Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I love scheming. And plotting.

I don't get to spend much time prepping for my weekly games.  I scribble in my notebook on the bus to and from work.  I grab fifteen minutes here or there, but I never actually sit down for extended prep sessions anymore like I used to think I had to do.

I used to think I had to spend hours creating a fully fleshed out place for the PCs to explore BEFORE the session (heck, before the campaign even started!).  I treated it like an art project; I was creating a four-dimensional sculpture, and a lot of the time, I ended up creating tons of stuff that never saw the light of play.  

What I do now is a lot more like studying for a test than creating an art project.  After a campaign has been going for a while, it generates enough content that you really don't have to create much.  It creates itself.  You just have to sprinkle in some new spices and stir the ingredients around a bit to keep it from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot.  I look back at my notes from past sessions and refresh my memory with plot hooks that have slipped through the cracks.  I think about new ways to connect all the things that have happened into a coherent framework.  I think about what the logical responses would be to the PCs actions; responses from the other sentient actors on the scene, responses from the plant and animal life, responses from the land.

I have been getting to do a LOT of plotting and scheming lately, because both of my games took a couple week break over the holidays.  On top of that, I got to fast forward time by a year and a half in my Mutant Future game as a result of some extra-dimensional portal hopping and 4-D teleporting done by the party.

A year and a half is FOREVER in game terms.  My Mutant Future game has met for 48 sessions, and only a few months of game time has passed... until now!  The party ended last session having just been reunited with Daybrak and the badders, and soon enough they will find out what Julius Corple has been up to underneath the ziggurut that he built on top of the military complex during the party's absence.

All I can say is it is going to be fun.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Target 10 System for chart-less Attribute Attack Resolution

Mutant Future contains a chart based resolution mechanic for Willpower attacks.  Many mutations call for a Willpower attack rather than a melee or ranged attack roll; the chance of success in a Willpower attack is determined by cross-indexing the attacker's and defender's attribute score on a chart to get a "to hit" number for a d20 roll.

I took this idea and ran with it, coming up with the general idea of attribute attacks.  Any attribute can be the basis of an attribute attack; just like Mutant Future's Willpower attack, there are Intelligence, Dexterity, Constitution, Strength and Charisma attacks.  I used this a lot while writing the "quirks" (mutations by another name) for my Fantasy Quirks character creation supplement for Mutant Future.  I created a version of the Willpower Attack Table found in Mutant Future for any attribute attack:

There are two things that I like about attribute attacks; they do not gain potency while leveling up unless the ability itself increases, so 1st level characters with high attribute scores can contribute meaningfully alongside high level characters in combat; and (more importantly to me) it makes each attribute a defense.  It makes the random attribute increase that is the result of leveling up 80% of the time in the Mutant Future a much more valuable thing.  In a similar fashion to how 3e and 4e took saves and made defenses out of them, this gives me as a DM an easy mechanic to use for all sorts of attacks against the PCs.  Demonic possession?  A Willpower attack with the demons WIL of 15.  A run of the mill pit trap?  Dexterity attack with an attacking DEX of 10.  I would write the previous example using the following shorthand: DEX10 ATT 3d6 (meaning if the Dexterity attack succeeds against the character, the character takes 3d6 damage).

A cloud of gas?  CON15 ATT, 5d6 dmg save for 1/2

Bribing an official?  Obviously a Charisma attack situation.  I don't always (or even most of the time) call for rolls when players attempt to do things, but it is nice to have an easy and unified mechanic to use when I do.  When I don't know the attribute of a creature or situation (in the case of a pit trap or other inanimate attacker or target), I generally use 5/10/15+ as a good guide:  If the creature is not known for that attribute, or if the challenge is easy, I use 5.  If the creature has no reputation for that attribute, good or bad, or if the challenge is moderately difficult I use 10 as the target attribute.  For a creature known for the attribute in question or a difficult challenge, I will use 15 or more.

Today, I looked at the chart a little closer and realized that I could express the attack resolution in very simple terms to allow attribute attacks on the fly without having to look up a target number on a chart.

I realize that many people love looking up numbers on charts.  In my case, it is often one of the only times I have to refer to a book at all while running my Mutant Future game, and I would just as soon not have to break my stride to look at the attribute attack chart one more time.

So here it is:

The “Target 10TM” system for chart-less attribute attack resolution .

(Target 10TM Carl Nash 2010)

d20 roll + (Attackers Attribute - Defenders Attribute) ≥ 10 = Success

In words:  Subtract the defender’s attribute from the attackers attribute.  The result (positive or negative) is the modifier to the d20 roll.  A modified result equal to or greater than 10 is a success.


An attacker with CON 13 makes a CON attack on a defender with CON 15.

Attacker’s CON - Defender’s CON = -2

-2 is the modifier to the d20 roll

The attacker would have to roll a 12 or better (12-2=10)

Friday, December 24, 2010

4e Gamma World online character builder

I have been really curious about the 4e Gamma World game since I first heard about it.

Of course, my wedding and honeymoon this summer have left me broker than I have ever been as an adult person, and my student loans are in repayment, and I have so far resisted the urge to buy all the booster packs.  Because I have to confess, I am not one of those people who got all aghast about the use of cards and the inclusion of extra cards in booster packs.

I love cards.  I used to play and collect Magic the Gathering back in high school, and while I haven't played that game in years I still get a kick out of the cards.  All that glorious art...  I could run many an awesome session of D&D using nothing but a bunch of Magic cards randomly dealt to me as a DM to give me inspiration.  Come to think of it, I should do some Magic the Gathering inspired monster and magic posts over on my other blog.  But anyway...

In a rare display of doing something other than sticking their collective heads farther into their collective arseholes, the good folks at Wizards have given us this.

Follow the link and read the brief article if you want a discussion of how to use the character builder.  It is free, totally awesome and I love it.  It does not include the tech cards or the Alpha Mutations (the mutation that changes randomly with a card deal at the start of each session, if my sketchy understanding of 4e Gamma World is correct) that would be dealt to you at the game table and which are not permanent parts of the character.

Here is the link straight to the Character Builder for those of you who are American by gum and don't read instructions:

I am going to stop typing so I can go play around on this now.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Powered Armor in varying states of repair

My last post about destructible armor and damage reduction has gotten me thinking about powered armor.

