Thursday, December 31, 2009

Special New Year Session!

Happy New Year!

I just wanted to take a second to wish everyone the best for the upcoming year, and to announce to my players that this Sunday's Mutant Future session will be a special session: everyone will play a member of the Mice of the Round Table in a playtest of the Mice in Mech Suit rules that I have been writing.  This will (hopefully) not take up the whole session; the Kingdom of the Pure was recently invaded by the Dog Boys, and I want to resolve this incursion by having the party get to fight as the mice against the invaders.  If the mice are victorious, the party will have a safe haven to retreat to and powerful allies to recruit to their cause.  This should be ample motivation as they are very low on HP and are between a rock and a hard place; pursued by the Knights of Genetic Purity, low on HP, with more Dog Boys above them and an alien dragon of unknown power lurking at the other end of the tunnel behind them.

I will see you guys next year!

Thanks for reading my blog, 2009 has been a great RPG year for me and writing this blog has been a very rewarding experience.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Vampiric Field mutation + Living Ammunition = Oops!

Chalk this one up in the "Didn't see that one coming" department.  I mentioned in my last post that the Dog Boys were wielding an alien weapon that could, among other things, shoot glass darts containing an alien worm.  Two members of the party have the Vampiric Field mutation.  Rok used this mutation in conjunction with his once a session roll of the d30 for part of his damage roll, doing something like 22 HP damage to everything within 30' of him and giving him all the drained HP as temporary HP.  After tallying up the 66 HP that he got from the Dog Boys within range, he asked me, "So what about the worms in the ammo?  You said those were living organisms, right?"


Each worm has 10 HP and each gun has four worm darts.  A couple of them were already shot, but he still killed 10 worms and got another 100 temporary HP.

This inspired Bark, the other member of the party with Vampiric Field, to use a similar tactic in the battle he was engaged in hundreds of feet above the rest of the party at the entrance to the tunnels the Dog Boys used to gain access to the Sub-Basement Levels of the Ooh-Oh Monks.  He got a little over 150 temporary HP in one round by draining all 8 worms from the two guns of the Dog Boys he was facing.

Now in this particular instance it probably all worked out for the best, as Bark took over 150 damage in the next round and still had to flee the scene, and Rok got caught in an alien goo-web and couldn't move, but it has got me thinking about whether or not I am going to allow this tactic in the future.

This may have to be the first time I amend the Order of the d30 houserule; I am not sure if I can live with the horrors of a d30 Vampiric Field.  Bark is a mutant plant with a shapeshifting mutation, and he could just turn into root form, burrow under a gathering, and activate Vampiric Field - potentially within range of dozens of individuals!  Am I ready for a PC with a thousand temporary HP?  Great Hoogledy Moogledy!

2e Tuesday - Soul Besh

That's right, Gamma World 2d edition... what 2e did you think I meant?  Every Tuesday I will pick one of my favorite monsters from the fully illustrated bestiary included in the 2d edition Gamma World Basic Rules Booklet and convert it to Mutant Future.  Today's monster is...

Soul Besh (Skeeters)

No. Enc: 1d4
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement: 90' (30')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1 (proboscis)
Damage:  1d6
Save:  L3
Morale: 3
Hoard Class: none

Lurking in tall grass, behind trees or in an impenetrable swamp, the soul besh waits for its victim to fall asleep and then inserts its proboscis into them to feed.  Anyone successfully struck by the proboscis must save vs. poison or be paralyzed for 2d6 rounds during which time the soul besh does double damage (2d6).  These flightless giant mosquitoes are much feared, because they are so adept at escaping detection and have an uncanny ability to insert their proboscis in the smallest chink in a victims armor.

Don't forget to add the +1 to hit and +3 per damage dice from the Combat Empathy mutation!

Mutations:  Combat Empathy, Chameleon Epidermis

While the Skeeters are pretty close to the Mansquitos that are already present in Mutant Future, I find the idea of a humanoid mosquito wielding weapons to be much less scary than a giant wingless mosquito with chameleon powers that does double damage to your paralyzed, sleeping body.  This could stem from my childhood in Alaska where we actually had Skeeters.  You knew that the mosquito was Alaska's state bird, right?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Session 24 recap - Dog Boys and a near TPK

This session started with the group desperately trying to get the hovercraft back up and running after the beating it took last time, to no avail.  In the middle of this, the Knights of Genetic Purity started shelling the party from Spanky Butt with the howitzer that they just got air-lifted in.  As the knights started dialing in the aim, aided by an iron man flying high above, the party got pretty panicked but just managed to push the hovercraft into the Badder caves before they were sealed in by a howitzer shell.

With only one functioning fan, Bozko in his iron man suit and Jonathan in his mech suit lifted the other side of the hovercraft and pushed it like a floating wheelbarrow.  The party trundled in this manner all the way down the tunnels to the halls of Glargorion that link the military complex with the sub-basement levels of the Ooh-Oh Monks.  Hoping that a jeep that they had previously found was still where they had left it near the entrance to the Ooh-Oh Monks sub-basements (where Jonathan the mutant mouse had come from, and where a whole kingdom of Mice in Mech Suits awaits), the party set off down the long tunnel.  They found the jeep where they hoped it would be and managed to position the hovercraft on the troop-transport flatbed that the jeep was towing, after stripping off the walls and canvas roof from the flatbed.  Noticing that the blast door leading to the mouse kingdom had been forced open, Jonathan took his leave from the party to investigate while the rest of the group set off in the jeep up a twisting tunnel that they hoped led to the surface.  They passed the wrecked jeep that Dataan had hi-jacked from the Warangutans in an earlier session, and were ambushed by a group of Dog Boys (see my review of the Lone Star Rifts Worldbook) that were hiding in the wrecked jeep.

This led to probably the single most epic combat I have ever ran.  I don't want to fill pages with all the ins and outs, but I want to at least hit on a few highlights - the Dog Boys were wielding a strange alien gun that the party had never seen before.

This gun apparently had five settings - one shot a goo-ball that expanded into a sheet of alien tissue, which then contracted as an electrical pulse ran through it and wrapped around whatever it hit.  Several party members ended up wrapped in a netting of alien tissue, which proved strong enough to contain the incredible strength of an iron man suit as Bozko found out first hand.

A second setting shot a cone of flame out, and this flamethrower option proved quite useful against a new member of the party, Rok, when he attempted to use his light manipulation mutation to turn invisible.  The flamethrowers also very nearly killed Bark even though he had 160 temporary hitpoints from his vampiric field mutation - he is susceptible to flame damage, and when he got nailed by two Dog Boys with flamethrowers he went from 168 HP to 5 HP in one round!

A third setting shot a glass dart containing an alien worm which attempts to burrow into the wound left by the dart.  The dart itself does minimal damage, but the worm is truly terrifying as Kunta Kinte found out first hand.  Low on HP and looking down at an alien worm disappearing into his chest, he made the fateful decision to ignore it and shoot the double M-2 machine guns that he was manning on the back of the jeep.  While he died a terrible death as the worm swam through his insides, splitting into two worms every time it consumed 10 HP, each of which also split into more worms as they feasted, he did manage to kill a dog boy with that last attack which may have been the difference between the entire party ending up captured and in one of Julius Corple's experiments.

The other two settings were a barbed homing dart that aided subsequent shots and an energy blast, your garden variety high-damage plasma beam.  The combat came down to one dog boy vs. Beyonce as everyone else was either dead (two character deaths this session!) or trapped in a net (Rok and Bozko) or reduced to 1 HP and fleeing in the form of a dandelion seed tuft (Bark).  Beyonce had 96 HP left as the dog boy burst through the back door of the hovercraft.  She had been manning the hovercraft's guns but had been rolling terribly all session.  As the dog boy entered the hovercraft, flamethrower a flaming, Beyonce finally rolled some good rolls as she pulled out her laser pistols and unloaded.  Still, she did not kill the canine assassin and it in turn shot two bursts of flame at her - of course I rolled a hit and a critical hit, and everyone clustered around as I tossed the damage die.

