Category Archives: The Mysterious Column X

The Mysterious Column X is your Mysterious Guide X to Mysterious Science Fiction RPGs X! Hosted by The Mysterious Dr. X, The Mysterious Column X will cover all manner of scifi-ish themes, from Star Wars, to post-apocalypse, and beyond! Be prepared for lots of The Mysterious Fun X!

Like Last Week’s Post… But Different!

Greetings, sports-non-fans (presumably)! It is I, your splendiferous host, The Mysterious Dr. X, hear to tug your ear about the best genre in the world, historical romance!

Haha, who am I kidding, I could never talk about romance! Not with all the great stuff science fiction has to offer!

Last week, I was talking a bit about Fallout, and how it should totally have an RPG. Then I was talking about how there totally was one. Then I was talking about how it totally got canceled. You know, it would probably be easier if you just went and perused the article yourself. Come back when you’re done. Anyway, at the end I said I would do a review of it if I could find it. Alas and alack, I was not able to. But don’t fret- I’m still gonna keep looking for it. If I’m able to find it by next week, I’ll definitely cover it then, but if I don’t find it by then, I’ll just not worry about it any more. Know when you’re beaten, and all that.

Anywho. There’s still plenty on the subject to talk about. First thing that comes to mind would be how easy it is to convert into dice. Of course, my tendency is to convert it into d20, but the game mechanics might actually be more accurately represented by a d% system, since that’s essentially what the actual games run on, mechanically speaking. But regardless, most of what the game requires already exists. The crafting system from 3 and New Vegas would simply use the crafting mechanics from d20- that is, one or multiple Craft checks. Maybe add the caveat that certain things need at least a minimum number of ranks in certain types of craft in order to do it.

The perk system already exists in d20 as well, except we call them “feats” here. Sure, d20 gives out feats less frequently than Fallout does- once every three, instead of every, or every other- but unlike the games, there’s no level cap, so you’ll continue to gain feats indefinitely.

The repairing mechanic would work exactly the same, since Repair is a skill. And it would likely operate similarly to Craft, with the minimum rank requirement. Stats themselves, meanwhile, would need some tuning.

SPECIAL           d20
Strength          Strength
Perception      Wisdom
Endurance      Constitution
Charisma        Charisma
Intelligence    Intelligence
Agility               Dexterity
Luck                  Add a seventh core ability, Luck

They would need some further tweaking as well- for instance, in Fallout, carrying capacity is based on Endurance. In d20, it’s based on Strength. There would be some cleanup, but nothing a moderately capable DM wouldn’t be able to handle judiciously.

The two biggest problems I can think of are the VATS system, and the skills list. Some of the skills would stay put- Repair, Craft, Computer Use (which would be renamed Science, but otherwise be basically identical). Survival. Others- Barter, for instance- would be either invented or congealed into other skills, depending on how much of the core d20 mechanics you wanted to keep. Sneak, for example, would be Hide, Move SIlently, and Sleight Of Hand all rolled into one. In other words, it would basically be a Stealth check from 4E. But some of them would take a bit more creativity to solve. As an example- with the skill list as presented, how exactly would you handle the existence of an Energy Weapons skill? None of the existing d20 skills would really be appropriate.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that, since the system would need to be at least partially custom-built anyway, it might just be easier to scrap the current skill list altogether and replace it wholesale with the ones from the game. Personally, I would use the one from New Vegas instead of the one from 3, but if the game you’re running isn’t one that a Survival skill will be necessary for, then by all means, Big Guns your heart out.

Another good way that was just pointed out to me is kind of a combination between how Fallout does it and how D&D does it. Namely, make weapon proficiencies into skills, rather than feats. That still comes with a handful of other problems with it- for instance, to quote the person who gave me this idea, “in D&D, every +1 longsword does the same amount of damage as every single other +1 longsword in the world, but Joe Schmuck with a laser pistol and 10 ranks in Energy Weapons won’t do as much damage as Joe Schmuck with 100 ranks”- but it could definitely be done.

Which comes to the big problem, as I see it. VATS. I was talking about this with the other Fallout fan on staff, Pain (yeah, you heard me- Pain is still around. He didn’t quit or anything, he’s just had some things going on). We have been knocking around some ideas about how VATS would work. At first, I thought it might be an ability activated once per encounter, and activated by spending an action point. When you do, you make one free attack that automatically hits. He rightfully pointed out that VATS isn’t an automatic hit. At first, I was like “eh, you gotta make some concessions in order to fit it into the system”. But then I realized- if I hadn’t played D&D before, and only started playing it because I found someone did a conversion of Fallout, would I be satisfied with the way they handled the mechanic? I ultimately decided “no”, and we set upon trying to find another way.

Pain soon commented that VATS works a lot like how the Haste spell works, and we knew we had our comparison. Haste is a spell that gives you one additional attack action for free per round, for the duration of the spell (one round per level). So basically, VATS would be an ability that gave you Haste for free for a limited number of rounds. After some discussion, this is what we came up with.

—–

VATS (the Visual Augmented Targeting System [yeah, I know that’s not what it stands for- I’m trying to make it setting-neutral])is an intense state of situational hyper-awareness, during which time seems to slow down for the user, providing them with additional precious seconds in which to make devastating attacks. Activating VATS itself is a free action and can only be done on your turn, and you must have at least one action point in reserve in order to use it (but activating it does not itself cost anything, other than the free action). Once in VATS mode, you are unable to take any action except a full round attack or a reload (not even a five-foot step is allowed). However, each round VATS is active, you are able to make one additional attack at your highest bonus at any enemy within the normal range of your currently equipped weapon.

Additionally, while in VATS, reloading your equipped weapon is a free action, regardless of the normal reload time of the weapon currently equipped.

