This month the RPG Blog Carnival has set up camp over at the Action Point. The theme of the carnival this month is “New Year, New Game”. And as always, I’m up for new games. Well, that and old games. Hell, I’m up for games of all kinds.
For the holidays this year I got myself a Swords & Wizardry White Box from Brave Halfling Publishing, but then after sitting down to play a game of D&D Gamma World, I couldn’t resist adding it to my collection also. I love being able to sit down for a game and actually have fun during character creation (and not have chargen take too long so we also have time to play). And we had a blast making characters for this version of the game – it helped that the GM showed up with photocopies of the various character origins so as we got our origins we didn’t need to cram around the book.
And we played the hell out of the game for five hours after an hour of chargen.
So, the new Gamma World? Not really the inheritor of the old Gamma World.
But holy crap, made of awesome.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from yet another edition of the great game. Well, except for mutants. But I read a few reviews and then got dragged into a game the other weekend. It is definitely the Wild and Wahoo version of Gamma World, but with proper manipulation of the card decks, it could be made into something a little more grim and gritty. Oh, as an aside – we don’t play with minis and grids (or tokens and grids, or whatever). This did NOT become a problem at all when playing this edition, but then again we play 3.5 without resorting to battlemats either.
This edition of Gamma World has picked up the wild and wahoo vibe where Omega World left off, and also added a new permutation to the setting that I’m sure a lot of people don’t like – that the apocalypse also opened up the timestreams and had all the different possible earths overlap each other momentarily, thus explaining some of the more crazed elements of the game (such as randomly shifting mutations in play). To be honest, if they hadn’t have called it Gamma World, I think the old-school purists would have shut up and everyone would have enjoyed it.
But of course, sales would have been lower.
What the hell, enough banter about the game, it is time for the main event of the morning – making a character!
The first step in chargen is determining your “Origins” – both a primary origin and a secondary origin. Penny Arcade covered this bit real well a few months back:
You roll twice on a d20 chart (or two charts if you are using the Famine in Far-Go expansion which doubles the number of origins available – but I’ll stick to the core book for this run). Then you combine the two results, remix them as you want (don’t actually want to be a Cat Yeti? How about making that a mutant mountain man with cat-like reflexes and claws?) and write down what abilities they give you.
My rolls of 3 and 3 are special. If you roll the same result twice (one chance in 20), then you are an Engineered Human – a human that has been genetically modified from the ground up (well, your parents were at least), with my other origin explaining what they were engineering this perfect human for. In this case the result was Doppelganger – someone who has the ability to grab copies of himself from the timestream to help himself out in combat, as well as to provide an understanding shoulder to cry on. Since he’s an engineered human, he looks human instead of having the crazy blue-black skin of most doppelgangers, however he does have a tendency to produce “tracers” when he moves quickly.
As a doppelganger his primary ability score is Intelligence which would normally mean he starts with 18 Int. But since the primary ability score of the Engineered Human is also Int (not Cha?), he starts with 20 Int. Pretty sweet. The “power source” for his doppelganger origin is “Dark”, which usually means radiation and other dark energies (granting him a +2 to overcharge mutations with the Dark power source), whereas the Human element gets the awesome bonus of a +2 on ALL power sources instead of just one of the three power sources like each of the other origins.
As a doppelganger, he gets +4 on Conspiracy skill checks (which is less of a conspiring skill as a knowledge of other people’s conspiracies), the “not really there” ability which grants +2 to his Reflex defense, and Two Possibilites which allows him to draw twice whenever he draws an alpha mutation card and pick which one he wants. He also gets the at-will ability to create a 1 hit point duplicate of himself in combat that sticks around for only one round as a standard action. Useful for providing flanking, but since effectively he can’t do anything the round he summons it, more of a neat trick for now (although it becomes scary at level 2 – whenever he scores a critical hit he gets to use double trouble as a free action).
As an engineered human, he gets +4 on Interaction and Science checks (there’s the classic Pure Strain Human charisma boost!). His engineered resilience grants him a +1 bonus to Fortitude, Will and Reflex. His technical affinity gives him a +2 bonus on checks to prevent his Omega Tech from burning out (Omega Tech usually burns out 45% of the time after being used in an encounter, this brings it down to 35%, which is alright). His special power for being an Engineered Human is the Bold Attack – an inspiring bout of violence that encourages his allies to get with the program and attack also.
