Mutant: Year Zero
Computer Stuff

Hey nerds! You probably know that there are tables to generate various values for the sectors of the Zone map, yeah? Dumb question and I can’t seem to find a good answer: How might one go about automating that? Like, provide the number of rows and columns and the widget will barf out Rot levels, threats, artifacts, ruin types and so on square-by-square. Maybe even outputting it graphically, but at the very least just a long honking xml file. Something like…

A1: Rot level 1, 1 artifact (wrench), 2 threats (zone ghouls, rot cloud), airplane wreckage

There are nested rolls happening here as you can probably tell.

So. Anyway. Mostly a computer question I guess. What do you think?

NewMexiCon Planning

Hey New Mexicans! I’m planning this trip now. Are there good reasons to get there early/late or should I just plan on getting in Thursday and leaving Sunday night/Monday morning? Is there an afterparty scene or does everyone run off to their jobs and responsibilities?


I know almost nothing about Mark Diaz Truman​’s upcoming PbtA game, but I can’t think of a more compelling real-world subject.

Jesus, what a clusterfuck it is down there. “Down there” being a two hour drive from my house.

Mutant: Year Zero
Meta Talk
Red Flags

So, not all is 100% rosy in MYZ land. I’m starting to see a leeetle bit of an issue creeping up regarding how the game handles social conflicts — and a lack of PvP support for that.

Fighting-fighting is no problem and seems to work well: there’s an initiative based on a generally physical stat (Agility, although it’s also abstracted into mental quickness), and when you’re attacked you can elect to Defend, which is just like attacking but it eats up your next activation. That’s fine, even standard.

But social conflicts! Urgh, dunno. You use Manipulate to get what you want, socially, and the terms are pretty explicit: on a success, they’ll do what you want in return for something, and if you do enough doubt damage (which harms Empathy) to break them, they’ll do it without needing anything. 

The problems are thus:

* There is no defense


* It still uses combat initiative

So basically the mutant with the highest Agility makes their first argument, and the target can’t do anything about it if the first go wins. 

As a matter of expedience and limited NPC agency, this is a fine solution. But do this between PCs and things can get weird. 

This same aesthetic/issue/whatever crops up with some of the mutations as well, and it’s almost worse because you don’t roll to make mutations succeed: they always succeed. So, a PC with telepathy can implant an idea in someone for a mutation point, and that’s that. There’s a lot of space to figure out what they do with that thought! It’s not mind control. But now what happens with a PC with telepathy does that with another PC? Same space, same room to decide what to do with that, but still. But still. 

So far it’s no big thing but I think it could become a thing.

Tropes and the comfort of the familiar

Playing Firefly this weekend and actually enjoying myself — I’m usually deathly allergic to license-based games — got me thinking about my very, very mixed feelings around the omnipresence of tropes in RPGs.

My feelings are so mixed that I’ve tried to write this post like 10 times and have argued myself out of all 10 positions! So here are some various mixed feelings, devoid of any particular argument for/against any of them:

* Tropes are lazy 
* Tropes are accessible
* Tropes are what’s wrong with gaming these days
* Tropes are what’s moving product these days
* Inverting tropes is a great source of creative ideas
* Inverting tropes is lazy
* Spending all our time faithfully executing the familiar squanders the vast possibilities of RPGs
* There’s no squandering, good grief, they’re just games
* RPGs will always be just games as long as we constrain ourselves to the vocabulary of other media, forever destined to be derivative
* I’m actually okay with the laziness; who the hell has time to create, learn or teach something truly new?
* The trope thing might just be where the $$$ is, but there are plenty of examples of non-trope-focused design and play happening (far-afield small press design, larp, etc.)
* I wonder what design looks like that makes no effort at all to model fiction that’s “like” what you find in other media? (Answer: probably something like The Clay That Woke)
* Like all good things, tropes can be used well and they can also be misused
* What does “misused” even mean when it comes to make-believe, you goofball?

This is what happens when I have an unexpected day at home with a sick, sleeping kid. Stupid brain!

Rarely have I bailed from a thread faster than Cam Banks’ amusing observation about the nerds who want to play a Mad Max game using rules that focus on all the wrong stuff. Ugh!

Although slagging on GURPS/Hero is always welcome ’round these parts.