This is a book that I wanted to get and read as soon as I saw it. It seemed like something that I would enjoy, and while I didn’t back the kickstarter for it (because it was being done for a system other than Savage Worlds, and did not follow the kickstarter to see that Savage Worlds was a stretch goal), I did get it this year and completed reading. Overall I liked it, in fact, I think it would make a very good approximation for a game based on the Alien movies, Blade Runner, and Riddick. There are however some issues with this conversion and I believe some bits left in from the original system. Anyway on to the details.
Welcome to Mutant Chronicles
This is the first chapter and covers the setting at a very high level. It also breaks down what the setting means when it calls itself a “Dieselpunk Techno-Fantasy game”. We are also told that this book covers three-time periods in the setting, the Dark Symmetry, the Dark Legion, and the Dark Eden1. After that we are given a very high level overview of the setting before we move on to the following chapters where we start to get more details.
Mutant Chronicles Factions
This chapter gives enough information on the various factions in play (read corporate states) to be able to make a meaningful decision as to what you might want to play when you make a character, but it does not go into any details on them.
Timeline of Mutant Chronicles
This chapter covers the timeline for the game. It starts with the events that lead up to the time of Dark Symmetry, and continues on through the time of the Dark Legion. In various places of the timeline there are notations for further GM specific information about the events in question. My only complaint about this is that these GM specific secrets are at the end of this chapter instead of in some other chapter later in the book.
This chapter covers the changes needed to create characters for this setting. It starts with a decision on what faction you want to play, and we get a new Willpower stat, and the option of a bonus Lifepath edge. There are a couple of new skills and setting specific knowledge skills. The Doubting Thomas hindrance is removed, and we get a handful of new hindrances. There are a number of edges that are removed (mostly those relating to arcane backgrounds) and a handful of standard new ones.
We also get the Lifepath edges in this chapter. These are edges that have to do with your place in the world and some are not available in all time periods. These edges, of which you can only choose one, all have various requirements that must be met. In exchange for taking one, you get some extra hindrances, equipment, and some bonuses to skills, and possible an edge.
This chapter covers as the title suggests the various pieces of equipment. There is a lot to this chapter besides just guns and armor. We get information on what kind of goods each company produces (quality wise). There are also some rules on repairing items in this chapter as well as lots of description and pictures of the different items that you can get in the setting.
One thing that did confuse me was the damage for the missile launchers. I am assuming that the damage from them is the impact damage with the grenade damage getting added to it. Otherwise I see no point in the missile launchers considering they do 1-3d6 damage whereas the grenades mostly do 3d6 damage.
The Art of Light
This chapter covers the arcane background available for humanities heroes in this setting. We also get some new spells for use in the setting. One thing to keep in mind is that this setting uses the No Power Points Rule. This is also where the Power Controllers are described that are given to the Mystics’ Lifepath. This is also where we get the lists of powers that the different flavors of the Art have access to.
This chapter covers the Heretics and the powers that the humans who follow the Dark Legion get. There is also a little bit on playing a Heretic (which is an optional lifepath that can be chosen with GM permission). One of the interesting effects for the Dark Gifts (Heretic powers) is Bleed. This is a bonus effect that happens in addition to the normal effect if the activation roll is particularly good. The Dark Gifts are split into a common pool of powers that every Heretic can use, and a set of powers that are only available to those who follow a specific Dark Apostles.
We end this chapter with a selection of weapons used by the Heretics and the servants of the Dark Legion.
Freelancers, Employees, and Jobs
This chapter covers the life of a Freelancer, the kind of jobs that they can get. It also covers some of the important locations for finding jobs. We then get a little bit of information on what life is like in the corporations and the kinds of jobs that a corporate employee can get assigned.
In many ways this chapter describes life very similar to that in Shadow Run with the Corporations hiring the Freelancers to do the dirty, illegal jobs and using their own employees to do the jobs that they absolutely have to keep secret.
