Rolling up a mutant plant with death rays and hand grenade fruit

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Mutant Future

Rolling up a mutant plant with death rays and hand grenade fruit

Spider Goats are actually a real danger in this game

Mutant fucking Future. The easiest way to sum this up would be either "cheap Gamma World" or "Fursona with lasers and no creepiness." In the foreword, the authors inform us that the former was more the plan. They've intentionally created a "retro-clone" game, not because they're Grogs who believe in SUPERIOR OLD SCHOOL GAMING but because they feel those games had a, equally-as-good-as-modern-games, feel that you just don't get any longer.

So they made this, they made Mutant Future, and as much as you can find flaws with the execution, I'll be damned if I can find any issues with the feel. I just love this game, it reminds me of 2nd edition AD&D(which I suppose won't necessarily make EVERYONE feel warm and fuzzy, but it does to me, so there), and not just because approximately half of the actual rules are direct expatriates from there.

The concept is basically "post-apocalyptic world where people tend to be mutants and then they have crazy adventures in the ruins of the former world. Also things are pretty radioactive."

Yes, that does look like a mutant onion fighting that spider-goat

The art is a mixture of these "12-year-old's sketches during math class" things and a few pieces of actually quite competent art. I will of course be linking considerable amounts of both. At any rate, the game starts off by dumping us into chargen after the foreword and Generic RPG Introduction(GM, or Mutant Lord in this case has GM Fiat/Rule Zero, the purpose of the game is to have fun, not to win, etc.).

Making a Mutant

Why would anyone sign this?

We've got the Basic Six stats, except with Wisdom replaced by Willpower, and they're generated by an oddly familiar method of rolling 3d6 per stat. This is old school, alright, no 4d6 drop lowest(though it's listed as an alternative), no assigning. Chargen in Mutant Future has more to do with any of the Warhammer roleplaying games than modern D&D editions.

The first step after that, is to pick a race, or you could pick the race first. We're given a pretty broad variety that beats elf, dwarf and human any day of the week.

I can see why he'd sign this, though

Aside from these selections, we also have "mutant animal"(though I suppose the Spidergoat counts for that), Replicants and Synthetics. Replicants and Synthetics are just variants on the Basic Android.

Pure Humans are boring, but powerful, getting no mutations but nice stat boosts and high HP. While everyone else has 1d6 or 1d8 HP at chargen, Synthetics and Androids, in addition to all their other advantages(like being resistant to most of the shit the wasteland can throw at them that doesn't have guns or claws) have a static 50HP no matter what level they might ever reach, they also cannot have bad mutations or get mutations from radiation(yes, we're operating by Marvel rules for radioactivity).

Replicants are basically mutant humans with no bad mutations and some resistances, they're essentially organic, though, even more so than the Synthetics(for Synths think the androids from Alien, for Basic Androids think of the Terminator), and if they get irradiated enough that a human would start to mutate, they get a horrible wasting disease that kills them pretty fast.

Mutant Plants, Mutant Humans and Mutant Animals are close to being the same race, Mutant Plants at least get different starting mutations(both normal and plant), while Mutant Animals are EXACTLY like Mutant Humans except they have natural weapons that they can fuck people up with.

So you know what? Screw humans. Let's generate a badass party. We have a Mutant Animal, a Mutant Plant and a Basic Android. Let me just get out our dice...

17, 7, 8, 3, 12, 11. Our Mutant Animal is strong as all hell but literally as goddamn stupid as a character can possibly be. A quick D6-roll gives us his natural weapon's damage, which is a weedy 1d2. Let's hope he gets some badass combat mutations to make up for it. We'll call him Eddy.

14, 13, 5, 11, 13, 10. Our Mutant Plant is mostly middle-of-the-road except for tending towards being sickly and coughing a lot. Probably got sprayed with pesticides as a kid. He's Elric.

