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.


  1. Psi-Squatch = Cool!
    Any more shots of that terrain? Looks interesting in the picture.

  2. Alas, that was the only one that didn't end up blurry for some reason. The GM supplied his own models which were vent pipes (big enough for people to crawl through) and some big machine (which we didn't even get to. I believe the adventure was from the back of the GW rule book (green one). The next time I see him I'll ask him where they came from.

  3. I enjoy Gray Book GW the most, the other editions are all mehhhh to me save 4e with houserule modifications.

    The cards go bye bye. Alpha Flux/Mutations are gone - too gonzo and shits and giggly for me. Old school mutation mechanic is in - front load the mutations and players can use them as encounter/daily abilities. Ammo is back. A skill challenge mechanic for figuring out tech is in the flavor of the 4e rules, however, I still like the flowcharts from 1e.

    Thus you get 4e with a tad more old school feel. Not perfect but what is.

  4. Anathematician, those are some intriguing ideas for houserules. So are you using a mix of 4ED&D and 1EGW races/mutations?

  5. Gray Book had many stat mod mutations, which are not needed in 4e. 4e amped up the hero factor of PCs so stat mods would not come into play. Engineered Humans become PSHs without a second origin. This is balanced by offering the player bonus items, and skill bonuses and faster advancement.

    I usually do not allow AI/robots/androids, gelatinous, swarms, exploding, plant/fungoid, alien, mythic, plaguebearer, temporal, wheeled, demon, reanimator, hypercognitive.

    Depending on the setting some of these move off the list.

    I also add custom origins - Wolfoid (Felinoid variant), Lycanthrope, Minotaur (Yeti Variant), Shadow (Ectoplasmic Variant) for examples.

    Since they have many mutations at the start and can use them in encounters - the powers either have extened time limits or I just beef up the encounters.

  6. @Jay: When I first got the new 7e/4e Gamma World set, I rolled up a "mind coercer yeti". I just called him Grodd. (And I was totally going to do something with psi-squatches once, but then Sniderman did his psi-yeti post, and....)

    @Anathematician: Do you have your new rules posted anywhere? I'd really like to see them.