The critical hit did 62 damage (I rolled 31 damage on 8d6, and all natural 20's are double damage in my game).  If I rolled a 34 or higher on the next damage roll, she would die and the party would have been in serous trouble.  I let the dice fly and everyone gasped at the number of 6's that popped up - but I also got a lot of 1's and 2's to balance them out.  30 more damage, and Beyonce was left with 4 HP.  She killed the dog boy with her next attack, and what was left of the party collected their breath, collected the alien weaponry and got the hell out of there!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My new blog

Hey everyone - I just started a new blog for all the non-Mutant Future stuff that I want to post about.  Check it out!  I will be posting artwork, old material from my now defunct D&D 3.5 campaign and any other random musings that would not really fit in with the theme of this blog.  I plan to make it a much more behind the scenes look at my DMing style than I can do with this blog, which is open for the players in my current Mutant Future campaign to read.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mutant Future Links over at Gaming with Chuck

I just installed a web counter on this blog and have been obsessing over the damn thing for the last few days.  Why is my most popular older post "Robot (homo)Sexuality"?  Well, I may have just found the answer.  Chuck over at the Gaming with Chuck blog recently had a post with a bunch of links to Mutant Future blogs - Mutagenic Substance was linked to, and he mentions my Robot (homo)Sexuality post in his brief synopsis of my blog.  Mystery solved!

Check out Chuck's blog, he has some interesting posts.  And anyone who steers people my way can't be half bad!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2e Tuesday - Seps

That's right, Gamma World 2d edition... what 2e did you think I meant?  Every Tuesday I will pick one of my favorite monsters from the fully illustrated bestiary included in the 2d edition Gamma World Basic Rules Booklet and convert it to Mutant Future.  Today's monster is...

Seps (Land Sharks)

No. Enc: 1d6
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement: 120' (40')
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 13
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage:  9d6
Save:  L7
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: none

Swimming through the earth with a special telekinetic mutation that moves earth and loose stones out of their way, Seps or Land Sharks are vicious predators of the Mutant Future.  Locating prey on the surface with their prey sense mutation that allows them to detect sound and motion from 180' away even when underground, they leap into the air to attack with their savage bite.  After each bite, they dive back into the ground and attack from a different direction two rounds later.  If they kill a victim, they drag it back underground to consume it at their leisure.

Mutations:  Special (earthswim, prey sense)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Requiem for the Swamp Orca

Last night's Mutant Future session probably spelled the end of the road for the trusty Swamp Orca, the refurbished military hovercraft that has been propelling the party around so faithfully for over a dozen sessions now.  After fleeing the scene of their latest escapades (and managing to avoid being hit by the boulders hurled after them by the angry treants and their Coy-Pu masters), the party sent Beyonce's remote controlled dragonfly spybot up to make sure the way ahead was clear.  With three paralyzed party members, their immediate goal was to return to the Badder warrens in the hope that Dae-Brak the shaman could work some of his herbal magic and return their comrades to the ranks of the responsive. 

Beyonce, looking at the feed coming in from the dragonfly, saw five men riding mechanical gliders, circling in a formation to the west, heading in the direction the party had just come from.  Luckily the hovercraft was behind a small hill, known as Hendricks Park in the ancient times, and the gliders did not appear to have noticed them.  Zooming in, Beyonce identified the men as Knights of Genetic Purity by the red square and unbalanced scales of justice that were emblazoned on their armor.  The party pulled the hovercraft up in the shelter of some trees on top of the hill and Irons used his telepathic ability to create a camoflage pattern on the glarg-ore armor covering the hovercraft.  Carefully maneuvering the dragonfly closer, they saw that the gliders were flying in a circle over a large, armored wheeled vehicle flanked by a squadron of men in wetsuits (promptly dubbed frog soldiers by the party).  Attached by a chain to the vehicle, and leading the whole procession, was an obviously mutated naked human with a huge head.  This mutant was covered with scars and fresh whip marks, and he was casting back and forth as if scenting something.

The party assumed that the mutant was somehow following the scent trail they had left earlier in the morning when they travelled from the Badder warrens to the ruins of Riverbend, and realized it was only a matter of time till the knights found their current trail as well.  After much debate about the proper course of action, the party came up with a devious plan that would make insurgents everywhere proud.  They constructed an IED (improvised explosive device, for anyone who has had their head in the sand for the last few years) out of a pipe, some scrap metal and a pound of their precious C4 plastic explosive.  They proceeded down the hill to a stretch of the old road that runs along a sheer basalt outcropping, with a cliff to the side.  Reasoning that their pursuers would have to pass along this road, which was wide enough for the vehicle but not much more, they buried the IED in the middle of the road and set off down the road into the swamp.  The party split up, with the hovercraft heading toward the Badder warrens (the dragonfly had also observed ominous clouds of smoke rising up from that general vicinity) while Bozko and Jonathan the Mutant Mouse in the Lancelot Mech set off to lead a scent trail into the heart of War Chimp territory.  Bozko spilled odiferous pollen behind him as he went, hoping to lure the knights (if they made it past the IED) into the teeth of the vicious War Chimps. 

They did not have to wait long to set off the explosive - the mutant sniffer caught their newer scent as the knights passed about a mile away from the path the party had taken from Riverbend to Hendricks Hill, and he angled over and started following the new path straight up the hill.  Sure enough, they passed directly over the IED and the party, watching intently on the laptop that was displaying the feed from Beyonce's dragonfly, waited until the mutant sniffer was a full chain's length past the IED and the front wheels of the armored vehicle were just about to roll over it before they detonated the C4.  Beyonce and Irons had really done an excellent job of constructing the IED, and it amplified the force of the C4 and sent an armor piercing charge up through the front of the vehicle, severing the right axle and surely deafening and stunning if not killing its occupants outright.  Four of the frog soldiers died on the spot, flung like ragdolls over the cliff, and the vehicle settled nose first into a small crater that now smouldered in the road bed.  The chain holding the mutant sniffer had been severed in the explosion and the poor creature had been hurled forward.  Shaking the cobwebs clear, he turned and ran straight down the nearly vertical cliff surface and hurled himself into the swamp and freedom.

Meanwhile, the hovercraft arrived at the entrance to the warrens and they witnessed a scene of devastation.  Despite the rainy and generally wet conditions prevailing in the Willing Mate valley in early fall, the hillside had been burned to scorched earth.  Beyonce, with her military experience from her previous life with the human resistance all those centuries earlier before her extended stretch of cryostasis, recognized the effects of napalm.  A large crater marred the side of the hill, where the four entrance tunnels that the party knew about would have been.  One of the tunnels was still uncollapsed, and a spiderbot was sent inside to investigate.  There was evidence of an intense firefight, spent shell casings and the bodies of a few of the knights.  Further under the hill when the tunnel opened into the first large chamber, a shallow grave had been dug and filled with perhaps two or three dozen corpses of Badder warriors, carefully laid to rest.  The party surmised that these were members of the Badder rearguard, and had fought the Knights off while the rest of the Badders escaped deeper into the labyrinth of winding tunnels that honeycomb the south hills.  Also around this time, the paralyzed party members regained control of their bodies.  Natas' face was horribly disfigured, but he was a goatman satan-look-a-like to begin with, so having his face melted away by acid really just added to the whole look he had going on!  I rolled to see if he had lost vision in either eye, and he got lucky and remained fully sighted!

The spiderbot's thermal sensors detected a watching Badder, concealed under a thin layer of dirt.  When the party communicated with the warrior he was none to happy with them, as the knights had made it clear they were looking for the party when they invaded the Badder warren.  This was actually the second time that the party had indirectly caused a catostraphe for the Badders, and the warrior politely asked the party to stay away from the Badders for the time being until things cooled down.  The party did manage to patch up some of the hard feelings and left a spiderbot with the warrior to bring to the war chiefs so that they could be in communication should the party learn more about the knights next move. 

