Welcome back, dice fondlers! This week, as we emerge from the depths of Alpha Complex and the machinations of The Computer, we find ourselves aboard an ark. No, there isn’t two of everything aboard (you wish). Also, no, this isn’t going to end with a dove and an olive branch. This is Mutant: Year Zero. It’s time to start the new world. Let’s go.
Set In A Dark, Post-Apocalyptic Future
Jumping right into the thick of things, we’re in the aftermath of an apocalypse. Which apocalypse? Well, kinda sorta most of them. Seriously though, our story begins with a reference to “The Red Plague” hitting and wiping out vast swathes of the populace. This, combined with the effects of climate change, global economic crises, and old superpowers waging new wars (why, yes, this was printed in 2017, why do you ask?) result in global nuclear war.
Humanity tries to save itself however it can, hiding deep underground, in the cold reaches of space, or on the ocean floor. As usually happens in the apocalypse, eventually nature begins to reclaim the world. And, despite their best efforts to self-destruct, humanity actually survives! I know, surprising, right? Only, most of the humans left behind are different than they used to be.
In the Ark, where your character is from, there are no survivors older than 30. Well, except for the Elder, and no one even knows how old they are. You’ve been told your whole life that the Zone outside is dangerous and that you must remain in the Ark. But now, the food stores are getting low, the Elder seems to finally be reaching the end of their life, and no new children are being born. The populace of the Ark is splitting into squabbling factions with Bosses at the head, their power enforced by… uh… Enforcers. Fixers supply the Gearheads, the Stalkers, the Dog Handlers, the Chroniclers, all for a price. At the bottom rung, the will of the Bosses is carried out by Slaves subjugated by the new order. Someone must venture out into the Zone and explore. It’s time to find the lost places of the Ancients. It’s time to find Eden, or the People may just go extinct.
What You’ll Need To Play
Pretty heavy, huh? Still, I have to commend Modiphius for being on top of their game with Mutant: Year Zero. The game can be played exclusively with D6s, but if you’re willing to order the optional kits, you get cards that supplement how the game plays, as well as custom dice, so rather than just knowing that sometimes 6s or 1s have special features, you actually get to be reminded through groovy radiation warning symbols and unpleasant hazardous material and explosion symbols. These are really fun additions that help you slip in the theme of the game. As this humble host is a fan of the random, I really recommend at least investing in the cards. Not only are they used to provide threats that provide each session with a unique focus, they also have cards for the possible mutations and for artifacts that can be found.
Furthermore, I cannot recommend enough how wonderful the map included with the game is. Now, plenty of folks want to create their own story when they get their hands on a new RPG. I really advise playing a bit of Mutant with the starting Ark and attached map Zone first. There are multiple expansions that add maps to the current territory and let you dive into other story styles including Waterworld-esque sequences.
There’s no shame in getting a feel for the world of Mutant: Year Zero by using the included props. You still have plenty of room to create unique characters and explore a world brought to life by your table without feeling that you have weights around your ankles.
That’s as far as I’ll go today, though. Next week we’ll talk about you, your Mutant, and how they’ll both fit into the world at large. Until then, remember to…