16, 5, 4, 13, 13, 12. And the Basic Android was dug out of the post-apocalyptic sands after being buried in them for years, so she suffers from half-wrecked mechanics, leaving her BOTH weak and barely able to move. At least she's the most charismatic of the three, however, and also the smartest. Elsebeth the Android.

We're going to skip Alignment and Equipment for now, because we're going to get right to the fun stuff. Mutations .

Mutations are split into three categories, Physical, Mental and Plant. Note that rulebook tells us Replicants, Synths and Basic Androids have 3 mutations(beneficial only) from any category, so you can have a robot with strangling vines. Mutant Plants get 2 Plant mutations, and 1d6 Physical and Mental ones, with an even split between the two. Mutant Animals have 1d4 mutations from each of those categories.

Elsebeth the Android

Elsebeth rolls her mutations first, picking all three Mental, as she doesn't want to move in on Elric's Plant stuff and Eddy's more suited to be BIG UND STRONG.

There are enough mutations to keep things varied for a while

4, 17 and 99. 4 and 17 are "Accumulated Resistance" and "Control Light Waves," while 99 is a negative one called Weak Will. Since Androids can't have negative mutations, we'll keep rerolling that one until we get a beneficial one. Eventually we get a 45, which is Intellectual Affinity.

Before Elric and Eddy get to roll, Elsebeth insists on paging further into the book and seeing what her mutations do. She stops briefly to admire the amazing aftwork at the start of the listing of physical mutations, and then moves on.


Accumulated resistance doubles the character's hit points, except that the extra HP can only be used to soak damage from environmental factors like heat, cold and chemicals. We can only pick one, though, so Elsebeth goes with chemicals, reasoning that her android was a foreman for an automated chemical factory before everything went to shit.

Control Light Waves does what it says on the tin, allowing her to negate laser weapons within a 30' radius, turn that entire area pitch black or to make herself invisible.

Intellectual Affinity rapidly catapults her to the head of the class for combat, as it randomly generates Martial Affinity(the alternatives being Tinkerer Affinity and Barter Affinity), this gives her a +1d6 to all damage and +4 to hit. She's so smart that all she can think about is killing. We have no actual rules for combat or playing the game yet, all we know is how big modifiers different stats give and we've scrolled past the equipment. Since maxed stats give a +4 to hit, and the biggest weapons do 1d10 damage, however, we can suss out that this is pretty boss.

Smirking at her luck, Elsebeth passes the dice to Eddy who's still mulling over EXACTLY what sort of animal his character is a mutant of...

Eddy the Mutant Animal

He ends up with two physical and four mental mutations, fist-pumping and pointing at Elsebeth, who points out that he can still end up rolling damaging mutations. He rolls his eyes and tells her that he's always lucky with dice.

25 and 89, Gigantism and Reduced Oxygen Efficiency on the physical mutations chart. Reduced Oxygen Efficiency is pretty crippling for his intended combat monster, as it makes him pass out after five rounds of combat if he doesn't stop for a breather, but Gigantism makes up for it by making him twelve feet tall and adding some serious combat bonuses.

69, 17, 2 and 38 for mental mutations. Possession, Control Light Waves, Ability Boost and Force Screen, respectively. We already know what control Light Waves does, but not the other three. Ability boost lets him double one of his stats for 1d10 rounds, there are no rules for stats above 18, however, so ultimately all he can REALLY use it for is to make himself slightly less retarded at times. Force Screen lets him pop up an Energy Field granting an extra 5d6 HP, it has no duration but can only be used "once per day," essentially turning it into a permanent boost of that much which can be refreshed every day. On top of his measly 1d6 starting HP, this is a pretty huge boost. Possession lets him mind control people, which is pretty awesome.

After this, Eddy scratches his beard and declares that his character is a giant, mutant spider with a hugely swollen head to store all of his new neural hardware, and his spinnerets have been replaced with organic force field generators. The reason he tires out so fast is because spider lungs are inefficient already, and can barely keep up now that he's a twelve-foot monstrosity.

