Monday, November 24, 2014

VIDEO: Mad Max has nothin' on these "New Barbarians"

This trailer for The New Barbarians, a.k.a. Warriors of the Wasteland (1983) sold me when they showed a motorcycle bandit take an exploding arrow to the neck (hilarity ensues thereafter). This is Italian-made Saturday afternoon, eighties Gamma-cheese at it's finest.

It looks like the prequel to my favorite Spaghetti-pocalypse film, 2019: The Fall of New York. (Somehow I missed doing a recap on that one, I'll have to correct that soon.)

It stars exploitation film staple Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, the Black Cobra series) as said, explosive archer. Really, what more can you ask for?

Anyway, check out the awesome trailer for Barbarians:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

RANDOM ENCOUNTER: Tasty mutagen comes with side effects...

Here's a random table and some GM notes to help fashion a nice little complication for your next gamma adventure. The PCs stumble upon a canister of mutagen tablets. The tablets themselves appear like large, chewable multivitamins (and should be introduced as such) and smell like delicious, sugary confections.

Once ingested, the tablet goes to work mutating its prey...

1d20 of icky random mutations:

  1. Eye tendrils, flailing all the time
  2. Back scales (2"-3"), itchy and molting
  3. Constant, loud wheezing from your new, tiny "throat mouth"
  4. Sideburns, running down neck, shoulders, ending at wrists (hopefully)
  5. A slippery ooze between extremities that won't go away, even with washing
  6. Extra teeth! Pop out of jaw line, hairline, and along knuckles of hands and feet
  7. Shoulders begin to bubble and swell into large sacks of leaky, too-sweet smelling fluid
  8. "Everything is normal!" say the tiny faces that appear where your kneecaps used to be
  9. Iguanna tail sprouts, greens up nicely, turns brown and dies and falls off...on an endless cycle
  10. Roll twice on this table, if you get #20 both times, you lucked out--no mutation!
  11. Knees now bend the other direction, walk like a chicken (add +2 to your move if you roleplay a headbob for the rest of the session)
  12. The person on your left gets to pick any two from this list for you
  13. Heel hooves! Which are hooves. On your heels.
  14. Fancy colored fish fins line your cranium and spine; also, constant dry mouth for some reason
  15. Polydactyly protrusions overcome hands, constantly wiggling
  16. Gurgling a pungent slime when attempting to make persuasive arguments
  17. Narwhal tusk! You know that's a tooth that protrudes through your face, right? 
  18. An ankylosaurus tail bursts out the back of your pants---pray you have the abs, back, and calf muscles to counter the added mass
  19. Pheromone firestorm gives you a massive +5 Charisma bonus, any NPCs you encounter follow you around for 1d10 rounds
  20. All of the above (you poor bastard!)
Optional GM imposed fun!
Apply as desired...

  • PCs with one mutation from the above list suffer -2 on any rolls involving NPC interactions (interviewing, negotiating, bluffing) but gain +2 to intimidate
  • PCs with two or more mutations will be considered "monstrous" and hunted on sight by any armed NPCs
  • Bounty is equal to Hit Points times 10 credits
  • If PC rolled any of the following mutations: 2,3,5,7, 9, 16, 19, it's nearly impossible to cover her/his tracks as she/he flees (pursuers gain +2 to track you)
  • If PC evades capture for longer than 1d10 rounds, the bounty on his/her head triples
  • If PC evades capture the entire game session, the PC becomes a local legend and the bounty now equals HP times 100 credits
  • If PC becomes a local legend, a squad of killer androids (8) with cyborg hounds (4) is unleashed to hunt he/she down; androids are equipped with infravision, +1 laser-eye sights (to hit bonus) and a 2d4+1 sub-machine gun; hounds have olfactory and audio sensors (+2 tracking) and armed with 1d8 robo-bite and 1d6+1 cyber-claw
  • If adventuring party finds a science or medical lab, a cure can be reverse-engineered from mutated PC's blood; at least one member of the party must have relatable skill (science, medicine, genetics, etc.), or find an NPC who can concoct antidote in 1d10 rounds -1 round for each level of experience in that skill; cure takes effect immediately
  • If more than one PC consumed mutagen tablet, the cure works for all affected and they return to their "normal" selves

A previous version of this table was posted on Exonauts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

VIDEO: So Dino-Riders is basically off-world, Gamma World

Somehow I'd forgotten that in addition to the insanely cool action figures and playsets, there was also a Dino-Riders television series. The pilot is equal parts awesome/terrible/surprisingly dark for a kids show. So chances are you'll love it!

Check out the pilot episode...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why do the aliens invade?

