posted by Humbug Scoolbus Original SA post

The world ended in 1989 and I'm just hearing about it now?
Presenting The Morrow Project

1980 was a simpler time with simpler games right? Wrong! It was at the dawn of the Tabletop RPG age and the RPG age in general. All sorts of weird concepts were being thrown around and most of them came from the midwest United States.

Sure everybody knows that D&D started in Wisconsin and Minnesota but did you know that one of the other huge hubs of gaming in the early years was Detroit Michigan? The hellpit was called the Metro Detroit Gaming Association and it spawned a number of the gaming industries illuminaries including Kevin 'Palladium/Rifts/Lawsuit/hack artist' Siembada, but this isn't about him.
The people in question were Kevin 'Gun Porn' Dockery, Robert Sadler, and Richard 'Tri-Tac' Tucholka.

an excerpt from an interview with Dockery in 1999
How did The Morrow Project game get started?
After joining the Science Fiction Club at Oakland University, I (Kevin) was introduced to Richard Tucholka and Robert Sadler. Richard and Robert were experienced RPG players and asked me if I'd like to play a game. I did but felt there needed to be some guns involved... After reading a short story written by Robert, I challenged my college professor to let me come up with a synergistic real world / fantasy damage system based on logic. In other words, I found a way to gain course credit, go into the publishing business, and lead the third generation RPG's with the often imitated Morrow Project. The game still spawns conventions and has players through out the world even after being out of print for over sixteen years.

So what's it about? It really is probably the second apocalyptic RPG ever written (Gamma World being the first) as it beat FGU's Aftermath to sale by at least a year. Unlike Gamma World or Aftermath it tried to stay as scary real world as possible. Anything that wasn't reality based probably came from Tucholka. Anyway, let's see the intro section...


In 1962 a mysterious man known by the name of Bruce Edward Morrow,
origin unknown, gathered nine of the country's leading industrialists into an
organization known as the Council of Tomorrow. What method of coercion he
may have used to achieve this feat remains a matter mostly for conjecture. The
concensus of noted historians indicates that Morrow was a rare form of esper.
He seemed to have possessed the ability to transport himself and some small
amount of nearby matter into or out of the future. Building a convincing
argument from the future, he and the council structured an organization
dedicated to the continued survival of the human race beyond the point of

This organization brought forth the concept of the Morrow Project; an
ambitious plan to cryogenically freeze special teams and equipment to aid in the
reconstruction of the U.S. after nuclear war. For many years the Project secretly
stored their teams to await the proper time for reawakening. Gradually their
processes improved and their equipment became more advanced. In 1979,
Morrow returned from a long absence bearing a small device which proved to be
a functioning fusion power plant and advanced laser technology. In 1 98 7, the
Project carried out a complete updating of all the previously "stored" equipment,
opening the buried and sealed chambers of the sleepers without waking them
and leaving behind new equipment, vehicles, and the instruction manuals on how
to operate them.

The prime central base of the Morrow Project is a vast underground complex
designed to sustain the lives of some one hundred and fifty people through the
holocaust as they recorded the data linked with the war. Also to act as a central.
communications point for the rest of the Project when they should wake. So
thorough was their recording that this base remains as the only comprehensive
source of information on pre-war times. A few teams ventured out from Prime
Base on reconnaissance missions shortly after the end of the war, and they soon
found they could establish a viable community. It looked as if the mission of the
Project was going to be completed without a hitch, but such good fortune was
not to be theirs. A small war with a madman named Krell resulted in the
destruction of the colony by a nuclear bomb and the loss of Prime Base to
biological sabotage.

With their control base inoperative the Morrow teams continued to sleep for
1 50 years. When their long-delayed wakeup signal was finally sent by a
damaged computer they found themselves in a hostile world. Survival was the
key word for most of the remnants of the battered U.S
This is the world of the Morrow Project as it runs in this game. The personnel
of the Project are all well trained, but they are not all combat veterans, nor do
they engage in wholesale slaughter. Pledged to help humanity . recover in
whatever way they can, they can easily lose sight of their own ideals and adopt
the brutal code of survival. They must find Prime Base and each other in order to
survive. Will your team survive?
So there's that.
Next time we'll get to nuke some cities. I am taking requests...

Let's Have A War!

posted by Humbug Scoolbus Original SA post

Presenting The Morrow Project Part 2

Let's Have A War!

The Third World War started on November 18th 1989. You didn't notice it? Strange, I thought everybody was involved. Anyway War Games totally ripped off the plot. Apparently a NORAD (Remember them?) first strike was launched against the Soviet Union when a training simulation was accidentally fed into the main DEW line radar feeds.