VATS lasts for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution modifier. After it ends, you cannot activate VATS again for a number of rounds equal to double your Constitution modifier. However, you can also choose to end VATS early (which does not take any time, and therefore does not cost any action to perform), in which case VATS can be activated again in a number of rounds equal to twice the number of rounds you had VATS activated for. For example, say The Chemist has a Constitution score of 19, giving him a +4 modifier. Therefore, he can use VATS for four rounds, and it will take eight rounds to be able to use it again, if he uses it for all four of his allotted rounds. However, if The Chemist only uses VATS for two rounds, rather than the full four, he can activate VATS four rounds later, rather than eight.

—–

If you’re a Fallout fan like myself, and you think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread- or, hell, if you think it’s an offense worthy of the death penalty- send us an email and let us know! We’ll be glad to hear from you either way! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “the Mysterious Dimension X is so lovely this time of year”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (Certified Maniacal Laugh Master Practitioner©)

Advertisements

Fallout: The RPG- Or, ???

Greetings, style-conscious Earthicans! It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, asking you to join me for another blastoff of a time discussing science fiction!

I have a confession- I’ve been playing a lot of Fallout lately. I should clarify, I’m playing the recent ones, 3 and New Vegas, not either (or both) of the first two. But the specifics are beside the point- what I’m getting at, is that I’ve been playing a game just begging to become tabletop.

Upon my searching around on the internet, I came across an interesting story. As some of you may know, the makers of 3 and New Vegas were not the creators of 1 and 2. Well, back before the Fallout IP got sold to the current holder (when it was still owned by the original creators), that company licensed the game out to a smallish RPG company for the purposes of making a tabletop game out of it. Well, along the way, the rights to the video games got sold- but that RPG company kept working on it. Then, when they were about done with it, the new owners shut down development of the game, basically stating that since the deal was with the company that no longer owns the rights to the games, the contract between them was no longer valid, and the new company was shutting the game down.

At first, I was very disheartened to hear that. (This also happened in like 2006, before 3 ever even came out, so not only was I disheartened, but I was also nine years behind the curve.) So I decided to research the game, maybe even find a copy of it (Mysterious Dimension X willing) and review the hell out of it for you fine folks/maids.

And as far as I can tell, it was a bust.

I couldn’t turn up a copy of a PDF of the actual, officially-licensed-then-canceled version of the Fallout d20 (yes, it used the d20 system. Good because that’s the system we use here at the DDN, bad because Fallout itself, um, doesn’t use a comparable system) book. I did, however, find… not quite “the next best thing”, but… Okay, look. The company that made the tabletop game, when told that they couldn’t make it any more, didn’t cancel it entirely. They instead stripped out all the Fallout-related fluff, wrote a new backstory for the world of the game, and released it as “Exodus”.

So I couldn’t turn up the Fallout d20 game, but I COULD turn up the Fallout-with-the-file-numbers-sanded-off game that replaced it. And during my searching, I also came across another interesting little gem- specifically, a 150 page rulebook for Fallout The RPG, and it turned out it was written by the lead designer of the canceled, almost-official version. What made it cool, however was that- maybe in an effort to prevent history from repeating- he wrote it and purposely released the game for free online. Interestingly, it’s not the same system- this one uses percentile dice as the resolution mechanic, not a d20.

Oh, and one other note I came across- apparently, fans of the series were glad the game got canceled. From what intel I’ve been able to gather, they seemed to believe the creators would release material from the game as kind of a “sneak peek”, but the material would be riddled with errors- in both grammar and game canon- and when they would ask the company to fix them, the company would ignore them, then ban them from the forums for their trouble.

Now, let me say right now this is all conjecture. I saw people on forums talking about this happening, but I saw no other mentions of it on any other site, and “unpopularity/unwillingness to adhere to game canon” wasn’t listed as the reason the game was canceled. So I don’t have any real proof other than a handful of forum posts. Make of that what you will.

I will, however, point out that when they initially announced the game, it had a logo and a piece of cover art that fans vocally and vehemently disapproved of, convincing the company to redesign a cover that more closely resembled the games.

If they were willing to do it with the cover, I wouldn’t put it past them to do it for the actual game content.

But anyway, I think I’m gonna call it quits for the day. But don’t worry- I’m gonna keep searching for that game, Mysterious Fans X! If I find it, expect a review of it next week. If I can’t, I might review the free version, or the Exodus version instead. Or maybe I’ll talk a little bit more about the general topic of sci fi video game-tabletop conversions- more games that could use it, possible conversions that might be worth it, and so on. I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “what you Earth people call ‘forums’, we instead call ‘forums’ on my faraway home planet of Earth, so I hope I didn’t cause any confusion”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (the sound of a spaceship’s warp core exploding is WHAAAKOOOM!, in case you were wondering. NEVR 4GET)

So Three Vrusk Walk Into A Kaldrin Bar…

Well, hello there, Earth dwellers! It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, here once more to engage in a rousing discussion of the finer points of science fiction tabletop RPGs! Today, I’ll be talking about that most venerable of games, d20 Future (or as we called it on my faraway home planet of Earth, “d20 Future”)!

But we aren’t talking about it generally- as the tag or the URL may have tipped you off to, we’re talking about one specific aspect of Future. Namely, the Dralasites. Yes, the D is capitalized.

Dralasite

Let me say right now, however, that the picture above isn’t technically the most accurate Dralasite image you can have. It’s the one in the Future book, yes, and admittedly, it isn’t INcorrect. But this image implies Dralasites are stocky, humanoid figures with three legs. In reality, however, they’re basically giant amoebas- visually, they’re normally just a pile of grey sludge about four feet tall. (I know the above picture shows it as brown, but in the description, they’re talked about as being grey.) But since they’re shapeshifters (of a sort), they can extend pseudopods to create limbs for them to manipulate objects.

