Metamorphosis Beta

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This ...

This …

Combining “An Alternate Beginning Sequence for Metamorphosis Alpha” (from Dragon #6) with Justifiers and X-plorers gives players another pretty damn cül option for character type: animals bioengineered to anthropomorphic intelligence. Think the wake-up scene in Aliens but with monkeys and tigers instead of Hicks and Hudson.

plus this.

plus this …

Whereas the Clones of of the Alpha Protocol were intended to avert shipboard calamity, the animal Betas were created to be the first landers on the destination planet, the front rank whose mission was to recce and report. They were engineered, vat-grown, age-accelerated, educated and trained, then frozen in cryo-tubes and secreted away aboard the ship. Only the captains and top colonial officials and security officers knew of their existence.


and this.

All Betas possess the equivalent of the mutations New Body Parts (for speech, hands and bipedalism) Taller or Shorter (as the case may be, to bring them within human stature norms) and Heightened Intelligence (for human-level cognition). Note however these are not mutations and no benefits accrue from them other than those just stated (e.g., Heightened Intelligence does not give +4 to MR). While the information below provides for the possibility of mutation, Betas are not — in and of themselves — mutants; how they are is not accidental, it is intentional.

They’re Time-Displaced Strangers in the world to which they awaken. They were honed and toned hundreds of years ago to do a job with defined parameters and ongoing logistical support. Instead their capsules open to a command and control vacuum. But they did go to sleep expecting to wake for insertion into an environment much like the one they now find themselves in. So in that sense they’re not at a disadvantage, just disoriented.

While they understand they are aboard a starship — since they knew their intended mission — they possess no knowledge of the ship or its systems. And shipboard computers and robots regard them as aberrant animal species.

One thousand Betas were aboard the ship at launch, 100 each of 10 different models. Some of their number have died in-tube from various system failures over the years. But others have already awakened in the time before the campaign starts. Many of the latter will also have died in the intervening years, but a few will be alive still, possibly ensconced in dwellings, labs or shelters.

It is only a matter of time before the Wolfoids or Androids get wind of them and seek out the location of their tube farm. But they are insulated to a degree from the danger posed by either of those factions. Androids cannot compromise Beta teams; and some Wolf Betas have already infiltrated Wolfoid packs.

If Beta is allowed as a standard character type — like Pure Human, Mutant, Mutated Animal, Clone, Robot or Cyborg — at start of play, only one may be in the group at a time. Roll a d% to find out which numbered team the Beta was from. How this lone Beta came to be with the rest of the adventurers is left to the player and the SM.

If this alternate Beta Protocol campaign start is used, each player is a Beta character. But no more than one of any given animal type can be in the group, as each team comprised one of each model. Roll a d% to find out which Beta team the group forms. If fewer than 10 characters are in the group roll the following for each absent team member: there is a 10% chance they died in-tube; if not, then there is a 10% chance they already woke up, wandered off and didn’t return; if not, then they are still frozen in good(?) health.

Whether or not each Beta’s kit locker opens when they wake is left to the discretion of the SM. Either way, it will contain only a couple of changes of body-appropriate field uniform, like-designed footwear, dog (heh) tags, a load-bearing vest and a knife.

Betas have the same five ability scores as mutants and mutated animals; they lack Leadership Potential.

The combination of their animal natures and lack of a Leadership Potential score means Betas are unable to wake their still-frozen teammates. The ship’s Main Computer understands the still-frozen Betas to be potentially dangerous livestock in cold storage; it simply will not entertain player character requests or commands to wake other Betas no matter what colour bands the PCs possess.

All Betas are sterile unless altered by mutation. They were designed to be infertile.

All Betas have Heightened senses as detailed below.

The 10 models of Beta and their characteristics are listed here. Pick or roll a d10:

1    Bat: Heightened Hearing, +1 DEX and Wings

2    Bear: Heightened Smell, +1 CON and +1 STR

3    Crocodile: Heightened Smell, +1 CON and Partial Carapace

4    Falcon: Heightened Vision, +1 DEX and Wings

5    Mantis: Heightened Vision, +1 DEX and Multiple Body Parts (four arms with hands)

6    Monkey: Heightened Balance, +1 DEX and a prehensile tail

7    Otter: Heightened Touch, +1 CON and webbed hands and feet

8    Raccoon: Heightened Taste, +1 DEX and can see in near-total darkness

9    Tiger: Heightened Hearing, +1 STR and retractable claws

10   Wolf: Heightened Precision, +1 DEX and +1 CON

Note again that Beta species characteristics listed above are not actual mutations, they just grant the relevant advantages.

Unfortunately, lacking the generations of genetic adaptation demanded of life aboard the stricken ship — having been frozen in tubes — each Beta has one mutational defect (50/50 physical/mental) at start of play. In addition, all Betas have a penalty of -1 to Radiation Resistance.

All Betas can read and write the language of the ship’s signs, controls, plans and manuals. They also possess a combination of “Knowledge of technological items in general”* and “Working with simple technological devices.”* How this plays in-game is up to the SM.

*: Both from “The Total Person in Metamorphosis Alpha” (from Dragon #14).

Finally, each Beta is one class from X-plorers, a Scientist, a Soldier, a Scout or a Technician. Pick or roll a d10:

1    Scientist

2    Scientist

3    Scientist

4    Scientist

5    Soldier

6    Soldier

7    Scout

8    Scout

9    Technician

10   Technician

Each Beta gets the four skills listed for his class in descending ability from Level 4 down to Level 1. These can be picked or rolled (using first a d4, then a d3, then a d2 or coin toss). For example, I roll a d10 and get a Bat Beta. I roll another d10 and get Scientist. Then I turn to the Scientist class description on page 7 of X-plorers. I roll a d4 and get a 4, so my Bat Scientist has Level 4 ability in Sociology; next I roll a d3 and get a 1, so he has Level 3 ability in Computers; then I roll a d2 and get a 2, so he’s Level 2 in Science; and finally he’s got Level 1 skill in Medicine.

