Author Topic: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review  (Read 337 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline bbmike

  • Landsknecht
  • *******
  • Posts: 4776
    • AAR Central
Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« on: August 10, 2017, 11:12:32 AM »


Introduction
Gamma World. Those two words take me back to my high school days. A couple of friends and I were all pretty good students and our science teacher would allow us to play Gamma World in his classroom during lunch. Pretty cool of him when you consider the time period (D&D was considered the work of Satan).  Gamma World was the second RPG I had been introduced to (D&D, of course, was the first). I loved Gamma World back then and still do. As a backer of Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) I was excited when the announcement for Mutant Crawl Classics (MCC) came out. I’ve had the PDF of the core rules for a while now and read through them a couple of times. I thought I would offer up my thoughts on it, by chapter, in case anyone else is considering picking it up.

Chapter One – Character Creation
If you are familiar with DCC, MCC is no different. It is 100% pure Old School Revival (OSR) goodness. Character creation is, for the most part, quick and easy. And that’s a good thing because that 0-level character you create will die pretty much the same way- quick and easy (only 1d4 hit points!). In fact, you are encouraged to create and play multiple characters at the start because the ranks will certainly be thinned by the end of the first adventure. My only complaint with this chapter is it does not contain everything you need to generate a character. If you are trying to fill out a blank character sheet with just this chapter it won’t work. You have to go deeper into the manual to find things like Artifact Checks, combat attacks/damage, base speed, etc. A minor but annoying issue for me.
You can create one of four genotypes to play. Pure Strain Human, Mutant, Manimal, and Plantient are all there. There are tables for things like appearance and geno sub-types. One thing a bit different from Gamma World that I’m not sure I like is 0-level characters will not “gain” their mutations until they reach 1st level. I understand that’s probably because you don’t want to waste time generating mutations for a character that’s probably going to die anyway. But I would also argue that the character would have a better chance of surviving if the mutations were in place at the start. Besides, why wouldn’t they have been born that way?
Level advancement is also simple. Just surviving an encounter will get you up to 4 experience points (XP). And every character class uses the same, basic advancement table.

Chapter Two – Character Classes
If your character is lucky enough to survive the first adventure you get to choose a character class. If you are a Mutant, Manimal, or Plantient you pretty much already are your character class. If you a Pure Strain Human, you can choose to be a Sentinel (warrior), Shaman (wizard), Healer (healer), or Rover (thief). I guess mutants just can’t break that glass ceiling in Terra A.D. Each character class level brings increases in hit points, critical/action dice, artifact checks, etc.

Okay. I’ll just go ahead and say it now. I do not like the Shaman class. Yes, I’m an old school Gamma World fan. I don’t like the idea of spells in my post apocalyptic settings. Shamans are wizards. Their “gods” are Patron AIs: ancient, super Artificial Intelligences that cover the entire world. Instead of spells Shamans “access” what are called wetware programs. I’m rolling my eyes just typing all of this. It’s a matter of personal taste and I’m sure there are a lot of people that love the idea. For me, there probably won’t be any Shamans roaming around Terra A.D.

Chapter Three – Mutations
Mutations come in three forms in MCC. Physical, Mental, and Defects. Each of the mutation types has two sub-categories, active and passive. Active mutations are used by the character at-will and require check rolls. Passive mutations have permanent, lasting effects on the character.
When you gain a new level you can choose to re-roll passive mutations and even use up Luck or give up Attribute points (Glowburn) to improve the result. There are a lot of mutations listed in this chapter and the book does an excellent job of describing what they are and do.

Chapter Four – Combat
Like everything else, combat is quick and simple. There’s a check for surprise and rolls for initiative. Attacks are just a roll of the die (or dice) against the defender’s Armor Class (AC). Combat occurs in 10 second intervals. There are critical hits and critical failures (called fumbles). There are plenty of critical hit tables for each of the character classes and levels to keep things interesting. Death occurs when a character or creature’s hit points reach 0. There are ways to save a character should that occur but it is not easy on Terra A.D.  I like the basic combat and think miniatures (preferably those weird rubber toy ones) would work great with this game.

