Autopsy 4: Released!

The New-Look Autopsy. Cleaned up and expanded blog articles, support and other material for a variety of games in a more screen/tablet friendly format.

This issue:

  • Shadow World: Cantrip Comprehensive, The Ourobowrong,
  • ’45: Psychobilly Retropocalypse: The Pukes of Dannger
  • 4E: Groin Weasels
  • Blood!: Tips/errata
  • Pathfinder: Flenser Swarm
  • Invaderz!
  • Grim’s Tales
  • ‘Beta Planet’ *Nudge, wink*

Buy it HERE

Gamma World, GSL, Cease & Desist Letters, oh my!

Not that kind of atomic.

Fire From the Sky & Gamma World GSL Issues
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Many of us were overjoyed to discover that Gamma World was covered by the GSL but there’s been some confusion since then, especially since the withdrawl of the Fire From the Sky adventure for the game, produced under the GSL by DarkLight Interactive.

Getting straight answers out of Wizards of the Coast customer service is like finding hen’s teeth, then forcibly removing those teeth from the hen, which turns out to be a giant, killer chicken with lots of friends, while from the sidelines someone shouts at you that you shouldn’t be attacking the hen at all, but rather contacting the legal departent. So, having slain the hen you quest forth seeking The Legal Department only to discover that they live in a cave up an unclimbable mountain, only speak an ancient dialect (Haad’Copi) and even then don’t deign to speak to most people anyway.

In short, getting any contact or clarity from these people OTHER than a C&D order from Hasbro’s attack lawyers is an exercise in excrutiating masochism and, personally, as a regular GM I’m much more of a sadist.

Still, I’m passing familiar with these legalese nonsense and I managed to get a hold of a copy of FFtS, I also have my handy copies of all the Gamma World books and the GSL to hand and so, I think, I can discern what went wrong and how people might go about producing saleable Gamma World material in the future.

Where God Went Wrong
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The first thing that leaps out and nobbles you the moment you look at FFtS is that it openly advertises itself as a Gamma World product and announces its compatibility, complete with a self-designed compatibility logo. You can’t do this, yet. The GSL has no references to Gamma World and only references D&D. While it talks about ‘forthcoming’ GSL information for SF/Modern materials I think we can probably all safely bet since the layoffs and the reluctance to have the GSL and modify it beforehand that we ain’t going to see this in a while, if at all.

Without explicit permission you cannot and should not advertise your product as compatible with Gamma World in much the same way as you cannot advertise your product as being compatible with Dark Sun, Eberron or Forgotten Realms. You can only advertise your product as being compatible with D&D. Even though Gamma World is more of a separate game than a setting per se this makes no odds as far as this problem is concerned.

Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes
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Trade Dress: A clear attempt has been made to make FFtS look like the official GW material. This is laudable n’all but companies tend to be pretty protective about this. While it’s (probably) fine for the powers, attacks and monster stat blocks, not so much for the main body text. Best to play it safe.

Monsters/Powers Etc: Not a mistake here, but something to be wary of. You can’t reproduce the monsters in the Gamma World books AT ALL. You can’t use the base stats and fiddle them a bit to create a ‘deadly nightshade vegepygmy’ though you could create a ‘deadly nightshade plant-midget’. Equally you can’t reproduce power/attack text or damage or anything else direct from the book, like hazards.

Omega Tech/Alpha Mutations: Nope, can’t mention these or make up your own. You can of course create your own NAMED loot and maybe ‘evolutions’ but you can’t redefine or work it into the existing system. You’ll have to leave people to do that themselves maybe with vague suggestions like ‘There might be a couple of high tech devices in this bunker for the characters to loot’ or ‘the reality flux in this area may cause random genetic and other changes in a character from turn to turn’.

Healing Rules: Specific mention/reference to Gamma World healing rules. Can’t do that. You could refer to D&D healing rules, but not to the GW healing rules. You can only refer to the books covered in the GSL.

Who is this God Person Anyway?
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OK, so, what CAN and CAN’T you do for Gamma World under the GSL?

