Her Serenity’s Agent – The Mutant Chronicles
First off, a big thanks you to The Adventuring Party podcast team who played in my Mutant Chronicles game at Q-CON! Thanks for the mention on your podcast recently (I’m mentioned on it at 15:06 minutes)! I’m glad you guys enjoyed it!
You can find the podcast (and others they’ve done) here.
As a Modiphius Silvershield, I’ve been been very busy on the convention circuit this year. See here for more info and thoughts on these. I’ve not just been plugging Achtung! Cthulhu and Mutant Year: 0, I’ve also been running the new third edition of The Mutant Chronicles. Over the years, I’ve heard of this game although never played it. Last year bought the Warzone: Resurrection rulebook. By the time you’re reading this, the Mutant Chronicles RPG should be at the printers or very close to it, along with the PDF. Just to remind you, when you buy a hard-copy Modiphius book, you’ll get the PDF for free. If you do decide to get it (or any other Modiphius product) as a result of my ramblings let them know who sent you!
In the last year I’ve been given the chance to not only playtest adventures like The Purging of the Crucible thanks to Marc Langworthy at Red Scar Publishing and KPLangers.com. The first time it’d ever been run by another GM at a convention, the players had a great time. I’ve got to know some of the developers well. I’ve met Marc and Nathan Dowdell at a couple of conventions now (Dragonmeet and UK Games Expo), and have known Benn Graybeaton for years. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of their work, plus the fact they’re enthusiastic about it, and listen to feedback. As they may read this blog too
I thought I’d talk a bit about the system as it may help explain the discussion that went on – we were in a loud room – but it helps to give perspective. I’ve also got a bit of related news too…
The 2d20 system
The Mutant Chronicles uses the 2d20 system, a relatively straightforward Attribute + Skill Rating, and roll under this with two 20-sided dice. Usually only 1 or 2 successes are needed, but more can be needed for more difficult tasks. If the dice give more than the successes needed, this is added to the party’s Momentum pool (see below). It’s a nice, simple, system that is also being adapted for the Conan RPG and the Infinity RPG, both coming soon.
The game also uses a point system that can help (and occasionally hinder) both players and GMs, often in a dramatic fashion. There’s three basic mechanics which are very useful between players and GMs.
This nice little mechanic allows unused successes to be added to a pool of up to six points to be used for each situation or combat. This can mean a number of things. The GM can use the situation to allow the PCs to make it more cinematic or interesting (in a good way), and by the PCs to improve their actions. It makes for a fast-paced, dramatic combat or social situation when momentum is used. The GM may need to remind players about momentum sometimes though – it can be used immediately the extra successes are rolled, or banked for use later in the encounter or situation.
In adventures, the GM may find scenes where players can use Momentum to find out extra information or alter the situation favourably. In my games I’ve found players get very caught up in things really quickly as a result, and it gets pretty exciting in combat.
Dark Symmetry Points
Whereas Momentum and Chronicle Points are a player resource, the Dark Symmetry Points (or DSP) are very much a tool for the GM. As the Adventuring Party mentioned, this give the GM the chance to add complications. I’ll quote verbatim from the book here as to what it represents, as it explains it best:
The Dark Symmetry pool is a game mechanic that reflects a key element of the Mutant Chronicles setting. The Dark Symmetry is an insidious, corrupting influence that pervades the culture, resources, and technology of societies. It warps the minds and bodies of Heretics and empowers ghastly creatures from a darker, more sinister reality.
The GM spends points from the pool to fuel certain special effects, trigger events, or introduce Complications the player characters must contend with. These represent the subtle but ubiquitous presence of the Dark Symmetry’s foul influence.
-The Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition Rulebook
It could be argued this stifles the opportunity for the GM to be creative, but I’ve never found it to be a problem. Scenarios have specific entries where DSP can be spent by the GM (which they may not have thought of), and the forces of the Dark Symmetry need DSP to activate certain powers. Bear in mind that players can also add DSPs to the pool by adding a DSP point to the pool to gain an extra success (like calling on the Dark Side!). I can be pretty creative if needed but DSPs give a great way for players to take risks. Ultimately though, this is not Call of Cthulhu – it’s dieselpunk. DSPs can be used as benchmark for creating encounters or events – the GM shouldn’t be trying to kill the PCs or send them insane due to the latest horror they’ve seen.
Chronicle Points can be used to provide extra successes and actions, add story elements to an encounter that may not otherwise exist, or have a “White vest” moment to shake off a condition slowing them down, e.g. weakness. Each PC has 3 Chronicle Points at the start of each session and can gain more for a “taking one for the team” situation (trading a DSP for a Chronicle Point), reaching a plot point (milestone), or for good roleplaying. They can never have more than 5 in a session though, and they’re unique to the PCs.
As The Adventurers Party Podcast mentioned, I was using some home-made cards with movie quotes upon them (from various films of sci-fi, horror, comedy, etc.). These have been very popular in a number of games including Cliché, and The Void RPG – not just the Mutant Chronicles. These Tension Point Cards as they’re called, are free to download from http://www.themandragora.com/download/the-void-rpg/pdfTVtensionpointcards.pdf. Enjoy!
And now for my news!
Her Serenity’s Agent
As a Kickstarter (Story Master) backer for The Mutant Chronicles I had the opportunity to be featured in the main book or source-books as a Non Player Character (NPC). I chose to be some sort of fixer dude, a guy who gets things done. My “character” isn’t in the main rulebook, but will appear in the forthcoming Imperial source-book. I was well-chuffed when I saw the finished result: an Imperial agent called Her Serenity’s Agent. Here’s the text and screenshot of the page. This may not match what actually appears in the book later – as this is a sneak preview for backers (hopefully I won’t get in trouble for it!).
Sir William Heron, known to his friends as Bill, is a well-respected figure within the Imperial administration and a confidant of the Serenity herself, though almost no one would be able to tell you what he actually does. Rumours abound, with some placing him in the ISC or military intelligence, while others would swear that he is an Imperial diplomat or corporate negotiator. There are even rumours that mark him as some kind of criminal fixer. The truth is that he is all of these things.
Bill Heron grew up in the rookeries of Victoria and learned to survive by being a social chameleon and negotiator. He came to the attention of the young Serenity before she ascended the throne, when he saved her life in a nasty situation involving a pub, several angry gangsters, and a drunk princess. She was so impressed that she took him under her wing and introduced him at court. Once she took the throne, he quickly became her foremost agent and negotiator, able to resolve situations quickly, quietly, and without fuss. William Heron is the Serenity’s Agent.
– The Imperial Sourcebook
And on that note, this is Her Serenity’s Agent, Bill Heron, signing off. We’ve a spot of bother on Venus.