Bozko and Jonathan had made it into War Chimp territory in the swamp, but found it eerily quite. The corpses hanging on the ring of cut trees that marked their territory looked like they had not been replenished for at least a week, as they were mostly picked clean.  No sentries fired from the blinds watching the outer perimeter, and indeed, as they forged deeper they found no sign of life at all until they came to the military complex itself in the center of the territory.  There, they saw several small smoke trails that looked they might come from a cooking fire rising up from the broken windows of two smaller warehouses that border the complex. 

Monkey Boy had flown away from the hovercraft as it approached the Badder warrens and, travelling at 1/8th his already small size, approached the contingent of Knights on the hill that were hauling the wounded out of the armored vehicle and digging emergency fortifications in preperation of further attacks.  He attempted to fly inside the mask of one of the glider pilots circling over head, but was smacked aside with a tremendous blow of the pilots gloved hand.  He realized that the glider pilots wore a light powered armor, seemingly less powerful than the Iron Man suits, but still plenty strong enough to nearly kill him with one blow (I rolled a critical hit, one of many that I rolled that session - the dice gods seem to smile upon me when I put on my DM hat).  Undaunted, and hoping that he had been mistaken for one of the many annoying insects that buzz around the swamp, he descended on a different pilot and this time managed to crawl inside his helmet before he could be knocked away.  He took possession of the pilots body, just as one of the iron men emerged from the armored vehicle and, joined by three of the glider pilots, jetted off across the swamp in the direction of the Badders and the hovercraft. 

Monkey Boy made to follow them but a voice cracled in over the com link in his helmet,
"Hold your position!  You have your orders, soldier, follow them!"

He resumed flying in circles over the knights with one other pilot while the other three and the iron man rapidly closed in on his comrades.  The dragonfly was still perched in the trees overlooking the scene and the party members back in the hovercraft guessed that they must have been observed showing up at the Badder warrens.  Their suspicions were confirmed when two knights emerged from their concealed positions behind a boulder higher up the hill and began lobbing grenades and gas bombs at the hovercraft!  I rolled a critical with the first grenade and the hovercraft took some serious damage, rendering it almost undrivable as a huge section of the skirt was ripped and one of the fans was damaged.  As a thick, noxious looking gas emerged from the canisters, Beyonce accelerated the hovercraft and drove it straight at the knights, somehow managing to avoid crashing the vehicle despite its severely damaged condition (it was already pretty beat up going in to this encounter) and sending the knights scattering.  She spun the hovercraft around and parked it in the shadow of one of the few remaining trees on the hill, a massive cedar that had survived the raging inferno.  Natas, Bark and Kunta Kinte manned the hovercrafts guns while Beyonce and Irons ran to the back of the hovercraft with their laser sniper rifles and threw open the back hatch and prepared to fire on the incoming gliders.

Bozko and Jonathan had beat a hasty retreat back to the hovercraft when they heard what was going on, and Bozko (in his iron man suit) engaged the other iron man in mid air while Jonathan hurried on to the hovercraft.  Back at the hillside where the other knights remained, Monkey Boy flew above the other glider pilot and dropped a grenade on top of him (he had discovered that the gliders contained frag grenades, tear gas grenades and mustard gas canisters) and then dropped a mustard gas cannister onto the knights on the ground.  He scored a solid hit on the other pilot, forcing a crash landing, but the mustard gas cannister rolled harmlessly off the cliff.  He then veered off in an attempt to join the fight going on over by the warrens, but the body he was commandeering was torn to shreds by machine gun fire from the knights on the ground.  He managed to survive (still around 2" tall and tucked inside the helmet of his erstwhile possessee) the fall to the ground and, after realizing that he was shielded from the view of the knights on the cliff above him by a copse of trees, he returned to his normal size, looted the grenades and flew off.

The melee was raging in the skys and on the ground back at the Badder warrens, with Bozko getting the worst of his conflict with the knight in the other iron man suit (I of course rolled another critical hit on the knights first missile volley!) and the hovercraft taking several direct hits from grenades dropped by the gliders.  The knights on the ground had been dispatched by the gunners in the hovercraft, but not before one had gotten perilously close to attaching what looked to be a large chunk of plastic explosives on the hovercraft - he died only feet away, and the presence of the explosives that close was quite unnerving, but more mustard gas had been dropped from above and no one felt like opening up the hovercraft's hatches to deal with the explosives.

Eventually, after Jonathan and the Lancelot Mech had destroyed one of the gliders and the sharp shooting Beyonce and Irons had nearly killed another (before shutting the hatch due to encroaching mustard gas), the tide of battle turned against the surviving knights and they fled, two gliders and an iron man flying across the swamp back toward the hill.

When the gas had been dispersed by the wind that carried in a thick bank of fog that Natas had summoned, the party collected their breath and we ended the session.  I did not reveal to them at the time (because they had not yet looked), but the hovercraft is totally undriveable.  Not only is the skirt that contains the cushion of air almost totally blasted away, but both fans and some major engine components are damaged beyond repair.  Short of replacing these parts, the Swamp Orca will ride no more.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The RPG Library: Rifts Lone Star - World Book 13

This is the first installment of the RPG Library, a new series of posts in which I plan to discuss all the great books from a wide assortment of RPGs that I have snapped up at the local used book stores recently to use for inspiration in my Mutant Future campaign.

Both Emerald Comics and Second-Story Books  here in the Eugene/Springfield area have great selections of Palladium's Rifts books, and I recently picked up a handful of them to mine for ideas.  Let me first say that Kevin Siembieda must have been one hard workin' dude.  How many game books can one man write?  Not to mention that he seems to have done quite a lot of the illustrations as well.

I never played Rifts (or any non-Dungeons & Dragons RPG, for that matter) when I was growing up; the only way I even knew about it was watching a few high schoolers play when I was in 8th grade and taking a computer class over at the high school.  The cover art was awesome, and I loved the stuff I was hearing about giant robots, lasers and missiles.  Unfortunately, there was no gaming store in my small home town in Alaska and the internet was not really a thing yet.  So I kept trucking along with D&D, eventually creating my own variants on the rules to play in a futuristic sci-fi world of my own creation.  When my parents sent me down a huge box full of my old gaming stuff recently, I was pleased to re-discover the material I wrote for this homebrew sci-fi D&D; perhaps I will post some of that stuff soon, it was pretty cool and could be converted easily to Mutant Future.  But I digress.

One of the Rifts books I ended up with is Rifts Lone Star (World Book 13)

The single biggest problem with using this book as a source for Mutant Future material is that the Palladium system is quite different from the B/X D&D heritage from whence Mutant Future sprang by way of Labyrinth Lord.  Rifts uses a skill based system, and the damage and HP equivalents are so different as to be more or less unusable.  This book provides great inspiration, but you will have to make your own game stats for the creatures you find within.  On the positive side, I could easily see running an entire Mutant Future campaign set in post-apocalyptic Texas using this book.  The book has two main focuses: the "Lone Star" military complex, a huge underground military research facility; and the major NPCs and factions present in the area complete with their goals and motivations.

For my purposes, the section on the Lone Star military complex is pure gold.  It has a lot of parallels with the military complex that my players have been exploring - it is a self-contained complex with its own nuclear power plants, hospitals, barracks and extensive research labs.  It is, however, quite a bit bigger than my complex (30 square miles!).  There is a short history of the complex, detailing its discovery by the Coalition States (a pseudo-fascist regime that has sprung up centered around the ruins of Chicago in the Rifts setting), but it would be easy enough to strip the setting details (which are pretty minimal anyway) away and use this in any Mutant Future campaign.  The book does not present maps and keys of the complex, but it does have an extremely useful list of all the major features of each level.  I think I could run months worth of sessions with nothing but some unkeyed floor plans, some encounter tables and these lists, improvising the details as I went.  I will certainly be using them for the two large areas of my complex that the players have yet to explore, the Alien Weapons division and the Trojan Horse project.  So you get an idea of what I am talking about, here is the short list for level five of the Lone Star complex:

"Underground Level Five:  GED (Genetics Engineering Division)

  • Huge state of the art Genetics Research Facility subdivided into numerous small labs.
  • Secondary Cloning Labs
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Cybernetic R&D Center (Experimental Works & Bio-Systems)
  • Bionic R&D Center (experimental
  • Small Crazie/MOM [M.O.M. is explained as a program designed to create controlled mutations in a test subject, which has been spectacularly unsuccessful so far!] conversion Studies Center
  • Confinement Hospital for Experimental Test Subjects, with isolation wards.
  • Small Interrogation area.
  • GECA (Genetic Experiment Containment Areas): Several small and large, prison-like housings and habitats mainly for experimental mutants and exotic animals for study; medium security.
  • Zoo and Lab Animal Pens
  • Housing for Science and Research Staff.
  • Mess Halls and Restaurants
  • Recreation Areas, Gyms & Theaters
  • Level Five Life Support"
One of the great things about the Rifts books (and all the Palladium books in general that I have picked up) is the amount of artwork included.  There are a lot of quality black and white drawings in this book - here is one of my favorites, showing one of those GECA containment areas mentioned above (I love the scientist with his jaw dropped and the papers spilling out).

