The Ultimate Lock of Mutant Future

Derek Holland

The idea of electronic locks in post apocalyptic RPGs goes all the way back to the beginning. Metamorphosis Alpha had colored wristbands (and a plant mutation that replicated them). Gamma World had identity cards that had several themes (engineer, military commander, citizen, etc.). Mutant Future uses the latter, with the potential of an optical scanner as well.

Those are fine for doors and teleportation booths, but not for the most powerful artifacts. They need something better and I think I have come up with the best- VR environments. The character trying to access the artifact is mentally drawn into a Matrix or Tron-like setting where they have to do various things to prove they are the rightful user. This can include answering questions, performing virtual acts and anything else the Mutant Lord can think of. Upon success or failure, the character is booted from the environment and returns mentally to the real world. No matter how long it takes on the inside, the character will return to their body after a second or two of “real” time.

Other than being able to use the artifact, this has one other advantage- the character learns of all of the artifact’s major abilities, positive and negative. The amount of effort (for the character) and play (for the player) involved more than balances out the lack of technology rolls.

For the players, this can be used in two ways. The characters may be drawn in as a group, forcing them to compete to see who will be the artifact’s user. Or it can be used for solo gaming when the other players can’t play.

For Mutant Lords, this is a good way to burn a whole session if one does not have an adventure ready. It also allows for a very different kind of side game that some MLs and players may enjoy from time to time.

I wish I had developed this idea for the superscience artifacts in Quantum Flux as an optional subgame.