D&D Lite: Giving D&D the Gamma World Treatment

Posted on : 25-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : D&D, Gamma World, House Rules

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When Essentials was being marketed to us, it was marketed as a faster, easier version of D&D (for the most part). To some extent this is true; making an Essentials character is easier than in standard D&D, due primarily to the limited set of options compared to the vast array of abilities available in standard D&D. Some classes, also, are easier to run because they are simpler versions of the standard D&D versions.

That said, some people I game with thought it would be a different beast, not so similar to the D&D they already knew. Once those people started playing Gamma World with me, they told me that they thought it would be nice if Essentials had been more like Gamma World: fast, mostly random character generation, simplified rules, quick(ish) combats. It got me thinking: what if someone were to create a version of D&D based on Gamma World, using its rules where possible and adding things from D&D when necessary. This “D&D Lite” would be a quick-starting, simple, lean version of D&D, ideal for pickup games and one-shots.

Core Assumptions
Mechanically, there are some things I’m going to assume about D&D Lite. In general, the rules will follow those of Gamma World. There is a simplified set of conditions and keywords, there are no feats, character generation can be mostly random, if that is preferred, though selection of race and class are not out of the question.

Magic items will play somewhat less of a role in D&D Lite. I envision them being more similar to Omega Tech cards, acting as limited-use encounter powers more than magic items proper. As in Gamma World, one’s level will be added to just about everything, to compensate for the lack of magic item bonuses.

Alpha mutations are a key component of Gamma World, but such a mechanic does not fit into D&D Lite. Instead, class- or race-based encounter powers will be introduced as players level up.

There will be a very limited set of races and classes; these will take the place of origins in Gamma World. I’m thinking eight of each, so that a d8 can be rolled for random generation, with the player choosing whether race or class is primary. For races, I’m thinking: human, elf, dwarf, halfling, half-elf, tiefling, dragonborn, and eladrin. For classes: fighter, rogue, cleric, wizard, paladin, warlock, druid, and bard. Each origin will have one novice power, one utility power, one expert power, and a handful of journeyman powers. Journeyman powers will allow for some variation between characters of the same race or class, and will take the place of Alpha mutations. There will likely be three journeyman powers per origin, and any time a player gets access to a new journeyman power, that player will get to choose one of the remaining powers from either origin.

As in Gamma World, the level cap is at 10; however, I’m thinking that players will use the D&D experience point chart rather than the quicker Gamma World chart.

Next Up: A race origin and a class origin!

Gamma World: Into the Steading

Posted on : 20-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : Gamma World, Session Reports

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In our last update, the group had found and entered a mysterious tower full of badders and porkers, reputedly the source of the defective robots plaguing the outpost of Kin.

After dealing with the yexil and the guard-badders upon entering the tower, the party hunkered down to rest for a bit. His Grace skinned the yexil, making a fur coat and hat from its pelt. The Inevitable piled a bunch of junk against the door leading deeper into the tower in an attempt to fortify their position while they rested. However, he had grown his own fur coat (a shaggy yeti pelt), and his furry hands kept getting in the way. Once the group had rested up, they removed the makeshift barricade and continued down the stairs, into the tower.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, they saw a pair of badders crouched behind an overturned table, trying (unsuccessfully) to remain hidden. The party attacked the two badders, taking one out quickly and badly injuring the other. Two more badders–these ones armed with flails–came from around the corner, though, and quickly dropped Qro7t with their flails and psychic emanations. The Shroom activated his laser hound (a mechanical device with a faulty targeting system), which joined the fray. Man Bush crashed through a side door to outflank the badders, and found a large machine occupying the center of the room. On the other side of the machine was an iron cage containing three vacant-eyed humans, two women and a man. They seemed strangely oblivious to the battle around them.