I want to extend these rules to this fertile ground, but with more options than a simple loss in base AC bonus when soaking up damage into a suit.  My initial thoughts were to divide a suit up into sub-systems:  AC Bonus; propulsion (if any); weapons; defense (if any); carrying capacity/strength.

For example, the Iron Man suit in my campaign has a base AC bonus of +8 (AC of 1); repulsor tech propulsion enables flight up to 1200 MPH (James, the player in my campaign who controls the iron man suit, may pop in here and correct me on that, I don't have my notes in front of me and I can't actually remember top flight speed right now...); 2 x Repulsor Beam attacks per round for 4d6 damage, or a Repulsor Beam cone, +4 to hit against all targets in a 50' long 15' wide cone, doing 2d6 damage to those hit, or a mini-missile at +4 to hit with targeting computer lock, doing 7d6 damage in a 15' blast radius; 50 HP per round force field; 2 ton lifting capacity/1 ton carrying capacity in flight.

If damage was soaked into the suit, I would roll 1d5 (d10 / 2) and go down the line of sub-systems to see what got messed up.  I would rule that you could soak the entire damage of an attack by suffering damage to a random subsystem.  I would probably base the severity of the damage on the total HP being soaked, so absorbing a 127 HP explosion would definitely completely destroy whatever sub-system was rolled.

Like armor, powered armor can be repaired.  This requires a successful tech roll and some raw materials (wiring, circuit boards, pipes, metal sheets, blow torch, etc.).  A sub-system can only ever be restored to half functionality; in the Iron Man suit example, if the weapons sub-system had been completely destroyed, I might rule that the mini-missile launcher was a total loss but the repulsors could be restored with some hard work; if flight capability was lost, it could be restored, but only up to 600 MPH max speed and at greatly reduced maneuverabilities.

I am kind of excited about this.  I have been thinking about how to make my Mutant Future game a little more Mad Max in flavor, and the scavenging and scrounging of weapons and armor and robotics is going to go a long way towards achieving that.  More so, I look forward to seeing what kind of Frankenstein creations my players come up with after a while of adding on random junk to their rapidly disintegrating mech suits.

Scavenging Armor in the Mutant Future

I mentioned my "Let it Ride" house rule a little while back, which has served to both speed up combats and make them much more exciting for everyone involved.  At this point, combat in the Mutant Future is finally humming along at the pace and lethal tone I like without having to rely on grenades and laser blasters.  Nothing wrong with those, mind you, I just want the guys with the lead pipes and hockey sticks to be able to mess someone up as well.

I am also introducing a simple damage reduction mechanic, which I think will resolve a long standing frustration of mine with the way D&D AC works.  This was inspired by the Shields Will Splinter houserule, that my friend Carter is using in his Labyrinth Lord campaign (and which I know he got from another blogger in this small blogoworld).  Shields Will Splinter allows you to sacrifice your shield to prevent the damage from an attack, and I have used it several times to save my dwarf's neck in Carter's campaign.  I basically took this concept and ran with it, applying it to any type of armor.  My hope is to see characters running around with half destroyed armor, looking for stop signs and car doors to patch themselves back up with.

Armor Will Crumble 
(Mutagenic Houserule)

When a character takes damage, her player has the option of soaking up some of that damage into her armor.  Damage can be soaked in 10 HP increments, with each 10 HP soaked reducing the base bonus of the armor by one.  For example, a character wearing chainmail takes 15 HP of damage from a laser blast.  Soaking all of that damage into her armor would reduce its base bonus by 2, resulting in her chainmail having a base AC of 7 instead of 5.

Unarmored: AC 9    
Current AC: 9 - current armor bonus - Dexterity modifier

Armor Type: Base Bonus: Current Bonus:

Shield +1
Cloth +1 
Leather +2
Studded Leather +3
Chainmail +4
Scale Mail +5
Plate Mail +6
Full Plate Mail +7

Magical Armor:  If a player chooses to soak damage into magical armor, the player rolls a Save vs. Energy Blast for the armor as if it were a character of a level equal to twice its magical bonus (+5 armor saves as a 10th level character).  If the save is successful, the damage is negated and the armor is unscathed.  If the save fails, the attack does double damage and the armor is completely destroyed.

This will require a minuscule amount of record keeping for the players, but only if they choose to use the houserule... and that will probably only be in a situation where it saves the character's bacon, so I don't envision any complaints...

All a player has to do is say how much of the damage they just received they are soaking, reduce the amount of incoming damage accordingly, and then adjust AC and current bonus of armor.

 For every two points of AC bonus lost to damage soaking, one point could be restored by scavenging material and taking the time to repair the armor.  This also means that you can only repair leather or better armor, and that repaired armor will be only half as effective as new armor... but hey, its much better than nothing!

I think this houserule will encourage a kind of hording mentality that I think actually would exist in the Mutant Future - I imagine if you found an extra suit of armor in the wasteland, you would lug it around with you if you could...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Teleporting in 4D

I have been thinking a lot about time travel lately as it relates to portals, teleporting and dimensional shifting.

One of the things I have been kicking around is the idea of linked portals both advancing through time.  The simplest example is two portals linked together and advancing through time at the same rate.  So you step through a portal and pop out five years in the past (these portals may or may not also travel through physical space or dimensional space, regardless of being linked temporally).  You spend a year farting around in the past, then step back through the portal and find that you have missed a year in your original timeline.

A slight wrinkle is to have the two portals advance through time at different rates.  This is what happened recently in my Mutant Future campaign, when despite experiencing just a few weeks as the party experienced time, the characters found that almost two years had passed when they passed back through a dimensional portal into their original home (and home dimension).  This allowed me to make some changes to the swampy home they have come to love, such as the disturbing tendency of recently killed things to rise up from the dead and stumble around looking for brains, and some major reshuffling of the local power players (most noticeably the Knights of Genetic Purity withdrawing from the valley and a major increase in Julius Corple's activities and influence).

Anyone else ever played around with this?  I first got the idea when a new character in the campaign got the Plane Shift mutation and I was coming up with a list of some random destinations in case it was ever used.  One of the destinations I wrote down was in the past of the campaign world, before the apocalypse.

