Friday, July 6, 2018

Glowing Sea & Electric Skies: Vehicles, Mounts, and Mounted Combat in MCC RPG

Glowing Sea & Electric Skies,
A Mutant Crawl Classics homebrew setting


Mutant Crawl Classics does not seem to support rules for motorized vehicles beyond the few entries on page 183 and it's definitely something that I want to include into the setting of Glowing Sea & Electric Skies. While the PCs may not be part of a tribe of combustion engine worshipping madmen (in the style of Mad Max: Fury Road), encountering roaming bands of dangerous raiders in armored vehicles is part of the setting I envision. I looked for third party options either to port over directly or to get inspiration from.

I've come across a couple rules systems that expand on vehicle combat and chases which are worth exploring for those that enjoy a crunchier approach: Umerican Survival Guide, by Reid San Filippo and Vehicle Mayhem, by Jonathan Snodgrass. While I enjoyed these systems, they present a level of complexity that I don't want to emulate in my games. Ultimately, I want something faster to run and simple to teach to new players.

After giving it some thought, I realized that treating motorized vehicles as living mounts is the way to go. There are already Mounted Combat Rules in Dungeon Crawl Classics (which for some reason are missing from Mutant Crawl Classics even though mounts DO exist in MCC!) and the abstraction actually works really well when it comes to vehicles and mounts. This leads us to our clear design goals for handling vehicles in GS&ES.

Design Goals for vehicles in Glowing Sea & Electric Skies:

  • Keep things simple and easy for players  and judges to understand.
  • Expand on existing DCC Mounted Combat rules (rather than creating new rules).
  • Treat Vehicle stats as Mounts/Monsters, with Hit Dice, Initiative, Attack, Armor Class, Special Abilities, etc.

Vehicles as Mounts/Monsters

In DCC, a horse has stats just like any other Creature or Monster.
In Glowing Sea & Electric Skies, motorized vehicles are treated the same way. The DCC corebook page 87 gives us some great guidelines to start with when it comes to Mounted Combat. Let's briefly review Horse/Mount stats to help with the vehicle stats of GS&ES (DCC corebook page 418).
Init -1; Atk bite -1 melee (1d2); AC 11; HD 2d8; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +2; AL N.
Init +1; Atk hoof +2 melee (1d4+2); AC 14; HD 3d8; MV 60’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +1; AL N.
Init +1; Atk hoof -2 melee (1d2); AC 11; HD 1d8+2; MV 40’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +2, Ref +3, Will -1; AL N.
Init +1; Atk hoof +5 melee (1d6+3); AC 14; HD 4d8; MV 60’; Act 1d20; SV Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +2; AL N. These statistics are for mundane mounts without barding or armor.

Hit Dice

To create Vehicle stats, start with Hit Dice and go from there. To keep things consistent and easy to remember use this guideline: the number of cylinders of the vehicle = the number of Hit Dice (HD). 
That means a 4-cylinder is 4HD, 6-cylinder is 6HD, 8-cylinder is 8HD, etc. If the vehicle is powered by something other than a combustion engine (Q-Cell etc), make stuff up or better yet, let the dice decide. Generally speaking, combustion engines will be tougher and heavier than futuristic hovercraft type rigs.

All passengers in a vehicle gain Cover (+2 individual AC) and are considered Mounted (+1 individual AC vs non-mounted combatants).
For heavily armored vehicles, consider base AC to be the same as the vehicle AC.

