Written by Eric Bloat
Originally launched through a highly-successful crowdfunding drive in January of 2014, Mutant Chronicles RPG 3rd Edition by Modiphius Entertainment, builds upon the deeply immersive galactic setting that fans of the two prior editions of the game have come to know and love. At it’s core, Mutant Chronicles is a Diesel-Punk, Techno-Fantasy, high-velocity, cinematic thrill-ride that dedicates itself to ease of gameplay while providing enough setting and backstory to ensure that your gaming group won’t soon run out of nooks and crannies to explore in this well-plotted solar system.
Mutant Chronicles RPG, 3rd Edition (referred to hereafter as MC3) uses Modiphius Entertainments own gaming system, The 2d20 System. The 2d20 System derives it’s name from player characters (PCs) and non-player characters (or NPCs) rolling two twenty-sided dice to determine the games main mechanic, a skill test. A skill test is only performed when there is a chance of failure. The PC or NPC rolls (2) d20s at the same time. Rolling lower is better as the PC or NPC rolling is typically trying to roll under a specific Attributes. The difficulty number of a given task can be modified by skills, bonus success, difficulty and Attributes. Since (2) d20s are rolled at the same time, there is a chance that a PC or NPC can both succeed and fail during their attempt. Succeeding at a Skill Test gives the PC Chronicle Points, which may give the PC some narrative control of the action. Failing at a Skill Test gives the PC Dark Symmetry Points, which gives the Game Master (the person running the game) narrative control which the Game Master can use then to impose a side-effect of failing, or can be saved to use later in the game at a time of her choosing.
MC3 uses the above mentioned Attributes to represent a character’s physical and mental abilities. Each character gets the following 8 Attributes: Agility, Awareness, Coordination, Intelligence, Mental Strength, Personality, Physique and Strength. These are the core essence of the character and are used to begin Character Creation, referred to as Lifepath in MC3. A player’s first decision is to either roll to determine starting Attributes or use the Optional Point Buy System. Next a player determines Birth Faction, Social Class, Environment, Education, Primary Career, Iconic Career and Final Customization. Each decision for each of these characteristics can improve a character’s Attribute bonus, give skills, develop talents and receive additional equipment and resources and more. This completes a character’s Lifepath.
Like many RPGs, MC3 is a class-based game. In MC3, Iconic Careers refer to a character’s class. Iconic Careers represented here are: Heretic, Inquisitor, Mystic, Mortificator, Conquistador, Murders & Acquisitions Agent, Blood Beret, Corporate Samurai, Triad Enforcer, Shadow Walker, Technological Archaeologist, Security, Warfare, and Intelligence Cyber-Infiltrator, Cyberscientist, Bone Hussar, Resector, Night Witch, Luna PD Detective, Doomtrooper, Celebrity, Politician, Freedom Brigade, Venusian Marshal, Merchant Captain, and Rake. These Iconic Careers range in power, skills and talents and with such a vast variety to chose from, you won’t soon find yourself needing to duplicate a character choice.
Fans of the previous editions of MC3’s expensive setting will love the additions and expansions added to the already vast narrative-driven backstory. In this edition of the game, you have the options to play across three distinct timelines: The New Dark Symmetry Period, The Dark Legion Era and Dark Eden. Here’s how the authors of the game summed up the differences in these periods:
“ The first is the new Dark Symmetry period. In this exciting time you get to play through the very first appearance of the Dark Apostles, as the Dark Symmetry quickly takes hold. This is the apex of technology. The quick-start adventure, Straffar Gatan 39, is set in the very first days of the Dark Symmetry era.
The second period in the timeline is the Dark Legion era. Fans will recognize this as the setting of the original roleplaying game and the Warzone miniatures game.
The final time period, Dark Eden, will offer a fascinating look at the height of the conflict. The previous version of the roleplaying game began to explore this period, but we will finally answer some of the questions the setting raised!”
For those unfamiliar with Mutant Chronicles, a word of explanation is required. The setting of MC3 ranges in our entire solar system, from Mercury to the Dwarf planets on the outer rim, with one exception, Earth. In the late 21st century, the world was taken over and run by large corporations that plundered the Earth dry of resources and choked her with pollution. What remained was a world that could no longer support life. Now the only the Whitestar live here. All others fled. Humanity now mostly inhabits the moon, or Luna City as it’s known. A terraformed satellite orbiting a dead planet.
Now the same Corporations that caused the fall of Earth, still exist, and have spread out amongst the other remaining planets. Each claiming the majority of a planet as it’s own. These corporate factions are Capitol, Bauhaus, Mishima, Imperial and Cybertronic, Cartel, Luna PD, Brotherhood and Whitestar with each corporation receiving their own dedicated chapter in the MC3 core rulebook (except Luna PD, promised to be covered in a Luna City Guide Book later).
Aside from corporations there is also human Free Lancers, people who choose to go at it on their own as opposed to living under the thumb of any given corporations authority.
The Dark Apostles and the Heretics are the biggest threat to humanity. The Dark Apostles are interdimensional aliens who fancy themselves Gods and are Hellbent on conquest and corruption. Currently humanity finds itself in the crosshairs of their ill intentions. The Dark Apostles have their servants, the Heretics. Like the Sith in Star Wars, the Heretics find themselves seduced by the Dark Side, or in this instance, Dark Symmetry. Heretics can sometimes become imbued with certain aspects of their master’s powers. These powers are referred to as Dark Gifts.
It is also worth mentioning that thanks to Dark Symmetry spreading across the solar system, mankind has reverted to
“old” technology of the late 21st century and beyond because Dark Symmetry can infect and corrupt technology but has a harder time with older tech. This is the reason why most humans are fearful and distrustful or machines and technology.
LAYOUT, PRESENTATION & DESIGN
MC3 receives the highest of marks for layout and design. The overall layout of the book and the way the information flows from one chapter to the next is in line with the highest of industry standards. Also, this book clocks in at 496 pages, which are chock full of art, pull outs, maps, tables, images and vibrant tones and yet nothing feels formulaic. Each page is given it’s own detailed design and when reading makes the reader feel they’re truly reading 496 individual pages that make up a cumulative total of a book.
The art in this book is not just top notch but it’s plentiful too. Each piece seems to be inline with others style and gives the impression that all the art was done by one artist. The art is digital but made to look like each piece is a full oil painting done by a master artisan. The graphic design for the tables and text pull outs are done well and grab the readers attention like saying, “Hey, read me. I’m important.” The cartography falls in line with the rest of the design, with the map of the solar system really standing out as a piece that’s unique and well done.
MC3 is great game. Hats off to all who worked on this book. From the mechanics, to the setting to the design, no corners were cut. While the game is rules medium, it plays as though it’s rules light. Also, you’d be hard pressed to find a game that’s as rich in setting & backstory as MC3. It reminds me of Rifts RPG by Palladium Books. Not mechanically but rather so steep history and an expansive setting. My only real critique would be that in it’s 496 pages, there is so much text describing everything in the solar system and how it came to be that way that newer gamers may be a bit overwhelmed. However, if you’re up to the challenge, then you most likely will love MC3.