Monday, November 3, 2014

Some impressions of Mutant: Year Zero

I guess you have heard that Modiphius is going to publish the Swedish post-apocalyptic game Mutant? If you have not, go forth and click that link and read some about it. I'll stay here until you get back?

You're back? Good. Let's move on. I have read the Swedish edition of the game and I'm going to talk a bit about my impressions. It is a game with some peculiarities and own takes on things. Please note that as far as I know, the edition Modiphius is publishing is just like it. But, I have no inside information.

First off let me say this is an interesting game. I have yet to try it, but reading it makes me really pumped up about the idea of running and playing it. There are some things that stand out.

The first thing is how the game have a communal part, and an individual part. You all belong to a community of mutants, an Ark. This Ark you all develop together, deciding how it's supposed to be developing, putting efforts into defenses or developing culture. This works as a framing device for your individual goals and also drives you into the Zone, to gather resources. I really like how this gives you all a reason to band together, and something to do.

Then there's the characters. All characters have one NPC they hate, one they want to protect and then they have their one big dream. It's the classic stick and carrot. While this is neat, I think where the system has the potential to really shine is in the mixing. You have a "council session" first at every game session where you plan the strategic game, then you get to play your characters and their hates and cares pull them in different directions.

Now, this is when I find it all becomes quite interesting. You have 10 Type Events for the Ark and 10 Events for the Zone. Roll the dice or pick one of those events, like One NPC Is In Trouble or Fight About An Item and combine that with the strategic goal for the Ark and the different characters the PCs care or hate and you will have something happening. I think this has potential! When things have really gelled in my Tianxia game is when I have managed to match a place with characters in conflict. This feels like it could work like that.

Actually, this makes me think of how I used to read Ars Magica and feel that game sounded great, and then really fall flat in play. This promises some of the same things. Maybe it will all come together better this time. I feel this way the characters are beings hooked into the Ark more than the Ars Magica characters ever where. In the Ark there's a desperate need for food and clean water, and necessity will drive the PCs and NPCs into conflict, and into the Zone. With the Type Events, you are sure to have something happen that will topple any kind of balance achieved.  

This all comes together to drive story. Note to my old school friends, this is not Story Before! This is very much a story that develop out of play. This naturally relates a lot to my previous Fate experience. There are still lessons to be learned from that. I will re-read chapter 9 of my Fate Core rule book and think upon the Mutant way a bit more, and I expect the fallout to at least be interesting. Yeah, fallout. The future is post-apocalyptic and brutal.
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