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Sunday 9 July 2017

Mutant: Year Zero Utilities

Mutant: Year Zero – Roleplaying at the End of Days is quite arguably the version of Gamma World that you always wanted. Although the modern roleplaying game only allows you to play mutated humans—you will need a copy of Mutant: Genlab Alpha if you want to play mutated animals and a copy of Mutant: Machinarium* if you want to play robots—it does allow you to play strong characters, it does allow you to build and support a community (or ark), and it does allow the GM to create a new world based on his home town or a town of his choice. Indeed, in the core rulebook, the two maps given in the endpapers—the big apple and the big smoke—are based on New York and London respectively. Based on Mutant - År Noll, the Swedish roleplaying game published by Free League Publishing, Mutant: Year Zero is published in English by Modiphius Entertainment.

*Yet to be published in English. When it is, its title will be Mutant: Mechatron.

Maps are one of the elements included in the Mutant: Year Zero Maps and Markers Pack, along with several sheets of counters. There are two map sheets included in the pack. Both are done in full colour and double-sided, roughly thirty by twenty-inches, and marked with one-inch squares. One map shows the Big Apple on one side and the Big Smoke on the other. The latter is clearer see because the landmarks such as The Column and Old Ben are more obvious, though The Fallen Lady clearly marks Liberty Island and thus The Big Apple. Of the two maps, The Big Smoke would be easier to use to run a primarily land-based campaign, whereas The Big Apple lends itself to a water-based campaign—or at least a campaign with a strong mix of land and water a la Zone Compendium 2: Dead Blue Sea with its heavily rent Manhattan. One side of the other map depicts a coastal region, whilst the other a region split by a river network. The former is of Los Angeles with its Huge Letters of the old Hollywood sign, the latter is of Washington DC with the Stone Rows of Arlington Cemetery and Fort Death of the Pentagon.

Mutant: Year Zero has busy economy in terms of bullets, grub, water, and Rot. Bullets are used as trade goods as well as for protection, grub and water for survival as well as trade goods, and Rot represents the combined nuclear, biological, and chemical side effects of whatever it was that caused the Apocalypse and which can accumulate in a Mutant’s body. To that end, the Mutant: Year Zero Maps and Markers Pack includes some one-hundred-and-eight cardboard tokens, each done in full colour and on heavy duty card, representing bullets, grub, water, Mutation Points and the passage of time in the Zone. These are all nicely done and whilst the Game Master will need to find a box to store them in, once in play, they add a physicality to a character’s possessions. No more these numbers down and erasing them as necessary, but handing them back to the Game master as they are used.

As well done as the Mutant: Year Zero Maps and Markers Pack is, there are a couple of problems with it. The first is that as much utility as the counters add and as nice as they are, they are not necessary to play and really, they are a luxury. Especially sold on their own. Had they been included in the Mutant: Year Zero Gamemaster Screen, then this would have been less of an issue. The second problem is that the selection of maps is poor. The inclusion of the Big Smoke and the Big Apple is understandable, but the inclusion of Los Angeles and Washington DC is not, as it points to a pandering to the American audience. The inclusion of one extra American map would have been reasonable, but two arguably not… Especially when so many other cities could have been included. Paris, Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, and Mexico City all spring to mind as worthy additions.

So, the maps are nice, though the selection is disappointing geographically, but the counters are even better by also being useful. Overall, the Mutant: Year Zero Maps and Markers Pack is nice to have, but not absolutely necessary to play Mutant: Year Zero.

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