies which go their separate ways.

Hell Slug (created by DMH and posted at; my presentation of this creature here is merely in the interest of illustrating the monsters that the party found lurking in the alien mist, and is not in any way a challenge to DMH's ownership of the rights to said monster.  I will remove it at the author's request)

No. Enc. 1 (10)
Movement 30' (10')
AC 4
HD 6
Attacks 1 (tentacles)
Damage 2d4
Save L3
Morale 12
Hoard Class none

Made of strange muscle fibers, hell slugs are aliens (it is not know if they are from another planet or universe). The slug is 2' long and very fast for its size. It uses 4 tentacles on its head to rip and crush prey. The name comes from its defensive ability- a 10' diameter cloud of acid that inflicts 3d6 points of damage per round. As the slug travels, it leaves a melted landscape behind.

Gas Jellies in play:

The party has encountered three gas jellies.  The first time they just saw barely visible tentacles dangling through the mist and the dim outline of a huge shape floating above... and they ran.

The next time they ran into one of these guys, it was at the tail end of a long session of exploration in the complex that had not involved any combat.  Dataan the robot was feeling ornery and, despite being a complete coward in most situations, decided that he felt safe enough blowing the thing up from a distance and tried out his new plasma rifle on it.  I described the giant gaseous body expanding with each blast, and mentioned how the area that got hit glowed as if superheated before slowly cooling after each shot.  He got extremely lucky and killed the thing without setting of an explosion and never picked up on my warnings.

This may have contributed to what happened the following session, when Danny (who is now playing Logan the teleporting shrinking man) was playing a character named Rhaco who could fly at a ridiculous speed.  He was zooming through the mists in the wide open hangar level, scouting around looking for any vehicles that did not seem too badly damaged.  He literally flew straight into a gas jelly and in the ensuing tussle he blasted it with a plasma rifle one too many times (again ignoring the ominous warning signs that I was making sure to give him with each shot).  It blew up in his face, and he barely survived after making his save.  The explosion also caught several other party members in its blast radius, and the damage that Ramses the goat headed man took led to his death later that session (along with Rhaco, may they rest in pieces... tiny, tiny pieces, thanks to a grenade lobbed by a Deathbot, coming soon to a Bestiary post near you!).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mutant Future - Rules Lite or Not Enough Rules?

I love the random character generation which yields such interesting and unplanned results, I love the B/X ruleset as reincarnated in the form of Labyrinth Lord (which Mutant Future uses as its basic framework), and I love post-apocalyptic sci-fi; in short, I love Mutant Future and think it is a near perfect game. I am marshaling my thoughts in preparation for writing a Mutant Future review for RPG.NET, and I know the main thing that the typical RPG.NET reader will think is that Mutant Future does not have enough rules.  I am not just talking about a lack of specialized combat options or skills (which I do not even see as a lack).  Not everything is spelled out, especially when it comes to the effects of mutations.  A DM (excuse me, a Mutant Lord) needs to be able to think on his or her feet and come up with rulings on the spot to keep play moving forward.

One example among many that have come up in play in my campaign: Teleporting.  The text of the mental mutation "Teleport" reads,
"This ability allows the mutant to disappear from one location and appear in a location up to 20 miles distant without physically crossing the intervening space.  If the mutant has never been to the location he is teleporting to or is only slightly familiar it (ML's discretion) he has a 25% chance of suffering 10d6 damage upon arrival as he teleports into a space occupied by another object, or misjudges some aspect of the location.  If he is intimately familiar with his destination or has spent 2d4 hours conjuring an image of the location in his mind, he can teleport safely."
Seems straight forward enough, right?  This little paragraph has necessitated a whole host of rulings and house rules in play.  Does only the mutant himself teleport, or can he transport his clothing and gear with him? If he can teleport with gear, how much weight can he teleport with?  If he can carry fifty pounds of gear, what happens when he wraps his arms around the torso of a suit of powered armor worn by an opponent and attempts to teleport away with a section of the suit?  Can he carry living matter with him?  Does a location that the teleporter can see count as a location that he has been?  Is there a practical limit on how many times this ability can be used in a day - in other words, could the mutant blink in and out of existence, traveling 20 miles at a pop, teleporting a mile or two up in the air and teleporting again as he begins to fall, and in that fashion cover thousands of miles in an hour?  If the mutant has a mutation or ability gained from leveling up that grants extra attacks in a round, can he teleport and then make an attack in the same round?

While I have had no problem adjudicating these and other issues that have arisen with practically every mutation that my players have, I could see how some people might think that the game was incomplete because it does not explicitly address all the possible ramifications of the rules.

