Gamma World: First session!

2010 November 27
by Dante

Today I was thrilled to join a group of my friends in our first Gamma World game.  I am pleased to report that not only was I impressed, it exceeded expectations on the Grand Unified Fun Scale.  Here’s just a few reasons why:

Character Generation

As I postulated yesterday, character creation was a really fun aspect of the game.  We opted for the traditional no-holds-barred random character generation to excellent results.  Our party consisted of:

  • A mind breaker / plant hybrid
  • A highly intelligent yeti android with only three Charisma
  • A human-sized felinoid / cockroach named Mittens St. Cloud
  • A plant / gravity controller clad in cast-off street signs
  • A rat swarm / empath named Thwack

Before character creation was even complete, the group was brainstorming ideas about how their characters would act.  “Can a length of highway guardrail be a heavy melee weapon?”  Absolutely.  Can my yeti android communicate by angry yelling even though he is Intelligent?” Sure he can!  “Can Mittens St. Cloud have a monocle?  Of course he can!  And so forth.  I didn’t even have a character to roll and I was already enjoying the carnage.

There were some confusing aspects, which were compounded by only two of us having the rulebooks from our box sets to go around.  There were some questions about whether we had healing surges or how that worked, and some digging around in the rules indicated that healing was stripped down even compared to 4e D&D (which was fine).  The skill bonuses were slightly confusing, with many wondering if they got BOTH skill bonuses from your origins or just one.  We worked that out fairly quickly, but the character sheet wasn’t extremely clear on some of those details.


Gameplay was very reminiscent of 4e D&D.  The provided adventure is a series of combat encounters (so far, we only made it through three combats) but the players made up several creative solutions.  No, they didn’t want to just open the locked tower doors… let’s have the android yeti ram their pickup truck into it while yelling furiously!  Naturally, that approach worked and they made quite an entrance into encounter number two.  The presence of largely improvised weaponry (outside of the Omega Tech) and random junk to use in their adventure lends a MacGuyver-esque quality to the game.  The players enjoyed finding random junk alongside their Omega Tech treasure, and made heavy use of their Alpha mutations to help them dispatch the angry band of mutant badger guards.

There has been some controversy around the trading card aspect of Gamma World.  I think they enhance the game, but are unnecessary to enjoy the game itself.  Matt, one of our players, generously donated each player (and myself) a Gamma World booster pack.  I matched this donation so each player could pull from their own Alpha mutation and Omega Tech deck, and I think they enjoyed having their own cards to use.  One player said “I’m attached to these mutations, so I sure hope you don’t want these cards back at the end!” so clearly there is some enjoyment to be had there.

First Impressions

In short, I am a Gamma World fan.  It breeds irreverent, fun, laugh-ridden game sessions with unique characters that change as much as the whims of our players.  It is fun to run, because of the creativity caused by random junk and the use of alpha mutations.  The rule system is lightweight and open to some interpretation which keeps the game light and enjoyable to everyone, there wasn’t a lot of digging around in the rulebook to figure out how things should behave (this was helped by the fact that most of our players were experienced in 4e).

I’ll be playing a LOT more Gamma World as the months tick by.  I hope that expansions for the game are plentiful, and it would be GREAT if we could buy the rulebook on its own for casual player characters to use during character creation.  I really want to play this game with Vanir, I can imagine that the fruits of his brain would lend themselves well to Gamma Terra.  In the meantime, you can check out the great Gamma World coverage over at Critical-Hits if you need more of a fix.

More soon!

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Ed D permalink
    November 28, 2010

    Josh, thanks again for running the session and keeping it loose! Also, big thanks for the booster pack. I think you’re right about throwing a little commerce at Total Escape, and will bring some cash next time.

    Ed (Eddie the Plant / Gravity Controller)

  2. Dante permalink*
    November 28, 2010

    No problem, Ed. I didn’t mean to imply that everyone should to buy rounds of boosters for all of the players, I just thought it would be a cool thing if we would buy ourselves individual boosters from time-to-time to show some support. Clearly, I won’t turn down any crowdsourced booster packs but I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated. 🙂

    Thanks for playing, looking forward to next time!

  3. Dante permalink*
    November 28, 2010

    BTW, for those of you that want my feelings on this topic summed up in pretty pictures go no further than this Penny Arcade cartoon.

    I would love it if Gabe and Tycho would illustrate our party roster from today, I imagine it would be a riot.

  4. Matthew Ward permalink
    November 29, 2010

    Thanks for running it. I will expect more adventures to populate this page.

    I think that the tokens being provided are a great thing, since the characters and villains are so random in nature. I would like to see more tokens available from WoTC in the future. I also think not selling the book individually is a mistake as pointed to the reasons in the review. I personally like the small paperback books, like in the box set, because they are easy to carry and are hopefully are cheaper to purchase. I am not a fan of the cost of most WoTC product.

    I just want to say the idea of the smartest PC being a Yeti Android whose 3 CHA is manifested by being so disfigured as only being able to talk “Wookie” was brilliant. It was awesome that Bumble would explain an incredible plan to all of the knuckleheads in our group, and after not being understood goes into a Yeti rage and does something completely idiotic.

    We need more Gamma World!

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