I had a love affair with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in my High School years. It helped that the GM we had ran a great “recent apocalypse” style game – something mixed between Road Warrior and modern day New York. Although I prefered our more urban games, one of my favourite groups was “The Great Old Ones”, a team we rolled up for a Road Hogs game.
Road Hogs is one of a set of small expansion booklets for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that expanded the “After the Bomb” post apocalyptic setting. While After the Bomb was set in New England, this book focused on highway warriors in California, while other books gave us a post apocalyptic mutant animal eye view of the Yucatan peninsula, Australia, and England.
We had agreed to make a new team for a new game on one condition – that we didn’t have to roll on the background table. We would make team characters as long as we got to be ninjas (since we had very few ninjas for whatever reason in our previous game which had become quite military-oriented).
Team Characters was an interesting rule ntroduced in the original TMNT RPG to help emulate the comics it was based on. As a group, you can make one set of rolls on the backgrounds and animal stock tables to determine your character types instead of everyone rolling for their character. This provides more uniform groups (like the namesakes of the game itself), and also provides the in-game benefit that any skills that all of the team have start out at a higher level (equal to the number of characters in the team). Further, there is a total munchkin bonus. When rolling up ability scores (3d6, in order), if you get a 16+ in a stat, you get to roll a bonus d6 for that stat. For team characters, even if your stat isn’t 16+, if anyone on the team gets to roll a bonus d6 for a stat, you get that bonus also. Which means we had way better stats than average characters do. In this game, we rolled up mutant octopi.
Mutant octopus ninjas.
We were laughing so hard we had tears running down our faces. We loved it. We named the team “The Great Old Ones” and our leader was Coothul Who. My guy? Gnarly Hotep. Obsessed with Egyptology. Egyptology and Katanas. We also had Shubnar Gath and Isaac Thoth in the team – although Shubnar got greased on our second adventure by some nasty weasels with a modified cement mixer. Coothul Who’s high Mental Affinity (charisma) combined with one of his martial arts trainings allowed him to advance on an opponent witha 90% chance to make the opponent run away or fight with a -4 penalty on everything because of how terrifying and indomitable he was. It was awesome – we would all appear out of nowhere, he would advance without attacking for one round whil ethe rest of us fired off a single attack or two, and then we would drop a smoke bomb, disappear and then wait to hit the enemies as they panicked.
Anyways, once you have your base species picked out, you have to mutate it. The Octopus starts out at Size Level 2 (which is pretty damn small – that’s the same size as a prairie dog – and with 70 Bio-E. We spent 5 Bio-E on full human hands (in this case two tentacles have three branches that serve as 2 fingers and a thumb), another 10 Bio-E to be partially bipedal – converting two tentacles into a short torso and two stumpy legs – (otherwise we’d have to fight from a prone position all the time, which we were informed carried heavy penalties – we were ecstatic with the idea of the team of ninjas slurping around the floor until we were told this), and 5 Bio-E for Partial Speech (we sound deep and burbly, not at all human). Another 15 points grants us multi-limb coordination – allowing us to use a second pair of tentacles in addition to our handed ones while in combat – although since they are not equipped with the modified hands, they suffer a -20% on skill checks and a -4 to hit if using melee weapons). The remaining 35 Bio-E brought our size up from Size Level 2 to Size Level 9 – roughly human sized.
As an Octopus, Gnarly Hotep gets +2 IQ and +3 PS (Physical Strength). At Size Level 9 he also gets a further +3 PS and +1 PE (Physical Endurance – Palladium games love these two-letter acronyms for ability scores) and a base of 35 SDC (Structural Damage Capacity – like hit points). I don’t have the exact rolls written down anywhere, but between the four of us, we managed to have boosts to most of the 8 ability scores in the game. My fortes were IQ and PS – I had rolled a natural 18 for PS, but then followed it up with a “1” on the bonus die. Fortunately, someone else on the team also got an exceptional Strength (with a natural 16) and rolled a 6 on the bonus die – so Gnarly got that +6 to replace his +1, and combined with the other bonuses in the game, was pretty damn strong. However, even with the +4 boost to his Speed from another team member having exceptional speed, Gnarly’s starting speed was average at best.
Unlike the other Palladium RPGs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a classless skill-based system. The reality is that the mutants are all part of the same “OCC” (Occupational Character Class) that uses random tables for skill generation and so on. However, there’s always the option in another RPG, “Ninjas and Superspies” (affectionately renamed to Ninjas and Stupidguys by one of my group), to use it’s OCC classes for TMNT games. Which of course we do because it gives us access to way more cool martial arts – but we settled on Ninjitsu in the end. Because really. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, errr, octopi.