Man Bush quickly figured out that the machine was generating harmful psychic emanations, but was also healing the badders. Once the party had taken care of the badders (and revived Qro7t), they focused on disabling the machine by hitting it with large objects. They tried to get the attention of the caged humans, but after they were unsuccessful, Sparx theorized that perhaps the machine had left them in a vegetative state. Sparx, The Inevitable, and His Grace pooled their knowledge about Stupendico Robotics (whose facility they were in) and the machine in front of them, and determined that the machine had originally been used to read peoples’ minds, but had been subverted by the badders. They got to work repairing the machine, and successfully reversed its harmful effects; hopefully, while they were exploring the rest of the facility, it would help the caged humans recover.

The party entered a natural cavern, and Qro7t sneaked forward to scout the area. Finding nothing, he ventured further, only to stumble upon the lair of a group of blood birds and gamma moths. Using psychic powers recently gained, the party managed to instill terror into one of the blood birds, and force another blood bird to attack one of the moths. Things, however, got worse.

The gamma moths’ radiation beams proved nearly lethal, dropping Qro7t (again) and The Shroom, and badly injuring Man Bush. The birds, on the other hand, proved to be virtually no threat at all. Between The Inevitable’s gunplay, His Grace’s tending to the wounded (with squirrel jerky and a sort of squirrel mash rubbed on The Shroom’s feet), and Man Bush finding a cache of ammo for his sniper rifle, the party was able to defeat the creatures and revive their wounded.

Hunkering down in the caves, the party rested before venturing down, deeper into the cavern complex.

DIY: Gamma World DM Screen

Posted on : 19-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : Downloads, Gamma World

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So you want a Gamma World DM screen, huh? So did I, when I started playing Gamma World. Initially, I downloaded this screen, printed it, and taped it to the inside of my D&D screen. An unsatisfactory solution, due to the fact that, if I were to play D&D, I’d have to remove all the Gamma World stuff, then put it back on when I switched games. So, I decided I needed a dedicated screen for Gamma World.

So, I chopped up the above screen and reconfigured the tables to my liking, arranging them in a 3-panel, landscape-style document. Then I grabbed some wallpapers from WotC’s website, and spliced them together to make some player-facing art.

After printing these things out on card stock, I mounted them to some foam board (which you can pick up in most craft stores). Initially, I attached both side panels to the center panel with packing tape, but this proved an unsatisfactory solution; you see, I couldn’t fold the second panel once the first panel was folded, which made it cumbersome to transport and store. So, I detached one of the side panels and instead attached it with Velcro, so that I could detach and reattach it at will, making it easier to store and transport. You can see the final product here:

DM-Facing Side

Player-Facing Side

If you’d like to make your own Gamma World DM screen, here’s the file that I printed and mounted to the foam board. It contains both the DM-facing side and the artwork on the reverse side.

Gamma World DM Screen (778)

Credit where credit is due: the tables come from here, the artwork comes from here. None of it is my own creation; I just re-mixed it.

Gamma World: First Session

Posted on : 11-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : Gamma World, Session Reports

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I ran my first session of Gamma World last night, and it was great fun.

The Party

  • Lord Marquis Dr. Reginald Von Buddmunchen IX, Esq., PhD (or just ‘milord’ or ‘His Grace’), a pyrokinetic doppleganger. He wielded a canoe paddle and a bag of squirrels with great aplomb, and had a penchant for creating fiery duplicates of himself and sending them after people.
  • The Inevitable, a prescient gunslinger. He was pretty effective with those six-guns, and he wasn’t afraid to mix it up with fisticuffs, either. He came forward as the party’s spokesperson on most cases, and did an admirable job.
  • Man Bush, an exploding gravity controller. His sniper rifle was deadly, but he could do some serious damage when he blew up on people, too.
  • The Shroom, a seismic fungoid. His weapon of choice was a microwave oven, and he had a mental connection to the ur-mushroom, a massive, sentient fungal entity beneath the surface of the world that he could communicate with to cause localized earthquakes.
  • Qro7t, a speedster giant. He was the last survivor of a race of subterranean giants, and was the runt of the litter. Even so, he wielded a stop sign as an axe and a traffic light as a flail. The 7 is silent.
  • Sparx, an electrokinetic felinoid. Agile and deadly, Sparx alternated between shocking people and scratching their eyes out, and she flung poisoned ice cubes at people when they were too far away.

