Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mutant Wasteland Character Generation

This post is inspired by two things.

(a) I want to play in a post-apoc game. (b) People seem to really like it when their character has some unique mini-superpower.  Especially when these are active, rather than passive.  (c) How you roll stats can be rationalized in the fiction of the game.  Like, 3d6-in-order and 4d6-drop-lowest-arrange don't have to be dissociated mechanics.

Characters that hail from the neon slums generate their stats via a point-buy system.  They each choose a cybernetic enhancement, and randomly gain a city sickness.  There is very little randomness here, because the city is uniform and regular.  But at the same time, the city-dweller's average stat is half a point lower than the mutant's average stat, because the city is also toxic and oppressive.

Characters that come from the mystic vaults generate their stats randomly, but in a balanced way.  They each choose a clone phenotype based on their highest stat and a random affectation (pretty much some type of cargo cult delusion or naivete).

Characters that hail from the mutant wasteland generate their stats completely randomly.  They each get 1 beneficial mutation and 1 minor mutation.

Over the course of the game, all characters will have opportunities to accrue cybernetics or mutations.  Cybernetics cost a lot of money, but they don't count against encumbrance.  Beyond character generation, mutations are gained randomly, with equal chances of being positive or negative.

Neon Slum Urbanite

Rotted metal, exhausted concrete, electric love.  People in the crumbling cities tend to be sickly, but they make up for this through specialization.  Not all of the city-dwellers have cybernetic enhancements, but the ones who sign up to be adventurers always do.

1. Your stats are created via a point-buy system.  Set all of your stats to 6.  You have 24 points to spend across them.  At the end of this process, your stats should total up to 60.

2. Pick one of the following items from the list.  Cybernetics never count against encumbrance.
  1. Spy Eye.  Your eye can pop out of your head and fly around, and you can continue to see through it all the while.  Immune to psychological illusions, and can take pictures.  However, you get -1 to ranged attacks while one-eyed, and you can't look through both at once.
  2. Electrotool. Embedded in your body are a bunch of electronics that can be used as lockpick (against computer locks only), computer interface, electrical power source, and a taser.  You also take half damage from electrical attacks.
  3. Dermal Armor.  Gives you +1 to AC.
  4. Transponder.  Allows you to communicate with wireless communication devices, including walkie talkies and other transponders.  It's like telepathy for robots.  You can also use it to remotely control machines you set up.
  5. Library Matrix. You have a library baked into your skull.  When trying to remember something about the world around you, treat your Int as if it were 18.  Only good for stuff that might be in an encyclopedia.
  6. Hardpoint. You can mount any other small weapon or item onto a hard point hidden somewhere in your body. Pistols, wolverine claws, poison injectors are all perfectly concealable, and blend into your skin. Katanas and rifles can also be mounted, but are fully visible. Your “starting weapon” can be any of the ones previously mentioned.
  7. Rocket Fists.  You can shoot your hands out up to 30'.  These can be used as grappling hooks with a +2 bonus, and can even reel you in.  In combat, they do 1d4 damage if 1 fist is fired and 2d4 damage if both fists are fired.  After firing, they take a turn to reel in.
  8. Satellite Uplink.  Your GPS connection lets you know exactly where you are on the planet's surface.  Twice per day, the satellite can observe any GPS location you specify, take a picture of that area, and send you the image.
  9. Lazarus Protocol.  Instead of dying from drowning, freezing, inhaled poisons, etc, your body enters stasis, and automatically exits stasis when the lethal environmental effect is gone.  You can also choose to enter stasis for any length of time.  After coming out of stasis, there is an X% chance of waking up dead, where X is equal to the number of years that you've been in stasis.  You always wake up hungry, dehydrated, and in no condition to fight.
  10. 200 neo-shekels (or whatever 20x the average starting money is).  You're rich.
3. Get a random city sickness.  The city is a nasty place.
  1. Alcoholic.  Gradually increasing penalties to everything when you are w/o booze.
  2. Drug Addict.  Gradually increasing penalties to everything when you are w/o drugs.
  3. Claustrophobia.  When in cramped spaces: -4 vs fear, -1 penalty to everything else.
  4. Agoraphobia.  When in wide open spaces: -4 vs fear, -1 penalty to everything else.
  5. Monophobia. When alone: -4 vs fear, -1 penalty to everything else.
  6. Angina.  If you do any long runs or swims (or anything that requires a Con check for endurance or exertion) you need to make a save vs heart attack.  If hexcrawling and walking, you also travel slower.
  7. Emphysema.  You get -4 to long runs or swims (or anything that requires a Con check for endurance or exertion).  You can only hold your breath half as long.  If hexcrawling and walking, you also travel slower. You're probably a smoker.
  8. Debt.  You owe 400 neo-shekels (or whatever 40x the starting money is).  The interest is powerful nasty.
  9. Crippling Debt.  As above, except 800 neo-shekels and the interest ain't that bad.
  10. Hunted.  There are people trying to kill you.  Expect 1-2 assassination attempts at the worst possible time.

