First Time Playing: Mutant Year Zero


Sue Savage

It's no secret that I love Fria Ligan games and the Year Zero engine. But while I've played plenty of Coriolis and Alien, until now I'd never really looked at the game that gave its name to the engine: Mutant Year Zero. I have a PDF copy, acquired when Fria Ligan did a one-day giveaway, but with no likely opportunity to play, I hadn't got round to reading it.

And then came the invitation.

This wasn't just my first time playing Mutant Year Zero. It was also my first time appearing on a streamed game. So I was initially a little nervous, but really it was not much different to the online games I've been playing for the last three months. The main differences were that break times were reliably set every hour (which is something I should think about more in my own games, as my god am I bad at remembering to take breaks) and that I put slightly more thought into my own appearance than usual.

The first game was Session 0, in which we created our characters, established relationships between them and NPCs, and defined the Ark in which they all live. Like the other YZE games I've played, character creation was mechanically very simple. Having picked the Stalker role, I simply had to assign a few points to stats and skills, pick one of three talents, and draw a mutation card. Where character creation shines, and where we ended up spending a fair amount of time, was on the relationships between characters and NPCs.

By the time this process was finished, we'd established that Rudy Russo the Fixer was somewhat unpopular with the rest of the party - although obviously his ability to get hold of decent equipment is likely to endear him to us eventually. This process did a great job of making the group feel like a coherent team of real people, and also set up some potential hooks for future character development. It also lead us very well into creating our Ark, with a number of key players already in place.

The book provides a number of suggestions for where the Ark can be set, but the first one to get mentioned, and the one that we went with, was 'subway station' - although since we're playing in the Big Smoke zone, it's a tube station. Then we had to decide where it was. Being right in the middle of the zone isn't a great idea, but as anyone who's travelled on the London Underground a lot will know, not all of the Underground is actually underground. However, with a bit of research we did manage to find a suitable location - Seven Sisters - which also set us up nicely for thinking about the NPCs in our Ark.

By the end of the session we had our PCs and our home base all well defined and ready for playing in. It was also a lot of fun. Fria Ligan's take on character creation is so much more fun than the more traditional approach I'm used to from games like D&D.

Since this is a streamed game, you can go and watch it on Twitch or wait for it to appear on Youtube. We'll be playing on Sunday evenings, UK time, and I can't wait.

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