Initiative = 1D20 + HD/2 + Agility Bonus of pilot or driver
Attack (Ram / Run Over) 1D20 + HD/4 + Agility Bonus of pilot or driver; Damage = HD6 (Blunt)
Attack (Mounted or Projectile Weapons) Attacker's regular Projectile Attack
Armor Class = 8 + HD/2 + Agility Bonus of pilot or driver (Reinforced vehicles gain an additional +1 to +4, but will be slower).
Special Armor = Half-Damage from Blunt attacks; Double Damage from Explosive or Targeted attacks specifically focused on the engine.
Hit Dice (Combustion Engine) = Number of Cylinders x D8 (or roll as Advanced Tech Engine); anything above 12 Cylinder, increase HP die from a D8 up the dice chain.
Hit Dice (Advanced Tech Engine) = Roll 1D20:
1 = 1D8
2-5 = 2D8
6-8 = 4D8
9-12 = 6D8
13-15 = 8D8
16-17 = 10D10
18-19 = 12D10
20 = 12D12 or more
Movement is variable. Guideline: 100 MPH is about 1500' per round.
Act (Driving) = 1D20 + HD/2 + Agility Bonus of pilot or driver.
Saves = Fortitude = +HD; Reflex = +HD/4 + Reflex Save of pilot or driver; Will = same as pilot or driver.

Special Attack Types (inspired by Mad Max: Fury Road):

Ramming a vehicle into an obstacle (hitting a rock the size of the vehicle, a reinforced bunker wall, etc) = Roll Ram Damage as normal, but apply full damage to the vehicle itself. The vehicle also loses its momentum.

Thunderstick = 4D6 Explosive Damage.

Polecat Grapple Attack 1D20 +3, range is 20'.
Reflex Save DC = Grapple Attack Total
Fail = 1D4 Subdual Damage, target is moved to another vehicle at the end of the round.
Success = avoid being grappled, take no damage.
Crit Success = disable the attacker.

Zero Hit Points

When a vehicle hits 0 HP, it stops working. It may continue rolling if the momentum isn't stopped by an obstacle. The person in the vehicle who has the lowest Luck ability score makes a Luck Check. If it succeeds, the vehicle needs repairs. If it fails, the vehicle explodes in 1D3 rounds, causing HD x D6 in damage, in a radius of 1/2 HD x 5-ft.

Chases & Maneuvering

I found no need to go into complex details here, chases and maneuvers are treated as attacks (1D20 + 1/4HD + Agility Modifier). Avoiding obstacles on the road are increasing DCs or Reflex saves adding 1/4HD from the vehicle.


This doesn't give us the most realistic rules for vehicles, but it makes things easy to grasp (vehicles have monster stats) and works well in relation to regular combat rules. Vehicles are easy to generate, with the monster stats based off of Hit Dice, easily modified to make each vehicle feel unique in a hurry.

For fun, we can stat out vehicles from Mad Max: Fury Road and use them in the game (Furiosa's War Rig, Immortan Joe's Gigahorse, Max's Interceptor, a few typical war boy and buzzard rigs). I'll work on these and share these in the future.

Another thing that would be cool: creating a Vehicle Extractor in the form of the Monster Extractor. Roll dice, generate random vehicles, now that would be fun!

How would YOU stat out these rigs using these 'vehicles as mounts' guidelines?

Friday, June 22, 2018

Glowing Sea & Electric Skies, a Mutant Crawl Classics setting

I recently bought the Mutant Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game (MCC RPG by Goodman Games) and a new campaign is percolating in the back of my head. Mutant Crawl Classics is a derivative of Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG (DCC RPG). The Old School Renaissance is alive and well and grants us a new generation of roleplaying games being produced with the influences of the first roleplaying games published. Where DCC is influenced by Dungeons & Dragons, MCC is influenced by Gamma World, a post-apocalyptic setting with mutants and all sorts of fun crazy things.

Where DCC strives to emulate the Appendix N literature, MCC strives to emulate the Appendix M. Since I have not read that many post-apocalyptic novels (have I even read any?), my influences will be taken from other media, specifically Mad Max (films and video game) and Fallout (video games), with zombie apocalypse media thrown in (The Walking Dead). I'm also adding elements from Tsutomu Nihei's BLAME! and Biomega manga series when it comes to technological/biological advancements gone haywire.