The Story
As the sun rose, the group traveled down the river Shi-Yen toward the small outpost of Kin. Their ultimate goal was Far-Go, a place where mutants like them could find acceptance, safety, and peace. Before leaving Kin for Far-Go, though, they would need to barter for supplies: food and gasoline for their vehicles.

They were greeted at the docks by Ulysses, a man wearing camouflage fatigues and a bowler hat, with a shotgun resting on his shoulder. He explained that he was Kin’s constable; he was in charge of maintaining the outpost’s defenses and keeping troublemakers out. The Inevitable told him that they did not seek trouble, and that Far-Go was their destination; however, they would need supplies before continuing their journey.

Ulysses offered them a trade: help them with a security problem, and they could walk away with all the food, gas, and ammo they needed. The group accepted, and asked what the problem was.

Kin, it seemed, was having a robot problem. Every day at noon, like clockwork, a robot would arrive from the foothills to the south. Most of these robots just shook and exploded, but a few shot rockets at the walls of the outpost, damaging them. They presented a possible risk, and their presence did not bode well for the outpost.

The Inevitable, Qro7t, and Man Bush scaled the walls and waited for a robot to show up, while the others occupied themselves. Eventually a robot did appear, and exploded just as Ulysses had said it would. His Grace searched the wreckage of the robot and found, improbably, a tin of sardines; he discussed the benefits of a diet rich in canned fish with his invisible manservent, Theobold. Theobold, of course, agreed.

The group followed the path of the robot for a few hours, into the foothills, until they came to a tower. The tower was clearly guarded by humanoids of some sort, though they couldn’t tell what they were facing. The approached cautiously, but were spotted by the badders (humanoid badgers with cruel tendencies) and porkers (humanoid pigs who like to ride motorcycles and fight).

One of the badders told them to leave, that the Iron King did not suffer intruders and had given them leave to kill trespassers. The Inevitable stepped forward and, drawing on the High Speech, told them to run, or face the consequences. The badders and porkers did not run, but were visibly shaken, and the group was able to get the drop on them.

A quick battle ensued. Man Bush sniped at badders from a distance, while Sparx and Qor7t engaged porkers in melee combat. The Inevitable gunned another porker down. His Grace sent flaming squirrels after the assailants, and when one of them shot him with a crossbow, he immediately manifested a flaming duplicate of himself; it was weeping uncontrollably. Soon after, it ran and embraced a badder, immolating it. The fight was quick and brutal.

The party searched the corpses of the fallen and the surrounding area. They found a number of intact items that they could use or trade, as well as some powerful Omega Tech. They proceeded to the door of the tower; Qro7t kicked it in.

Inside were two raised platforms, upon which were more badders with crossbows at the ready. At the end of the room was a raised aerie, and in that aerie was a yexil (a winged lion with mandibles) chewing on a suit jacket. The badders opened fire.

Several people focused fire on the Yexil, causing it significant injury; it returned fire with lasers from its eyes, then swooped down to attack in melee. The badders fired crossbow bolts at the party, and two more burst out of a side room.

The Shroom caused a minor earthquake that toppled one of the raised platforms, bringing the badder on it down to his level so he could crush it with his microwave. Qro7t followed suit, smashing the other platform with his stop sign axe. Man Bush’s head-mounted laser (a powerful piece of Omega Tech he had found) injured the yexil severely, and His Grace finished it off with a force pike to the mouth, pulling a blazer out when he retracted his hand.

The badders just outside the melee were causing problems for the group, so Man Bush ran over to them and exploded, severely injuring a pair of them. He was soon overcome by his own wounds, though, and rendered unconscious. The rest of the party made short work of the badders, though, and revived Man Bush. They searched the area and found more valuable junk, as well as a fully-loaded pistol and some more Omega Tech.

