Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Labyrinths & Mutants

I've been kicking around ways to mash up Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord to better fit a more Thundarr the Barbarian-inspired game. Basically, a science fantasy game with both the familiarity and social commentary available to post-apocalyptic Earth and the magic of straight-up D&D. And more lasers. There's a section in the back of the MF rulebook for such shenanigans but I'm just not digging that particular implementation. I've mentioned before the mutant rules in particular don't really light my jets. But in the past weeks as I have considered the subject of Class holistically (i.e. What classes do I want in my game?) I have come around to the idea of Mutant as a class option. In the end, I think I want a Basic/Expert style approach, with Race as Class and relatively few options. Four humans and three non-humans seems like plenty of classes most days, but I don't have my list quite cut down that short just yet. Here are the classes I've been kicking around so far:

Savage - The baseline fighting class, suitable for Thundarrs, Conans and any uncivilized human who gets by on force of arms. Perhaps not much different from a standard Labyrinth Lord fighter.

Scavenger - The uncivilized human who gets by on stealth and guile. I.e. an alternate thief of some sort.

Techno - A human knowledgeable in ancient tech and science. This class would be reserved for unfrozen people from the Science Age, refugees from Logan's Run style arcologies, time travellers, visitors from advanced extraterrestrial colonies that survived the Fall, etc. Inspired by the Arduin class of the same name, though I'd be more inclined to use the St. Andre version.

Sorcerer - The basic human arcane caster class. I'd like to stick as close to the standard MU as possible, but I also kinda want to ditch spell books for a know it/throw it approach. I think I'd like the default magic-using PCs to be just as illiterate as everyone else in the party.

Wizard - I can't run a Thundarr game without giving the players the option of running one of those awesome mutant techno-wizard guys that Thundarr is always fighting. This class would combine the skills of the techno and sorcerer with the possibility of mutating into something horrible. Mechanics-wise, it would be akin to the Elf class: lots of powers but a painful XP chart to climb.

Witch - An arcane caster who gains additional power by making pacts with extradimensional demons.

Prophet - The cleric class of the setting. Instead of serving a temple and a distant god, these people directly hear their god's voice. Think Joan of Arc in the year 4094 AD. I may drop the ability to affect undead or make Turn Undead into a spell.

Cyborg and/or Robot - Because cyborgs and robots are cool.

Deviant - My version of a mutant class, with name inspired by the Deviants of Marvel Comics. Instead of mutant powers that level up as the character does (the Mutant class in the back of MF) I would go with full-blown MF uberpowers. The catch is that the character starts with very few mutations and continues to mutate in play.

Brute - Because if someone wants to play Ookla the Mok I sure as hell ain't gonna say no. I might borrow the Half-Ogre class from Ruins & Ronin for this one.

That's ten classes, which feels like too long a list to me. I guess the Wizard and Witch could be folded into the Sorcerer as subclasses, bringing the total down to eight.


  1. I like where this is going!

    I'm for consolidation of the magic users.

    I'm curious about the Brute. If "race as class" is a guiding principle, I can see why Ookla, Beast Man, and their monstrous brethren might stand alone.

    Still, how in play would the Brute differ much from the Savage or another martial type?

  2. I like where you are going with this. I too have had reservations about the mixing of MF with LL as the rules are written.

  3. If you have no qualms about having distinct race/class options, why not allow any PC to be a robot or mutant, regardless of class ala Encounter Critical?

  4. JJ: I'm making a conscious game mechanics decision here to be more like Basic/Expert D&D and less like Encounter Critical.

  5. Still, how in play would the Brute differ much from the Savage or another martial type?

    I'm thinking bonuses to unarmed damage, door opening, and AC. Weapons and armor would be optional for these goons.

  6. This sounds like fun stuff, I'll take one magnetic, bracer-clinging light-sword, please! :)

  7. I like the rough shape of this, Jeff! Have you looked at this? I ran into it awhile ago, and bookmarked it, but I haven't really read it to see if I liked it.

  8. Yeah, I've seen that. Some of the analysis is really good, as are the few episode breakdowns. And I really wish I had thought of the name "Under the Broken Moon". That's aces.

