You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!” (George Taylor; Planet of the Apes)
Reading Zak Sabbath‘s recent blog posts about a post-apocalyptic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness campaign inspired me to work on something in a similar vein. First thing to do: some system and setting research. Classic Judge Dredd is something I’m quite versed in, so the Cursed Earth epic should make for a good starting point for the setting, but I don’t want to worry too much about that yet, so I’ll just set that aside for a minute and concentrate on system. Browsing through Goblinoid Games’ Mutant Future I see a lot of things I like, and some things I could do without. The core system is basically Labyrinth Lord, which should prove a solid enough foundation. I’ll just tweak it a bit to make it less obviously D&D. The mutations tables are solid gold, so I’ll keep those as is.
Regarding character generation, the player character will be limited to mutant humans, since this campaign is going to be about those sorry bastards living in the Cursed Earth. Androids, robots, mutant animals and mutant plants will be present as NPC only. Abilities are rolled straight down the line 3d6, but I’ll do away with the actual ability scores and just keep the modifiers. This means the abilities will range from -3 to 3 with an average mutant being zeroes down the line. Strength is used for close combat damage, lifting, forcing open doors, and other feats of strength. Dexterity is used for dodge defense (which is basically how hard to hit the character is in combat and with area effects), and things requiring fine manipulation, quick reflexes or such. Constitution is used for Hit Points and fortitude related saving throws (radiation, poison, what have you). Intelligence determines how good the character is at using unfamiliar tech, tinkering, jury-rigging, languages, etc. Wisdom is used for willpower related saving throws, noticing stuff, surprise rolls, and tests of will (using psionic powers, for instance). Charisma affects NPC reaction rolls. Sound familiar so far? Here’s where it diverges from the standard D&D ability spread: There are two new abilities covering ranged and melee combat. These are Fighting (hitting in close combat), and Shooting (hitting in ranged combat) respectively. The rationale here is making Strength and Dexterity less important in comparison to the other four original abilities. Also, I can imagine my campaign’s mutant characters doing a lot of both.
Moving on: Every character starts out with 8 + Constitution hit points. The various MF/LL saving throws and AC are replaced by three defense scores: Dodge (10+Dexterity+Level), Fortitude (10+Constitution+Level), and Will (10+Wisdom+Level). There are also some mutations which affect these. Armor doesn’t grant more AC. Instead, armor types have a damage reduction value. Certain weapons have an armor penetration value, which basically works like this: If the AP value of a weapon is the same or greater than the DR value, an attack with that weapon ignores that armor completely. Shields simply grant a +2 to Dodge in melee combat against attacks from the front that the defender is aware of.
Mutations work pretty much exactly as in Mutant Future. Every mutant character has d4-1 physical mutations and d4-1 mental mutations. If the character ends up with having only crappy mutations, re-roll until you end up with a set that’s interesting and playable. In the unlikely (1 in 16 chance) case where a character ends up without any mutations at all, this just means none of his mutations actually do anything. He might have three eyes, blue skin, or 12 fingers, for instance.
Every mutant needs some starting gear, but instead of handing out a starting pile of gold pieces to spend on stuff, I’ll create tables for random gear. After this there’s just cosmetics left: A cool-sounding mutant name, freaky mutant looks, some background details, and a rad mutant ride for the PC group. Ready to rock’n roll the Apocalypse!