Tuesday 14 May 2013

Light and tight: Mutants and Machineguns by Robertson Sondoh Jr and Daniel Marcus

Mutants and Machineguns is a modern world political drama set in the West Wing of the Whitehouse. Ha! Only joking. Had you fooled for a moment there. Didn't I? No? Oh.

Mutants and Machineguns by Robertson Sondoh Jr and Daniel Marcus does what is says on the tin. A light hearted, light weight game set in a grim yet Gonzo post apocalyptic future teeming with mutations and, errrr, guns. It is also comes in a pocketmod format. It's also in Spanish and French. It is a delight to read and leaves you wanting more but like all lightweight games, is there enough here to make it a game?


Characters have four attributes: Combat, Physical, Mental, Social; 8 points divvied up, maximum 3, minimum 1. 3 races: Pure Human, Mutant Human, Evolved Animal; decides hit points and mutation.

Mechanics: Sum 2D6 and attribute, succeed if large than a target number. Critical fail on rolling a 2, critical pass on 12. When attacked, target number is 9 by default and called Defense. Experience between 1 to 3 depending on adventure difficulty, spend it on hit points, Defence or abilities. For combat initiative, sum 2D6 and combat, highest goes first.

That's the majority of the mechanics. I wanted to see if I could be more succinct than the game without losing meaning. I'll let you be the judge of that, dear reader! Those mechanics are common but that's OK because they make way for the interesting stuff.

The Interesting Stuff

Mutations! Who wouldn't want them? Telekinesis can be fun in a cafe, extra arms lets you quad-yield SMGs and Dual Brain doubles your mental power. And there are more. Not lots more; enough for characters to be individual.

In combat, you are confined to a linear map (see picture). This sounds awful but it allows there to be a tactical choice without resorting to the complexity of grids or hex systems. A clever balance of enough map to be tactical but not so much that you need to create mechanics for dealing with it. If you ever wondered "how do I cater for maps in my super-lightweight RPG" then this is it.

The linear battle map, I'm a big fan of the art style

The specter of radiation pops up as a check against your physical attribute. If you fail, you get some radiation points. Radiation kills humans and mutates mutants before killing them. It's nasty stuff. Who says that roleplaying games can't be used to teach people about the real world!

Hungry for more

Lightweight games do the same to me as a single bite of chocolate. It melts into your brain, you get the sugary endorphin rush and then you crave more. I crave more of Mutants and Machineguns. I want a game world. I want more critters. I want more of the delightful art.

There is more than enough game here to make it a game I just want more. Gonzo Post-Apocalypse is such a superb idea (Fear and Loathing in Fallout?) that is demands expansion. Expansion without losing the essence of being a small game. That's a huge demand - but a worthwhile one.


Robertson Sondoh Jr said...

Thanks for the lovely review Rob! This review will pretty much boost the RPG, A LOT!

Anyway, we are in the making of an introductory adventure and after that most probably would go for expansion and fix some game rules. One question though, what kind of expansion would everyone like?

Thanks again! :)

Rob Lang said...

I'm glad I could help. The more stuff I want includes:

Example character builds (can be used as NPCs)
Example world map
More creatures (ones you can ride)
More cool gadgets and "stuff"
List of plot hooks (perhaps only a sentence each given the size of the game)
A play example
Sample Adventure (which you mentioned, awesome!)

I would like all of that with the same funky graphic style, which is brilliant.

Thank you very much for sharing your game, it's a cracker. Please let me know when you've done an update!

Robertson Sondoh Jr said...

Thanks Rob (it is funny to say this because my nick is Rob)

Anyway, if you have more suggested please do not hesitate to voice it out. We will provide everything we could to make this game fun and try to be as light as possible :)

Rob Lang said...

No problem, Rob!

If I think of anything else, I'll let you know. The difficult task you now have is keeping the feel of the game light while at the same time giving it more content. That is not an easy thing to do!

Good luck and please do let me know how you get on. :-)

Robertson Sondoh Jr said...

Hi Rob,
After a year, I finallyh made a draft for Mutants & Machineguns v3. I do hope you would test it.