Mutant: Year Zero, Zone Compendium One: Lair of the Saurians. RPG review

Mutant: Year Zero, Zone Compendium One: Lair of the Saurians by Torsten Alm, Petter Bengtsson, Jonas Ferry, Mattias Lilja, Tomas Härenstam, Nils Karlén, Modiphius/Free League Publishing, £6.49 (pdf), Website

Reviewed by Brian Ennis

Lair of the Saurians is the first Zone Compendium for Modiphius Entertainment/Free League Publishing’s Mutant: Year Zero RPG. If you’re not sure as to what Mutant: Year Zero is all about; if not, hop over here for our full review.

Lair of the Saurians contains four brand-new sectors for your party of mutants to explore, endure, and expire within, alongside rules for travelling out of the city-based Zone into the wilds, and a monster-generator to freshen up your adversaries and keep your players on their mutated toes. The book is designed for use by the group’s DM: if you are a player, beware spoilers ahead!

For the most part, Lair of the Saurians is a great add-on to the main game, written and produced to the same high standards as the Mutant core book with full-colour throughout. Its four new sectors each have a different feel: a nuclear submarine beset by pirates, an oracle-worshipping cult with a dark secret, a giant killer tree, and a gang of human hillbillies with a taste for sentient flesh. The sectors are varied and present different, memorable challenges for your players, and all should find a home in any Mutant campaign.

The only things stopping me giving Lair of the Saurians an unequivocal recommendation are the lack of depth to the supplementary rules, and the book’s cost. The rules for travelling beyond the ruined city and into the surrounding countryside only take up a single page and add very little that a canny DM couldn’t have done themselves. The monster generator is also brief, at just over two pages, and consists of a series of charts for creating random monsters. There is little guidance on weaving these random results into compelling encounters or on making the most of some of the oddities it throws up, such as my affectionate herd of sluggish herbivores that are known to zone stalkers as “Reapermonsters”. These are good ideas but they need more space and detail to be truly useful.

Lair of the Saurians clocks in at thirty-two pages: three of these are brief rules expansions, one is a character sheet for important NPCs, and eight are maps of the of the four sectors (four for the DM and four for the players with the notes and secrets removed). That doesn’t leave a lot of actual content, and the whole thing can be easily read in less than an hour, not long considering the book costs £12 in softback (or £6.49 for a pdf). Gamers should get a good evening’s play out of each sector but collectors or those looking for something interesting to read may feel short-changed.

Overall, Lair of the Saurians is a great add-on for Mutant: Year Zero, with four excellent additional sectors that can be thrown in to liven up your campaign. Just don’t expect it to provide more than a few sessions of play, as the additional rules do little to keep you coming back to its pages.