I guess this whole thing comes down to the role of the referee in a role playing game.  If you are of the opinion that the rules are there to create a level playing field, to prevent the adversarial DM from taking advantage of the players, and likewise to spell out every action that it is possible for a player to take, then you are not going to like Mutant Future (or OD&D, or B/X, or Labyrinth Lord).  If the group is okay with giving the referee the final say on rules interpretation and the referee has the trust of the players, then you may well find such rules lite games amazingly liberating.  I have slogged through combats that took hours in 3e and I am currently playing in a 4e campaign - while I personally enjoy the tactical thinking that the 4e rules encourage in combat, I have to say that far more interesting things happen during combat in my Mutant Future campaign precisely because there are very few rules governing what the players can do.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Megadungeon in the Mutant Future part two

It may seem a little presumptuous to call my ancient military complex a megadungeon.  At the present, I think it only has about a hundred, maybe 150 rooms that the players know about- surely this is too small to qualify?  The key to that statement are the words "at the present".  There is plenty of room to expand, and I have already planted the seeds in the players' heads that will eventually lead to the exploration of three more large areas.  And as play continues, I am sure I will plant more seeds and more areas will be discovered.  As it is, the first time the players ran through the complex they spent several sessions searching for the gold key cards that would allow them to access some of the sealed off areas.  When they finally did find them, they ended up getting chased away by some Warangutans and haven't returned yet.  This means that after six straight four to six hour sessions, the players still have only scratched the surface of the complex.  The door temptingly labeled "Alien Weapons Division" is still unopened!  Likewise, the top secret area that they learned about in Julius Corple's papers is still virgin territory (an upcoming post will detail the tragic story of Julius Corple, brilliant roboticist and the unwitting cause of the downfall of the military complex at the hands of the Oozyxphg).  The players turned tail and ran from one of the largest levels of the complex before they had even really began to explore it, because they realized it was the home to two groups of warring, possibly partially robotic killer apes (think Planet of the Apes meets Vietnam with a little bit of Robocop thrown in and you have an idea of what that level was like).  There are several long tunnels leading from the lowest hanger level, one of which evidently leads up to the swamp because it was flooded and nearly drowned the players when they opened it; it took some pretty heroic and nearly self sacrificial actions from two players to save the rest of the party from a watery grave.  However, the other tunnel leads to the labyrinthine science complexes underneath the old university inhabited by the Ooh Oh Monks, and offshoots lead to places as yet unknown to the players.  Only a handful of the officers' and scientists' quarters have been explored, as the players mostly focused on those that they suspected might contain a gold key card.  All in all, the campaign could easily go on for a long long time in this one network of underground chambers, and that makes it a megadungeon in my book.

One of the things that James over at Grognardia identifies as a key feature of a classic megadungeon is that it is dynamic and changes in response to the players.  My little complex is an excellent example of this; play began with it flooded with poisonous gasses, so besides the odd alien critters that had come through the portal from the Oozyxphgian homeworld, it was mostly robots that the party had to deal with.  However, these robots were not sitting idly by waiting to be discovered.  The still active security cameras sweeping the corridors detected the party's movement despite some interesting efforts to circumvent them, and a team of robotic defenders was dispatched.

When the party eventually shut the gas off, the apes and other denizens who had been trapped in self-contained areas of the complex that the gas had not been able to reach soon emerged and this really changed the dynamic of the area.  As the party was trying to make it to the armory that they had seen on a building schematic in a computer they hacked into, they realized that they had been beaten there by the War Chimps.  They watched through a camera feed with a mixture of curiosity and horror as the War Chimps easily handled several Scorpions and took control of the coveted armory.

I have always been a big fan of moving monsters around the dungeon; it prevents complacency by the PCs and it makes the dungeon feel "alive".  The most recent example of this from my campaign occurred during the last session.  The party has been out in the eastern desert involved in some tricky diplomacy in an effort to prevent the Knights of Genetic Purity from gaining access to nuclear weapons controlled by three oft-times warring desert tribes.  During the last session, the Swamp Orca (the party's hovercraft, purloined from the hangar level of the megadungeon and outfitted with Glarg-ore armor courtesy of the Badder master smiths) took some serious damage and was on the verge of a total breakdown.  The skirt that contained the cushion of air had been badly ripped, so Logan the incredible teleporting shrinking man teleported back to the hangar level to scavenge sections from the skirts of the other ruined hovercrafts that they had left behind.  When he arrived, he noticed that the level was being patrolled by the Warangutans.  He also noticed that the massive blast door which sealed the hangar off from the tunnels leading to the Ooh Oh Monks and the Badders' tunnels was wide open, and a large pile of Badder corpses was stacked near the tunnel mouth.  The party correctly deduced that the Badders (who the party had given the code to open the door) had attempted to scavenge more of the ruined vehicles in the hangar to offer as scrap metal to their lord Glargorion and had run into the Warangutans.  As several of the party members were quite taken with the great worm god (Dataan has been spreading the gospel of Glargorion wherever he goes) and the entire party was quite grateful to the Badders for their assistance in crafting Glarg-ore weapons and armor for them, the last session ended with talk of returning to the military complex to deal with the Warangutans.  Having things occur in the absence of the party is a useful tool, and one that greatly adds to immersion in a game world.

Stay tuned for more lessons from the megadungeon, including the tragic tale of Julius Corple!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Megadungeon in the Mutant Future

James had a thought provoking post about megadungeons over at Grognardia this afternoon, and it made me want to share a little about my own post-apocalyptic megadungeon.  This first post will be a session recap of the first expedition into the megadungeon, and I plan subsequent posts detailing the party's later (and much more thorough) explorations as well as a "behind the screen" look at how I run a megadungeon (sneak preview: add 1 part map, 1 part critter encounter list, a dash of preparation in the form of quick notes on areas, and a whole lot of winging it and that is Grandma Nashes Old Fashioned Megadungeon recipe!).

