Mutations, mutations, mutations

Hi guys

My campain just really hit it off and I did some really bad things and I think I need some sound advice. First I´d like to tell you what happened in the last three sessions so you can see where I´ll be going with the campain, then I need some ideas.

The party (one glaive, one jack, both part of a traveling circus) trael into a city that isn´anywhere on all of the maps. During a couple of days, all of the circusmembers die and townspeople mutate into gross zombie mutants. Turns out the whole city is one big organism that adapted into a symbiotic being to lure weary travelers into it´s trap. So the partys decides to blow it up (naturally), but not without being infected with a strange mutagen that turns them into similar creatures, being able to absorb virtually anything and assimilate its powers. But they don´t know that yet.
In the next sessions they have to find their way back into civilisation. As they wanders through the forest they have to eat strange numenrea creatures and absorb their powers without knowing. Later they meet a friendly hunter who turn up dead the next morning (the players killed him, but they don´t know that yet). They get captured by some mecenarys and get locked away. The next morning one of the mercs is dead (yeah, the players did it) and they want to murder the PCs. While they are fleeing they find the camera tapes of how they killed the solderis in their sleep after turning into gross tentacled mutants. They picked up the abilities of the creatures from the forest they ate and slowly turned. So they use their newfound powers to escape through an underground river (they have gills now).
In the next session they´ll be washed into an underground cave without equipment and food and have to use their powers to survive. As the plot continues they´ll have to decide to either maintain their humanity or give it up for survival and/or power. I have them both really grossed out and I like the possibilies for future sessions but I´m not sure how I should handle these mutation abilites.
Here I´d like some feedback. What should I aim for, what should I avoid and how should I implement that into the characters? I´d appreciate some good ideas.


  • Control.  Its sounds like the characters and the players are or could easily get out of control eating critters and gaining their powers.  But you don't want them to be tier 2 with mind-bendingly awesome powers because of lucky rolls, that would just be silly.  And possibly game breaking.  

    What about the relationship with predator and prey, say they eat and gain the powers of a small (non-game specific) mouse with electric based powers.  The characters then turn around and eat something that is a natural predator to that mouse say an (once again non-game specific) owl and gain it's powers.  I was thinking that the predator's powers would overcome the prey's powers within the character like they do in the wild.  So the mutant character now does not have access to the mouse's abilities nor anything else that owl would normally eat.  If the characters want access to more powerful mutations they will have to seek out a creature higher on the food chain and absorb it or exchange those powers for another creature on the same level of the food chain.  Probably a little more work for you though. 

    Not knowing where the story is going, such as what the possible end game is, you are going to have a more difficult time reigning them in on their hunt for new and more powerful mutations.  If they are interested in returning to their formerly non mutated existence, maybe dangle the possibility of a cure in front of them and see if they bite.  Or a mentor (or pair of mentors that are at odds with each other) that will help them through this difficult time of transition (pun intended).  The Mentor(s) would of course have their own ideas of what the characters need to do with their powers.  Or maybe dangle the need for the "Bad Mutation" to over come some other kind of mutant or numenera that is hurting the region.  Or all three.  Or maybe they need to gain a more eastern point of view towards their powers.  Gain a power, gain control of the power, and then have to use that power to defeat more powerful enemies and gain the aid and friendship of other people afflicted with the mutations. Kinda like ALL the combat/tournament based anime that exists.  Maybe the tentacled horror that they mutate into is actually a separate creature that once it gets more powerful or reaches a mature state will erupt from the character and become it's own entity.  Either killing the characters (so they will want to stop it from reaching maturity somehow) or leaving them for dead (which they will recover from) and becoming the end "boss" for the story.

    Are people afflicted with these mutations accepted in the normal settlements or shunned and feared?  Something for you to think about.

    As for handling the powers you could replace their current tier abilities with their new powers.  So that if they want that tail with the flames on the end they will have to gain the next tier or buy it with their XP.  Thus slowing down their mutation rate and having them manage with the powers they already have, before gaining new ones. 