Inside the badders’ baracks, they found a notice, which verified that this was source of the defective robots. Knowledge (and heavy ordnance) in hand, they continued into the tower.

Gamma World has a reputation for zaniness, and it’s well deserved. Even though the character generation is mostly random, it provides a lot of fuel for creativity when you’re figuring out how to play and describe your character. My players did a great job coming up with cool schticks.

Something interesting that I noticed is that basic attacks are used a lot more in Gamma World than they are in D&D. At-will powers are often very situational (such as Man Bush’s ability to explode, or Qro7t’s Brickbat power), which means that basic attacks are what you often fall back on. Unlike D&D, however, it’s likely that you’ll be good at using your basic attack, because your weapons are going to be keyed to one of four different ability scores: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, or Intelligence. It’s likely that at least one of those will be at least 16, so you’ll probably have a good basic attack to use.

I also noticed that people were rarely simply using a power without describing what they were doing. Gamma World seems to encourage creative descriptions, and the players at my table seemed to want to out-do each other with the wackiness of their attacks. Even when His Grace used his ranged basic attack, he described it as throwing a squirrel, which set itself on fire mid-flight.

Finally, Gamma World works really well with a rule called the Kill Shot (I didn’t make it up, but I forget where I got the idea). The idea is that occasionally, when players kill an enemy, I allow them to describe what it looks like. I got some really creative descriptions of enemy deaths, including pulling a blazer out of the yexil’s mouth.

Gamma World: The Cast

Posted on : 09-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : Gamma World

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So, tomorrow I’m going to be running my first session of Gamma World, at my FLGS. I thought I’d take some time to tell you about the very interesting cast of characters that will be participating in the game. Some of these guys have given me detailed information on their characters; I will quote where appropriate.

The first is a pyrokinetic doppleganger. I’ll let him tell you about himself.

I believe I have a bag full of “artillery” and also a large wooden boat oar. I am also decked out in an orange prison jumpsuit, a black tattered blazer, and a red and black striped cravat, and a small kerchief in a matching pattern tucked into the breast pocket of the blazer. I am wearing manacles (broken) around my wrists and ankles, and I have the number 24601 tattooed into my forehead. The same number is printed on my jumpsuit.

I am Lord Marquis Dr. Reginald Von Buddmunchen IX, Esq., PhD. I will answer to “milord” “your lordship” and other titles of respect worthy of my station. I also refuse to carry my canoe. Such menial tasks are below my station. I randomly am prone to breaking out into carefully choreographed song and / or dance, and have been known to recite Shakespeare whilst simultaneously doing the “macarena” dance (20% chance when under duress). I also hold lengthy and nigh un-understandable conversations with “Theobold” my invisible manservant. He, also, cannot carry the canoe.

The “artillery” he mentions is, by the way, a bag full of trained squirrels that he throws at people. Sometimes they . . . spontaneously . . . burst into flame.

Next, we have an exploding gravity controller. Yes, you read that right.

I am not even sure what my real name is anymore. I have been called Man Bush as long as I can remember. This is not some military costume I wear. These weeds and vegetation grow from my skin. Now I am like some walking bale of hay. At least the are pretty think and intertwined to provide me protection against the “Nasties.” I guess I am… or was, rather, human. My memory of the times before all hell broke loose are all but gone now. The only thing I seem to remember is how to use this rifle. and I use it pretty damn good. I also carry a machete in case a Nasty gets close to me. Heheh! Gotta love the irony… a walking bramble carrying a machete.

Basically, the branches and weeds that grow from his skin are the armor type protection. The rifle is a heavy duty .50 sniper rifle, with “Bauer Amerkia” etched on the barrel. The machete is a very think type of blade used by landscapers and jungle guides everywhere.

And then there’s the speedster giant, both strong and fast.

