Review of the NEW Mutazoids3E RPG
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Player's Guide and Handbook:
Mutazoids3E, a direct descendant of the Mutazoids line of products by Ken Whitman and Christopher Clark is a D20 SRD/OGL based product. It is not a licensed D20 product so does not carry the D20 logo, but I see this as a bonus. While it retains it basic D20 compatibility it provides huge latitude for Money Talks Enterprises to do with it what they wanted without the usual restrictions. And WHAT they've done with this freedom has been astounding. The players handbook is a whopping 240 pages packed with goodies. A deal of a buy in my opinion.
The setting pre-supposes a general cataclysmic event, as in most post apocalyptic scenarios. Along with the usual, general warfare and nuclear exchange are rising waters and widespread effects of a virus that caused the mutagenic changes that dominate the setting.
The first thing you are bound to notice is the character generation system. To accommodate the post apocalyptic nature of the setting there had to be some changes, and Mutazoids3E went all out to fill this gap. No longer will you find races and classes. To replace those genre specific anachronisms are classification and vocation. Classification determines the number and types of mutations and hit die a character has. Vocation is like a character template of which they've just about covered all the potential campaign needs.
As I said, hit die are no longer determined by class or vocation, but by a process based on size and constitution of the character. This still makes D20 OGC creatures easily adaptable to the setting and system. Character abilities remain d20 standard. Naturally, anything referring to magic has been stripped out. The new magic are mutations and mutation like abilities.
Each classification category is distinctive not only in physical description, but in the array of advantages and disadvantages associated with each classification.
Normal Human: Genetically stable descendants of pre-plague mankind.
Psykazoid Humans: These are the 'super' mutants who receive only mental mutations and otherwise appear to be normal humans.
Mutazoid Humans: sub classifications include Acceptables or Mutazoids. Acceptables are those human based humanoids with few or minor physical changes where as Mutazoids may have any number of highly visible and recognizably physical differences.
Humazoid Animals: Bipedal humanoids of animal appearance and manipulative digits.
I have to pause here to talk briefly about the art, which populates almost every page. Not only is it universally good, but quite entertaining in most cases. It captures a lot of the old fun that the original Gamma World RPG was famous for. The art team put together for this project richly deserves their kudos. My personal favorite is the machine pistol wielding jumpsuit-wearing chipmunk.
If you have a -zoid pc the range of mutations, defectts and disadvantages assures that no character is going to be like any other. Uniqueness is built into the character generation system. -Zoids are any of the mutant variants that make up the classifications previously noted.
Vocations are diverse and well fleshed out, each representing a specialty in keeping with the PA setting. Starting equipment, vocational skills and abilities, weapons proficiencies and spheres of influence affiliations all neatly laid out and easy to understand.
Some skills and feats have been altered, replaced or added only as necessary to support the PA genre. Most will still be recognized and used as the standard from which they were derived. Others, of course, deal with the new hazardous environment and technology based setting that predominates the post apocalyptic world of Mutazoids. There are even feats that benefit mutation using -zoids, so that character improvement iis universal and balanced.
What really sets Mutazoids3E apart is the rich environment and background that is only marginally touched on in the Players Guide but really blooms in the proposed GM's Guide. The depth of the setting is really amazing. Since this is supposed to be strictly a review of the Players Handbook I can't go into too much depth on this subject. But I've seen the developer's version of the GM's Guide and WOW. But like I said, that is another review.
Just when you thought this review was nothing but praise and pandering, I found something I didn't like. You have the usual parade of miscellaneous equipment, armor and weapons with few real standouts. What does standout in my opinion are the omissions of more advanced equipment options. Sparse is the word of the day on that issue. I know there are plenty of third party sources for all that information, and probably space considerations had their hand in those omissions, still I can't help missing them.
There is a vehicles section as well, and the rules are D20Modern standard. The vehicle list is a real snooze as well, presumably for the same space limits as all the equipment tables suffer from. Frankly, I think a quick and dirty reference to the existing D20Modern rules and then a much more enhanced equipment tables would have been more beneficial, although that may have had some legal considerations that I am not cognizant of.