Elric the Mutant Plant

Elric has little luck with the dice, rolling only a single extra ability besides his two basic plant mutations, and decides to make it physical. Maybe he'll get something to make up for his vegetable's asthma.

For plant abilities he gets Natural Vegetable Weapons and Plant Armor, and his Physical Ability is Aberrant Form. A quick roll tells him that he has "+1d4+1 of a limb or organ," unable to choose, he pages ahead to a randomly-generate-a-body-part table and gets legs, of which he ends up with an extra two, the Mutant Lord informs him that this makes him extra fast. His Natural Vegetable Weapons are thorns that do 1d4 damage, making him slightly more powerful than Eddy, and his Natural Armor is "moderate," giving him an AC of 6. He's got a pricky, thorny plant centaur thing going on.

He asks the Mutant Lord why "moderate" armor is AC 6, while "extreme" armor is AC 4. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Nope, we're operating with "old school" rules here, Elric, which makes some things good when they're low! Namely we're operating with the really old school AD&D/2nd edition thing where low armor class and "Attack Value" are best when they're low. While the players argue with the ML over this being stupid and call him a grognard, I'm going to show you a bit of the art we missed.

I'm going to have nightmares

So as it may become obvious to people already, this game is just hilariously unbalanced. Elsebeth and Eddy easily have six or more times the starting HP that Elric has, and that's not even getting into what the stats do. It's easy to end up with characters that start out blind and quadriplegic while someone else has a mutant that shoots laser beams from their eyes and mind controls people.

Seriously, nightmares

Nonetheless, the quirky art and the pure potential for weird-ass characters(plus being able to make PLANT characters, not many RPG's accomodate that...), kept me reading. And you can have some pretty fun adventures with this game.

Suddenly, competent art!

But let's have a deeper look next time, this post is getting long as it is.

It's broken, just embrace it

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Mutant Future

It's broken, just embrace it

The thing about Mutant Future is that you have to ACCEPT the level of broken with the cheerful abandon that the game does, and just sort of revel in the raw randomness of whatever you generate and try to have fun with it. Whether it's a giant hedgehog with laser eyes wearing a zoot suit, a blind, grenade-throwing tree with a PhD or something even weirder. After all, chargen, aside from coming up with a name, takes roughly five minutes from start to finish.

Chargen Miscellany

The less fun parts I skipped over during chargen is that level-ups, besides boosting your Attack Value and hit points(unless you're a dirty robot), also either give you +1 melee damage, +1 attack/round or +1 to one of your six basic stats(randomly decided). We can also have an Alignment which is either Lawful, Neutral or Chaotic(translates into Nice Guy, Normal Guy and Total Dick).

Starting weapons and armor are literally stolen from 2nd edition AD&D, stat-wise, except that polearms are just a single "pole arm" category with the exact same stats for whatever weird combination of poking and chopping bits you put on the end of a broomstick.

At least they got creative with the food, though.

Beyond Chargen

You may notice we have no skills as we leave chargen, that's because there really aren't any. Not even the vestigial early-edition D&D skills are present. Our ability to spot traps is standard for everyone, and our ability to figure out technological artifacts is entirely dependent on our Intelligence. Despite this, of course, there's a section on hiring small armies and movement modifiers in rough terrain which is longer than the section on our basic stats.

And of course there's an extensive section on finding and fixing old technology. We roll to see how broken it is, which generates its odds of still working(why even split this into two rolls?) and then we roll to see whether we can figure out how to make it work. If we're smart, we can pull it off, if we're dumb as rocks we're going to sit around trying to cram it into our noses for a while until we glance on the solution.

See, it takes an hour to make a check, but there's no limit to how many checks we can make on a single item, and only a 1% chance of completely fucking up the item. So as long as we have better than a 5% chance, there's no reason not to just try over and over.

