Original SA post
Remember when I said I'd cover After The Bomb? Ah, those were the days...
In the beginning was The Megaversal System, and it was bloated crap. And Kevin saw The Megaversal System, and convinced himself it was good. Thus, Kevin begat Palladium Fantasy, which begat Heroes Unlimited and Beyond The Supernatural, as well as some other shit nobody cares about. Then Kevin did befriend the founders of Mirage Comics, and they gave him the license out of friendship, as well as a desire to make even more money from their potential cashcow. And so Kevin (but mostly Eric Wujcik) did begat Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness, which begat After The Bomb. Here endeth the first lesson.
Part 1: Introduction
I'm mostly going off of the very first After The Bomb book, which we'll call 1st Edition for the sake of convenience. 2nd Edition was something published in 2001, about two years after Mirage and Palladium parted ways, so they just crammed everything from TMNT&OS, ATB splatbooks and a few Rifts book that he could get away with, got some other artists to draw mutant animals (all the art for 1st Ed ATB was by Eastman & Laird) and called it a day. As it's more or less just a hodgepodge of other Palladium books with a few new bells and whistles thrown in, I'll be mostly referring to 1st Edition, and only refer to 2nd Ed every now and again, just to show how things changed.
I'll also be including art from both editions, and the '01 version has some damn nice stuff. Also, a "Seriously, we're not Satanists" boilerplate, just because.
As for After The Bomb itself, it started out as just another adventure for the TMNT&OS corebook, but those boys at Palladium grew more and more in love with the concept of a world where mutant animals are the norm, so they decided to spin it out into a whole supplement. This book only covers the Eastern Seaboard; Wujcik claims this is to give creative GMs something to work with... but hey, if you want more books covering other areas, go ahead and let everyone at Palladium know!
And yes, this is a Wujcik book. Whilst that may automatically induce eye-rolling for some of you, I'll just come out and say that I kinda like Wujcik's writing style. Yes, most of his GMing advice stinks, but you have to admire the gumption of any man whose idea of a good introductory adventure is "Save children being held hostage by terrorists (also, the terrorists are barnyard animals)". You may be interested to know that ATB was Palladium's first (but by no means last) post-apocalyptic RPG. And hey, at least he's not Siembieda.
The introduction in ATB 2nd Edition is a lot longer, and starts off with Wujcik discussing how society has always had fascinations with anthropomorphic animals, and even mentions the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in passing. He then goes on to say that whilst ATB sounded a little silly back in the mid-80's, science is (allegedly) catching up with the world he created. He then goes on to cite an article from an old issue of New Scientist about an artificial virus made from a scorpion gene, and the advances made in mapping DNA.
Erick Wujcik posted:
When I first wrote After the Bomb, the idea of a mutant sentient dog was closer to fantasy than science fiction. Looking at it in 2001, it seems like we'll be talking to genetically modified canines in the not-too-distant future.
Then he apologises for not putting every single animal in existence in character creation, but we'll get to that later.
As this is a TMNT supplement, it gives you guidelines on how to convert your characters from that setting into this one. Nothing too strenuous, just one little table. Well, it's little by Palladium's standards – it only takes up most of one page. Basically, you replace the Cause of Mutation table from TMNT&OS' character generation, and replace it with the Mutation Background table in this book. As the name suggests, it's not so much how you mutated as what kind of community you were raised in. They are:
: Raised in an actual city, you got a good education (+15% Scholastic Bonus with 5 High School skills, 10 College skills and a dozen Secondary skills) so you tend to think of most other mutants as being a little slow. You hate the Empire of Humanity (who they?) but you're no anthrophobe. 2d6x$1000 for your starting cash.
: You had a more agricultural background, but frequent raiding from the Empire of Humanity "and their New Kennel allies" (who they?) meant your society made military training compulsory; you don't get much in the way of educational skills (+5% Scholastic Bonus, 8 High School skills), but you do know how to fight (3 Military skills) and you get the Agricultural and First Aid skills for free. Because of your minimal contact with humans, you instinctively see them all as enemies. Your starting cash is 2d6x$100
: Less farmy, more shooty. You were raised in a self-sufficient military compound whilst your parents were between skirmishes. As a result, you're less smart than somebody from a regular militia (no Scholastic Bonus and 4 High School skills) but you're twice as deadly in a fight (6 Military skills). You're probably going to treat a human "with professional cool". You only start off with $100, but you also get a pistol, a rifle (sniper, shotgun, submachine, etc.) and "a complete set of military equipment". I have no idea what that would entail.
2nd Ed art again, but it fits very nicely. There's a lot more art in 2nd Edition, so get used to it.
: You're from a small community "far removed from the protection of Cardania" (is that a bad thing? Who knows!) so you've had to fend off the Empire and "mutant renegades" and learn how to avoid traps and minefields. As such, you ain't got much fancy book learning (no Scholastic Bonus, 2 High School skills) but you're good at Tracking (75%), Basic Survival (50%) Prowl and Basic Explosives (both 40%). You most likely hate humans, but you've learnt how to keep your feeling towards them well-hidden. You get 1d6x$100.
: Where you lived was so far off the grid, you saw a stranger about once a year... which for some reason makes you perfect for being hired as a scout. Once again, no Scholastic Bonus, but you get a shit-ton of skills and bonuses which, whilst thematic, verge on broken.
Generally speaking, you don't care if somebody's human or mutant, you're just friendly to everyone. All you get to start off with are the clothes on your back, an old weapon and "a gunny sack of cooking tools and useful scavenged items".
: When the Empire raided, you got cut off from everyone and you had to make it on your own. You guessed it, you don't get any Scholastic Bonus, and your skill package makes a regular Scout's look downright anaemic.
You're antisocial to everyone, mutant or human. You'll have scrounged up $200 worth of "government-supplied" stuff – weapons, supplies, etc.
: You were just another piece of property for the Empire, but you made a bid for freedom! You get 6 Secondary Skills, 2 Military, Escape Artist 50%, Basic Survival 30%, 25% to your Structural Damage Capacity and 5% to your Physical Strength. Scholastic Bonus isn't even mentioned - I presume Kevin just forgot about it. Due to your treatment by the Empire, your body and mind are both scarred, and you long to destroy every single human. You also managed to... scrounge up $200 worth of... "government-supplied"... Damn it Kevin, did you just copy-paste the exact same thing?
: You were an exceptionally bright child, inducted into a special training program mostly run by human geniuses. Not sure how that'd work in a post-apocalyptic scenario, but okay! As a result, you get a shit load of skills (6 High School, 12 College and 15 Secondary) and... why, it's our old friend Scholastic Bonus! What's that, Scholastic Bonus? You're +20% for Scientists? How nice for you! Oh yeah, and you're perfectly fine being around humans and mutants alike. You have $3000 in equipment, supplies and weapons.
Professor Teeny finds your hypothesis intriguing, if a little far-fetched.
: Well, of
there were going to be Ninjas. Adopted by ninjas, yadda yadda, you know how this goes. Quite a few skills (5 High School, 2 College, 3 Military & 6 Secondary) and you get Hand-to-Hand Ninja for free, along with proficiency in one of three ancient or ninja weapons. You tend to err on the side of caution when dealing with other mutants. You get $250 spending money to start out with, but your teachers will provide your main weapon.