In the first few sessions of my campaign I had thrown out a bunch of possible plot hooks to see what the players wanted to bite at.  One involved a group of cephalopoid traders showing up in Spanky Butt with a ton of strange artifacts and a story about exploring a building to the west in the swamp, causing a cave in, and releasing an outpouring of thick, hot mist.  As the swamp used to be covered night and day in a similar mist, allowing the dreaded vampire bats to fly around at all hours, the players were quite keen to get to the bottom of this and "turn off the mist" as they put it.

So I cobbled together a couple maps of two high rise buildings that I snagged on Google image search, sunk them into the earth, drew connecting passages between the two and called them an ancient military complex.  This worked quite well as the basis for my megadungeon, as both floorplans allowed for choice in exploration both within a level and between levels.  I drew several expansions off the sides of the buildings (being underground, I was not constrained by the footprint of the ground floor as an actual high rise building is).  Multiple stairwells and elevator shafts connected the levels, and it was out of one of the open elevator shafts that the mists were pouring.  I made a few quick notes about the general theme of each level, wrote down a few reminders to myself (effects of prolonged exposure to the "mist", which was really the noxious atmosphere of the Oozyxphgian homeworld pouring out of an open portal in the lowest level, visibility in the mist, where the active security cameras were and what sort of security robots were still working), and went to the next session ready to wing it.  I had sketchily keyed the top level and the rooms directly around each entrance to the second level.

Well, the best laid plans of mice and Mutant Lords, as they say.  The players were totally freaked out by the cameras tracking their movements and the oppressive mists and they ran through the first level in the direction that they could feel the mists coming from and came to the open elevator shaft.  They tossed some debris in and realized they were standing in front of a drop of at least several hundred feet (actually more like 500' to the bottom!).  I described the metallic clickety clack of the spider bots that were closing in on them and the heavier thud thud thud of the scorpion's armored legs following close behind.  And thats when the party surprised me, as they are wont to do.  Bozko the giant shapeshifting mutant plant altered his form to completely fill the elevator shaft and I told him that the mist was pressurized and began lifting him up toward the top of the shaft.  He changed his form slightly to allow the mist to stream through several holes in his body and told the rest of the group to climb on top of him.  He enlarged the holes enough to decrease the pressure to the point that he began descending the shaft.  They ignored all the side exits and went straight to the bottom, all the way down to the 7th level, ignoring everything that I had prepared.  Good thing I had made a few notes on the main themes of each level!

I knew that they had just emerged in a vast hangar, filled with the twisted wreckage of old military vehicles of all descriptions.  The mist was incredibly thick down there, as the atmospheric pressure of the Oozxyphgian homeworld is quite a bit greater than that of earth, so the fumes were being pushed through the portal by the crushing weight of an alien atmosphere.  As I described the fused remains of the tanks and unmanned drones  emerging from the choking fog that they were walking through, I also told them that they could hear something clattering down the sides of the elevator shaft above them.  They fought against the streaming mist and made their way to its origin, two peculiar poles of an unknown metallic composition, between which a shimmering gate opened into an alien landscape.  The air breathers in the party were making saves every minute of game time or taking damage, and were slowly dying.  As they tried to figure out how to shut off the gate, the spiderbots and scorpion made their appearance and I thought I might have a TPK on my hands.  Well, it wasn't my fault they had chosen to descend all the way to the near airless depths when they could have fought the robots on their own terms 500' above!  Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide.

Cue party surprising Mutant Lord, part two.  Millard Fillmore, the intrepid swamp trapper, mutant human and NOT the 13th president of the United States despite many vociferous claims to the contrary, has a light-controlling mutation which he used to displace the laser targeting dots the spiderbots were shining on the party back onto one of the spiderbots.  The scorpion launched some missiles, and most of the spiderbots were vaporized.  Unfortunately, some of the party was caught in the radius of the explosion and also suffered some near fatal damage.  Meanwhile, the two technologically inclined party members were hard at work messing with the gate.  They figured out that the seemingly seamless pillars actually were composed of 8 rotating sections, each of which clicked into 8 different positions as they were rotated (that was complete improv on my part, I had not got as far as figuring out how the portal worked or how to turn it off!).  They began twisting the sections and observing the results as the rest of the party tried to hold off the robots.  Someone had the bright idea of hiding on the far side of the gate (which was one sided - that is the mist only poured out of one surface of it and from the far side it simply appeared as a rippling obstruction of space) while Millard projected the image of the party in front of the gate so that the fire of the scorpion would go through the gate and explode harmlessly in an alien world.  This worked on the scorpion, but the remaining spiderbots had much too sophisticated sensory equipment to be fooled for long.