I want to explore a world influenced by these two settings and mix it with Terra A.D. setting of the Mutant Crawl Classics core rulebook. For me, that means adding the following tropes:

  • VAULTS; where human beings are mostly intact, but the history of humankind is weirdly preserved and often misunderstood, due to how much time has passed, taking historical references completely out of context. (Fallout)
  • VEHICLES; car and motorcycle culture continue to exist, but mechanical knowledge has taken on a deified version, where the V8 is worshipped by tribes of men. (Mad Max)
  • SYNTHS; synthetic humans created by The Institute to accomplish things above the surface where radiation is still harmful and the wasteland is dangerous. (Fallout 4)
  • VENERABLE GHOULS; the majority of humans were irreversibly irradiated, disfigured (by today's standards) and have become ghouls. They have also received a sort of eternal life, as long as they were not exposed to further levels of radiation (see Feral Ghouls). The rare Venerable Ghouls are the true preservers of human history "before the bombs fell". (Fallout)
  • FERAL GHOULS; in heavily irradiated areas, ghouls have become feral and attack any living creature that comes near (except other ghouls). This creates a constant threat in certain territories where human populations were heavily concentrated. (Fallout & The Walking Dead)
  • SUPER MUTANTS; super mutants are forcibly mutated humans, products of infection by the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV). They are a staple of the Fallout game series and definitely a good fit in the MCC setting. (Fallout)
  • MEGA STRUCTURES; areas of the world where technological advances continued to progress in relative isolation, then slipped out of human control. Essentially, machines that were built to create safe havens for humans continued to expand without supervision, creating complex architectural wastelands protected by hordes of robot-like sentinels. (BLAME!)
I'm calling this setting Glowing Sea & Electric Skies (GS&ES). For now, I'm not building anything concrete just yet but I'm going to read the MCC corebook with those things in mind. I'm also going to use this blog to keep track of what I come up with.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Last Dragon, a 200-Word Roleplaying Game for World-Building

I recently took part in a 200-Word RPG Challenge. It has been a great writing exercise and game design learning experience. The challenge lies in balancing word count between setting, game mechanisms, and generally getting my point across in as few words as possible.

I'm posting it here, but you can also find it over at the game challenge website at

I participated in the 2016 contest as well, with my titles Villager, in which you are a villager fighting to save your village from a disaster, and 'You're nothing but a pack of cards', a supplement for A Red & Pleasant Land which helps GMs generate adventures using *gasp* —a pack of cards!

I hope you get a chance to try the game out and that you and your fellow players enjoy it! I have been meaning to expand these games to clarify them and publish them over at (where my fiction title Love is Hell is also available).

You are Dragons, living in your own Regions, working to outlive all others and become The Last Dragon.

Attributes start at 1:
Dragon >>> Hoard | Sleep | Terrify
Region >>> Riches | Cultists | Adventurers

Each era:
Dragons choose which Dragon Attribute dominates their focus.

Dragons should:
>>> Describe their deeds with dramatic detail!
>>> Name / track people, legacies, artifacts, monstrous beasts.
>>> Interact with details from other Regions.
>>> Make maps.
>>> Roleplay / Banter / Tease one another!

At the end of each era, Dragon / Region Attributes change based on their focus:
>>> Hoard+1 >>> Riches-1 | Adventurers+1
>>> Sleep+1 >>> Riches+1 | Adventurers+1
>>> Terrify+1 >>> Adventurers-1 | Cultists+1

Special Events:

Hoard / Cultist: every 4 levels
>>> Dragon chooses any two Attributes (even another Dragon / Region’s Attributes) to give +1 / -1.

Adventurers: every 3 levels
>>> Adventurers rally against the Dragon
>>> Roll Dragon versus Adventurers.

Any Riches | Adventurers | Cultists =-3
>>> Region devolves.
>>> Dragon invades the Region with the highest Riches.
>>> Roll Dragon versus Dragon.

>>> Dragons: [Terrify] * D6 + [Cultists]
>>> Adventurers: [Adventurers] * D6 + [Sleep]
>>> Highest wins.
>>> Re-roll ties.
>>> Losing Dragons perish.

Rinse / Repeat.

CONGRATULATIONS! You are The Last Dragon!
All other Dragons write a poem (#TheLastDragon) about your life’s deeds.
The author of your favorite poem wins the game.

That's it! Comment on here if you had a chance to play it and how the game turned out for you. Also, I would absolutely love to read #TheLastDragon poetry if you dare share it!