2nd Edition goes for the slightly more interesting notion of rolling for
you were raised; freed slave, raised by bandits, raised in a town, raised on the outskirts of civilisation, part of the Academic Underground, etc. This gives little bonuses and can let you take Apprenticeships (I'll be covering those later, but not in great detail because they're really boring). All in all, a nice tweak.
There's also a brief section on how to run the After The Bomb setting with the Heroes Unlimited ruleset; it basically boils down to swapping out the Revised Random Power Table from TMNT&OS with a much smaller Revised Random Power Table from ATB.
And that's it for tables... for now. Next time, we actually learn something about the setting!
Original SA post
Part 2: Setting Background
We finally get to the setting itself, and it's interesting to see a divergence between 1st and 2nd edition right off the bat. It's the late 21st Century, and "a brutal catastrophe of war, plague and nuclear winter" known as "The Big Death" has fucked America's shit up. This is where we see the biggest divergence between editions; in 2nd Edition the reason for the end of modern civilisation was basically an escalating prank war gone wrong.
Okay, that requires a little more explanation. In the near future science will be so advanced that all disease will either be completely eradicated, so easily cured that kids infecting their entire classroom in order to get out of finals will become just another way for kids to use technology to be complete douchebags. This will eventually lead to kids using the internet to come up with better and better designer viruses, until one day a virus is made that rewrites human cells into a disease.
This leads to about three quarters of humanity dying, and that wasn't the end of it. See, another result of science becoming so advanced was the rise of genetic engineering in animals, resulting in the Embryonic Genome Generator, or EGG®, which made the average person capable of making animals that little bit better... and smarter. Turns out meddling in God's domain made animals so smart, they could be classified as not just sentient, but sapient too. As a result, when "The Crash" left its mark, it made some animals mutate, instead of simply dying.
Why no, I don't believe anybody at Palladium has any qualifications in any of the sciences. Why do you ask?
As if this wasn't bad enough, the fact that so many people died from what looked like a deliberate biological attack made the people who could push The Button kinda jumpy, so they decided to push it just in case, resulting in – you guessed it - "The Big Death".
Some creepy (possibly recycled) art to break up the wall of text.
Regardless of how it happened, the end result is the same; humanity is no longer the dominant species. From the wake of disaster have arisen thousands of mutant animals, most of whom have set up their own societies; divisions between societies are based far more on territory than by species – most PCs will probably be from Cardania, even though we have no idea what it's like.
Humans inhabit some of the mutant-centric societies, helping to build infrastructures. However, there is also The Empire of Humanity, an autocracy hell-bent on destroying every mutant. So, it's not so much
Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth
Battle For The Planet of The Apes
We then go on to money, and it's actually pretty interesting. Barter is the most accepted form of payment, and pre-Big Death currency is worthless; the only physical money that anyone south of New Kennel takes is the Cardanian Buck and Bit, with 4 Bits making up a Buck (A Buck is the same as a US Dollar). It then gives a list of various amenities, and how much they're worth now (One night in an inn is worth 2 Bucks, a flashlight is worth 50 Bucks, etc.). Manufactured items cost three times as much as they do, but only if they're new – old stuff costs the same as it did before, but only if it works.
This method of pricing doesn't apply to New Kennel or The Empire – their currency, the Empire Credit, is electronic-only and everyone pays with credit cards. The Empire still has the same prices that were around pre-Big Death, and again a Credit converts exactly to a Dollar, but New Kennel has a huge problem with inflation (prices keep being "adjusted", much to the dismay of New Kennel's financial district), which keeps them subservient to The Empire. Both regions have a black market, and they only take Bucks. 2nd Edition bumped up the equipment list to about 6 pages, which is pretty restrained for Palladium (Yes, at least half of the pages are about weapons).
I needed something else to break up the text, so have a badass Laird rodent.
Offspring! Don't worry, it's just a short paragraph about how inter-species relationships and marriages are common, but will never produce children; two dogs could be fertile, but a dog and a wolf couldn't. Preeeeetty sure this is bullshit, Wujcik. A mutant and a human can't produce a child either, which sounds comparatively less stupid.
In all fairness, when 2nd Edition came out (and understanding of interbreeding was more widely-known), this was commuted to "most species can't interbreed, and some mutations make you infertile". Doesn't say which, but it sure makes a big deal about it! Certain Psionic powers can detect whether somebody is fertile or not (shtupping the wrong mutant can make you infertile – again, doesn't say what criteria there is), and the GM Guide suggests that The Empire of Humanity has little to no children... no
human children, that is.
See, quite a few people in The Empire had adopted a lot of mutant children that
exactly like a human. Remember when in TMNT&OS where a mutant's looks ranged from None to Partial to Full? Well, now you have Perfect; it makes you look exactly like a human and it only costs 15 BIO-E, so the "purity" of what remains of humanity has been inadvertently diluted. While I don't see the point of adding even more to character creation, I actually do like the idea of showing how certain ideologies don't really work when you put actual people into the equation.
Next time: We actually get to learn what The Empire of Humanity is, and who's running it!
The Empire of Humanity
Original SA post
Part 3: The Empire of Humanity
As Wujcik points out, a RPG wouldn't be much fun without bad guys, so he created The Empire of Humanity, an autocracy with... vast amounts of technology and... hate everyone else... but they like dogs...
Yeah, we've seen this before. Again, I should point out that After The Bomb predates Rifts by a good 4½ years, so ATB is the one being ripped off here. The More You Know!
The Empire is miles ahead of every other territory, technologically speaking, thanks to their manufacturing being done entirely by mutant slaves, although they're being phased out for robots. They have an absurd amount of weaponry, which I'll get to in a bit, and the only working fusion reactor in the world. It's not all good news, though; anti-government protests often break out, ending in exactly what you'd expect from a totalitarian dictatorship.
Emperor Daniel Christian
"SFII: The Movie" M. Bison is tricky to pull off for even the most experienced cosplayer.
His alignment is Diabolic, which means he's pretty much your garden-variety tin-pot dictator – charismatic, talks a big game and is always happy to make you the scapegoat if things turn out bad. Also, he can turn his entire body into stone! Yes, the mutophobic zealot has a mutant power of his own (to be fair, about 12% of his army have some kind of mutant ability, and it's not like he enjoys showing it to anybody). When he does use it, his Physical Strength gets a +8 and his S.D.C. goes from 66 to 600; he becomes invulnerable to pretty much everything, and explosions (including nuclear blasts!) do half damage. This power has slowed his ageing process down considerably – he looks about 40, but he's actually 96. This had led to speculations that he has his own private "Fountain of Youth".
Just after The Big Death, he was part of a "renegade militia unit" that discovered the fusion reactor, which was being maintained by a peaceful scientific community. He quickly realised the potential, put all the scientists into separate labs, and used the reactor to found Technoville, capital city of The Empire of Humanity (It's also where Newburgh used to be... I think. There's a map that I'll post in the next update, so). He rules with an iron fist, but people still talk shit about him... just not for very long.
Professor William Sybek
That sandwich doesn't look very appetising.
He's Christian's second-in-command, and his alignment is Miscreant, which means he only looks out for himself. He certainly meets expectations; he's not a particularly brilliant scientist, but he's very good at motivating his "team", which mostly consists of scientists held prisoner by The Empire... turns out productivity soars if you threaten to kill somebody's family.
