Gamma World: First session!
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:
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.
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.