The Coalition States have been conducting their own genetic research in the facility, and the book details quite a few mutant animal warriors that have been created, focusing mostly on the Dog Boys.  Covering the creation of Dog Boys, how they are raised and trained, detailed information about their life cycle and more, this is one of the lengthiest chapters in the book.  This section is going to be transferred almost whole cloth into my game, and could serve as an inspiration for any Mutant Lord.

Dog Boys or Psi-Hounds are mutant dog-men that serve as special forces for the Coalition States in Rifts.  In my game they have just been created by Julius Corple as he continues the experiments that he has been running ever since his mutations occurred.

Fascinated by the alien virus that he has identified as the cause of the mutations, he has made more progress in a few short weeks than the Ooh-Oh Monks have made in hundreds of years toward understanding and controlling mutations.  At his disposal he has the immense computing power of the super-computers in his old labs in the military complex, the genetic sequences of nearly every animal that existed before the FDF7 virus mutated and began changing the genetic structure of all living organisms, and the brains of several crack military commandos fully uploaded into computers and ready to be inserted into whatever body he can create.  The Dog Boys are the first stable mutant creature he created and he has made four "models", each with the brain of a different soldier and a body mutated from a different breed of dog.  I will post complete Mutant Future game stats for them at a later time.  Corple is currently finishing up a modified body armor that will fit the dogs.

There are also Ursa-Warriors (mutant bears),

 Battle Cats (mutant felines),

 Monkey Boys (mutant primates, which I have already covered in my facility with the Warangutans and the War Chimps, but I have been planning on having the party run into one of the War Gorrilla Enforcers for a while and now I have a great illustration to use!) ,

Mutant Bats

and Mutant Rats (these are presented as a vicious and anarchistic by nature, and a large group of them escaped from the labs and have built extensive warrens in and under the unfinished lowest levels of the complex)

Of particular use to Mutant Lords is the discussion of cloning and animal genetic enhancements.  You could take this list and create an army of custom genetically engineered animal warriors, no two alike, to wreak havoc on your unsuspecting PCs!  These enhancements are discussed in mostly game neutral terms, and would be easily converted to Mutant Future.

The section on the Lone Star complex also includes a lavishly illustrated chapter of the weapons and armor used by the Coalition State forces stationed there, and several pages of hoverbikes!

When are they going to come out with a real life hoverbike already?

The second half of the book focuses on the NPCs and factions active in the area, starting with prominent Coalition States personnel before moving on to the bandit lords that are the defacto rulers of most of the Lone Star Territory (the areas controlled by the bandits are collectively known as the "Pecos Empire")and the alien races that have emerged from the rifts to stalk the badlands. Each major NPC detailed has a portrait and a section of "adventure notes" that provide a dozen or so adventure hooks that would make it easy to drop any one of these guys into your game.  This section could be used as a springboard for a whole campaign based in post-apocalyptic Texas; there is a lot of good stuff here, including random bandit gang generation methods and an overview of the complex relationships between the larger gangs.  Also included is a geographic overview of the area, with maps and a gazetteer that provides brief descriptions of the most important locations (the page on the "Haunted Ruins of Dallas" is very inspirational) - this is very useful stuff that would need little to no conversion to use in Mutant Future.

I suppose I should conclude this with some sort of numerical review, so I will steal James' review format from Grognardia;

Presentation: 8 out of 10
Creativity: 9 out of 10
Utility (for Mutant Future scavenging purposes): 8 out of 10

Saturday, December 19, 2009

RPG Bookshelf

I spent a portion of today assembling a bookshelf and moving my sprawling collection of RPG books from the various piles and shelves that it has been occupying onto the new bookshelf.  Whew!  Quite an undertaking, especially considering it prompted me to do a thorough cleaning and rearranging of my music/game room, which, as my betrothed could tell you, was long overdue.  This project has inspired me to do a series of posts about some of the interesting RPG books that I have been using as inspiration for my Mutant Future campaign, from GURPS books about robots and hi-tech equipment to FASA Battletech, TSR's Amazing Engine worldbooks and Palladium's Rifts books.  I will be posting the first installment of this new series of posts tomorrow, starting with the Rifts Lone Star World Book which will be featuring heavily in my campaign once the players finally figure out how to get past the alien "dragon" that they accidentally set free in the hangar level and get around to dealing with Julius Corple.

As I am pretty proud of my efforts today, here is some photographic documentation of my achievements.The whole bookshelf, tucked in next to the piano and behind the bass and electric guitar hanging on the wall (covered up in this picture by a duct-tape mask and vest):

The top shelf:  Piled on top of the bookshelf are folders and notebooks with my game notes, a bag of dice, a box full of minis and another bag full of minis.  On the top shelf are AD&D 1e books, OD&D and B/X (in the big white binder), Empire of the Petal Throne rulebooks (also in the big white binder), Companion set D&D, Holmes Boxed Set, Labyrinth Lord, more assorted notebooks with my game notes, Mutant Future, Gamma World 1e and 2e rulebooks, Carcosa, Green Devil Face and Grinding Gear, and a bunch of Palladium books that didn't fit with the other non-D&D books on the bottom shelf:

The 2d shelf: AD&D 2e rulebooks (looseleaf Monstrous Compendiums in the blue binder), Dragonlance the 5th Age, and Dungeons and Dragons 4e books (yeah, yeah I know...):

The 3rd shelf:  AD&D 2e boxed sets (Night Below and Castles Forlorn are missing the tops to their boxes and are the unmarked boxes on the upper left), my collection of DM's screens from all editions and a BUNCH of Forgotten Realms stuff (I ended up with two Ruins of Undermountain boxed sets because I thought my old one was stolen from my parents basement and bought another on ebay, only to have the original turn up later):

The 4th shelf: Dungeons and Dragons 3e/Pathfinder/d20 books:

The bottom shelf:  Dragon and Dungeon Magazines (and the odd White Dwarf), adventure modules from all editions and a big stack of non-D&D books (GURPS, Bond 007, Amazing Engine, TORG, Mutazoids (!), Ars Magica, Shadowrun and bunch more):

As you can see, I don't have a lot of room to expand.  I am going to need another new bookshelf soon if the used bookstores in the area keep coming up with so many cheap scores that I obviously can not walk away from!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2e Tuesday - Hoops

That's right, Gamma World 2d edition... what 2e did you think I meant?  Every Tuesday I will pick one of my favorite monsters from the fully illustrated bestiary included in the 2d edition Gamma World Basic Rules Booklet and convert it to Mutant Future.  Today's monster is...