In the meantime, however, I had been having the two tech-heads make tech rolls to see how much progress they were making on the gate.  I had decided on the spot to start out with a relatively difficult benchmark and every roll above that would cause the gate to expand, while rolls below it would cause the gate to contract.  Each roll that caused a contraction would raise the benchmark, making it progressively easier to shut it down - I reasoned that since they were observing the effect each manipulation of the pillar had on the gate, it would be easy to tell what was working and what wasn't.  As the spiderbots were making their way around the gate and picking up the actual position of the party, the players managed to shrink the gate considerably with several very low rolls.  The spiderbots targeted the party using their vibration sensors, and signalled their position to the scorpion.  Just as the scorpion began to come around the portal to unload on the party, the tech guys rolled a near critical failure.  I think they got a 98 on a d100, or something like that; in any case, the portal expanded dramatically and swallowed the scorpion up in its expansion.  Their next roll was ridiculously successful, a 3 on d100 minus their combined bonuses put it at something like -20.  I ruled that they had closed the portal, trapping the scorpion on the other side.  It just seemed too dramatic and serendipitous an ending to pass up.  The remaining spiderbots quickly high tailed it, lacking any firepower of their own.

Most of the party was near death and everyone except Dataan the robot (who had actually not revealed to the party yet that he was a robot, so he was pretending to be suffering along with the rest of them) and Bozko the plant were about to succumb to the poisonous gases that still filled the chamber.  They went back to the elevator shaft and quickly realized that without the atmospheric pressure pushing the mist, there was nothing to propel them up the shaft!  They were 700' below ground and had to start up a stairwell to get out the hard way...

And that is how the party truly began the exploration of my megadungeon, from the lowest level up!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bestiary part the second - Robots and Apes

In this second installment of my Mutant Future bestiary, I will present another military robot developed by the resistance using alien technology, as well as two of the genetically engineered ape super soldiers that the party encountered in the ruins of the military complex they spent several sessions exploring.

Illustrations are still in the works for these entries; I will add them as soon as I finish them up.

MR1200 "Jumping Jack"

This military robot represented the pinnacle of human understanding of Oozyxphgian technology.  Utilizing force-field generation, repulsor beams, and an organic computer "brain" capable of telepathically contacting nearby sentient organisms and hijacking control of their bodies, the Jumping Jacks were ideal security bots for sensitive areas that could ill afford to be strafed with the kind of explosive firepower that earlier security bots were equipped with.  They resemble a large iron ball from which protrude four rods tipped with repulsor disks.  These four rods are arrayed in similar fashion to the points of a caltrop so that when the Jumping Jack is at rest it sits on three of the rods with the fourth pointing straight up into the air.

They were the first robots to be built with no electronic circuitry at all, instead relying entirely on the artificial neural network and organic computers copied from the Oozies.  They use a form of sonar (70' range) to sense their surroundings and also use their telepathic ability to detect the presence of sentient beings.  They are incredibly maneuverable, capable of changing directions almost instantly by virtue of their four opposed repulsor beams. While utilizing their telepathic possession ability, they enter "defensive mode", spinning and bouncing around so rapidly in place that it is nearly impossible to hit them.  While they are quite smart in their own way, most Jumping Jacks were given a set of directives at creation that they cannot override - the human scientists responsible for reverse engineering the alien technology never fully understood the process of "programming" the organic computers, so these directives must be relatively simple (guard this chamber and attack anyone who does not present a gold key card, for instance).  Within the bounds prescribed by these directives, the Jumping Jacks demonstrate amazing creativity and a keen mind for tactical maneuvers.  Over the centuries, some have managed to break free from their directives and it is possible that there are rogue Jumping Jacks wandering the land, following their own inscrutable whimsy.  Jumping Jacks need no food or fuel, subsisting on the nutrients provided by the wormhole generating tissues inside their metal shell (in fact, a Jumping Jack may have a much larger physical body than one might imagine, but the bulk of it resides far away on an alien planet, soaking in a nutrient rich environment and transmitting the energy gathered back to its metal-shelled brain through these tiny wormholes).

HD:10 (50 HP)
Movement: 240' (repulsors allow it to fly up to 40' in the air)
AC: 2 (or -2 in defensive mode,see below)
Forcefield: Ignore the first 25 damage each round (ignore the first 40 damage each round in defensive mode)

Attacks:  4 repulsor blasts (range 40'), or possession (range 50', requires a successful mental attack roll)

Damage: repulsor blast: 2d6 and pushes target backwards 2d20' - if this causes the target to slam into an obstacle, they take 1d6 more damage for every 5' traveled.

Save: L8
Mutations (these are actually innate properties of the particular tissue cultured for use as organic computers in the Jumping Jacks):  Neural Telepathy, Possession

Special:  defensive mode - the Jumping Jack diverts energy from the repulsors to the force field, increasing its strength, and begins spinning and hopping wildly in place to make it extremely difficult to land a solid hit.  No attacks can be made while in defensive mode, but the Jumping Jack can maintain a possession.

