One of the defining features of Mutant Year Zero is The Ark. The Ark is the home of the player characters, the location where the characters grew up with other mutants and the home that is relying on you to find salvation before everyone in it succumbs to the wasteland.

The best part of this is the fact that the player characters build their Ark. This makes every game of Mutant: Year Zero different as the player characters get to set their stakes and invest in the background of their characters by customizing the Ark to their vision.

Building an Ark is an involved process where the player characters start defining their home. This begins with a general location, and a map of the immediate area around it. They also get to define what type the Ark is, whether it’s an Airplane Wreck, or a Bridge or maybe even a Subway Station or Prison.

Players are also asked to draw a map of the Ark itself, placing the important details such as where the PC’s shelters are, as well as the Elder’s Refuge and the dens of the most important Bosses and the water source.

Bosses are given extra attention here as they are influential movers and shakers in the Ark and a lot of conflict revolves around their interests. Players get to define the Bosses in the location and the game provides a handy list of different archetypes, each with their own idiosyncrasies that might make them easier or harder to work with.

Other NPCs are defined after, along with an eyeball of the population size, where the water source is and distributing 12 points across Development Levels.

Development Levels are distributed across 4 broad categories that describe your Ark’s starting level of civilization. These are: Food Supply, Culture, Technology and Warfare. As you can see, each of these is vital, and to be honest 12 points doesn’t get very far. For perspective, the first tier of the Warfare Development Level category goes up to 9 points, and all that gets you are simple barricades to defend your Ark form outside forces.

During the campaign, player characters may choose to undertake projects. A project is essentially a means to upgrade your civilization beyond their starting levels. These improve the Ark in different ways, but it is important to keep an eye on how your civilization is evolving.

Projects have a minimum DEV requirement, and require players to actively participate in their creation. The benefits are useful however, as each of the projects bestows bonuses to one or more of the Development Level Categories.

Life is hard in Mutant Year Zero, and the Ark is not immune to misfortune. There may be instances when the Ark is attacked, and the players have to defend it. The game provides rules on how to measure the success or failure of an attempt to defend against an attack, as well as how to calculate for losses and destroyed projects. It’s a painful sight, but a sad reality in the post-apocalyptic world.

At the end of each session, one of the players gets to roll a D6, this result dictates how many of the inhabitants of the Ark have died in the time of the adventure, on top of any other NPCs wh o may have died in play. It’s a morbid sort of countdown clock… the player characters have only so much time before everyone in their community dies unless they find new residents or finally find a way to bring children to the world.

Part of what makes Mutant Year Zero so impactful is the fact that the players are made to understand what the stakes are for the game. By building more than just their own characters, they invest themselves into the setting and if they want to protect this thing they’ve built together, they’re going to need to do the impossible. It might feel helpless and overwhelming, but the players are going to go ahead and try anyway.

Because otherwise, only a slow extinction awaits them.

Mutant: Year Zero is available from DriveThruRPG for $24.99 or roughly Php 1,100.00

[Local Scene] Variable Play, a Board Gaming blog

Posted: April 22, 2015 by pointyman2000 in Local Scene
Tags: ,

With the Board Gaming renaissance that is currently happening in the country, a lot more people are talking about their experiences with gaming. One of the best local blogs that talk about Board Games is Variable Play.


Dedicated to more than just reviews, Variable Play promotes board games as a family activity as well as a means of learning and teaching through play. It’s definitely the kind of thinking I can get behind.

So check out Variable Play over on their page, and let them know that Life and Times of a Philippine Gamer sent you!

After what feels like an eternity of delaying myself I caved and bought the Shadowrun 5th Edition Beginner Box. It represents the latest in a long line of Cyperpunk / Sci-Fi RPGs that I’ve had that I have never run.

I have an interesting relationship with Sci-Fi RPGs in the sense that I love reading them, but I’ve never mustered the courage to actually run them. Maybe it’s all the expectations I feel that that the games should be run a certain way, or that my own limited knowledge will make the sessions feel forced, but I’ve always found a way to delay running them.