That destination came into play because I just couldn't resist it... I had decided that the first time the mutation was used, it was opening to the present.  I had gleeful visions of a mutant party crashing through Eugene, looting the army installation by the fair grounds and then jetting with the military in hot pursuit.  The first time the mutation was used, the party was in a desperate struggle against a Xiticix Killer (a great monster that I stole from a wonderful Rifts book called Lone Star which I actually wrote a review of on this blog - I highly recommend Rifts as inspiration for Mutant Future DM's, even if you just look at the pictures...)

In a sudden flash of inspiration, the player with Plane Shift opened a portal to random destination behind the creature and the rest of the party bull rushed it and forced it into the portal... to a busy intersection in west Eugene on the evening that I was playing the game with my friends in real life.  Only of course, we didn't hear about the national guard being called in to deal with an alien monster that night...

I recently picked up Transdimensional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which is more or less an entire book of possible destinations for time portals as well as advice for running exactly the kind of time and dimension-spanning game that I have come to love!

So of course, I recently had the players discover a "portal tree" with 18 twisted columns of energy intertwining around each other, each leading to a different destination if stepped into.

They have learned what is on the other side of about half of the portals.  They very nearly dropped everything else they were doing and went exploring a giant temple of the snake men on an apparently abandoned planet, and they stuck their heads out in my 4e campaign world (two players who cross-over between my campaigns were duly impressed, and got to feel like they were in on a joke).  But what is on the other side of the other nine portals?  Or when?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stars Without Number

Wow.  Just simply wow.  Check this out right now.  Author Kevin Crawford has released a free .PDF of his amazing retroclone, Stars Without Number, which is not released under the OGl and thusly does not claim any direct compatability with any system... but it is pretty much compatible with any pre-3e edition of D&D with minimal changes.  The coolest thing is that this looks suspiciously like B/X crossed with Traveller. 

No, I lied.  The coolest thing is the equipment list.  No, the world building tips.  No, the easy to read layout and the concise but evocative writing.

I am going to hork the equipment list and make a few random tables out of it so that new starting characters in my Mutant Future campaign can have something cooler than a short sword to kill things with at 1st level!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't Cross The Streams

In the real world I run two RPG campaigns simultaneously, am the general manager of a local natural grocery store with 40 employees, try to be a good husband to a beautiful goodwife, and keep up a busy musical and social life.  I am good at juggling things.  I see connections everywhere, ways of integrating different aspects of my life to achieve new heights at every endeavor.  It is only natural, then, that my two RPG campaigns should coexist in a single coherent worldview and could even, if the conditions were right, directly impact each other.

Well, the moon was in the correct phase, the planets aligned, the stars froze for 73 milliseconds and a transmission escaped from one of my campaigns into another.  A player, looking bravely into the face of the unknown in the form of a direct nervous system interface with an alien computer system, facilitated by the animated liquid-metal quadrapus-harness robot that had attached itself to him, said the following immortal words:

"I'll flip some switches."

The DM pauses and thinks back on what he had just heard.

DM CARL:  "The only thing you can understand about this interface is that there are certain 'programs', or complex sequences of energy pulses in various frequencies, that can be activated by the central singularity container.  You have no way of telling what the effects are going to be.  The only way you can even tell that these are 'programs', is that one was recently activated by the liquid metal centipede that you guys destroyed last time.  That program activation is what provided the energy for all the compartmentalized charged gas brains, started the alien egg bath glowing pink and restored the dead embryos to a rapidly growing life.  So when I said that basically you had a bunch of switches, that you could flip on or off, I was trying to stress that you had no idea what flipping the switches would do.  Are you SURE you want to flip some switches?"

TILANDRIEL:  "I'll flip some switches."  (poker face)

DM CARL:  "OK...   pause...  I have to find that list... pause  shuffle shuffle...  where the FUCK is that chart of random possibility outcomes... OH WELL

(there is a delicate balance between finding the correct information in your notes and just keeping the game moving)

(I at least remember the gist of the chart, which is that an 85 or higher is a result observable within the chamber, 1-84 is an activation of one alien facility or another on the planet, or the activation of a certain subroutine in an alien robot, and a roll of 100 on a d100 was the total, immediate and utter destruction of the universe with no savings throw.  Thats what you get for fucking with a goddamn singularity contained inside alien technology that you don't even pretend to understand.)

DM CARL:  "OK... I can't find the chart, but go ahead and roll 4 times.  That is how many 'levers' you can flip in one round of actions.  I will record the results.  I remember enough about the chart to tell you the general results, if you can see any at all, of your actions.  You can roll 1d100 four times if you really want to."

TILANDRIEL:  shake shake shake  ROLLLLLLLLL   86  (oooohhhhhhhhhh...... I will go with one of the results that I remember well because it is a really bad one, but it is easily observable in the chamber)

DM CARL:  "The complex pink and purple pulses that have covered the central singularity container stop and a dull orange glow replaces them.  Everyone with a magical quirk (see my Fantasy Quirks supplement for Mutant Future) can sense a sudden and strong influx of magical energy.  Go ahead and roll three more times."

SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE ROLLLLLLL -----  the last three rolls were under 85, no 100's, the world did not end, and three of the four levers caused effects that the party could not observe.  Still, the party DID have one observable effect to contend with back on Celestia.

DM CARL:  "No longer is the singularity container simply broadcasting energy out across Celestia; now, several intense streams of magical energy seem to be manifesting and streaming INTO the singularity, which swells and grows as the orange glow becomes more intense.  At the same time, the plasma brain baths are instantly shut down and you lose your interface.  You no longer have any contact with the alien computer or the singularity container."

The Upshot:  The streams have been crossed!

The players have already suspected that the alien technology they are encountering on the surface of Celestia is related to the "snake men" that reside in an obsidean crater in a city of gold in my 4e campaign.  These suspicions will probably be confirmed next Friday when my 4e game next meets, as there will be noticeable impacts of the levers being thrown in that game world.

The alien facilities that pepper the landscape of Celestia in a peculiar pattern the cause of which the party has not yet determined are not only created by the same race of snakemen that reside mysteriously aloof in their golden city in my 4e campaign, but these facilities are directly linked to the huge meteorite "battery" that the golden city sits on top of.