All in all, I've found that despite the recent glut of D20 and D20 like merchandize, Mutazoids is a stand out. I have to admit some partiality for the PA genre and I'm just as likely to buy something merely for the reason of owning it as I am because I think its good. But, I think it is worth a look for even those of more discerning tastes than my own.
I have not reviewed before. This is a first for me, though I intend that it not be the last. So look for more reviews of PA products in the future.
Review of Mutazoids Products Continues below.....
Money Talk Enterprises now offers the 'in-progress' Gm's Guide
and Player Character Supplement with the Mutazoids CD for $10.99,
I feel a bit obligated to provide a review of those products as
Mutazoids3e Player Character Supplement:
The Players Character Supplement is 54 pages long and adds to the already extant 240 pages from the Player's Guide.
1) Two new -zoid Classifications: Mutazoid Plant and Parazoid Plant.
Mutazoid Plant's are your garden variety plants that walk, talk and eat meat with a fork.
Parazoid Plants fill that special niche market of plant parasites. Nothing like seeing a green lump on the back of a coyote or a branchy limb coming out of an anal orifice to make you think twice about eating strange tubers you've never seen before. You never know whose host you might not like to be.
The Plant -zoids character information is obviously a favorite of the author because there is an extensive amount of detail available for the plant minded GM and Player.
2) two new Vocations: Herbal Healer and Far Eastern Holy Man (Monk)
Herbal Healer is an amazingly detailed vocation. Instead of artificial remedies associated with the standard Healer vocation, you get an astounding array of natural remedies, poultices, mixtures, powders, pastes and concoctions. Enough to make me dizzy anyway. Finally someone who did this right!
Anyone feel a special need for a mystical martial arts expert? Yes, well then your going to be happy with this offering. The Monk shares many of the same disciplines and abilities of a Holyman, but with a martial arts focus. Along with the martial arts expert had to come some additions to the feats offerings as well. Can't have a good kung fu fight without the feats man. doh...I know, that's bad isn't it?! Anyway...there are LOTS of new feats that make the martial arts expert as deadly in combat as any sword wielding monkey with horns could be. Yikes...pages and pages of new feats. Also adds a number of specialized weapons for the vocation and gives some details of the Religious Sphere of Influence: The Eastern Philosophies.
And then finally.....drum roll pulleeeeeeez.......
3) Character Sheets: Unfortunately they aren't completed. They are basically a list of appropriate blocks that would be created if someone was interested enough to bother with it. Well, Money Talks Enterprises did say that things were incomplete. They are merely testing the waters to see if there is enough interest in the line to bother completing the rest of it. With the glut in the RPG market of D20 offerings, it often doesn't matter how good or innovative a product is. It's simply too tough to get the word out with all the background chatter.
My general impression of the PC Supplement is quite favorable. The material presented other than the character sheets themselves is quite extensive and adds even more flavor to the already meaty offering from the Player's Guide and Handbook. And since it comes free with that product, I guess I can't complain even about the near unusable character sheets.
With the addition of 54 pages to the already 240 of the PG&H the total comes to nearly 300 pages of material. What a bargain...and that's not all, if you buy now...... (see review of GM's Guide)
Mutazoids3e Game Masters Guide:
Egads...since the GM's Guide is 154 pages of additional setting specific information for Mutazoids3e I think the best way to start off would be to simply repeat selected content from the table of contents with comments.
- North America
- The State of the World
- Great Britain
- Off World Colonies
Each of these topics takes up 12 pages, which is informative enough that a GM could use any location as a basis for the beginning of a campaign. Since the events detailed in the current events section are worldwide and so are many of the political affiliations and powers there are a lot of universal aspects from one geographical location to another.
