Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gaming with Strangers and Observations About Gamma World D&D 4E

I'm a little late posting this, but I still wanted to capture my experience at the Gamma World Mega Event at the Source back on June 4th. The event had three goals: sign-up, roll-up a character, and then play a demo game. We had the opportunity to create characters from either the Gamma World box set, or the two supplements: Legion of Gold and Famine in Far-go. I rolled up a telekinetic yeti named PSI-Squatch.

I'm not one to provide overly lengthy play reports unless it was really outrageous (RPGs are definitely a "ya had to be there" phenomenon, yes?) but we played two encounters--a wilderness battle and another inside a factory. The overall goal was just to get novice players some game-time under their belts, and to get to know one another (more on that in a second).

Our GM was a nice guy named Tabor who provided all the materials we needed. I brought my own rule book (since the last time I'd rolled up a PC it took forever using one book among 6 players). He'd chopped his bindings in favor of wire-bound and I took mine to Staples office supplies to do the same. It turned out to be a GREAT help and it will be a lot easier on the book in the long run as I flip through the pages at the table.

As you likely already know, the 4E D&D version of Gamma World is big on tactical combat. It's a much lighter version, but it does rely on that engine to drive encounters. But there's still a great deal of bonus/penalty dealing, and lots of rule haggling when the booster cards come in to play (especially with newbies). Don't get me wrong--the cards can be a lot of fun--but they can also end up slowing things down. Maybe it's just an effect of playing with strangers. Though playing this version made me more hungry to play Mutant Future or an older GW edition. I'm chomping at the bit to play one of those (maybe 2E GW if I had to pick).

At our game, the majority of the players was learning to play these new rules AND we don't know each other. Yes, we make believe, but it's in a very stilted manner. So we concentrate on adding and subtracting and don't actually interact with one another.

As we get more comfortable with the game, we relax and banter a bit, but no one's settled enough to be themselves. And yet, that's the beauty of RPGs right there--get people to have fun and socialize, right?

I did have fun--which is all that really matters--and I think that I'll continue to do so. I'm hoping to get in some more games. I'd signed up for a couple, hoping to try out playing with different GMs at the helm, but so far work/life has kept me from the table. When I get to play again, I hope to spend more time getting to know the players, bone-up on the rules, and really--imagining the hell out of it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gamma Inspiration: Will Sweeney's Illustration and Video Animation

This awesome music video featuring the art of Will Sweeney melts my neurons (in a good way). I'm certain I've seen it before somewhere, but I can't recall where. It's just been posted over at Monster Brains, along with another one.

Here's a few samples of his art, which are equally awesome. Here's a print titled "Artifacts". Indeed they are!

Greenfuzz is a mini comic, which seems to me to be a Gamma-like strain of Tim Sievert's fantasy comic Clandestinauts.

Interior page from a different issue...

Man, I want that T-shirt--it's as close to a Gamma World War wearable as we'll ever get. It's even appropriately titled: "Battle Royale!"

Gamma Cinema: Wild, Wild Planet (1965)

I've not seen it, but it's available through Warner Bros Archive Collection, and is manufactured on-demand. And it looks magnificent. A utopian society that toys with genetics creating mutants that turn on them? Sold. Apparently Italy makes the best sci-fi films of a certain era/type/quality. From WB's product page:
It’s groovy to be a spaceman! The way-out ’60s meet the far-out 21st century in this psychedelic sci-fi head trip. Villains from überpowerful The Corporations think they’d found a way to defeat their rivals, the United Democracies: send robot minions to kidnap UD citizens, shrink them down to suitcase size and transport them to a planetoid for hideous human experiments. But a fearless rescue team is on the way! All that stands between the rescuers and success are four-armed androids in wraparound shades, martial artists wearing silk nighties and sporting sky-high hairdos, flying saucers swinging around the cosmos on strings like interplanetary yo-yos and more mod malevolence. It’s all wild, wild fun and fantasy, brothers and sisters!
That's an incredible amount of copy, considering how little is officially out there:

Wikipedia entry
IMDB listing

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Underground Outposts of Pure Strain "Valid" Humans

I've mentioned before that the pure strain "Valid" humans live in huge underground cities. But those cities had to start somehow--albeit modestly. I imagine that they began as communes or refugee stations camped out in abandoned bunkers and missile silos.
These aren't the Children of the Catalysm--no, those poor bastards were stuck on the surface. Valids were the rich kids with all the toys. They've insulated themselves from the world and built-up a keen sense of entitlement to go with it.
Today, those early hideouts that gave them their start are used as outposts (since they've long outgrown their original digs). But the bunkers and silos of old are still useful for launching mutant hunts and planning their nefarious schemes.

Several outposts circle the City of Mutants, and act as holding areas and serve as labs where Valid scientists are constantly splicing and dicing away in the dark....

More bunker art inspiration

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Maps of Nuclear Reactors = Gamma World Mega Dungeons!

Oh yeah baby! Here are some great cutaways of nuclear power plants--they're practically Gamma World "dungeon" maps ready to go. Several of them even come pre-numbered!

Click to enlarge:

...and just so you can see how detailed these are (click to enlarge this one):

Have at it mutants!