Any number of MacGuffins or standard scifi tropes would likely do, to serve as impetus from otherworldly conquerers. But this story gave me a pretty good idea as to why aliens in GWW might have reason to take over our planet--and not care if the surface was scorched clean by death rays. As it turns out, the Earth may hold up to three times more water reserves than previously thought--deep underground.

The V mini-series from the 80s was right all along!
From The Guardian:
The water is locked up in a mineral called ringwoodite about 660km (400 miles) beneath the crust of the Earth, [emphasis mine] researchers say. Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University in the US co-authored the study published in the journal Science and said the discovery suggested Earth’s water may have come from within, driven to the surface by geological activity, rather than being deposited by icy comets hitting the forming planet as held by the prevailing theories.

“Geological processes on the Earth’s surface, such as earthquakes or erupting volcanoes, are an expression of what is going on inside the Earth, out of our sight,” Jacobsen said.
So the Earth is, in fact, an even bigger source for water in the solar system. Not to mention the fact that the reserves could be inspiration for the "great cataclysm" itself. It makes sense, from a narrative standpoint why the subterranean-dwelling valids would want to jealously protect the Earth's remaining, untouched resources.

What more can I say, science is cool!

Read more

REVISION: Cybornas vs. Mechloks

When I'd first written about robotic races in GWW, I'd called the overarching race/class (we'll get into that in a second) "Mechloks". One of the subraces--a group of anatomically altered beings, usually sporting crude mechanical components--was classified "cybornas".

But I've had a while to think on it, and that term is more appropriate to the parent group, since all are, in some fashion "cybernetic" in nature. Plus, the earlier cyborna race was more inclined to be mechanical in nature. The term actually derives from "morlock," the subhuman savages featured in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. Mechlok sounds more in line with the Mad Max feel of that group.

Henceforth, Cyborna shall refer to the entire group of cybernetic beings, which now includes Mechloks (mechanized cyborgs), Syndrones (genetic androids), and Golthans (mute giants).

As for that earlier point on races as a class--yes, I intend to make the different races operate more like classes in the game. The intention is to create loose factions, based along racial cultures and characteristics. More on that later. For now, here's the revised entry...


Cybornas are artificial or artificially-enhanced humanoid beings of which three are three distinct types: Mechloks (half biological, half  electromechanical), Syndrones (organically grown  androids), and Golthans (manufactured, giant androids).

Mechlok clans roam the ruins of fallen cities and industrial sites in search of tools, fuel, or tech to enhance their motley features. They can range from highly-sophisticated composites to hack-n-slash monstrosities (in the wilds, the latter are usually more prominent). About half of all mechloks have some sort of enhanced, if not totally, mechanical means of locomotion.

They are largely nomadic raiders, attacking small- to medium-sized settlements for food, fuel, and spare parts. Just about every clan is lead by a chieftain that's chosen by right of challenge, crewed by mechlok "claners" (junkers who cherry pick spare parts, and accompanied by some sort of ground-based war machine or juggernaught. They don't like outsiders, which can include rival clans.

Syndrones are grown from genetically spliced pods that act as spawning plants. After the cataclysm, their mental development seemed to accelerate, allowing them to form highly-advanced colonies. They're descendants of ancient androids that--in the quest for self perfection--began modifying their own manufacturing. The result is something akin to a humanoid made from organic-based polymers, filled with a densely-woven positronic network.

Syndrones typically live in agricultural communes, spending the bulk of their resources on cutivating new crops of young and acting as healers for all forms of cybernetic life. Some factions have been known to associate with Valids, providing intelligence in return for certain, hard-to-find resources found only underground. They appear as exceptionally graceful beings with an enlightened sensibility. Make no mistake though, they will do anything to acquire the resources needed to keep their birth/sleep pods in peak performance.

Golthans are giant, mute androids that range in size between 3 and 10 meters and appear in a variety of humanoid forms. They were built as artificially intelligent combat units by Goliath Robotics International in the late 21st century, but an attack by a radical sect of hackers turned Goliath's best-selling products into an army of curious, robot children.

The hackers uploaded a virus into a GRI server that provided realtime updates to all model types located throughout the world. The virus included an algorithm that would allow their positronic brains to develop highly-emotive personalities (originally intended by the virus authors to be passive).

Around the time of the cataclysm they all simultaneously lost the ability to speak. Whether by misunderstanding or the simple fact of their unusual size, Golthans are usually loners, living for centuries at a time in the wilds, where they can observe nature away from the rest of mutant society. As they tend not to comprehend their own size and strength compared with lesser beings, those that encounter them should exercise extreme caution.

Cyborna races are intended for use as player characters, NPCs, and as templates for monsters.