OCC: Worldly Martial Artist
Experience Points: 12,965
Animal Stock: Octopus
Size Level: 9
Weight: 170 lbs
Hands: Full (2) & Partial (2)
IQ: 22 (+9% on all skills)
MA: 16 (45% trust / intimidate)
PS: 49 (+17 damage, lift 4,900 lbs)
PP: 23 (+4 dodge, parry & strike)
PE: 29 (+18% on saves versus coma, death and toxins)
Spd: 19 (+2 dodge)
Hit Points: 47
Attacks / Melee: 6
Roll with Punch: +11
Hand To Hand Ninjitsu (level 7)
Escape Moves: Roll with Punch / Fall / Impact, Leap, Back Flip
Attack Moves: Leap, Cartwheel
Basic Defensive Moves: Dodge, Parry, Automatic Parry
Advanced Defenses: Multiple Dodge, Combination Parry/Attack
Hand Attacks: Strike (Punch), Knife Hand, Palm Strike
Basic Foot Attacks: Kick Attack, Tripping/Leg Hook, Snap Kick, Drop Kick
Jumping Foot Attacks: None (partial biped)
Special Attacks: Roll/Knock Down (no damage), Body Flip, Throw
Holds / Locks: Arm Hold, Leg Hold, Body Hold, Neck Hold
Weapon Katas: WP Ninja Sword, WP Knife
Modifiers: +2 Attacks, +3 roll with Punch, +3 Strike, +1 Parry/Dodge, +4 Roll / Knock-Down, +2 Back-Flip / Cartwheel, Critical Strike on 19+, KO / Stun on 19+, Critical Strike or KO from Behind (x3 damage), Death Blow on nat 20
Acrobatics (L7) | +2 roll with punch, +1 PS, +2 PP, +1 PE, +2 SDC
– Sense of Balance | 104%
– Walk Tightrope | 104%
– Climb Rope | 103%
– Back Flip | 104%
– Prowl | 74%
– Leap | 18 feet high, 19 feet long
Athletics (L7) | +1 Parry/Dodge, +1 Body Block (1d4 damage), +1 roll with punch, +1 PS, +2 Spd, +8 SDC
Automotive Mechanics (L4) (+10) | 81%
Basic Mechanics (L4) (+10) | 75%
Basic Electronics (L4) (+5) | 74%
Basic Mathematics (L7) | 103%
Body Building (L4) | +2 PS, +10 SDC
Boxing (L7) | KO on nat 20, +1 Attack, +2 Parry/Dodge, +2 Roll with punch, +4 PS, +9 SDC
Climbing (L7) (+25) | 140% | +1 PS, +1 PE, +3 SDC
Cook (L4) | 83%
Gymnastics (L4) | +3 Roll with Punch, +2 PS, +2 PP, +1 PE, +15 SDC
– Sense of Balance | 79%
– Climb Rope | 86%
– Back Flip | 111%
– Prowl | 59%
Read/Write English (L7)
Read/Write Japanese (L7)
Speak English (L7)
Speak Japanese (L7)
Swimming (L7) | 115%
W.P. Fukimi-Bari (Mouth Darts) (L7) | 7 attacks, + 2 to hit
W.P. Fukiya (Blow Gun) (L7)
W.P. Kawanga (Rope/Grapple) (L7) | +3 strike, +2 parry, +1 throw, +3 entangle
W.P. Knife (L7) | +3 strike, +2 parry, +4 throw
W.P. Kusari-Gama (L7) | +3 strike, +2 parry, +1 throw, +3 entangle
W.P. Kyoketsu-Shoge (L7) | +3 strike, +2 parry, +1 throw, +3 entangle
W.P. Manriki-Gusari (L7) | +3 strike, +2 parry, +1 throw, +3 entangle
W.P. Nekode (Cat Claws) (L7) | +3 strike, +2 parry
W.P. Ninja Sword (L4) | +2 strike, +2 parry
W.P. Shikomi-Zue (Hidden Blade Staff) (L7) | +3 strike, +4 parry
W.P. Shuriken (L7) | 7 attacks, + 2 to hit
Martial Art Techniques
The Art of Hiding (Inpo) (L7) | 90%
The Art of Stealth (Pi Mi Hsing Tung) (L7) | 90%
The Art of Melting Into Water (Jung Hua) (L7) | 93%
The Art of Vanishing (Sun Shih K’an Chien Chih) (L7) | 96%
Stone Ox | +5 PE, +25 SDC
Kick Practice (Chagi) | +4 kick attacks, +3 PS, +3 Spd, +10 SDC
Iai-Jutsu | +6 Initiative
Dam Sum Sing | +3 PS, +2 PE, +10 SDC
And check out this wicked Octopus Samurai drawing – Gnarly only wishes he was this cool. From the artist’s gallery here.