Chapter Five – Archaic Alignments
Not much different here if you are familiar with Cryptic Alliances from Gamma World. There are several organizations on Terra A.D. with different agendas. One wants to rid the world of all mutants. Another wants only animals to rule. There are benefits to being a member of one of these organizations but you are not required to join one.

Chapter Six – Artificial Intelligences
This chapter includes information on all forms of AI including computers, androids, robots, and holograms. There are tables to generate AI types and personalities. Again, this chapter follows closely to the AIs as presented in Gamma World. There are recognition checks to see if the AIs will interact with you or not. Some AIs haven’t fared so well after the Great Disaster and are completely insane (and very, very dangerous).  There are also several types of pre-generated types of AIs in this chapter. Domestic bots, guard bots, holograms, etc.

Chapter Seven – Artifacts of the Ancients
I found this chapter to be a bit thin. The old artifact flowchart from Gamma World is gone and replaced with an artifact check die roll/table look up. There is also a very basic table to generate “everyday” artifacts of the ancients. It is left up to the Judge (GM) to fill in the details about these mundane objects. The Artifacts of the Ancients table is a bit more useful. It contains weapons, power cells, medical supplies, vehicles, etc. of the ancients and explains them in great detail.

Chapter Eight – Bestiary A.D.
Again, I thought this chapter was too thin. I think even the author felt this way as he started off this chapter saying to remember that there are additional “monsters” listed as the AIs in Chapter Six. I get the feeling that this chapter was neglected the most. There are not a lot of creatures listed. Maybe there will be an add-on book later? That would be nice but there should have been more included with the core rules. On a positive note, if you own DCC you can bring over monsters from that into MCC. The two systems are designed to be used together.

Chapter Nine – Patron AIs
You already know my thoughts on the Patron AIs. These are the “gods” of Terra A.D. Each world spanning Patron AI has its own agenda and seeks out followers. They grant spells, er, wetware programs to the wizards, er, Shaman that follow it. Heck, they even fight amongst themselves just like the old gods! This chapter gets credit for detailing the Patron AIs and providing a decent list of spells, er, wetware. There is a lot of information in this chapter.

Chapter Ten – Optional Rules
Not really so much optional rules here but just a mention that you can use DCC stuff with MCC stuff and the other way around. A party from one world could visit the other. Included is a table for Artifact Checks for the DCC character classes.

Final Thoughts

The Meh
I would have liked to have seen more thought put into the Archaic Alignments. They feel a bit thrown in at the last minute. The chapter on monsters was too brief. And, as if you couldn’t tell by now, I don’t think the inclusion of wizards and spells were necessary to this setting. I wouldn’t mind using a single Patron AI type in one or two adventures, but to turn them into world spanning gods is a bit too much for me. Fortunately it’s easy enough to homebrew them out. One other thing that I didn’t like was the included world map. It looks more useful for wall art than using in a campaign.

The Good
If you like old school, post apocalyptic role playing games, especially Gamma World, I think you will really like this game. It’s a fast and fun game system that I think people will enjoy playing. The system rules work for either a gonzo style or more serious style of play. There is also lot of original artwork in the book that makes owning a hard copy a must.
I highly recommend Mutant Crawl Classics.


"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
-Sherlock Holmes

"You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
-Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart


Offline Barthheart

  • Order of the Square Button
  • Arquebusier
  • *
  • Posts: 12140
  • Looking for dark matter in deep, dark holes....
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2017, 11:21:13 AM »
Nicely done.  :clap:

Brant, hire this guy for the Front Page.
PETS - People for the Ethical Treatment of Square corners

Offline mirth

  • Little Bo Beep
  • Musketeer
  • *
  • Posts: 39468
  • Cardboard Harlot
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2017, 11:47:03 AM »
Don't bury his work there.
"45 minutes of pooping Tribbles being juggled by a drunken Horta would be better than Season 1 of TNG." - SirAndrewD

Offline Nefaro

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 14242
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2017, 12:50:28 PM »
Interesting.


