Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wizards Future

I’ve been putting off picking up Mutant Future for awhile now (sorry, Dan!) for a number of reasons.

The first is a bit selfish: I’ve been working on my own Gamma World re-imagining off and on for two years now (mainly “off” recently); why would I want to purchase something when I’m making my own.

The second reason is pure laziness: I still have the 2nd edition GW rules (my favorite version) in PDF format; if necessary, I can run a game using them with a few house rules I like.

The third reason (and main reason) is one of principle: I don’t believe every genre of game can or should be run with the same system. Gamma World is not D&D, and why would I want to play a version based off the Labyrinth Lord (i.e. B/X) rules system? This was miserable for the D20 version of GW…why repeat the same mistake with a retro-clone?

However, I’m starting to come around to the idea, and NOT just because I want to run a cross-genre game a la Ralph Bakshi’s film Wizards (though such would be immensely cool, I’m certain!).

Thing is, one of the reasons Gamma World always worked well (and was popular) for TSR is that structurally it is very similar to D&D. And by structure, I am talking about setting and procedure, not system. Just as in D&D you have a party of diverse types, banded together, and going on adventures in a hostile environment. The world itself is hostile (with monsters and robots and plants). Artifacts (“magic items”) can be found, lost cities are discovered, and underground installations (“dungeons”) get explored. Hopefully the characters rise in prestige and prominence within their community because of their heroic actions.

It is VERY D&D-esque, just set in a different genre. Unlike Star Frontiers, Boot Hill, or Top Secret, the concept of “what to do” in Gamma World is remarkably easy for the average D&D player (as usual, I include the DM as a “player,” too) to grasp.

Of course it IS different: no Vancian magic, add in mutations, radiation is a vicious sub-sytem. And do post-apocalyptic people really want to trade in irradiated gold coins? Wasn’t that a nefarious plot from a James Bond film?

Still, LL (and B/X) are simple enough systems that I can see it working. One reason I was disgusted with the D20 Gamma World was the same old advancement scheme with skills and feats. What skill does a mutant beaver possess anyway? Give me a frickin’ break. As I mentioned before, GW characters are going to need to know the rudiments of survival…and part of the fun is figuring out if a plant is going to try eating you.

In LL, as in B/X there are no skills. Give it a + for that.

And once you see THAT, then you see how minor the tweaking necessary to play a GW game with a B/X system. Saving throws versus poison, radiation, and mental mutations. A method of discovering artifacts’ functions (even if only narrating what the character does). Abstract combat.

I actually prefer the original GW combat system (weapon class versus armor class) as I feel it better models the post-apocalyptic world. These natives aren’t in a state of constant training to be warriors! They’re all equally good with a spear (if they weren’t, they’d be going hungry) and armor offers a certain degree of protection against said spear.

But I can get on board with heroic advancement by “level” for some forms of post-apocalyptic gaming. Again, Wizards is a good example…you have certain “classes” of people (elves, mutants, hit-robots, wizards) that have certain types of training based on their occupation. As they “adventure” through the P.A. world they get better at certain aspects (like fighting) of adventuring life.

This is different from the original GW concept of savages surviving and exploring a “changed” world. But it’s certainly a worthy sub-set of the P.A. genre.

Anyway, Dyson’s posts about Mutant Future and my own musings are leading me to break down and buy the game. Chock up another sale, Dan-O!
; )


  1. I love MF. It sems when ever I come up with a game idea MF has me covered. I've used it for Super heroes, Space Opera, Pulp Noir, and a High magic / Gene punk setting (using the Mutants and Mazes rules.) It's really a versatile little game, maybe one day I will use it for a Post Apocalypse game.

    on a side note:
    Mutant Future is a major source of inspiration for the BX "Ice Age Adventures" rpg that me and my fiance are working on.

  2. MF is a great little game. It isn't quite Gamma World.

    I actually prefer the original GW combat system (weapon class versus armor class) as I feel it better models the post-apocalyptic world.

    The 1/2e GW combat rules have some interesting idiosyncrasies that probably deserve more notice, such as Combat Fatigue.

  3. Mutant Future is a pretty snazzy system. I want to run a weird futuristic earth but not post apocalyptic game with it. Sort of a futuristic American Gods.

    The system is fairly versatile.

  4. So I downloaded a copy of Mutant Future yesterday and read through it (my local game store did NOT have a copy in print), and it wasn't quite what I expected. A curious hybrid between LL and GW was NOT what I had in mind, and I'm not sure I like the advancement system (a 7th level character with a potential 7 attacks per round? What?).

    It is definitely NOT your father's Gamma World (or mine for that matter). I did appreciate the section on combining LL with MF (nicely thought out and worded), but I'll have to do a more in depth read before I decide to run it. In some ways it is even more wa-hoo than GW (you can play a mutant plant?) and I was looking for something maybe a little less.

    I WILL take a second gander, but the first impression wasn't promising.

  5. 7th level characters? In Mutant future? Well there is a chance, a darned small one.
    Don't like an entry on the chart, change it, one could make a campaign specific Experience Bonus table and it isn't going to break the game.

    A GW game master could also pillage MF for the large number of mutant beasties which do not turn up in GW.

  6. Hey, as I said, I need to take a closer look at MF before I make any serious judgments. I will post my opinions once I've had a chance to do a cover-to-cover read!

    : )