The Ultrasimianus Project:

The Ultrasimianus project was an attempt by the resistance movement to genetically engineer supersoldiers using the great apes as a starting point.  After achieving a great deal of success in creating apes that were both incredibly strong and as smart as the average human, the resistance went farther by grafting robotic implants into the skulls of the apes, replacing one eye with a sophisticated camera directly connected to the brain.  These implants also allowed the resistance scientists to control their experimental soldiers by remotely regulating bodily functions such as heart rate, adrenaline output, etc.  A genetic aptitude and predisposition for combat was a primary goal of the genetic engineering; in this regard, the project was an unqualified success.  Some populations of these apes have survived; most no longer have the robotic implants, but some have persisted for centuries in the military complexes where they were created, and if the automated equipment of the facility is intact, apes that enter the surgery chambers could still be outfitted with the robotic sensory device.

Ultrasimianus Pan Troglodyte (War Chimp)

War Chimps are quite intelligent and always display an innate understanding of tactics and strategy in combat. They will attempt to engage when the conditions favor them, and will often use their superior climbing abilities to ambush foes when they least expect it.  However, once injured they tend to abandon strategy and enter a terrifying frenzy, wading in to hand to hand combat without fear of death.  Unlike an ordinary chimpanzee, the War Chimps are capable of fully articulate human speech and most speak and understand a human language in addition to having a complicated sign language for silent communication between war band members during an attack.

Number Encountered: 3d6+2 (war band)
Movement: 180' (climb 120')
HD: 13
AC: 5 (unarmored, reflecting -2 from tough hide and -2 from dexterity bonus - most war bands wear armor)

Attacks: 2 (blows from arms, legs or weapon - all melee attacks at +5 to hit, all ranged attacks at +2)

Damage: 1d8+5 or by weapon+5

Save: L12

All adult War Chimps have at least a 22 Strength and a 16 Dexterity.  Intelligence and Willpower should be determined as normal with a roll of 3d6.

Most war bands will be led by an alpha male with 18 HD and 24 Strength (+6 to hit and damage) who saves as a level 13 monster.

Special:  If a War Chimp is outfitted with a robotic implant, it gets an additional +2 to hit on all attacks, and the camera acts as a 16 X telescope and 64 X microscope, seeing into the infrared spectrum (heat vision)  and allowing the War Chimp to operate in low light situations (night vision).

Ultrasimianus Pongo Pygmaeus (Warangutan)

Warangutans tend to operate in smaller bands than the War Chimps.  They are just as intelligent and always display an innate understanding of tactics and strategy in combat. They will attempt to engage when the conditions favor them, and will often use their superior climbing abilities to ambush foes when they least expect it.  They are highly disciplined fighters and will maintain their ranks and follow orders even unto death.  Unlike an ordinary orangutan, the Warangutans are capable of fully articulate human speech and most speak and understand a human language in addition to having a complicated sign language for silent communication between war band members during an attack.

Number Encountered: 1d8+3 (war band)
Movement: 180' (climb 130', brachiation 200')
HD: 15
AC: 6 (unarmored, reflecting -2 from tough hide and -1 from dexterity bonus - most war bands wear armor)

Attacks: 2 (blows from arms, legs or weapon - all melee attacks at +6 to hit, all ranged attacks at +1)

Damage: 1d10+6 or by weapon+6

Save: L13

All adult Warangutans have at least a 24 Strength and a 14 Dexterity.  Intelligence and Willpower should be determined as normal with a roll of 3d6.

Most war bands will be led by an alpha male with 20 HD and 26 Strength (+7 to hit and damage) who saves as a level 14 monster.

Special:  If a Warangutan is outfitted with a robotic implant, it gets an additional +2 to hit on all attacks, and the camera acts as a 16 X telescope and 64 X microscope, seeing into the infrared spectrum (heat vision)  and allowing the Warangutan to operate in low light situations (night vision).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ride the Rocket

As promised by myself and foretold by my friend, bandmate, and player in the campaign Carter over at his blog, I will now relate the events of yesterday's session involving the nuclear missile.

When I started doing research into what exactly would happen if a nuclear missile was knocked off of its launch pad at the moment of launch, I realized that by describing it caroming around the launch chamber I had thrown science out the window.  What would have/should have happened was that the rocket would have exploded in a conventional explosion, either when the explosives detonated or when the rocket slammed into the ceiling.  There are three stages filled with rocket fuel in an ICBM like the Minuteman III that my players were dealing with, and they are not designed to withstand either an explosion or an impact with a concrete wall.

That being said, I had already goofed up and so I rolled with it.  The next most dramatic thing that I could think of was to allow the players to try to disarm the rocket after it had launched.  I did discover in my research that it is next to impossible to accidentally detonate the nuclear warheads carried by such a rocket; in fact, I found an account of exactly what happened when one of these bad boys exploded inside the silo and the warheads were hurled hundreds of feet by the blast without going off.  Of course, my players probably did not know that and their characters certainly would not have, so it was no surprise to me that several of the players jumped down on top of the rocket and started trying to cut into it with their vibra-knifes.  I took this opportunity to have the rocket bounce back into the launch shaft and take off out of the silo, picking up Bozko the mutant plant who had been waiting in the form of a net of vines over the opening of the silo above.