Mystery Cult Vault Clone

There's a bunch of vaults in the ground.  Little self-contained arcologies where people live like they were on a space station.  The people that dwell in these vaults are invariably clones, either because of inbreeding (genetic pruning can eliminate the mutants and diseased genes, but cannot introduce variety) or because clone companies apparently froze all their assets in the ground before the bombs fell.

You aren't going to roll up a specific clone here; you're going to roll up the whole vault.  They all have identical stats and abilities.  A vault will have 1-100 individuals.  Vault-dwellers also invariably degenerate into strange cargo cults or delusions, probably because they live in a world without perspective.

1. Your stats are created via balanced randomness.  The compliment of a stat is (21 - stat), so the compliment of 18 is 3, and vice versa.  Roll 3d6, assign that to a random stat, and assign the compliment to another random stat.  Do this twice more until all six stats have been assigned.  If you didn't fuck it up, they'll all sum up to 63.

2. Figure out your phenotype by rolling on the following lists, based on what your highest stat is.  Resolve ties randomly.

2.1. Strength

  1. Soldier Clone.  You can rage like a berserker, getting +2 to hit and +1 to damage, but cannot calm down, act defensively, or run away until all enemies are dead.
  2. Heavy Industry. You can carry twice as much stuff as normal.
2.2. Dexterity
  1. Contortionist. Any constriction damage you take is halved.  Your rubbery body can squeeze into ridiculously small areas and take no penalties for fighting in cramped areas.
  2. Assassin. You can also change your skin color like a chameleon, which allows you to creep around very slowly, but only very slowly and only if you are mostly naked.  
2.3 Constitution
  1. Born to be Eaten.  Your blood functions as an antidote.  If someone drinks a bunch of your blood (1d6 HP worth) they get a new save against an ongoing poison with a +2 bonus.  If you draw blood in a hospital setting, you only take 1 damage.  Blood stays fresh for only a day, unless refrigerated.  You are also delicious.
  2. Alchemical.  In addition to your lungs and stomach, you have a third destination down your throat: your alchemy gland!  If you swallow a potion into this gland, you will eventually lactate out another potion 24 hours later, determined randomly.  This is only random the first time, and eventually you'll be able to build a map of which potion you can convert into what.
2.4 Intelligence
  1. Calculation.  You can do math as well as a computer.  Once per day, you can apply your powers of calculation to a single attack roll or Dexterity check, and get +20 to the result.
  2. Memories.  You can view memories of a willing creature by groping its head.  You can share your memories with a willing creature by groping its head.
2.5 Wisdom
  1. Medical Emergency Responder.  You can sense heartbeats from a distance, allowing you to guess at fear and stress states.  You can detect and identify diseases and poisons with a touch (possibly giving you a bonus to treating them).  And your saliva dries into a sticky glue that can be used to stop bleeding and waterproof small objects.
  2. Mutant Hunter.  You can sense mutants and psychics within 50'.  By touching a mutant or a psychic, you can nullify their powers for 1d6 rounds if they fail a save.  You also get +4 to save vs psychic attacks.
2.6 Charisma
  1. Fetish.  I'm not going to write a table for it, but pick a fetish (furries, forearms, high heels) and figure out a way that your body has been mutated to reinforce it.  You can also release pheromones once per day, which function like the charm spell to all creatures within 5' who are into your particular race/sex/attitude combination.
  2. Politician.  If a bad reaction roll would normally make some enemies attack, you can postpone the hostilities by making promises.  Talk to your DM, but this usually involves giving the enemies a bunch of your stuff in order to let you walk away.  So reaction rolls become less of "are they going to attack us" and more of "how big does the bribe have to be", although they will still attack you if you renege.  Also, you can whip up a mob of peasants with a Charisma check, but you cannot get them to act outside their interests (attacking the vampire who preys on them is within their interests, as is rebelling against the king who taxes them too heavily).
3. Roll a random trait, the product of isolation, naivety, inbreeding, and cargo cultism.

