617 – Chorka • 26

The Friday Blog

I just heard some news that was very exciting for me. I was going to write a blog about a new craze sweeping the evangelical Christian world, (Turn your sound down before following this link) but this is way better.

When I was a teenager first learning RPGs our group played a lot of different games. We played AD&D of course, but I actually cut my teeth on The Fantasy Trip, a weird game that never made a whole lot of actual sense to me, (ever want to play a prootwaddle?) but it was fresh and new and gripped my imagination. There was Traveller, Top Secret, Aftermath, Villains and Vigilantes, Champions, Killer, Role Playing Games, board games, games that were not clearly in either camp… but one of my very favorites was a TSR boxed set called Gamma World.

Gamma World was a post-apocalyptic game set nominally on our planet earth. It was sort of a polished up version of Metamorphosis Alpha, (also by TSR and from the same designer) and the game allowed the players to play just about anything they wanted. Most everything in the world was mutated in some fashion or other by the second nuclear war that finally did civilization in… only common forms of radiological mutation such as say… cancer… were glossed over in favor of slightly less common mutations… like mental blasts and giant bird wings. You can play sentient plants, animals, mutated or pure humans, and look like anything you can justify within the very liberal sweep of the rules system.

Gamma World has been created six times now. I played the original for a long time and the second edition very briefly. (Better art, worse game.) I confess the third through sixth iterations almost completely escaped my notice.

But now, WotC is taking another pass at my beloved, wacky game. The seventh edition Gamma World boxed set is in the design stages now, and best of all, it is using the 4e rules set, which I think is (finally) perfect for it. Character creation will be very quick, allowing everyone to jump right into the best part… the gaming itself.

If you ever saw Wizards! or read Stephen King’s Gunslinger series, you have a good idea of the kind of experience Gamma World offers. Mysterious, dangerous, and lots of room for adventurey fun and humor. There’s still plenty of time for WotC to screw this up I know, but 4e and GW seem like peanut butter and chocolate to me. This is one worth keeping your eye on.

If the game I am running hasn’t finished by the time Gamma World releases, I’m thinking Lesser Earth may suddenly become embroiled in a nuclear firestorm. Yeah… the supercomputer beneath the poles go crazy and start blowing up the world… and hundreds of years later the PCs descendants reunite as weirdly mutated savages…

Get on it y’all. That lich ain’t gonna kill hisself. Again.

20 Responses to 617 – Chorka • 26

  1. Dude, the new GW has a Collectible Card Game inside it. Hasbro has once again taken your childhood and taken a giant steaming dump all over it.

    You want Gamma World goodness, give Mutant Future a try. I’m done with the initial writing of my module for it entitled Bring Me The Head Of Frank Sinatra!, and am currently playtesting it and trying to get my artists to cough up some pics.

    A Cousin

  2. I too am a Gamma World Veteran. I have little memory of those times- other than riding around on a tank and having way too much fun with grenades. May have something to do with the sleep deprivation and caffine overloads. All I know is that I had a great time doing it. So, what’s with all the re-makes of the game? So it was glitchy, maybe some of the rules didn’t perfectly synchronize, maybe the dice charts were off a bit. It was exactly that that made it fun, made me want to create my OWN game, made me look into other games. If it had been the PERFECT game, I’d probably still be playing it to the exclusion of all else, and would have missed out on a lot. Maybe WofC has gotten on a re-make jag because they don’t meet some sort of “ease of use” criteria. How do you weed out the dummies if there are simple rules that everyone can understand? Where is the challenge in that? True genious lies in learning how bend the vauge and obscure and have the DM go along with your so-crazy-it-just-might-work plans. Gamma world with clockwork, cookie cutter rules and game structure really seems to defeat the whole purpose. It’s not truly meant to be understood, only interpreted. I say simply re-print the first edition (with shiney-new crappy books) and leave it at that. It has obviously inspired nerds everywhere to create six over-thought editions of it, so I say it works just fine exactly the way it was.

    • I imagine the reason for the six editions is probably pretty obvious. Whenever they revamp it, it sells well for a short period of time, and then trickles off. If no one is buying it, there’s little incentive to reprint older iterations. If they make a new one, they are guaranteed at least a short-term success.

      Case in point, I am not going to go back and look for an older edition of this game. However, if I can pick up a new one, that my players will already know the rules to, I will. That’s sale vs. no-sale.

      • And never underestimate the disgust of a publisher for the second-hand market, they want to obsolete that stuff even though the existence of a second-hand market guarantees the minimum prices in the first-hand market. That is the real reason most e-book publishers have DRM so insane that their e-book is worth much less than a paperback print copy (like with how books can be deleted right off of a Kindle after you bought them).

  3. Hmm, not having played Gamma World (I am more of a beta world tester myself…), I think that HOLE turning nuclear is a bad idea because the characters as settled in this world. That is not to say that a Gamma world comic would be bad, just not using the same characters.

    How about having one update on HOLE a week, one update on something Gamma World, and one update on either.

    Same amount of drawing / work for you, twice the amount of coolness.


  4. Never played it, but I have a hard time not thinking of Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards whenever someone talks about Gamma World to me and well… c’mon… Ralph Bakshi anything puts me off my lunch.
    And I was trying to make a joke in suggesting Orc Tongue saves everyone, I am curious how long in advance that was scripted.

    • Wizards! was pretty awesome to me at the time. Bakshi has done some stuff that I loved, and some that I… we’ll just say that I loved much less.

      This particular bit was actually scripted out about a year and a half ago. Your no-prize is in the mail!

  5. “Let’s get this donkey show lubed up and screaming?”

    Kevin, where do you get these lines from?!?

    Nevermind. I don’t wanna know.

  6. Damn Kevin, you pulled at my inner Nerd all over again……
    I played Gamma World back in the 80’s and while stationed on the U.S.S Dubuque during my time in the Navy.
    One eyed talking racoon as my character roaming the wastlands of North America with a inbreed human and
    a sentient vine/plant creature. As you said the rule were vauge enough to give you a sense of nothing being off limits.
    It also helped that our GM’s imagination leaned close to insane (the good GM’s always do). I personally cannot wait to
    see what they do with it this time. Thanks for the heads up!

      • 6 legged ferret with a carapace if I recall correctly 🙂

        Huge amount of fun although I think we got in to it a bit later and moved on to TMNT pretty quickly…

  7. I think I’ve heard of Gamma World, but I’ve never seen or played it. Haven’t really tried 4e D&D but I’m game for anything. We’re looking to pick up the boxed set for Dragon Age that comes out from Green Ronin next week. My wife has been playing the xbox game so much I’m mildly surprised it hasn’t melted. When she found out they were making a pencil and paper version she told me “We ARE buying that.” So we’re gonna buy that.