One Box Wonder: Gamma World

One Box, Tons of Fun: Gamma World

I fell in love with Gamma World at the Dungeons & Dragons Experience (DDXP) 2010, where I was lucky enough to play a preview game GMed by Rich Baker. Having never played a previous edition of Gamma World, I went in without any expectations.

And I had my mind blown.

The sheer randomness of Gamma World is what intrigued me at first. The dice rule the game, for better or worse. Actually, I wouldn’t say “worse” as much as “hilarity ensues.” Trevor Kidd was playing a Yeti Cockroach and rolled a 3 for Intelligence.  For the entire session, all his character said was his own name in various inflections. He’d frequently vomit, black out, wake up to a dead enemy that a party member had killed, and assume he’d taken care if it himself.

The deadliness was another exciting aspect for me. We play a lot of D&D 4e in our home games and since Gamma World is based on the 4e engine, I thought that combat would be similar. I was wrong. Gamma World combat is quick and heavy-hitting. Things can go stupendously wrong or amazingly right as a result of one die roll.  In fact, in our first encounter at DDXP, we had a TPK. (Which was awesome, by the way!)

Alpha Mutation & Omega Tech cards make the game more random and fun. Nothing like going into a fight, rolling a 1, and suddenly ending up with a third arm. (“Oh hey, where’d you come from? Here, hold my extra gun.”)  Since being in a regular Gamma World game, I’ve realized that the game gets way fun when you start accumulating an Omega Tech arsenal (and getting lucky on those rolls to keep the tech after the encounter is done).

Here’s the part where I’ll mention that Gamma World is not a CCG. I don’t own any booster packs. The GMs of my group have been buying boosters and there are players who have their own decks, but me, I don’t care. If all I had to use were the cards in the starter set, I wouldn’t feel shorted on fun.

And speaking of fun, how can you NOT have fun with the wide open character creation process?  My character for the Gammarylanders campaign is Zip McGee, an Electrokinetic Hypercognitive. Before the Big Mistake, Zip worked as a video game tester. When she awoke after the Big Mistake, Zip found herself quite electric and imbued with the knowledge of everything video games had to teach.

WEAPONS! OMG, I LOVE GAMMA WORLD WEAPONS. Basically, all you do is decide if you want one-handed or two-handed weapons and whether you want your ranged weapon to be a gun or not. Beyond that, your imagination is the only limit. You can design a weapon that totally works with your character concept, rather than feeling forced to pick the heaviest-hitting type of weapon your race can wield.

Zip’s a video game tester, so she wields a sharpened Rock Band guitar as her melee weapon (which she refers to as her axe). Her ranged weapon is a whip made from video game controllers (and probably a few HDMI cables). It’s super fun to describe slicing an enemy in half using a sharpened Rock Band guitar!

At the Taste of Gamma World event at Labyrinth game shop in DC, I rolled a Speedster Mindbreaker and decided (since no children were around) that she would be WhoreBot-8000, unit name Champagne.  Her melee weapon was her overcharged “Pleasure Finger” and her ranged weapon was a supersoaker full of industrial (robot-strength) sanitizing solution, which was caustic to any non-robot enemies. We fought demon alien babies at L’Enfant Plaza metro station (aka Fant Plaz). Talk about a fun time!

How about you?

Are you playing Gamma World? What’s been your favorite character so far?

About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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