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Friday, 15 October 2021

Ice Box

Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden is the eleventh release for Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game – Triumph & Technology Won by Mutants & Magic, the spiritual successor to Gamma World published by Goodman GamesDesigned for Second Level player characters, what this means is that Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden is not a Character Funnel, one of the signature features of both the Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game and the Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game it is mechanically based upon—in which initially, a player is expected to roll up three or four Level Zero characters and have them play through a generally nasty, deadly adventure, which surviving will prove a challenge. Those that do survive receive enough Experience Points to advance to First Level and gain all of the advantages of their Class. In terms of the setting, known as Terra A.D., or ‘Terra After Disaster’, this is a ‘Rite of Passage’ and in Mutants, Manimals, and Plantients, the stress of it will trigger ‘Metagenesis’, their DNA expressing itself and their mutations blossoming forth. By the time the Player Characters in Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden have  reached Second Level, they will have had numerous adventures, should have understanding as to how their mutant powers and how at least some of the various weapons, devices, and artefacts of the Ancients they have found work and can use on their future adventures.

The set-up for Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden casts the Player Characters as members of the tribe known as ‘The Ones Who Dig’. For centuries, the tribe has been digging deep into the ground and has finally broken into an underground complex built by the Ancient Ones. This is the long-buried entrance to the Garden of the Gods, which is said to be the repository of the Seeds of Creation, the seeds and biological records of all life of Terra A.D. from before the Great Disaster. It was foretold by the prophet, Boxx the Curious, that one day, a tribe would dig deep enough to locate the Earth Canoe which would take the faithful to the Garden of the Gods—and now that day has come. Unfortunately, the Player Characters are not among those deemed worthy to take the first journey in the Earth Canoe. They will be present though, when things go very wrong. Not everyone wants anything of the world before the Great Disaster restored to Terra A.D., and they would not only deny it to others, but destroy it too!.

Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden begins with a bang and quickly throws the Player Characters into the action and then the quest. This takes them into a seed vault—a little like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, but of course, updated for the twenty-ninth century and then turned upside down by the events of the Great Disaster. After the confrontation and the escape aboard the Earth Canoe, the majority of the scenario takes place in the seed bank, which is described in no little detail across its two levels. This detail combines weirdness of both the twenty-ninth century and Terra A.D., such as lickable walls and rabbits all with the same face of an old man, but everything is well explained. The latter is necessary because there is a lot of information to impart to the players as their characters explore the complex. This comes not just in the form of the purple text of the room descriptions, but also the secrets to be discovered by the Player Characters. Of which, there are a lot and most of which come in the form of audio-visual recordings, and as well as revealing what has been happening in the Garden of the Gods for the past three millennia do also hint about life before the Great Disaster.

Although there is some combat involved, the emphasis in Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden is on exploration and examination of the strange place in which the Player Characters find themselves. Instead of artefacts and devices, the Player Characters will be mostly discovering secrets, and there really is very little ‘treasure’ to be found in the adventure. However, the adventure could have done with a little more combat, or at least, more threat. Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden opens with an attack upon the ‘The Ones Who Dig’ tribe by the Gene Police, a faction of human fanatics, an attack which is problematic in terms of storytelling—not once, but three times. The first problem is that attackers successfully carry out at the beginning of the scenario and then do not appear again. Essentially, they serve as means to sabotage the expedition and get the Player Characters getting to go instead, which seems a wasted opportunity. Having set up a ‘Chekov’s Gun’ of the Gene Police attack, it seems a wasted opportunity to leave the possibility of their following the Player Characters to Garden of the Gods and attempting to destroy it, giving the adventure a greater sense of urgency in the process.

The second really stems from Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden being written for Second Level Player Characters. It leaves both the Judge and her players to wonder what their characters were doing before the events of the scenario begin. In terms of Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game, what they were doing on their Zero Level Character Funnel, and subsequently, when they were First Level. With such questions, it leaves the scenario to be run as a one-shot, or worked with difficulty into the Judge’s own campaign, and just like Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game, there is no real advice on setting up or working the scenario into a campaign. There are no answers to the questions, “What if the Player Characters do not come from ‘The Ones Who Dig’ tribe?” and “What if there is no ‘The Ones Who Dig’ tribe?”. The third problem stems from the first two—just who are the Gene Police? The adventure describes them as having inveigled their way into the ‘The Ones Who Dig’ tribe, but does not say who they are or give them personalities. They are just treated as throwaway enemies and that seems like a wasted opportunity.

What happens after the scenario is much less of an issue, since the author includes notes for continuing Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden. These are useful, since the discoveries to be found in the Garden of the Gods have potentially major ramifications for both the future of Terra A.D. and the Judge’s campaign. It would be nice to see these explored in a sequel to this scenario, if not multiple sequels.

Despite the issues with its set-up and follow through of that set-up, Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden is an enjoyably detailed and entertaining adventure. It wears its inspirations openly on its sleeve—or at least in the colour gem in the palm of its right hand—and these are fun for the Judge and players alike to spot. This shows most obviously in the change in environment which the scenario undergoes as part of its story line, which is radically different to that for most scenarios for Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden.

Physically, Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden is nicely presented. It needs an edit in places, but is generally well written and the artwork is decent. The map is rather plain though.

Mutant Crawl Classics #11: The Omnivary of Eden is a thoroughly likeable scenario, designed to be played in two sessions or so, and full of detail and flavour. Whilst it should be fun to play as is, to get the most out of it, the Judge will need to develop more of the set-up and the consequences of the outcome of the scenario.

1 comment:

  1. The Gene Police are described in the MCC corebook as one of the Ancient Alignments. You are right in that they should have been included more at the seed vault other than some frozen corpses.

    As for a possible prequel to this adventure, the author also wrote Children of the Fallen Sun. Now that is an awesome adventure, in part because of its much longer length and more complex scenario.

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