Gamma World’s Big Awesome Secret

Gamma Gamma Hey!

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.

12 Responses to Gamma World’s Big Awesome Secret

  1. As I believe I said before critically hitting everything in the room: Who needs fusion rifles?

  2. Gavin & Ed: There ain’t nothing quite like gaming to make a bunch of hardcore science-oriented skeptics start wondering about “luck.”

    Otherwise: Fusion Rifle, Rod of Reaping; Potato, potatoe. I’m glad to hear this– not so much for brings DnD into Gamma World but for bringing Gamma World into DnD. Then again, I just gave one of my fantasy gamers skin cancer…so maybe I’m the target audience.

  3. There’s not much to tell. I’m sure I’ll manage it in as many words as possible.

    After a short but sweet fight against a couple ogres and a mimic, our group found ourselves immediately engaged by a shadow of some sort and a few swarms of telepathic maggots. Pretty terrifying. Anywho, our front line guy, Robot Viking’s own Ryk Perry, found himself bloodied, dominated and adjacent to both the shadow and our rogue, Robot Viking’s own Joe Grabianowski, who is perpetually bloodied and was himself adjacent to a telepathic maggot swarm.

    Using my sorceressy powers of guessing, I figured radiant damage might not feel too good to the shadow. A Blazing Starfall centered on the rogue would encompass the shadow and the maggots as well as my two allies. Luckily, it targets Reflex defense, which is both PCs highest defense! I can’t lose!

    First roll against the shadow: 19! Hey, I crit on 19s! Next roll, against Ryk: 20! Crap, I crit on those, too. 3rd roll on Joe: 19! Oops. Watch me miss the maggots with a… 19!

    Luckily, I only do half damage to allies. Things could have gone poorly otherwise.

  4. The original Gamma World was very much like that. It wasn’t uncommon to find a ODnD class ported over to GW, even more often to find Boot Hill cowboys running about.

    I have to say after reading the various leaks and articles about GW 7th Edition, that it seems like (and I know this is going to be unpopular) that again, we have a situation where Hasbrowotctsr is using comparisons to the originals to try to sway old players to give these new games a try:

    DnD4e: “We’re going to simplify the rules sets!”
    Dark Sun: “We’re going to go back to the time-line you guys liked”
    Gamma World: “We’re going back to the days of cross compatibility!”

    And there in lies the problem. You can wrap these items up in all sorts of nostalgic rhetoric, but when we get them home… it doesn’t take long to find that these games are nothing like the ones they’re being compared to. If that’s a good or a bad thing is a matter of personal preference. But at 40 bucks a pop… if you say its like the old one, it batter damn well be like the old one.

    And they aren’t. (and again, those differences being an improvement or not is a matter of personal preference)

    As I’ve said before, the artwork and such that I’ve seen for GW7 is lovely, probably the best I’ve ever seen. However, it’s the actual game mechanics that have been mentioned that will preclude myself or anyone I know from even entertaining the thought of buying it. And if the CCG aspect didn’t convince me, the tethering to a rules-set that in the gaming community is very “controversial” to say the least might seem like a good selling point to some people, but to the older gamers it’s just another push *away* from TSR, instead of a pull toward.

    Which seems to be TSR’s plan. As they’ve said, they’re still marketing to the 12-14 year old boy target market. Those guys play CCGs and Console games most of their time, so that’s what they’re catering to. Which is fine.

    For the rest of us, there’s always “Mutant Future.” 8D

  5. My counterpoint to part of that argument is that the info here came from my interview with Rich Baker. He’s not a marketing guy. Believe me, I’ve encountered lots of marketing and PR people in my years working at newspapers and as a freelance writer. I can spot a schill a mile away, and I know a line of marketingspeak BS when I see one.

    Rich Baker? He’s a guy who loves games and loves creating games. That was absolutely evident in the conversation I had with him. He wasn’t feeding me PR. His enthusiasm for the games very obvious (and contagious). To suggest that he was applying a glaze of fake nostalgia to the product to make it appeal to disenchfranchised old-school players seems highly improbable.

  6. I guess it depends on what you liked about the old version. Did you like mutants & cockroaches & glass deserts? Muls & rivers of dust & mantis-people? Or did you like starting at 4th level, awkward indexes, tables scattered willy nilly? If you liked the former, it might be for you; if you liked the latter, then the various “old school” revivalists are for you. Nothing wrong with that.

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