Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mutant Future setting: Sorcerers & Cyborgs

The Time of the Ancients was a magical time, an era where metal birds carrying many flew across the skies, one hundred times a day.  The continents were crisscrossed with hard roads on which wheeled horses traveled, carrying men from one end of the land to the other in a matter of days.  Science had progressed to a point where nearly anything was possible -- robot servants aided the Ancients in various tasks, various inventions (such as nano-reassembly-units) had practically eradicated poverty.  The world had long since run out of fossil fuels, necessitating a focus on renewable sources of energy.  The Earth practically ran on solar power, but this wasn't enough for some.

Scientists, pushed ever onward by new discoveries in string theory and quantum universes, breached the barriers between dimensions.  They pushed harder, spurred on by scanners that detected vast amounts of an unknown type of energy.  When they ran further tests, the barriers between dimensions broke, gateways were opened to a host  of monsters not native to our Earth, and magic began to change the face of the world.  Coastlines were flooded, fissures in the earth swallowed cities, entire chunks of continents were ripped away to fuel more tsunamis, and when it was all over, everything had changed.

Centuries passed.  People clawed their way out of the rubble of their cities, and a few were quick to seize armories and march across the land, adding to their armies.  They called themselves the Combine, ruled by a mad emperor who believed the only good mutant was a dead one.  His government is set up dictator-style, with secret police and a certain cabal of officials call the shots.  There is no democracy, and his is the only rule.  They immediately siezed all scientific installations from the time of the Ancients, and began to rebuild, with a monopoly on technology and super-science.

Monsters prowl the globe.  Dragons can be seen in the skies.  Demons and vampires and worse have made this place their home.  Many have found they had a talent for magic or psychic powers.  Still others make their way with guns, or machine parts grafted to their bodies, or simply by their wits.  Most of these are not under the rule of the Combine.

The Combine doesn't want them existing, and feels that all should be under their heel.  Anyone not under their rules should be crushed.  The Brains search the truth, and some teach that truth to others.  The Golden Death Armor pilots should work for them.  Wanderers should be tamed, and brought into the fold to work for the good of the Combine.  Anyone with military skill should be added to their armies.  And psychics and users of magic should be dead. 

This is the world that folly has made, and it will take a hard man to tame it.    

Welcome to my "mod" for Mutant Future entitled "Sorcerers & Cyborgs!"  

This setting was somewhat of a challenge for Mutant Future, as there is no magic, and super-science is what a typical character in Mutant Future would be lucky to encounter.  So I had to work with the setting and tweak it some.  It also has some of my rules hacks to make combat and characters more dynamic.  If there's one criticism I have of old-school games, it's the tendency to make rather cookie-cutter character types -- one fighter looks exactly like another fighter at the same level -- which is a bit boring.  And I like my combat to be less abstract -- think Conan, rather than Squad Leader.  

Obviously, there are a few revisions and clarifications to be made, but this is the first draft:

Radiation is a bit rare.  Now mainly found among areas that the Combine has abandoned after something went wrong...

Roll 4d6, take the best 3.
Divvy up 6 points between the abilities. Abilities range from +1 to +4.  This eliminates the Ability Bonus, and just uses the Ability itself as a bonus.

Subtract the armor's AC from 11, and add 5, no DEX mod.

Ex: If you have AC 1, subtracting it from 11 would be 10. Adding 5 would give a new AC of 15.

If AC is increased by anything (like, say, Increased DEX, simply increase his Defense Roll.

Hit Points are rolled a bit differently:
- If you're using a standard character type, roll hp as normal.
- Magic-Users, Psychics, Brains, Chop-Docs, Docs, Fixers, Speed Tribers, and Wanderers roll 1d6 x CON
- Armsmen, Borg, Curs, Deathwing Armor, Golden Death Armor, Nature Boy, Pharmboy, Ronin, and Super Soldiers roll 1d8 x CON
If ranges from +1 to +4 are used for Abilities, then total (10 + 2x the ability) x the die type for the character type.

