Mutant Chronicles is a post-apocalyptic roleplaying game set far into the future. The game was originally released in 1993 in its first edition which was followed by a miniatures game, card game, and even a video game. Now, the game has returned in its 3rd edition with Modiphius Entertainment of the United Kingdom bringing the game back via their new Kickstarter campaign. The campaign has been extremely successful in its early days, with it surpassing 700% of the funding goal of £11,000. What does this mean? Well, it means that now is a great time to get on board the Kickstarter so that you can be one of the first to get this exciting new game.
The team from Modiphius took some time away from their busy schedules to talk with me about the game. We were able to talk with both Chris Birch, the founder of Modiphius, and Jay Little, lead designer for the project (and designer of many games including Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars Roleplaying game).
Q1: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Could you first introduce yourselves, and give a brief description of your role in the Mutant Chronicles project?
Chris Burch (CB): Hi I’m Chris Birch, the founder of Modiphius, I’m overseeing the whole re-boot of the Mutant Chronicles RPG and am one of the design team on the new system.
Jay Little (JL): I’m Jay Little, a hobby gaming veteran. I’ve designed a number of popular boardgames and roleplaying games. I’m working with Chris and the folks at Modiphius as the lead designer for the new mechanics and rule set powering Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition.
It’s been quite some time since the last Mutant Chronicles game. While I had a little experience with the roleplaying game and the miniatures game which had been released, I was curious as to why the group decided to start working on this specific property.
Q2: What made you decide to bring back the game now? Did any of you have any reservations or worries about bringing back such an iconic game?
CB: It was an immediate no-brainer when we were first offered the license by Paradox Entertainment, the owners of the brand. It was such a HUGE property in the nineties with three board games, two video games, three novels, the Doom Trooper card game in 16 languages, a line of comic books, a massive Skirmish miniatures game, two editions of the roleplaying game, and then more recently a Hollywood movie and major Fantasy Flight Games miniatures game. I loved the Mutant Chronicles setting back then and knowing how awesome and strong the artwork was I knew it would be a fantastic opportunity to re-boot the game.
One of the distinguishing features of Mutant Chronicles is the setting and timeline in which it is placed. With a variety of interesting events, I was rather curious to see where the project was headed in regards to pushing forward the Mutant Chronicles timeline.
Q3: The Mutant Chronicles setting and timeline is quite expansive. I know in this project you are working on creating a new setting book with updated material. Are you adding anything new and special that is going to be included within the setting book?
CB: Well actually the storyline of the original RPG is set about 700 years after an event which releases the Dark Symmetry, an evil corrupting force that turns mankind’s thinking machines on them, brings about the fall of technology and leads to the first invasion of the Dark Legion. It takes place during the 2nd invasion of the Dark Legion. So we thought we would wind the clock back to those first terrible events and tell the first story, how the Dark Symmetry was released, how the Dark Legion first invade. Players will be able to play through this whole setting that we call the Dark Symmetry Era, or just jump straight to the Dark Legion Era of the 2nd invasion. Doing this introduces a much wider timeline, the opportunity to experience some incredible climatic event first hand and expands the adventures to include investigations of dark cults and strange events during the time of the fall of technology.
We’re not changing the storyline, there were holes and inconsistencies in the original timeline which we’ve smoothed out and filled in. There is now a solid backstory and plot stretching back millennia explaining much of what was not revealed before. We have added one major element – the new Whitestar faction based in old Russia on Earth, and will be expanding on the storyline to flesh out things like spaceships, the rest of the colonies and much more of the world that you’ve not seen before. In addition, the five Dark Apostles and their cults will be much more detailed and we’re showing how each one is unique in their approach to bringing down humanity.
From the sounds of it, the Modiphius team has been working hard on the timeline, and this has me very excited for having a more cohesive background and storyline, as well as having some new developments. Of course this is not Modiphius’ first time working on a Kickstarter project. Previously they had a very successful game project entitled Achtung! Cthulhu. I was curious as to how this helped shape the focus and design of the current project.
Q4: Modiphius has already been very successful with its first Kickstarter Achtung! Cthulhu. You won the 2013 silver Ennie Award for best adventure. How have you tried to translate that success into the current Mutant Chronicles project?
CB: We learnt a lot from the Achtung! Cthulhu project, we’ve started the writing earlier on this (it does help that there’s enormous amounts of content already in existence that can be re-written and expanded), we’ve signed up a bigger team of writers, and especially as it’s actually a full new game system we’ve got some great designers on board too. We hope our commitment to great quality and value will be reflected in these releases too so it’s really exciting to be seeing the next in our game lines taking shape!
I was very excited about this project when I heard that Jay Little would be the lead designer. For those of you out there who do not know Jay, he has designed a large number of games and always seems to have new and exciting product coming down the pipe. I asked Jay specifically what things we might be on the lookout for in Mutant Chronicles.
