Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mutant: Year Zero: 36 Mood Elements for The Zone

I dig all the random generation tools Mutant: Year Zero puts forward. They’re rich enough to create interesting situations, but modest enough the GM can easily use them. The random “Threats” create quick interesting stories from simple premises. I can draw one just before the session and easily fold it into events. Yesterday I pulled “The Last Drop” which meant a clean water shortage in the Ark. It connected nicely to elements the players had already established.

It’s also easy to use the sector generation tools to create the “hex-crawl” areas the PCs move through in the Zone. I like the level of detail it offers and I can create a cool place in a minute or two. The Mood elements are particularly nice: a table of six add-on bits for each of six types. They offer a mix of atmosphere, ornamentation, and story hooks. To supplement that I’ve created another table with the same structure and 36 new ideas.

1. In the distance they spot what seems to be a beast. It runs off, revealing itself to be a person covered in an elaborate homemade costume. Are they part of a larger tribe? Where do they flee to?
2. They find tunnels excavated in a garbage mountain. Are the dump tunnels occupied? Is it a lone junk-person or a whole group?
3. Someone has created a tableau from scavenged dolls, action figures, and figurines. What story does it tell?
4. A survivor staggers across the landscape, but they are no longer entirely whole. Some strange animal, insect, or plant has taken over their consciousness. How do they know?
5. They discover a plot of land covered with deep parallel ruts. Weeds and twisted plant choke the ground, but someone clearly tried to farm here in the near past. What strange seeds do they find?
6. A mound of bones and shells sits here; they’re marked with signs of tools and cutting. A few pieces suggest strange weapons used to bring down prey. How long ago was this created?

1. Though benign, swarms of small insects cover the sector. They cling to surfaces, get into bags, and create an echoing sound. What drew them here?
2. Tracks and disturbances indicate a mass migration of animals passed through recently. Where did they head? What were they fleeing from (or going towards)?
3. A small pond seems to be fed by an underground water source or spring. The Rot-free water draws animals. What beasts might they see?
4. The sector appears completely filled with tall, dead stalks. Their density and height makes crossing and navigation difficult. Will the group venture into the funereal field?
5. The party picks up a pack of scavenger beasts. They circle from the air or follow at a distance, but won’t approach or attack. Instead they wait for someone to inevitably die-- a party member or another animal, they don’t care. What do they look like? How many do there seem to be?
6. Dead woods dot a greyish-black landscape. However the trees, when touched, evaporate into a cloud of ashes, dust, and gas. Does anything survive here?

1. Winds howl across this sector. They start and stop, switching direction and nearly pushing them over. Is this a constant here or anomalous event?
2. Icy rain begins to fall. Within moments frost and slick patches cover everything. Does it grow colder and freeze solid or simply keep going miserably?
3. The air is wet and moist. The humidity becomes almost unbearable. Water beads and condenses on anything remotely cool. What kinds of fungus blooms in this environment?
4. Streaming, flickering lights dance across the night sky. Perhaps damaged atmosphere creates these aurora borealis. Is it natural? Or is it a warning sign of something to come?
5. A cloud funnel runs from the sky to the ground below. What causes this? Is it a weirdly calm marvel, a tornado held in place, or something else?
6. Rain falls from the sky, but it isn’t water. What does the downpour consist of?

1. A tarnished metal statue stands atop a stone monument. Who or what does it depict? Could it be salvaged for some purpose?
2. A fragmented hologram hangs in the air. It reacts in a primitive way, but speaks in a language they cannot understand. What does it look like? Was it a guide, an advertisement, a warning?
3. A solar-powered drone glides quietly above, a tattered banner dangling. Can it be captured? Why hasn’t something destroyed it already?
4. The concrete canyons of a large-scale skate park force the group up and down. What debris has collected at the bottoms of these half-pipes?
5. A great skeleton of bone and metal stands alone. What was this fearsome Trex? What other beast remains might they find here?
6. A sea of cargo containers—rusting into one another—lies irregularly before them. Some are stacked neatly while others seem haphazardly flung into place. What might live there? Could artifacts or good scrap still be found among them?

1. They hear a thunderous explosion. Moments later the party feels a wave of air. In the far, far distance they just make out a massive smoke pillar. It’s too far to reach in a simple journey, perhaps it is a mystery for another time. Does it happen again or is it a singular event?
2. The air becomes still and suddenly everything is quiet. A blanket of silence falls on the sector. Footsteps, voices, gunfire—nothing can be heard. How do the PCs communicate? How long does it last?
3. Two huge trash hawks battle in the skies. Does one win? What do they fight over?
4. A rumbling below the ground grows louder as it approaches them and quiets as it moves of into the distance. Are there any visible signs of what has passed beneath?
5. An autonomous big rig truck trundles across the landscape. It’s worn, showing the signs of age and attacks by various predators. The trailer is rusted and torn open. Where is it heading to? What were its last orders?
6. Another Stalker-led party from the Ark crosses their path. Who gets the drop on whom? What info might they be willing to exchange? What things aren’t they sharing?

1. A geyser of hot water explodes in the sector like clockwork. It could be natural or an artificial phenomena. The sulfur and acid surrounding the spot make the ground treacherous; unwary explorers can fall into a caustic bath. Can the group use this?
2. Great sections of the sector are set in the ground. A massive building once sprawled here, but in vanishing left an exposed basement complex. What might be found in this open-air maze?
3. Enormous dunes make travel difficult. Slogging up them will be exhausting. What are they made of? (sand, pebbles, bone dust, metal filings, something else?) What happens here when the weather turns bad?
4. Seemingly solid areas turn out to be quicksand. What kind of granular material is it made of? How do they detect and move past it? What treasures might be lost at the bottoms of these pools?
5. A layer of mud sticks to everything here. Deep gouges and ruts crisscross the landscape. There might even be trenches. Is the mud dry or wet? Has it preserved anything?
6. Shallow water covers this sector. It comes up over their feet, but in a few places it is boot deep or more. It’s less dangerous than unpleasant. How to they spot drop-offs? How to they keep the damp from seeping into everything?

If you've run or played MYZ, any other cool details you've dug?