The Living Building

Derek Holland
Skirmisher Publishing
Mutant Future
Level ?

Just after dawn, a village scout dashed from the forest carrying a wondrous, and perhaps even terrifying, story of a huge, circular shell with a door, a massive coiled building that sprang up during the night. And it is still growing …

This 22 page supplement details “Living Buildings”, a kind of organic building type of the ancients. Most of it is given over to background information and how the buildings grow, live, die, and operate, but about six pages have some details on the various types of rooms you might find inside one of the complexes.

The first ten pages give background on the “architectural style.” The reasoning behind the buildings and how they work. This is in long form, paragraph style with few an occasional section heading. As a “toolkit”, or fluff, I guess this is ok. I don’t know. I don’t know nothing about fluff/toolkits.

The next six-ish pages are devoted to a random room generator. Things like “Power Room. Flowing through the piping and stored in large cylinders, highly volatile chemicals fill this room and any fire or explosion Detonates them. See Attacks for details.”

Look, I’m not good, at all, at reviewing things that are not adventures. After about 1500 adventure reviews I feel like I’m just starting to understand what makes them tick. But fluff books, or toolkits? I’ve no idea.

I’ll tell you though why I found the booklet unsatisfying. Although I think it has as much relevancy as getting advice from me on Latvian literature in the 13th century.

If you look at that power room description above, I’m not sure it inspires me to anything. It just sounds kind of a little generic. I’m not sure I could take that, riffing off of it, design six different power rooms on the fly that were interesting. I think I’d have to invest a substantial mental effort in doing so with what’s present. I think I want a fluff supplement to make me excited about things, inspired, ideas bursting from my head. I don’t get that from reading this. It reads dry and abstracted. Even the sample 2-page floorplan (it’s fourteen rooms small compared to the 25-ish to 440-ish the text notes these places to be) is unkeyed and, given the nautilus design, linear with each room having one door in and door out, to the next room.

When I’m looking at this sort of thing I want something less academic and more visceral. Something that I can riff of off and inspires me to create greatness. Colour.

Also, it didn’t have a 100-entry “random artifact table”, which, I believe, is required for every Gamma World adventure ever written.

But, I don’t know nothing. Attempts like this to break out of my Adventure Zone reveal that I should stay inside it, until I am done with my current projects.

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6 Responses to The Living Building

  1. Derek Holland says:

    It is meant to be a location to explore, sort of like Isle of Dread or Barrier Peaks. Except it can be used repeatedly to provide multiple locations, each possibly very different from the others.

    Just to note, Mutant Future adventures aren’t for specific levels of characters as leveling up doesn’t do that much. It is more about finding useful gear, figuring how it works, and using it to survive another day. Those with spears and hide armor are going to have a touch time in the Building. Those with powered armor and blaster rifles are going to find it a breeze, though the damage they do may end up destroying much of the loot other parties can find.

    Thank you for the review!

  2. Jeff says:

    Is this a homage to the old expert adventure Quaqmire and it’s numerous shell shell shaped cities the party could explore?

    • Derek Holland says:

      Nope, it was the easiest, and most compact growth pattern I could come up with. You could always use a different form for the building if you want- it can always be mutated.

  3. BACLF says:

    Any notes on how hostile living buildings act? I’m thinking of **SPOILER** Agak and Gagak **END SPOILER** Moorcock’s ‘Sailor on the Seas of Fate’.

    How about the prospects of making an alliance with a living building? A combination buddy/pet/stronghold would be a fantastic acquisition for a party.

    • Derek Holland says:

      It is possible, though you have to survive the entire structure and make it to the control room. There someone with the right programming skills could give it a IFF system that turns the PCs and their allies from hostile to friendly. With more difficult rolls and some instructions, one could also decide what sorts of rooms are grown there after.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This brings to mind the Aquarius Complex in Miller’s “Ronin.”

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