May I also suggest checking out, for your Gonzo post-apoc Mutant old school-ish RPG pleasure.. 

The Mutant Epoch

DTRPG link with video preview


I wasn't very familiar with Gamma World, not having owned it back in the day.  But reviewers have likened this to it. 

The first few pre-made adventures for TME are also reportedly laid out in a bit of a "choose your own adventure" book style.  Not sure how well it works like that, but the creator definitely loves including random tables for LOTS of stuff (including character creation).


The author actually did the truckloads of art, too..



« Last Edit: August 10, 2017, 12:52:29 PM by Nefaro »

Offline bbmike

  • Landsknecht
  • *******
  • Posts: 4776
    • AAR Central
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2017, 05:56:53 PM »
^Cool, I'll have to check it out. If nothing else it looks like there is a lot of good reference material in there. And it's only $12.99.  :)
"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
-Sherlock Holmes

"You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
-Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Offline Nefaro

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 14242
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2017, 07:50:27 PM »
^Cool, I'll have to check it out. If nothing else it looks like there is a lot of good reference material in there. And it's only $12.99.  :)


The Mutant Epoch Bestiary has all kinds of mutated & tentacled nuttery.  But the Crossroads Gazeteer was the most surprising for me.  It's a MASSIVE setting splatbook.  Absolutely huge amount of material in that thing.  Don't think I've ever seen that much setting in one book before.  :o


TME uses a fairly simple d100 system, with a table that lends a bit of curve iirc.  The odd thing is that HP and dmg numbers seem to be higher, and have a wider range.  So you will even be rolling up to d20s for damage (along with the other usual rpg dice.. multiples even).

Offline bayonetbrant

  • Chief Arrogance Mitigator
  • Administrator
  • Musketeer
  • *
  • Posts: 31780
  • Loitering With Intent
The key to surviving this site is to not say something which ends up as someone's tag line - Steelgrave

"their citizens (all of them counted as such) glorified their mythology of 'rights'...and lost track of their duties. No nation, so constituted, can endure." Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Offline BanzaiCat

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 15468
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2017, 05:16:00 AM »
I loved Gamma World back in the day, but I hardly got to play it with anyone. I did with a friend of mine at the time, but he was annoying as hell as he was all about mega-powered, obnoxious characters.

Offline Nefaro

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 14242
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2017, 07:52:02 AM »
I loved Gamma World back in the day, but I hardly got to play it with anyone. I did with a friend of mine at the time, but he was annoying as hell as he was all about mega-powered, obnoxious characters.

Probably the biggest issue with them.. finding people who want to play the setting.  As opposed to run-of-the-mill fantasy, for example.

My current post-apoc RPGs collection:

I have Mutant Year Zero and some Deadlands: Hell on Earth Reloaded (for Savage Worlds), along with The Mutant Epoch

I'd say Mutant Year Zero would be the easiest to get people into as it's not exceptionally 'gonzo', and has a relatively easy, but more sophisticated, Apocalypse World style system in a sandbox & hex-crawl setup (with overarching meta-plot for end game).  The mutations aren't super crazy - more akin to having an X-men type of focused theme power.  Looks like fun for a limited campaign without too much crunch.

Hell on Earth is.. well.. post-apoc Savage Worlds in the Deadlands future.  Not really a lot to it.  Was a bit surprised how thin it was, actually.  :-\

The Mutant Epoch is the crazy gonzo one that includes the kitchen sink.  I'm not a fan of core d100 systems, so that part is a con in my opinion.  Not terribly crunchy so at least it doesn't rub it in too much.  While I'm not too thrilled with the bones of it, the fleshing-out is pretty impressive.  There's a butt-ton of setting available (and random tables heh).  The random character generation (default) option can make quite a wide assortment.