    You could treat the critters they eat as cyphers and artifacts.  So that those mutations they gain have the possibility of wearing out, but the bad mutation - the one that turns them in to tentacled horrors, stays and becomes more of a problem for them over time.

    No matter what you do with these characters have fun with it, that should be your ultimate goal.

  • Thanks for the feedback.

    I really like your plot ideas, but actually, I´m just not that far. Here´s whats gonna happen. They get flushed into a underground cave system without food or shelter and have to absorb some things to survive. When they come out they´ll won´t look like anything human at all I figure.
    Then, when they reach civilisation, they´ll meet someone from their past. "Oh, my god what have you done ect. ect." What happens then is really in the hands of the players.
    So first there is the necessity and lure of these abitites to survive and it will be awesome. Free powers. Then there is the fallout, beeing turned into something really gross and the realisation that they can´t go back easily.
    I can´t really figure out how they react to that just yet so I don´t not which direction it´ll be but I hope I can generate a conflict. So the one is grossed out and alienated, the other is fascinated by these changes and wants more. If they want to change back to humans they´ll have to find a way to do that. If they want to absorb super creatures they´ll have to deal with their changes. But there is no bigger picture just jet.

    Your idea of preadtor/prey is nice but not really what I aim for. There is this one creature in the core book, some kind of mechanical gorilla that can absorb mechanical parts into his body. Imagine one of my players absorbs this creatures abiliy and starts to graft mechnical bodyparts. That´s what I aim for. The good thing about Numenera is that this isn´t even far off because everything is happening anywhere.
    The obvious problem is, that this ability can get out of hand, so I have to think of countermesures. One idea I had is a limit of active mutations the players can control. So they absorb blindsight, gills and immunity to poison, but when they want to change that they´ll have to loose one of these abilities. The other thing i thought of is that I´ll just let them do whatever they want and utilise it for future adventures. I don´t think they´ll overdo it anyway but after a couple of changes I could mention changes to their perception, weird dreams, mental defects ect.
    I really like your cypher idea but I don´t think thats the point. I want these mutations to be permanent for the good and for the bad. So every choice should be a hard one. For that I need a strong incentive (mutation awesome skills, obviously) and a great price (paying with your humanity). That doesn´t work if you just gain the use of a cypher which you could have otherwise, so the players would just igonre it. Maybe the players get these one time skills when they absorb something, e.G. these is this fish, they absorb it, gain gills and one time resist poison because of the fishs awesome liver function.
    I also liked your idea to spend XP to mutate further. That would slow down advancement and give them an incentive not to change. Maybe I could balance out the mutations they´ll choose and thoose that happen plot wise.
    I´m not really worried about the game balance. If they get stronger, I´ll have to find harder challanges for them. That also happens when the chars advance regularly so I just have to think of something clever. Also, either way the story will develop I´ll have some kryptonite at hand.

    There is some information I already have established which I didn´t tell you about.
    Firstly, these creatures are able to absorb virtually anything, as seen in the first half of the campain. There was this one creature which absorbed technology, mechanical parts and different bilogical beinings until it turned into a whole city.
    Secondly they have not mutated the ability to absorb anything else than creatures. While they were in the wilderness they ate two animals whoose ablities they gained. If they wanted to absorb plant life they have to absorb the abiliy by eating the right kind of animal. If they wanted to feed of extraplanar energies they have to find a way to develop the ablity first.
    Thirdly, they sometimes black out to kill inocent bystanders. I don´t know yet why they have to do it. That is a complication they´ll have to deal with in the future.
    Fourthly, the players don´t know anything about their skills yet, actually, they are just on the verge of realising it´s potential. They don´t know where it comes from, what it changes and so on, so I have free rein.

    If you have any ideas how I can implement these ideas into the characters development I´d really apreciate this.
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