With all of the recent announcements about D&D Essentials and the Castle Ravenloft Box Set, I have to admit that Gamma World flew under the radar for me. This is probably because even though the original Gamma World was one of the few non-D&D TSR games I played (the other being Marvel Super Heroes), I figured that a post-apocalyptic mutant filled world didn’t hold the appeal for me that it once did.
Then I read Bart Carroll’s write up on it in this months previews and my mind was blown.
The biggest change seems to be one of tone. While the original Gamma World had more than its share of goofy elements, at its core it was a serious game. Set after a nuclear holocaust, the setting had a “Mad Max” feel to it except with more mutants and better tech to loot.
The new game tweaks the origins of “Gamma Terra” a bit. Instead of nuclear Armageddon, the scientists at the Large Hadron Collider cause something known as the Big Mistake. The Big Mistake causes an infinite number of realities to merge together and form something new.
And some of these realities are off the chain! To quote from the introduction:
In some of these universes, little had changed; it didn't make a big difference which team won the 2011 World Series, for example. In other universes, there were more important divergences: The Gray Emissary, who was carrying gifts of advanced technology, wasn't shot down at Roswell in 1947, the Black Death didn't devastate the known world in the 14th century, the dinosaurs didn't die out, Nikolai Tesla did conquer the world with a robot army, and so on. The Cold War went nuclear in 83 percent of the possible universes, and in 3 percent of the possible universes, the French unloaded their entire nuclear arsenal on the town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, because it had to be done. When reality stabilized again, an instant after the Big Mistake, the familiar Earth of the 21st century was replaced by one formed from many different realities.
You had me at “Nikolai Tesla conquered the world with a robot army.” I can only hope Atomic Robo was leading the charge.
Character creation seems similarly goofy. To start with, you roll twice (yes, random rolls in character creation) on the character origin table. These represent your primary and secondary origin, which also determine your power set. It is up to you to determine how your newly created “Felinoid Ratswarm” or “Seismic Cockroach” came about.
I have been looking for something fun to play that I could run between major arcs in my D&D campaign. This game seems like something that could be a lot of fun to throw together and play for a few sessions.
So bravo Wizards of the Coast. You have actually have made me excited about Gamma World!