He doesn't normally carry a gun, but if cornered he might whip out a death ray or something... just don't expect him to bother aiming it properly. He also has trouble accepting that mutant animals are sapient as well as sentient; he's killed a lot of brilliant scientists, simply because they were mutants.
General Mike Ulster
I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M HOLDING BUT I FUCKING HATE IT ARRRRGH
Mike is the leader of The Empire's armed forces, and a Scrupulous character, which makes him... Good? Yes, we have our token "has noble intentions, but is surrounded by evil assholes" character! Good lord, this really is like a Saturday morning cartoon.
Anyway, Ulster is more pro-human than anti-mutant; he doesn't have a problem with mutants - he feels the death of each soldier keenly, whether they're human or mutant - he just doesn't want humans to be wiped off the face of the planet. He's also a genius on the battlefield, with an extensive knowledge of military history. Luckily for The Empire's enemies, everyone else in the army is a moron that fucks up all the time. As a result, Ulster is always on edge, and can't really "switch off"... which is probably a good thing for The Empire, given that he's the only one who can stop everything from going tits up.
The other noticeable thing about Mike is that he's a motherfucking cyborg. Most of the left side of his body is full of gadgets; he has an eye that has infrared, zoom and targetting (+1 to hit), his left hand has a Physical Strength of 28, built-in bioscan and computer and a mini-ion blaster in his left arm (he likes to save that for emergencies). On the downside, his hearts, lungs and kidneys are all bionic. Speaking of Empire technology...
Empire Robot Armour
Remember that fight scene on the cover? Well, the humans in the goofy armour are G-9 troops (so called for the G-9 rifle that comes with an Empire soldier's basic kit) wearing Type 2xd Robotic Armour, which we'll get to in a bit.
The Type-1 Robot Armour (the ED-209 ripoff on the cover) has a lot of cute little gadgets – dual mini-lasers, targeting scope, retractable blasters, etc. - and has 1200 S.D.C. Not surprising, given that it weighs 1.4 tonnes. Whilst the Type 2dx Armour hasn't got as many tricks as the Type 1 (loudspeaker, targeting sight, radio com-link, a computer and ion blasters that do 5d6 damage, but can only be fired once every five minutes) and only give 240 S.D.C., the 2dx has a few advantages over Type 1 suits; they're a lot cheaper to make and pilots only need 3 weeks training, as opposed to the two months the type 1 suits require.
Fairgrounds got a lot weirder after the apocalypse.
Ulster has his own custom suit of "full bionic armour" that he wears into battle. It gives him 900 S.D.C., and it only works for him. The Empire has a few other little toys; VTOL jet fighters that can reach Mach 3.5, tanks with laser cannons and helicopters that can do 300mph (interestingly, a few attack copters can manage just a little over that nowadays) but it's all window dressing to make the Empire look cool.
Here's what the suits look like in 2nd Ed.
In 2nd Edition, everything gets an upgrade; Type-1 suits now weigh 2 tonnes and the Type 2xd get an energy pistol and a helmet with a sweet HUD and gas mask. Strangely, their LC-12 attack helicopters now only manage 250mph.
There are also the Type 3 Security bots, but they're as stupid as they are deadly – they get fooled by mutants with Full and Perfect Looks, have no concept of "taking cover" and often kill humans at random. Other than that, they work fine!
They look like rejected concept art for the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
Dogs are pretty much the only species that gets along with The Empire on the whole, because MAN'S BEST FRIEND AMIRITE. They were fully integrated into The Empire a decade ago, but after certain factions within the dogs started making a ruckus, so now they all live where New Jersey used to be. According to 2nd Edition, their trade is almost entirely agricultural, thanks to The Empire constantly shitting on them, with only a few manufacturing plants allowed. Technologically speaking, they're turn of the century... the 19th Century, that is.
New Kennel's run by Yaster and Yasbal, greyhound twins who are puppet rulers chosen by Christian. They help spread pro-Empire propaganda, and keep the citizens under The Empire's rule. Interestingly, the twins (fuck you, I'm not typing out those stupid names again) really do believe that Christian will give dogs full citizenship, provided they prove that they're all loyal. They'd better go on thinking that; Christian's bugged their offices, and he's perfectly fine with removing them if they show signs of becoming more independent. Also, they have 80% Ventriloquism, because Palladium. v
Who's a good soldier? You are! Yes, you are!
Military-wise, they're entirely dependent on Empire tech. They've got almost three dozen tanks, and 6,500 Empire soldiers stationed within New Kennel, but those troops don't answer to any dogs. New Kennel's "Air Force" does little more than ferry its politicians around, which isn't surprising considering it's made up of 15 helicopters and 23 transport planes. In terms of local manpower, there's a National Guard that's made up of about 15% of the population, most of which keep their crappy old rifles at home. There's also the NAI (National Army of the Interior), but they're just the
Service d'ordre Légionnaire
to New Kennel's Vichy France.
Moira Alpland is the owner of a nice little clothing store. She's a lovely, cheery soul... who also happens to moonlight as The Spider, head of the New Kennel resistance movement – currently about 20-30 dogs who take part in weekly raids in Empire territory or New Kennel. Huge rewards have been posted by officials from The Empire and New Kennel, but no NAI operative has come close to capturing her (they don't even know The Spider is a woman, and neither does the resistance – it's safer for her that way). This is partly because she's a master of disguise; she's even passed for a human, even though she's actually a coyote.
Another interesting little bit from 2nd Edition; an attempt to breed genetically pure humans kind of hit the fan when it turned out most of the results turned out to be half-pig. Not the kind of people to throw a terrible idea away, they decided to clone two dozen "perfect" children a whole bunch, billing them as "The Future of The Empire". This was fine right up until they turned seven, when they tried to destroy The Empire with their terrifying psychic powers in a bid to cull the "impure" humans i.e. everybody else. They were only stopped by outside help, in the form of The Three-Eyed Elephants of Ganesh, India's theocracy (we'll get to them later, I promise) which only rubbed salt into the wounds. Needless to say, The Empire isn't as hopeful for the future as it once was.
Next time: All the other places!
Original SA post
You'd better answer the call of nature first, cause this is a long one!
Part 4: The other territories
Here's a pretty nice map. All the goons on the west coast, have fun figuring out how the downfall of civilisation has messed with state borders!
Cardania's a pretty nice place to live, all in all. The hydro-electric damn means the economy's good, there's no tension between species (even humans are accepted!) and it's an honest-to-God democracy. If you had to pick a flaw with it, it'd be the constant attacks from their technologically superior neighbours, The Empire of Humanity. That, and it's where Delaware and Virginia used to be.
Cardania is outgunned by The Empire to such a degree that it's not even funny. Cardania's Navy is mostly staffed by assholes who are more interested in playing pirates, their Air force is a joke and their ground troops have a noticeable lack of robot death-suits.
Their leader, President Thana Foxline, is pro-human... but even she knows that the only way her people can be safe is if The Empire is destroyed.
The Plains of Free Cattle
As the name suggests, they're mostly buffalo, deer, cows, horses, etc. Their exact boundary lines are a bit fuzzy – they claim to span as far as "the other ocean" – but it's more or less where Tennessee used to be, along with a bit of North Carolina and I think some of Georgia.
