Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review & Commentary On Skirmisher Publishing's Quantum Flux:Unique Superscience Artifacts For The Mutant Future rpg system & Your Old School Campaigns

I remain a huge Mutant Future rpg fan and in point of fact my copy of Mutant Future finally had the binding fall apart today after who knows how many wasteland outings. I usually use it for reference at my table despite whatever old school or OSR game I happen to be running. You can see the edges of the binding giving and well the rest wasn't pretty. This was a copy that I got back from a 'friend' after it was 'borrowed' over a year ago and traveled to Maine on an extended vacation.

Now that being said there are other titles that I've used in the past that players are loath to see peeking out from under books such as anything written by the Skirmisher Publishing crew. This brings up one of the newest titles in their Mutant Future based and licensed product line. Quantum Flux: Unique Superscience Artifacts is an expansive set of items that brings home the idea that certain relics are beyond unique. These are items that were beyond the cutting edge of the apocalypse's science. These are items that form those set pieces of the wasteland, those super science items and locations that form one of the backbones of adventuring in post apocalyptic environments. Things that PC's are going to have to unlock over time and with some very good rolls. The Quantum Flux: Unique Superscience Artifacts book is mostly system neutral in point of fact and could be with a bit of work used for a wide variety of post apocalyptic campaigns. There's lots of options here for the DM to really use. There are eighty six unique items that come with this book;

"Quantum Flux contains 86 unique superscience artifacts suitable for use in any modern, sci-fi, or post-apocalyptic setting, and range from amulets to buildings. They were designed to show game masters the possibilities for superscience artifacts in their campaigns while emphasizing that these items are not just treasure or one sentence, throw-away items. Each has a history that will hopefully enrich, inspire, possibly even drive your own gaming story and most entries are longer and more detailed than for equivalent gear in other equipment or treasure books." My advise is to use these items very sparingly with parties of adventurers within the post apocalyptic wastelands. That being said there are some fantastic super science items authors Derek Holland, & Chris Van Deelen do an excellent job of creating some weird relics and items. And how do these items relate to a Labyrinth Lord/ Mutant Future crossover game? Well according to the rules presented in the pdf ;"Each item has multiple functions, and every ability
must be discovered with a separate technology roll. The artifacts’ powers are described using spells from the Advanced Edition Companion and mutations from Mutant Future, both published by Goblinoid Games. For easier reference, spells are boldfaced and mutations are
italicized. These both appear in parentheses, and have the same ranges, effects, damages, etc. as the original craft or ability (unless otherwise noted). Each power takes
an hour to recharge, unless noted. However, MLs are encouraged to customize items or powers to suit their games. Because comparing the objects would be apples versus radiators, a Caster Level gives the harried ML a relative scale for each item’s potential or strength." This style of rules & play works out quite nicely within the bounds of Mutant Future.  So what sorts of items are we looking at? Well for example there's the Bear Mask which has all kinds of uses as a post apocalyptic shaman or druid's item;"Bear Mask (Caster Level 14)
The Bear Mask is a realistic full-head covering, complete with
fur, eyes, ears, and toothed muzzle. It was part of an animal themed toy line that allowed children to use harmless virtual matter projectors (see dInfinity #6: The Mythos for details on
these devices). The various masks projected or “created” the animal they portrayed, which was controlled by the mask’s AI. A child could study the animals, play with them, or pretend
to be one; for some reason, slug masks were unusually popular. Adults also used larger versions, but more as part of identity/ totem performance or fetish play. The masks generate subliminal light patterns to engage and stimulate certain areas of the wearer’s brain, a refinement of the seizure-causing effect of strobe flashes discovered many
decades earlier. Before the final wars, some Ancient parents used the masks to increase emotional understanding (empathy) in their little sociopaths... err, children. Now, a segment of the Bear Mask’s AI just wants to cause physical and emotional pain, and study subjects’ responses. It does this by corrupting children, allowing their dreams and nightmares to become real for a time (Advanced Phantasmal Monsters). But the Mask
can also protect its child with a powerful force field (Wall of Force). The wearer/Mask relationship is even more complex, beyond the artifact’s warped research. Another part of the AI still responds to instructions and can talk, but only to the child wearing the Mask. And the wearer must be a child: the AI will not work with an adult, nor will it talk to someone not
wearing the Mask. This can lead to diagnoses (accusations) of spirit possession or mental illness, or believing the child has a “sixth sense” of some kind. A very emphatic child can have the Mask reduce pain felt by 2d4 people within 50', if the targets fail to save versus stun
(pain insensitivity). The Mask AI also does this on its own, but to conceal the damage its victims suffer until it is too late for anyone to intervene. To further mess with its victims’ minds, and the minds of those around them, the Mask can warp light waves in a 100' diameter (vision impairment), but allow the child to see through it all (True Seeing). Another favorite
trick of the Mask’s AI is to project large holograms of locations (Veil) taken from either an on board database or a wireless connection to outside image sources. For an additional twist,
the Mask can paralyze up to 25 people and cover them with"

Now according to Skirmisher Publishing;"
This licensed "Mutant Future" sourcebook contains 86 unique superscience artifacts suitable for use in any modern, sci-fi, or post-apocalyptic setting, and range from amulets to buildings. All can easily be adapted for other games, especially those using the d20 system as their basis."  Umm yeah not quite as we shall see.
There are over eighty six of these items and some fantastic items & relics to use in a D20 style game or OSR style games. From bot slayers to the Golden Turnip Machine these are some great relics with some really interesting and solid post apocalyptic wrinkles to them. As an OSR writer I wouldn't touch these items & relics with a barge pole; I read through Quantum Flux: Unique Superscience Artifacts expecting to see the Open Game OGL content label which allowed me to use them for later publication . No such luck at all, in fact what I found was this;"All contents of this publication, regardless of other designation, are copyright
2015 Skirmisher Publishing LLC, all rights reserved."

After a recent court case I'm extremely careful to know where and when to step with regards certain items and relics found in the rpg wild.  Quantum Flux: Unique Superscience Artifacts makes me very nervous.  I can see all kinds of uses for these items in the post apocalyptic wastelands. But this looks to me like a case of the kind of tomfoolery we saw back in the AD&D 3. D20 days of, "we've got the best toy box but you can't touch it." My answer to this is to open up the content for others to use.
That being said I can easily see using this material in all kinds of places in old school or OSR publishing. Publishing's Quantum Flux: Unique Superscience Artifacts gets a four out of five with the caveat that if Skirmisher Publishing wants a five out of five then go back and make all of these wonderful toys 'Open Game Content' so that others can play. One more thing I would do  before purchasing is to wait for Drivethru or Rpgnow to have a sale as they frequently do before purchasing this one.

As always keep those bones rolling.

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