I’ll admit, I’ve always pictured Dralasites looking a bit different in their “typical” form.

Gleep&Gloop

But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, Dralasites are great. But the question remains- why talk about these dudes specifically? Well, turns out they’re actually a pretty good example of how the history of D&D itself works.

In 1989 (the height of second edition), TSR came out with a new campaign setting called “Spelljammer”. And for all you trufans out there- yes, I’ve mentioned Spelljammer before, in my article about the neogi. Anyway, Dralasites are most famous for being a playable race in the Spelljammer setting.

However!

They weren’t actually INVENTED for Spelljammer- they were around in a couple other, non-D&D games also made by TSR before they ever appeared in D&D. In 1982, TSR released a space opera RPG called Star Frontiers. And just to cut off any potential fake tension, yes, Dralasites were created for Star Frontiers. But that’s not my point. Star Frontiers came out, then they released some expansions for the game that overhauled a lot of the mechanics. The original version was a strategy/tactical game, and the expansions turned it into more of a standard RPG. So, TSR- rather than removing the original release altogether- called the expansion version of the game “Star Frontiers”, and changed the name of the original, strategy game to “Alpha Dawn”. It was a case of two closely related games that both took place in the same fictional universe. Alpha Dawn, specifically, was marketed as the grand introduction to the world of the game, and after you finished playing that, it was assumed you would “graduate”, if you will, to the full game later on.

All of this is a roundabout way of explaining why they’re in the Future book. TSR created them for a different game in 1982, and that game collapsed in on itself in 1985. Not wanting to waste all that material, they integrated the races into Spelljammer in 1989, bringing them into D&D proper. Then TSR went bankrupt, and was bought by Wizards Of The Coast, who then put out third edition. Some of the monsters from Spelljammer (there’s those pesky neogi again) were just shifted over to the generic, core setting for 3E. Some (the Dralasites, for instance) weren’t.

Then, in 2002, Wizards released d20 Modern. (For more on Modern, check back on Sundays.) More specifically, in 2004, they released Future. And that was when all that Spelljammer stuff could come back in a big way. The central conceit of mage-powered space galleons, of course, wasn’t what they used from it. But the little things- Dralasites, for instance- made a welcome return. Actually, there’s even a campaign setting outline in the Future book that’s similar to the setting of Star Frontiers. Well, superficially similar, anyway. It’s called “Star Law”. Look it up. It’s pretty neat.

But anyway, my claim earlier was that Dralasites were a good example of how the history of D&D works. D&D- especially third edition and Modern- has a tendency to reuse or bring back previous ideas that had been left by the wayside in the past. Neogi, which went unused for several years after the Spelljammer setting died. Dralasites, which were from a different game altogether, originally. Same thing with Alternity (another sci-fi game by TSR, released in 1998, that ended a short two years later when Wizards released third edition). Alternity had three campaign settings (well, four, but one was a licensed StarCraft game, so we’re not counting that). The three were Star*Drive, Dark•Matter, and Gamma World (in order- space opera, X-Files, and post-apocalypse).

Sound familiar?

Star*Drive ended up being one of the setting ideas in the Future book, Dark•Matter was turned into a campaign setting (Chief’s favorite, in fact) for Modern, and Gamma World (itself based off the world’s first sci-fi tabletop game, Metamorphosis Alpha), while never officially released as a D&D campaign setting, was always produced to be compatible with whatever edition of D&D was then current.

My point in saying all this is that d20 Future really went back to that well and dredged up some of their old, unused concepts- and I think that’s just plain great. Wizards really got a lot of mileage out of stuff that had been forgotten or cast aside.

And with that, I think I’m gonna call it a day! I know I tend to ramble a bit, so I hope you stuck with me, learned a thing or two, and gleaned some entertainment out of my column today! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “seriously, the first sci-fi tabletop game EVER. 1976, baby”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (you want another example of Wizards reusing forgotten material? How about the fact that, when the fifth edition Monster Manual came out, they actually remembered that flumphs– who are amazing, don’t let anyone say otherwise and continue to live- existed?)

Mad X: Beyond Thunderdimensionx

HAHAHAHA Greetings, all you infinitely replaceable Earth humanoids! It is me, your magnanimous tyrant, The Mysterious Dr. X! I figured I should probably take a little time out of my day full of Secret Science Stuff to write that article I promised, so here it is!

Today is part three of our (probably) three-part series on Mad Max! We spent some time talking about the series in general, and then took a closer look at exactly what he looked like (statistically) in the first two films, Mad Max and The Road Warrior. Today we look at the final movie (chronologically) in the series- which is also considered the weakest entry, and definitely the most polarizing- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Do not swim within two hours after consuming this article. Do not attempt to operate any heavy machinery until it wears off. May cause spontaneous confusion. See a film buff or a d20 Modern book if confusion occurs.