  9. Cool. I've been thinking about this kind of thing myself. In particular, I was re-reading the rules for Lords of Creation and thinking that I could come up with a B/X compatible version so that I could connect an upcoming Lords of Creation campaign with my B/X sandbox world that we're currently playing in. And if I did that, it would only make sense to add in Mutant Future compatibility as well.

  10. Thundarr completely passed me by; either it wasn't shown here, or it was shown before my time. But I'd play this in an instant!

  11. You know that I love me some Thundarr...

    Some thoughts:

    - Brutes should have communication issues. Ookla couldn't talk. He was based on Chewbacca. Compared to Savages, they should have worse AC, more HP (or some ability to shrug off damage) and worse "to hit" chances, but more damage. Maybe some special attacks involving throwing people or something.

    - Scavenger: you might also want to give these a bit of a nomad flavor, too.

    - Witch/Sorcerer: do these need to be distinct? What if you just had some spells with a witchy-flavor? Maybe a spell that lets you contact a demon and form an ongoing relationship with it (but this uses up that spell slot or something).

    - Deviant: I don't know how I feel about the continuing to mutate in play thing. This doesn't feel like an archetype from the source material...

  12. This is a great idea. A Thundarr-esque game would be great.

    I agree with slizard about the witch/sorceror distinction. They could be presented as two distinct paths towards weilding arcane power.

    Under the Broken Moon is a great game. I still got printed out copies in the files.

  13. This doesn't feel like an archetype from the source material...

    Well, that's because it's not an archetype from the source material. I'm not aiming for pure emulation here. Thundarr is the starting point, not the goal. Ditto any other source material.

  14. Jeff, that's fair... I'm just curious as to why you decided to deviate so much with the deviant. :)

    I don't think I'd like to play one as you describe it, but I'm also picky.

  15. Damn, Jeff. You've just articulated a game I've daydreamed about for 20-odd years. Get this thing up and running while I try to convince the wife to move to Illinois. The only problem is that I'd want to play just about every one of these classes!

  16. As for the brute, I'm tempted to say that Ookla could be handled as a particular type of mutant/deviant. From the wikipedia page, "Intelligent humanoid-animal races include the rat-like Groundlings and the cat-like Moks."
    If you included something like a lion-type animal mutation and a rat-type animal mutation, you could handle both of those nicely.

    Ookla's horse was also some sort of mutant horse!

  17. As I tend to be of the 'more options' mind set I might add the idea of two different Deviant classes (after all, you've got more then one magic user type).

    The Deviant would function similar to the MF Mutant Class - A set number of abilities that get better as you level up. The Mutate would continue to obtain new abilities as it raised in level.

    Whattaya think?

  18. This stuff must really appeal to me; it's been on my mind all day! Thanks for the mental chewing gum.

    Here's another query: What if I wanted to make a Kamandi-style animal man?

    Would it be a Deviant? Maybe a Brute? Or would I simply say, "My guy's a talking beagle," and proceed to make a Scavenger, Savage, etc?

  19. If it were my game i stick with spell books and scrolls just because it sends the wizard scavenging around looking for ancient spells buried in the rubble.

    That way the wizard's as environment-dependent as the warrior or the scavenger.

  20. If it were my game i stick with spell books and scrolls just because it sends the wizard scavenging around looking for ancient spells buried in the rubble.

    That way the wizard's as environment-dependent as the warrior or the scavenger.

    Oh, yes. Wizards in Thundarr are always searching for stuff, but usually artifacts instead of scrolls. Still, I'm not ruling out Vancian magic as the standard. I just can't figure out yet what I want more: Tales of the Dying Earth or Princess Ariel.

    Or would I simply say, "My guy's a talking beagle," and proceed to make a Scavenger, Savage, etc?

    I can't imagine myself saying no to such a pronouncement. Pro-active players rock!

  21. Jeff, if I can make a suggestion, make the Witch/Warlock the same, rename the Sorcerer the Magician. Sorcerers, (in my mind at least!) are similar to Witches/Warlocks.

  22. Jeff, Moldvay's Lords of Creation might be a worthy resource for this idea as well.

  23. LOVE this idea! Might it be published as an official supplement to either LL or MF? I'm also not opposed to it taking on a life of it's own.

    //can't wait until you get to races! Three words: Ookla the Mok!

    Captcha for this post: silly (how cool is that?!)