Offline bbmike

  • Landsknecht
  • *******
  • Posts: 4776
    • AAR Central
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2017, 10:48:50 AM »
Is it easy to remove the gonzo stuff in Mutant Epoch? I like to keep things a bit more closer to normal in a post apocalyptic setting.
"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
-Sherlock Holmes

"You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
-Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Offline Nefaro

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 14242
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2017, 11:19:34 AM »
Is it easy to remove the gonzo stuff in Mutant Epoch? I like to keep things a bit more closer to normal in a post apocalyptic setting.

I suppose you could, but not easily.  But it's so prevalent, you'd be better off getting something else. 

Aside from the huge amount of mutated creatures & such, it's a future post-apoc.  So there is also a good amount of robots, cyborgs, genetically engineered trans-humans, clones, etc throughout the setting lore.  Altogether, I don't think there would be a whole lot left if you did attempt to pull all that out.  Worse, you'd still have to adjust some thingson the fly if you planned to use the random gen tables.

Don't think I'd recommend TME without the crazy gonzo since it's such a big part.  But you can certainly jockey the amount you use, if GM'ing it.  Reducing some aspects you don't like.  That goes for any rpg, though.



Q:

How much weirdness do you want?

I mean.. are you okay with psionics, for example?  A lot, or a little, rate of mutation?  Or do you want near-realism, as in a Twilight 2000 campaign?  There are varying flavors of post-apoc, so narrowing the details down might help.


Offline bbmike

  • Landsknecht
  • *******
  • Posts: 4776
    • AAR Central
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2017, 11:59:58 AM »
I'm ok with mutations, psionics, etc. I just don't want things like entering what was once a fast food place only to be attacked by giant, mutant ketchup bottles. Or entering a junkyard and getting attacked by a mutant car. I also like to keep things lower tech for most inhabitants. Artifacts of the ancients should be rare and hard to find.
"My life is spent in one long effort to escape from the commonplace of existence."
-Sherlock Holmes

"You know, just once I'd like to meet an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets."
-Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Offline Nefaro

  • Arquebusier
  • ***
  • Posts: 14242
Re: Mutant Crawl Classics - A Review
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2017, 01:38:00 PM »
I'm ok with mutations, psionics, etc. I just don't want things like entering what was once a fast food place only to be attacked by giant, mutant ketchup bottles. Or entering a junkyard and getting attacked by a mutant car. I also like to keep things lower tech for most inhabitants. Artifacts of the ancients should be rare and hard to find.

LOL!

While I don't think TME is quite as gonzo as mutant man-eating ketchup bottles, it does have some very magic-like stuff in it.  Plus it's future post-apoc, as I mentioned, so there is a fair bit of leftover high tech sci-fi kinda stuff in it too.



Mutant Year Zero is more tame in those respects.  While you may run into the occasional oddity, such as an area with low gravity, it's not quite so overdone just to be so.  A bit closer to the Stalker type of setting.  Although tech is quite rare in MYZ;  bullets double as currency, and most of the stuff you find out in "The Zone" is junk & knicknacks, mutant groups/animals, "zone ghouls", and Rot (i.e Radiation).  Most of the good stuff "the ancients" used, has been picked over by now.  Which is a few generations after the apocalypse. 

MYZ's campaign is focused on sandbox exploration (hex crawling with a few big zone encounter tables), and trying to find a mythical "Eden" out in The Zone (the included Stalker-like meta plot).  But there is also a town-building & defense sub-plot where you're selecting and foraging for improvements, and addressing threats & problems to your little shantytown.  Plus some larger custom zone areas, which are usually based on a separate enclave that may come into conflict with yours. 

There was another Post-Apoc system for Savage Worlds.  Called Broken Earth.  I got the impression it was more like the old Aftermath rpg.  Mostly just humans trying to survive rather same-y mutants & each other, with some mild psionic stuff thrown in.  The setting seemed a bit on the restrictive side to me, and the production value may not be terribly amazing.  It didn't get bad reviews, per se, but not wonderful ones either.