Chapter 2: Spheres of Influence
- Political Spheres of Influence
- Religious Spheres of Influence
- Professional Sphere of Influence
Some of you may remember the old Gamma World Cryptic Alliances, where everybody had their own agenda and credo, well, Mutazoids3e takes that to the nth degree. The Gm's Guide details what is by my count 25 Spheres of Influence, most quite detailed. My favorite are the Jamlocks. The Jamlocks are probably the most detailed Sphere and the most interesting.
Chapter 3: The Role of Communities
Even more background information for those who just can't get enough. Goes into a lot of depth on how to balance your communities within the differing spheres of control. one thing I liked quite a bit are the Town Codes. It allows for an 'at a glance' general description of a towns population and it's weapons carry laws. Also included are demographic information and TONS of city support function data. From law enforcement, militias and fire prevention to power and water services + much more. Typical town or city sectors are detailed separately.
At this point something strikes me that I'd like to share. With the background given in the proposed GM's guide, it would be easy for a GM to create settings focusing on wasteland ruins crawls with axe wielding barbarians or a near D20Modern urban tech heavy one and everything in-between. The diversity of settings allows a GM a tremendous ability to switch on the fly from one type of setting to another or combine as intended on a whim.
Even within urban settings when an adventurous pc group gets tired of safety of the streets they can always brave 'the fringe' or 'the undercity'. Places where only the foolhardy might tread.
At the end of the chapter are the NPC templates and advancement tables hidden in the mundane and labeled as 'typical inhabitants' of the various settings. Much more useful than mere filler in my opinion. There are tons of NPC templates, and all included in an NPC encounter table for your convenience.
Chapter 4: Creatures
The usual can be found here, encounter distance and difficulty, creature format explanation, and treasure and then the fun begins...
The creature templates really shine, with the data provided you can literally create anything your imagination can come up with, and much of it suggests creatures for you. It even handles creature advancement...yikes!
The special abilities are also worth noting. Their are more abilities than you can shake a stick at pages and pages with full descriptions. Making unique creatures is a surety with these tools.
Next are the experience and level advancement sections. No real surprises here, it just supports the data previously revealed in the PG&H and the GM's Guide.
Appendix A: Combat and Damage
Mutazoids3e, being a D20 OGL product shares most of the combat processes with its source and there are no real surprises.
Notables include the Flight Maneuverability Chart, which includes a flying ability modifier to flying movement that looks pretty cool.
Another thing I really like is the Critical Wounds section. Critical wounds are defined by the 'stage'. Each stage of critical wound causing increasingly nasty effects. There are 9 stages, all accessible in 2 different random methods, the GM chooses a method of choice. To compliment any damage an alternate Hit Location chart is included.
The rest of this chapter appears to be D20 standard except where mutation usage is concerned. Nothing stands out about that, it is functional and replaces magic in every respect.
Appendix B: Experience and Advancement
This seems to be misplaced as it was covered in the last part of the creature's section. Another clue as to its 'uncompleted' status.
Appendix C: Weather
The weather system isn't bad I've seen better, but it isn't the worst by far. It covers a number of 'normal' weather conditions that can be found IRL with some fun post-apocalyptic standards throne in for fun. Like Acid Rain, that really does burn the flesh off of you, or Mutagenic Fog, just in case your character isn't freakish enough already.
Appendix D. Equipment and Technology
This is a brief section of no more than 1 1/2 pages that describes Nuclear Power, Weapons and Computer Technology. This section seems very much incomplete to me. It only has general information and histories with no real examples or usage information.
This concludes the blow-by-blow, now for my general impressions.
Although, obviously incomplete and needing work there are some real moments. I was impressed most with the in-depth Events section, which amounts to a historic timeline as well a campaign source. Next on my list was the Communities section. It's tools like these that make building a campaign so much easier and productive. Between the Player's Guide and Supplement and the GM's Guide you have a complete and well-documented world to really engage players with. As I've mentioned, and can't emphasize enough, A GM is completely able to create whatever PA element best suits his players, from the barbaric to the urban. It's all there ready for exploitation.
This concludes my review of the 'proposed' Mutazoids products.
Remember, these files are available on the Mutazoids CD for $10.99.
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