Q5: Jay, you are a very well known game designer, especially for your work on the new Star Wars X-Wing miniature game, as well as designing innovative dice systems for RPG’s. From a mechanical aspect, what do we have to look forward to in the 3rd edition of Mutant Chronicles?
JL: I’m especially excited with the cinematic approach to action resolution. The mechanics are quick, allowing for fast playing, action-packed encounters. When a player rolls a few d20s during a skill test, he’ll be able to quickly determine success or failure, as well as the potential for complications or cool side effects which can enhance a success.
The players also have a lot of resources at their disposal to achieve some really dramatic results, such as snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, improving their chances at overcoming the odds on pivotal tasks, or chaining together a series of cool actions in a pulse-pounding combat encounter.
I think the mechanics are going to help create the sort of memorable encounters and sessions players will be talking about for years to come.
Q6: I have to say I am very impressed with what I have seen on the Kickstarter for Mutant Chronicles. I am a big fan of anything with miniatures, and I have to say that the ones that are being developed by Prodos for the game look amazing. What made you decide to go all out with this Kickstarter and offer miniatures, bags, special collector’s edition books, and all the other goodies which people can obtain by pledging at different levels?
CB: We did the same with Achtung! Cthulhu, and often people had warned against doing too much ‘stuff’. However my background is in merchandising for video games. I set up the Battlefield 3 merchandise store for EA as part of Joystick Junkies, the fashion label I was part of and so was used to putting together big ranges of product and getting them made. Not everyone wants the bags and t-shirts of course but they bring another dimension to the project that some people love. They are actually all available as Add On’s so you don’t need to pledge high to get them! The merchandise is actually the easiest thing to do when you consider how much work goes into producing each book, as an example we delivered all the accessories for Achtung! Cthulhu with the core books.
Now with the miniatures Prodos obviously have the license to create all the miniatures for Mutant Chronicles so we set out to work with them on creating miniatures more of use to role-players that weren’t obviously ready for the battlefield. Our own miniatures designers have also been working on the creatures such as the Malignant and Cable Marionette to bring the world to life.
I agree that the miniatures for the game look very nice, and it really gives the game that extra special touch. Another nice add-on one can get from pledging to the Kickstarter project is a set of dice with the different faction symbols on them.
Q7: I almost jumped out of my chair when I saw you have created special faction dice, including my favorite the red “M” Mishima logo. Something about a Dieselpunk future Samurai just seems very interesting to me. What is your favorite factions in this game, and why?
CB: I love Imperial, my first Mutant Chronicles experience was Blood Berets, an awesome miniatures game following the Imperial Blood Berets through the jungles of Venus fighting the Dark Legion. It was a very affordable little boxed set and I think I always loved the idea of British Commandoes so it was what got me going with Imperial.
JL: My first exposure to Mutant Chronicles was through the Siege of the Citadel tabletop game from Pressman in 1993, so my favorite factions are based a bit on their utility in the game. I loved the Bushido-Tech feel of Mishima — and the fact they moved faster than any other Corp in Siege of the Citadel made them a really powerful team.
Q8: Mutant Chronicles is a setting which has a lot of great background and factions to it. How is this fleshed out within the core rulebook and setting book? Will fans of all factions be pleased with the amount of material and content they will be receiving?
CB: Indeed, we’re expanding on the original content concerning the different factions and you’ll also have the new Whitestar faction to try. You’ll have more opportunities to play characters on the fringes of society – especially those who might not realise they are on the edge of a heretic cult which opens up some very cool options. There will be a lot more content on the Dark Legion, how different each of the Apostles are, useful tactics for each of the creatures, space travel, more plot lines and background storyline to fill in the gaps, and of course much more!
Q9: For a new reader who has no ideas about Mutant Chronicles or why they should buy it, can you give them the quick elevator pitch as to why they should buy the game: a) for the setting, b) for the core rules and mechanics, and c) for all the books and add-ons they might be getting for pledging on Kickstarter.
CB: The Mutant Chronicles story takes you on this full throttle dieselpunk sci-fi ride through a solar system beset by corporate intrigue and the invasion of a terrible dark alien force. With technology failing due to the insidious effects of the Dark Symmetry humankind must fight back against the Dark Legion hordes whilst dealing with in-fighting and conspiracy from within.
JL: Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition has a lot to offer to any fan, from the casual roleplayer to the diehard Mutant Chronicles devotee. Modiphius is really pulling out all the stops in terms of the amount of content and the quality of the materials being produced.
New players will find a game that is easy to learn, resolves quickly, and allows them to focus on their characters and the action. Veteran players can dig deeper into a robust ruleset that offers numerous character customization options, along with loads of information, suggestions, and content to allow them to explore everything the setting has to offer.
I’d like to thank Chris and Jay for taking the time to talk about their work on Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition. You can check out the funding campaign for the project on their Kickstarter site. It is a great chance to get in early and have access to the game before others, as well as get some of the amazing add-ons such as the miniatures and dice with faction designs on them.