Radiated wastelands and mutant freaks — how else would I want to spend a Saturday afternoon? In the past I’ve gotten my post-apocalyptic fix with a couple hours of Fallout 3, but now the new Gamma World based on fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons released this weekend. I played an encounter today and it’s going to be a fun diversion to regular D&D campaigns.
Gamma World is designed for pick up and play games, with most of the character generation being random. Instead of choosing a race and class, you roll two d20s and compare to a table to gain your your two origins. These are combined to define your character, which can be anything from a radioactive rat swarm to a seismic feline. Attributes are rolled randomly too, but you almost always get to choose between two stats when calculating derived values to keep from getting screwed by the dice. For example, you can choose to use intelligence or dexterity for your AC bonus.
Gamma World could have easily been a hokey version of D&D, but I felt like it was its own game. The shared mechanics between the game’s just makes it easier to hop right into Gamma World, but then the game develops its own personality. A lot of fuss has been thrown around because of the cards and booster packs, but it was really fun to never know what kind of powers you might get next. There’s a great variety in the powers too. Throughout the game I created earthquakes with my feet, shot radiation from my wells, threw dream inducing grenades, and created gravity wells. This isn’t a game for players who need to control every detail of their characters, but Gamma World is great for players who love wild fun.
Something that became my favorite part of the game is that weapons and armor are kept to vague descriptions, such as heavy two-handed weapon or light gun. This helps give the game a strong post-apocalyptic feel because you can claim your weapon is any item reasonable to the category, which enforces the theme when you decided your two-handed weapon is a stop sign you found on the road.
I haven’t played a full game or adventure, and I didn’t really get a chance to look at the rulebook. Everything looked nice, especially the tokens they provide in place of miniatures, but I’m going to have to reserve any final opinions for a full review. One thing I will mention is that I’ve heard several people in the Twitterverse say that the game is light on campaign building tools, so you may need to do some heavy lifting on your own until the adventures are released in the coming months. But whether you want it for a pick up game or as your group’s main campaign, Gamma World seems like great fun.