For combat, roll a d10 for Initiative and subtract your DEX mod.
Attacker rolls d20 plus level plus STR adj. (melee) or DEX adj (ranged)
Defender rolls d20 plus level plus DEX adj, declares whether he's parrying (with
weapon), dodging (getting out of the way), or blocking (with shield)
Attacker roll > Defender roll and AC = damage done
Defender roll > Attacker roll = no damage done, attack parried, dodged, or blocked.
Attacker roll < AC = Attack bounced off armor

Used in place of Skills.  Just make a check on the relevant ability.
Use Abilities such as STR, DEX, CON, etc.
Roll 11 or less, plus Ability Adj. (so, 13 STR has a +1 adj, meaning the STR roll would be 12-).
Choose one of these abilities as Primary, to get a +2 (so the STR roll above would be 14-)
Primary Ability Checks go up by +1 at levels 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, etc
Other Ability Checks gain +1 at levels 4, 7, 10, 13, etc
Rolling exactly the check (rolling a 14 on a 14- Check, frex) means the check critically succeeds.

ARMSMAN (Includes Combine Grunt, Combine Military Specialist, Combine Technical Officer, Scout)
The main difference between all these is that the GRUNT believes his government to be good, despite being oppressive and racist.  More specialized Grunts include the SPECIALIST (espionage and recon), and TECHNICAL OFFICER (trained in either Communications, Electrical or Mechanical Engineering, Technician, Weapons). SCOUTS are trackers who love the thrill of combat.
- Pure Strain Human

Men and women who have replaced a large portion of their bodies with machine parts.  Some of these unfortunates were too poor and too unskilled to be of service, so the Combine put them to good use in their armies.   
- Basic Android

Suffer from an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and this thirst drives them into trackless wilderness in order to uncover the planet's mysteries, and the unknown past of humankind.  The ruins of once mighty cities of the Ancients and the monstrous life forms that now stalk the Earth are their bread and butter.  Brains usually have some survival skills, and know how to use two weapons.  In many cases, they are more like your average Merc than a scientist.  Some Brains are hunted by mobs, who believe that the secrets of the Ancients are best left buried.
-Pure Strain Human

A chop-doc is a doctor, surgeon, or scientist who is proficient with the implantation of bionics or cybernetics.  "Chop-doc" is the slang term for the most notorious and disreputable among them.  They can make minor repairs to Androids and Borgs, as well.
- Pure Strain Human

Mutant dogs engineered and empowered by the Combine to kick in doors and take names, arresting not only psychics and mages but those who harbor them.  They can track by psychic or mundane scent.
- Mutant Animals
- Natural Weapons (teeth, claws)
- Increased Sense (Smell)

Developed by the Combine in response to the Golden Death Armor (q.v.), the Deathwing armor is inferior in most respects.  It is essentially Scout Encasing Military Armor with some superhuman capabilities.  Weapon systems include a standard, military-grade Rail Gun, and a Mini-Missile Launcher capable of firing Plasma rockets as well as ordinary artillery.  Perhaps the most significant difference is that the Deathwing Armor can fly or hover, giving it a signficant battlefield advantage.  The wings have metal blades on them, allowing the pilot to inflict damage if forced into a hand-to-hand conflict.  Deathwing Armor will only work for Pure Strain Humans.
- Pure Strain Human with Scout Encasing Military Armor (AC 2)
- Military Grade Rail Gun (1d4/1d4x10 burst)
- Mini-Missile Launcher (1d4x10/1d6x10 (PLASMA))
- One additional handgun or rifle
- Can hover stationary or fly
- Full optical systems, including laser targeting, telescopic, passive nightvision (light amplification), thermo-imaging, infrared, ultraviolet, and polarization.