Hoops (Floppsies)

No. Enc: 1d20
Alignment:  Neutral
Movement: 180' (60')
Armor Class: 9 (or by armor value)
Hit Dice:  11 + 2
Attacks:  1 (weapon)
Damage:  by weapon
Save:  L10
Morale: 6
Hoard Class:XVI (see Hoard Note below)

Hoops, also known as Floppsies, are 7 1/2' tall bipedal humanoid jackrabbits capable of leaping twice as far as a human.  They are of average intelligence (3-18) but they have exceptional willpower (12-18).  While not inherently evil, they are extremely enamored of technological artifacts and would think nothing of stealing that cool looking gizmo from a party member.  If expecting danger they will usually be geared up for the occasion, wearing studded leather or chainmail armor and wielding swords and spears.  Hoops are very social creatures, and all possess the ability to link minds with other Hoops to plan coordinated actions.  Hoops also possess the bizarre ability to turn metal objects into rubber by touch, affecting up to a 3' radius per touch.  They can also (much less reliably) turn such rubber objects back to their original forms (base 50% chance, less 10% for each hour that has elapsed since the transformation down to a minimum of 10% after four hours).  Hoops use this ability to render objects that they covet useless, hoping that their owners will discard them so that the opportunistic rabbit-men can scavenge them later for their own use.

Hoard Note: The Mutant Lord should roll for the hoard possessed by the Hoops before using them in an encounter, giving each Hoop a 30% chance of having one artifact rather than rolling just once for the whole group to have a 30% chance of having five artifacts.  The total number of artifacts is still limited to five, so large groups will have several members without artifacts (and small groups may have individuals with more than one artifact).  A Hoop with an artifact has a 20% chance of knowing how to use it, and will do so as appropriate. All groups have one gizmo as per the XVI hoard class.

Mutations:  Metaconcert, Neural Telepathy, Special (Rubberize Object)

I decided I had to do the Hoops because Gamma World had a very noticeable gonzo element to it, and the rubberizing rabbits seem to personify that aspect of the game quite nicely.  I love that a race of man-bunnies known as Floppsies manage to look so badass!  I also imagine that these guys could really piss a party off with their rubberizing ability.  I decided to include the chance to turn rubberized objects back to metal because it seemed in keeping with the Hoops' obsession with artifacts.

There are several challenges facing anyone converting Gamma World creatures to the Mutant Future.  Two of the seemingly more straightforward elements of a monster's stat block, the HD and Movement, are handled differently between the two games.  Gamma World uses a variety of different dice for monster HD, while Mutant Future uses the d8 exclusively.  This is why you will see more HD entries in the form X HD + Y HP in these 2e Tuesday entries; for example, the Gamma World Hoops/Floppsies have 15d6 HP, giving a range of 15-90.  By  turning that into 11 + 2 I generated a range of 13-90, which is as close as I could come using the d8.  Movement is even more complicated, because Gamma World uses a tripartite system that divides movement into Slow, Fast and Normal rates, and these can vary considerably - in the case of the Jagets, a mutated jaguar now inhabiting a cheetah-like ecological niche, its slow speed is half that of the Hoops, its fast speed is identical, but its normal speed is four times faster!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Session 22 - Zombies, Skeletons and the Dark Mother!

Looking for a safe place to incubate their newly acquired giant eagle eggs, the party headed for the ruins of Riverbend and had one hell of an adventure.  When they approached the huge brick buildings that used to be a hospital complex before the fall, they noticed that they were in remarkably intact condition.  Monkey Boy, flying overhead attached to the giant eagle he had taken control of last session, noticed some movement below; several small shapes rapidly swimming through the swamp to the two smaller buildings outside of the hospital proper, and four huge trees that seemed to be slowly walking around between the hospital and the deeper channel carved by the Mike Zee River.  Swooping lower while the hovercraft circled around to the side of the buildings, Monkey Boy saw that the shapes in the swamp were Coy-Pu, mutant nutrias that the party had encountered on one other ill-fated occasion.

 The Coy-Pu are ancestral enemies of the Badders, and the last time the party had ran into them in the pass between the Willing Mate Valley and the eastern desert, Dataan had greeted the curious water-rat men in the name of Glargorion, the terrible worm-god of the Badders.  This had angered the plant-worshiping Coy-Pu who unleashed their huge animated tree allies on the party.  The huge trees proved to be dangerous adversaries, and the hovercraft was very nearly crashed on the banks of the Mike Zee river high in the pass that day.
     Banking back over the moving trees, Monkey Boy saw that the trees were shambling along, a fishing net stretched between each pair as they slowly moved through the swamp.  A robed Coy Pu rode in the branches of each tree.  At this point Natas the goat-man used his power over weather to cause a thick fog to rise up out of the swamp.  Not wanting to drive straight into danger, the hovercraft slowed down while Bark changed his form into a large patch of algae and slipped into the water to do a little scouting.  Bark soon realized that a large patch of the swamp bottom had been meticulously cleaned out in a circle around the two smaller buildings that the Coy-Pu in the swamp had retreated to at the sight of the giant eagle circling overhead.  This cleared area was marked by a tangled border of a strange yellow vine like plant that the party had not encountered before.  As the hovercraft moved away from Bark's position, he realized that the plants seemed to be emitting an exact duplicate of the vibrating noise the hovercraft made underwater.  He cautiously approached, stopping about thirty feet away to form a small section of his body into a torpedo shaped piece of wood, which he then detached and propelled at the plants to observe their reaction.  The reaction was swift and unexpected, as they ramped up the volume of the noise they were emitting to the point that Bark's body was nearly ripped apart on the spot.  This was followed by the yellow vines lashing out at him; stunned by the sonic attack, Bark was too slow to evade the vines and they ripped through his body, unable to grasp his algae form but coating him with a slimy poison.

At this point I casually reminded Bark's player that he could use his d30 roll on the poison save, which he did, getting a natural 30.  Bark retreated as I gave his player the meta-game information that he avoided near certain death, as the poison did 8d6 damage while his current HP total was 15!

The party now decided to take the hovercraft to the large parking structure to the west of the complex, driving straight into the second level from the swamp and circling up through the rusted hulks of ancient vehicles.  They stopped below the roof and sent Kunta Kinte up to investigate.  He emerged in the middle of a rooftop garden.  Two robed and ancient looking Coy-Pu tended the raised beds that contained vegetables and herbs of all descriptions.  They looked at him without apparent concern, and said something that the deaf giant could not hear.  Kunta Kinte tapped on his com-link, signalling for back up, and Natas joined him on the roof as Monkey-Boy swooped down and landed the giant eagle.  The Coy-Pu's composure was shaken by the appearance of the giant eagle, and they blew on a piercing whistle and sought cover until Monkey-Boy spoke through the speakers he had dangled over the neck of the eagle, telling them not to fear.  Two of the huge trees loomed through the mist, apparently approaching at the signal of the whistle.  The Coy-Pu introduced themselves as Jix and Treego and inquired what business the party had in the area.  After listening to the party's response, Jix told them that it was unlikely that the community of Coy-Pu that lived in the two smaller buildings would allow them to incubate the eggs of the giant eagle there.  The party's questions about the larger, apparently unoccupied buildings afforded cryptic responses about the Kingdom of the Dead and the Dark Mother that apparently resided within the old brick hospital.  When asked how they controlled the animated trees, Treego responded that it was a gift of the Dark Mother.  This got the party curious, and they began asking if other people could receive such a gift.  Visions of animating and controlling plants danced through their heads.  Jix seemed to want to tell them something, but he was cut off by Treego.  After a little more conversation, the party sought and received permission to park the hovercraft on the roof while they entered the Kingdom of the Dead and sought the Dark Mother's gifts.  Treego encouraged them to do this, while Jix again seemed on the verge of telling them something before Treego interrupted him.  Bark, severely injured in his previous encounter with the plants, remained behind, while Bozko also stayed back with the Iron Man suit as back up in case the party ran into trouble and needed to be rescued.  Natas shrunk the giant eagle to 1/8th its size and the party tied it up and stashed it in the hovercraft so Monkey Boy could disconnect from it and accompany the party inside.  Bark used his mental abilities to create the illusion inside the giant eagle's mind that it was sitting on its eggs back in its nest, then rooted himself in one of the garden beds and began to soak up the sunlight (Natas had dispelled the fog and cleared the clouds to allow sunlight to stream down) in hopes of restoring some of his energy.

Entering the main lobby through an open window above the level of the swamp, the party was astounded to see it free of water and immaculately clean as if it was carefully swept and dusted regularly.