The players unwittingly activated an energy transference subroutine that was not supposed to be activated until very near the end of time in my Mutant Future universe.  This subroutine begins the transference of stored energy from the snakemen's meteorite battery in my 4e universe to the snake men's singularity container in my Mutant Future universe, for purposes that are still unclear to my players, not to mention the effect that starting the energy transfer billions of years too earlier might have on whatever plans the snakemen have laid throughout time and multiple dimensions of reality.

More to be said on that after next Friday's game...

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Surface of Celestia

This is a page from my notes with a nice cutaway view that shows the surface of Celestia.  I gave a brief overview of Celestia in this post.  Click to see a non-clipped version.

The party has been stumbling their way across, over and under the dark ruined surface of Celestia for six sessions now.  In that time they have come across quite a few oddities, a few of which I have scanned in from my campaign notes.

The last two sessions have largely focused on this room (including an epic battle last session [Mutagenic Substance Campaign Session #45!] against a liquid-metal robot centipede golem!):
(Top View, scale is at the bottom:  The circular thing in the center is an alien machine of some sort.  A dome on top of it opens into what appears to be a controlled singularity, the creation and distruction of a/the universe contained within it somehow for an as yet unknown purpose)

 Click to see a non-clipped version:

View of the circular thing in the center of the chamber:  This emits intense energy in every possible form that energy can be emitted, apparently broadcasting to numerous receptors around Celestia.  Everything in this chamber that is powered (the egg foam, the teleporter pods, the lift, and the "cars") runs on broadcast power emitted by this thing.

The party became aware of this strange chamber, totally incongruous amidst the lowest service levels of an ancient subway line, when Tilandriel (an elf made with my Fantasy Quirks character creation supplement for Mutant Future) gained access to the memories stored inside the Dr. Octopus-like tentacled liquid-metal-harness that had attached itself to him.  Intrigued by the alien contents of the chamber as revealed to Tilandriel in a 3-Dimensional scan of the subway line, and by some glowing tablets of energy they had previously found which appeared to be related, the party reversed their stolen subway train and headed back to look for the alien chamber.

The numbered circles in the room are matched pairs of teleporter pods.  They function similarly to the teleporter pods in the movie The Fly with Jeff Goldblum (one of my wife's all time hollywood crushes and on her top five to do list).

The door of the pod opens from the center at any touch of at least one pound pressure, and will not shut if anything at all is breaking the plane of the door.  If at least 1 oz of matter is inside a pod and nothing is breaking the plane of the door, the door shuts and the pods channel the singularity inside the big machine in the center of the room.  The contents of the two pods with the same alphanumerical designation trade places in spacetime, instantly, no matter the intervening distance, with no effect that can be observed by anything thus transported, and the door opens in the new location.  If the door on one matched pod is open, the door on its mate will not open until the first door is shut.  A glowing iris in the center of the door is an omni-directional camera that broadcasts its feed to a screen inside the pod's mate.  In this manner, the area in front of the destination pod can be viewed before teleporting.

The pods crossed out with an "X" and numbered 1-3 lead to the corresponding destinations labelled 1-3 at the bottom.  The pods that are all the way blacked out are the mated pairs to the pods labelled 1-3 and are consequently missing from the chamber.

Two pods (bottom left corner) are loaded onto a sort of "car" that is parked on top of a working lift that goes up to the subway line.  Three more cars, each capable of loading two more pods, are parked along the wall.

Two pits contain mounds of alien eggs, covered in a solidified foam that resembles a spit-bugs nest.  The foam is super-charged and delivers a 5d20 damage shock (save vs. Energy attacks for half damage) to anyone foolish enough to touch it.  The eggs contain dead embryos, similar in form to mammals in early development, but obviously of a slightly divergent alien evolutionary history.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fantasy Quirks Beta Test Version 0.9.4

As mentioned in my last post, I recently have written a supplement for Mutant Future that allows random mutation style character generation in a fantasy vein.  Not necessarily your normal D&D fantasy vein, but a fantasy vein nonetheless.

I just updated this blog to include a permanent link to the Google Docs version of this supplement.  In many ways, this is already an outdated version but it will be couple of weeks before I release the .PDF version of the official public beta version playtest.

The official playtest will be hosted on the forums over at the Eye of the Vortex, so stay posted for news of that.

Any feedback, almost especially negative feedback, is encouraged.  Let me know what you think!

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Campaign World and New Rules

Man, last night's session was a doozy.  It might take too long to explain exactly how this all transpired, but the PCs now find themselves on the dark surface of a planet that is entirely surrounded by a metal ball.  The surface of the planet itself is really the crumbling upper level of layer after layer of ruined cities that stretch uninterrupted across the world.  Occasional light oases (an oasis of light) exist where radiation spills from the underside of the metal shell that covers the planet; this is usually heat exhaust, but in at least one place a malfunctioning fusion reactor in the metal shell is shedding light comparable to the setting sun over a good swath of the land.

The group has sort of fallen in with a passive resistance movement called the Upward Thinking Gentle Beings, who pride themselves on still being aware of the galaxy of interstellar intrigue that exists on the other side of the metal shell that covers the world.  The Upward Thinking Gentle Beings split away from the Old Republic of Celestia because they found the brutal methods of the old government to be distasteful.  The mutant race of telepathic computer hackers that had been enslaved by the government escaped with the Upward Thinking Gentle Beings, making tracking down the runaways the number one priority for the Republic, because without the Hackers the death machines used by the Republic to keep order are beginning to go haywire.

Last night's session, in addition to being somewhat of a campaign reboot in a new location (much more of the world of Celestia to come in future posts), marked the first official playtest session of a supplement I am working on for Mutant Future.

Basically, I have come up with an entire new set of physical and mental mutations that I call "quirks", that enable anyone to roll a random character with powers similar to and compatible with Mutant Future's mutations and mutants.  The difference is that instead of being post-apocalyptic flavor, these characters taste like the particular strange version of the fantasy genre that exists in my imagination.