Adventures: Monsters and encounters appear to be no problem, just watch your terminology. There’s nothing that says you have to use a standard monster template in your material, so as far as baddies go you should be golden.

Rules: You can only mention rules that are in the main 4e D&D books and covered by the existing GSL. You can’t refer to the GW peculiarities, you can’t redefine terms but you CAN expand them or add new ones.

Mutations: So you can’t create new Alpha Mutations, but you could produce ‘Evolutions’ as a mutation mechanic to bolt onto 4e D&D that works in somewhat the same way, maybe a table instead of cards, maybe permanent instead of temporary mutations.

Omega Tech: You can’t produce Omega Tech cards or a field guide, but you could produce books or tables of ‘high tech weapons’ that work much the same way, though, again, you can’t use specific GW terminology that doesn’t appear in the GSL.

Cards: So you can’t have items with ‘expended’ and ‘salvaged’ rules specifically. With mutations you can’t have ‘overcharged’ and you can’t talk about tap, refresh and other card handling.

Character Origins: Nope. Can’t do these. Too many non GSL terms and references. It’s just not going to work. Nothing to stop you putting them out as fan material, but that’s a different samovar of piscines altogether.

PreGens: Nope. If you want to include pregenerated characters with your adventures you’re shit out of luck. You could always put them out for free as ‘fan material’ as with origins, but that’s inconvenient really.

Weapons & Equipment: Gamma World is pretty vague, so long as you don’t use the same names you should have no problem here coming up with your own stuff.

Cryptic Alliances: You can’t call them that or make cards, but you can come up with secretive groups all you like.

Vocations: Nope, these aren’t allowed. They’re not covered in the GSL. You could create some things that are analagous to them in some way, but again you’d have to be careful.

Feats: You could make up Feats all you wanted, but since they can only – normally – be gained via vocations in Gamma World you’d need to work out some other rationale and why someone might want to take them in place of their vocational one, while still not mentioning vocations.

Don’t Panic
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None of this constitutes legal advice, it just represents what I’ve been able to discern are the probable issues with FFtS and the likely reasoning behind the C&D order. I have taken a rather conservative and paranoid outlook on what may and may not be allowed for material produced for Gamma World and your mileage may vary, as may your tolerance for risk. If you’ve NOT signed up to the GSL and want to produce Gamma World material you’re probably better off confirming to normal copyright and compatibility legalities, but I’m not going to get into those here. Look it up for D&D on Google and you should find some articles explaining it nicely.

Ultimately the only way we’re going to know exactly what’s going on is as and when Wizards legal offer some sort of explanation or cure opportunity to DarkLight Interactive.

http://rpg.brainclouds.net/


Note:
I do not consider Brainclouds to be a ‘n00b’ or to have done much wrong in this instance. It’s a messy area and Wizards are providing conflicting messages on the issues that have been raised. If anything we’ve been done a favour by having this pushed out into the open. Since the dropping of the OGL and the confusion around the GSL the whole issue has been a mess for 3PP which is a large part of the reason you haven’t seen a great deal of 4e support and why so many more 3PP have embraced Pathfinder (feeding its success).

Hell, just the sheer amount of acronyms used above should be a warning to anyone.

Hopefully this helps some people get their head around the issues and, if in doubt, crosscheck with the existing GSL.

Gamma World: Face-Raping Mecha Gibbons

From a flippant comment by Ian Belcher
Doctor Kama’Lu’s island exists across multiple dimensions and, wherever he finds himself, he unleashes his ape-based creations from Ro-Daddio to, unfortunately, the Face-Raping Mecha Gibbons or FRMG’s. Cobbled together from decommissioned sex-bots these tree-swinging sentinels were originally designed for rapid movement and patrol of the jungles of Doctor Kama’Lu’s jungle home but, unfortunately, their old instincts still hold true, humiliatingly enough for their victims.