They're a lot less centralised than the other territories, and one of the most anti-human. That's mostly down to their leader Weschek the Wise, a horse who's sometimes a little esoteric and hard to understand, but is "good-natured"... except when he's preaching for the destruction of the "evil humans". On the other hand, he was gelded by humans before The Big Death, and often uses this as a visual demonstration whenever he's questioned on his beliefs. No, I'm not making this up.
The Rodent Cartel of Filly
Yes, this is Philadelphia; apparently this city was ravaged by chemical weapons, as opposed to nuclear bombs like everywhere else was. It's pretty much this setting's Bartertown, only instead of Tina Turner it's run by The Rodent Cartel. Unlike Bartertown, though, there are some rules – the Cartel realise that they're the only truly neutral place (they even trade to The Empire, albeit through New Kennel), so they have well-armed mercenaries patrolling the city at all times to keep everything relatively quiet. The Cartel also give out permits to archaeologists so they can explore "The Wild Philly", a lawless shithole that's also filled with artefacts of pre-Big Death culture.
Go on, guess where this used to be. It's pretty much Fist of The North Star: Furry Edition here – crumbling masonry, sadistic gangs, the whole works (although most gangs don't have guns, and the ones that do only hang onto them until their ammo runs out). The only reason any outsiders go there is for pre-Big Death stuff; it's assumed that that's where the really valuable artefacts are.
It's where Long Island was, and while it's not as bad as N'Yak, it's not great either. It's now a bird supremacist autocracy run by Isaac Crow, who loves clipping the wings of criminals, fermenting anti-human and anti-bat sentiments, and executing traitors and "invaders" (basically, anybody who had the bad luck to wind up on Bird Island). He also dreams of invading the mainland some day, which is probably why he's busy keeping his munitions factories a secret.
I'd use some 1st Edition art to break up this wall of text, but to be honest there's not that much. Besides, gun-toting parrot.
The Plains of Free Cattle and New Kennel have shitfits over this every now and again, with Cardania trying to make sure neither group gets what they want whilst staying directly out of things. We're not told why, but it's presumably something to do about expanding Empire territory or some bullcrap.
As you'd expect, it's a harsh place, inhabited with Wolf Barbarians (there are also dogs and coyotes, but marketing's important for these guys). There are also rumours of a Northern Free State, and these weird things known as "glaciers"...
There are a bunch of free states and towns there, but what with The Free Cattle inbetween them and Cardania, they tend to keep to themselves. There's also a huge swing in technological ability from town to town - one place can be almost up to pre-Big Death technology, and another just a few hours walk could be some shithole straight out of the 17th century.
It's pretty much one big marshy swamp... or a swampy marsh, it depends where you live. It's actually a pretty chill place to live, thanks to The Gang of Four; they're a ninja clan, of sorts, who live according to the tenets of Eastern philosophy, and made Gatorland into a prosperous nation. They send ninja operatives throughout the East Coast, mostly in Cardania and Filly.
Yeah, this guy isn't familiar in
That's 1st Ed - nothing too exhaustive, but it's not trying to be. 2nd Edition is, as you'd expect, a little more in-depth. It gives a brief rundown of the continents, which I'll try and condense as best I can.
The Arctic and Antarctic
All the ice from Antarctica vanished and ended up in The Arctic, turning the former into one big ice palace and the latter into the “New Eden of the South”. To be fair, the book does acknowledge that there's no way that could've happened... but it did, and
the scary part. The scarier part is that The Arctic has people living there, who are apparently into some crazy mystic shit – it got the nickname “The Mountains of Madness” for a reason.
To put it bluntly, pretty much everything's gone to shit. There were a few “human empires”, but most of them have crumbled; the only one left standing is in Skandia (formerly Northern Denmark – it's not as bad as The Empire of Humanity, but it still won't give mutants citizenship or the vote) and even that's getting worse by the day.
Calais, now called
Societie A Eliminer les Creations Sauvages et Nuisibles
or SAECSEN for short, seceded from France and focused on the genocide of all mutants. France, which is now New France, a coalition of three groups (mostly mutated French purebred animals) dedicated to kicking SAECSEN's merde in, and it looks like they might do it pretty soon.
The Netherlands, or Lakenveld as it's now known, has decided to say out of all this shit and everyone lets them because Lakenveld is the only country in Europe that's got their shit together (100% literacy among all its citizens, mutant and human alike, and their economy's booming – even Skandia use Lakenveld Guilders as legal tender). Oh, and it looks like Böhlen, a small town in Germany, has been hiding mutants with some really fucked-up powers; energy blasters, shape-shifters, even half-mutant/half-machine. Also, Palladium still have
a few copies of
Mutants of Avalon
, if you're interested!
The northern and central parts of Africa are one giant shithole of warring factions. Yeah. Southern Africa, meanwhile, has three countries of interest (Four if you count Fortress South Africa, a small “human-dominated” country, but it's government is very isolationist so they don't really come into the equation that much). Zambiziland is at the forefront of cutting-edge technology e.g. microchips and supercomputers, but is beset from all sides by its warring neighbours. Basically, it's ATB's version of Wakanda. It's also home to the Donta Elephants, bipedal warrior-poets who have opened their gates to refugees from all over the globe, but don't take anybody's shit. Also, 97% of the Donta have Low-Frequency Wave Detection as an Animal Power, allowing them to detect imminent earthquakes... provided they have Padded Feet as a Power as well, something this section of the book neglects to mention. Oh, and their ears make great air conditioning. Thanks for that, Erick.
At first, imgur had some issues uploading this. I choose to believe it couldn't handle the awesome.
Inkuruland, on the other hand, is a loose collection of clans (mostly purebred cattle), tribes and villages who are a little behind their neighbours technologically, but they make up for it by making lots of weapons. They sound lovely! Meanwhile, Talichiland is... pretty vague. It popped up three years ago (and I do mean “popped up” - it was founded by naked mole rats) and from what people can tell from airborne reconnaissance it's a war-torn dust bowl. The really worrying thing is that nobody seems to know what the mole rats are up to; they seem to have their eye on expanding their borders, but given that their borders include Inkuruland that seems like a bad idea.
Yes, the book covers The Middle East as well, but only to mention that it's mostly an irradiated wasteland, thanks to all the nukes. Yeah. Anyway, India! It's very much in charge of what's left of its neighbours, and has renamed itself Ganesh to pay homage to the Ganeshi. Who are the Ganeshi? They're mutant elephants, apparently the result of chimera experimentation by the Indian government before The Big Death happened, which explains why they all have a third eye. They rule over Ganesh as living gods, telepathically communicating with their subjects every morning, noon and night; their telepathic powers are beyond anything any other mutant has, with astral projection, teleportation and mind control all being part of their repertoire. There are also the Hyderabad, purebred Baboons who are subservient to the Ganeshi, and are highly skilled at building pretty much anything.
This is probably the most depressing part of the book, as Erick promises that the Ganeshi will be covered in “future sourcebooks”, but given that he died about 6½ years later... Let's move on, shall we?
What's happening on the world's largest continent? Nobody really knows!
Some people claim there are dragon chimeras! People around the Pacific Rim are using Hong Kong Dollars, which seem to be indestructible!