—–

“Mad Max” Rockatansky

beyond-thunderdome

Strong 3/Road Warrior 3/ Smart 1/ Salvager 3 (CR10)

HD 4d6+5d8+22; Hp 56; Mas 12; Init +4; Speed 30 ft; Def. 18; F/R/W 8/10/7; BAB 7/2; Grap 10/5; S/R 5/5; AL Self, Greater Good; AP 11; Rep 5; Wealth 8; Languages English, Aboriginal English, Outback; Atk melee: Gerber combat knife (+10/5, 1d4+5, 19-20/2x), ranged: sawn-off Savage 311A (+11/6, 2d8, 10 ft, 20/2x) ; STR 16 DEX 18 CON 13 INT 15 WIS 13 CHA 12

Occupation:
Law Enforcement (Drive, Intimidate, Personal Firearms Proficiency)

Feats:
Animal Affinity, Expert Scrounger, Great Fortitude, Light Armor Proficiency, Lightning Reflexes, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Renown, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Surface Vehicle Operation, Vehicle Expert

Skills:
Balance 4, Climb 3, Computer Use 3, Craft (chemical) 2, Craft (electronic) 3, Craft (mechanical) 7, Craft (pharmaceutical) 2, Craft (structural) 2, Craft (visual art) 2, Craft (writing 2), Decipher Script 3, Demolitions 3, Diplomacy 1, Disable Device 9, Drive 18, Forgery 2, Handle Animal 7, Intimidate 8, Investigate 2, Jump 4, Knowledge (arcane lore) 2, Knowledge (art) 2, Knowledge (behavioral sciences) 2, Knowledge (business) 2, Knowledge (civics) 2, Knowledge (current events) 4, Knowledge (earth and life sciences) 3, Knowledge (history) 2, Knowledge (physical sciences) 3, Knowledge (popular culture) 2, Knowledge (streetwise) 2, Knowledge (tactics) 7, Knowledge (technology) 3, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) 2, Listen 5, Navigate 4, Pilot 3, Profession 2, Repair 8, Research 2, Ride 4, Search 9, Spot 2, Survival 11, Swim 3

Talents:
Strong
-Melee Smash I
-Melee Smash II

Smart
-Savant (Search)

Class Abilities:
Road Warrior
-Improved Vehicle Modification
-Improved Retain Control

Salvager
-Bargainer
-Jury Rig I
-Scavenger
-Mishap Sense I

—–

And when he wandered off into the wastes at the end of Beyond Thunderdome, as we can see, he was more than capable of holding his own!

I gotta say, these blocks have been pretty fun to do! I just hope Fury Road doesn’t mess this up too bad (it takes place after Mad Max but before The Road Warrior, so if it really shakes stuff up, this post and the previous one will both become at least partially invalid, a fate I hope not to see come to pass).

Anyway, thanks for listening, children! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “WE DON’T NEED TO KNOW THE WAY HOME”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (ALL WE WANT IS LIFE BEYOND… THUNDERDOOOOME)

Mysterious Column X 2: The Post Warrior

It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, here again to teach you Earth humanoids the true meaning of science fiction! If you remember, last week we were talking about Mad Max- both the movie and the titular character. Today, we move on to what is generally considered the best movie in the series (and also the first one of the three I saw), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

—–

“Mad Max” Rockatansky

Road-Warrior

Strong 3/Road Warrior 3 (CR6)

HD 5d8+17; Hp 39; Mas 12; Init +4; Speed 30 ft; Def. 18; F/R/W 5/9/3; BAB 5; Grap 8; S/R 5/5; AL Self, Greater Good; AP 9; Rep 4; Wealth 8; Languages English, Aboriginal English, Outback; Atk melee: Gerber combat knife (+8, 1d4+5, 19-20/2x), ranged: sawn-off Savage 311A (+9, 2d8, 10 ft, 20/2x) ; STR 16 DEX 18 CON 12 INT 15 WIS 13 CHA 12

Occupation:
Law Enforcement (Drive, Intimidate, Personal Firearms Proficiency)

Feats:
Animal Affinity, Light Armor Proficiency, Lightning Reflexes, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Renown, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Surface Vehicle Operation, Vehicle Expert

Skills:
Balance 4, Climb 3, Craft (mechanical) 6, Craft (structural) 2, Demolitions 2, Drive 17, Handle Animal 7, Intimidate 8, Jump 4, Knowledge (current events) 3, Knowledge (popular culture) 2, Knowledge (streetwise) 2, Knowledge (tactics) 7, Listen 1, Navigate 2, Pilot 3, Profession 1, Repair 6, Ride 4, Spot 1, Survival 5, Swim 3

Talents:
Strong
-Melee Smash I
-Melee Smash II

Class Abilities:
Road Warrior
-Improved Vehicle Modification
-Improved Retain Control

—–

Well, all you Earth dwellers, hope you enjoyed this week’s column! Tune in next week to see the numbers behind his trip into Thunderdome! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “the last of the V8 Interceptors”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (a piece of history! Woulda been a shame to blow it up)

OUR FIRST POST EVER!!!! (THAT’S NUMBERED 150)

Well, hello, convivial readers! It is your most congenial of hosts, The Mysterious Dr. X! As the title may have tipped you off to, today is our inaugural 150th post! Hilariously enough, our last big milestone- 100, specifically- was ALSO made by me, His Most Awesome Of Dudes, The Mysterious Dr. X! In honor of that momentous occasion, let’s flash back to a simpler time, a time where no one wanted for a thing, when we all were in the loving caress of The Time Before. Here’s an excerpt from those inauspicious beginnings, the halcyon days of all the way back in January 23, 2015, with the 100th post.

  • “Not so fast”

Haha, excellent! Back in those days, I was talking about d20 Apocalypse, and so in homage to that most illustrious of posts, today I will also be talking about Apocalypse.

I absolutely friggin’ love Mad Max. The first one was great, the second one was at least as great (I honestly can’t decide which one I like better. They’re both so good). The third one was pretty sweet too, until he left Bartertown and wandered into the desert. Admittedly, that itself isn’t what was bad about it- if the entire movie had taken place in Bartertown, or at the very least the whole, lame “ooh, save those dang kids!!!” plot from the second half was removed entirely, I woulda loved it as much as I liked the other two. But that’s not the point. The point is, Mad Max is great and I want to spend some time talking about it.