“Everyone else is gone. Hims is the only one left. The others were all brave and big…hims, not so much. The giant squishy spitty bugs came and ate them all ups. Hims had to run; no other choice. Hims was always good at hiding. Now hims lives on the upperland…very different from underplace. Bright, and blowey. Hims likes the burney ball (little folks calls it the ‘sun’). Now hims don’t have to hide too much; hims one of the big ones now. Sometimes the bigger stuff comes, and hims runs and hides still. But, most of time, hims is the big one now. Hims is the last lirmok. Hims name is Qro7t (the seven is silent). Hims is a survivor now”

Born the ‘runt’ of several subterranean humanoids which he was told were called lirmoks, Qro7t is a 7 and 1/2 foot tall lean & mean pole of muscle. Sized both shorter and slighter than his brethren, he focuses on speed and silence before pure brute force. Wielding a hodgepodge of seat cushions, tire scraps, sporting equipment & an undersized baseball mask for protection, he uses what he calls a harpoon gun before wading into combat with either his fence gate shield & stop sign axe, or (if he wants to do REAL damage) his stoplight flail. He typically won’t run from a fight due to his curiosity & tenacity, and though he suffers from a very low intellect and naivety, his common sense is strong and he knows when somethings bigger than him, it’s time to run.

There are also three as yet (mostly) unnamed characters. One is a prescient gunslinger who rides a motorcycle and fights with a pair of six-guns. He is sometimes known as the Inevitable; he is from another world, or perhaps Gamma Terra’s future, after it has moved on. The next is a seismic fungoid, a mushroom man who can cause minor earthquakes. Finally there’s an electrokinetic felinoid, a cat-woman who can shoot lightning bolts.

It promises to be great fun, and I’ll tell you all about it when we’re done.

Gamma World: Grenade Launchers and Automatic Weapons

Posted on : 08-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : Gamma World, House Rules

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First, I’ll tell you: I really like the way guns are handled in Gamma World. They’re better than standard ranged weapons (light guns are more accurate, heavy guns do more damage), but they require ammo. If you use your gun more than once in an encounter, you’ll be out of ammo at the end of the encounter, while if you use it only once, you’ll still have ammo. Simple, requires little book-keeping, and fairly cinematic. That said, there are a couple of things missing.

Automatic Weapons
Guns are, by default, single-target weapons. That can be described as firing a burst at a single target, but in the game there’s no way to model spraying at an entire area. Luckily, there’s a pretty simple fix.

If you have a gun that would logically be able to spray an area (a submachine gun or assault rifle, for example), you can make an attack that targets a burst 1 within the gun’s range, with a -2 penalty to attack. It targets all creatures within the burst, and if you do it, you’ll be out of ammo at the end of the encounter (so you might as well go for broke). This is, however, an encounter power; it uses up most of your ammo.

Grenades and Grenade Launchers
A couple of the monsters in the game have grenades or grenade launchers on them. The creatures, themselves, contain rules for them using these weapons in the form of powers. They do not, however, detail what happens when a player takes a grenade launcher off of a fallen enemy.

Per the rules, it would probably just be a heavy gun of some sort; that, however, is somewhat unsatisfying. Instead, I’d be inclined to make a grenade launcher statistically equivalent to a heavy two-handed gun, except that it targets a burst 2 within 10 squares (attacking all creatures within the burst). In addition, grenade launchers do not run off of generic ammo the way other guns do. You should track the number of grenades you have, and each use of a grenade launcher uses one of them up (it’s also a minor action to load a grenade into the launcher; it can only hold one at a time).

You might even use rules for different types of grenades. Concussion grenades might have a knockdown effect and some forced movement, while incendiary grenades deal ongoing 5 fire damage (save ends).

For thrown grenades I’d use similar rules, except that I’d cut the range of the thrown weapon down to 5 squares, and I’d make it a one-handed weapon (though I’d keep the accuracy and damage the same).

Gamma World Motifs: Gunslinger

Posted on : 07-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : Gamma World, House Rules

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I had this idea earlier, when a friend of mine said he wanted to play a gunslinger in Gamma World. I told him anyone could use guns, but he said “No, I want to be a GUNSLINGER.” Presumably, the kind that hunts the Dark Tower and carries big, sandalwood revolvers. As I was figuring out how to give him what he wanted, I came up with the idea of motifs.