Seriously, go get yourself a copy of X-plorers. It’s so good! All the rules for the skills mentioned above are on the bottom half of page 6 and in the Class descriptions on pages 7 and 8. Short, sweet and simple. I’ll add it’s worth the few bucks to buy the art version; the Mullen and Zieser illos are pretty boss.

And I’ve always liked Justifiers for its Alien Legion vibe.

[Edit: If you’re thinking of a Beta Protocol team, you might want to watch the Genesis II trilogy and read through The Morrow Project. Wake to a world gone weird!]

The Mind of Mindok!

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My favourite Wizard from Thundarr the Barbarian is, bar none, Mindok the Mind Menace from the ep of the same name. Watch it now:

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Done? Cül.

OK so I’ve wanted a fig of Mindok for a good long while. I despaired of ever having one but then I discovered this guy:


It’s a SuperFigs mini called The Head. (It also comes with a Hitler head, obviously.)

That gave me the perfect — well, good enough for Rock and Roll anyway — body.

I then searched around for the helmet and found this Reaper fig:


It’s their Chronoscope astronaut, Duke Jones. (I’ll also repurpose his head, for one of my Smokers.)

Both pieces involved some pretty serious cutting and filing and, on the helmet, some filling and building. He’s not perfect but I’m happy with how he turned out.


He’s going to be a great villain for Mutant Future Thundarr (scroll down a bit; the download link is on the right hand side).

P.S.: I’ll post again once he’s painted.

Because you demanded it!

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Not really. More like just ’cause I wanna. Well that and, amazingly, nobody* has seen fit to inject chickens — by far Earth’s most domesticated bird — into Metamorphosis Alpha. Weird right?

Chickenoids in Metamorphosis Alpha

Number Appearing:  2-6 (2d3)

Armour Class:           8

Move yds/turn:          12

Hit Dice:                     4

Rad Res:                   12

Men Res:                   16

Dex:                           10

Con:                           12

Str:                             11

Mutations: Taller (1.5 meters tall), New Body Parts (hands), Body Structure Change (one eye: -1 to hit per range band (cumulative) with projectiles and beam weapons), Heightened Intelligence (check out the big brain on Brad!), plus each Chickenoid will have one additional random mental mutation.

Each Chickenoid will possess — and be able to use — at least one device of the Ancients; leaders will have 1d3 such pieces of kit.

*: OK, not nobody. This bit by Mr. Mullen (Goodman Games Deluxe Ed., pg. 127) alludes pretty strongly to these peckers running around in space:


Pear-body, beak, one-eye. What more do you want?

Guess I should move on to Duckoids next.

Go Team One-eye!

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So this just happened:


It’s pretty cool if you like cults, caves and monsters. And if you don’t why are you here?

But more importantly, this:


We AR-IS one-eye.

Go team Cyclops!

Cyclopic Chickens Redux

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Interloper’s two packs of Chickens — Robot-Hunters and Cocked Rifles — give you six foul fowl with which you can terrorize everything from meat packing plants to mutated garden plants with equal vigour.

And playing them in MDRG as a fixed race or species — instead of as an assortment of randomized mutated animals — gives you another option besides the Purity Squad, Android Party or V1L3 Wretched: the Cyclopic Brood.

This is the base for each figure in the Brood:


Cyclops (-3) : Ranged attacks suffer a -1 penalty per range band (i.e., the first range stick is at -1, the second is at -2 and the third is at -3). No shooting beyond three range bands is allowed under any circumstances.

Each Cyclopic Chicken then gets the following:

  • One roll on the Skills Table;
  • One roll on the (expanded) Equipment Table*; and
  • One roll on the Mental Mutations Table.

*: Page 8 here.

Following the above method, I arrived at these two groups:



N.B.: John Two Horns rolled 3 Food Points; John Starbird has one.



Benching (Cooping?) John Nephew or John Guardian brings them under 400 points with five models in your initial Brood.

Pecking Order

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I’m about to start a MDRG campaign set on the Starship Birkenden.

Here’s my command group:


Their straight-up WYSIWYG stats are:


They’re supported by these WYSIWYG birds:


With these stats:


That’s 400 points of poultry!

Cyclops (-3) : Ranged attacks suffer a -1 penalty per range band (i.e., the first range stick is at -1, the second is at -2 and the third is at -3). No shooting beyond three range bands is allowed under any circumstances.

Range Finder (3) : One action to use. Eliminates all penalties on a single ranged attack taken immediately thereafter.

Helmet (1) and Molotov Cocktail (2) : [To be pub’d proper in Apocalipticum sometime soonish I believe.]

Chris and the Anti-Chris

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Yul Brynner will blow your head off!


The Magnificent Seven (Netflix):     start at 1:11:47 remaining.

Westworld (iTunes):                         start at 1:13:23 remaining.


They open at the first appearance of the Anti-Chris and both go dark at the same time.

They have some cool synergies. I’ve watched them a few times; it only gets better.

One thing I noticed the first time I did this is Westworld’s protagonist Peter Martin is dressed near-identically to “the Kid” Chico in The Magnificent Seven.

Holtzman Shield

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I want a fig with one of these:


If Cameron Hodge can have one I want one too.


But how to put one on a fig?

I’ve got a couple of these to try it out:


I’m thinking split the force field off Dr. Banner there, glue it around a different — though equally wooden-posed — fig and blast it with a brush-tip red sharpie. That oughta do it.