—–

Maximillian Rockatansky was a young, up-and-coming member of the Main Force Patrol, a squad of policemen tasked with chasing down criminals in the Australian Outback. At only 23 years old, he was already considered the best driver in the MFP. However, after one particularly ruthless takedown, he begins having a crisis of conscience and resigns, moving with his wife and newborn son to the country. Unfortunately, a gang member tracked down his family and murdered them, transforming him into the stoic, taciturn Mad Max, who proceeded to find the members of the gang and murder them one by one.

A few years later, Mad Max is seen wandering aimlessly through the desert. He is eventually led to an oil refinery besieged by The Humungus, Warrior Of The Wasteland, the leader of a bang of highway raiders intent on running out or killing the residents of the refinery, and stealing all their gasoline. Max then concocts a plan with the leader of the refugees, wherein he would donate (and, later, drive) a giant oil tanker he found, to help them escape the attacks of The Humungus. His driving skills pushed to the limit, he eventually kills The Humungus and most of the raider army in the process, giving the refugees the time to flee.

Several years later, he stumbles across actual civilization, of sorts- the city of Bartertown, run by a domineering woman named Aunty Entity. He quickly gets on her bad side, and is forced to fight in the town’s gladiatorial arena, named Thunderdome, against a giant of a man known only as Blaster. Turns out Aunty Entity has a rivalry with the other half of the Master Blaster duo- Master being the brains, and Blaster being the brawn- who controls the methane farms that Batertown gets its power from. After deciding not to kill Blaster, Max is exiled from Bartertown, and is eventually rescued by a tribe of children living in the desert who believe him to be their long-rumored savior that will lead them to the Promised Land. While he himself disagrees with this belief, he decides to help them find somewhere to live nonetheless, and sneaks back into Bartertown to enlist Master’s help.

This column is actually part one of a three-part series. This week, we’ll be detailing the version of Mad Max as seen at the end of the original film Mad Max. Next week, we’ll look at the growth he experienced over the next couple years, with a stat block depicting him at the end of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Finally, in two weeks, we’ll analyze how he’s doing at his most capable, with a stat block representing him at the end of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Stay tuned, all you magical Love Gentlemen/Madames!

—–

“Mad Max” Rockatansky

mad max

Strong 3 (CR3)

HD 2d8+11; Hp 20; Mas 12; Init +3; Speed 30 ft; Def. 16; F/R/W 3/4/2; BAB 3; Grap 6; S/R 5/5; AL Self, Greater Good; AP 6; Rep 4; Wealth 7; Languages English, Aboriginal English, Outback; Atk melee: Gerber combat knife (+6, 1d4+5, 19-20/2x), ranged: sawn-off Savage 311A (+6, 2d8, 10 ft, 20/2x) ; STR 16 DEX 17 CON 12 INT 15 WIS 13 CHA 12

Occupation:
Law Enforcement (Drive, Intimidate, Personal Firearms Proficiency)

Feats:
Animal Affinity, Light Armor Proficiency, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Renown, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Surface Vehicle Operation

Skills:
Climb 3, Craft (mechanical)* 5, Craft (structural) 2, Drive 10, Handle Animal 7, Intimidate 7, Jump 3, Knowledge (current events) 2, Knowledge (popular culture) 2, Knowledge (streetwise) 2, Knowledge (tactics) 6, Profession 1, Repair 6, Swim 3
An asterisk (*) indicates a cross-class skill.

Talents:
Strong
-Melee Smash I
-Melee Smash II

—–

Now, I know you’ll probably have some issues with this block. “No levels of Fast”, as an example of something you might say, “on a professional driver!? I call shenanigans!” And you may be right. But you aren’t. For now, just accept it at face value, and in the third part of this series, after I’m done detailing all the versions of our favorite Pursuit Special driver, I’ll talk a bit about why I made the choices I did. I hope. If I remember to.

And that’s all for this sci-fi fan! If any of you Earth humanoids have even a shred of self-respect, you’ll come back next week for part two, Road Warrior! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “man, ‘Rockatansky’ is such a great name”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (“The Mysterious Rockatansky X”. Oh yeah)

Original Trilogy? Nah.

Greetings, frequent (or occasional, I won’t mind) sci-fiers! It is I, The Mysterious Dr. X, here once again to blab about science fiction all over your monitor! I was going through some of my older articles on here, and I came across one in particular- I Hate Jedi– that I thought had some intriguing possibilities for expansion.

I don’t know if you know this, but my comments in that previous article are something that all the rest of my fellow writers here share. None of us at The Doderman Defense Network like Jedi. This article, meanwhile, will probably be… a less popular post than the previous one was, namely because I’m pretty sure I’m the only one here that agrees with me.

—–

I don’t like the original trilogy.

A lot of people here- Larry and Pain, looking at you- will complain about how it’s impossible to not like, about how it sets the tone for the series, about how it’s just SO DAMN IMPORTANT, both internally as part of the saga, and externally as a movie, and so on.

Don’t care. Not even kind of. It’s importance in the history of moviemaking is literally completely irrelevant to what I’m talking about, and I never said I thought it wasn’t important to the series storyline. And yes, it does set the tone for the other parts of the series. But that is how literally every other series ever made ALSO works, so that’s not really a reason to like this one specifically because of it.

And as far as it being impossible not to like? Well, I don’t like it, so “impossible” is obviously a bit strong of a word.

My biggest problem with it is that it’s all about Jedi. The entire world has gone down the toilet, and a Jedi is the only thing that can fix it. Yawn. Since I already don’t like Jedi, this is in no way a draw to me. At least in the prequel trilogy, there were other, non-Jedi forces at work, moving the plot along, so it felt like a complete, filled-out world that didn’t need to rely on magical space samurai to function. Original trilogy was basically “if there isn’t a Jedi, it doesn’t really count”. Basically, things can only happen if it’s a Jedi that does them, is what the original trilogy is trying to say. No one else can really affect much change anywhere important.