What ensued was a wild and wacky ride on the missile.  If Bozko had not slid down and altered his form to become a giant fibrous safety belt strapping Dataan the robot and Logan the amazing teleporting shrinking man onto the rocket, they would certainly have stood no chance of hanging on... a Minuteman III ICBM can reach up to 15,000 MPH at top speed!  In the minute or so that it took them to cut off the shroud that covers the warheads, they were hundreds of miles away and had left the breathable atmosphere behind, prompting Logan to teleport away leaving Bozko and Dataan (neither of whom need to breath oxygen) to their work.  Without the aerodynamic shroud in place, the top of the missile began to deform and bulge outward even in the super thin atmosphere that they were hurtling through, and this made it easier to separate the warheads from the missile and drop them out over the desert of northern Oregon/Southeast Washington.  Dataan and Bozko glided over as far as they could from their impressive elevation of nearly 90 miles, but still ended up well over a hundred miles from where they began.

The rest of the session was a lot of fun, and while I do not want to go into a blow by blow report here, one other event deserves mentioning.  Toward the end of the session, Dataan was frantically trying to hack into the defense network of the silo complex while its power was still down (the complex, operating on back up power generated by solar panels, had run out of juice in the missile launch operation).  The party was generating power by using the light focusing abilities of Millard Fillmore (a mutant human, not the 13th president of the U.S. despite his player's frequent claims to the contrary) and a solar panel and routing it to the control room while leaving the rest of the complex without power.  Logan, having just finished transporting the remains of the "iron man" suit (some powered armor worn by the deceased Richard Tater of the Knights of Genetic Purity) to the cave that the party was using as a base, declared that he would teleport next to Dataan and Millard "just in case something bad happens".  He appears, newly acquired plasma pistols (also courtesy of Richard Tater) at the ready, just as Dataan rolls a near critical failure on his tech roll to hack into the computer network.  The computer locked Dataan out and alerted the only robotic defender in the area, a "jumping jack" (soon to be detailed in an upcoming post) posted by the front door, a mere fifty feet away from the control room.  It came spinning and bouncing down the spiral staircase and I called for an initiative roll.  Dataan and Millard rolled very poorly (which only made sense, as they had been immersed in their respective tasks, Dataan connected to the computer and Millard focusing light into the solar panel) while the newly arrived Logan got the jump on the jumping jack.  He blasted three direct hits and rolled well enough on the damage that if I failed all three savings throws the jumping jack would die without taking an action.  I rolled my first d20... and got a 5.  Failed save vs. energy attacks, full damage from the first blast.  Second d20... also a 5.  Third d20... another 5!  A 1 in 8000 occurrence, three straight fives on a d20, and the party was saved from a potentially deadly encounter as the jumping jacks are quite a handful.  Working until dawn, Dataan got one more tech roll and this time pulled out a brilliant success, taking full control of the computer systems and enabling the party to fulfill their promise to the desert tribes of restoring access to the great god Intur Netz.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Under a rock in a hard place.

We ended last session with most of the characters inside a missile silo.  After failing in a last ditch effort to hack into the silo's computer system and prevent the launch of a nuclear missile (armed and set to a target by the now deceased Richard Tater of the Knights of Genetic Purity), the party dropped a bunch of grenades down at the missile right before it launched.  We had already played a long and exciting session, and I decided that I needed a little time to think about what was going to happen next, so I told the players that their grenades had knocked the missile off its launch platform and described the sound of the missile caroming around the launch chamber below them.  End of session.  So of course my players have had a week to stew on the knowledge that they are hundreds of feet below ground, directly above an armed nuclear missile that may explode at any time.

After doing a little research in the meantime, I am pretty sure that I threw science out the window the second that I started describing the missile bouncing around the room instead of exploding when the grenades were dropped on it.  I am now armed with a good working knowledge of nuclear missiles (and I fervently hope that I did not end up on any FBI watchlists for my Google queries) and am ready to have fun with this situation.  I can't reveal what is going to happen (and of course, I can't predict what my players will do so I really don't know what will happen) but after tomorrow's session I am sure I will have an exciting post to make.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Knights of Genetic Purity

I have borrowed quite a few things from Gamma World for my Mutant Future campaign, and the Knights of Genetic Purity are one of those imports.  I originally included them as a somewhat random small encounter for the players; I lifted an encounter out of TSR's Famine in Far-Go module where a group of mounted Knights of Genetic Purity set an ambush near a pile of burning mutant bodies.  The encounter proved to be quite a doozy, involving a long fighting retreat by the players to make it back to a fortified position that they had cleared in the previous session, and it very nearly ended in a TPK.  I sprinkled in plenty of trash talking from the Knights, making it clear that they viewed all mutants as nothing more than dung to be scraped from their boots.

The players had such a strong reaction against the Knights that I realized I had to make them a recurring campaign element.  When the tide of battle turned and two Knights fled into the hills, the party tracked them down and captured them.  The session ended with the party returning the captured Knights to Skinny Butt so that they could be interrogated.

I spent some time between sessions coming up with what the Knights were doing in the area, and the players have been busy foiling their plans ever since.  The following information about the organization of the Knights of Genetic Purity and their plans in the Willing Mate valley was learned by the party when their captives were interrogated by Chab, one of the village Elders and a mutant rattlesnake who truly loved his role as interrogator.

