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[Discussi-on] Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness

GrimmyTOAGrimmyTOA Registered User regular
edited April 2009 in Critical Failures

So. I was cleaning out my childhood bedroom a little while back, and I found my copy of this, the first RPG I ever owned. I haven't even read the thing in probably a decade, but as soon as I cracked the cover all of the old memories came flooding back. I never actually played the game, as at the time that I was given the book I had no knowledge of RPGs or anything similar, but by God did I roll up a huge number of characters.

If you've ever wanted to RP a hyper-psychic chipmunk, or a computer-savvy miniature elephant, or, God help you, a skateboarding ninjariffic reptile, this is the game for you.

Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

The game was published in the early eighties by Palladium, and has some of the problems that are, apparently, endemic to Palladium RPGs. Specifically, characters don't die. Everyone's so tough that you can run your characters out into the middle of a firefight and simply take shots until you've dealt with everyone. There are easily breakable combinations that can make your characters more or less invulnerable to harm. Psionics are way (way) overpowered.

That said, there are myriad skills that your character can learn (cooking! dancing!). Character creation is a blast. The book comes with listings, stat blocks, and mutation options for dozens of animals, and the blocks are readily exportable to other animals with only a tiny bit of imagination. There's a pre-built adventure featuring evil care bears.

I've always secretly wanted to play a game of this, but I've never met anyone else who even owns the books. Is it any good?

Well, regardless, I'm going to take a romp through the character creation process. Follow me!

GrimmyTOA on


  • GrimmyTOAGrimmyTOA Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Character Creation

    When I said that I rolled up a great number of characters, I really meant that I rolled up characters. Of the five steps of character creation, four of them are straight rolls with no player input whatsoever. Harsh? Yes. Insane? Perhaps. Potentially awesome? Yes^(1 billion). Let's make a character right now!

    Step 1: Rolling Stats. You roll 3d6 for each of eight attributes to get your scores. If you roll over 16 for any given attribute, you get an additional d6 for that attribute to demonstrate your exceptional ability in that area.

    The attributes (and my scores) are:

    1) IQ -- That's intelligence. Your character's IQ is equal to your 3d6 roll x10. My character rolled an 11, so he's got an IQ of 110. Not half bad.
    2) ME -- That's mental endurance. How much stress can you take? Are you strong-willed enough to use psionic powers? My character rolled an 8, so no mind-blasting for him.
    3) MA -- Or Mental Affinity. Colloquially Charisma. It acts as you'd expect. My dude is fairly charming with a 14. He can order a pizza without offending anyone, at least.
    4) PS -- Physical Strength. Your character can lift 30 times your PS level, unless he's exceptionally strong. If he is, he can potentially lift much, much more. My guy is not exceptionally strong, but with a roll of 14 he could still lift a 420 pound weight, which ain't too shabby, and he could carry 140 pounds around with no trouble.
    5) PP -- Physical Prowess (read: Dexterity). How, well, dextrous you are. My guy is 10 Dextrous. Not bad, but probably not ninja material.
    6) PE -- Physical Endurance. How tough are you? Also, how long can you exert yourself without tiring? My character's score of 13 means that he could carry the aforementioned 140 pound weight for 52 minutes before he needed a break.
    7) PB -- Physical Beauty. Feeds into Mental Affinity, but it allows for the distinction between a good-looking dickhead and a plain (but nice) Jane. My dude (with a 15) is good looking, but not exceptionally so.
    8) Spd -- Speed. The flat-out running speed of the character. My character's speed is 7. Pretty slow. Man am I going to be bummed if I end up as a cheetah.

    So, there. We've got the frame of a character. He's more or less average all 'round. Maybe a bit more charming and a bit prettier and a lot slower than the average. Nothing spectacular. As yet, though, you'll notice that I don't even know what kind of mutated animal I'm going to be. All that's coming up in

    Step 2: Animal Type.

    You what? You don't want to roll up a random animal? You want to choose? Well, you're in the wrong game then, son. Choosing is for sissies. Here, we roll percentile dice. First, I'm going to roll a die to see what category of animal my character will be. Maybe I'm a housepet. Maybe I'm a Zoo Animal.

    I roll a single d100, and get a 32. I consult my handy chart, and find out that I'm an Urban Animal. But that's not specific enough. So, I roll another die and I get a 53. Consulting the Urban Animal chart, I find out that I'm a Rat! Splintersville here I (would) come (if I wasn't so unco-ordinated)!

