Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Strength In Numbers

Here's a silly idea I came up with while browsing some 80's retro toy sites the other day. Collecting comics was my main addiction back then but I occasionally got sucked into fads, and one was the line of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures put out by Mattel. It was an American version of Kinkeshi from Japan. They were really strange looking little PVC figures and they still have a pretty size-able fanbase. How cool would it be to have a setting based on the Mutant Future rules where you had a bucket full of M.U.S.C.L.E. miniatures then pulled a random character out. The Mutant Lord would assign stats and mutations based on what the figure looked like. It would be a fun way to run one off adventures as a break from a regular campaign. The only problem is that they haven't made them in ages and collecting a bunch of them would probably be pricey.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Found Footage

Ruin is a short film by OddBall Animation and if you are into the post apocalypse genre, it is something you absolutely have to watch. It will only take a little under nine minutes of your time and I'm sure that if you are a Mutant Future fan this short film will inspire you in many ways. I look forward to any follow up shorts that they make.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mood Swings

I don't understand the point of alignment in Mutant Future. It seems to me that that every character should pretty much be concerned with self preservation in a world ravaged by the apocalypse. Their actions should be dictated by choices made in the moment and not some arbitrary moral barometer. If your character sees that they benefit from helping the group then they would do something that would be "Lawful", if they don't see anything beneficial from a situation they might remain "Neutral", and if they think someone is trying to screw them over they might perform an action which would be considered "Chaotic". I can somewhat see the purpose of alignment in a fantasy RPG which deals with such classes as clerics, paladins, or necromancers. However, in a game like Mutant Future I do not really see that it works.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Thing about the Apocalypse

For me, one of the best Marvel post-apocalyptic comics was the final issue of Marvel Two-in One. Issue 100 was a sequel to issue 50 where The Thing used Dr. Doom's time machine to travel back when he could be cured by a serum that Reed Richards had come up with. Then he gets back to the present and finds out that it created an alternate timeline so he didn't change anything in his reality. It was a solid story, but when it came to the final issue John Byrne took those ideas he had laid down and then took it to the extreme.

It turns out that there were already divergent aspects of that alternate reality. So Ben Grimm decides to use the time machine to revisit and finds that circumstances in the other world have taken a real turn for the worse. Because he cured the alternative universe Ben Grimm, it changed everything. When he arrives he is shocked to see stark planetary devastation..

Because The Thing was no longer a member of The Fantastic Four they did not stop Galactus from sucking all the life energy out of the Earth. Everyone else trying to stop him died and so the planet was screwed. So Ben arrives on a planet which is pretty much dried up and totally a post apocalyptic setting. Then John Byrne throws in some really crazy stuff that makes this post disaster setting so much more insane.

That is right...Nazis and the World Trade Center. It is so over the top and yet in comic book context it actually works. The plot involves The Red Skull turning post apocalyptic Americans into Neo-Nazis in an attempt to conquer the ruined planet. How outrageous is that? It was like John Byrne thought, "The series is over so I'm going out with a crazy bang!".

This is absolutely one of my favorite solo stories featuring The Thing. It is like a What If? story but is part of actual continuity.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mad to the Max

The Fighting Fantasy series of game books were really a huge part of my gaming experience for several years when I wasn't part of a gaming group. During that time period I would buy a lot of game products but never got to play them, or would make up solo rules so I could experience them on my own. The funny thing is that at the time my two biggest gaming influences had to be the American designer named Steve Jackson and the British designer named Steve Jackson. At first I, like many people, thought they were the same person, but later figured out they weren't.

The American Steve Jackson came up with Car Wars, and that was certainly one of the first major games set in a post-apocalyptic setting inspired by the Mad Max series of movies. I didn't get to play that game because nobody I knew was interested in playing it, but then again, at that time I didn't know any real die-hard gamers. Thankfully, the British Steve Jackson published Freeway Fighter which was written by the legendary Ian Livingstone. It was the next best thing at the time as a Car Wars alternative for me.

This gamebook was one of the harder volumes in the series because you not only had to keep up with your own stats and inventory, but you also had to track the condition of your vehicle and then scavenging for fuel was a major factor. I'll make no bones about it....one of my ideal car dreams during the 80's was getting behind the wheel of "one of the last of the V8 Interceptors" and in some way this gamebook allowed me to do that. Sadly it is no longer published in the United States but I think there is still a British edition available.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Pox Upon Me