Face-Raping Mecha Gibbon Level 5 Skirmisher
Small Arborial Animate (robot) XP 200
HP 64, Bloodied 32
Initiative +7
Perception +8 (Darkvision)
AC 21, Fortitude 17, Reflex 18, Will 16
Speed 3, Swing 12 (Trees, skeletal buildings or other frameworks allow the mecha gibbon to move at speed)
Immune: Poison; Resist: 10 electricity, Radiation
Standard Actions
Swing-By Smack (Physical) – At Will
Hurtling past on one arm the mechanical ape extends one massive metallic fist and smashes into you on its way past.
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature) +8 vs. AC.
Hit: 2d6+7 physical damage during a swinging move, using both move and standard actions, the attack may not take place on the first or last square of movement. AC is reduced by -2 until the mecha gibbon’s next turn.
Ape-Arm Beatdown (Physical) – At Will
With a hooting cry the mecha gibbon descends at speed, smashing down with both of its big metal fists.
Attack Melee 1 (one creature) +8 vs AC
Hit: 1d8+7 physical damage.
Triggered Actions
Face-Rape – At Will
The damage it has taken has booted up some of its… old programming. A vibrating proboscis appears from the mecha-gibbon’s crotch plate and looms large in your view as it swings towards you with a lustful gleam in its glowing red eyes.
Trigger: When bloodied the mecha gibbon gains access to this attack.
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature) +6 vs Fortitude, +2 bonus to further attacks of the same kind following the first successful attack.
Hit: 1d6+6 damage and target is Restrained.
STR 20 +7 Dex 16+5 Wis 12 (+3)
Con 16 (+5) Int 6 (+0) Cha 7 (+0)

NB:
Horrifyingly, there are robot gibbons.

Gamma World: Pleasure Origin


Cherry 2000 

The oldest profession is the oldest profession for a damned good reason. Even when you subsist on nuts and berries someone has something someone else wants.Access to nookie.

The trope of ‘pleasure’ turns up throughout trashy SF and apocalyptic fiction, the bad guy’s right hand courtesan, the sexy angel from Barbarella, the Medical Corps from Hell Comes to Frogtown not to mention the disturbing implications in the short story ‘Ersatz’ or the pleasure robots of Cherry 2000, AI and others that no longer seem so far fetched in a world of fleshlights and realdolls.

This archetype/origin is for a ‘pleasure’ type of either gender though mixing it with some of the other origins might be a little disturbing…

PLEASURE
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YOU WIELD YOUR SENSUALITY LIKE A WEAPON, LULLING ENEMIES INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY.

Being a looker, or skilled in certain ‘arts’ is always going to be a tradeworthy skill and whatever it is that makes someone (or something) sexy – be it bearing, looks, confidence, humour – you have it in spades.

Appearance: Pleasure beings tend to be good-looking examples of their type but it’s impossible to hide their nature, they can even make an old potato sack look smoking hot, without even trying.

PLEASURE TRAITS
Mutant Type: Charisma, no power source, +2 to all overcharge.
Skill Bonus (Level 1): Gain a +4 bonus to Interaction and Insight checks.
Rishanthra (Level 1): You can enter into Interaction checks in order to try and seduce and sway the opinion of things outside your own species, even machines and other things that would not normally respond to sexual advances.
Distracting Presence (Level 1): Enemies within 2 squares of you take a -2 penalty to hit you or anyone/anything else.
Pleasure Critical (Level 2 or 6): When you score a critical hit the attack deals 1d10 extra damage and, coming from someone like you, it surprises them and throws them off guard reducing their AC by 2 until the end of your next turn.

PLEASURE POWERS

STUNNING – PLEASURE NOVICE
With a flash of your eyes, the shapely turn of an ankle or a flirtatious smile you can root an enemy in place, rapt with their attention fixed upon you.
At-Will, Physical.
Standard Action,
Ranged 5
Target: One creature
Attack: Charisma + your level Vs Will.
Hit: The target is stunned by your sheer gorgeousness and can only take a minor action until your next turn.

DRAWING THEM IN – PLEASURE UTILITY
You have a magnetic personality, not literally but figuratively, something that needs stressing on Gamma Terra.
Encounter, Physical
Standard Action, Close Blast 10
Effect: Every enemy within the blast area is shifted two squares towards you. They can and will move around obstacles and obvious traps in so doing.

