Mutant Year Zero Campaign – Part 3: Life in The Zone

Session played 26.10.18

Ok, so it’s taken a while to write this session up – in my line of work November and December are somewhat full on!

This session picked up where the last left off. The Elder is still missing (session threat) and the Ark in turmoil as they come to terms with how to respond. At last the Chronicler Astrina takes charge of the situation and tasks our Stalker, Andrei, with heading out into the Zone and recovering The Elder, with the assumption that he is indeed out there somewhere (a new project, Zone Exploration). Rather than forming a large party, he calls on Toad, Dink and ‘K’ to assist him, with Rebeth still laid up recovering from his scrap with Jonats (and absent as a player). Toad manages to persuade Marlotte, Boss of the Youngers, to provide them with the grub and water they need for the exploration, after all, it is in the interest of the Youngers that they succeed and show that The Zone can be successfully explored, rather than demonstrate that it is dangerous.

Before the session begun, I’d taken advantage of the zone tables in the book to roll up a few Zone Sectors before the session began. These are the hexes the world of Mutant Year Zero (MY0) is divided into on the map outside The Ark. These tables are a fantastic tool, enabling you to quickly describe an area, detailing what the predominant environment is (industrial ruins, wasteland, forest etc.) the rot level, the level of threat the sector presents to the players, the nature of the main threat (humanoid, creature or environmental, all in keeping with the genre/setting) and what if any artifacts might be found there. Having created these Zones a few times now, I’m happy I could easily generate them on the fly, and provide interesting and exciting backdrops and encounters as needed, although having some up the GM’s sleeve ahead of time is useful as it allows some opportunity to tie them into the storyline.

In this first trip out into The Zone, our Mutants explored three sectors. In the first they encountered the ruins of an old shopping complex with a localised electric storm hanging over it, bombarding it frequently with lightening. In doing so, it also lit up a strange mask within a main window. This was retrieved by Dink the Slave, impressively managing to shrug off the effects of the strikes which hit him one after another. ‘K’ who rigged up an elaborate lightening conductor to shield him was not so fortunate, rather than deflect the electricity, it conspired to focus it on him…

The second was a thick wooded area with a cluster of Nightmare Flowers with their deadly spores to transverse. Dink used his flame mutation to burn a way through. ‘K’ cobbled together a cloth to act as a filter across his nose and mouth. Andrei found on the other side the spine of a notebook, one like the Elder used to use, but sadly with its pages and cover now burnt away.

The wood gradually transformed as they moved into the third sector, a dead wood. Here as K rested up under the protection of Andrei, Toad and Dink stumbled across a band of Wanderers headed up by the woman, Maria. These claimed to have travelled from far mountains looking for safety and food. They also warned of slavers they had previously encountered. The encounter was a wary one, Maria and Toad quickly becoming suspicious of each other, whilst she quickly hit it off with the more ‘open and simple-hearted’ Dink. After negotiations, the Wanderers received food from the Mutants in exchange for a mug from their caravan which Toad reckoned would make a fine addition to his Statue as it was reminiscent of The Elder’s. Leaving these band of travellers, the Mutants retrieved Andrei and K and headed back to the Ark, with only a mug and some news to show for their exploration.

I enjoyed this first foray into the world beyond The Ark. The tools provided by the system provide a quick and easy way of generating an environment that is full of potential and fits the genre. This world is dangerous, certainly, with the players being saved by some lucky dice rolling (the Stalker’s player in particular made a number of spectacular throws) but also aware of the potential demonstrated by K’s player of one duff roll having serious consequences. It is a fragile place, with the margins between thriving and dying being very fine.

Many questions remain. Just who are the Wanderers and where did they come from? Where is the Elder? Do the Slavers present a threat to the Ark? I continue to remain impressed with MY0’s ability to create a post-apocalyptic setting and populate it with numerous characters and threats, forming a world full of narrative possibility. The Zone Sector generators nicely compliment the world generating tools provided in Ark and Mutant generation, whether they provide enough variety to sustain interest over a long campaign waits to be seen.

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