This week I caught a nasty little virus which had me pretty much bedridden for several days. It was quite miserable but it made me think about a plague being one of the causes of an apocalypse in the O.M.E.G.A. Future World setting. The Mutant Future rulebook touches upon the subject of not thinking too hard about the reason for the apocalypse when playing the game, but I do think some sort of background improves the flavor of a game setting. I like the idea of the Wild Cards series of books and it seems to be a good concept to swipe for Mutant Future. Maybe not being the sole reason but a factor in which the apocalypse was indeed based on four factors representing the modern apocryphal interpretation of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The whole series of thoughts on a plague ravaging the planet made me want to play Pandemic 2, except for the fact that I don't want to have to deal with that Madagascar issue.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dark Day Delusions

This whole issue of 2012 being pretty much the end of times is totally absurd. I used to really enjoy watching the History Channel and also History Channel International because they actually informed me about history. Now they seem to show way too many programs about this 2012 thing way too much. As you can tell by the nature of this blog, I'm very interested in post-apocalyptic fiction as well as dystopia because they are so closely related in the modern human psyche. However, as an adult I now realize that it just fiction. It is most certainly a large mine to dig for fiction ideas but I really don't think it will ever happen. I seriously worried about it when I was younger but now I sort of chuckle at that 80's paranoia I had. Nothing is going to totally destroy our modern society and yet we still contemplate it. I think this is ultimately tied to our own thoughts about mortality and that when we die, the whole world dies with us.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Days After

I don't just read post-apocalyptic comics. Since I was about eight or nine, I really got into books and would constantly beg my mother to take me to the library. My school district didn't do the summer reading list but that didn't stop me from seeking out books to read not only during the summer but all year long. Because I grew up in the era of the Cold War, I became fascinated with the idea of nuclear war so when I got my hands on Alas, Babylon I was eager to read it.

I mention the aspect of schools giving students summer reading lists because I found out years later that this novel was sometimes on those lists. I didn't even realize that back then but now it seems that there are a lot of reading guides, suggestions for classroom discussions, chapter summaries, and various comments online about how people had to read it for a class. As post-apocalyptic fiction Alas, Babylon tries to be quite realistic and not fantastical at all. The novel isn't as grim as something like The Road, but it is very serious. It isn't much to inspire a Mutant Future setting, but this is still an important novel when it comes to post-apocalyptic fiction. Some people may find it rather dry or slow but I really enjoyed it when I first read it and then I read it again a few years back and still found it to be engaging.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It is the 21st Century

My first RPG experience was with the Tom Moldvay edition of D&D. Unfortunately for me, I didn't grow up in a suburb so there were no regular gaming groups in my area. I played a lot of gamebooks. I owned a whole lot of Fighting Fantasy books and it was absolutely my favorite gamebook series. Later in middle school my friends and I played Toon during lunch time because it could be done quick and fast. Everything changed when I found out about the local comic shop which had opened up within bike riding distance. There, I met the regulars and shortly after that Mayfair Games released DC Heroes. Some of the regulars had started a gaming group playing that game every weekend and even though I was several years younger than most of them, they invited me join the group. I didn't want to start without having any knowledge of the game system so I took some money I had saved up and bought the game and then also picked up a solo adventure. Thankfully it was based on a comic book which I was totally obsessed with at the time.

I'll most certainly post more about DC's Hex series from the 80's later on, but this is the first module I played that really first combined the two things I was absolutely crazy about.....gaming and post-apocalyptic comic books. Hex: Escort to Hell isn't perfect but it was fun and ended up being a gateway to get me much more into the hobby of gaming. Looking at it now the thing that strikes me as being funny is the description on the back cover.

Back then, the idea of the "21st Century" seemed so futuristic and amazing. Now that we actually live in that century it sort of seems so mundane. It makes me chuckle to think how far off it seemed back in those days. Damn, I was so naive.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Beyond the Beyond

I'm not going to lie to you, I watched a LOT of network TV during the 80's. When the fall preview issue of TV Guide would come out I was all over it planning which new shows I would watch. Then certain shows would be cancelled and you would get what used to be the infamous mid-season replacement. These were the shows that the networks had second thoughts about but figured "Ah, what the hell...we'll give it a shot". One such show which I quickly became fascinated with was Otherworld.

This show only lasted for eight episodes but it was still quite an interesting experiment in alternative world science fiction television. I've seen several times where it has been described as a version of Lost in Space on an alternate Earth and that is pretty much an accurate summary. The opening title sequence sets the bizarre tone of the show and there are some obvious 80's moments in it.

It wasn't a post-apocalyptic setting really, but there isn't any reason you couldn't take ideas from this show and use them in a Mutant Future campaign. Strange science fiction such as this is always something to consider when coming up with inspiration for creating a Mutant Future setting.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rise of the Feralkin

As I stated in a previous post, I'm trying my hand at creating my first enemy NPC to populate the wastelands of my Mutant Future setting. Feralkin are basically inspired...or should I say swiped, from the renegade halflings of Athas. This is my first attempt at creating anything using the rules of Mutant Future so keep that in mind. The next thing I plan on doing is coming up with some specific class modifications for PCs in my setting. Hopefully I'll have some time and inspiration to help with that.