DANCE OF THE THREE SNAKES – PLEASURE EXPERT
You combine your sheer physical presence with your skill to create a completely engrossing performance that can still a battle completely.
Encounter, Physical
Standard Action,  Close Blast 12
Effect: Every enemy within the area of the blast is shifted two squares towards you, following the most direct route possible, even passing through hazards, walking off cliffs and so forth. Following this each is hit as though by the Stunning ability – above – and affected in the same way.

Gamma World: Nazi Origin


After all, what’s a gonzo-setting without Nazis? 

Nazis appear throughout post-apocalyptic, pulp, weird and other fictional forms as ‘baddies’, either as themselves (living on the moon, in the centre of the Earth, South America or dimensional/other worldly portals) or similar philosophies turn up with mutants thinking themselves superior, alien races running death/experimentation camps and so on. In gaming you have examples like Reich Star or the Coalition forces in RIFTs, through cinematic and pulp history you have any number of campy or serious examples from Planet of the Apes and Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards. Even Daleks are really just Nazis dressed up in a tin-can. As such it’s a ripe trope for any sort of gonzo setting, my own ’45 or the new Gamma World being great examples. They’re a quick, easy way to hit some well understood tropes and to bring them into a game.A stranded ‘uber’ from another dimension can make an interesting, reluctant ally and even a powerful antihero. For the ‘oldies’ amongst you, ‘Planet of the Damned’ from the obscure UK comic Starlord might be a good springboard for some ideas.

NAZI
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YOU ARE A MEMBER OF THE MASTER RACE, WHICH JUST HAPPENS TO BE WHATEVER RACE YOU’RE A MEMBER OF. YOU ARE DESTINED TO RULE ALL OF GAMMA TERRA WITH YOUR FELLOWS. IT IS YOUR DESTINY! IT IS IN YOUR BLOOD!

The idea of inherent supremacy to a particular race or type is prevalent in many nations, many fascist ideologies and many dimensions. The concept is particularly appealing to those who have fallen upon hard times and need a convenient excuse to hate everyone else. You are the current iteration/result of one of these ideologies. Indoctrinated with unpleasant and scientifically questionable ideas, bred to be a perfect member of your particular ‘type’ and given over to frothing rants about the inferiority of everyone and everything else.

Nazis are looked down upon by almost all other sentient beings across Gamma Terra but they do tend to have nice looking uniforms and if you can get past the rabid rhetoric they’re more than willing to work with anyone who can further their cause. Nazi settlements tend to be paranoid and dangerous, but well organised with a lot of stockpiled Omega Technology.

Appearance: Most Nazis are either shining examples of the perfection of their particular type (your other origin roll) or quite the opposite. They wear natty black/brown uniforms and armour and always keep their boots nicely polished – where appropriate. Being the result of eugenics experiments rather than the more advanced techniques used to produce Engineered Humans, Nazis may display some of the effects of inbreeding.

NAZI TRAITS
Mutant Type: Charisma, Dark, +2 to Dark overcharge.
Skill Bonus (Level 1): Gain a +4 bonus to Interaction and Conspiracy checks.
Unbridled Hate (Level 1): Gain a +2 bonus to hit and damage against any enemy that doesn’t share traits/similarity of your origins. GM discretion determines what you can and cannot get this bonus against, a Nazi felinoid, for example, wouldn’t get the bonus against other supremacists (such as Hoops) or against any feline form of enemy.
Tech Cache (Level 1): When you draw Omega Tech you can draw an extra card and discard the one that you don’t like.
Nazi Critical (Level 2 or 6): When you score a critical hit the attack deals 1d10 extra damage + your level, with the same caveat as Unbridled Hate.

NAZI POWERS
HATE-FUELLED ATTACK – NAZI NOVICE
Your loathing for anything that isn’t like you lends itself to powerful strikes that harm your enemies, but expose you.
At-Will, Physical, Weapon
Standard Action, Melee
or Ranged weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: d20+ Weapon accuracy + Your level Vs. AC.
Hit: 2[W] + your level physical damage and your AC is considered two lower until your next turn.

