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