After making an Ark for Mutant Year Zero it’s about time I made some mutant “heroes” to fill it up. I use heroes in quotes because this isn’t D&D or Exalted… hell, it’s not even Eclipse Phase. The people here aren’t heroes, they’re survivors. It’s assumed from the start that they’ll do whatever it takes to keep the Ark alive. Where the line between that mission and doing “what’s right” might be the subject of a mission or two but it’s not the center of the story by any means.
The first thing to pick with this character is what Role I’m going to fill. This won’t be the last character made for this Ark but I want to make someone strong to support the place. With that in mind, I think I’m going to make a Gearhead. Rather than being part of the Bureaucrats, though, this mechanic is going to work with Natar the Planter’s faction (see my Ark description) for more on that boss.
Like other mutants, this character has no idea how old they are, which is a bit creepy. As for Name, I’m thinking something fun like Iota. That’s actually a pretty name, I think I’ll keep it in mind for my next kid too…
My standard approach to assigning attributes in an RPG is to evenly spread out the points and then adjust. With 14 points and four attributes that won’t work perfectly this time, so I’m going to put everything at 3 and then boosting Wits and Strength by one, leaving Empathy and Agility at 3.
Since skills go from 0 to 5, I’m guessing it really sucks to have a skill of 1… It’s kind of nothing. I’ve got 10 points to spread out, so I’m going with two at 2 and two at 3. Iota’s specialist skill (for being a Gearhead) is Jury-Rig so that will be at 3. The other Level 3 skill will be Force for moving the heavy gear that the farmers use in their work.
I’m going to give Iota Sense Emotion and Comprehend at Level 2. She’s smart at reading people and machines (sometimes she thinks of them the same way). She actually is valuable to Boss Natar in that way: she’s got the chops to be respected among the farmers but she also can talk to other factions to maneuver them through the nasty politics of the Refuge.
Talents, like feats or Edges in other systems, are the mundane things that Iota can do (as opposed to her mutation… we’ll get to that later). I can pick out just one from the Gearhead list or the General list.
I’m tempted to go with one of the Jury-Rig bonus talents from the Gearhead list but I’ll wait and see how Iota does in play before committing to one of those. Instead I’m going to go with Workhorse, making her a strong worker on any Ark projects.
It occurs to me that Iota isn’t much of a fighter but I think that’s alright. Still, maybe I’ll get a combat-handy mutation in this step. That’s the thing with mutations, in real life and in Mutant Year Zero: you don’t know what your mutation is going to be. Some GMs no doubt let their players choose a mutation or at the very least reroll a result they don’t like.
I call these people weaklings and there’s no place for them after the Apocalypse.
So I roll and get… 33! That’s the Puppeteer mutation, which is a strange one for a farmer to have. Iota can use her will to control other people’s actions. I’m thinking she actually dislikes this ability and tries not to use it too much. Fortunately, Natar doesn’t really ask her to use it but if it comes down to it she’ll force every other person in the Ark with her mind to protect her friends.
I’m actually willing to take a little more on my plate with this character (she is the first mutant I’ve made, after all) so I’m going to take the option to get a second mutation in exchange for starting the game with one of my Attributes at 1. I’m going to make Agility 1 which means I get two more points to assign… I’ll end up with Wits 5*, Strength 4, Empathy 4, and Agility 1.
(*This is allowed because it’s the Key Attribute for Gearheads.)
Anyways, rolling again I get… 44. Apparently my dice like multiples of 11 today. That’s Spores which means she has the ability to release clouds of awful spores to burn people’s eyes and nauseate them. Well, I did want a combat ability. If things get too real, Iota just unleashes an awful cloud of black noxiousness and runs for it. Possibly, she’ll mind-control someone into attacking their fellows as well. That’s just her style.
Gear and Den
I get a nice set of gear from being a Gearhead including some bullets, grub, and water rations. I also get my choice of weapons and considering that Iota’s Agility is terrible and her Strength is damn impressive, I’m going with a melee weapon: brass knuckles. She’ll have those bullets to trade for more gear later.
She also gets an artifact that I randomly roll… 365. That’s an ID Card which is used in the metaplot to find Eden. You’re welcome, other mutants.
Lastly, time to decide on Iota’s den. I think she doesn’t live in anything particularly den-like, it’s the hollowed-out carcass of an old tractor. The space barely fits her huge frame but it’s just a place for sleeping, right? It’s right next to the farmer’s irrigation pumps so she can keep watch all night long.
Well, that’s the nuts-and-bolts of ol’ Iota. I see her as a tall (but pretty) and hard-working woman who’s a bit clumsy but very determined. She always wears long sleeves to hide the bumps of her spore sacs and only smiles when she’s working on something.
Once I have all the PCs together I’ll do the Relationships and Dreams step for each of them. For now, though, here’s Iota’s character sheet. Feel free to use her as an NPC in you Mutant Year Zero campaign. I will!