But that’s just from a storyline, plotting perspective. From a gaming perspective, I honestly believe that setting a campaign during Rebellion era is legitimately, objectively the worst choice of all the possible eras of play. First off, it’s the obvious, first choice. The movies were really famous, everyone thinks they’re really good, then when the sequels (well, prequels) come out, everyone thinks they suck, which just intensifies their still-held childhood belief that the originals were great. So therefore, everyone’s automatically gonna want to set the game in Rebellion era, just cause it’s the setting from “the good ones”. That just smacks of “lazy and obvious choice” to me.

Plus, in a related note, a big part of why everyone likes original trilogy so much is that is really gives a sense of a fleshed out world, with lots of history to it. So why not give that a try? You already know what happens in Rebellion era, you’ve seen the movies 300 times. Go explore some of that history you’re so glad the series has.

But anyway, the second reason why Rebellion era just doesn’t work for me is that there’s no room. Every moment of every day of the entirety of the Rebellion era has been officially in canon accounted for already, thanks to the EU. By this point, the only way to make a campaign set during the original trilogy is to actively ignore at least one or two of the published materials. So why not set your game at some other point in the timeline? For instance, twenty four thousand years ago, during the Dawn Of The Jedi era? Or, say, three years after the Yuuzhan Vong are defeated? Or- my favorite- Old Republic era? All three of those settings have huge swathes of several years in a row where there’s just NOTHING officially released that takes place there. You have literally the entire galaxy and everything in it to explore, and in no way will you be ignoring any canon to do it.

I remember the other day I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, and he said “oh, I really like [Certain Band X]”. Well, so do I, so I started mentioning all these songs, and which one was his favorite, and all that. His response was to shrug and say “I only really like their first album. After that I stopped listening to them”. Well then, you’re not really a fan, are you? They’ve released six albums, you only like one of them- hell, have only LISTENED to one of them- and call yourself a fan? How does that work?

That’s what people who are all about Rebellion era look to me. They love it SO MUCH, YOU GUYS, but they’re unwilling to give the other eras even remotely the attention or care their oh so beloved original trilogy somehow deserves. I’m not saying everyone should love the ones I love- if that were the case, this article would be about Old Republic, not Rebellion- but what I AM saying is that you should give something other than original trilogy a shot. You’d be surprised at how fun it is.

—–

That’s it for me this week, folks! See you next week for another blast from my Mysterious X Ray! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “don’t forget to bring extra power packs”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (pew pew pew)

WARNING: TOP SECRET

MUAHAHAHAHA Greetings, puny humans! It is I, your overlord supreme, The Mysterious Dr. X! I have left my distant home planet of Earth to teach your species the wonders of science fiction RPGs!

Sadly, however, today will be but a brief one- although it may contain hidden gems yet to be uncovered (except by me, of course- I know it all). I was perusing my binders (upon binders upon binders, but I digress) of Star Wars notes, and I came across something that piqued my interest- a flowchart for an adventure I never ended up getting the chance to use, so it never made it beyond flowchart form. But first! There was along with it a list of the characters in the party for the campaign it was designed for. (Which was Revised edition, by the way.) Believe it or not, there were nine of them/us:

  1. Elias, human soldier- very by-the-books and super traditional. Relies mainly on his tricked out laser rifle, “Ol’ Headshot”.
  2. Zaku, human cyborg soldier- personality almost the opposite of Elias. Has a cybernetic hand that could be swapped out for various melee weapons.
  3. Freylis, Bothan scout- sensitive, thoughtful, caring, and knows every swear word in thirty different languages. Loves himself thermal detonators.
  4. Wes, human scoundrel- dual wields heavy blasters when he isn’t hitting on everything that moved.
  5. Rexar-Gaine, sub-human Jedi- borderline feral, she was adopted into the Order, mainly so the Sith couldn’t get to her.
  6. Rokhuun, wookiee Jedi- political machinations forced him off the Council and back into a life of adventure and exploration.
  7. Cedrith, human Jedi- Rexy’s Jedi master, and a former athlete who gave up the fame and adoration to do some real good.
  8. HCX67, droideka soldier- part of a contingent of droids built in secret by the Emperor decades ago in the event Order 66 fails, but reprogrammed by Luke Skywalker.
  9. Narg, wookiee cyborg tech specialist- got cybernetics so he could learn new languages while working, and got a voice mod installed that lets him speak them.

Now, admittedly, not every single one of these characters was always active all the time. For instance, Rhokuun and HCX67 first showed up right around the time Elias, Zaku, and Wes retired from constant adventuring. Freylis became the Bosley of the group, frequently communicated with but almost never actually onscreen. Then later on (like, a couple years after it originally ended), it would come back with another new character- and one you Mysterious Dr X-Fans might recognize- the great Gurling Qualin. So, uh, I guess you could say

  1. Gurling Qualin, mon calamari tech specialist- equally quick with a joke or a punch, he specializes in stun attacks, to leave behind a minimum of evidence.

By the time Gurling showed up, he was adventuring with Rexy, Cedrith, Narg, and HCX67, everyone else having long been killed or permanently retired. New Generations, and all that.

Anyway, the list of characters the mission was designed for was on one side. But the mission flowchart itself was on the other, and that’s what I came here to talk about. All you GMs can make of this what you will.

flowchart

And that’s gonna be it for me, all you sci-heads out there! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “may your dice ever be 20s”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (also, side note- see that little jagged line sticking out over the border on the upper right side? What could that ever be??? Let’s take a look, shall we?

mysterious note of mystery!!!!!!!!!

WHOA!!!!!!!!!!!)

