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Saturday 3 September 2022

Manimal Madness

Mutant Crawl Classics #12: When Manimals Attack 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 Games. Designed for Second Level player characters, what this means is that Mutant Crawl Classics 12: When Manimals Attack 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 #12: When Manimals Attack 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.

Mutant Crawl Classics #12: When Manimals Attack begins with the Player Characters coming to the rescue of a young Manimal, who has been chased up a tree by some ravenous preyor beasts. They will learn that although she cannot talk very much, her name is ‘Anji’. She is friendly, seems fascinated by the village’s sole pure Strain Human, and despite her Mustelid appearance, claims she comes she is ‘ooman’ and that she comes from the fabled lands of ‘tsoo’. She seems to settle into the Player Characters’ village, but in the middle of the night attackers loom out of the darkness, setting hut after hut alight. In the morning, the tracks are easy to find—with signs of something apelike, something feline, and something unknown—and lead out into the jungle. Barring an encounter or two, the Player Characters are able to follow the tracks back to a large domed structure. On the side can be seen the word, ‘ZUU’.

The scenario assumes that the most likely approach the Player Characters will take is stealth, following Anji’s escape route out of the ‘tsoo’ back to within its confines. There they find themselves not in a building as such but a stretch of open grasslands, the sky a different colour… Once they have dealt with the robots informing visitors that park is a closed and they are trespassing and that any Manimals are in the wrong zone, interacting with the Manimals will reveal the situation. They are trapped in a habitant, ruled over by the Savage One and his brutal guards, but it was the Savage One who made them stronger and better than they were. Finding out further information means breaking out of this one habitant and into the others, and there is some fun to be had seeing the Player Characters exploring some radically different climes than the ones they are used to. It is interesting to see the Player Characters challenged in this. Ultimately, they will be able to determine what is going on at the ‘ZUU’, and either rescue or free the numerous Manimals in its various habitats.

Mutant Crawl Classics #12: When Manimals Attack is a short scenario, emphasising stealth and investigation in preparation for a confrontation with the Savage One and his brutal guards. The strangely bestial creature has plans for more than just the ‘ZUU’, wanting to convert Terrans of all types into the Manimals they were meant to be. He certainly has the means to do so. The scenario is reminiscent of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau as well as two Cryptic Alliances from Gamma World—the ‘Zoopremisists’ and ‘The Ranks of the Fit’. They are not the same of course, but there are similarities. The scenario is, though, about confronting and fighting the supremacy of one species type over another in the world of Terra A.D. It should be no surprise that the Savage One is portrayed as a supremacist monster and certainly as a monster by the artist, Kelly Jones, on the front cover of the module.

Physically, Mutant Crawl Classics #12: When Manimals Attack is cleanly and tidily laid out. As you would expect for a book from Goodman Games, the scenario—especially its locations—is highly detailed and is given a decent piece of cartography. However, the Savage One is illustrated not once, but three times if the cover is included, and it is too much. Ideally, an illustration and even a map—after all, it would have had a visitors’ map before the Great Disaster—of the ‘ZUU’ could have been included as handouts, both of them helping to enhance and improve game play.

Mutant Crawl Classics #12: When Manimals Attack is decent scenario which should provide two good sessions worth of play or so. Full of detail, it which presents an interesting confrontation for Manimal Player Characters in particular.

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