Don Pollastro isn't angry, he's disappointed... and that's somehow worse.
Guys, Palladium have still got copies of
Mutants Down Under
! You should
buy it for more details! Jakarta's still around, and it's like The Empire, only a lot worse!
You should get
Mutants Down Under
if you want more details on Jakarta! I'm not kidding, this is how they're selling it! Also, Tasmania (or Tazzieland, or Tazzie, or TazzietazziebobazziebananafanafofazziefeefifomazzieTAZZIE) is now a constitutional monarchy modelled after the “pre-Prang” British government, and they've recently rediscovered plastics. Good for them!
Central & South America
Cuba were planning on making a bunch of real-life Jurassic Parks! What are they up to now? Who knows! What about the rest of the fourth-largest continent in the world? Buy
Mutants of The Yucatan
West Coast America
for more information! Yes, that really is all we get!
Next time: Spider-goats and shit!
New Mutant Animals & Other Crunch
Original SA post
Part 5: New Mutant Animals & other crunch
We going to move away from 1st Edition ATB for today and take a look at changes to character creation and other little things in the game. I'd have covered it sooner, but frankly I thought that the setting was far more interesting.
You may have noticed I've been focusing far more on the fluff of ATB than the crunch, and that's because I personally find the Megaversal system dry than a hundredweight of crackers. It doesn't help that everything from ATB 2nd Ed was shamelessly cribbed from previous Palladium books. That being the case, I'll only focus on the
stuff I'm pretty sure is new.
First of all, the Mutant Animal tables have been expanded. There's the regular table, which is virtually unchanged since the days of TMNT&OS, but but there's also a sub-table on "Purebreds". Apparently a town of mutant Chester-breed pigs would act kinda snooty to, say, a mutant Arkansas Razorback. Then again, mutant purebred dogs, horses and chickens are way less snobby, so that's okay! You can also be a throwback (long-extinct animal brought back via dicking around with recessive genes) or a chimera (ungodly meld of creatures that should not be the same thing). This table is honestly pretty boring, except for...
Well, they can't all be winners.
It's a dinosaur! Well, sort of. This is actually what happens when geneticists have too much spare time on their hands, and decide to screw around with a chicken's DNA to bring back the dinosaurs. This is the only Throwback I'm including on this list, because the rest are so booooring. If you think I'm kidding, the rest are as follows; Okefenokee Hog, Passenger Pigeon and Egyptian Cat. Hell, the only reason I included this one was because it's technically a dinosaur.
Yes, you can play as a mutated human (According to the book, they make up about 15% of the human population). You can even have animal powers! I'd go into more detail, but this is all covered in a TMNT&OS sourcebook that I hope to cover at some point, so I'll just say that I really don't see the point of this!
Yes, this is really the official art. No, I'm not kidding.
Oh, this fucking thing. And yes, "fucking" is a
appropriate word to use. This is what happens when geneticists have too much spare time on their hands, and decide to turn rabbits into sex slaves. And these aren't "rabbits, only sexy furries
" they're just "people who look sexy, and might have a fluffy rabbit tail if their PC is a minmaxer". See, there's one new wrinkle to ATB chargen; Vestigial Disadvantages, which are animalistic traits you can buy in character creation for a little extra BIO-E. They're mostly boring (musk glands! You can only eat meat/plants!) except for Reptile Brain, which makes your Alligator PC more likely to flip out and beat the shit out of smaller characters, which can be worse if your GM includes the optional rules for Horror Factor. Yes, they included the Horror Factor from
Beyond The Supernatural
. No, I don't know why either.
Back to the Pleasure Bunnies - their Mutant Animal Powers are... well, do you remember
that one Cthulhutech adventure
? Well, they're a bit like that, just comparatively less rapetacular; their pheremones are designed more to get you in the mood than to make you a mindless vegetable with a boner. Then again, they can also produce pheremones to bind an individual to fuck only them, so swings and roundabouts. They can also control their weight, body fat and muscle, to tailor their appearance to whoever they want to
convince to fuck them.
According to the rules, this particular Spider-Goat has too many pairs of legs.
Yeah, you knew this was coming. See, Wujcik had read an article about
and automatically assumed that meant goats would soon have spider-powers, because that's just what Erick was like. Name says it all, you can be a mutant goat that's also Spider-Man. Web shooters, spinnerets, ability to walk on walls... you can even get extra limbs if you want to recreate that. Spider-goats are usually found in heavily-wooded communities, and are easy-going, helpful people with a good sense of humour (they tend to rib anybody caught in their webs, but in a nice way).
There's no art for a Shifter Mouse, so have this kickass mouse instead.
read a thing
and assumed that real-world science had finally caught up with Silver Age comic books. Not only can these mice change their eye colour, they can emit light (ultraviolet and infrared are available), become a strobe light, change skin colour (no bright colours, only earth tones), turn
invisible (more Predator than Memoirs of An Invisible Man) and be super stealthy, even when running.
5 will get you 10 that this is recycled from some other Palladium book.
I can't find the specific study Erick is misinterpreting, but apparently after scientists experimented with injecting mice with a gene that could triggered hormonally, they decided to go the whole hog and inject mice with all sorts of genes. The end result was the Shifter Mice, who can change their physical appearance to resemble another animal after ingesting said animal's blood into a small hole under its tongue. It's not all great news; if the Shifter turns into a brain-damaged animal then they'll stay that way, and all their children are 1d6 Shifter Mice, which can lead to awkward situations in bigoted communities.
Porkopolis Flying Swine
Yes, these are pigs with wings from
. They still live there, and they get wings for free in chargen, which is nice.
Then there's the "optional" table, which is much larger. Most of it's stuff cribbed from ATB and TMNT&OS sourcebooks... in fact, the only way to get stats and BIO-E count for most of the animals is to buy the sourcebooks.
There's a table for what kind of fur/scale/skin pattern/colour combination you have (boring), what side effects you get from injuries (somewhat useful) and Apprenticeship Programs. After the Big Death, formal education took a backseat to the whole "not dying" thing at the time, so everybody went back to making sure the next generation learnt a trade by making them become somebody's apprentice. In-game, this is basically just a bunch of skill packages you get that will rarely come up, unless you took the Healer Apprenticeship, or maybe the Armorer Apprenticeship. I doubt your time spent learning how to be a farrier will make much difference in-game.
Psionics got expanded a lot from the list in TMNT&OS, most of them to do with sensing stuff (Cell Reader, Psychic Diagnosis, Sense Nemesis, Sense Tectonics) or techie stuff (Natural Mechanical Genius, Techno-Mind). There's also Prosthetic Psionics, which can let you walk with no legs, or pick stuff up when you've got no hands – the only problem is that you can't use any other psionics while you're using that stuff. I've no idea if this is cribbed from Heroes Unlimited or not, but Chimeras have to buy Animal Control for both of their original species, which is neat.
Next time: The Gun Bunnies!
Gun Bunnies & Zombies
Original SA post
Part 6: Gun Bunnies & Zombies
This is the first adventure for the book, and the most notorious (we'll get to that later on). This is all the work of Matthew Balent, who wrote a few weapon books for Palladium. It's billed as an "Introductory" adventure, but we're warned that it'll take several session to complete, and any party under 3rd level will need some NPC hirelings if they don't want to die.
