Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gamma World: Piiiiiiigs In Spaaaaaacesuits

Game Date: 1/22/2011
DM: Rusty

The Party (Level 1):

Bryan -Plaguebearer / Mythic
Jesse - Exploding / Yeti
Leigha - Mythic / Plastic
Matt -  Gravity Controller / Mind Coercer
Ted - Telekinetic / Mind Coercer
D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game: A D&D Genre Setting (4th Edition D&D)

Pre-Game Thoughts:
As I write this paragraph, it's still a couple of hours before gametime.  This will be my first time playing Gamma World.  It's a quirky sci-fi setting that uses a simplified version of D&D 4e's rules.  We're also going to use the expansion pack, Famine in Far-Go. I've been wanting to try Gamma World for a while.  I'm thinking about running a few sessions that take place in a modified version of my Itropa universe.  I was going to use a reflavored version of normal D&D 4e, but Gamma World could be the perfect ruleset to use.

The Game:
Rolling up our characters took a little while, but only because some of us hadn't played Gamma World before.  Now that I know the rules, I could probably roll one up in 5 minutes.

We played a Gameday module titled "Trouble in Freesboro."  Mayor Thomspoon hired our strange group to investigate some unusual sightings at the PungCo Laboratory.  Witnesses had reported explosions, flashing lights, and large flying insects. 

On the way to the lab, we were attacked by five Porkers (pig people) and a swarm of Bloodbirds.  This was our first chance to try out the combat system.  It felt a lot like playing D&D 4e, with a few notable (and mostly welcome) differences.  Second Wind is a minor action, and heals half your hit points.  There's no healing surges to keep track of.  After the battle, your short rest refills all your hit points.  And then there's the cards... the Alpha Tech and Omega Tech cards give you extra powers or defenses, and they get switched out at different times.  It adds a bit of chaos to the battles.

After we won the encounter, we continued to the lab.  One of us had a crowbar (inventory items are also random, and sometimes very unusual), and used it to break into the building.  On the ground floor, we found a computer, and managed to get it working.  The DM's booklet actually had links to a supplemental website which let us view the security video from the parking garage.  We also managed to access a map of the building, and an e-mail giving us more background info for the story.  I was very impressed by this level of interaction.

We found the stairs and went up to the second floor, where we fought five hovering robots.  Then we continued on to the third floor.  The final encounter took place in a large lab, where a large chamber showed us images of other locations.  We fought three Porker Marauders, one Hoop (rabbit guy), and one Dabber (badger guy).  They were lead by a warthog in a spacesuit, named Ghengis Tangh.

Being the final battle, it was pretty difficult.  There were three cannons on the walls, which could be turned on using the computer terminals.  The bad guys got one working, and our party turned on another one, with the help of some "Dehydrated Scientists" we'd picked up.  This turned out to be a mistake, because once activated, the cannons just fired at the nearest creature, regardless of who activated the cannon.

One of us had a card with some sort of vortex power, which pulled most of the enemies to the center of the room for easier killing.  Another player had a card that let him mimic other cards, so we actually got to use the vortex power twice.  At one point in the battle, Tangh entered the chamber, which teleported him out of the battle.  He returned a few rounds later, looking a bit roughed up.  One of our party tried the chamber as well, and found herself on another planet.  We all survived the battle, but two of us nearly died.

Having discovered the reason for the disturbances, we ended the session. 

Gamma World is not a very deep system, but I love it.  I think it would work best for one-shots and short campaigns.  Some of the players want to try optimizing our characters next time, instead of rolling them up randomly.  Personally I don't think the game would work well that way.  Unlike the uber-balanced D&D 4e, some origins in Gamma World are clearly better than others, and the randomness of rolling up your character - and then living with the outcome - is part of the challenge.  But I'll be glad to try it if that's what the players want to do.

As I mentioned above, I've been working on a module or two, based on the Itropa setting I created for NeverWinter Nights.  Itropa is also a "B-movie sci-fi" type of world, and it could work well with Gamma World's rules.  However, I'm also considering just using D&D 4e, and reflavoring everything to fit a sci-fi universe.  I'm going to have to give it some thought.  Gamma World is more light-hearted, and its simplicity makes it perfect for what I have in mind.  But D&D has a more robust Monster Manual, which might not be exactly what I need flavor-wise, but I can easily convert flavor.

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