Players who have characters die and new players in the campaign are now making characters using these rules, and playing them alongside the regular Mutant Future characters.  So far so good - the new characters and quirks meshed seamlessly with the old mutants and mutations.  As soon as I finish getting the Open Gaming License and the Mutant Future License filled in correctly, I will post a free public Beta version of these rules if anyone else wants to get in on the playtesting fun!

I also introduced a new houserule into play that proved to be terribly exciting and an instant winner.

"Let it Ride" or "Double or Nothing"

Whenever a successful melee or ranged attack is made, the attacker can choose to let it ride - this involves throwing a second attack roll.  If this is also successful, the attack does double normal damage, but if it fails, the attack does no damage at all. This can be attempted a third time if the second roll is successful, for quadruple damage with a success but again, no damage at all with a failure.

In play, this made combat WAY more exciting, fast and deadly.  A guy with a sword or bow and arrow can now do some serious damage in a single round; it is just much harder to get the hit in.  When Dis, a vampire character made using the new rules, was making his escape in the back of a purloined jeep, a Republic soldier drew careful bead and BAM, I rolled a 19.  Solid hit with the rifle.  So I let it ride... 15.  Hit.  So I let it ride again... the party hangs in suspense... 19!  Dis takes a quadruple damage rifle shot and ends up with 3 HP.  Ouch!

Of course, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, and the party got some awesome super high damage shots in using this rule - and also wasted several hits by pressing their luck. The most dramatic moment was when Gar the dark elf (another fantasy quirk character, I combined race into the random quirk package so that both race and powers are determined randomly during the char gen process) decided that he was going to go for broke and double up an attack twice.  He rolled all three d20's at once, and the first two stopped rolling before the last one... 20!  20!  Two 20's sitting on the table (a 20 is a double damage attack in my game, which stacks with the doubling and quadrupling from the Let it Ride rule, so we were looking at a possible 16 or even 32 times damage attack if the last die ended up a hit or a 20 as well) and the last one finally stops rolling on a 4.  Wiff!

The group erupted in howls of laughter as poor Rorey (Gar's player) had to pick up his dice, knowing he just wasted double 20's without even landing a hit!

I personally loved the feel of the rule, combining the excitement and risk taking of gambling with the rolling of the dice.  Even though an individual attack round might take a little longer using this rule, the whole group was very into each roll and soon began chanting "Double It!  Double It!" when a party member landed a successful hit.  The overall effect was to actually speed up combat, because a few quadruple damage hits landed that dramatically changed the balance of power on the battlefield.

It also neatly solves a longstanding problem I have had with the Mutant Future rules, which is that the equipment table was lifted straight from Labyrinth Lord with its d8 damage for a longsword intact.  With HP being based solely on Constitution, I have a hard time buying the usual "HP do not represent physical damage" jazz, so I want a sword to be able to do some serious damage.  Maybe not as easily as a laser cannon or a rifle, but a 1st level character shouldn't be able to just stand there laughing while someone hacks at them round after round with a measly d6 damage shortsword.  Just for shits and giggles, the next time I roll a nat 20 on an attack roll, I am going to calmly say to the group...   "Let it ride..."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Some plant-tending robots.

This motley assortment of robots was encountered by my PCs in the alien spaceship that turned out to be nearly filled with a powerful plant organism.  The robots, designed by the plant organism and created using the ship's science labs, tended to a small forest of young flowering bodies (small Death's Head Trees, with little severed heads as fruit).   The sketches are lifted out of my notes from running the game, and are pretty hasty to say the least.

Sensor Balls:

All of these robots can be controlled by little flying balls called "Sensor Balls", one of which is depicted flying over robot 2 below.  These little flyers usually take no actions beyond hovering in a position that gives them a good field of view (and they can see in all directions and spectrums) and directing the other robots. They will take evasive maneuvers if necessary and can use a short range laser meant for precision trimming and pruning work in combat as a last resort.  As long as any one Sensor Ball is in the vicinity, it commands the other kinds of robots with great intelligence.  Left to their own devices, the robots can only respond with pre-programmed aggressions to anyone disrupting their routine.

Movement: Flight (35 MPH), instant acceleration, perfect maneuvering including the ability to hover
HP: 12
AC: 1
Attack:  2' Laser Beam, attacks as a 14 HD monster (these little balls have amazing processing power and when they combine it with their terrific sensory inputs they can attack with cold precision), 4d6 damage, can cut through metal slowly.

Forcefield: 20 HP per round (the Sensor Ball ignores the first twenty damage it takes every round, this refreshes at the beginning of the Sensor Ball's next turn).
Each Sensor Ball has 6 "eyes" that have 2 HP each; one eye is lost for every 2 damage the ball takes.

The Plant-Tending Robots:

All the robots below share at least one common design element: the ball shaped "fingertip" at the end of each "finger" and "toe".  Each of these balls is covered with a multitude of tiny manipulators that can fold upon themselves to create attraction much like a gecko's foot.  These fingertip balls are capable of firmly grasping almost any surface, and when five of them on the ends of opposable fingers are combined, these robots are extremely nimble and dexterous when it comes to fine manipulation of objects.  This feature means that all robots that possess it can walk on walls and ceilings just as easily as the floor.  Use this to your advantage!  PCs often forget to look up...

The numbers refer to the numbers next to the robots on the drawings above.

Robot 1:  This is a mobile vacuum cleaner, essentially.  It stands four feet off the ground with a neck that can extend out to ten feet.

Movement:  This thing cannot go faster than a slow jogging pace, and its normal movement speed is a slow walking pace as it snuffles up debris and keeps the plant chambers clean.
Attacks: As an 8 HD monster, it can attack with its powerful suction hose to a range of 15'.  This attack causes no damage but holds objects weighing less than 2,000 lbs firmly suctioned against the hose mouth as if it had a strength of 20.  It can carry 500 pounds and drag up to 2,000 pounds at half its normal speed.
HP and AC:
           Main Body (the vacuum bag, which can expand out more than twice as wide as the robot is tall, and the disc shaped power source and legs): HP: 100, AC: 5

             Neck/Vacuum: HP:30, AC: 3

Disabling the body destroys the robot; disabling the neck or vacuum eliminates its only effective means of defending itself.

