Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review & Commentary On Wisdom from the Wastelands Issue #51: Mutated Animal/Plant Genotypes From Skirmisher Publishing For Your Old School Campaigns

So the red headed step child of post apocalyptic old school games has always been mutant animals and plants. The fact is that I keep expecting mutant turtles, raccoon,hamsters,etc. Some folks swear by them and can play them well. Others have a very hard time with them,especially in Mutant Future, well fear no more Skirmisher Publishing has come to the rescue with its newly expanded 'Wisdom From The Wasteland' issue fifty one.  This issue clocks in at around twenty nine pages of mutated animals and plant goodness; this issue includes a boat load of new animal arch types and guidelines for playing them in Mutant Future.
Grab It Right HERE

Here's an example of the the arch-typical animal base your PC could be drawn from :
Types of Animals: Alligator, Crocodile.
Size Comparison: Humanoid to huge.
Natural Attacks: Saurian bite, tail slap.
Special Attacks: None.
Reaction Modifier: +2.
Stat Modification: +2 (for humanoid), +4 (for large),
+6 for Huge to Strength, +2 to Constitution, -4 Intelligence,
-2 to Dexterity, +2 Willpower.
Advantages: Breath control, increased senses (hearing,
smell, taste), natural armor, natural camouflage, rapid strike,
thermal vision.
Disadvantages: No fine manipulators, no speech
capability, susceptible to cold, water dependent.
 There is more to this issue of Wisdom From The Wasteland then simply playing mutant animal characters.
If the player wants to play an animal or mutant type not available in the Mutant Future rule book you can do the following :if the player wishes to create an entirely new
type of mutated animal race, the following rules apply: First, as normal, roll the number of physical and mental mutations the animal will get. Next, decide how many “humanoid-like” traits the
mutant is to possess.To gain manipulators such as hands, speech capability or being able to walk upright, or vaguely human shape (in order to be able to wear non artifact armor) they must give up 1 mutation for each type of modification (either physical or mental).
For a dungeon master this is pretty much a really nice way of setting up their own monster or mutant animal races from this issue of Wisdom from The Wasteland making this a must have book in my opinion. This is a win/win in my book. This issue of WoW is actually a mutant animal tool box for creating some solid hits for both Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord. This is makes this a really book to cheat with to create fast and viable races for your OSR games. The guild lines for mutant animals enable a DM to whip out a virtual assembly line of unique and nastily  dangerous races of monsters for their old school campaigns. Something that dungeon masters have been doing with Gamma World first and second edition for years.  A practice that was in wide spread use for second edition and games such as the Buck Rogers and the Twenty Fifth Century line of products. The practice could come back into vogue with this latest issue of Wow. But is it good? Well the truth is that this book is trying to cover a whole range of territory and is trying to do it in twenty five pages.
The real star of this book isn't the artwork which is drawn from public domain sources and then run through a filter or two. The budget here is on useful gaming goodness and solid systems which this pdf has some really nice material for a post apocalyptic gamer  and Labyrinth Lord dungeon master. Your basically getting about twelve pages of guidelines, rules, and archetypes for use with Mutant Future which isn't bad at all considering the amount of post apocalyptic wasteland that  Wisdom from the Wastelands Issue #51: Mutated Animal/Plant Genotypes is trying to cover. And it covers it really well.

Here's one thing that the second section of this book really does well for those players who want to play mutant plants. It insists that they have the mobility mutation! I can't tell you how annoying it is for a DM in Mutant Future to look over a PC's sheet and point this out to a gamer. Here's how this book takes this mutation and spells it out
Characters wishing to play a mutated plant follow the same basic rules set down for playing a mutant animal. As with mutated animals, each type of plant has different advantages and disadvantages that the character will need to take. One thing that every mutant plant must have is mobility, as playing a plant that was rooted to the ground would be pretty dull, especially if it forced someone in the party to carry it around. The player does not have to give up a mutation roll to take mobility; it is assumed that the plant already
possesses this.
When it comes to mutant plants they sometimes seem to be taken for granted by post apocalyptic players; I'd like to point out the fact that plants and fungus are one of the most alien and underratedly deadly monsters in the wastes. Well this issue has fungus right smack into the back bone of this section and gives the usual archtypes for this creature :
Size Comparison: Small to Humanoid.
Natural Attacks: None.
Special Attacks: Poisonous Spores.
Reaction Modifier: +2.
Stat Modification: +2 to Constitution, +4 to Willpower,
-4 Charisma.
Advantages: Natural camouflage, no vitals, regenerative
capability, spread out.
Disadvantages: No fine manipulators, no speech
capability, reduced speed, susceptible to heat/cold.
Note: The Mutant Lord may allow the plant character
to take a toxic weapon in place of a mutation roll, but it must
be in the form of a poisonous spore cloud.

There are several reasons why I mention this and make a big deal about it. Gamma World 1st, second edition , and Metamorphosis Alpha first edition had some of the most vicious and deadly fungal monsters this side of the wastelands. These monsters are deadly and very dangerous for a reason, fungus is one of the most flexible monsters that can translate between old school post apocalyptic games and Dungeons & Dragons settings easily. It gives a player a grasp on the universality of the fungal horror that is offing his PC in the wasteland or the dungeon.
The advantages and disadvantages plus the mutations make this book worth having for the price of admission alone. Besides these there are even more optional rules allowing a MF dungeon master to increase and customize the range of his monsters, NPC's and PC's in equal measure. They've also imported in the Rules Option: Negative Hit Points Rather than dying when reaching 0 hit points, a character is instead near death and continues to lose one hit point per round until reaching a negative value equal to his Constitution, at which point he is irrevocably dead (unless brought back by certain artifacts). Given the inclusion and uptick  of certain science fantasy OSR games this makes perfect sense. So is this issue worth getting and adding into your Mutant Future collection? Yes given three facts; one with a three dollar price tag this really is a bargain, two the inclusion of the plant and animal rules and the way their presented makes perfect sense against the back drop of the post apocalyptic wasteland and finally the flexibility of the whole package. You really get your money's worth with this issue four out of five for this issue.

Commentary On  Wisdom from the Wastelands
Issue #51: Mutated Animal/Plant Genotypes
And Using It With Your Old School Campaigns

When it comes to mutant animals many folks seem to gravitate toward playing them and they're very passionate about doing so in post apocalyptic games. I've seen systems dropped because they're weren't enough options to keep players satisfied with such games.  Basically this issue of Wisdom From the Wastelands fills that hole and then bridges the gap between mutant monsters and player characters. Clever DM's can exploit this bridge gap in spades. For example this issue puts a spin on an opportunity. By using mutant animals the DM can bring in adventure elements into the backstory of PC's. The mutant tribe of squirrels who harbor a secret of the ancients or a mysterious cure for a pre disaster plague held by certain mutant animals for the survivors of the wastelands. This issue puts the power of the mutant animal in the DM's hands and there's more.  Entire mutant animal eco systems could be build using these guidelines and they don't necessarily have to stick with what's in the realm of normal possibility. After Man by Dugal Dixon offers a myriad of options and evolutionary branches life might take.

Plants offer even more possibilities with the Ancients having build all kinds of weird or elaborate alien life forms into the world of Mutant Future. Plants offer unique and very complex role playing opportunities in the post apocalyptic wastelands but they offer even more monster and horror bits to the dungeon master. Sentient plants are really even more alien then artificial intelligence and D&D has a fair number of plant monsters that could work as templates for completely weird and compelling mutants. A good starting place is here and here.

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