You can find larger versions of the images that will be more useful as maps here:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Escape from the City of Mutants

The City of Mutants is every mutant's worst nightmare. Valids who come to the surface looking to kidnap and experiment on mutants have found a way to "test" their subjects in a free-for-all arena. Sometimes called "Darwin's Playpen", this walled-in ruined city is little more than a gladiator pit with Valid's salaciously watching the action from perimeter outposts.

So what makes this worse than a regular old Gamma Terra? The Valids have littered the urbanscape with booby traps--brutal and cruel to the last. Some traps are instant and deadly, others prolong the inevitable with lingering effects, and some are meant merely to hold prisoners until a hungry gargantuan can be dropped via ornithopter or hoversled.

Another terrible price while visiting the big city: there's no food. No sustenance of any type is ever dropped. There are no humanitarian gestures--these aren't humans, after all! No, the denizens are left to "make" their own meals through combat.

There are regular deliveries of all manner of weapons (including some Omega Tech), ammunition, vehicle parts, and some (mostly shoddy) equipment.

What little "scientific" knowledge can be gained by this travesty is unknown, but it provides many hours of live, hover-cam recorded entertainment to the Valids safely nestled in their underground cities.

One thing is for sure, if you're a mutant in the Playpen, your hours are numbered.

Running Man
Death Race 2000
Escape from NY/LA
2019: The Fall of NY
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Props to Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun! for the great image

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Atari Making a Gamma World Video Game

No, that's not a headline from 1980, though an old cart on the 2600 would be awesome! In fact, this is for realz, according to a post I just read thanks to our friendly neighborhood Sniderman (Savage Afterworld, a blog you should already be reading). Gamma World Alpha Mutation, was demoed at the E3 video game show last week.

Sounds like photos of the game demo were not allowed (play report links below), but it apparently holds fairly true to the most recent D&D 4E incarnation of the game--including picking two origins for your mutation. I wonder if there will be a randomizing option?

It's being called a "third-person shooter", I guess that's over-the-shoulder/birds-eye type of play. One thing I love about video games is the ability to play cooperatively and it sounds like GW will include that aspect, supporting 2-players on the console and an additional 2 online.

No release date yet, but it sounds like it's going to be published for Playstation and XBox. One possible "downer" it's being developed by the same team that did the recent Daggerdale D&D game, which has drawn some pretty "mixed" reviews to say the least.

Snidey's already did a bang-up job in his post on the game setting--which I won't duplicate here--but I did track down a few other goodies from a fact sheet on Game Tactics:
Explore Gamma Terra: Take on a variety of perilous missions through a variety of regions of gamma terra, from ruined cities to barren wastelands and beyond, the collision of multiple realities has created a world as exotic as it is deadly.

The Quick and the Dead: Gamma world delivers the depth of an RPG and the action of third person shooter. Quick reflexes and split second decisions are just as important as effective character design.

Lone Wolf or Death Squad: Take on missions solo or join up with friends to tackle the challenges of the Gamma Terra. Play with two players locally or up to four players online.

Evolve Your Character with Alpha Mutations: Gamma World’s character customization system allows players to actively develop their character in almost unlimited ways.

Discover Omega Technology: Powerful technology from other dimensions can turn the tides and preserve your hero’s life… for now.

Conduct Weapons R&D: Scavenge the environment for parts to create new weapons, armor, tools and more. Your ingenuity is your edge in this fight for survival.
So what are your feelings about seeing the beloved GW rendered in polygons?

Cool? Not your thing?

Play reports:

More coverage:
Team XBox

Illustration Inspiration: the Work of Bill Hauser (updated)

This some fabulous, gonzo illustration madness by a guy named Bill Hauser here in the Twin Cities. These are mostly covers for metal/thrash bands (I think) and while I'm not much of a headbanger I'm digging on the detail and the wonderful character designs. There's a few gorier ones I didn't post, but in general I think the outright zaniness--and the skill level in which it's rendered--is just perfect for a Gamma-type setting. If I had my own George-Lucas-level-funded art dept. I'd make him Art Director!

Click to embiggen

Love his scifi stuff!

UPDATE 12-21-14: Here's a few more recent pieces. His stuff reminds me of the DCC zines that are making the rounds these days. 

Bill often takes commissions, you should definitely hire him!

Friday, June 10, 2011

X-plorers RPG now in a box set!

"Be careful, it could be a fossilgeist!"
Finally, X-plorers is back! And yes, I've bandied about the blog-o-sphere putting this up where I can because 1.) I worked on it and had a blast and 2.) I love the game--it's mega user-friendly. There's not shame in that, right? But there's only a limited run so get yours now.

It's old-school-esque and rules light enough to allow for any setting of your own design. Hmmm...that makes me wonder about using it for GWW......


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gamma Terra, here I come!

Radioactive dice? Check! Rulebook? Check! I'm heading over to the Gamma World Mega Event today at Source Comics and Games, which begins in grand style with a noon-6pm character generation event. We'll also be finding out what groups we're playing in and just generally meeting folks. I'm REALLY looking forward to playing this summer. I've had exactly one chance at playing Gamma World so far so it will be great to get in some regular gaming. I'll post a recap here and on Exonauts. If I get to play in an ongoing campaign, I'll post regular updates on this blog.

My, look at the clock, I better get going!