You are a group of Cardanian scouts hired by Commander Yeats, a rat renowned for his infiltration of The Rodent Cartel, to investigate claims from members of a captured criminal gang. They say that the town of Benny, just north of Empire territory, has a treasure trove of pre-Big Death technology and weapons. The downside is, Benny is also said to be overrun by "psycho-zombies" (mutant animals being mind-controlled to become brainless brutes) controlled by a mad scientist.
The party's main objective is to check out the town and put a stop to the psycho-zombies before The Empire decides to use the technology on a larger scale (it's assumed to be an Empire experiment because, let's face it, who else would think this is a good idea?). The PCs will be accompanied by a guide; Ozzie Bleu, former member of an all-otter recon unit a decade or so ago. He's good at his job and knows the area well, but he's not comfortable giving orders.
HOPE YOU LIKE SHITTY RABBIT PUNS
Here's something to break up the walls of text.
It'll take a week to get there - Ozzie will take the party along The Hudson River) and, naturally, there's a bunch of encounters along the way to pep things up, if you have time; in 1st Edition, they're just a list for you to slot whenever you feel like, but 2nd Ed they're a 1d6 table of random encounters. They're mostly uninteresting in and of themselves – Empire patrols, Wolf Barbarians, or just "roll on the monster table" if you're using 2nd Edition – but there are two that definitely add to the atmosphere. The first one involves the group coming across the remnants of a fire, with corpses littering the ground (already looted, of course) – they're victims of The Empire in 1st Ed, but 2nd Edition leaves it open to GM interpretation. The other interesting one is Samuel (or Samuel
if you're using 2nd Ed); she's a grouse (bird, not just somebody who complains) who's the sole survivor of a sneak attack by The Gun Bunnies. She didn't get away scot-free though, and there's pretty much no chance of her surviving unless you get her to a hospital right away. Before she dies, she tells the group not to trust The Gun Bunnies, as they betrayed her group.
As for Benny itself, it's
; there's a statue of a pig in
the old Tobin Packing Company
, as a monument to the dead. And yes, the "psycho-zombies" are definitely real.
They're the ongoing experiment run by William "Brother Bill" Delsier, a mad scientist who escaped from The Empire after faking a mental breakdown and got a slight case of the JESUS after living with an old monk for a year, before the monk died. Apparently he didn't teach Bill much about brotherly love, because Delsier decided to use electronic brain implants to create psycho-zombies, or "Gloons" as he calls them, because ONE stupid name for these things just wasn't enough.
The Empire doesn't really know much about all this, but when they do they'll make sure to get the technology for themselves. That doesn't mean the technology's fool-proof; a few devices have shorted out, and a few Gloons have wandered off, leaving only 26 out of the original 200 Gloons are still wandering Benny, occasionally causing a ruckus. Also, Delsier was made a dog in 2nd Edition. Why? Who cares!
Benny isn't completely inhabited by Bill and his Gloons – there are a few small gangs who roam around the place, trying not to be turned into something with a stupid name. They're all cowardly assholes who'll try and act tough if the odds are in their favour, but are more likely to trade information. No idea what they want to trade it for, because neither edition tells us! The "information" is just a bunch of rumours, most of which are bullshit.
But enough of this
, let's get to the Gun Bunnies!
Here are the Gun Bunnies, according to Peter Laird...
... and here they are, as drawn by Apollo Okamura.
The Gun Bunnies are the surviving descendants of the pets of a pre-Big Death survivalist, a "good old boy" by the name of Zeke Tater. There's about 150 of them, but most of them are holed up in "The Warren", 50 miles away (or 15, depending which book you read). The only ones you'll give a shit about are Bug, Bomb, Bullet and Beach.
The leader by default; he's old enough to remember Zeke, and he's the only one in the group that's not a hot-headed asshole. 1St Ed gives him the Animal Powers of Advanced Smell & Hearing and Leaping, and Sixth Sense for Psionics. 2Nd Edition upgrades his power set to include Advanced Vision for Powers, and swaps Sixth Sense for Sense Nemesis, Mind Block and Danger Sense.
The de facto second-in-command, on account of his smooth tongue and the fact that he's Bug's best pal. He's a little obsessed with fashion, and very obsessed with explosives – he has his own demolition lab in The Warren (sealed off from the rest of the base, of course). In 1st Ed, he only had Advanced Hearing for an Animal Power, but 2nd Edition bumped it up to Extra Speed and Extra Physical Prowess, just in case the PCs thought this might be a fair fight. He also knows how to play the harmonica. Nope, me neither.
Simply put, he's an asshole. He's dressed like a punk, because this was first written in the 80's, and he's a hot-headed rebel who doesn't play by your rules, man! He's also in charge of The Warren's armoury, and is a damn good field commander. His Animal Powers of Advanced Smell & Hearing got beefed up with Brute Strength in 2nd Edition, because shut up.
Did we really need to know that she has a shitload of makeup and hair dyes back at The Warren? Or that she likes skin-tight clothing? Or that she's
"dated" most of the guys in The Warren? Oh, she's good with machines, and has Danger Sense and Telepathic Transmission. That's almost useful to know. Fuck you, Balent, you skeevy asshole.
The Gun Bunnies themselves will introduce themselves in
a number of
two ways; they'll either ambush the party, or swoop in after the party has done something difficult and take whatever it is they've just found. It'll usually be one of the above NPCs with about 9 other mooks, all armed to the teeth and riding Jeeps. They'll generally just dick around and be assholes, unless one of the PCs is a rabbit, in which case they'll at least be open to negotiation. They'll still probably screw you over if the situation benefits them, but at least they'll make the initial effort.
And... that's about it. Well, Delsier's holed up in the Monastery of The Immaculate Conception, so presumably you're meant to go there and kick his shit in, hopefully without getting
shit kicked in by the fluffy-tailed dickweeds listed above. Palladium has never been big on having well-defined story arcs for their adventures, preferring the "Here you go, deal with this shit" school of thought.
Next time: A Journey to Boar's Town!
A Journey to Boar's Town
Original SA post
Sorry, things have gotten hectic what with Christmas and all, but I'm determined to finish this before New Year's!
Part 7: A Journey to Boar's Town
This is the second Introductory adventure (there's a third... sort of – we'll get to it later) and it's... well, it's about as "Introductory" as The Gun Bunnies.
Boston, or Boar's Town as it's now called, has not had any contact with anyone to its south for years. That's what makes the radio broadcast from there so surprising; a burst of static, then six hours later there's a broadcast from a pretty scatterbrained scientist calling himself Doctor Vincent (His first name is either Lance or Wilbur, he can't seem to remember which... as I said, he's pretty scatterbrained). Inbetween his crochety ramblings and arguments with some kind of AI, he claims to have found a solution to all those pesky animal mutations, right before his broadcast cuts out.
Naturally, this grabs everyone's attention. And yes, everyone knows. The scuttlebutt mostly agrees this is a trick by either The Empire (unlikely, as it's too far north for them) or Wolf Barbarians (more likely, because everyone knows how brutal and evil those assholes are). Either way, Cardania can't just ignore the message, which is where the party comes in. The book suggests either the PCs investigate this on their own initiative, or they get ordered to by Cardania.