Robot 2:  This is a flying plant trimmer.  The main body is 14" across and each arm is a smooth plastic that can extend out to 3 feet.  It has a hand that can gently manipulate a plant and a wicked pruner that can slice straight through a ten inch tree trunk if the blades are fully extended.

Movement:  Flight up to 30 MPH, excellent maneuverability
HP: 30
AC: 3
Attacks as a 7 HD monster.  AT:1, DMG: 2d6 pruner, 2d10 if pruner fully extended (takes 1 round to extend)
Can grab and carry an object in its hand as if it had a strength of 18.  It can fly with up to 200 pounds and drag up to 400 at half its normal movement.

Robot 3:  This is a robot plant mister and fertilizer and insecticide dispenser.  Your general all in one watering can swiss army knife type robot.  It can stand anywhere from 2 feet (the height of its reservoir tank and power disc) to over 7' tall when all five segments are extended on each leg.
Movement: as a human
Attacks: The robot attacks as a 8 HD monster. See spray attacks below.
HP and AC:
        Reservoir Tank: unless otherwise specified, all attacks are directed at this area.  HP: 60  AC:4 - if the Reservoir Tank is destroyed, the pressurized gases inside explode for 5d6 damage in a 10' radius.
         Legs (4):  Each leg has HP:20 and AC:3  At least two legs are required for the robot to effectively move, although it can certainly drag and hop along on one leg.
         Misters (2) Each mister has HP:10 and AC:4.  At least one mister is required to for the robot to make a spray attack.

Spray Attacks: 2 sprays (15' range, single target each) or one area attack spray that automatically hits any opponent within 6' (or close melee range).

Damage: (many different sprays) 2d6 acid (ongoing 1d6 damage for two rounds unless washed off), or save vs. poison for 5d6 damage (poison gas lingers in the same area for another round, anyone still in the area a turn later must save again if they have not taken any damage), or save vs. poison or fall unconscious for 1d4 rounds or no damage (special): smoke cloud, limits visibility to 5'

Robot 4:  This is a mobile plant nursery capable of transporting up to a 3' tall baby Death's Head Tree (or your choice of other valuable plant type thing).  It is a beefy robot designed to be able to traverse rugged environments.  It also can act as a controller for the other robots, although it is not as intelligent as several Sensor Balls acting in concert.

The section of the drawing above labelled "4B" shows how each large metal sphere that independently powers two of the robots legs can descend downwards on a pole up to 15'.  If any one of these three two-legged balls survives, it can maneuver the robot around at full speed if not full agility.  4B also shows how each leg can itself extend out to a total of five jointed segments (only two are pictured extended in the main drawing, and none of the three balls that mount the six legs are pictured extended down at all).

The five circles that appear around the edge of the main disc like body of the robot are portals through which eye-tentacles can emerge.  There are ten of these eye tentacles in total.  The very front of the robot is a multi-purpose panel that can serve as a monitor for displaying images and also functions as a forward facing viewpoint.

Movement:  Can run up to 50 MPH over even terrain, and up to 30 MPH over broken terrain and even up a cliff.  These are extremely powerful and rugged robots.
HP and AC:
               Everything but the dome (the main body, the extendable balls and the legs): HP: 150  AC: 0
               The Dome: HP: 50  AC: 0

Forcefield: The dome is surrounded by a 50 HP forcefield (the dome ignores the first 50 HP of damage it receives each round).
Attacks: as a 20 HD monster: 2 kicks for 4d6 damage each.  If a kick does more than 12 damage, it knocks the victim backwards 10' and requires a dexterity check to remain standing.

Destroying the main body of the robot does not disable the forcefield around the dome or make it any easier to penetrate the incredibly hard clear plastic surface of the dome.  The interior of the dome will maintain a livable environment for its plant for up to 7 days after the robot is destroyed with the tanks of compressed gases and stores of water and nutrients inside the dome.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I love poorly translated Japanese comments on my blog!

The following is an unedited (except for where I made the line breaks) excerpt from the babelfish translation of a Japanese spam comment on my last post.  For more hilarity, scroll down and read the other badly translated porn spam.

Found Poem 

a one hitting javelin
electric shadow institute love


single leaf feeling

I am mystified by and remain hopeful that another commenter is legitimate, because the translation of this short comment seems to perfectly sum up my entire Mutant Future campaign in an abstract sort of way:  "The impossible left and right heaven - yes from here reforming - feelings"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Holy Crap! I have time to write a post! (Mutant Future sessions 34 - 37)

Well folks, looking back at my last post I see that I drastically overestimated my ability to keep up on this blog.  Not a single 2e Tuesday post.  Sorry!

My weekly Mutant Future game has become an every other week affair, but the players are taking the campaign in interesting new directions.  I want to briefly outline what has happened since the players stole an alien spaceship in an alternate dimension that they were visiting.  This is still going to be a very long post even if I skip a lot of the details.

Sessions 34 - 37 have all taken place on the ship, although at the end of last nights session the main body of the ship was destroyed and the party barely escaped in the detachable flying saucer top of the space ship.  The flying saucer was heavily damaged and the party more or less crash landed it on a rocky planetoid.

The party took a while to feel out the ship.  A character death had necessitated that Danny roll up a new character during the session that the party stole the ship (alas, Rok was decapitated during a duel with an Elf Champion), and he made a robot using the optional rules I introduced here and here.  I let him roll twice on the optional Industrial and Civilian feature chart and once on the mental mutation table and he got the Plane Shift mutation.  Of course, this meant that he had just used his ability to materialize within the alien ship the day before the party stole it.  He had been working on interacting with the ship's computer the entire time, and spent much of the next two sessions pursuing this strategy.  His ability to wirelessly interact with the computers within 50' of him (thanks to that handy optional chart) let him attempt to do the job of a crew of humans on the bridge.  He spent a lot of time doing tech rolls and coming up with new and creative ways to use the ship's computers and attempt to wrest control of the computer systems from an unknown super-computer that was manipulating the ship's data feeds. 

One thing that the party learned right away was that one quarter of the ship, a large wedge, on two levels, had been completely disconnected from the ship's systems.  What lay in that large area, behind sealed bulkheads, the party had no way of knowing. 

