Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Inhumanoids 1986 Kids Cartoon As A Quick Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaign Jump Start

So what happens when you take the over excess of the Eighties add in power armor & over the top gigantic pre historic  monsters? You get the Inhumanoids cartoon an inner Earth weirdness fest that was air along side Jem and the Holograms back in '86. Even back then these things were gonzo bat crap craziness all of it owned by Hasbro;"Inhumanoids is an animated series and Hasbro toy property in 1986. In the tradition of other Hasbro properties such as Transformers and G.I. Joe, the show was produced by Sunbow and Marvel Productions and animated in Japan by Toei Animation. Inhumanoids tells the story of the scientist-hero group, Earth Corps, as they battle a trio of subterranean monsters called the Inhumanoids with the aid of elemental beings, the Mutores."

As you can read the whole wiki entry here about the series  and its pretty detailed but then there's this gentleman's video which goes into some pretty good detail about most of the plot points, cast, and lots of The Inhumanoid's weirdness.

There is so much to mine here that I can't do this Eighties gonzo giant monster  show justice. Inhumanoids was packed to the brim with so much goodness that in sixty five episodes there was lot of epic ground to cover. The plot of the Evil That Lies Within movie goes something like this;"The story begins with the discovery of a monstrous creature encased in an amber monolith buried in Big Sur national park, which is recovered by the government-funded Earth Corps, a geological sciences research team. The finding spurs corrupt industrialist Blackthorne Shore to clandestinely uncover a second monster buried elsewhere — a giant vine-like creature called Tendril, who attacks the amber block's public unveiling in San Francisco to release the macabre colossus trapped within, D'Compose. They rampage through city streets before fleeing into the watery darkness of the bay.
Earth Corps member Liquidator returns to Big Sur in search of further clues to the origin of these monsters, whereupon he discovers a race of sentient trees, the Redwoods, who explain that they are members of a subterranean population known as Mutores, and that their kind sealed the evil Inhumanoids Tendril and D'Compose beneath the Earth ages ago. The malevolent Inhumanoid leader, Metlar, remains imprisoned below the surface, paralyzed by the magnetic field of a Mutore duo named Magnokor.
A nocturnal assault by Tendril demolishes the Earth Corps base, prompting a chase into the depths of the Earth, but even with the help of another Mutore species, the rock-bodied Granites, they are forced to retreat back to the surface. When their budget is summarily cut by Senator Masterson — a crooked politician in Blackthorne Shore's shady pocket — they are approached by Sandra Shore, Blackthorne's sister, who has learned of her brother's sinister plot to liberate Metlar. Funded by Sandra, the team constructs new vehicles and embarks back below the Earth's surface, tracking D'Compose and Tendril to the city of the Granites, where an ensuing battle frees Metlar from Magnokor's hold. Having pilfered Earth Corps' engineering schematics via his ties to Masterson, Blackthorne joins the fray, now equipped with his own battle-suit whose magnetic powers he wields against Metlar, only to be derailed by Tendril's interference while Sandra falls victim to the mutative touch of D'Compose.
Earth Corps manages to escape and forms an alliance with the Granites. Herc accompanies them to D'Compose's domain of Skellweb while Auger and Liquidator venture into Metlar's kingdom of Infernac, and Bright convinces the Redwoods to help defend the surface world against attempts by the Inhumanoids to acquire sources of power. Herc and the Granites are able to defeat D'Compose's reanimated soldiers and restore Sandra to normal. Blackthorne pursues Auger and Liquidator to Infernac and tries to use his magnetic powers on Metlar once again but is foiled by Magnokor and taken captive by Metlar.
Acting on information forced from Blackthorne, the Inhumanoids raid a Soviet air base, stealing a handful of nuclear missiles. A seemingly repentant Blackthorne warns Earth Corps that the missiles are intended to shatter the divide between the Earth's crust and mantle, but upon travelling into the Earth to preclude this catastrophe, the team discovers that Blackthorne has set them up and that the missiles are actually meant to detonate the planet's core. Earth Corps is able to convince D'Compose to allow them access to Infernac — a deal made easier by the fact that the Inhumanoid already fears for his own survival in the face of Metlar's insane plan — and they manage to defuse enough of the missiles to thwart the explosive scheme.
Following a climactic battle, D'Compose is re-sealed in amber casing and Tendril is imprisoned by the Granites. Finally, Magnokor succeeds in neutralizing Metlar even as Blackthorne is arrested by Earth Corps. Senator Masterson provides the Earth Corps team with a new headquarters facility, but a tissue sample secured from Tendril during their first encounter with the monster has mysteriously gone missing...:" To this day this show still has some of the most devoted fans outside of Transformers I've ever encountered. What is there for the old school dungeon master to mine & borrow? Lots and lots of stuff as we're about to get into.

