Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why I like Mutant Future

Okay, this'll be my last review in a while, so I'll make it good.

Science Fiction Role-Playing Game of Mutants, Ruins, and Radiation

  • Idea- Most of us are familiar with the traditional pseudo-medieval/magical campaign worlds, and indeed, there are plenty of systems to play these in. But what we don't have is a plethora of new ideas for other worlds. Even though Mutant Future is somewhat of a retro-clone (in this case, it simulates the TSR game Gamma World), it still uses an relatively uncommon idea for a setting - in this case, a post-apocalyptic world where nearly everything has been mutated by high doses of radiation.
  • Compatibility- As it boasts on the cover, Mutant Future uses game mechanics that are quite similar to most retro-clones, especially Labyrinth Lord (the similarity is no coincidence - the same person wrote both games). There's even a section in the back that shows how to convert the two games!
  • Monsters- Easily showing the versatility of the game system, Mutant Future offers practically 50 pages of monsters to choose from - and many are transported straight form the pages of Labyrinth Lord. The Purple Worm, Brain Lasher (AKA Mind Flayer), Green Slime, Yellow Mold, and many other monsters hail straight from the pages of old-school D&D, and it's easy to convert more - you hardly have to change anything!
  • Mutations- The large lists of possible character mutations takes up 14 full pages, giving mutated characters a wide variety of possible abilities and appearances. These range from the useful (natural weapons) to the annoying (prey scent) to the almost disabling (defective second brain) to the incredibly powerful (killing sphere). Even plants get their own mutations!
  • Technology- The range of pre-apocalyptic technology available as treasure is fascinating. Considering that the game is set in a period where medieval levels of tech are predominant, even a simple black powder rifle can be a huge advantage. The levels rise quickly, from assault rifles to gauss pistols to plasma cannons to powered armor. The Mutant Future campaign will not be lacking for treasure.
In summary, Mutant Future is a well-designed game system that will result in many happy hours for gaming groups everywhere.

Well, this is my last post for at least 4 weeks. See ya!

Going to be gone soon- get it while you can!

Unfortunately, the writer of this bog will be gone for quite a long time. So I've decided to offer a good bit of new content... a DM tip O' the week, and a new review. Without further ado, here's the DM tip of the Week!

Keep it real
Your game of choice might be fantasy, but it still has rules of nature just like anywhere else. Generally, the laws of physics apply (unless magic breaks them) and people still need to eat. So don't create worlds where lockjaw applies in 10 seconds and thirty foot goblins with horns are standard "bosses" (no kidding, one of my friends actually did this). Perhaps some of this might be of use in an extraordinarily magical area, but not as a standard first level adventure! This means doing some research. When you plan to have a disease strike a village, read about real diseases and perhaps adapt one of them to use. One of the most important parts of any game is making the players believe they are actually in another world, at least for a moment. Think about what the Gnolls eat in a dungeon-not just their hit points. Perhaps there is a large population of rats, caused by the larger-than-usual amount of carrion (which comes from the creatures the Gnolls killed, making this loop come full circle). You can then describe rats swarming the dungeon- perhaps even putting in some rat swarms as a random encounter.  If you do this sort of thing often, your world will become much more believable- which is always what we're after, right?

Monday, June 15, 2009

DM Tip of the Week- Know the Rules

It's time for this blog's first regular feature... DM tip of the Week. We start it off with...

Know the Rules
It's never very much fun when you have to leaf through books looking up some obscure rule every five minutes. In fact, this is one of the chief benefits of old-school games. Even so, you'll ocasionally encounter situations where you don't know a rule and need to luck it up. To prevent this, read through your ruleset of choice several times before you play. Also, make sure to look up any rule that you suspect will come up in advance (if you might have an air battle, look up manuverabilty and flying speeds, perhaps writing the needed information on some scratch paper). If all else fails, make something up rather than searching for a rule that's taking a long time to find.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What I like about The Simple Game System

For today's review, I'd like to select a somewhat unusual offering... The Simple Game System by Chris Gonnerman.

This little gem started off as a thread on the Dragonsfoot forums by Solomoriah (AKA Chris). It was an idea for a very rules-light system based on several "abilities" like Strength, Charming, and Agile. The idea was that you wouldn't have a number for the score... you just had the ability, or you didn't. It later expanded into a core mechanic (roll a number of dice equal to your ability (disability=0, nothing=1, ability=2, very ability three) and compare it to your opponent's (or a challenge, like opening a door) score), a skill system, and a combat system, which completed the game.

When I downloaded this for the first time, I was amazed by the clarity yet functionality of these rules. I quickly modified some magic rules written by Luigi Castellani and sent them in. A little while later, they appeared as the first supplement for the game. Now, another supplement has been written, this time on space rules.

Here are a few things I like about this system:
  • Simplicity yet functionality- There are 4 pages of rules for the entire system, and each of the supplements covers 2 pages. This is not a rules-heavy game, yet there's a way to adjunct nearly any situation quickly and easily.
  • Rules only for what needs rules- Unlike many other RPGs, this one does not include any rules covering alignment or money transactions. This information is going to vary from campaign to campaign, so for a system as broad as this, there's really no point in recording that information.
  • Abstractness- In some games, there are detailed rules for hit location, and a character's height and weight must be known. In this one, all weapons do the same amount of damage (there isn't even hit points) and any specific factor must be decided by the GM.
  • Universality- I recently ran a TSGS game where one player was a robot- and not even a human-like one. This game can handle practically anything.
Well, that's why TSGS is one of my games of choice. I encourage you to try it - you might like it!

Friday, June 12, 2009

What I like about some other Retroclones

Now that I've covered OSRIC and BFRPG in my series on retroclones, here are a few comments for other 'clones, even if I haven't read them thoroughly yet.

The great bit about this ruleset is it's simplicity. I can make a character in 5 minutes, and less if I pick simple equipment. Monsters have about 5 stats (characters have about 8), and even those don't matter much, as thinking is emphasized over rules.

These have a large emphasis like the White Box, but the coolest thing about them is th
eir mass combat system. It's easy to understand and use, and I plan to adapt it to BFRPG when I need to run a big battle.

I haven't played this personally, but giving it a quick read-through the best thing about it is the amount of campaign material. It has a dungeon, a small outline for a dungeon, and a "worldmap" with major locations noted. It seems like Brave Halfling Publishing has put this to good use, having written several modules for use in this world.

Okay, keep a lookout for Part Two, including Mutant Future, Spellcraft and Swordplay, and Mazes and Minotaurs.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spreading the Love

Just gave one of these - the one on the left - beauties to a friend for his birthday. Definitely came out pretty well, and is done a lot better than my handmade copy of the BFRPG rules (although mine's bound in hardcover, which has to count for something). He's normally a GURPS fellow, but I already have him asking questions about the book. Score one for the Old-School Revolution!

Monday, June 8, 2009

OSRIC now in print!

OSRIC (Old School Referencing and Indexing Compendium) is now out on Lulu! This has been coming for a long time, but was delayed when Stuart Marshal, AKA PapersandPaychecks (the editor and co-creator of the game) had a few Real Life problems. The game is available in four forms:
Hardcover Black and White- $28.80
Paperback- $15.70
Economy- $10.90
Hardcover Color- $98.20
I'm pretty sure that "economy" has cheaper paper than "paperback".
If anyone orders one of these, let me know and send a picture!