In-Depth with Gamma World! (Caution: Redneck Cockroaches)
The real world has done a very good job of disrupting our gaming schedule thus far in the new year, however tonight a shining beacon rose on the horizon in the form of a Gamma World game for my normal D&D group.
Most of the group was very excited for Gamma World, specifically the guys who were familiar with previous editions. Everyone came with their creative hats on, and character creation was a blast (just as it was with our last excursion into Gamma Terra). We had several memorable characters in the group last night, my favorites being a Seismic/Empath named Briq, who was a mutant comprised of trapped souls inside of a brick wall from a foundry, and a redneck Plant/Cockroach named Six who drives a rusty pickup truck and opts to chew anything he finds on the ground like chewing tobacco. Six happens to have several other charming characteristics, none of which I feel like detailing in the polite company of my readers at this time.
The other players in our group presented some strong character concepts, but I will defer speaking about their qualities until another time.
The Bad / The Ugly
Once again, character creation took far too long due to the lack of multiple copies of the rulebook. Pro Tip: think ahead and make copies of the mutant traits and powers (I wish I had!) Our game got off to a slow start as a result, and thanks to cramped space on the Gamma World Character Sheet a few of our unfamiliar players were waning in enthusiasm by the beginning of the actual game play. Thankfully, we were saved by the colorful characters that had been created and started things off with a “getting to know you” roundtable that got everyone re-energized.
Here’s another tip from the trenches: spend a little time with box set prior to playing with a group. The backstory for the provided adventure is a little sparse and there’s not a great deal of motivation for the players to actually follow the plot hooks provided in the campaign preamble. Both times I have attempted to run this story, the group had retreated into the village for information and I was left somewhat flat-footed. Ultimately, everyone ended up in the right place and the fun could begin. I found a few additional clunky spots in the first two encounters, but nothing a little deft DM magic couldn’t spackle over.
Gamma World is fun, however it didn’t seem to be everyone’s cup of tea at our gaming table tonight. A few members of our party are definitely excited to play more, but there were an indifferent few that will be unlikely to grace Gamma Terra again for awhile. There were a few additional moving parts in the Alpha Mutations and Omega Tech that confused or perturbed some and excited others, it was pretty interesting to see these two factions plead their case.
As with any other roleplaying game, it seems that predispositions played a big role. Those that were excited about the game at the beginning enjoyed it, those that were lukewarm or newcomers enjoyed it markedly less. Personally, I love the randomness of the setting and the propensity toward creative characters that can be strongly roleplayed. That keeps me coming back. If you want to see more Gamma World coverage, check out this great review over at Geeks Dream Girl or the positively astounding amount of material at Critical-Hits (including the mysterious and powerful Junkulator!)