CRAZY OLD MAN WILBUR WANTS YOU DARN KIDS TO GET OFF HIS LAWN
His real name is Dr Wilbur Vincent, and he really has figured out a way to reverse mutations – all it would take is a few artificial viruses and every mutant would be wiped out. However he doesn't really want to destroy all mutant life; he's completely pacifistic, and he only made that radio broadcast so people would know about his breakthrough, that's all. Yes, that is a really stupid reason, but the book states outright that he's "a bit schizophrenic". In all fairness, he is 136 (he looks about 60 years younger) and has been on his own for a while (he prefers his own company, but will discuss anything with the PCs if they ask, and talk to them as equals) so it's only natural that he's ended up a bit... odd. He won't share his findings with The Empire, but it's unlikely that they'll ask politely.
Add a couple hundred pounds, and you've got every goon in a decade or two.
Oh, and the AI he was arguing with... you remember Inspector Gadget? You remember that computer that looked like a book? Well, that's pretty much what Wilbur was talking to. It's actually a bit more than "just" a computer; it's a full AI with a somewhat prickly personality, and is more inclined to listen to Wilbur, but will communicate to anyone else (obeying their commands is another matter entirely). The book wasn't made by Wilbur, it's just some experimental pre-Big Death tech that he found one day. It has the blueprints for the viruses in its system, but any attempt to hack it will activate a failsafe to delete the files.
Speaking of The Empire, they'll be horning in of course, and they'll be doing it in
something you'd expect Cobra to rock up in. Their Mobile Exploration Base, or M.E.B., is a huge tank (35ft long, 16ft wide and 8ft tall) and whatever it doesn't crush, it blows the crap out of. It'll also be taking 8 Type 2xd robot suits, because Palladium had a very interesting interpretation of what constituted an "Introductory adventure". The M.E.B. may be nigh-indestructible, but it's slow as hell and will take eight days to get there (It'll only take four to get back, because they'll be going back the way they came, where everything is already flattened).
Another group to worry about will be the Wolf Barbarians living in Boar's Town. Well, “living in” isn't quite right... more “ruling with an iron fist over the surrounding area”. However, once they know The Empire is on their way to wreck their shit, however inadvertently, they'll side with the party, although their leader (a lynx named Kristopher) has no experience fighting anything close to what The Empire has in store.
They seem a nice bunch.
There's also The Cult Bears; as they name suggests, they're bears living a lifestyle that's a cross between your average monk (they wear hooded robes) and the Amish (they're
anti-technology, to the point where they don't believe radios can even
) who worship “Saint Hugh of Conner, a figure credited with martyrdom in the defense of the bears of the north”.
This is probably a reference to something, but I honestly don't know what.
They love Wilbur, but only know him as “The Book Man”, and will try to protect from any possible threat, no matter what they claim their intentions to be. If you can convince that “The Book Man” is in danger, then they'll send somebody to warn Wilbur, and will help fend off The Empire and their “evil demons”... although they won't be armed with anything more advanced than a staff, due to their technophobia.
I've heard of sameface, but same
You thought The Empire was bad enough? Wait till you meet One-Year, a fanatical Free Cattle spy who's been charged by his elders with killing Wilbur, no matter what. He'll try and snipe the lovable old fellow with a crossbow, and woe betide anybody who even thinks of getting in his way. There are specific instructions for the GM to scare the PCs with some arrows flying out of nowhere and hitting the scenery before they actually meet One-Year.
I could see Playmates turning this into a decent action figure.
Again, there's no real resolution beyond “People show up and start shit, try not to get a TPK”.
Next time: Clem's Big Adventure & Aerial Supremacy!
ATB Adventure Double-Header!
Original SA post
Again, Christmas keeps getting in the way, but I'm nearly done...
Part 8: ATB Adventure Double-Header!
The next two adventures aren't particularly lengthy, especially when condensed by a taciturn weenie like me, so we're saving time and space by shoving them together.
Clem's Big Adventure
This adventure is described as “moderately difficult”... which is slightly worrying, given that the introductory adventures involve fighting hordes of zombies and giant tanks.
During a routine patrol in the woods, the party will hear somebody cussing and muttering. Investigating the sounds, they'll come across a hound dog riding atop a giant beetle. The hound is called Clem, and is described in the book as “Sort of a “larger, more aggressive Beverly Hillbillies' Jethro Bodine, complete with the 'aw shucks'”. The beetle is named Betsy, and is more interested in eating the leaves off a tree than obeying Clem's orders. Clem greets the PCs (nearly breaking their hands by shaking them) and begins telling them about how he met some “humins” working on “some old-time machines” to dig up the earth. When he introduced himself, they tried to kill him and he fled on Betsy (She can outrun pretty much anything). He'll ask the party if they can help him stop the “humins”, as he's worried they might hurt some friends of his.
Clem, as drawn by Peter Laird...
S.D.C., THAT IS. SET A SPELL, TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF.
The book says that the “humins” are about 6-10 days journey away, giving the GM plenty of time to inflict this NPC's hilarious yokel ways on the party, because if you didn't want your players to hate you, you wouldn't be running a Palladium game. This will be broken up when they get into a scuffle with some Free Plains mutants (the trail takes them right through their territory) who become less hospitable when they realise a mutant is riding another mutant (Betsy isn't sapient and is completely loyal to Clem, but it's the principle of the thing). When they finally get there, they find that there is indeed The Empire doing evil shit, because that's their thing.
... and here he is, once again reimagined by Apollo Okamura.
This particular evil plot is masterminded by Captain Xavier Diega, whose ambitions led to him being reassigned in the middle of nowhere. This appears to have backfired a little, as Diega's found a colony of giant mutant ants (these are the friends Clem mentioned) and subduing them by killing most of them (there'll be just enough to and putting their queen in a drug-induced coma, so she can pump out more loyal servants(she's currently up to 1,200 eggs in various stages of development) Then, he's going to go back to Technoville and overthrow Christian.
Again, I could see Playmates turning this into one of those action figures they churned out in the 90's.
Security at the base is a mixed bag; the dozen soldiers at the base are all draftees, but Diega's also got six genetically modified Size Level 15 soldier ants to do his bidding. Unfortunately for Diega, the ants would be more than happy to tell him to piss off if their Queen (or “Queenie”, as she's known) is rescued, which is where the PCs come in. And that's how you stop Diega (hopefully without killing any ants – Clem will be upset if you even kill the soldier ants, because “they ain't bad boys, just misguided”). For anybody wondering, 2nd Edtion adds precious little to this adventure, aside from some nice Nokomura art and a plug for
Mutants in Orbit
This one's for “intermediate and experienced players”, although any group of less than six players need to have a few scout hirelings to bump themselves up to eight characters.
You get sent into a conference room where you're greeted by Irma Prider, a badger who you know works closely with President Thana. She's followed by Dwayne Thatchwing, a grubby little douchebag who Irma clearly hates. It seems Dwayne and his group of “freelance explorers” found a pre-Big Death artifact so powerful that he's not trusting anybody with exact information, so he's taking the party along to help bring it back; it's his way or the highway. Cardania is humouring him on the assumption that it might turn out to be genuine. That said, they're not pushing the boat out for this one, hence the PCs being hired instead of regular scouts/soldiers. Also, you can't requisition anything for this trip – it's payment on delivery only.
Here's Dwayne. Only a mother could love that face.