Other party members familiarized themselves with the large weapons control deck and the robotics control deck.  Bob the mutant human had a great deal of success in figuring out how to remotely control what turned out to be a veritable legion of robots of many different varieties. 

An army of robotic minions was sent out to explore the ship when it was discovered that the optical feeds coming in from the ship's cameras were being tampered with by an unknown super-computer that appeared to have direct access to the ship's bridge.  It gradually became apparent that there were "invisible" creatures stalking around the ship (at least two of them were confirmed by reconnaissance squads in different locations simultaneously), but as they were cloaked from visual detection and the feed from the ship's sensors was being manipulated by the unknown computer the only way of detecting them was relying on the sensors of the robots directly controlled by Bob the mutant human in the robotics control center.  Attempts to engage the invisible creatures led to the destruction of numerous robots and no further knowledge of the invisible assailants

Amusingly, Shazaam attempted to "figure out" the weapons control system.  This was a complex touchscreen interaction with visual tracking that allowed the user to pull up enormous targeting windows along the outer wall of the deck.  Having already failed to understand the interface, he informed me that he was going to "press some buttons".  I had him roll the dice.  He rolled the worst possible result that he could of.  Everyone in the party stopped as I laughed and told them what happened next.  Shazaam had activated an emergency defensive sub-routine meant to be used as a last resort when taking intense enemy fire.  He diverted all available power to the ship's shields and the weapons systems.  The ship shut down all non-occupied areas, powering off life support and diverting everything to the shields. 

The party held its breath, looking at monitors depicting an inky black ship.  Over in the bridge, Volcom (the plane shifting robot computer tech) managed to restore the ship to its normal operating parameters but multiple alarms demanded his attention.

Entire decks of cryo-chambers had opened, releasing a bizarre horde of part plant, part animal monstrosities.  Stang, the giant mutant wasp with four defective paranoid brains, leapt at the chance to rush into action. 

I probably shouldn't go into detail with the battles that raged across the ship, first with the newly awakened abominations (this battle was actually mercifully short thanks to grenades and an entire legion of robotic defenders activated by Bob to aid the party) and later with the invisible assailants.  These turned out to be shapeshifting plant-toads that walked upright and had enormous gaping mouths (I used the Grey Slaadi stats from the Fiend Folio, with a few tweaks:  150 HP, flame strike does 15d6, and they could transport themselves with/transform themselves into their "ball of lightning" ability which I left at 8d6+6 damage).  The creatures proved to be quite formidable.  One showed up in the bridge in the guise of a holographic doctor that had been activated during the accidental ship-wide power shutdown. 

The party was all too eager to believe in the holographic doctor, especially as he told them a lot of information that made sense.  Eventually, the ruse was revealed and the toad-thing attempted to slay the party in the bridge as another attacked the party members that were down in the lower decks.  Nothing the party tried seemed to be able to hurt the creatures.  Even mental mutations seemed to work only infrequently (I applied the Grey Slaadi's 55% magic resistance to mental mutation attacks and the party wasn't trying the "magical" weapons they had, two long swords +3 of light from the elves and several glargore weapons from the badders).  At one point James Bomb received a wound and an egg pellet was implanted in his arm by the toad-plant.  He panicked and fled, tying off his arm above the wound and blasting his own forearm off with his laser pistol as he retreated to the med chambers.  The elevator let him off in a strange, plant covered chamber and it took all his wits to evade another toad creature that came looking for him.  Back in the bridge, Shazaam had realized that his elvish Light Sword could injure the creature and the tide of battle turned.  The toadstrosity retreated.

I have to mention one epic moment:  a later battle pitted Shazaam one on one against another Slaadtastic Plant Toad.  Dr. Hops the mutant were-rabbit lay dead at his feet, victim of the Slaadi's flamestrike which thankfully Shazaam had succeeded in his saving throw against.  The slaad traced a strange symbol in the air and projected energy through it - Volcom's player Danny made a specific point to mention that Volcom was watching this symbol closely over the monitors from the bridge - and Shazaam and Volcom promptly became blind.  In the case of the robot Volcom, his optical sensors were still working but his processors had lost the capacity to crunch the visual feed and he had no image to work with.  Shazaam hefted his Light Sword and made a called shot to the neck, an attempted decapitation, acknowledging my admonition that he would be at a severe penalty to hit due to his BLINDNESS, and...  rolled a natural 20.  He cut the thick head off the shoulders of that thing, and then stumbled off to the med labs.

Several sessions slowly revealed that the entire ship was riddled with a single organism, an immense plant that had filled the ventilation systems, the spaces between decks, and presumably had a main body in the section of the ship that was sealed off from the party.  Sorties into this sealed section revealed rooms of robot plant cultivators tending to small "sapling" versions of the death's-head tree the party had encountered at the elven castle.

The party had also been experiencing symptoms of a physical ailment, symptoms that manifested for some of the party members as bloating and discomfort in the bowels and in others as sinus pressure or a sore throat.  Eventual scans revealed that an alien organism was growing inside most of the party members (Bozko never ate any elvish food and Volcom arrived in the spaceship without contacting the elves at all).  It appeared to be forming a second nervous system that was intertwining itself along and around the nervous systems of the infected party members.  Of course, many methods were tried to remove the organism but it was too closely linked to vital nerves to allow for any surgical extraction and the robot doctors warned strongly against even attempting it.

The party gained access to what appeared to be several thousand years of ship's medical logs - apparently, the ship had been cruising around space for over 5,000 years acting as the host of the parasitic alien plant-creature.  The plant creature infected the original crew of the ship and once the alien nervous systems grew inside the crew members, the plant-creature sent out signals that activated the alien nervous systems and seized control of the crew members' bodies. 

I wish I had time to go into the biology, philosophy and survival adaptations of the alien creature and its offspring because it is really fascinating but I don't.

Long story short:  A violent struggle for control of the ship broke out between the alien plant-creature that filled the ship and the party, who holed up in the bridge.  The bridge and the other three important main decks were all located in a detachable portion of the spaceship, a large flying saucer that also contained the weapons systems but not the hyperdrive.  The party eventually cleared the entire flying saucer level of the alien plant creature and achieved a stalemate of sorts as both sides waited for the ship to complete its jump and come out of hyperspace.