A motif is what you use when you have a very specific character concept in mind. It eliminates some of the randomness of character generation, effectively choosing a specific origin, and then replacing some of its abilities and reflavoring some of its powers. You do, however, get to play the character you have in your head (though you’ll still have to roll for your second origin, as normal).

Your cold, hard eyes promise death to those who get in your way.
This motif is a replacement for the Speedster origin. It uses all of the Speedster’s game rules, except as followed.

Line of Eld (replaces Just a Blur): Gain a +1 bonus to Will and a +4 bonus to Interaction checks made to threaten or intimidate.
Always Prepared (replaces Blinding Speed): At the end of any encounter in which you would be out of ammo, roll a d20. On a roll of 10+, you are not out of ammo.
Novice Power: Run and Gun: As Quick Attack, except that it must be made with a gun.
Utility Power: Roll for Cover: As Whizzer, except that you shift half your speed, and if you have cover or superior cover at the end of the shift, the bonus to defenses increases by +1 until the start of your next turn.
Expert Power: Hail of Lead: As Swift Pummel, except that it must be used with a gun, each attack can target a different creature, and the to-hit bonus is Dexterity + your level + weapon accuracy.

If you really want to model Roland Deschain, pair this origin and motif with Engineered Human.

Gamma World Character Generation Table

Posted on : 04-01-2011 | By : Brian | In : Downloads, Gamma World

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I picked up Famine in Far-Go the other day, and I’m digging it so far. Here’s the thing about it though: it adds twenty new origins to the game. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. However, it does mean that, when rolling your origins during character creation, you have to refer to two books at once. It would have been nice of WotC had included all of the origins on the table in Far-Go, rather than just the Far-Go specific ones, but sadly that is not the case. They have released a very nice automated character sheet, which is a nice step, but if you’re playing somewhere without internet access (like most game stores), it’s not that helpful.

My solution was simply to create a sheet that I can print out and keep in the box that has all of the origins included. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional; here you go: Gamma World Character Origin Sheet (746)

If anyone would like to pretty this up for me, I can send you the original spreadsheet. Contact me via a comment on this post, and I’ll upload the new, prettier file, and you’ll get credit for your work. Otherwise, enjoy.

Gamma World: First Impressions

Posted on : 27-12-2010 | By : Brian | In : Gamma World, Reviews

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I got Gamma World for Christmas, and at this point I’ve read most of the book and all of the cards. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t yet read the monsters or the introductory adventure, but I’ve read all of the rules and, as I said, all of the cards that came with the box. Also, this isn’t really going to be a full review. That’s been done a lot already (I am late to the party on this, after all). Instead, I’m going to talk about some of the things within the game book that struck me, and what I think about them. Overall, my impressions of the game are pretty positive.

Character Generation
This is a pretty big departure from D&D, despite being built on the same game system. Virtually every aspect of Gamma World’s character generation system is randomized. You roll two random origins and get powers from those origins. Your origins determine one or two of your ability scores, while you roll randomly for the rest. You get to choose your armor and weaponry, but all of your gear is randomly rolled. You roll a random skill to be trained in (though the concept of skill training, as such, doesn’t exist in the game), and get bonuses to others from your origins. All of this random rolling, combined with the absence of feats, means that character generation is, in theory, very fast.

This is largely because there is little decision making to be done from a mechanical standpoint; your origins determine the powers you get (though you can play around with the order in which you get them), and there are no feats, so you’re not making a lot of decisions like you are in D&D. That said, even though you’re not making a lot of mechanical choices, you still get to do a lot of customization in terms of role-playing choices. You randomly roll two origins; these origins are things like “android”, “seismic”, “telekinetic”, “hawkoid’, or “yeti”. There are twenty-one of these origins and, as you might expect, you can roll up some pretty wacky combinations.