    Moving on to:

    Step 3: Cause of Mutation.

    More rolling to do here, folks. Yeah, even your origin is rolled for. It also provides you with bonuses -- if you're adopted into a loving home you could have a college education. If you're raised as an assassin you'll have bonuses to your fighting skills and access to better equipment. If you're treated like garbage, you'll be more mistrustful of humans, and so on and so on. Let's see what happened to my Rat.

    I rolled a 64, which means that my character was the result of deliberate experimentation. Makes sense, he must have been a lab rat. Now, I get to roll to see what happened to me after that. I rolled a 93, which means I was raised as an Assassin (booyah!) by a (one more roll of 86) Military Organization.

    Sweet. So there we go. I'm a killer rat who's (potentially) on the run from the military. I don't move too fast, but I'm tough as nails and can spin a yarn. Of course, I'm still just a regular old rat. It's time to do something about that.

    Step 4: Bio-Energy and Mutation.

    Every character starts with a certain amount of Bio-E. The amount that a given character starts with is almost entirely based on the size of the base animal. A tiny animal (like a mouse) that starts at size level 1 might have 80 points to start with, while an elephant (size level 20) will start with no points at all. Characters can buy or sell sell size levels for 5 points a pop. That's a good thing, because at the moment my rat is so small that he's taking penalties to my strength, endurance, and IQ among other things.

    A rat starts at size level 2, and has 75 points to spend. If I spend 30 points, I'll get to size level 8. That'll put me at a height in the 5' and change region, and a weight of about 150 pounds, which should be plenty. Hopefully.

    I still just have little rat paws, though, so I'll spend 10 points to buy hands. I'll also want to walk upright and be able to talk, so I'll spend 10 points on each of those.

    So now I've got ten points left. I could use them to make my character look human (albeit like a ratty-looking man) but that hardly seems like fun. I'd much rather spend 5 points on claws that will help me attack (as well as climb) and on a super nose that I can use to sniff out trouble.

    So there we go. My character is created. I believe I shall call him Max.

    GrimmyTOA on
  • delrolanddelroland Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    They ever update TMNT with SDC rules?

    delroland on
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  • GrimmyTOAGrimmyTOA Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    TMNT&OS uses S.D.C., but I'm not sure if it's an updated version or...

    GrimmyTOA on
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Ah, TMNT. This was actually my first Roleplaying Game after DnD, and probably one of my all-time favorites. The Occupational Character Class system, percentile dice for skills, the complete compatibility with Ninjas and Superspies, and the Alignment system all made much more sense to me than DnD ever did. I once ran a TMNT campaign with 10 active players. This was when I was young and had a LOT more freetime. Shadowrun and Battletech soon supplanted this game as the local favorites, but it was always fun to play mutant animals.

    There were some cheesy aspects to it. Size gave you a huge build point advantage, so a lot of folks in my campaigns tended to play midget versions of larger creatures. They also tended to take the most cost-effective packages to get various skills. Everyone always insisted on rolling their stats, although this backfired on a lot of them.
    GrimmyTOA wrote: »
    TMNT&OS uses S.D.C., but I'm not sure if it's an updated version or...
    The original TMNT did use SDC. Later sourcebooks (Rifts, in particular) had rules for converting mutants to MDC values, as well. A Mutant Anthropomorphic Armadillo was REALLY scary in Rifts, in terms of soak ability. It was on par with a Glitterboy.

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  • Alistair HuttonAlistair Hutton Dr EdinburghRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    TMNT&OS was my first ever roleplaying experience, I think I was around 8 or so and came across my cousins playing it (specifically the Trukin' Turtles adventure) and I sat around tossing them ideas every so often ("Blow up the gas tanks no the cars!" being the fienst ever advice that I've given). Obviously, I've got a copy now. It was written by the roleplaying genius that was Erik Wujcik so it's filled with great ideas, however it's saddled to the garbage that is the Palladium system.

    Transdimensional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the finest supplements ever written for any game, with one of the best sets of straightforward time travel rules evar.

    Alistair Hutton on
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  • cptruggedcptrugged Buster Machine Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Never could get into Paladium games. The ideas always seemed super sweet. But the mechanics were just rough to play with. TMNT was also one of my early gaming experiences. I wonder if now, as a much more experienced gamer, it wouldn't seem so intimidating of a system.

    cptrugged on
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