The second the ship returned to normal space Volcom initiated the detach flying saucer sequence.  The party had prepared for this moment by hacking into a section of the ship's life support code and eliminating the barrier on how hot the internal temperature could be raised to.  Then, the party had activated the sprinkler system and filled the hallways with mist.  As soon as the flying saucer was clear, Volcom was cranking the heat inside the main body of the spaceship up to nearly 1,000 degrees.  The plan was to steam the vegetable, as it had been proven earlier that head dried up and killed the mycelium-like tissue of the plant-creature. 

The plant-creature proved to be a wily adversary as well, jettisoning four large sections of the ships hull that opened into the sealed plant-sections of the ship and revealing four enormous "arms" of plant matter, that reached out thousands of feet and snagged the flying saucer as it was attempting to fly away.  Twisting and turning, pulled by the long plant-tentacles, the flying saucer and its crew blasted away with the pulse-laser cannons and soon succeeded in destroying the arms that bound the ship.  Volcom steered the flying saucer a safe distance away and the rest of the party remained in the weapons control deck, manning pulse cannons and missiles aimed at the ship "just in case". 

Soon, two cloaked slaadi flew out after the flying saucer.  Impossible to detect except as a void where background radiation should have been coming through, the slaadi proved difficult to target with the pulse cannons and were dangerously close for missile fire.  The slaadi took advantage of this moment of confusion and transformed into lightning ball form and travelled at the speed of light to directly outside the saucer's hull, from whence they sent lightning balls inside the ship to attack the party.

The slaad attempted to tunnel in to the ship, but Stang picked one of with the pulse cannon, overcoming its energy resistance (55% magic resistance) and utterly obliterating it with something like 780 damage done with the one shot (the ship-to-ship pulse cannons do 1d100 x 10 damage).  The second slaad made it into the walls of the ship and was eventually stopped, but not before severe damage was done to the computer and life support systems in the bridge. 

Volcom piloted the crippled saucer back close enough to the mother ship to be able to wirelessly tap into its computers (the transmitter in the saucer had been damaged beyond repair and the party had lost all feeds from the mother ship).  Once the party had access to the feeds again, it became apparent that the plan was working.  The alien flesh was being slowly cooked, and it looked like within five or six more hours the middle of the alien creature would be "done".  Mmmm, roasted alien mycelial networks. 

Suddenly, a huge ball of the creature shot out from the spaceship and began hurtling away into space, apparently making a break for it.  As the astonished party swung their weapons toward it, they saw it preparing some kind of energy charge that it was aligning toward the main body of the ship.

Volcom diverted all of the shields to directly between the flying saucer and the main body of the ship, just before a nuclear explosion happened in the chamber recently vacated by the plant-creature.  The ship was ripped to shreds and then disintegrated, but the alien creature had readied a shield of energy to "surf" off the explosion and accelerate away.

Luckily, the shields held because of Volcom's last second maneuver, but the power resources of the flying saucer were almost completely drained.  The party did manage to destroy the alien creature with pulse-laser fire as the explosion was happening, and then eventually Volcom armed a missile with a planet buster and sent it off after the creature.  Once it got within a few hundred miles it detonated and annihilated the plant.

Stang remarked that she kind of missed the plant now, because she had really gotten to know the tricky creature after several sessions in a row of fighting against it.

Volcom piloted the saucer to a nearby rocky planetoid that the party had previously scanned.  It contained a robotic automated mining station but no life forms. 

And there you have it folks, the extremely brief version of what has been going on in my Mutant Future campaign!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2e Tuesday and General Announcements

Howdy Blog Readers!  Events in my life necessitate that I cut back on some of my game related activities.  I think I am going to make my Mutant Future game a bi-monthly occurrence, and continue to blog sparingly about it.  I will at least try to keep up on the 2e Tuesday posts because I think having Gamma World monsters for Mutant Future is a noble cause.

For anyone curious, I am getting married on June 5th and now that my betrothed has graduated from the University of Oregon our wedding planning is going to get much more serious (i.e. I will have to spend a lot of time helping my sweetie out doing wedding-y things).

I am also a member of a band (Telepathic Dumpster) and I have been slacking on my duties as band sound engineer; two CDs are waiting for nothing but my time spent doing a final mix down to release, and I owe it to my bandmates to spend some time on them soon.

My duties over at the Eye of the Vortex web site are increasing a little bit because I agreed to be an editor over there and help get articles ready to publish.  I also run a weekly 4e game and play in a weekly Labyrinth Lord game - something is going to have to give, so I think I will also cut back on my participation in the Labyrinth Lord game and see about possibly shifting the 4e game to an every other week kind of thing.  Thus ends probably the most intense period of D&D activity that I have ever had in my life.  I have never ran and participated in three weekly games simultaneously, and I certainly have never spent so much time blogging and writing about gaming.  It has been a lot of fun!  I will still keep up on my Back Screen Pass blog, as I want to slowly publish a game setting of mine on that blog.

And now, on to the Gamma World Goodness!

Today's creature is...


No. Enc: 1d4-1
Alignment: Lawful
Movement: 120'
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 12
Attacks: by weapon
Damage: by weapon
Save:  L10
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: Unique (1d4-1 any Technological Artifacts)

These 8' tall, two headed, four-armed giants are surprisingly intelligent and peaceful.  They have an average Intelligence of 14 and an average Willpower of 17.  Technologically advanced, Orlens can modify armor to fit their unique build and all adults carry at least one technological artifact that they have mastered the use of.  They will equip themselves with armor (hence their AC of 6, which should be adjusted downwards if they are wearing better than the equivalent of Studded Leather Armor) and swords if they have no weapons among their artifacts.  Despite their physical strength, size and willingness to wield weaponry, Oriens will harm no one that does not harm them first.  They will use their telepathic abilities to communicate with strangers, and will attempt to use telekinesis to restrain attackers without harming them before turning to combat as a last resort in self defense.

Mutations:  Neural Telepathy, Neural Telekinesis, Ability Boost (Willpower only)

I like the idea of big scary looking two-headed giants wielding laser rifles that turn out to be a peaceful and civilized race.  Things are not always as they seem in the Mutant Future.. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...