Campaign Book Ad Astra for Mutant: Year Zero (review)

Mutant Year Zero Ape in Space
Image by Free League Publishing

Ad Astra is a new campaign for the role-playing game Mutant: Year Zero. Published by Free League Publishing in English.

Escape from Earth to our solar system. You will encounter many animal mutants, space stations and spaceships. The campaign book is divided into eight chapters. The storyline takes the player characters from the contaminated Earth out into space over five chapters.

The campaign can be played as a continuation of the adventure “The Path to Eden” contained in the rulebook. The characters are accompanied on their journey by numerous mutated animals. Much of the campaign revolves around the space station Jotunheim. But Ad Astra even offers an alternative introduction.

Mutant Year Zero Cover Art
Image by Free League Publishing

Not a connoisseur

What I can’t do is categorize the adventure in the metaplot and the setting. I’ve never played Mutant: Year Zero, I only know the system from Tales from the Loop and I’m not familiar with the game’s lore.

However, this should not completely disqualify me from reviewing this great book, but should be understood as an indication that I am anything but a MYZ expert.

Fun in space

The cool thing about the campaign is that you can actually travel around our solar system. Who wouldn’t want to pay a little visit to Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Mars if it were so easy (and without the end of the world)?

Like a playable comic

The illustrations are a stunner. The story becomes like a comic through the pictures, which helps the immersion enormously. The images in your head are created by the combination of text and illustrations, the situations that are not depicted in pictures are automatically created by your imagination, filling in the gaps, so to speak. The blueprints of the spaceships, which act as overview plans of which rooms to explore, are nice. There are 3D illustrations of each of the space stations.

Game feel is well conveyed

As in Tales from the Loop, there are campaign principles that define the feel of Ad Astra: You didn’t set off into space by choice, the situation forced you to, the spaceship is now your home, everything is slowly going to the dogs. These are just three of the five principles in a nutshell.

Anthropomorphic dogs and monkeys, bears and mice, then robots and people with mechanical prostheses are the order of the day. But what is the order of the day here anyway? Because earthly days no longer exist…

Life on the Jotunheim space station becomes vivid: the greenhouse, reactor, gun, bridge and living modules can be explored and experienced.

How the dice are rolled

Mutant: Year Zero uses the Year Zero Engine named after this game, which is also used by many other free league role-playing games. It is a W6 pool system. This means that the chance of rolling a success is increased by rolling more dice. For example, a number of green dice for your skill value, plus a few dice for the attribute value associated with the skill and possibly even black equipment dice for the equipment you use for the test. If you roll at least a 6, the test is successful.

If you roll more than a 6, the test is particularly successful. For example, you are particularly fast, quiet or you can help another player character. If you are hit or fail a test, you suffer conditions; if you have suffered all conditions, you are broken. Only those who suffer a critical injury can die.

Mutant Year Zero Pages Spread
Image by Free League Publishing

New rules for space

Factions, rebels and underground creatures provide conflict and tension. The campaign volume Ad Astra contains rules for space for the first time, specifically for space battles and combat in absolute weightlessness, plus the new role of pilot and new skills as well as random tables for space events.

Pros and cons

Without having played Ad Astra, one thing strikes me: namely that the three components of role-playing (interaction with NPCs, exploration and combat) stand out even more clearly in space than in a fantasy setting, for example. As a result, escaping into space automatically becomes somewhat repetitive. In other words, there is “always more of the same”. However, this effect is mitigated by really great and unexpected non-player characters. And I also think the maps and floor plans are exceptionally good, even though – or perhaps because – they are so simple.

Another positive aspect: although the order of the planets and locations to be visited is more or less predetermined, the end remains open. Fortunately, it is not predetermined whether you will visit further locations, take a shortcut or succeed in the end.


I’m not that fond of doomsday scenarios and certainly not of science fiction and space operas. Shame on me. But the level of detail in Mutant: Year Zero Ad Astra really makes me want to make a desperate escape into space. With the animal mutants instead of aliens, it hits my nerve. And the Year Zero Engine’s pool dice system always feels good. The campaign promises an estimated 20 hours of role-playing in space. If you’re into post-apocalypse, science fiction and mutants, then this is your game. If I wanted an outer space scenario, I would definitely get Ad Astra.

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