Ok, it’s not actually a secret, since Gamma World playtests have been discussed publicly and Rich Baker has blogged specifically about it. But it’s still awesome. What could possibly get me more excited about Gamma World than I already was?
The second part of my interview with Rich Baker was about Gamma World. Now, the release of Gamma World is several months away, so they weren’t really ready to give out a ton of information on it yet. I focused my questions on something interesting I had noticed on the Gamma World release schedule: it specifically mentioned that the monsters in Gamma World supplements would be usable in your D&D campaign.
Now, that’s cool by itself, and I knew that Gamma World was built using 4E rules, so it wasn’t a huge surprise, but I was very curious how deep that compatibility went. Turns out it runs very deep.
One of the problems with the original Gamma World was that it forced GMs to start over from scratch. The different rules system made it very difficult to raid D&D rules for things to use in a Gamma World campaign. At this point in 4E’s evolution, there’s a ton of material out there to draw from. So the new Gamma World uses the same tactical scale (5′ squares), and monster powers, attack bonuses and damage work on the same scale. All those D&D (and Star Wars) minis, plus your three Monster Manuals will all be directly compatible when you start playing Gamma World.
Now, maybe some of those monsters don’t make whole lot of sense in a Gamma World context. Angels? Not so much. But there are a lot of obvious crossover monsters. Zombies, mind-flayers, and all kinds of aberrations. And really, in a world that can more or less be defined by the phrase “lots of freaking weird mutants,” you can justify just about anything.
Baker emphasized that, while “the chassis is the same” as fourth edition, Gamma World is not just a bunch of 4E powers with different flavor text. There’s a new character creation method intended to be fast and fun, including rolls on a table of random mutations (he mentioned two mutations called Seismic and Cockroach, the latter apparently causing your character to be a giant cockroach). The end result is a character with the same essential stats as a 4E character, but slightly more…mutated.
In fact, your existing D&D characters could potentially jump directly into a Gamma World adventure. It’ll be up to you to explain how a paladin or warden ended up in your post-apocalyptic future, but that’s part of the fun. Comparing D&D characters to Gamma World characters will depend on the situation, Baker said. In some cases the D&D character might be more powerful. On the other hand, Gamma World characters can have fusion rifles. If there’s one generalization to be made about Gamma World PCs, it’s that they will be more destructive.
Allow me to summarize: a game I already like (4E D&D) moved to a genre I absolutely love (post-apocalyptic sci-fi) filled with crazy mutants and ultradestructive characters wielding fusion rifles. Seems good.