Knights of Genetic Purity

Captured members: Darren Widom, Garr Margon

Symbol:  Red Square, or an unbalanced Scales of Justice


Lay Members:  People that profess agreement with the code of purity but are not active members of the Knights are known as the Redeemed.  The Knights now refer to Spanky Butt as the Redeemed City of Spanky Butt.  The Redeemed can qualify for the militia that is invariably raised in a Redeemed City, and distinguished service will earn a promotion to 1st Sword.  Pure strain humans who do not agree with the code of purity are the unredeemed, but are still held in high regard for their genetic qualities and as the only hope for a mutant-free future.

Actual members:

Swords of Purity (or just Swords):  The Swords of Purity are the rank and file soldiers of the order.  Swords are divided further into three ranks, 1st Sword, 2d Sword and 3rd Sword (the highest rank of Sword).  You get a little sword pin to put on your sleeve for each rank attained.  After 3rd sword you become a
Lance of Purity (or just Lancer):  Each company of Swords is headed by two Lancers, known as the Black Lance (subordinate) and the Red Lance (superior).  They have a color coded lance pin to show their rank, and their fighting lances are likewise color-coded.  A company of swords can be up to 50 men and as few as 10.  These are always known as a Company of the Pure and can be further subdivided in half, each half led by one of the two Lancers, the Black Lance taking the 1st Swords and the Red Lance taking the 2d and 3rd swords.
Senior Lancer: There are four Senior Lancers in Porrit Land, each commanding 2-4 Companies of the Pure.
Holy Flame: The regional commander of the Knights of Genetic Purity, the Holy Flame is in contact with chapters throughout the land.  In addition to this northwest chapter that spans what used to be Oregon, Washington and Idaho, there is a California chapter, a Colorado/four corners chapter, a Southern Chapter, a Minnesota/North Dakota/Michigan/Wisconsin chapter, and an East Coast chapter.

Outside of this military structure are the Chaplains, the evangelical “priests” of the order who fervently spread the word that only through the removal of all mutants (and intelligent mutants are considered to be by far the worst, and the biggest priority) will Lard Jeebus finally restore the world to its former grandeur, rid the planet of the scourge of radiation and see the pure strain humans returned to their rightful place as sole rulers of nature.  The Chaplains elevate particularly inspired members of the Redeemed to the position of Friar, who serve as the Chaplain’s assistants.  Worthy Friars who learn the required rituals can become chaplains in their own right.
One of the reasons the Knights spread so successfully is because the Chaplains oversee a program of education and general civic improvement.  They establish schools, improve sewage and water treatment, teach agricultural techniques like crop rotation and fertilization and have a basic knowledge of the causes of disease, so they sterilize medical equipment and have high success rates in treating basic medical problems.  This is all part of the general program of returning humans to their former elevated position.

What Darren Widom revealed:

Sorath Marogot was the Black Lance, now deceased due to the actions of the party.

Garr Margon is the Red Lance.

What Garr Margon revealed:

The Hierarchy in Porrit Land:
The Holy Flame is Tobias Groman.  The four Senior Lancers are: Dex Tinto , Joran Precore, Ziven Talus and Tenal Kyle.  Dex Tinto is Garr Margon’s immediate superior.

The Hierarchy in Spanky Butt:
 A 3rd Sword named Odium Stair has been left in charge.  If successful he will shortly be promoted to Lancer and will be in charge of creating his own Company of the Pure.  In reality, however, Chaplain Squaldorf is the true leader through sheer charisma and force of will.  He is an indomitable man, 45, balding, broad shouldered and slightly pot bellied.  His piercing blue eyes and ready smile reveal his keen intelligence and quick wit, and his ministry and ministrations (he is an expert surgeon) probably explain why the Knights were so successful, so fast in their mission.
Odium has already promoted 10 militia men to 1st sword and drills them and the militia regularly, to what end no-one is sure.  The Baron is not entirely pleased with this turn of affairs, and still maintains his own guard.  However, he was paid well by the Knights and is willing to let this happen unless it becomes obvious it is no longer in Spanky Butts best interest.

The contents of the papers that were captured with Garr Margon:
A journal of his mission.  Highlights:  Company set upon by a group of mutant beavers along the Willing Mate river after the company killed some juveniles who were out fishing.  Half the company of Knights were killed, the Lancers mounts were destroyed.  They had to use all of their grenades to escape.  Arrived in Spanky Butt, received warmly by Baron Jemmas, who is sympathetic to the cause.  Chaplain Squaldorf has great success rousing the populace to a fever-pitch of excitement.  They visited the Ooh-Oh Monks who again refused to help the Knights.  Were not able to conduct any reconnaissance of the Monks because of their spider-bots and ever present security bots.  Observed the mutant community of Skinny Butt – mix of MH, MA and MP, no real organized security, good defensive position on top of hill.
After firmly establishing the local chapter and segregating the mutant community to one corner of the walled city, establishing a strict curfew and limiting trips outside of the designated zone only for businessmen, they reluctantly accepted the local mounts (giant two-headed Grodogs) for their return journey back to Porrit.  They only rode the mounts after Chaplain Squaldorf reminded them that non-intelligent mutant animals were the least offensive of all mutant-kind, and the greater good of returning safely to Porrit far outweighed the sin of riding mutant animals.