VILLAINOUS ARROGANCE – NAZI UTILITY
You laugh in the face of death. The truly superior cannot die!
Encounter, Dark
Minor Action, Personal
Effect: You gain resist 5 physical for the rest of the encounter but your Fortitude, Reflex and Will values are reduced by -2, after all, nothing can hurt you.

CRUELTY – NAZI EXPERT
When you destroy an enemy you do it in such a cruel and painful manner that their fellows cannot help but wince and turn away.
Encounter, Physical, Weapon
Standard Action, Melee or Ranged weapon
Effect: After an attack destroys or kills an enemy you can activate this power. Each enemy within 10 squares takes an attack of Charisma, plus your level vs. Will. If affected they may only make a minor action on their next turn as they are too disgusted and scared by what you just did to their fellow.

Gamma World: Watercrass

Found growing wild throughout the south of what was once the British Isles and where it was once cultivated in its pre ‘oops’ form, watercrass is particularly found in Harshire along the contaminated waterways and rivulets of that (glowing) green and pleasant land. Watercrass is noted for its spicy flavour, it’s lush, tangled leaves and its strange mutated defence of saying the most foul, disgusting and inappropriate things to anyone who treads on it or tries to pick it.

Watercrass (Difficult, lightly obscured, improper) The tangled leaves of watercrass provide good cover, though they hinder movement. The constantly whispered innuendos, insults and aspersions to perversity muttered by the crass impose a -2 penalty to any actions while occupying the same space as the crass. Weaker minds my snap under the unrelenting assault to their psyche.

Other forms of more aggressive crass, such as the toxic-gas producing Mustard Crass are also known.

Gamma World: Dollies


Dolly
Level 2 Brute
Large Mutant Animal (sheep)
XP: 125
HP: 46; Bloodied: 23
Initiative: +1
AC: 16, Fortitude: 15, Reflex: 12, Will: 15
Perception: +8, Dollys can only be flanked from the rear, not from the side.
Speed: 8
Traits
Mob Defence: +1 bonus to AC per Dolly adjacent to it.
Standard Attacks
Kick: (physical, at will): Attack, melee (one creature) +5 Vs AC. Hit: 1d6+3 damage.
Trample: (physical, recharge 6): Attack, melee (all creatures in range) +5 Vs AC. The dolly charges its full movement and attacks anyone and anything that it overlaps during that move. Hit: 2d10+3.
Skills
Perception +8
Str: 14 (+3)    Dex: 10 (+1)    Wis: 16 (+4)
Con: 16 (+4)    Int: 2 (-3)    Cha: 10 (+1)

Before everything went pear-shaped there were many attempts to produce genetically engineered animals and plants to deal with the food problems across the world. While most of these were concentrated upon vegetable engineering, cloning and other manipulations were done upon farm animals. The idea was that the ‘perfect’ farm specimen could be engineered, then cloned so that every animal in a herd could be perfect.

Goats and sheep can make use of land that isn’t arable for crops and as a result were the target for most of these manipulations which, in one dimension or other at least, topped out with the ‘Dolly’. A genetically engineered, giant, parthenogenetic sheep that not only produces delicious meat and milk, but which exudes metals that it eats into its wool, cleaning areas of toxic metals and simultaneously producing a really tough fleece.

Every year, reliably, in lambing season, dollies give birth to an exact genetic copy of themselves, or, at least, that’s the plan. This means you can start even with a herd of one and year on year, provided none die, you’ll double what you have. Unfortunately, the nature of Gamma Terra being what it is, mutations do creep in and are replicated in the various different lines from different clone mothers, resulting in many different sub-species of dolly from the Venemous Vampire Sheep of the rocky wilds of Tornaway to the giant-horned monsters of Ramsgait. Many species, including the baseline, are also used as mounts.

(Subspecies should substitute their trample ability with something else).

The tough wool produced by dollies can be knitted into armour, providing +2 protection and many farming communities rely on this, even though the armour is often laced with radioactive isotopes and heavy metals. Some dollies are even, deliberately, grazed upon particularly mutagenic land to produce special wool or to try and create new, useful, mutant lines from the base species.