Everyone in the party besides Monkey Boy (who has a ridiculously high Willpower due to a mutation that increases that attribute) felt a comforting feeling of security.  They felt that they were in a safe place and began to relax their guard a little.  They first sought the pharmacy and loaded up on antibiotics, painkillers, antivenoms and possibly poisonous chemotherapy medications.  Then they began exploring the rooms opening off the lobby, starting with a room that evidently was a physical therapy area.  Medicine balls, giant rubber bands, and mats lined the floor and walls, and a host of skeletons lay around as if they had been struck down in the middle of their therapy.  Examining the skeletons carefully with a spiderbot turned up several peculiar features.  The bones seemed to be coated with a layer of some sort of black lacquer, and nearly invisible thin threads connected the feet of the skeletons with the ventilation shafts in the walls.  Irons, who had recently downloaded a huge library of books into his internal hard drive, used his newly acquired knowledge of anatomy and diagnostic medicine to determine that the skeletons did not show any kind of injuries that would require the sort of physical therapy that evidently went on in this room in the ancient days.  Some debate ensued about whether or not to sever the threads that connected the skeletons to the ventilation system; some members of the party felt that this would alert whatever was connected to those threads, so they were left alone.  The party left that room and returned to the lobby, this time with the intention of activating the ancient computer system and possibly turning on the security cameras.  They discovered that there was no power in the complex, but using their backpack mini-fusion cell they powered up the computer at the front desk and realized that its hard drive was corrupted beyond repair.

They next decided that they needed to find the basement, where they assumed the emergency power generators would be located.  Prying open the door of one of the elevator shafts, they lowered a spiderbot down into the maintenance access hallway below.  Irons, wireless connected to the spiderbot's video feed, saw that around a dozen strange clusters of volleyball sized black spheres had burst through the concrete. The spheres were grouped like clusters of grapes and were covered in a slimy black liquid.  Poking one with the spiderbot caused it to explode in a shower of yellow spores.  Leaving the mysterious spheres alone for the moment, Irons instructed the spiderbot to investigate the door at the end of the maintenance hallway.  The door was warm, nearly 80 degrees according to the spiderbot's sensory equipment.  Irons had the spiderbot drill a small peephole in the door and a nightmarish scene was revealed.

Beyond the door was a large room, possibly the boiler room although it was hard to tell because the large machinery inside was completely covered with a slimy black substance.  The entire room was coated with the material, and a huge formless blob of it towered in the center.  Dozens of skeletons of all types and sizes dotted the room, connected to the central blob by more of the thin threads.  Even worse, partially decomposing corpses surrounded the mass.  The corpses all stood erect and had their arms plunged into the slimy black thing, and the black liquid that covered the mass was traveling up the arms of the corpses, leaving clean bone behind covered in the black lacquer-like residue left by the liquid.

Feelings of rage and betrayal began to flood the party members, including Monkey Boy.  They felt that the Coy-Pu had tried to lure them into a trap and they felt an intense hatred and dislike of the terrifying blob-thing the spiderbot had discovered.  The urge to descend into the basement and destroy it was strong and nearly overpowering.  Calling over the com-link to Bozko, the party had him fly over one of the biohazard suits that had been scavenged from the military complex in an earlier session.  Natas folded his prehensile tail around his waist and suited up, then waited at the open elevator shaft as the spiderbot continued its examination of the chamber.  Suddenly, a telekinetic force tried to push the party into the elevator shaft.  Monkey-boy resisted the mental attack and Irons and Kunta-Kinte were both too heavy to be forced over, but Natas tumbled forward.  Irons successfully grabbed him in an attempt to save him from the plunge, but the weight of Natas proved enough to enable the force pushing on Irons to send him into the shaft as well.  Luckily, Natas did not puncture the biohazard suit in the fall.  He was filled with a black rage focused on the entity beyond the hallway, and he set off with plasma rifle in hand.  The black globes exploded around him as he walked down the hallway, but his suit evidently protected him from any harmful effects.  The hallway did, however, become completely filled with the yellow spores.

Back up in the lobby, Kunta Kinte found himself alone as Monkey Boy had flown away as soon as he resisted the force that tried to push him into the elevator shaft.  Kunta Kinte, holding his four-barreled rocket launcher, nervously looked down the elevator shaft and waited for word from his companions.

Down below, Natas was unable to resist the urge to attack the monstrosity, and he flung the door open and blasted away with his plasma rifle.  Despite scoring several direct hits, he did little appreciable damage and found himself once again in the grasp of an invisible telekinetic force which began dragging him toward the blob.  Irons, still at the far end of the hallway, brought his laser sniper rifle to bear and carefully squeezed a shot off around the helpless body of Natas.  He scored a solid hit, and while it again seemed to do little damage to the massive mound, it did cause it to release its mental hold on Natas who now found himself in the middle of the chamber, with dozens of skeletons of all descriptions suddenly moving after him!

Kunta Kinte, the sunlight streaming in the windows of the lobby behind him and casting his shadow on the wall of the elevator shaft in front of him, felt a sinking feeling as several more shadows were cast on the wall as if a group of figures was approaching him from behind.  He whirled around and saw that the skeletons the party had left behind in the physical therapy room had emerged and were closing the ground on him fast.  Gambling that they might be controlled by the threads that attached to each skeleton, Kunta Kinte aimed at the doorway to the Physical Therapy room and let a missile fly with the hope that he would destroy the threads and stop all the skeletons at once.  He placed his shot perfectly, the missile exploding on the ground right in the doorway, and at first it seemed like his plan had failed.  The closest skeletons were already swinging at him, and he took some damage from their bony fists.  The rest of the skeletons continued their charge.  But as Kunta Kinte scrambled to the side to avoid being pushed into the open elevator shaft, he realized that the skeletons were mindlessly continuing doing exactly what they had been doing when the explosion severed the threads.  The ones nearest him continued to swing at the empty air where he had been, while the rest continued in a straight line and ran into the swinging skeletons, and the whole lot crashed into the shaft and dropped below.  When Kunta Kinte peered down at them, he saw that they continued to make the motions as if they were charging forward even though they were jumbled in a tangle of bones at the bottom of the shaft.

Meanwhile, Bozko had been rejoined at the hovercraft by Monkey Boy, and they decided to grab some of the party's C4 plastic explosives before flying back to aid their friends.  Back in the basement chamber, Natas was surrounded by a rapidly growing ring of skeletons, including the animated bones of a huge swamp bear that dug its great claws into him.  In addition to this, great tentacles were being exuded from the black mass in the center of the room, and they began writhing their way toward him.  Near death from the injuries he had sustained in the fall and the blows he had already taken from the skeletons, he wavered between taking a last few shots at the massive blob that he felt such uncontrollable rage against and trying to make a break back toward the doorway.  Irons and Bozko yelled over the com-link to run, Bozko adding that he was coming with explosives to deal with what they could only assume was the Dark Mother.

As Irons continued to lay down covering fire with his laser rifle to prevent the Dark Mother from using telekinesis, Natas shrunk down to 1/8th his size and made a break for the door directly between the legs of the swamp bear skeleton.  He pulled off his risky maneuver as the skeletons harmlessly swung over his head, and he restored his size to normal and pulled the door shut behind him, instructing the spiderbot to begin welding it shut.  Behind him in the hallway, the black pods began to extrude out of the ground and it became apparent that they were attached to the same kind of strange black tissue that covered the room beyond the door.  As this tissue squeezed up into the hallway, it began to form writhing tentacles that groped toward Irons and Natas, who was holding the door shut while the spiderbot welded.

At this point, first Bozko and then Monkey Boy flew into the lobby with the C-4, which Bozko took with him down the elevator shaft while Monkey Boy ran into the Physical Therapy room to enact a cunning plan.  He gathered up the severed ends of the threads that still dangled from the ventilation shaft, and began to use his parasitic control mutation that allows him to gain control over an organism after successfully maintaining physical contact with it for three rounds.  He activated another mutation before doing this that doubles one of his attributes; he doubled his willpower and rolled a 10 on a d10, so his willpower jumped from 21 to 42(!!!) for 10 rounds.  Bozko blasted straight past the tentacles in the tunnel, leaving Irons to deal with them while Bozko started packing the C4 onto the spiderbot.  Irons blasted the closest tentacle to him to bits, and the tentacles nearest Bozko seemed to be unable to penetrate the suit's force field when they attempted to grab him.