Now here's where I head South from the fiery depths of the Earth folks, Inhumanoids is the Eighties version of an adventure opera. This is seriously one show with so much ground to borrow from it isn't even funny. You've got scientists in power armor running around facing some of the weirdest monsters to burst forth from the depths of the Earth. Let's start with the fact that if you want to get into gonzo epic weirdness this is a show to emulate in spades. Inhumanoids is the perfect adventure cartoon to use as a template or plan to use for an old school gonzo game. And when it hit in Eighty Six we grabbed our copy of second edition Gamma World (no we didn't fall for that third edition Action Control Table stuff) & set an Inhumanoids style giant monster game right up after school during the Shadow Years! But when it comes to using a power armor party going against giant monsters I can only think of the Mutant Crawl Classics game being able to sort of handle a funnel style with an Inhumanoids giant monster bent. Did that after school game back in sixth grade make a whole lot of sense? Give me a break we were kids. But the sheer scale of the game was really one of the fun parts.

While Mutant Crawl Classics isn't out yet I can also see using the Crawling Under A Broken Moon fanzine for my own Eighties power armored VS giant monster fueled fun. Given the fact that the collected fanzine has all of the elements a DM would need for giant monster bashing fun. Yeah this style of campaign is a perfect marriage of gonzo retroclone weirdness. But there's a lot more going on below the surface here in Inhumanoids.

There was one thing that made Inhumanoids such a hit with the kids back in Eighty six & that was the sheer variety of monsters and races in the cartoon. There was an internal consistency to the background,history, plot points, and internal mythology of the cartoon. Yes it was completely over the top Eighties cartoon crazy but it was so in an internal universe way. This was something really important that as a DM I learned from Inhumanoids, the idea of world building with an internal setting with layers of back history, etc. that the players uncover the deeper into the adventures they go. Marvel had a Sunbow crossover series of comics and it kept this aspect of the show but it came out in '87 and was canceled. "Marvel Comics produced a short-lived Inhumanoids comic book under its Star Comics imprint in 1987, adapting the storyline of "The Evil That Lies Within". The series ended after only 4 issues and left readers with the cliffhanger of Metlar's escape from captivity and Sandra Shore's transformation into an undead minion of D'Compose." Boo, hiss.
Could the giant monster vs power armor work for other retroclone systems or post apocalyptic  games? Short answer yes on a number of levels. The Inhumanoid's inner Earth ecology is very applicable to a point crawl game with lots of potential for underworld mutant monster races & forgotten adventure locations. I used this idea as a part of my Warlords of the Outer Worlds game recently.

A  couple of years ago an ex friend of mine DMed a Lamentations of the Flame Princess/ Mutant Future crossover game which used giant mutant god monsters straight out of after school Eighties goodness. This far more generic game used a group of scientists who are transported lock, stock, and university onto an alien planet ala Carcosa and they had to fight giant god things to survive. The play sessions were interesting, challenging, and very well done. And that same formula also had a brother/sister rivalry of patrons as well but that's where things went in very different directions then Inhumanoids as the sister was killed as a sacrifice for one of the god things. The brother ended up as the patron of the party of adventurers after suddenly seeing the light. The whole thing  works well with games such as Mutant Future or Gamma World 1st & second edition where the technology of inner Earth travel was implied and was never used. Now adventure locations with Shadow Years flavor are easily within reach of PC's.

So why use this style of game campaign? Because its Eighties gonzo epic adventure opera at its best. The stakes are ridiculously high, the weirdness is up to Eleven, and its got giant mutant monsters to boot! I've had several of the Earth Core pop up from time to time as high level retired adventurers in various campaigns making NPC cameos. Even after all of these years there are still thousands of devoted Inhumanoid fans out there (myself being one of them). The basis for the cartoon series could be used for an epic gonzo campaign of incredible old school proportions. The series is out on Blu ray and DVD so its easily accessed for someone with the time to grab it. I love to see a big screen revamp of it, given the fact that so many Eighties cartoon properties are being given new life. This is one to take a look at. Obviously I'm not trying to violate the trademark or copyright of Inhumanoids and this blog entry is for educational & entertainment purposes only. None of the table top rpg's mentioned in this article are responsible for its content its all down to me and my warped DM's mind and opinions.

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