More Gamma World? YES

So Paul and I actually played a solid 5 hour session of Gamma World on Monday, just the two of us. So really that’s the equivalent of like a 15 hour session with 5 players and 1 DM. We took turns DMing the basic adventure from the back of the book. It was pretty fun! Some thoughts:

  1. Death!: It strikes us that death is probably a lot more common in Gamma World than in D&D. The primary reason, I think, is probably lack of healing. The only reliable source of healing is Second Wind, which granted only takes a minor action and restores your bloodied value in HP. This certainly helps, but probably doesn’t make up for the party cleric and multitude of potions in D&D. And when you die, you’re actually dead, since there’s no resurrection. The end result is that you probably don’t feel as attached to your character, which is fine, because the game is pretty silly anyway and doesn’t seem to have a huge focus on nuanced character development (Prove me wrong?).
  2. No Healing Surges!: While we’re on the subject of death and healing, did I forget to mention that healing surges are dead and gone too? No healing surges? CRAZY! Except not so crazy. Healing surges are probably not the coolest mechanic of D&D. They’re sort of necessary if you can have as many healing potions as you want, but they aren’t the most interesting of resources. It’s a lot more fun to be in the situation of only having one really cool daily left than it is to be in the situation of only having 1 or 2 healing surges left. That just means you’re more likely to fall unconscious in a fight and stay that way. In any case, I did not miss their absence in Gamma World.
  3. No Charging?: The Gamma World rulebook is a relatively slim trade paperback. As such the chapters on actual basic rules are relatively scant. It’s unclear whether leaving out rules on charging, readying, and delaying was intentional or was just a decision made to cut down on space. When we played, we kept rules on readying and delaying since they seem pretty essential, but we left  out charging since it favors ranged combat, which definitely seems to be a bigger part of Gamma World than in D&D. I’d be interested in seeing whether charging is brought back in with any errata in the future.
  4. No Soft Cover: So a definite change from Gamma World to D&D is that there’s no longer any cover granted from other characters, even enemies. This is pretty cool as it definitely encourages more use of guns and other ranged attacks, which tends to make for more dynamic combats and fits the theme of a world filled with firearms and strange super tech.
  5. Alpha Mutations: These were a bit of a let down since more often than not, they don’t actually fit with your character very well. If I draw an attack that uses charisma and I don’t have charisma as a primary stat, I probably won’t use that attack. Also, despite it being cool to change them out every encounter, it also meant reading (and remembering) a new power every encounter!
  6. Omega Tech: These, on the other hand, were awesome! They’re random, which adds a lot of wackiness. But, as opposed to the normal drawbacks of random items, they don’t stick around too long generally, so you don’t get crazily rewarded or punished for good or bad luck. Also, since there’s a good chance you’ll lose them after using them, you get to draw one (OR MORE) every encounter! It’s awesome to feel like your accumulating a bunch of loot, and it also defines your character role in interesting ways. For example, I ended up with a couple of healing items that boosted my ability to keep myself and the party alive much longer. Even though those items were temporary, while I had them I felt a lot more badass in the healing department.
  7. Level Bonuses: Making practically everything increase one per level is awesome and so simple. It also makes for a much easier curve to keep up with monster attacks and defenses!
  8. Seriously, what is up with these damage bonuses?: Actual play highlights the weirdness with the damage bonuses. Some powers give +twice your level in damage bonuses, while others, basic attacks in particular, only give +your level in damage bonuses. Why? It doesn’t work as a balance mechanism, since at level 1 the difference between the two is trivial but then it climbs higher and higher with each level. By level 3, we were already noticing the damage gap between our basic attacks and the at-will attacks granted by our type. I’m thinking of house ruling everything to either +level or +twice level.
  9. Wow, these power levels are wacky!: The origins are DEFINITELY not created equal. Not a HUGE deal for a crazy random game, but kind of hilarious nonetheless. Our first two characters died in the second encounter (granted we didn’t scale the fight back as much as we probably should have). Our second two characters WERE SO MUCH COOLER. For one thing, we lucked out and got the at-will powers that do 2d8 + Ability + Twice Level damage! Also, I happened to roll Radioactive Cockroach, which gave me a 20 Con. Awesome! Also, Paul got ratswarm, which has probably the most powerful ability ever: resist 5 to melee and ranged attacks and vulnerability 5 to close and area attacks. Guess which is more common? The result was that I went down far more often than Paul did, despite having 50% more hit points. Now occasionally we would fight some guy with close or area attacks and Paul would go down like a sack of flour, but generally it was like he had 3X my hit points or so.
  10. Energy Resistance: A lot more monsters do wacky energy attacks, at least in the adventure we played. But it stands to reason that in a world filled with robots and crazy mutants that electricity, radiation, and fire resistance would be a lot more handy. Paul got some awesome item that gave electricity and fire resistance and was nigh invincible in certain fights. Boss.

5 Responses to “More Gamma World? YES”

  1. katre says:

    Awesome, I really want to play Gamma World.

  2. panzerleader says:

    Thanks for the heads up! I am totally stoked to be gamma mastering this for the game day event in KC MO this Saturday. Ive led a round of character creation but not played yet, now I know a little better what to expect. The level damage thing kinda threw me too.

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  5. Carl says:

    We’re having fun with GW, but I also agree with your thoughts on #8: Damage Bonuses. Another way to balance the higher damage tech is give it just one charge. Make ’em one shot items. The players will most likely save it for a boss fight, and it won’t break the campaign.

    We’ll have part 2 of our Gamma World Actual Play up this week. So stop by and find out what happens to the Brockman-Fokker Salvage Co.

    Keep up the good blogging!

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