That’s where the fun comes in; you have to try to reconcile these two potentially disparate and possibly contradictory origins (Pyrokinetic plant, anyone? How about a seismic rat swarm?) and come up with a character concept that makes sense within the world. This is an exercise in creativity, and means that your character can look, quite literally, like just about anything. It’s a cool feature that I like quite a bit.

This narrative customization extends to the gear you carry, too. There are three types of armor in the game: light, heavy, and shields. You choose which one you get, and you get to describe what it looks like. Are you wearing a heavy leather duster? An umpire’s padding? A conglomeration of road signs soldered together? Medieval plate mail? It’s really up to you.

Weapons get this treatment, too. There are melee weapons, ranged weapons, and guns, and each comes in a light and heavy flavor and a one-handed and two-handed flavor. If you’re a big tough character with a high Strength, you’ll probably want a heavy melee weapon, and possibly a two-hander if you don’t need a shield. That said, it’s not that interesting to just say “I have a heavy two-handed melee weapon, and I hit the mutant badger with it.” What does that weapon look like? Is it a stop sign? A chain saw? A bastard sword? A cash register? Again, the details are left up to you.

No Money
The game lacks any system for money. In the postapocalpytic world, everything operates on a barter economy, so if you need more ammo, you’re going to have to trade something you have for it. This means that the random junk you find can potentially buy you life-saving gear (like food, ammo, water, armor, or gas for your truck), so you’re going to want to scavenge as much as you can. Luckily, there’s a big random table of Ancient Junk in the book that makes generating mundane scavenge pretty easy.

A lot of people have made a lot of noise about Gamma World being a collectible role-playing game because of the included Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech cards, and the fact that you can buy booster packs of them. I can understand where people would get that impression, but having looked at the cards and read the rules, I can tell you this: you don’t need to buy a single booster pack if you don’t want to. The two included decks have plenty of stuff in them, and they give you a booster pack to customize your decks a little bit. I haven’t yet decided whether or not I’ll be buying any boosters, but I can tell you this: if I do, it won’t be for a while; certainly not until I’ve played the game a few times first.

As for the cards themselves, I think they’re great. Alpha mutations are encounter powers or passive abilities that range from extremely situational (like a power that counters life-leeching) to extremely potent (like an attack power that deals 7d8 points of damage). There are no level restrictions on these powers, and they’re randomly drawn, so you can potentially get something really powerful at first level. The catch is, you won’t have it for long. During every short rest, your alpha mutation changes, so you’re going to constantly have new powers to try out and use.

Omega tech is a little more dependable; it’s gear that you find, and you keep it until it dies. Each has a consumable power or an encounter power, and if you use an encounter power, at the end of the encounter you have to roll to see if you’ve used that item’s last charge. Many items can be salvaged if you’re high enough level, and salvaging omega tech gets you some pretty nice swag. Typically these are suits of armor, weapons, or mundane items that are more potent than what you can get otherwise, but they’ll never be as powerful as they were when they were omega tech. Again, there is no level requirement for using these items (though there is for salvaging them), and they’re randomly drawn, so you could wind up with something pretty potent from the get-go.

Lethality and Healing
There is no healing magic in Gamma World. There are no clerics. A couple of the origins have healing powers or powers that grant temporary hit points, and some of the alpha and omega cards do so as well, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll see any of that. This makes for a pretty lethal game. To combat this somewhat, some concessions have been made. Your second wind, for example, now allows you to regain hit points equal to your bloodied value (half your hit points), and costs you a minor action. There are also no healing surges in the game; all healing is effectively free (though uncommon). A short rest heals you completely and refreshes all of your powers (there are no daily powers in the game), making it about as good as an extended rest in most situations. In fact, the only reason to take an extended rest is to level up (you have to take an extended rest to level up), and to shuffle the discard piles back into the alpha and omega decks.

Another note on lethality: your character may very well die (and there is no resurrection in Gamma World, so if you die, you’re gone), but as I mentioned earlier, making a new character is a pretty quick and easy process. This means that your character might be dead, but you’ll probably have a brand new one ready before the next encounter.

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