A medical doctor (M.D.); a person who can fix or heal the human body.  Most are, by now, versed in Xenobiology.  It was usually knowledge gleaned in the field.  They can heal Mutants as well as humans.
- Pure Strain Human

Mercenary repairman who can fix just about anything.
- Pure Strain Human

The energy-resistant paint of this power armor unit has a strange side-effect -- it glitters a bright gold color.  Thus the name of the armor.  10-feet high, it is not only powered armor, but an environmental suit, filtering impurities from air and water.  Standard issue is the "BFG", a huge railgun mounted on the shoulder armor plate.  The BFG is an entirely electric gun, that accelerates a few hundred metal projectiles along a set of magnetic rails faster than Mach Two.  The net effect is mass destruction. 

The pilots inside Golden Death Armor have either been issued them by the military (and then gone rogue), or been lucky enough to find one and have it fixed up.  They love combat, and often fight just to experience the thrill of combat, and to hear the fantastic sonic booms that accompany the use of the BFG.
- Pure Strain Human with Heavy Encasing Military Armor (AC 1)
- BFG-2000 -- Hyper Accelerated Rail Gun (3d6x10)
- Full optical systems, including laser targeting, telescopic, passive nightvision (light amplification), thermo-imaging, infrared, ultraviolet, and polarization.

- Mutants
- Use Magic-User & Elf spells from Labyrinth Lord
- Most will be structured around a theme.  Some samples:
WIZARD - Some like to concentrate on summoning spells, others have attack & defense spells, spells that aid in stealth, and so forth. 
TECHNO-MAGE - Combine magic with technology.  Use Elf and Magic-User Spells from Labyrinth Lord, but instead of spells they are items, with the same limitations on uses per day.

Nature Boys are those who have learned to live off the land.  They know about all the benefits and dangers of various plants, know how to recognize and avoid dangerous animals, how to tell the weather from the clouds, how to build shelters, how to find food and water, how to navigate in the wilderness, signalling techniques, and how to build an effective fire.  Generally how to survive in any wilderness.  He can also pass through any wilderness area without leaving any trace.  Some look like Davey Crockett, others look more primitive.  To protect against the cold, most Nature Boys apply a coating of bear grease to their bodies.  Keeps them warm, but smells quite bad...
- Pure Strain Human

The Pharmboy is another casualty in the quest for the super-soldier.  Drugs are injected into his system by sophisticated nanodevices, which regulate his mood.  These drugs enhance his combat alertness and physical capabilities.  These nanodevices also monitor his physical condition, and mobilize to heal injuries 4 times faster than ordinarly healing.  The Pharmboy has one code: live fast, die hard, which is oddly prophetic.  The maximum lifespan for a Pharmboy is 5 years, after which the drugs they take to enhance their abilities will burn them out and kill them, as their bodies cannot take the strain.
- Mutant
- Increased STR, DEX, CON
- Acute Hyper Healing
- Body Adjustment
- Combat Empathy
- Limited Lifespan: 5 years

- Mutants
Most will be structured around a theme.  Some samples:
MIND MANGLER - Force Screen (Greater), Mental Barrier, Metaconcert, Mind Reflection, Mind Thrust, Neural Telepathy, Empathy, Possession, Precognition, Psi-Blade,
MYSTIC - Ability Boost, Body Adjustment, Sense magic/psychic powers, Empathy, Psionic Flight (when in Lotus position only)
ENERGY MASTER (choose between fire, electricity, magnetic, sound, light, radiation, force)- Reflective Epidermis (for his energy type) Energy Ray, Energy Retaining Cell Structure, sense energy type, extinguish or increase energy type.