That said, my current situation in life means that regular gaming is less of a thing (the current L5R campaign being a small miracle) but an opportunity has presented itself to trying out all of these games in the form of one shots.

Right now, I’ve got:

  • Shadowrun 5th Edition
  • CthulhuTech
  • Eclipse Phase
  • Kuro
  • Blue Planet

Each one has a great setting with some truly inspiring ideas so I’m feeling the urge to finally give in and run one of these as a one-shot at least. Who knows, I might actually like the experience enough to make it a full-blown campaign.


Hey guys, I know it’s been a while since I’ve worked on an Actual Play report series but I figure since I’ve kicked off my Crane Clan campaign set in an alternate timeline for Rokugan, there should be enough material to make for an interesting read!

Before we proceed however, let’s take a look at the characters for this campaign:

Daidoji Kimiko / Dr. Kimberly Watson (Played by Silver Countess)

Once a young daughter to an illustrious Crane family, Daidoji Kimiko ran away from her home and boarded a Gaijin ship headed to the West to escape heartache.

After ten years of voyaging in the lands of the West and learning the ways of western medicine, Kimiko, now known as Dr. Kimberly Watson returns to the land of her birth upon receiving news that her father was suffering from a mysterious illness.

Kakita Misaki (Played by Rania)

A young shugenja recently assigned to Lonely Shore City as her biggest assignment yet, Misaki is looking forward to doing her best in her new duties and making her Clan proud. That said, her reassignment papers did mention something about an experimental new position she was supposed to fill…

Kakita Konan (Played by Hikkikomori)

If one was to ask for two words to describe Konan, they would be “spoiled” and “bored.” His parents were disappointed at his lack of motivation that they decided to demote him to a posting in Lonely Shore City until he can get himself together and be worthy of the family business… but is he destined to succeed, or to fail spectacularly?

Kakita Junko (Played by Hystrix)

As the daughter of Lonely Shore City’s Governor, Junko enjoys a few privileges afforded by her unique station. Trained as a duelist, she is a staunch supporter of the Reforms being brought in by learning from the Gaijin and isn’t afraid to use her quick draw skills to push for them.

And without further delay, let’s get to the events of the game from last weekend:

Read the rest of this entry »

Hey there,

I’ve recently been working on planning for a twice-a-month campaign of Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition. It’s a bit of a re-hash of an old Crane Clan campaign pitch I’ve had lying around, with a big tweak in the sense that the game will be set in what amounts to the Rokugani equivalent of the Meiji Era.

For the sake of my sanity though, I’m transplanting the NPCs of Hantei Naseru’s era, meaning we’ll still have luminaries such as Doji Kurohito as the Champion of the Crane Clan.

The change to the Meiji Era means a whole lot of little changes that can throw a lot of old hands to the L5R setting for a loop.

The Meiji Era was a time of great social upheaval in Japan, and the Rokugani equivalent of the era will be equally interesting. After a bloody opening of Rokugan to trade with Gaijin elements, the Emperor has decreed that it was imperative that the Clans reorganize themselves to keep up with the world at large.

This leads to a time where the Clans are forced to re-evaluate their role in a new world, and this affects the Crane Clan most heavily. While the ancient traditions were crafted by their Ancestor, Lady Doji, this new era presents an opportunity to improve upon Society in new ways.

The question then becomes, “What should be adapted from the foreigners, and what should be thrown away?”

In addition to this, I’ll be setting the game in a single city, a far cry from my usual Empire-spanning adventures, and I’ll be taking inspiration from Police Procedurals and other Urban Adventures that have a much more focused scope. I don’t know how good I’ll be at this, but hopefully it will be good.

I’ll be meeting with my players to kick off the campaign this weekend, and I’m very excited. I’ll update the blog with a list of my player characters as soon as they give me their final character sheets.