  1. Terrified of water.  Cannot swim.  Will only panic and drown.
  2. Unable to get a good sleep outside of a bed.  -1 to stuff if you woke up on the floor today.
  3. Eat a part of whatever you kill (i.e. get the killing blow on).
  4. Must yell a lot every morning as part of religious ceremony.
  5. Physically incapable of comprehending numbers larger than 4.
  6. Physically incapable of comprehending writing, or that writing transmits information.
  7. Alcohol is a deadly poison.
  8. Terrified of sun.  -2 to hit in bright light.
  9. Weak immune system.  -4 vs disease.
  10. No comprehension of sex.  Unable to interact with opposite gender.
  11. Prohibited from attacking robots, as they are the life-givers.
  12. Save vs cannibalistic impulses whenever an opportunity presents itself.

Gnashing Wasteland Mutant

1. Your stats are rolled via the good 'ol 3d6-in-order method.

2. Roll a random mutant power from this table.  Mutant powers aren't linked to any particular ability score.  Each mutant power has a score associated with it, generated the same way as an ability score (by rolling 3d6).  Whenever you use an ability score, try to roll under its mutant score (3-18).  Success indicates that you can continue using the power for the rest of today, while failure means that you can use the power now, but afterwards you'll be unable to use it again until tomorrow.  Whenever you want to see how strong a mutant power is (e.g. figuring out how much your telekinesis can lift), refer to the mutant score in place of the ability score.  So "telekinesis 10" can lift about as much as the average man could by using his arms (who has Str 10).  Et cetera.
  1. Doppleganger.  You can change your shape to imitate other humanoids.  If you are able to study your target (by standing in front of them, having their picture, etc) you can do it infallibly.  Otherwise, there's a chance that your transformation is a bit off. This doesn't change your stats or abilities in any way.
  2. Flying Squirrel.  Take no fall damage as long as you have room to glide.  Can glide 2x as far horizontally as you fall vertically.
  3. Plant.  Don't need to eat, breathe, or sleep.  You can expel a puff of pollen in a 5' cone that puts targets to sleep if their fail their save.
  4. Transformer.  You can turn into an animal.  Roll a d4: cat / bird / rat / salmon.  You have the physical stats of that animal, but you can talk to similar animals.
  5. Ooze. You can turn your body to liquid and slither around through cracks, under doors, etc.  As an ooze, you can also engulf people and dissolve them.  Anyone you are grappling with (in human form) or in ooze form takes 1d6 acid damage per round.  
  6. Size Changer.  By shrinking to half your height, you get -4 Strength and could easily pass as a child.  By growing to double your height, you get +4 Strength (max 19) but will be cramped in most normal-sized buildings (-2 to hit).
  7. Aquatic.  You can breathe and swim underwater like a fish.
  8. Acid.  Your blood is acid, and any creature biting or scratching you takes half as much damage as it dealt.  You can also spit acid: 30' range, does 1d6 damage each round for 2 rounds.  Can also be used to melt stuff.
  9. Tentacles.  You get +4 when grappling stuff and you can climb on walls as easily as a spider, thanks to your suction cups.
  10. Snake.  You have the lower body of a snake, so you move slower.  But on the upside, you can't be tripped and your bite is deadly poison.  Biting someone in combat usually requires an attack roll with a -2 bonus.
  11. Invisibility.  You can turn invisible.  Whenever you touch, attack, or pick up something, try to roll under your invisibility score (although failure here doesn't mean that you lose invisibility for today--you already made that roll when you entered invisibility).  Failure means that you drop out of invisibility, while success means that you stay in it.
