I am currently in the process of preparing for a solo (at minimum, at most GM-less 2 player) game of Mutant Future. To do this I have been looking into GM emulators and Solo game tools such as the Mythic Game Master Emulator (the one page version being the one that most interests me currently).
Mutant Future is a post-apocalypse sci-fi fantasy tabletop role-playing game made by Daniel Proctor using his Labyrinth Lord retro-clone rules system but to emulate a Gamma World style game. That’ll be the character and ruleset that I am using for encounters, and character interactions.
But for generating scenes, issues, encounters, and answering questions to the nonexistent GM, I found some inspiration in a Reddit post talking about using Rory’s Story Cubes for prompts and inspirations. So, roll the dice, and interpret the results to create scenarios for action to occur in. Specifically, what was recommended was the Fantasia, Voyages, and Classic set of pictographic dice. Looking into them, they seem really cool but might have had some images that don’t fit what I was going for genre-wise as much. Still something that I would like to pick up at some point, but could have been $50.00 to pick up all three of the recommended sets which is out of my budget for what I am currently going to do.
Instead what I decided to do was get something that I could use for multiple purposes and customize. I could make dice that make decisions, provide inspiration, and do other things. That’s why I opted into purchasing a set of 48 blank 16mm six-sided dice and a roll of half-inch diameter circle label stickers. That way I could draw the symbols I want to use onto the stickers then create my own dice.
Here is what I got so far: 4 dice that generate inspiration for scenes and scenarios. 1 die that answers questions, modifying the scene dice but also helping me clarify questions I ask the GM die about the game while playing. Finally, a situation die, which assists in creating urgency in the scene or painting a tone. Is it harmful to the player characters? Is it not what I described or bad for me? Or is it good actually?
Let’s simulate what I got so far…
Roll the Scene
Step 1: roll the scene dice and write a brief scene intro.
For this first step, I rolled a picture of trees, crossed swords, a diamond glowing, and a death symbol. I think in the context of Mutant Future, this means that my characters have come upon a wooded area with dense trees (forest) and bodies all about (death symbol). Dead ones with laser burns and slashes. There were two opposing sides that had a big fight here, willing to risk their resources for something unknown to me (crossed swords). What is known is that there is lots of dead here, and all of the remaining resources they took to this fight, it just needs to be picked through. There are wagons of half-rotten foodstuffs, and armor in various states of shot/beaten to death. There are even some guns lying about, most of them empty and using handmade (risky to fire) rounds. Pickable and useful, but time-consuming. Gunshots can still be heard and yelling deeper in the woods, it wouldn’t be wise to wait around for long.
Check the Scene’s Accuracy, Expand a Little
Step 2: Yes And, No Buts. Roll the Yes and dice to guide the modification of the generated scene.
For the second step, I rolled a Yes and. What I for possible results on this die are:
- Yes, and
- Yes, but
- No, and
- No, but
To explain what these mean, I am treating Yes my scene is a correct description. A No means, No my text isn’t accurate. A Yes and means, it is accurate and more there is more in a positive to me way. A Yes, but is that it is accurate, but there is a downside that should be added to my description. The and’s and but’s work similarly for No answers. A straight Yes, means I got it all down accurately. A straight No means that I didn’t get the full picture, there is more and its bad for me, something in my description was too positive to me and needs to be rewritten. A No and, means its bad, and there is more bad too. A No But, means what I described was bad and didn’t get the full picture, but there is a positive point in there that I missed and didn’t get written down.
Back to what I rolled,… “Yes And”. What I know is that my description was accurate, and that there is a positive note that I didn’t get down. I have to add an additional thing not already said, that is good for me and my characters potentially. Let’s see… we have food potentially already, we have weapons, there is a threat in the audible distance. What could be additionally beneficial to us? Maybe we can expand on that diamond gemstone symbol we got, and also that I didn’t describe what was worth fighting for in this battle. Got it.
At the center of the battlefield in the forest, there are stumps of trees going down into a small crater that has been blasted out and apart. Around it are skeletons facing away trying to get away and failing. In the dead center is a rare piece of tech from the old world: a retractable nuclear bomb. It generates immense heat when the lid is pulled up, and when pushed down the reaction and heat (and radiation) is sucked back into the device making it safe to handle once again. In the minds of an energy-harnessing wasteland scientist, the utility of this device is immense. To the war mongering it is a terrible weapon.
Luckily, my characters are good and want the best, so unlimited power is what they desire from this 100-pound generator sphere.
That seems like a good positive, that builds on what I have already come up with and answers some questions.
Add Action to the Scene, make it come at you
Step 3: Let’s roll the situation die. It’s sides read the following as results:
- As Expected
- Potential Danger
- Danger Ahead
- Danger Now!
With the roll of this dice, we are going to show how we encounter the situation that has been written up. Whether we get lucky, we fall into it. There is stuff we have to do immediately or to be safe we have to do something. While the answers for this die are pretty similar, it is supposed to show the urgency and immediacy of action taking place in the scene.
Let’s roll… I got “Potential Danger”.
For the scene we have so far, I think Potential Danger here means that the gunfire in the distance is everpresent but stationary. But, the woods are quiet now. The people who have died in the fighting are silent now. But the fighting can still be heard, just the fighting and nothing else. In order to get through, I have to be quiet. Failing to sneak here could notify well-armed fighters of my position and endanger the group. So, the more I do the more chances of failing to sneak I have, and good luck sneaking with that 100 lb. sphere of energy, if I want that it will take some clever and careful engineering to move it quickly and quietly.
I think this system could work pretty good for coming up with encounters. Especially if I combine it with a hex map. Especially if I use Hex Kit to generate the general terrain tile types (by making a map that I think looks cool) and then just crawl across it making notes for the different hex’s as I go along.
I think the potential weak point would be over time using the same dice combinations over and over again. Specifically the images, but I think that could be overcome by creating additional dies to swap in as I come up with new symbols for them. But using pictures definitely increases the range of results possible (versus how text does).
If it works out, I’ll design some stickers that can be printed out for personal use to create your own wasteland dice set. Anyways, that is all for now! I’ll post another update when I get to playing solo Mutant Future.