A role playing game where the referee or ‘Mutation Master’ leads a group of radio active dogs into a world disrupted by nuclear mutation. The lore of the ‘stage’ for this game is something like Lewis Carroll meets Fallout (PC game) meets Tarkovsky’s Stalker. The goal for the game is to work through some of the anxieties and insecurities surrounding nuclear energy disasters (and their folklore) through roleplay.


Introduction - A paragraph introducing the Radioactive Forest, the quest and the struggle to survive in a world scarred by mankind thoughtless use of high technologies.
Setting - The game takes place in a radioactive forest inside the warmer regions of “The Zone”. The “Zone” is an alternate reality version of the ‘Zone of alienation’ surrounding the Zaporizhia Power Plant after a fictitious meltdown, which contaminated the surrounding area with radiation, causing strange otherworldly changes in local fauna, flora, and the laws of physics.

Objective - Still needs work. I need to decide if I will stick with the radio-active dogs theme rather than just working within the more familiar ‘illegal explorer/artefact scavenger/stalker’ play style that fits more naturally with the format. Options:

  • The dogs on a pilgrimage to a Corium mass beneath the forest reactor, an extremely radioactive waste monolith that is said to illicit a profound near-death experiences.
  • The center of the ‘Zone’ may contain some kind of secret which the players are on a quest to uncover.

Instruction - How do you run the game for your players? Advice for starting the pack of dogs on their journey. Advice for initiating them on their mission. How and when to use tables to create random ‘mutation events’. A suggested starting circumstance that sets off the exploration.

Mutation Index - This optional mechanic might be triggered every 10 minutes in real-time. This is inspired heavily by the chaos index in Chris Kutalik’s ‘Slumbering Ursines’. These might need to be focused more on specific research related radioactive mutations. Roll a 20 sided Dice:

1-3 No Event
4-5 Radioactive sulphuric rain that glows blue, dogs will be harmed unless they find shelter
6-7 A vaguely perceptible reactor appears. Although seems that this may exist on a different dimension. Party sees themself entering structure in search of Quest object.
8-9 Party encounters a puddle that turns out to be a rift in space-time. Party now has an exact clone of itself except with (improvised) bodily mutations.
10 Roll dice to decide party member who receives an extra body part of their choice through mutation. This is not a negative thing!
11-12 Hallucinations, visions of life as domestic animals, memories of humans who worked in the plant. Dogs frightened and disoriented.
13-15 Nightmares. Horrible radioactive mutant visions disturb the sleep of anyone who sleeps.
15-17 Tesseract Opens. A mildly shimmering doggy door appears. Gate connects anyone who enters to a random place on the map.
18-19 Radioactive forest researchers arrive in floating vehicle high in the air.
20 A mystical frog that grants a single wish to the party appears.

Other Tables - The tables for creating some random events that occur at specific moments referenced on the Map will likely be placed here at the bottom of the page.

The map will be an illustration of the ‘stage’ in which this adventure will take place.

This is the sort of design language and layout that I have in mind for this page:

Another map by Zak. S is also an inspiration for me. This one is more abstract, and perhaps more realistic from an implementation point of view.

Each of the entries will be laid out on the map with a description. They will also reference a table on the front if the encounter involves a degree of randomness.

These are some ideas for ‘Entries’ that will appear on the map. I have provided some commentary on how the ‘random event’ table might augment the entry. A number of these ideas are also adapted from Zak S’s writings:

  • Radioactive dogs. Hundreds of stray dogs have learned to survive in the woods around the exclusion zone – mainly descendants of those left behind after the nuclear disaster, when residents were banned from taking their beloved pets to safety.
  • A cuckoo whose song has changed. Roll for the details of the song. Disoriented, a dog might lose their memory, it might force them to reveal their love for another dog (that dog might become hopelessly in service of the other), forces everyone to dance, 2 dogs (randomly decided by dice rolls) disappear and start making out.
  • A racoon giving birth. Party expected to assist. Roll for various ‘cute’ mutations if childbirth is successful.
  • Haunted woods - spirits have taken over abandoned spots where animals no longer live. Roll for eclipse, the fauna and ghosts eyes glow with a terrible radioactive light, all creatures of the forest find the party so laughable they can hardly breathe.
  • Trees grow in strange shapes. Roll for how the tree might obstruct the travellers path, lead to an otherwise unreachable place, immobilize a companion. This may push the other dogs to make a decision - do we leave the dog here? Do we send another dog out to seek help from the nearby animals?
  • Mutant firebug army.
  • A stalker - an illegal explorer/artefact scavenger in “The Zone”
  • A gigantic antenna - Researcher presence. Ominous and disorienting.
  • Radioactive waste. Roll for damage, infertility, Harm to animals.
  • A closed lake with radioactive frogs, fish, crustaceans, and insect larvae..
  • Deformed farm animals (cow or pig).
  • Researchers in radio-active protective clothing. Run!

Notes to Self

  • The work of Arvind Rajagopal (Cold War Media) to develop ideas around cold war aesthetics and media culture.
  • Electricity surge caused Chernobyl releasing radioactive hot lava
  • Radioactive zone
  • Ants of Chernobyl, tracking the low level effects that radiation has on microscopic level.
  • Hesse Honegger’s illustrations of insect mutations show the effects on insects from low-level radiation from Swiss nuclear plants as well as from Chernobyl.
  • Bunnies & Burrows is a RPG played as [rabbits]. Useful reference for considering game mechanics. (https://img.5plebs.org/boards/tg/image/1367/58/1367589918750.pdf).
  • Dr. Timothy Mousseau shows large and significant genetic consequences to radiation.
  • Children in-utero
  • Trees grow in strange shapes
  • Firebug
  • A sociopathic hermit who lives in a tree. Worked at the facility. Exposed to high-level radiation. Roll table to determine his condition.
  • cuckhoo song has changed
  • Many fewer animals in radioactive spots
  • Every rock you turn over shows impact of radio contamination
  • “Persistent myths and misperceptions about the threat of radiation have resulted in ‘paralyzing fatalism’ among residents of affected areas.” (UN)
  • “Relocation proved a ‘deeply traumatic experience’ for some 350,000 people moved out of the affected areas. Although 116,000 were moved from the most heavily impacted area immediately after the accident, later relocations did little to reduce radiation exposure.” (UN) -> For human version of this game, could encounter a traumatized individual behaving erratically.
  • “Stress symptoms, depression, anxiety and medically unexplained physical symptoms have been reported, including self-perceived poor health. The designation of the affected population as ‘victims’ rather than ‘survivors’ has led them to perceive themselves as helpless, weak and lacking control over their future.” (UN)
  • Radioactivity in aquatic life for “areas with “closed” lakes with no outflowing streams.”
  • Examples of defects included facial malformations, extra appendages, abnormal coloring, and reduced size. Domestic animal mutations were most common in cattle and pigs. Also, cows exposed to fallout and fed radioactive feed produced radioactive milk. (Helmenstein)
  • radioactive wildlife refuge. The animals are radioactive because they eat radioactive food, so they may produce fewer young and bear mutated progeny.(Helmenstein)
  • Wild animals roam the street after Fukshima disaster, they seem intent on taking over the community.

Consequences of Fukushima & Chernobyl, Mousseu
Chernobyl: The True Scale of the Accident 20 Years Later, UN
What We Know About the Chernobyl Animal Mutations, Dr. Helmenstein
Biological consequences of Chernobyl: 20 years on