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FREE LEAGUE: MUTANT YEAR ZERO: The GRAY DEATH

 

MUTANT YEAR ZERO is a role-playing game system from FREE LEAGUE Publishing and available in the UK through Modiphius.

The GRAY DEATH is a campaign written for MUTANT YEAR ZERO by Tomas Härenstam and Christian Granath with illustrations by Ola Larsson and Reine Rosenberg; credit tip to Michael Petersen for the original Gray Death.

As I do not have a copy of the RPG I cannot review this book's use as a campaign for that system. I have however, managed to use parts and portions of it with a generic (home made) system which is a conglomeration I hashed together from the numerous Fantasy, Steam Punk, Super Hero and Mean Streets style role-play systems I have played; the main game system 'borrowed' from being AIRSHIP PIRATES (Dabney Park).

 

This hard cover volume is extremely well designed to allow GMs to set their players on a campaign course by introducing them to several and varying short adventures which, when completed, lead into a lengthy, dangerous and colourful expedition. If you have MUTANT YEAR ZERO you can drop this extremely flexible campaign into any of the game zones and any sector of those zones that suits your purpose. Therefore by using it with other RPG systems you have a clean slate for its setting. Similarly Battenburg's Trading Post can be anywhere or any name but the setting is generic and tractable such that it and its inhabitants are stereotypical of scenarios, TV shows and movies, that is they are easily associated together for the players. Descriptions and information are liberally and evenly spread throughout the book in manners that make their overall use sweepingly universal.

The GRAY DEATH could have been written for any one of very many role-play systems. Its characters and encounters etcetera can be found in one form or another in any rpg. Those in MUTANT YEAR ZERO have a variety of features, idiosyncrasies and peculiar quirks as well as basic skills; Sneak, Move, Shoot, Endure, Force and abilities; Reflexes, Size, Type, Special Traits, and attributes; Strength, Agility, Wits, Instinct, all of these being a few of the better known and easier converted as required.

 

Many of the character names in The GRAY DEATH sound like they have come straight out of a children's book. Amongst them can be found 'Steve the Bear' and 'Bjorn the Bear', 'Ronny the Hamster', the Dog-like 'Colonel Cerberus' and 'Harold the Rabbit'. There is also a skeletal-like (skin stretched over bones) 'Mr Bones' whose sinister name makes him the perfect candidate for the 'boogie-man'. 

 

I cannot say too much about the campaign without giving away the plot or breaking the confidence of the adventure. I can say that it includes - Mutants, Microchips, Implants, Missing Individuals, Bar Informants, Strange 'Goings-On', Sub-Quests, Secret 'Armies', Secret Laboratories, and, of course, The Gray Death! But then, to a point, so do episodes of Power Rangers ™ and Transformers™ etc.                                           

 

If you own the MUTANT YEAR ZERO role-play core rules book this volume reads as an excellent story which, as long as the GM is up to speed on the tale, makes a good stand-alone campaign. If you also have 'Guardians of the Fall' The Gray Death is designed to be played after completing that campaign first. If you are the GM and have an active imagination, and a group of players who don't mind a little mix and match, then The Gray Death is fairly easy to adapt without spending hours replacing stats and abilities, mainly because, as mentioned above, the stats and abilities are a simple mentally transaction.

As a download .pdf The Gray Death will cost you £14.99. For the hard cover book edition that doubles to £29.99. First thoughts, as an old rpg player/GM of the 70's onward, are that this is a little expensive. But as I remember single modules used to cost between £3.00 - £5.00 and there are six module sized parts to The Gray Death, then it is more than comparable to those prices from 35-40 years back.

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015