D&D - The Secret of the Ooze

May 12, 2012

So I returned to the DM's seat one more time with the challenge of creating a small adventure even more crazy and ridiculous than blowing apart zombies with shotguns.

I was thinking about doing something with Gamma World, which I had been interested in ever since Penny Arcade talked about a game they ran with the setting a while back. Unfortunately, I couldn't find free versions of the 4e Gamma World mechanics, so I had to scrap a full-on dive into that. What I did find was 3.5e rules, so I looked through that book and thought about what I could use. Most of the stuff wasn't super exciting, but the mechanic of mutations was very intriguing.

Essentially, in Gamma World you can start out as a mutant, where you forego the benefits of other races to gain somewhat randomized properties that could range from having gills to spinning spider webs to storing and discharging solar energy. But why start a new campaign in a new setting with new characters when I could just give these mutations to the characters the players were already familiar with? After all, these adventures are non-canon, so why not really shake things up?

I created the following mutation table, borrowing some particularly interesting mutations from Gamma World and adding a lot of my own. Very simply, when players mutate, they roll a d100 and see what they get:

01-04: Scorpion Tail - resist poison 20, gain 'scorpion sting' power 2x per encounter: minor action, melee, +14vAC, 2d4+6 and ongoing 5 poison.
05-08: Flaming Lungs - resist fire 20, gain 'fire breath' power 2x per encounter: minor action, close blast 3, 12vRef., 2d6+3 fire.
09-12: Frozen Fist - resist cold 20, gain 'cold punch' power 2x per encounter: minor action, melee, +14vAC, 4d6+4 cold and slowed until end of next turn.
13-16: Booming Voice - resist thunder 20, gain 'sonic blast' power 2x per encounter: minor action, close blast 3, +12vFort., 1d6+4 thunder and deafened (save ends).
17-20: Static Charge - resist lightning 20, gain 'discharge' power once every 4 rounds: minor action, range 5, +12vRef., 4d4+2 lightning and charged effect (first time adjecent to another create, causes 5 to target and creature adjecent).
21-24: Psychokinetics - resist psychic 20, gain 'mind spike' power 2x per encounter: minor action, range 15, +12vWill, 3d6+3 psychic and immobilized until end of next turn.
25-28: Prehensile Tail - +4 dexterity or can use tail to wield a weapon with -2 to hit.
28-32: Super-Sized - +4 strength and grow one size larger (i.e. medium grows to large).
33-36: Hyper Intelligence - intelligence set to 24 and head becomes bulbous.
37-40: Enhanced Pheromones - +4 charisma and +10 to diplomacy.
41-44: Wings - gain ability to fly (hover) your speed at-will.
45-48: Teleportation - gain ability to teleport your speed at will.
49-52: Powerful Legs - gain ability to jump your speed at will and this movement can be used as a charge attack for a +3 to hit.
53-56: Shapeshifting - similar to doppelganger's racial ability.
57-60: Invisibility - can become invisible as a minor action.
61-64: Foul Stench - gain an aura 2 stench: all creatures starting their turn in this aura are dazed during their turn.
65-67: Solar Beacon - resist radiant 20, -10 to stealth checks, +2 all stats while in direct sunlight, gain 'solar flare' power 2x per encounter: minor action, close blast 3, +12vFort., 1d4+2 radiant and blinded (save ends).
68-70: Dehydration, gain 'horrid wilting' power 2x per encounter: standard action, range 5 or melee, +12vFort., 4d8 and dazed (save ends).
71-73: Spontateous Regeneration - +2 constitution, gain regen 5.
74-76: Beastly - +2 strength, dexterity and constitution, thick hide also gives +2 AC and resist fire/cold 5.
77-79: Mind Control
80-82: Steel Skin - +4 AC, resist all 2.
83-85: Formless - resist melee/ranged 5, vulnerable area attacks 5, gain ability to move through any opening, no matter how small.
86-88: Accelerated Movement - double move speed, extra minor action every round.
89-90: Shadowy Form - resist necrotic 20, vulnerable radiant 10, insubstantial, +10 to stealth checks, gain scorpion 'shadow tendrils' 2x per encounter: minor action, melee, +12vWill, 3d8+3 necrotic.
91-92: Atomic Rearrangement - gain ability to dissolve matter at the rate of 1 cubic foot per round, and this can be used as a unarmed melee attack v reflex of 4d10 damage.
93-94: Quantum Control - 2x per encounter, maximize any die roll before it is rolled - a significant die roll must be minimized before this power can be used a second time.
95-96: Rewind Time - Force a reroll of any die roll once per round.
97-98: Mind Reader - +20 to diplomacy, intimidate and bluff, gain 'anticipate attack' power at-will: minor action, range 20, gain a +4 to all defenses versus target of power.
99-00: Drain Power - gain the 'mimic mutation' power at-will: minor action, ally in melee, gain a mutation of your choosing that the target possesses until the end of your next turn.

The idea was to make the mutations significant, but not completely game-breaking (at least in the short-term). Basically, the best part about rolling new characters is about trying out all your new abilities, so I just gave them a bunch of new abilities without taking all the time to restart everything.

I gave each player 3 mutations to start with and a 4th one after the first encounter, because, you know, why not have fun with it?

The encounters themselves weren't really that great. The star of the show was clearly just trying out all these new abilities. The first encounter was an arena-like battle against a super-sized cyclops with regen (mostly just taken out of the monster manual and tweaked to be a level 10 elite) and a moth-woman sort of modeled on Battleguard Sartura from WoW AQ40. She had a whirlwind ability where she moved her speed and anyone within melee of her at any point in the movement was attacked (players could also make OAs against her, but her attack would auto-hit and cause an extra 4 damage). She also had the ability to create 2 mirror images around the battlefield to confuse opponents and a close burst attack that weakened. There were also some mutated humans (loosely based on pirates from the monster manual with a randomly rolled mutation - I think I got stench, which was really fun, and accelerated movement). And a few minions that created an area of anti-mutation when they died (essentially, if you stood in the area, it was like you no longer had your mutant powers).

The second battle was too gimmick-heavy and nobody really had a good idea of what to do. There were multiple phases where they had to strip a super-mutant of its powers. At one point, it does a lot of time-traveling to essentially create 6 copies of itself, all of which attack the players at the same time. If players did damage to the first guy in the chain of time travelling copies, they damaged all of them, though my players never really quite grasped the mechanic. In fact, the striker novaed the last copy in the chain, making the fight last much longer than it should have.

In the end, in order to avoid going back in time and dying in the previous phase, the super-mutant unleashed his ability to travel between alternate dimensions and escaped to a parallel universe. Of course, the players followed, and I left the adventure there. If I am ever called-upon to DM again, I figure parallel universes is a good place to start when attempting to one-up this last adventure in terms of craziness and ridiculousness.

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