Things You Might Like
- SciFi/Post-Apocalyptic Setting
- The classic D20 gameplay you love
- Breaks from classic Fantasy themes
- Ability to change your character at random as a result of
living in an unstable universe
- Exploring a wasteland comprised of collapsed dimensions
- Being a sentient pile of moles that can control gravity
Things You Might Not Like
- The Alpha/Omega cards can add some initial confusion
- Very little support on the Wizards of the Coast website
when compared to the tools on offer for classic Dungeons
- Stark difference in worlds from classic Fantasy
- Being a sentient pile of moles
Gamma World is a great setting for those who love pen and paper role playing games, but want a break from the traditional orcs and elves Fantasy worlds.
4 out of 5 Collapsed Realities
Dungeons and Dragons. There. Anyone who is terrified of/bored by the first sentence has left us to our conversation. Congratulations, free-thinker. You are ready to have your mind expanded. Now, for those of you who grew up without Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), like me, you may be unaware of the iconic fantasy role-playing game’s cousin, Gamma World. The first word, Gamma, is an automatic attention grabber for true science fiction nerds. We all know of a certain green behemoth who attained his status via radiation of the same kind. Wizards of the Coast knows what they are doing with their marketing. Follow me now as we take a look at this alternative to your classic DnD experience.
Gamma World is set in a post-apocalyptic future that came about after the geniuses over at the Large Hadron Collider did something wrong. We don’t know what, but we do know the results. The Multiverse collapsed in on itself, leaving but one dimension that exists in a state of constant flux. So that’s cool. As a result, humanity, and the world at large, bears little resemblance to what we know now. People may be humanoid hawk creatures, capable of flight and also firing a weapon with their talons. You may have developed Psychic powers or an ability to control gravity. Suffice it to say, the world has been changed forever.
Now that we’ve looked at the setting, let’s take a look at the gameplay. The skeleton here should be familiar to you. Based on the classic D20 system, Gamma World has deep roots in DnD. However, rather than simply stop there, Gamma World also added something new to the system: two decks of cards. Be warned, these are neither Pokemon nor Magic: The Gathering cards. Rather, they are two decks of cards that provide your characters with mutations and weapons in addition to what they have equipped.
The Alpha Mutation cards provide bonuses to your characters in the form of new mutations. You might gain the power to see through walls, thus gaining a bonus to your Perception rolls, or you could automatically regenerate damage done. The Omega Tech cards are items that will give you the firepower you need to devastate that hovel of MoleMen burrowing into the recesses of the world. Where these become very interesting is the random nature of acquiring the cards. When you start an encounter, if you so choose, you can draw from the card decks to swap out your old Alpha/Omega cards. This allows for a constant state of flux that keeps players on their toes and engaged throughout the game.
Now, despite the fun inherent to this game, there are some drawbacks. First of all, not everyone likes the battered wasteland feel. Fans of classic DnD may recoil at the lack of sorcerous might on offer. Bear this in mind when introducing Gamma World as an alternative to your current DnD group. Related to this, is the feeling of confusion when explaining to your party that the entire world, including their characters, may change at any time. The Alpha/Omega cards are a perfect example of this. My group took a little time to get used to the idea. Now, once we were comfortable with the new rules, the game played very well. However, getting over that initial acclimation can be trying if players are uninterested in learning. Lastly, while Wizards of the Coast is pushing the product well, you don’t get a lot of the cool online tools that DnD has. There’s no true character builder, though there is an intelligent form you can use, and there is no place to lookup powers. It can be a little annoying.
All said, Gamma World is an enjoyable alternative to classic fantasy roleplaying. Fans of the Fallout series will find something to love here, as will most SciFi fans. And should you try Gamma World having not played classic DnD, be sure to give that a shot, too.
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