THE FURTHER ON THE EDGE, THE HIGHER THE M.D.C.
Dwayne will take the party a camp near some pre-Big Death ruins of what was once a top-secret aircraft factory, to meet the rest of his gang; Cosgrave, a psychic horned toad who enjoys dishing out insults (but can't take it, of course); Usub, an alligator who's not too bright and will kill anybody who makes fun of him if the opportunity arises (including Cosgrave, of course); and finally Tab, a tiger who really wants a mate (but is too much of a
strong, confident woman). They also plan on double-crossing you all - in fact, they all want to double-cross each other at some point.
Here's Cosgrave. Usub's character art was used earlier on in 1st Edition, and (mercifully, for anybody worrying about furbait) Tab wasn't drawn by Laird.
They have something quite large under a tarp, which they keep looking under (Without letting anybody else take a peek). What's under the tarp? A bashed-up ATM. See, what they actually found was an AI called GEOS-8, who is currently inside Usub's backpack (He's been told by Dwayne to guard it with his life, so good luck getting that). What is GEOS-8? It's the control unit for the Shadowfade 502, a super-special-awesome jet fighter made out of Magic-Metal. Yes, really. It's hidden in the ruins amongst a load of junk, because the Magic-Metal has formed itself to look like junk, because it's just that advanced. Fortunately for the PCs, Dwayne and his crew hasn't found it yet. Even more fortunately, the Empire expedition hasn't found it either.
The most advanced fighter plane in the world, apparently.
Yes, The Empire's horning in, as per usual, hence why Dwayne and his group haven't stripped the ruins to the bone. They've even brought their robot suits, as well as a chain gang of mutant slaves. If anybody with Psionics contacts the slaves, they'll be more than willing to lead a slave revolt; attacking The Empire is of course a stupid move, owing to the aforementioned robot suits, and the fact that the scientists in the expedition will just radio for backup if need be. The trick will be getting GEOS-8 off Usub without dying in the process, finding the Shadowfade without getting killed by Dwayne's crew or The Empire, slotting GEOS-8 in (it'll be happy to give instructions - it just wants to do its job) and speeding off into the sunset. If any of Dwayne's crew insert GEOS-8, they'll screw it up somehow, but if The Empire's scientists install GEOS-8 then everyone's screwed.
Another Okamura illustration. Looks like he's better with portraits and action pieces than landscapes.
Interestingly, this is the only TMNT adventure (aside from the last two modules, but that's for another time) I've seen which has an actual ending. Admittedly, it's just "If the party gets the plane to Cardania, they get 2 million bucks to share amongst them" which is kinda shitty if they had to have NPC hirelings, but it's something. Frankly, this whole adventure feels a bit half-arsed.
Next time: I might actually finish this thing!
Original SA post
2014's almost done, so let's finish this thing!
Part 9: The End
The Power of Ali Komani
This is a difficult adventure, five players minimum, at least one feline PC (Reasons why will become apparent).
You're called into a meeting with Eathan Openwater, a "thin, hyper-mutant alligator" and Cardania's Under-Secretary for Foreign Relations. The town of Wet Rat is now a smoking crater and Ian Wholehog has recently been decapitated. Why does this concern the party? Ian was Cardania's Ambassador to Yehcat, a territory that's been recently expanding its borders and has a secret weapon, which was demonstrated on Wet Rat; he'd been sent to smooth things over with a diplomatic party, and his head was the only thing sent back. Cardania's got enough problems with The Empire, so the PCs are being sent in undercover to find whatever the hell it was that destroyed a farming community of 1,350.
IT'S ISTANBULLDOG, NOT CONSTANTINOPOLECAT!
There are three ways to get to Yehcat; Gatorland (safest option, if you don't mind quicksand and the occasionally unfriendly native), Free Cattle Plains (local patrol will corner them and demand what the hell you're doing there) or sea (Empire fighter jets are patrolling the area, so probably not a good idea). Whichever way they go, they'll pass through a town full of the nicest mutants you'd ever meet. They don't know anything about Yehcat, but there were some douchebag felines demanding their surrender. They got laughed out of town, of course... which is why the aforementioned town gets turned to ash when the PCs get 15 miles away. There'll be no explosion, just a wave of heat.
Komani, by Laird...
See, Ali Komani was a petty warlord (Yehcat is less a nation, more a walled city mostly populated with farmers) until he stumbled across the controls to a solar power satellite which he soon had weaponised (Whoever was responsible is now buried just outside Yehcat). As a result, the people of Yehcat live in fear of Komani's Feline Guards and the threat of their village/friends being burnt to a cinder. Finding the controls isn't difficult, per se; it's on the third floor Komani's "palace" (an abandoned post office), so you just have to get past Komani's guards and harem (Komani only has one regular girl, but he has delusions of grandeur; his real name is Rex Wondacat). The controls themselves are much easier (remember, Komani's no genius) - a monitor showing the location, a joystick to position the beam, and a dial to adjust the intensity. Naturally, it wouldn't take much for anyone to duplicate this technology, which is why it's important to have the decoder to plug into the controls - a briefcase-shaped device that will explode if you try to open it (12d6 damage - in all fairness, there is a huge "SERIOUSLY, DON'T FIDDLE ABOUT WITH THIS SHIT" label on it).
... and by Okamura. I think I prefer Laird's interpretation, to be honest.
As with most Palladium adventures, there's no real ending... but it's heavily suggested that you hijack the satellite, aim it at The Empire then get the fuck out of Dodge before they send the jets in to "turn Yehcat into pavement". Yes, that is a direct quote.
The Rodent Plague
After The Bomb posted:
Note: This is a difficult adventure, but recommended for first-time players. Any number and level of players could attempt it.
God fucking damn it, Palladium.
Bad news: The Empire's unleashed a new man-made virus to kill all the mutant rodents. Good news: they've got a cure. Worse news: it's safely locked up in their laboratory compound.
IT'S LIKE DISCO FEVER, ONLY WITH LESS BOOGYING AND MORE VOMITING
The party gets dropped off near The Empire's borders, where they meet up with a black market from The Rodent Cartel named Smuggler.
As expected, he's kind of a douchebag, but nobody knows the secret tunnels into Empire territory like he does. The plan to get into the vault involves knocking out power in that district, which works... but it also sends some security robots on a rampage to find the saboteurs... which to their circuits means "everybody we can find". If the party manages to not die and get into the vault, they can find some schlub Rodney cowering in fear. He claims he's the only one still alive who can make the cure, and given that The Empire is sending troops in exo-suits to contain the area soon, you'll have to take him at his word. There'll be Canine Patrols waiting for the party as they leave, but there'll be 1,200 Cardanian Militia to hold them off for you.
Smuggler. Nice-looking fellow, isn't he?
It's suggested that at least some of the PCs be infected with the Plague, for added drama. There are three stages of infection, but none of them are nice.
It wouldn't be 80's Palladium with some stupid random generation tables.
Rodent Cartel Caravan
, guarded by
SL 13 Rats with every Animal Power
. Sounds like a group that no PC would ever want to mess with, making them useless for use in any adventure!
And that's After The Bomb. Palladium's first ever post-apocalyptic game, and now a sneaky way for them to keep the BIO-E system. Rough round the edges, but that's Palladium for you.