June 13, 2013

[Let's Look At] Mutants & Machine-Guns: A Gonzo Post-Apocalyptic RPG, Part 5: Wasteland Economy

Several weeks ago, I was delighted to find a couple friends of mine in my hometown have been up to something exciting, and I thought what better way than to launch a new series of posts to revive this long-dead blog. [Let's Look At] is where I try to read through and dissect every chapter and corner of a new RPG that I have yet to play, and explore it with all of my musings about its design, some notes, and experimental plays to better understand it. I don't really intend these examinations to be a review of the game, but rants and raves may seep through the seams at times.

Besides Combat, another important aspect for a post-apocalyptic RPG I would think is its outside-of-combat rules such as explorations, and equipment. The thing that I would expect a post-apocalyptic RPG to be a little different from your regular fantasy RPGs is that improvisation and scavenging of equipment are one of the major activities for player characters as they travel across the wasteland left behind by the apocalyptic event.

Unfortunately, there aren't any rules for exploration, but there is a large space that is taken up for equipment. Before we get to that, however, let's look at how the Wasteland Economy works.

In Mutants and Machine-Guns, wealth is measured in Trade Units (TU) which characters use to 'purchase' items. Every starting character, regardless of Race, starts with 2d6 TUs (also referred to as Gold Pieces, although I think that's too medieval a term for this genre). Except for Pure Humans, who begin with 2d6+2 TUs instead (to make up for their lack of Mutations).

Looking at the Equipment Table, there are a total of 6 melee weapons and 9 ranged weapons. For Defense, there are 3 types of armour to choose from. The Melee Weapons are just a range of weapons that deal from 2 to 1d6+3 damage with a TU cost from 0 to 9. 

The obvious weapon of choice for most characters would be the Ranged Weapons, which deals at least 1d6 damage up to 4d6 damage, although it should be noted that the really powerful ones (Heavy Machinegun and Minigun) have no TU cost listed, which implies that they can only be scavenged or looted from enemies that possessed them. The range also varies from a minimum distance of 2 (planes) to the furthest at 4 (planes). Buying these Ranged Weapons is also the costliest, starting from a range of at least 6 TUs (just for a simple bow that must be Reloaded at every turn) up to 15 TUs (for a hefty Machine Gun that deals 1d6+4 damage). 

For Armour, there are only three choices that gives only a minor boost of 1 to 3 bonus to Defense respectively, although it should be noted that these benefits do stack with any Defense-boosting mutations. They don't come cheap though, costing from 5 TUs to 15 TUs for the best protection money can buy.

Out of all the 'chapters', this is where I find the rules for this current version of the Mutants & Machine-Guns to be at its weakest. There's too much emphasis on combat-related equipment, and due to its intended and limited page number, I think the game could benefit by having an abstract ruling for these weapons instead of listing each one of them out in order to save some space. That space could be used to add in some exploration rules, I might add. 

Plus, I think there should be some room for other types of equipment such as vehicles, food, and survival tools that would come in handy in a post-apocalyptic setting. I hope that the designers would put in more thought for these items, and flesh them out.

Also, I think the rules could benefit more by expanding on the Trade Units. For example, by giving some ideas on how characters could acquire them in the form of items. While the TU costs as stated in the Equipment Table could serve as a guideline when barter trading, but it would be great if there's some rules for valuation of items in terms of TU when a character finds something in the wasteland. That could add some value to the rules.

That's it for now. For my next [Let's Look At] post, I'll be looking at the the GM Rules. So stay tuned!

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