They are the wanderers of the post-apocalyptic world, righting wrongs wherever they are found, whether it's the oppressive Combine or a supernatural monster that entered through one of the magical gateways scattered across the globe.
- Mutant
- Can create a psi-blade, a scintillating weapon of psychic energy, and may look like a staff, axe, mace, sword, or any other weapon. (Acts like Energy Ray, no range)
- One Random Mental Mutation

Members of criminal gangs in cities, mostly have a hard way of life.  These are not the suit-wearing Yakuza, these are the gangbangers, drug-dealers, and thieves, providing "protection" for shopkeepers on their turf.  They know how to survive in the shady underbelly of the city, choked with garbage and vermin.
- Pure Strain Human

Special Forces troopers skilled in the arts of combat and athletics who have tiny electrical devices wired to their brain.  This has the unfortunate side-effect of making them crazy.
- Mutant
- Increased STR, DEX, CON
- Heightened reflexes, agility for bonuses to combat (+1 to hit)
- Increased senses (Vision, Smell)
- Intellectual Affinity (Martial)
- Acute Hyper Healing
- Suffers from delusions and insanity.

The best of these are curious minds and happy with their lot.  The worst are aimless drifters, with no sense of life, purpose, or hope.  They are the ones who slipped through the cracks.  They have no education to speak of, and tend to live by their wits.
- Pure Strain Human

A suit of body armor, including military-issue. A set of caste-appropriate clothing (surgical gowns for doctors, leather and denim for Speed Tribers, robes for wizards, sturdy travel clothes for adventurers, combat fatigues for soldiers, etc), personal effects (such as music/vid players, wallets, combs, goggles) and camping equipment. Most characters will also have 1d3 Energy weapons (pistol and rifle if more than one), and 1d6 E-Clips. You get a +1 to those previous amount rolls if you are a military type.

- A thief will have lock picking tools, pry bars, and glass cutter, as well as a set of conventional tools.

- An assassin will have a bolt-action rifle and an energy rifle with four extra E-clips.

- A hacker will have a portable, hand-held computer and a full size computer and printer.

- A Doc will have a kit full of surgical gloves, bandages, painkiller, antibiotics, scalpels, automedical kits, and a portable lab.

- An Operator would have a portable tool kit with an electric screwdriver and additional interchangeable heads, wrenches, etc, large tool kit, soldering iron, laser torch (for welding), a roll of duct tape, 1d3 rolls of electrical tape, pen flashlight, and a large flashlight.

- Brains may possess any or all of: specimen cases, specimen dishes, 1d6 test tubes, 1D4 jars, microscope slides, portable microscope, scalpel, pins, and tweezers, magnifying glass, telescope, and books on various subjects.

- A Chop-Doc would have a combination of a Doc's equipment and an Operator's equipment.

- A Speed Triber gets a wheeled motorcycle and drugs (at GM's option)


Heavy Infantry Armor
Military Issue Environmental Armor
AC 2/9
Full Environmental Armor
AC 2/9
Composite High-Impact Environmental Armor
AC 3/8
The Champion
Full Fibre Environmental Body Armor
AC 3/8
Light Pilot/Police Armor
Military Issue Environmental Armor
AC 4/7
Full Padded Environmental Body Armor
AC 4/7
Assassin's Plate Armor
AC 4/7
Plate and Padded Armor
AC 5/6
Plastic Warrior
Full Plastic Environmental Body Armor
AC 5/6
Prot = Pts of damage the armor protects you from each hit.
AC is given in descending (before the slash) and ascending (after the slash) values.


  1. Y'know, I have been slowly and silently working on this very concept since last year -- a riftz conversion for Mutant Future. Within this last week or so I spoke with Herb @ "Places to Go, People to Be" via his comments section about this very topic; to which he seemed to think was a poor fit. Far be it from me to argue an opinion on the internets, I simply held my tongue and quietly reviewed my work.

    How very glad I am to see this today! I shall be utilizing what you have posted here for my own personal use, as it seems to be a very good fit for what I have also done!

  2. Glad to hear it will be of use to somebody. :) I've been trying to find a good fit for this setting for a long time -- my wife has been begging me to run it and I can't stand the system, so when I found Mutant Future, I decided to dive in and see if it works. It seems to, so far. I shall be giving it a test run in a few weeks.

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