  12. Healing.  With a touch, you can heal a target for 1d6+1 HP.  This works on yourself.
  13. Illusion.  You can generate illusions within the minds of creatures within 50', although these illusions have no sound, and they are obvious once they are touched or interacted with.
  14. Empath.  If a target fails a save, they adopt whatever mood you put them in.  You can enrage normal folks, calm down raging folks, and put anyone into a good mood.  This is probably worth at least a +2 on reaction rolls.  Additionally, you can read emotions, and tell when someone is scared, lying, or trying to hide something.
  15. Telekinesis.  You can pick up things with your mind and float them around.  You cannot lift yourself, however, and your range is limited to 50'.  The telekinesis has the "manual" dexterity of a mittened hand.
  16. Precognitive.  You can use this power to retroactively avoid being surprised (you only) or get visions of the near future (what will happen when I open this door?)
  17. Mind Control.  If your target fails their save, they become your mind puppet.  They must remain in 50' of you, and you are effectively paralyzed while you are controlling their body.  You can't even see through your own eyes, since you are busy piloting their body.
  18. Telepathy.  You can send a message to anyone within a mile, and then receive their response.  Messages and responses are limited to what the player can say at the table within a single breath.
  19. Teleport.  You move up to 100' away.  You can bring as much stuff with you as you can normally carry.  If this would place you in a solid object, you must save or die.
  20. Pyro.  The target bursts into flame. It takes 1d6 fire damage at the start of each of its turns until someone takes the time to extinguish it.
3. Get a random minor mutation.  These are mostly cosmetic.
  1. Glowing blood (random color).  Sheds light as candle.
  2. Glowing eyes (random color).  Sheds light as candle.
  3. Veins are black and highly visible beneath the skin.
  4. Vestigial Wings.
  5. Fine, iridescent scales.
  6. Feathers.
  7. Covered in fur.  d4: powerful beard / soft downy fur / spiky punk fur / yeti.
  8. Sharp teeth, red tongue.  Strict Carnivore.
  9. Pot belly.  Strict herbivore.
  10. Long limbs and neck.  2' taller, but sort of giraffe-like.
  11. Midget.  2' shorter.
  12. One of those neck flare things that dilophosaurus had in Jurassic Park.
  13. Cluster of little tentacles over one part of your body.  They move on their own.  You can't control them.  d4: belly / chin / hair / hands.
  14. Vertical mouth and eyes.  Asynchronous blinks, too.
  15. Eat food by piercing it with your tongue-spike and draining the fluids.
  16. Your face changes every day.
  17. Brute arm.  d4: mantis arm / lobster claw / bone antler-thing / invisible human arm that electrocutes things  Does 1d6+1 damage.
  18. Once per month you spin a cocoon and sleep in it for 3 days.  You come out looking beautiful, but by the end of the month you're starting to look pretty haggard again.
  19. Horns.  Can do 1d6+1 damage, but only on charge attacks.
  20. Bellybutton is made of impenetrable darkness.  Anyone staring into it is hypnotized if they fail a save.


You can use this method of generation on top of character classes, but I think it'd be cool to generate a level 0 character via this method and then allow them to pick up a character class in play.  Actually, now that I look at this, it'd also be pretty appropriate for Synthexia.


  1. Goblin Punch you always make my brain quiver, but in a good way.

  2. Fits the genre that a post-apoc start location modifies creation; cyborgs don't appear unless development supports the tech.