Now we get to ability scores – the standard 6 from D&D of course. Normally you get an 18 in your primary origin’s stat and a 16 in your secondary origin’s stat and roll 3d6 for each other one. In this case, since they are the same stat (Intelligence), he gets a 20 in that stat, and then rolls 3d6 for each of the other stats (yay! 3d6 in order, somewhat.) Low Dexterity and fairly low Strength would normally make him a poor choice for a fighter, but that Bold Attack means he’ll be getting into the mix anyways, if only to encourage his more physically capable allies to do the same (that’s something I like – without the Bold Attack, this guy would be a wimp. With Bold Attack he’s an active and very helpful wimp. I also like that the system lets you choose to either use Int or Dex with missile weapons and Str or Con for melee – so he’s not useless with a bow for instance.)
A d10 roll determines one more skill he’s good at (beyond his predispositions towards Conspiracy, Interaction & Science). The d10 is a 3, so a further +4 to his Conspiracy skill. He starts with 12 + Con hit points (23),
Then we get to kit him out. He starts with his choice of armor (I’ll grab Light Armor since that allows me to also add my Dex or Int bonus to my AC, effectively making it better than heavy armor…), a melee and a ranged weapon, and some other kit. Not being built for hand to hand combat, I need something with finesse… So a light two handed melee weapon like a katana. Or a set of three electric carving knives wielded as a two-handed cat-o-nine-tails (two handed because I carry an old battery as the power source too). For ranged combat I like a frickin’ handgun… So a 9mm of some kind. A glock 17. The problem with this is that if I use it more than once per encounter, I run out of ammo until I find more. I kinda like that.
Starting kit includes an Explorer’s Kit (or an extra roll on the gear chart) and d4+1 rolls on the gear chart. The explorer’s kit is the typical backpack, bedroll, canteen and stuff you would expect. A roll of 4 means I get 5 rolls on the starting gear table. d20 rolls of 14, 19, 17, 13, and 3 result in:
- 5 Gallons of Fuel
- Radio Cell Phone
- and a… Canoe. ?!
Hopefully someone else in the party gets a cellphone too, they have a range of 1 mile.
And thus we have GrimDark TimeSlipper, an engineered human who’s great-grandparents were pulled into this world from another timestream. He’s a bit on the scrawny side, but could be a natural leader with the right group of mutant idiots (as long as there are no empathic rutabagas or telepaths in the group).
Primary Origin: Doppelganger
Secondary Origin: Engineered Human
Power Source: Dark +2, All +2
Strength: 9 (-1)
Dexterity: 6 (-2)
Constitution: 11 (+0)
Intelligence: 20 (+5)
Wisdom: 13 (+1)
Charisma: 11 (+0)
Hit Points: 23
Armor Class: 18
- Conspiracy (Int) +8 (+14)
- Interaction (Cha) +4 (+5)
- Science (Int) +4 (+10)
- Not Really There: +2 Reflex
- Two Possibilities: Draw two alpha mutations instead of one, take the one I want, place the other on the bottom of the deck.
- Engineered Resilience: +1 Fortitude, Reflex & Will
- Tech Affinity: +2 bonus on checks to prevent Omega Tech burnout
- Double Trouble: At Will, Standard Action. Create a 1 hit point duplicate in an unoccupied square within 5 squares. It acts on the next initiative, but cannot use doppelganger powers, alpha mutations or omega tech. Disappears at the end of my next round or when reduced to 0 hit points.
- Bold Attack: At Will, Physical, Weapon. Attack (level +4 + weapon accuracy) vs AC. Deal Weapon damage + Level physical damage, and one ally within 5 squares makes a standard attack as a free action.
- Cat-O-Three-Carving-Knives – Two Handed Light Melee Weapon – Int/Dex – +3 Accuracy (total +9) – 1d12 damage (+6)
- Glock 17 – One handed light gun – Int/Dex – +4 Accuracy (total +10) – 1d8 damage (+6) – 10 square range
- Explorer’s Kit
- 5 Gallons of Fuel
- Radio Cell Phone