It’s a good feeling as a game designer to know people enjoy your work. Even more so when they support a Kickstarter for your first expansion. That’s what happened to Mutants In The Now, which cleaned up and updated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles And Other Strangeness to preserve what made that game unique while smoothing over the rough patches of the Palladium system. Mutants In The Next offers more of everything; more animals to turn into, more powers for them to manifest and a chance for Kay and his design team of Ewen Cluney and Crystal Frasier to do a little background and setting work. I recently received my print copy of the book as a Kickstarter supporter. Does the expansion make me glow with joy? Let’s play to find out.
An expansion like this has a few obvious paths to tread. There are more animals to change, more animal abilities, more fighting styles, more weapons and more psychic powers. The book also broadens the types of playable mutants to include characters that were once human who had an unfortunate encounter with some mutagen to age rules which draw a bigger difference between teenage mutants and their wizened old master. The book also includes rules for playing regular humans for those folks who prefer yellow jumpsuits and hockey masks to bo staffs and pizza. It’s nice to see wider options for game like this and feel like I have enough options that I can specifically pick and choose what I would or wouldn’t want in my campaign.
The new mechanical options also expand into background material. There’s some discussion to the origins of the GO-OP that transforms creatures into mutants and options are given for each table to decide for themselves. These options provide a connection to the Astral, a psychic dimension that adds a tinge of fantasy and horror to these otherwise sci-fi settings. For folks who wanted a heavier setting in their game than the implied one based on TMNT in the first book, Mutants In The Next supplies the parts to build one that can run parallel to the official setting or have some unique twists.
For example, the book details elements you might expect in a modern mutant setting. There’s a shady corporation that tries to control the GO-OP and a mystic tradition of ninjas trying to use it to make ultimate assassins. But there’s also the cryogenically preserved brain of an animation legend that’s trying to psychically control mutants from the ruins of his once world-famous theme park.It’s a big swing that connected with me and I can;t wait to see the players reactions when they discover just what is behind the rival team of mutants called the Doom Toons. Very rarely do I come across an antagonist section where I want to use every one in a game. Mutants In The Next nailed this section.
Mutants In The Next also looks to the future of its nascent setting with two possible timelines diverging from Icarus Station, the big money commercial space station project of the evil corporation. In Mutant Earth, Icarus Station falls and causes a massive mutation event giving rise to a post-apocalypse future. Para-Earth details how the station reveals the existence of mutants to the public, shifting into a bit more of a civil rights/X-Men style fable. Both of these paths intrigue me and I hope that if this expansion does well enough, the next expansion will dig into each idea along with rules for some Mad Max style vehicle combat to continue the homage to the original game. Call it Mutants On The Road.
Mutants In The Next provides more of everything fans want from the original game and hints at intriguing directions for future books.