Eras of Play
In this chapter we get told that the Dark Legion era is the default time period for the game. It then goes on to give you the changes that would be needed for the Dark Symmetry time period. Some of these changes are fairly obvious such as none of the Brotherhood lifepaths are available. We also get some of the changes in the politics and the different corporations.
Luna: Humanity’s Heart
This chapter covers what amounts the main setting location in at least this book if not in the game overall. There are a number of things about the descriptions of Luna that I love, but I think my favorite part is how the city is built on top of older sections of the city giving Luna a number of layers and the deeper you go the more dangerous it gets. In my head I picture the deeper layers being something like a cross between the climate station in Aliens and the city in Blade Runner.
Capitol, Bahaus, Mishima, Imperial, Cybertronic
These chapters each cover one of the corporations. We get some of the internal politics, descriptions of their major areas of control, and the corporations relationships with the other factions.
The corporations came from different regions in the world and tend to stand in for those areas. Capitol is a stand in for the United States, Bahaus is a stand in for Central and Eastern Europe and Western Russia, Mishima is a stand in for Japan, Imperial is a stand in for the UK. Cybertronic is the only one that doesn’t have a country that it represents. Instead it is a stand in for the super high-tech, secretive corporation that no one knows if they can completely trust.
This chapter is similar to the previous five. I have separated it out though because it covers the people who were left on Earth after the corporations fled after they destroyed the environment. Of all the main factions this might be my favorite one. This is also one of the two factions that have stood up to all the corporations and won. I just wished that there was more information in this book on this group. Also interesting error the chapter title on the bottom of the pages for this group is for the previous chapter (Cybertronic).
The Cartel is an organization made up of the different corporations that was setup to coordinate their response to the Dark Legion and to try to keep the peace between the different corporations. For the most part it is hampered by the corporations’ conflicting interests. This chapter covers how the Cartel is organized and what it tries to accomplish.
This chapter covers the quasi-religious order that is leading the fight against the Dark Legion. We get information on how it is structured, what each area does, and the various ways it tries to help everyone resist the influences of the Dark Legion.
The Dark Soul & Apostles
This chapter covers more details about the Dark Legion starting with some of its history, then moving on to who the different factions are in it, and some information on the Citadels that the Dark Legion uses in their war effort.
The GM’s Guide to the Chronicles
This chapter covers two basic things, the first is some more details on the rules changes in the setting including such things as corruption, the renaming of the benny pool, willpower, dread (think sanity damage), and some of the setting specific diseases.
The second thing this chapter covers is advice for running games and running games in this setting. There is nothing terribly original on running games in general, but a lot of the information that is more relevant for the setting was nice. I especially liked the sections on Technology and the Dark Symmetry, Adventures with Technology, and Ancient Technology.
This was also the chapter that I saw the most bleed through of references to the d20 system that is used by the rest of the books in the game system. This transfer of information doesn’t hurt the game as to how playable it is, but it was a bit distracting seeing terms that are not used or defined anywhere else in the book.
A Cast of Characters
This chapter starts with some basic character types that you can expect to encounter (Corporate Agents, Hired Killers, etc). Then it gives two examples of generic Heretics, and then finally moves on to the best part the creatures that make up the Dark Legion. There are a large number of these creatures, and I like a lot of them, especially the Nepharites (the highest servants the Dark Apostles). The thing that I like best about them is that each of them are different based on which of the Dark Apostles they serve. I also like that most of these servants has a purpose in the setting, they aren’t just a random collection of cool monsters (though a couple of them do fit that category). We also get one stat block that is screwed up for the Kadavers. As it stands I am unsure if they are supposed to have the Regeneration (Fast) trait, or if that is a mistake (since it references the Contagion Nepharite in the text).
All in all, there was a lot to like in this book. My only real complaints is that the rest of the books for this setting are written for a different system, and that there is not a physical version of the book. On the other hand there is a short PDF conversion guide that I haven’t really looked at that might help with expanding the setting information especially for Whitestar and Cybertronic.
- This book however does not have any information on the Dark Eden time period. I guess any information on the time period would be in a different book from the kickstarter and this reference is for what the 3rd Edition of the game covers instead of what this book covers. ↩