Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Simple Mutant Character Race & more

Meet Mookla "Mutant of the Slime Lands," a new character in the Planet Algol campaign. Mookla has a strength of 12, an intelligence of 16, a constitution of 18, and a wisdom, dexterity and charisma of 4. Mookla also emits a sulfurous stench that reduces the party's chance of surprising potential foes. Mookla's twisted limbs and stubby fingers are only capable of wielding clubs and daggers. Mookla survived his former life in the Slime Lands by his considerable cunning as well as the fact that most predators found his stench unappetizing and that the Limb Pirates considered his reeking, malformed limbs unsuitable for harvest by their Phasic Machetes.

Mookla is the first real "Mutant" character in the Planet Algol game (Maggot Mort was called "The Mutant", but his mutations were birth defects responsible for his considerable ill health). Generating a Mutant character is easy: you roll a twenty-sided dice for ability scores. This will result in a crazy spread of good and bad scores; which is mutant-y to me. If a score is a 1 or 2 you change it to 3 and then roll for an associated defective mutation (more on that later). If the score is 19 or 20 you change it to 18 and you roll for an associated beneficial mutation.

Every ability score has an associated short table for beneficial and defective mutations, a mutant character could have anywhere between zero and six mutations from the tables. Examples could include fists that can be used as weapons due to a strength associated mutation, or an appearance so hideous that many assume that you are a monster and will be inclined to destroy you due to a deficient charisma associated mutation. These tables will be part of the Mutant character race rules in the Planet Algol booklet, but a creative referee should be able to come up with entertaining mutations. If it's suitable for your campaign's style (say one that is heavy with the collaborative rulings or narrative control) the player and the referee could work out the mutations. Mookla's stench was the result of rolling on the Carcosa mutation charts "just for fun," but it serves as a good example of an appropriate charisma related defective mutation.

After that you could roll 1-3 times on an appropriate mutation chart, such as the ones in Carcosa or Encounter Critical if you are so inclined, just ensure that whatever mutation table you roll on has a fairly even balance between "good" and "bad" mutations.

Mutants can be any class that they qualify for, but posses half the usual starting gold on account of them being outcasts from most societies. Mutants are always obviously mutated, although not necessarily deformed (you can use charisma as a rough guideline), and generally look like "comic book mutants." In the Planet Algol booklet there will be tables for generating random Mutant appearances.

Also, "The Philosophers and Demagogues are pleased to announce the formal unveiling of the Saucers & Sorcerers Society... ...blah blah blah... ...Raise your Gravity Sabres high for adventure!"

Saucers and Sorcerers was my attempt at creating an oldschool D&D-based "pulp/weird science fantasy adventure" ruleset for the Planet Algol campaign. I eventually went with supplementing an existing edition of D&D (in my case 1st-ed AD&D) as the easier/better option, but two sessions of "Saucers & Sorcerers" were played by our gaming group. They were pretty much a combat heavy meatgrinder, serving to acclimatize the players who were only experienced with 3rd & 4th edition to the early D&D engine, survivors have been converted to PAAD&D (planet algol ad&d) and have been slowly enlarging the roster with their firearms and high-tech loot.

The Saucers and Sorcerers Society is the umbrella organization for the participants in the Planet Algol Campaign (who also play in Sean/Dudebird's AD&D Wilderlands game). I just made that up, but as long as I'm going to publish the Planet Algol material I might as well have the enjoyment of having an rpg club publishing it (we actually do have an e-newsletter, "The Dome"). So yeah, upcoming Planet Algol material will be published by The Saucers and Sorcerers Society.

On that subject, the writing and assembling of the initial Planet Algol product "The Iridium Plateau" is coming along nicely. The peanut gallery has spoken and it will be available compiled in one booklet, although I plan on making the players section available as a separate item on Lulu as well as the regular version. I know some people have had difficulties with Lulu, so there will be another option to get print copies.

This booklet is looking to be 64-odd digest-sized pages when finalized. It will include a players section with a description of the Planet Algol setting, a gazetteer of the Iridium Plateau region, a selection of Planet Algol races and classes, some equipment, and suggested house-rules. The referees section will include a hexmap of the iridium plateau, 140+ brief descriptions of the contents of several of the hexes, a fully detailed city, some lair-dungeons, more information about the settlements of the Iridium Plateau, encounter tables, monsters, technological items, random tables, and perhaps some additional simple, optional genre-appropriate rules. It will feature illustrations by several talented artists, and I hope the quality of the artwork will be a pleasant surprise for those that acquire a copy.

Although the material is based upon my own AD&D campaign, it should come as a simple matter to use it with OD&D, B/ED&D and simulacrums. Aside from some of the wackier technological items, the material is being designed to be simple and stay close to classic D&D mechanics.

Similarly, the campaign setting described, Planet Algol, is detailed simply and broadly (although in lurid, clashing tones!) as a framework to use or plunder in a manner that is appropriate and fun for your game. If you are interested in the anthropology and history of fictional beings in a game-based world you will find that the Planet Algol setting gives you lots and lots of leeway in which to indulge your creativity!

My goal with this publication is twofold: firstly to provide a simple set of rules options to emulate a certain style of weird/pulpy adventure with traditional oldschool D&D rules, and secondly to provide a simple-yet-somewhat thoroughly detailed weird science fantasy setting for wilderness and site-based adventure that is usable "out of the box," like a sword & raygun version of "The Isle of Dread."

I do have plans for a couple of subsequent releases, one of which is "The Western Badlands," the next region of Planet Algol to be detailed. The other one is a collaboration with the talented artist & campaign participant Lester, something that many in the OSR have been clamoring for that we hope to accomplish with "out of the box" utility.


  1. Hey, what a great concept. I just rolled up Algor: S7 I16 W11 D17 C1=>3 Ch1=>3. Algor is a mutant climatologist, specializing in weather manipulation through whatever means he can leverage. He's smart and quick, but if you touch him... *gasp* *rattle*. He also happens to be ugly as sin. Although quick, Algor suffers from chronic asthma. Exposure to large quantities of dust or other particulate matter will likely trigger an attack. His skin is covered in boils, from which oozes prismatic sweat with alarming regularity.

  2. Nice!
    Now you gotta take him out for a spin on Algol, you are just over the border from us...

  3. I'm really digging on this mutant class!

  4. Nice class. Can't wait to see the final product.

  5. Larbdor

    STR: 18 (19)

    WIS: 13

    CHA: 18

    CON: 13

    DEX: 18 (19)

    INT: 16

    Larbdor can climb any surface other not covered in water, due to gecko-like pads on his hands. He can also make metals more malleable.

    "Will result in a crazy spread of good and bad scores", huh?