Kunta Kinte felt vibrations and realized that he was sensing many footsteps coming down the staircase that opened up from the lobby (as Kunta Kinte is deaf, I have been giving him some minor benefits like being particularly sensitive to vibrations that he can feel through his feet and hands, and this has seemed to work well in game).  He again shouldered his rocket launcher and aimed at the ceiling right where the staircase opened into the lobby, figuring that this was a load bearing point and he might be able to completely seal off the staircase if he caused the ceiling to collapse.  He missed and his missile shot up into the stairwell, exploding and partially blocking the stairs, but not completely sealing them off as he had hoped.

In the Physical Therapy room, Monkey Boy was extending his mental control up through the threads and down through the ventilation systems into the main body of the Dark Mother.  He realized with a start that in addition to the huge mass that he was trying to control, there were also four other "daughter" nodes in the upper floors of the hospital that seemed to be, although connected with the Mother through the threads, independent monsters in their own right.  Realizing that he could only control one of the five, he continued to try to bring the Dark Mother under his control.

Kunta Kinte launched a third missile up into the stairwell and this time did manage to completely clog it up, then, sensing vibrations behind him, spun around and loosed his last missile at the balcony above him where another small army of skeletons was emerging from the upper levels.  Down below, Bozko had shattered the concrete floor, removed his armored glove and was changing his arm into a root that burrowed down and over, hauling the C4-laden spiderbot with it as he tried to dig underneath the Dark Mother.  The tentacles in the hallway continued to lash at the iron man suit, failing to penetrate its force field again, and a few struck at Irons.

Then the turning moment of the conflict arrived as Monkey Boy took control of the Dark Mother.  His mind was flooded with an overload of sensory stimulation, as the Dark Mother was reading the thoughts of all life forms within 1000' feet.  He quickly realized that if he had not doubled his willpower, he would have been overwhelmed by the flood of thoughts that were entering the Dark Mother, so he had only 7 more rounds to do what needed to be done.  First, he sent a signal to the daughter nodes, pretending to be the Dark Mother, getting them to divert their controlled skeletons to a far corner of the hospital.  This occurred just in time; right as Kunta Kinte was about to be overran by dozens of the walking bones, they turned around and marched back the direction they came from.  Next, Monkey Boy had some of the root-like appendages that radiated out from the Dark Mother meet Bozko half way and grab the spiderbot with all the C-4, then he pulled it back up and inside the Dark Mother so that when it blew it would detonate from the middle of the blob-body.

Bozko went to grab Natas and carry him out of the basement, but Natas still wanted to gain the Dark Mother's gift and thought that if he touched the slimy body of the Dark Mother and escaped with his life he would have the ability to animate and control plants.  Natas blasted the door back open and ran up to the Dark Mother, pulling the head-piece off the biohazard suit and stuck his head into the slime.  He failed a save vs. poison and was paralyzed, covered with acidic ooze.  Monkey Boy used the Dark Mother's telekinetic abilities to grab the paralyzed body of Natas and fly him out of the hospital.  Bozko had flown back to the hovercraft and it arrived in front of the hospital one round before Monkey Boy was about to lose control over the Dark Mother; everyone except Monkey Boy piled in and took off, while Monkey Boy waited till the last possible second, then flew at top speed out the windows while Irons sent the signal to the spiderbot to shoot an electrical charge through the C4, detonating it and destroying the Dark Mother.

I gave a small chance of the building collapsing, because the charge was detonated in the basement and the boilers all superheated in the explosion and shot upwards through the building, causing even more structural damage than the initial C4 blast.  Bozko rolled the percentage chance and used his d30 roll, but he got a 20 and the building did not collapse.  Still, the Dark Mother was slain and a portion of the lobby collapsed into the basement.  The Coy-Pu were undoubtedly upset, but no one was waiting around to see their reaction. The hovercraft was heading off into the swamp as fast as it could.  Kunta Kinte and Bark could not resist the temptation to touch the slime that was dissolving Natas' face before Bozko scraped it into a vial for later analysis; Kunta Kinte made his save and was not paralyzed, but Bark rolled a natural 1, failing his save and also prompting me to call for him to make an additional save vs. poison to avoid death by heart stoppage.  He made that one, and lives on in a paralyzed condition.

As the Swamp Orca cruised on into the swamp, Bozko had a realization.  "We were played for fools!  There was no gift of the Dark Mother!  The job of those Coy-Pu shamans was to feed people to that terrible monstrosity, and we fell for it!"  The players of everyone who touched the slime turned to me and asked if they had any new abilities, but I just smiled and said, "Not as far as you can tell."

And then I said,
"I sure hope that paralysis isn't permanent..."

... You gotta give 'em something to stew over till next session!

Monday, December 7, 2009

2e Tuesday - Fens

That's right, Gamma World 2d edition... what 2e did you think I meant?  Every Tuesday I will pick one of my favorite monsters from the fully illustrated bestiary included in the 2d edition Gamma World Basic Rules Booklet and convert it to Mutant Future.  Today's monster is...

Fens (Man-Fish)

No. Enc: 1d10
Alignment:  Neutral
                Fly (bird-form only): 240' (80')
                Swim: 240' (80')
                Land: 30' (10')
Armor Class: 7 (fish-scale armor)
Hit Dice:  8
Attacks:  1 (tailslap or weapon)
Damage:  6d6 or by weapon
Save:  L4
Morale: 7
Hoard Class:XIII

Fens are intelligent fish-men who blast through their underwater world propelled by their powerful tails.  They can survive on land for up to 24 hours but move clumsily on their stubby legs.  They exude a protective slime that protects them against heat and lasers - they ignore the first five instances that such attacks would have damaged them.  On land Fens sometimes wield low-tech weapons such as swords, clubs and spears, but in general they prefer the brutal efficacy of their tailslap in hand to fin combat.  Underwater the Fens often use their spears to ram at high speed (doing double normal weapon damage) before engaging up close with their tail.

Interestingly, all Fens possess the ability to transform into a bird of their own size.  In bird form their tailslap is replaced with two talon rakes for 2d6 damage each and a beak attack for 1d6.  If a Fen stays in bird form for longer than a day it risks permanently becoming trapped in that form, although it will always long for the water and the companionship of its own kind.  This leads to poignant moments as the other Fens return to Man-Fish form and slip back into the water as a forlorn giant bird runs up and down the shore...

Mutations: Metamorph, Special (protective slime)

The Fens intrigue me.  A Man-Fish makes as much sense as any other mutant hybrid, but a Man-Fish that can change into a Bird?  I think the Fens are a sort of swiss-army creature - you could literally run into them anywhere.  I think it would be amusing to have a recurring Fen NPC (I am envisioning a big bumbling oaf, good natured but always messing things up) that the PCs keep meeting in the oddest places.  They first meet him in the river, then run into him in the forest, and after commandeering a helicopter and flying to a floating cloud city, who do they run into but mister Fen!

(Fens illustration from the Gamma World 2d edition Basic Rules Booklet, bird silhouette added by myself)

Giant Eagles (Improv Roleplaying 101)

Tonight's Mutant Future session went off in a totally unexpected direction.  I ended up having to improvise the entire time, and the players loved it.  I would not be surprised if it was one of their favorite sessions to date.  Last session, Bark, the smaller of the two shapeshifting plants, had managed to swipe an "iron man" suit (as they call the light powered armor suits used by the special operatives of the Knights of Genetic Purity) from under the noses of the knights in very dramatic fashion.

Near death by the time he had the suit, he hurriedly got inside it and had Dataan the robot walk him through the start up procedure (Dataan had been studying a mangled suit that the party took from Richard Tater in an earlier adventure, and had a pretty good idea of how they worked).  Bark took off and managed to fly for about a mile over the wooded south hills before losing control of the suit and spiraling into the ground for a high speed crash landing.  The rest of the party managed to get to him and salvage the suit before the knights caught up, and after replacing a few damaged components from the junked suit they already had, they ended up with a fully functioning suit.