That Infamous Knave

Hello out there, Earth dwellers! It is I, your magnanimous host, The Mysterious Dr. X, here today to share with you a story of betrayal and redemption; of love and loss; of glorious triumph and agonizing failure. I am of course talking about that rogue of rogues, that criminal to end all criminals- Quick Joe himself.

Now, I imagine that there might be one or two people out there that aren’t familiar with the delight/madness that is Quick Joe. So for the 95 percent of you that already know him, feel free to skip this next section. For the rest, read on.

—–

Quick Joe was born Wik Jonetta on Ryloth in 9 BBY. He quickly grew into a lanky, gangly teenage twi’lek, and never grew out of it when he became an adult. Upon discovering he actually- surprisingly- was actually a pretty good shot, he decided to join the teeming masses and attempt to make a name for himself in the slums of Coruscant. Not long after, he got his first job as the backup security guard to a half-forgotten strip club on their c-string dancers night. He became locally well known for his extreme bluster and low security-providing ability. He soon saved up enough money to move into a run-down tenement nearby, which lead to the event he’s most famous for.

One day, Wik- not yet known as Quick Joe- was coming back home from work, and was stopped in the street by his landlord, demanding his two months of back rent. Panicking, Wik pulled out a vibrodagger, stabbing his landlord. He heard a noise in the nearby alley, and- thinking it could have been a witness- drew his holdout blaster and fired. Turns out, however, it was just a young hawk-bat foraging through a pile of trash, squawking as it got shot. He then fled the premises.

Forever more, he was known as Quick Joe.

—–

Trust me when I say Quick Joe is the greatest of dudes. Fast with a shot, faster with the blame, and an admittedly bad criminal that gets by on his recognition more than anything else. But he showed up for one primary reason- and here it is! This is the official stat block of Wik “Quick Joe” Jonetta, scoundrel supreme!

Quick Joe was built using the Saga Edition rules.

—–

Quick Joe (Wik Jonetta), twi’lek scoundrel 1; gender- male; age- 38; height- 2 meters; weight- 59 kg; destiny- rescue

STR 11, DEX 18, CON 8, INT 18, WIS 11, CHA 19; hp 17; dmg threshold 13; force points 5; BAB 0; spd 6; destiny points 1; F/R/W 13/17/12; dark side points 2

languages- Basic, Ryl, Lekku; talents- sneak attack; feats and spec. abil.- deceptive, low-light vision,great fortitude, weapon prof. (advanced melee), point blank shot, weapon prof. (pistols), weapon prof. (simple weapons); credits 2500

weapons- vibrodagger (x3) (atk 0, dmg 2d4, crit 20/2x, kept at ankle, small of back, and wrist), ion pistol (atk 4, dmg 3d6 [ion only], crit 20/2x, does half damage vs. non-cybernetics, 30 shots/power pack), blaster pistol (atk 4, dmg 3d6, crit 20/2x, 100 shots/power pack), holdout blaster (atk 4, dmg 3d4, crit 20/2x, 6 shots/energy cell)

skills- acrobatics 5, climb 1, deception 10, endurance 0, gather info 10, initiative 5, jump 1, knowledge (criminal) 10, mechanics 5, perception 6, persuasion 10, pilot 5, ride 5, stealth 10, survival 6, swim 1, treat injury 6, use computer 5, use the Force 5

gear- vibrodagger (x3), ion pistol, blaster pistol, holdout blaster, credit chip, datacard (x10), datapad, recording unit (audio only), all-temp cloak, ration pack (x3), comlink (short-range), pocket scrambler, energy cell (x6), mesh tape roll (x2), power pack (x4), power recharger, hip holster (x2), concealed holster, knife vest

—–

There he is, in all his fantastic glory! He has been very useful as an NPC over the years, and now is the time for you to use him as well! Any time you need some jackass, he’s your dude!

And with that, a brand-new Mysterious Column X sadly comes to its end! If Quick Joe ends up getting himself into something as stupid as he already has, let us know and we’ll feature it here on the site! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “Quick Joe is like Unicron- he exists in multiple timelines simultaneously”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (there’s also both a fantasy and a Modern version of him, and the only real difference between the three is the gear and his race)

Steampunk: The RPG

Hello out there, everyone! It is your ineffable host, the mysterious Mysterious Dr. X, here again to rattle your cage with some science fiction goodness! I’m sure you noticed the headline- yes, today we’ll be talking about steampunk. Now, I know some of you are sitting out there going “well, DANG”.

See, I know steampunk is kind of… I don’t want to say “controversial”. I will, however, use the word “divisive”. I know a lot of people don’t like it, a lot of people think it’s a fad, think it’s lame. And that’s cool. But I like it a lot. I find it very imaginative, very exciting, and different enough from standard science fiction to still whet my appetite for sci-fi while simultaneously not offering exactly the same thing every other sc-fi story does.

And basically, my plan here today was to talk a little bit about how you would set up a steampunk D&D game, what kind of rules that would entail, et cetera. “But wait”, you think. “Isn’t steampunk more ‘fantasy tech in the [relative to its origin] future’ than ‘future tech in the [relative to its origin] past’? Wouldn’t this topic be better served by getting written by the actual fantasy columnist?” You raise an interesting possibility, Reader Who Never Learns To Shaddup! A very interesting and thought provoking question! To that I say “nah”. So buckle up, The Mysterious Dimension X awaits!

Steampunk, at its most basic, is future tech built in the past. There’s robots, but they’re made out of cogs and brass. There’s amazing flying ships, but they’re generally blimps. Steam power is a wondrous new invention. Magic is generally rare, and looked upon suspiciously (usually). In game terms, the setting itself is PL4, with some elements of PL5 and PL6, and with the fluff appropriately changed to suit the setting.