For sitting through NUMBERS NUMBERS NUMBERS and optional rules about how to fix broken technology, we get some sweet art as our reward. Even the goofy art in MF tends to have its charm, and the cool art is just way badass.

About fifty pages into the text, we're finally told how the rules actually work. How combat works and all that. I can appreciate that they're trying to approximate the retro "feel," but I cannot appreciate that they're trying to approximate the horrible retro book organization. We get poison and radiation tables before the damn combat tables, even.

Oh, and here's something to note. Random poison strengths are generated with a d100, random radiation strengths with a d10. You do this if a PC rolls a poison or radiation attack. You may guess that this is where shit goes completely off the rails, balance-wise. And yes, yes it is. What we rolled up earlier was WUSSCAKES compared to this shit. Say hello to characters with a 10% chance of instakill poison attacks or 10d6 damage laser-eyes. Of course, with this game odds are that they'll also be too crippled and retarded to make effective use of these powers, but still.

There's also an "optional rule" for allowing stat checks(roll-under stat with a D20) when doing something that isn't explicitly covered by another rule, which I suppose is an alright way of getting around the issue of having no skills.

Five pages on sailing and ship stats and we're STILL not at the combat tables, even though said combat tables were by now mentioned almost ten pages ago. It's nothing special, like I said, if you've ever played AD&D, you can just replace the MF rules with those and they'd be identical, except that everyone is a Fighter for purposes of Thac0.


Even though the game essentially lets us generate our own random or less random mutants as enemies, we are generously provided with a pretty sizable selection of monsters to throw at PC's.

Unfortunately they are horribly statted, a mixture of things that can instakill the PC's at first level unless they have some buffing abilities like Eddy and Elsebeth, and things that'll kill you anyway by throwing save-or-dies at you.

At least the ones with art look appropriately horrific

Eye Dogs, for instance, have two attacks, one that do 1d6 damage(a bite) and one that does 2d6(a ranged energy blast). They've also got five times the HP of a starting character(a non-android one). If we look around for something more balanced, we'll see that almost NOTHING has only "one hit die," and the few things that do, like giant bees, come in massive swarms to make up for this. They do little damage individually(1d3), but when they arrive in randomly generated hordes of 5-30(5d6) and a starting character(non-android) can at most have about 12 HP, that suddenly starts to look like a lot.

The only other HD1 creatures within the first few sections of the beastiary are either of the classic "save or die-worm" type(think Rot Grubs) or have alternate poisonous attacks that make up for their survivable primary damage.

A bush throws lethal yams at George W. Bush while a cyclops gets eaten

A lot of these creatures are also direct AD&D expatriates, like "Medusoids" and "Brain Lashers."

Spidergoats will, by the way, fuck you up hardcore.

Lost Technology

And of course there's a vast armory of firearms, laser pistols, robots and other crazy shit we can find. Really, barring some seriously powerful mutations, there's no damn way you can fight half the enemies in the beastiary without being atrociously high-level or having a handful of this stuff, so the GM pretty much determines your power with how much of this he hands out.

To be fair, though, they really did not save on statting this stuff out. You have enough material here to work with for a long time, and across a broad variety, before you'll ever want to end up statting your own gear.

At the end of this chapter we segue into the section on actually making an interesting world. It's mostly basic stuff, but somewhat notable after dealing with Fields in that there's no hamfisted preaching of any kind, for instance with religion the designers suggest that it can both be a malevolent and benevolent force in the Mutant Future world. It's also genuinely full of the sort of good advice that starting GM's and players could stand to know, about how and when to mix random chance with GM fiat, pre-planned encounters with random monsters, how to make NPC's act like they're actual people/creatures.

The pre-made adventure that comes with the book is one where you'll either be instakilled by Brain Lashers or their 6d6-damage laser traps. Aside from that, it seems pretty good.

And that really covers Mutant Future. It's a short, simple game that you can easily roll up and throw down with, without being one of the almost-without-rules games.