Due to the complete surprise, the US strike managed to knock out the majority of the Soviet missiles, but that's okay, they had spares. The rest of the world decided to play 'me too!' and wouldn't you know it, the war was over in a day or so with no winners. Within six months, 90% of the world's population was dead and American Idol had never been created.

The game actually has three and a half pages of nuclear strike locations in a nice table organized by state. The table lists the type of weapon used, target type if not a city, nearest town, and target name. Most of the votes were for targets already on that table. There are also nice tables describing blast radii for different types of warheads (including MIRVs and Bioweapons!)

The rules also say that there were a 150 wild card missiles that you can launch wherever you felt like. Okay, first target Branson.

Step 1. Roll on the Weapon Used Table I got a '50' on d100 that's an SS-19. Land based launch, carries 6 MIRV warheads of 300kt each. Sweet, Branson is seriously fucked.

Step 2. Check Missile Accuracy. Roll a d8 and on an 8 it misses. Got a '3'. Direct hit.

Step 3. Bomb Effect. '5' on a d6 is a Ground Burst. That means its Zone 1 contamination is 100 rad/hour and its Zone 2 is 50 rad/hour. Those theaters are staying closed!

Bomb #2 is headed towards Marquette Michigan.

Step 1. '77' is a Sub-launched SS-N-17. 3MIRVs of 500kt each.

Step 2. An '8'! I missed...

Step 3. Miss Distance is a '6' on a d6. 100-1100km off target. 1100km away...oops?

Step 4. Direction of miss on a stand d8 scatter diagram is a '6' which is southwest. Hmmm, looks like Branson got hit again! Sucks to be a country/gospel fan I guess.

Step 5. Bomb Effect is another Ground Burst so the Counties north of Branson are now sucking too.

Also in this section are rules for some lovely diseases like Lugo Fatigue, September Fever, and Toledo Infection, for a bioweapon laden munition surprise along with chance of mutation over the 150 years since it was dropped. Then comes a Rad exposure table that looks like it was cut and pasted from an Nuclear Regulatory Commission pamphlet and probably was. Then rules for shielding, radiation damage, and mutations which mainly suck and don't give you laser eyes.

The next section is character creation. Oh joy.

Making a hero or just saying fuck it...

posted by Humbug Scoolbus Original SA post

Presenting The Morrow Project Part 3
Making a hero or just saying fuck it...

There are several different ways to create RPG characters. There's Stat based where the characters' innate physical and mental abilities hold sway. Skill based where their knowledge is most important, and level based where the characters' experience has the most game effects.

Using those criteria, the original character generation system for The Morrow Project was ability based. It had seven stats all rolled on 4D6-4 giving a range 0-20 per stat.

The stats were pretty familiar: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Accuracy, Charisma, PSI, and Luck. There was no Intelligence stat as the rules stated...

The Morrow Project has never had an "Intelligence"
roll or an Intelligence listing In a character's
basic statistics. It was Intended the player supply the
INT of the character, as the player must, whether or
not there is a die roll for it.

Figured statistics were Bp (Blood Points) and Sp (Structure Points). These were derived from the formula (St x Const) + 100. That gave a range of 100-500 with an average of 250.

Sp were allocated by a percentage system (this is probably the second or third appearance of locational damage. Runequest and Arduin Grimoire are pretty close to being tied for second and TSR had a product called Bio-One back in '77 or so that was nothing but a hit location system and I think it was the first). The MP character sheet had a large section to be filled out. Also on the sheet was a space for Bp to be written down and the character's blood type to be recorded. The type being generated from yet another table.

The next figured statistic was Movements. These were based on the character's Dexterity and were the amount of time a character could perform actions in. Different actions required different amounts of Movements. Moving, Drawing a weapon, Firing a weapon, Reloading a weapon each cost 1 Movement. Opening a door or loading a reveolver cost 2 Movements. Reloading a TOW Antitank missle launcher cost 6.

The final figured stat was Endurance which waqs figured as Constitution x Dexterity. Every time a character did anything except rest, there was an Endurance cost. One per combat round or 1 per normal turn.
NOTE: No where is it stated how long a normal gameturn is in the rules. In fact the only places it's mentioned are here and in the movement speed section.

Now let's talk about PSI...Better yet, here's the table.

Notice anything unusual? How about the fact that it requires two checks to get any psychic powers? This does make some sense as Sadler and Dockery were going for realism over science fiction.

And that was your character done. Here's what the empty character sheet looks like. The back was all for your equipment. There is something missing however that almost every other RPG has. Now what could it be?

Next time, the Expanded Character Generation Rules and things that go bang.