Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mutant Future session #3

Last night Carl, Dane and Wheelz all started new characters, since at the end of the previous session the entire party was blow'd up by an android with a grenade launcher. I don’t have the charsheets in front of me as I type this, but Wheelz made a mutant humanoid named Zat who was blind yet possessed the ability to manipulate light waves. Carl played Fruity, a mutant tree with oranges that were actually grenades he could lob. And Dane played Pungent Shamblestump, a plant with both good and bad pheromones (one scent tended to incite people to violence towards him, the other acted as a sort of charm person ability). Pungent also possesses a form of mutational lycanthropy, allowing him to transform into a giant two-headed ant with a poison stinger.

We were joined by Gameblog reader Infamous Jum, who drove all the way from Valparaiso for some mutant mayhem. So of course he was the first and only casualty of the evening. His first PC was a mutant humanoid named Jonagar Throgus, who possessed psionic flight and a Black Canary style sonic scream attack. I thought Jonagar was going to buy the farm when he flew up to the giant mutant spider in the first encounter. The spider promptly entangled him in webbing and drew the poor guy towards his poisonous maw. Fortunately, Fruity’s citrus grenades killed the spider slightly more than it killed Jonagar. Later the J-man volunteered to scout out a strange haziness in the air ahead of the party. It was a rad zone. He died. Death comes that easily in the irradiated doomscape of Mutant Future.

Jum’s replacement PC is Thorny Bill, a giant walking rose with a scary face painted on one of his petals. Jum wanted non-plants to have a reference point for communication purposes, but he didn’t want them to assume that such communications would be pleasant. Brilliant.

So the theme of the evening’s adventure was a continuation of the previous two sessions: the water merchants have stopped coming to the village of Esperanza and the PCs must do something about it. Since the party sent to explore the settlement on Poison River never returned, it was decided that another group should cross the Crunchy Desert in search of the water merchants’ home base. Play began on the far side of the desert, the PCs canteens empty and food supplies almost exhausted. The first pond they found was next to the home of the spider mentioned above. I was a little surprised that no one checked out the webbed up tree for treasure. They would have found the egg sac and a shoebox containing some Reagan pennies (i.e. copper pieces).

Speaking of coins, the village elders had given the party a supply of cash for purchasing water to bring back. At first I described the hundred bucks as lumpy gold coins. Lumpy because I imagined either they were partially melted or had been poorly cast. Dane didn’t seem to dig on carrying a bag of gold, so I told the group I had considered an alternate currency for the campaign world: poker chips. They immediately caught on to the idea of ancient plastic discs of no particular value becoming the standard coin of the mangled present. So instead of the gold standard the campaign setting now uses the chip. And not those fancy pants ones you get at casinos, either. We’re talking about the cheap kind that people have been using in home games since before poker went legit.

The party eventually arrived at a small town on a lake. Their attempts to set up a mutant crustacean as a water merchant were foiled by the guys family patriarch nixing the idea. The lobstercrab people are simple grain farmers and any new idea is a bad idea to their elders. When playing the dude I tried real hard not to fall into my very bad Zoidberg impression, but it wasn’t easy. I’ve gotten a lot of opportunity to work on Futurama voices lately as my daughter has been populating much of her imaginary play with the characters from that show. She Mary Sues herself into the captaincy of the Planetary Express ship, with Leela getting a demotion to first mate. (Professor: Good news, everyone! I’ve hired a seven year old girl with no prior experience as the new captain! Leela: That time the autopilot was put in charge of the ship was humiliating enough, but this completely wangs chung! Zoidberg: I hear little girls often have candy. Does the nice captain have anything to share with her good friend Zoidberg? Etc.)

Anyhoo, the group decided that setting themselves up as the water merchants was the most sensible thing to do. But they needed more cash than the 100 chips they had on hand, so they went looking for work. Not honest work mind you, but adventurer’s work. Eventually they discovered that a band of pig-mutant bandits were holding some prominent townsfolk for ransom. A reward had been posted of 50 chips each for the returned citizens, while the heads of the king and queen of the pigs were worth 250 chips each.

Finding the secret hideout of the pig people involved a minor brush with a radiation zone and an opportunity to annoy some very deadly robots that they took a pass on. Thanks to clever planning and some favorable dice rolls Pungent used his charm person aroma to drive the pigs into a frenzy. As I put it last night “You are the Beetles and they’re willing to kill each other to be the first to get an autograph.” The leftovers were mopped up with various PC weapons and mutations, including Thorny Bill using a heat ray to literally fry some bacon.

What won’t a PC eat? Always an interesting question. Sure, when you’re on the tenth level of a dungeon and the rations have run out, killing and eating giant rats is perfectly acceptable. How about a giant spider? Or howzabout a giant spider with human eyes? Last night’s group didn’t hesitate to consume the latter. And intelligent, bipedal pigs were just another source of tasty ham treats to this group.

So the session ended with the PCs back at town. They collected their rewards and used some of the pig people’s food stocks to throw a party. Everyone made level two. As the session was breaking up they considered retiring to live a longer, more peaceful life as water merchants and farmers. I’m seriously considering setting next session a whole generation later, when the economics of the situation no longer support Esperanza buying its extra water from across the growing desert.

One final note: I’m enjoying all the crazy mutations and weird creatures and super tech, but I’m starting to miss the wizards and stuff. Trying relatively straight (if gonzo) post-apocalyptic in this campaign (and my magic-free Encounter Critical post-apoc game last February) has really driven home for me that the Kitchen Sink Coalition of Arduin/Synnibarr/Rifts/Encounter Critical is definitely where I want to be. Whether that means combining Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future, or finally launching a full-blown campaign in a native kitchen sink system (EC or Rifts or Lords of Creation), or simply chrome plating some variety of D&D, I dunno.