A scroll detailing his mission: Establish the Knights in Spanky Butt.  Persuade the Monks to assist in the quest for the artifact.  To conduct reconnaissance establishing what mutant populations live in the surrounding region and the valley south of Porrit.

A scroll tube, once sealed with a red wax square: it contains a message for the Ooh-Oh monks, a mixture of pleading and threatening language:
“Please reconsider your recent refusal to assist us in our search for the relic of New Clear known only as the Bom. Remember that those who do not stand with us stand against us.  While your knowledge is legendary, no amount of knowledge can turn aside the lances of the Purest of the Pure.
Signed: Tobias Groman, Holy Flame of the Knights of Genetic Purity

A scroll tube sealed with an “O” in gold wax -
Your idle threats do not concern us.  We are masters of the Bones of Ooh and can command the knowledge of the Ancients.  Any action against us would be your last.  Confess your impurities to Intur Netz and let the cool light of his wisdom guide your way.
Signed:  His Magnificence, the Dean Doco Proffus, Flipsham Egwar

New Art

Another post completely unrelated to Mutant Future.  I just finished my second drawing for the upcoming Stonehell release that Mike over at the Society of Torch, Pole and Rope is hard at work on.  Apparently adventurers sometimes leave offerings of food for the black bear that frequents the canyon - hence the nice drumstick snack the bear is enjoying.  Save me some cheese!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bestiary part the first - Robots

Here are a couple of the robotic guardians the party ran into in the ancient military complex.  After hacking into the defense network, the party successfully reprogrammed several Spiderbots to follow their commands and have used them to great effect in subsequent adventures.  The Scorpion provided the first two character deaths in my campaign, as well as polishing off three NPCs.

MR7000 "Scorpion"

An early attempt at military robotics, the MR7000's rolled off the production lines before the force-field generating tissue utilized by the Oozyxphg was fully understood and cultivated.  As a result, the Scorpions are relatively easy to destroy (compared to the later military robots), but the considerable firepower they pack make them a deadly adversary.  Coupled with a few Spiderbots (see below) to assist with targeting, these bad boys could be your party's worst nightmare.  The body measures 3' long, with a 3 1/2' leg span.  The Scorpion has a very limited artificial intelligence and cameras and microphones in its head are its only sensory inputs.
HP:60   (10 HD)
AC: 5

Attacks: 2 mini-missiles (2 mini-missile launchers on right claw, each with 12 missiles) or 2 grenades (2 grenade launchers on right claw, the Scorpion has a total of 20 grenades in an internal magazine) or 1 grenade (stinger) or 6 machine gun (left claw) or 2 lasers (left claw)

Damage: mini-missiles 7d6, 30' radius explosion, 3000' range, grenades 10d6, 15' radius explosion, 600' range (-2 to hit from 200-400', -4 to hit from 401-600'), machine gun 2d8, laser 10d6, 200' range (these powerful beams can be used to cut through metal at the rate of 1" per round)

If a single Spiderbot is assisting the Scorpion with targeting, the Scorpion may use two of its attack options in a single round (as long as they are on different appendages - left claw and right claw, or either claw and stinger).

If two or more Spiderbots are assisting with targeting, the Scorpion may use three of its attack options as long as they are on different appendages (stinger, left claw and right claw).

If the Scorpion chooses to use only a single attack option while one or more Spiderbots are assisting with targeting, the Scorpion gets a +2 to all attack rolls for each assisting Spiderbot up to a +6 bonus.

When a Scorpion is destroyed by gunfire or explosion, there is a 30% chance that any remaining grenades or missiles will explode (for their regular damage and radius of explosion).

MR9000 "Spiderbot"

The first real success in reverse engineering Oozyxphigian technology, the Spiderbots were essentially copied whole cloth from the small robots that emerged from the Oozies' powered suits.  Some alien materials could not be duplicated on Earth, so the MR9000 is slightly weaker than the real deal, but they still represent the first military use of force-field generating tissue.  The military recognized the potential in the organic computers used by the Oozies and cultured the "brain tissue" used for this purpose, so the Spiderbots are just as smart (wily might be a better word) as their alien counterparts.  This organic intelligence along with the incredible dexterity of their 8 limbs allows a Spiderbot to be used for many purposes, from maintenance and repair of other robots to scouting missions.  The sensory apparatus loaded into the small frame (8" body, 1' legspan) of these robots are incredibly sensitive, picking up minute vibrations and seeing far beyond the spectrum of light visible to humans.  Laser sighting built into the raised "abdomen" of the Spiderbots enable them to assist other military robots in targeting intruders, but the Spiderbots have no real weaponry of their own (besides miniscule torches, blades and screwdrivers built into their legs and used in maintenance and repair work).  Spiderbots can move at full speed on any surface (including ceilings).

HP:15  (3 HD)
AC: 4
Force Field: Ignores the first 15 HP of damage taken each round
Attack: torch or screwdriver or blade


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