Page 32 of the Mutant Future(tm) rules book includes an entry about “Phobias” and offers six broad categories ( Technologies, Weapons, Animals, Plants, Common Object and Insects) …and the advise that the GM should work out the details. Well, I am a GM and I am kinda good at working out details. So, I hereby offer you 30 Things to be Afraid of in the Weird, Irradiated Future. Feel free to assign them to your neo-savages, inbreed bunker dwellers and beasts-mutated-into-sentient-humanoids.
By RAW (“rules as written”), an affected character will turn and flee for 1d4 turns after a Phobia is triggered. As an optional rule, the GM may decide that the character refuses to get near the object of his or her fear instead (when said object is non-threatening in nature) for the said number of turns and/or that the PC will suffer from a penalty to all rolls (-1 to -4; according to the results of the d4) for as long as he or she is in the presence of the object as well as the turn after.
If you would like to have the following 30 Things to be Afraid of as a PDF, please have a look at my pay-what-you-want offer at drivethrurpg.com.
01# Robots without (the imitation of) a human face
Walking, talking machines will be alright for the character as long as they look like something he or she is used to. If the character is confronted with the fact that this thing cannot be natural, it is to much.
02# Injectors and syringes of any kind
The character understands that these things shoot something under its skin and into its blood, and the thought alone will freak him or her out. Accepting any kind of injections is to much to ask for, and after the character has received any (against his or her will), the PC will freak out for 1d4 turns.
03# Machines that hover or fly
The character has no problem with birds, flying insects or even dragons. Anything that has wings and flaps or is a “levitating magician” is fine. But a piece of plastic or steel that moves through the air is to much, no matter if it makes a lot of noise or is eerily silent. It must be the most foul of magic and not from this world.
04# Technology that makes a LOT of noise
The wailing sirens of an automated alarm system, the metallic thunder of a robotic factory that came back to live, a robo-truck roaring by on the road or a helicopter drone at low altitude: if the sound is loud and unlike anything the character is used to, he or she will run away in panic at first.
05# Objects that move upon themselves
A robot (a thing that looks like a living being) that moves about is nothing that surprises or bothers the character. But if doors open and close on their own, if household devices act like they would be moved by unseen hands or when an exhibit suddenly turns around itself in its display (upon being approached), the character will lose his or her nerves.
Every sane being is afraid of explosions. Any being that has no explanation for what an explosion is may very well be terror-struck.
07# Energy weapons of any kind
It does not matter if its the blast of a laser pistol or the crackling energy that surrounds a shock-maul: this kind of force is alien and frightening.
08# Flame throwers and other flame-projecting weapons
Everything that sends a roaring blast of fire towards the character will trigger a most primal response from him or her.
09# Modern ranged weapons of any kind
Bows and slings are something the character knows and understands. An automatic rifle or a blaster is far beyond his or her ability to comprehend, and the natural reaction is shock and fear.
10# Gas-based weapons
This might be an old, deep-rooted fear the character was indoctrinated with over years and years.
11# Dogs, wolves and other canine
Certain animal-mutant characters might have a “racial” fear of such creatures (especially those related to bears), others might simply be deadly afraid of a barking, snarling beast.
12# Birds of prey
Similar to the one above.
13# Snakes of all kind
14# Blobs or slimes
While these are not a natural animals in the classical meaning of the word, they are natural to the weird, irradiated world of the post-apocalypse. And being horrified of them is just as natural.
15# Everything that is larger than a bull
Big beasts are frightening, and to some they are even more than that.
16# Mushroom and fungi
Those do not have to be large or capable of movement for the character to become afraid.
17# Flowers with a blossom that is larger than a man´s open hand
This is simply a phobia, it has no reason behind it.
18# Vines of any kind
This phobia might be the result of experiences with mutated vines of flesh-eating plants or might be rooted in a superstition that those plants rob the soul if one brushes them.
19# Any plant that moves of its own
20# Plants that grow where no other plant growth exists
A thick forest or a lush field will not bother the character. But when there is one flower growing out of a cracked road, if there is one patch of moss inside of a cave a feeling of wrongness overcomes the PC and a moment later the fear creeps up his or her spine.
21# Car wrecks of any kind
The character´s subconsciousness associates car-wrecks with death, perhaps due to all the skeletons that were inside of them after the apocalypse. That, or the character has another, unknown reason for the phobia.
22# Communication devices
It is not the device itself, but the voice that comes out of a box all of a sudden.
23# Things that display pictures
TV-screens, monitors of security cameras or holo-projectors: everything that displays a moving picture will have the character freak out.
24# Any talking device that is not a robot
The character has no problem with a stereo system (that plays music), a TV-screen or a robot (as he or she identifies it as a being). But when an object starts to talk with and responds to the character, things are to much for the PC.
It does not have to be a tech-artifact. The character is fine with his or her own reflection in the water, but an actual mirror or a monitor or holo-projector that “mirrors” the PC triggers a panic (perhaps due to a lag of understanding or to superstitions).
26# Any flying insect that is larger than a man´s fist
Insects that crawl aren´t the problem, no matter the size. Small flying insects are uncomfortable, but not terrifying. It is the combination that is to much for the character.
27# Ants of any kind (or spiders of any kind)
It is something about this particular type of insect that makes the character afraid.
28# Any insect that is at least as large as a man
Again, it is the size that matters.
29# Large insect swarms
The big bugs don´t bother the character, but a crawling, moving, living mass of thingies creeps the PC out completely.
30#Insects that sting
In fact, the character is afraid of the sting of the insect, but for the reaction of the PC this little detail does not make any difference.