Grab It Right
I admit I've been a bit reluctant to get into issue #6 of Wisdom From The Wastelands, the reason is simple. I used to play a ton of Gamma World and Cryptic Alliances are a very iconic part of the game. This issue focuses on Factions which are basically Alliances with their serial numbers filed off but updated and expanded with the Mutant Future game in mind.
The Gaians are a group of mutant and genetically altered plant based mutants made up a group of at least four different cells that each have their own agenda. And this is one of the facets of this product vs. the old Gamma World second edition style of articles from TSR and Dragon. These factions have cells within them that each has their own agendas. Some of the these cells actively work for or against each other. And we're not really given a huge amount of detail because this product is being made as a genric old school post apocalyptic set of really guidelines.
The Gaians for example have an outline to their agendas, goals,etc. and then the DM is expected to fill in the rest. This approach is one of the hallmarks of this particular product and also one of the flaws that marked the old Cryptic Alliances. The fact that details were filled in and it really didn't let DM's fill in what or who was needed for their own campaigns in the post apocalyptic wastes. The Gaians are done in a such a way as to highlight the ecological nature of the group and put the 'alien' nature of these plant beings at the fore front.
Mutant plants can be a head ache or a boon to a DM depending upon how much detail is put into them. There are reasons why old school games have glossed over the gross bulk facts of these mutant flora in games. The reason is simple these mutants like many of them are entire campaigns unto themselves.
The Legion is another group that has a whole ton of potential and doesn't get into more then a write up. This faction takes up the ideals of the 'French Foreign Legion' and brings them to the wastelands. There's an entire campaign's worth of material right in this one entry and that's the beauty of it. The DM has the power to DYI his own custom version of this concept into his game and campaign world leaving the details and such in his court.
The Uplifted a whole other end of the animal mutant spectrum with a complex social politic axis going on as four cells are dealing with each other and everyone else in the wastelands. These guys can give a DM more heart ache then the characters in 'Animal Farm' and that's where the Faction aspect of issue #6 comes in handy. The author has outlined things so that a DM can easily compartmentalize and take advantage of the adventure potential of these Factions instead of outlining the mutant forces for the Mutant Future equivalent of 'War & Peace'. Unless that's what their into.
Chris Van Deelen has guidelines as bonus content that allow a DM to really get into the backdrop and details of the Factions. Even to the point of creating whole new Factions for your games right HERE
The Exterminator faction is one that has a huge amount of potential and can be used extensively as heroes or villains or a bit of both. The idea here is a group of xenophobic wasteland survivors armed to the teeth who are willing to go down fighting and will work toward ridding the wastelands of the various mutant menaces. Well depending upon how ruined your wasteland is & what its infested with. These guys might be your party's best friends or the cat paw of a greater group of vile mutant hating super science adventurers. A good example might be the old Knights of Genetic Purity from first and second edition Gamma World.
Bottom line here is there is a ton that can be done with Factions and I've seen various other retroclones use such systems to their advantage. This is a simple issue of Wisdom From The Wastelands with a ton of potential but as with all things your mileage may vary. Personally I think that this is a pretty damn fine issue and its one that I've used in the past. I think for the price of a hamburger this is a nice addition to the post apocalyptic tool kit of a DM.