This by the way, is assuming the setting of your steampunk game is the same (or technologically equivalent) setting typically depicted in steampunk media- late 1800s Britain-analogue. If it’s got the trappings of steampunk- brass robots and frequent airships- but takes place modern day, and so also has all the normal tech nowadays has, it’s a solid PL5 with shades of PL6. It all depends on when the game takes place, but the article assumes turn of the century-era tech, which is firmly PL4.

As such, it would probably be easier to run a steampunk game using D&D rules, rather than, say, d20 Future rules. (Using d20 Modern rules would also be pretty smooth, except you’d have to eliminate most of the items in the gear section.) So you’d likely want to start with the basic fantasy version of the game. But from there, it would only require the change of a few bits of fluff narration- and a handful of minor rules changes- in order to effectively convert it into steampunk.

First off, the zeppelins. This would require, well, no conversion- rules for blimps are located on page 55 of the Arms & Equipment Guide (which, let’s face it, every D&D player should own anyway). Okay, technically, the rules are for dirigibles and zeppelins. (shrug)

As far as the weaponry is concerned, you’re gonna want to allow a new feat. Depending on the style you’re using, it would be either Exotic Weapon Proficiency (firearms), or Personal Firearms Proficiency. The first one would be if guns are more rare, and the second would be if they’re normal and commonplace. Anyway, if you’re using fantasy to run the game, stats for guns can be found on page 146 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Personally, I would only allow the revolver, the hunting rifle, and the shotgun- since those generally tend to be the only firearms seen in steampunk- but that’s ultimately up to you.

With melee weapons, rapiers, short swords, and daggers are the most common by far. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a steampunk novel that’s ever had someone carting around a greataxe. But hey, there’s a first time for everything.

Now, this is the part I was having the most trouble with. I’ve been hemming and hawing on how to easily use robots in D&D. Admittedly, there’s a few different choices. There are mainly three that come to mind, but all three of them need to be tweaked a bit. (Again, this is so it will match up with a “typical” steampunk setting. If you want to do it differently, be my guest. Disregard anything or everything written here, it won’t make me feel bad.)

First off, though, you need to decide on one major question- how exactly do you want your robots to be depicted? Do you want them to be all “BRZZT CLANG I AM A MADNESS OF BRASS TUBES AND STEAM”, or do you want them to essentially be a human, except just with organs made of metal?

If you’re going for more of the second one, just use stats for warforged, and narrate them as looking like regular humans. It’s not a perfect fit, but it will effectively emphasize the “robots are another standard race” feel that the “human, except made of metal” approach is aiming for. Warforged are found on page 190 of Monster Manual 3, or on page 20 of the Eberron Campaign Setting book.

Whereas if you’re going more for the first idea- obviously nonhuman, clanking around, geysers of steam shooting out all over the place, and so on- it’ll take a bit more doing. There isn’t going to just be a “just read this stat block, BLAM you’re done” solution- as I said a couple paragraphs ago, there’s gonna be a little tweaking involved, no matter which option you choose.

Option 1: warforged. They’ll actually work for the more obviously robotic kind of robot as well, but I would recommend removing the “living construct” type and replacing it with the regular “construct” type. So, no CON score, immune to criticals, things like that. Keep the INT score (unless that’s the kind of robot you want), but otherwise you should probably be good to go. Consult two paragraphs earlier for their locations in the books.

Option 2: inevitables. Inevitables are robotic creatures from a lawful plane called the Clockwork Nirvana Of Mechanus. Stylistically, they already have the look down (they already look steampunk as hell), and they come already equipped with an INT score (again, if that’s the kind of robots you want). But, these guys are natural spellcasters, and have some natural abilities that robots generally don’t have. And actually, there’s three different kind of inevitables- the one you’ll want to use is called the kolyarut. I would recommend against using the other two kinds, since one is quadrupedal and the other is Large size. Anyway, personally, I would remove the kolyarut’s vampiric touch, the enervation ray, the spell-like abilities, and probably the DR/SR. Course, it might be cool to keep one or two of the abilities (enervation ray, for example) and just narrate it as some kind of crazy secret weapon hidden away in a compartment or something. The kolyarut is on page 159 of the Monster Manual 1.

Option 3: iron golem. This one is both more and less complex, but it most directly correlates to how robots are depicted in steampunk, and will produce the closest resemblance to how they’re shown elsewhere (in my opinion). Basically, take an iron golem (Monster Manual 1, page 136). Remove the breath weapon, magic immunity, and damage reduction. Shrink it down to Medium-size. Then open up a copy of Savage Species to page 63, apply the modifications from the “awaken construct” spell to it, and make it permanent.

Now, are any of these ideas perfect? Nope. None of these are tested and verified, they’re just ideas that’ll send you along the most helpful path. All three will need further modifications in some way to better suit your game’s specific needs. But I feel they’re a good start. I’m confident enough in my ideas that I’m willing to attach my name to them.

And don’t forget, any kind of stat block modifications might change the CR of the monster, so if you’re using these robots as an enemy combat encounter, make sure to watch out for that.

Anywho, beyond those things, just make sure to fluff up the descriptions. Lots of cogwheels and brass. Goggles all OVER the place. Undead- especially zombies- are a VERY frequent steampunk staple. Airships litter the sky, steam power is still regarded with suspicion in some circles, magic is an uncommon occurrence. All in all, it’s an age of wonder, adventure, and exploration that jives great with the play style of D&D, plus has cool robots! Hell yeah!!

And with that, I shall bid you farewell! It’s been a blast, as always, and I hope you had a blast as well! I am your host, The Mysterious Dr. X, saying “also, piracy- especially air piracy- is rampant”!

The Mysterious Dr. X (Oh, and NPCs have names like “Romulus Buckle” and “Veronica Hobbes”)