No. Enc: 2d6 (5d10)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 150' (50')
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: 1 (weapon)
Damage: 1d6 or weapon
Save: L3
Morale: 7
Hoard Class: None

Feralkin are wild humanoids living in the wasteland who stand about 3 feet tall. They have brown or black eyes. Feralkin males often have long sideburns, but they do not grow beards or mustaches. They are tribal savages with an extremely primitive culture. Feralkin do not have any understanding of technology and wield only primitive weapons. A typical feralkin tribe may have a population as small as 12 and up to 50 in some rare cases. Normally they are nomadic but some of the larger tribes have been known create permanent settlements in densely wooded areas. These feralkin will make nest like structures in the branches of trees to live in. Feralkin do not have a real language and instead communicate through howling, shrieks, and grunts that sound quite animalistic.

Mutations: dwarfism, increased balance, night vision

The High Plains Loser

I recently signed back up for Netflix because they gave me a free month and I thought, "What, the hell" because Microsoft also gave me a deal for one month of XBox Live for only a dollar. A month of TV and movies for only a buck? I signed up for both instantly. Then I saw that Netflix had a bunch of MST3K available to watch instantly! I was a huge fan of MST3K back when it was originally running on Comedy Central. When the series went to Sci-Fi Channel it seemed to drop in quality. To me, the older episodes are what really get my dorkness on full throttle. Since I've been diving into post-apocalyptic material the first one I watched was Warrior of the Lost World.

I used to totally geek out over this show and to get to watch it instantly is awesome, but this movie was painful. Because of the limited cable provider we had back then, I didn't get to see a lot of the Joel seasons. Catching up on these movies with Joel and the bots is great but this was just a terrible movie. Thankfully, they made it funny. It is just a really bad attempt to rip off Mad Max and something like THX 1138. You can watch the whole movie here on YouTube if you really want to endure this.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why I Didn't Like Gamma World

The first and only edition of Gamma World which I owned was the 3rd edition. Like a lot of games I bought back then, I never actually played it. I loved the concept of the setting and all the strange mutant creatures in it. You would have thought at the time that it was right up my alley. Alas, it was not to be. For one thing, the gaming group I was in was obsessed with DC Heroes because we were primarily a superhero based gaming group. The main reason I didn't like Gamma World 3e was because of this:

I was never a fan of the Action Control Table, especially after buying TSR's Marvel Super Heroes. I loved the idea of both games but didn't care for the game system that they used for these games. DC Heroes had a table based system to resolve actions but it seemed to be easier to work with. TSR's ACT system seemed to me to be more unwieldy for quick and fun gaming. The thing I appreciate about Mutant Future is that the rules system is far more accesible.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Back to the Future

There have been a lot of gaming bloggers posting about how the first edition of Metamorphosis Alpha is now back in print and that makes me feel good about the rebirth of old school gaming. You can purchase a PDF copy of it or get an actual physical reprint of it.

I'm a proud owner of an actual copy of the original game, even though I've never played it. Many years ago I was lucky enough to win the bid for it while at a convention's charity auction. I'll have to admit that I really got it for a steal because I don't think most of the bidders even knew what it was and it was also late on the last day of the con. It is easily the oldest gaming item that I own. Right now it is boxed up with some of my old gaming books and in storage but I'll more than likely buy a copy of this reprint just to show my support for James M. Ward. I know I'm a little late on posting about this when it comes to fandom bloggers but I thought I'd at least give it a mention.

Myths and Mutants

One of the more offbeat and unusual attempts at a post-apocalyptic comic was DC's 1975 launching of Hercules Unbound. It featured the legendary character set in a future loosely tied in with that of Kamandi. It only ran for 12 issues, but it is something of a curio when it comes to comics of this genre.

From the Wikipedia entry:
"In 1975, DC produced a comic book series titled Hercules Unbound, featuring the adventures of Hercules in a post-apocalyptic future. This Hercules looked different from the other DC interpretations - he had long black hair and no beard. The series lasted 12 issues. It made use of characters and concepts, such as The Atomic Knights and the intelligent animals from Jack Kirby's Kamandi series as an attempt to tie in some of the future series."

It was a really unusual mix of post-apocalyptic science fiction and Greek mythology. To be honest, it was mediocre at best and seemed to just be an attempt to make a Kamandi like book. I only have a couple of issues which I got out of the dime bin back when comic shops still had dime bins. I guess there are a few ideas in the 12 issues which could be used for a mutant Future Setting but again, it is a rather bland comic overall.

