Gamma World: A Memoir of My First Experience

Two players – housemates of the DM – already had characters, so the first ten minutes or so involved the DM walking one of the other players through his character creation. I was only half listening because I was eating my dinner at the table (being host means I'm allowed to run a little late sometimes), but some of the numbers seemed pretty... extreme, to my 4E-attuned senses. Then it was my turn.

I rolled my 2d20 to see just what my character would be, and got a boring combination – both origins were already at the table. I rolled again, and came up Empath and Plant. Of course, I named my empath plant "Harvey Triffid." A plant!

I kitted Harvey out in a set of leathers – very symbolic, a plant wearing animal flesh – and spent far too long wondering what sort of weapons he should carry. I knew he was aggressive, so it was two-handed all the way, but what would a plant wield? Then I realised I could just give him a double-barrelled shot gun, which he could use to blast from a distance, and smash point-blank.

Then out came the d10s (four, this time.) Turns out Harvey likes transport – a pick-up truck, a riding horse, a canoe, and night-vision goggles which are so useful for a plant..?

It turns out, rolling dice for just about everything makes character creation way more fun, and the game is set up that it doesn't matter if your guy is nothing like you imagined when you set out. A little more basic page-filling-outing, and we were ready to go.

The four of us (an electro-gravity guy, a stupid high-speed cat, a burningman, and Harvey) were in "A Village" which had been attacked by amusingly ineffectual robots. We four wandered up the mountains to see if we could find the source of the robots. Near the top of the mountain a bunch of mutant badger men and mutant pig men stopped us and said some nasty things. When things degenerated, Harvey attacked (I rolled great initiative), and for the first time in my table-top gaming life, I had my character run around the field, using cover, alternating between ranged and melee attacks, and doing the sorts of things I do in other game genres.

Gamma World has an interesting (and I think, brilliant) mechanic, whereby if you fire a single shot from your ranged weapon in an encounter it doesn't use any ammo, but if you fire a second shot you are in "all-out" mode, and at the end of the encounter your ammo is gone. This introduces an actual tactical and strategic decision-point for you as a player, which has been rather lacking in 4E. Do you open with a salvo, then charge into melee? Or save your one shot for when you might need it later in the fight? Or do you just go all out, blasting at everyone, and hope you can survive on melee until you find some more ammo?

Memorable Moment: the electro-grav guy (Sigismundo) made his first melee attack of the adventure, using his double-handed parking meter. The DM half-jokingly told Sam (Sig's player) that if he rolled a 20, money would come out of the parking meter. Sam said, "Ok" and rolled a 20. The Porker died, and Sigismundo spent a little while picking up the scattered change.

We owned the Porkers and Badders, and attempted to bash our way through the door of a tower. After a few bounces, we decided to let Con (Con Flagration, the burningman) stand beside it for a couple of minutes. After he'd charred it sufficiently, Harvey kicked it in and...

Wait, have I mentioned the Alpha Mutations?

At the start of every encounter you draw a card which gives your character a short-lived mutation. Gamma World is highly... broken. The in-universe world, that is. Everyone is broken and everything's mutated and there's radiation everywhere, and it's all messed up. So a little mutagenic flux every now and then is nothing out of the ordinary.

As Harvey kicked in the charred door, his plant-nose mutated into a two foot long proboscis which he could use to suck life-force from his enemies. Inside the tower were some more Badders, and a huge flying lion with laser eyes (yes, really.) We swarmed the yexil (the laser wyvern-lion), and the cat (by now nicknamed Flash [Ahh-ahh] by everyone) kept scratching its eyes while Harvey sucked its blood, Con surrounded it with himself (oh yeah he's also a doppelganger, so he can summon a 1-round minion identical to himself in every way, including equipment and fire-damage aura), and Sig bashed it with his mighty meter.

And so on. We killed the yexil, mopped up the badders, cleared out another room full of badders that also contained a magic hi-tech health-moving machine (which would drain HP from non-friends, and channel it to friends of whomever had hit the button last.) Harvey was knocked unconscious in this room, but the machine brought him back, eventually. Then in the caves beyond we came upon a bunch of radioactive birds and giant radiation-beaming moths.

At this point I decided to change my strategy, engaging the what I assumed to be highly mobile and dangerous monsters from a distance, going all-out with my shotgun. Harvey charged into the room, and with one shot was dropped from 15HP to 3. Then a moth zapped him with radiation, and he dropped to the floor. A few rounds later the birds and moths were defeated, but by then I'd failed a few too many death saving throws, and Harvey was a goner. And I didn't feel (that) bad about it at all. I felt like Harvey had lived through more adventures, and achieved more, in his 0.8-level journey than many three or four level characters I've played.

More Memorable Moments:

Over all, I'd say that Gamma World is brilliant, and if you have a chance to play it, totally take it!

... Matty /<

Matthew Kerwin

CC BY-SA 4.0
d&d, gamma-world, rpg

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