This session, after a bunch of tech rolls to finish repairing the suit and to fully understand how it worked (aided by the fact that Irons, a synthetic robot party member, had downloaded the entire operating system of the suit into his hard drive and had been conducting flight simulations in his positronic brain), the party was looking for a good place to test drive the suit.  They asked Dae Brak,the wise Badder shaman, if there was someplace relatively flat, free of obstacles and safe nearby.  Drivers, start your improv engines!

He directed them to a series of open, grassy meadows in a valley just to the south in the hills overlooking the swamp (thanks, Google terrain maps!).  He said that while large predators avoided the meadows, he warned the party that this was because giant eagles often circled overhead looking for prey; lacking a better alternative, the party decided it was worth the risk.  Most of the group accompanied Bozko in the hovercraft to the meadows, while the deaf giant Kunta Kinte, Natas the goatman and Monkey Boy stayed with Dae Brak and learned more about the herbal healing arts that Dae Brak had used to treat some of Bark's serious injuries.

Bozko had designated himself as the suit operator and Natas had used his Density Alteration, Other mutation to shrink Bozko enough to fit in the powered armor before they left.  Irons had by this time fully assimilated the entirety of the suit's capabilities due to the extensive simulations he ran after downloading the suit's operating system, and directed Bozko through the basics of flight (Irons has four arms so he could not simply fly the suit himself).  After some trial and error, Bozko got the hang of it and started experimenting with the suit's offensive abilities.  Not wanting to waste any of its mini-missiles, he started with the repulsor beams that provided both propulsion and offense.  He was soon shooting rocks out of the air that his comrades were throwing up for him, and eventually he was dodging rocks hurled directly at him.  Finally, he worked up the courage to push the limits of the suit.  He flew about a mile away from the meadow, turned, and accelerated to top speed as he flew back.  He broke the sound barrier almost immediately and a massive sonic boom rolled behind him, frightening the party members on the ground.  This noise also apparently got the attention of the giant eagles, because Beyonce's robotic dragonfly (circling high above the meadow on lookout patrol) soon spotted two shapes soaring from the ridge to the southeast.  While the rest of the party all piled in the hovercraft and retreated into the heavily wooded slopes of the hills, Bozko flew up over the meadow and eagerly awaited the arrival of the eagles.  He wanted to test the suit in a real combat situation, despite the protests of Beyonce that he might lose the party's new toy.

The giant eagles turned out to be truly gigantic.  70 foot wingspan gigantic.  As one soared in the thermal rising up from the sunny meadow, the second broke into a dive straight at Bozko.  At the last second, Bozko raked it with his repulsors - simultaneously, the eagle shrieked, a shrill, fierce cry that nearly stunned Bozko (he made his save, lucky for him and the powered suit).  The two solid hits with the repulsor beams knocked the eagle backwards in air and necessitated an ungainly struggle to regain its equilibrium.  While it was flapping and tumbling down, Bozko decided to try out the on-board targeting and locked on with a mini-missile.  He scored a direct hit, and the eagle tumbled awkwardly to the meadow, taking more damage as it crashed to the grass.  Despite all that, the eagle seemed to be by and large okay, physically, but it was quite shaken.  The second eagle was diving at Bozko from behind, but he had been warned of this by the party as they monitored the feed from the spiderbot attached to his back.  For some reason he decided to wait as if he hadn't seen it, planning to rocket straight up at the last second to let it harmlessly screech past below him.  As he was waiting for the last second and the eagle had a relatively large reach with its talons, I had Bozko roll a dexterity check to pull this maneuver off.  He failed miserably, and was raked by a large and razor sharp talon which easily pierced the suits force field and damaged Bozko as it indented a section of the chest as easily as you can squeeze an aluminum can.  Again, he got lucky as the eagle failed to hit with both talons which would have locked the suit into its iron grasp and almost certainly would have spelled doom for the plant shapeshifter.  Bozko flew up as fast as he could, again leaving a sonic boom behind him which stunned the eagle.  Thoroughly confused and angered, the two eagles beat a hasty retreat from the meadow and flew back towards the ridge from whence they came.

This is when the session really took a twist.  Beyonce announced to the group at large that she was following the eagles with the hovercraft.  Everyone else was horrified at this suggestion, but Beyonce had made up her mind that she wanted to find a giant eagle egg.  As soon as everyone heard this idea, the whole group was excitedly talking about raising and riding giant eagles.  Bark suggested that Beyonce simply follow the eagles with her dragonfly, and she realized this was a better idea than risking the hovercraft and the lives of the party.  Her robotic spy had no trouble tracking the eagles to their nest in a section of mutated Douglas Firs that dwarfed the redwoods of today and towered nearly 1000' feet into the sky.  The eagles paid no more mind to the dragonfly than they would any other minuscule insect, and Beyonce piloted it inside the nest (itself 100' tall, the product of generation after generation of eagles adding on layer after layer).  To her great disappointment, she found no eggs.  Two young fledglings squawked in the bottom of the nest, but she knew birds of that age would have already imprinted on their parents and it would be of no use to try to abduct them.

Searching the towering trees for other nests, she soon located two more.  In the interest of a good dramatic moment, I gave her a 25% chance that she would find eggs in the nest... and she used her once a session roll on the d30 instead of the percentile dice - success!  She found two eggs.  I decided that there was only a 10% chance that the third nest would contain eggs, and rolled myself - 8%, two more eggs!

Now the group started talking strategy in earnest, plotting the best method to rob eggs out from underneath the massive momma bird that was dutifully sitting on them.  Many ideas were tossed back and forth, but they all seemed fraught with peril.  Those birds could kill any member of the party in a single round, and they knew it.  And that is when Monkey Boy chimed in.  Monkey Boy is a mutant spider monkey, already only a foot and a half tall to start with, who has the Density Alteration, Self mutation that allows him to shrink to a further 1/8th his starting size.  He can fly and possesses the Possession mutation - after three rounds of physical contact with another being, he can take control over their body for as long as he remains in contact with them.  His proposal was simple - shrink down to his smallest size, fly straight up to one of the nesting eagles, burrow up under her feathers until he reached her skin, wait three rounds and seize control of her.  Then he could simply grab the eggs and fly away with them!  He executed this plan without a hitch, twice, and the party soon had four giant eagle eggs in the hovercraft.  Monkey Boy decided that he was just going to stay attached to the giant eagle for the foreseeable future, essentially getting to play as a creature with 257 HP and two talon attacks that do 5d20 damage.  Goddamn.  I did not see that coming when I jotted down a few quick stats for the eagles on the fly as they descended on Bozko in the meadow!

The party has now completely abandoned the other things they were trying to accomplish and are scouring the swamp for a safe place to hole up while they incubate the eggs, raise the hatchlings and teach them to fly with a rider.  It is truly interesting to see how one bit of improvised detail (the meadows in the valley and the giant eagles) has suddenly taken the entire campaign in a radically new direction.  I do not know if I have seen the players so excited as when they finally got the eggs into the hovercraft - it was a very rewarding moment, and the kind of thing that makes roleplaying games unique.  The ability of a human game master to roll with the punches and improvise will never be matched by a video game.  What I am most happy about is that my girlfriend, who plays Beyonce Chai, is now 100% invested in the game.  I think she has had fun (at least she claims so) in previous sessions, but I definitely got the feeling that she was mostly playing just because she wanted to be involved with something that I spent so much time on, and not because she was genuinely interested in the game itself.  But now that she has a giant eagle egg to mother, she could not be more excited.  During the car ride home she threatened me with real life harm if I killed her egg in game!  I should mention that my girlfriend volunteers at the Cascades Raptor Center here in Eugene and loves birds.  I could not have planned a better plot hook to immerse her in the game if I tried!

Sometimes running a roleplaying game is a truly magical thing.

(bird rider sketch lifted from this thread at enworld, artwork used without permission)


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