Well, at least one thing I can say about it was that it wasn't as bad as the Italian Hercules movies made during the 50's and 60's. The bi-monthly series was cancelled in 1977 which was just a year shy of the infamous DC Implosion and I seriously doubt that it would ever be reprinted or collected in a trade paperback.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Dying Earth

Out of all the boxed set campaign settings for AD&D 2e my favorite was absolutely Dark Sun. It was unique and in many ways it was very much a fantasy approach to creating a post-apocalyptic style fantasy world. There are a lot of fans of this setting and even though I didn't get a chance to play in a Dark Sun campaign I did love to read official products and imagine the possibilities that Athas offered.

I started re-reading some of the original 2e material for some ideas for creatures to fit into a Mutant Future setting as some of them would be easily adapted to the setting that I am conceiving. One such character concept from Dark Sun which I liked is the variant on the halfling. I really like the idea of these type of demi-humans being out in the wastelands in my O.M.E.G.A. setting.

My concept for them as enemy NPCs would take them a bit farther in how barbaric they are. In fact, I would call them Feralkin to emphasize just how beastly these little people are. I started working on the stats for my Feralkin earlier today and I expect that I'll post the details later on this weekend.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

They Call Him -- Killraven!

Sure, my main influence for a Mutant Future setting is based on some of the DC comics of Jack Kirby, but I do have to admit that another source of inspiration would be Killraven. It was a Marvel comic which originally ran during the 1970's and dealt with a post-apocalyptic setting which was based upon it being a sequel of sorts to The War of the Worlds. I only have a couple of random original issues but I do have a copy of the Essential trade paperback reprint.

I'm certain the entire setting could easily be adapted into a Mutant Future campaign setting. You can pick the TPB online for pretty cheap and if you like retro comics and high adventure, post-apocalyptic tales, then I totally suggest that you pick it up.

Killer Cockroaches

One of the most cheese-tastic post-apocalyptic films ever made is Damnation Alley which is an adaptation of a short story by Roger Zelazny, who was a great science fiction and fantasy writer. I read it during the late 80's in a compilation of Zelazny's short stories and it was a lot more outlandish than the movie which is only loosely based on the actual original source.

I didn't know about the film version until sometime in the 90's and then didn't even get to see it until a few years ago and it really is the type of movie which would have made great fodder for MST3K. There are some nuggets of ideas which could be used in Mutant Future and it indeed did seem to inspire the Judge Dredd Cursed Earth storyline so it is worth mentioning. Check out this scene for some serious unintentional laughable moments and one of the most obviously fake motorcycle jumps I have ever seen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What does O.M.E.G.A. mean?

Jack Kirby loved acronyms and they pop up in a lot of his creations so I needed to find one to use for this setting. The basic concept for this is a Kirby inspired future world where super-powered heroes defend the last bastion of a future society against a mutated wasteland. OMAC is totally the comic that got me thinking about starting this project.

So I felt I had to sit down and think of an acronym as would Krby did back then. So I came up with calling a mutated hero an O.M.E.G.A. which stands for Optimized Mutagen Enhanced Guardian Agent. They are modified through science to protect the city against the outlandish mutations that constantly assail their safe haven from the harsh outlands. I probably won't consider doing anything with the idea of Brother Eye, though.

Grudd and Drokk!

One of the added inspirations to help combine the concepts of OMAC and Kamandi is a way to also separate them to some extent. The idea I've come up with is that there is a technologically advanced city which is still a futuristic style holdout on the fringes of a great mutant wasteland. This way, you could adventure in the city itself or out in the wastelands. When I really got into comics in the 80's I was lucky enough to have a local comic shop run by a British expat and he imported 2000 A.D. so I read a lot of Judge Dredd back then. Mega-City One being right on the edge of The Cursed Earth is a great way to do this type of setting, although my city setting will be nowhere near as big.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Starting Points

I recently purchased a copy of Mutant Future by Goblinoid Games and it really got me thinking about writing some type of campaign setting because I've always been a fan of that type of thing. My first instinct was to do something based on Thundarr the Barbarian, but I quickly found out that someone was already doing that.

So I began to daydream about some other setting inspired by other old school stuff I geek out on and suddenly had an inspired thought. What about using Mutant Future rules to create a setting that combined aspects of the Jack "The King" Kirby's DC runs on Kamandi and OMAC?!?! It seems like that would be a great campaign setting for Mutant Future and also a wonderful way to pay tribute to my favorite comic book creative legend of all time.

So this blog will be my thoughts on how to combine these elements and hopefully others will find the setting intriguing.