Tabletop Game: Gamma World
A classic role-playing game originally created by TSR, the same people who made Dungeons & Dragons
. Centuries after a vaguely defined apocalypse, a radioactive and ruin-strewn Earth is inhabited by mutants, sentient animals and plants, and insane half-functioning robots, all of whom compete for influence as multi-species civilization begins its long climb to recovery. Gamma World
was heavily influenced by TSR's earlier sci-fi RPG, Metamorphosis Alpha
Despite what a newcomer might think, the tone is quite light-hearted, and the players are strongly encouraged to have fun and not think too hard about how silly it all is.
The game has gone through seven editions so far; TSR published the first three from 1978 to 1985 with their own unique rule sets. 1992's 4th Edition was based on the same engine as D&D
's 2nd edition, and 1995's 5th was a supplement for the sci-fi RPG Alternity
. In 2002, Wizards of the Coast
, which had since absorbed TSR, published a wacky homage to Gamma World
entitled Omega World
The setting was licensed by Sword & Sorcery Studios (a subsidiary of White Wolf
) and heavily revised for d20 Modern
in 2003. This new edition recasts the apocalypse as a war among post-Singularity
civilizations, a horrific spasm of nanotechnological and biological warfare (with a few nukes thrown in for old time's sake). The old creatures and robots are nearly all retained, but given new and detailed explanations that are designed to elicit horror and awe rather than cheap jokes.Wizards of the Coast
has since released a seventh edition of Gamma World
, using the 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons
rules, in October 2010. The game is far more humorous, from character creation, to Omega Tech descriptions. The 7th Edition setting is one where "the Big Mistake" merged all possible worlds into one, and really leaves the door open for player interpretation.Gamma World
is notable for one rather odd trend: usually, only a handful of books would be released before a new edition came out and rendered all the previous books obsolete. This reached its zenith with the Alternity
version, which had only a single, core rulebook released before being discontinued. Time will tell if 7th Edition will continue this trend. (Update: It did.)
This game includes examples of:
- Adam and/or Eve
- Adaptation Distillation: Omega World, a tribute to the original game.
- Adventure Towns
- After the End
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Antimatter Blasters are blue, Demons are red, and Photonics come in shiny red, blue, or green.
- Ammunition Backpack: Contained an atomic energy cell that powered the fusion rifle.
- Ancient Conspiracy
- Apocalypse How: Class 2
- Artistic License – Physics
- Attack Its Weak Point: Adventure GW1 Legion of Gold. An amoeboid monster' body can withstand 1,000 Hit Points of damage, but its nucleus can only take 50 Hit Points before it's killed.
- Atomic Superpowers
- Auto Doc: The 1st Edition Medi-Kit
- Beast Men
- Brain in a Jar: Borgs, Permanent Cybernetic Installations and Think Tanks in 1st Edition.
- Chameleon Camouflage: The Chameleon Powers mutation in the 1E game.
- City in a Bottle
- Collectible Card Game: 7th edition has its powers and technology sold on this model; GMs and players have to buy more cards in booster packs for more fantastic stuff to use in their RPG, instead of buying them in sourcebooks. This has not been well received. However, the core game does include include a full deck of mutations and Omega Tech (Loot), so players aren't forced to go out and buy boosters. The boosters certainly don't have anything that's any more game-breaking than what you get in the core box.
- Crapsack World
- Crystal Dragon Jesus
- Darker and Edgier
- The 6th Edition for d20 Modern.
- The original game when it first came out. It's said to have popularized dark humor in RPGs.
- Dash Attack: In the adventure GW6 Alpha Factor, the mutant creatures known as the S're'daan and the Ba'crolbai would attack opponents with their horns after charging into them.
- Duct Tape for Everything: We're sure you'll find a use for this...
- Everything's Worse With Bears Who Think They Are Napoleon
- Fantastic Racism: The Knights of Genetic Purity, the Iron Society, the Zoopremicists...the list goes on.
- Fungus Humongous: Adventure GW1 Legion of Gold. The buggem lair has a room filled with a fungus garden made up of tall, shrub-like fungi.
- Home Field Advantage: The adventure GW6 Alpha Factor. Jeremiah Coot has filled his base Mindkeep with all sorts of traps, including false vines that cause any opponent who tries to swing on them to fall.
- Horn Attack: Mutant characters could have horns as a mutation. The mutants known as Rakoxen (and Hoppers in 2nd Edition) had them. Two new monsters in the adventure GW6 Alpha Factor, the S're'daan and the Ba'crolbai, had horns that they could use to attack opponents after charging into them.
- Horse of a Different Color: Mutant horses, giant horses, podogs, cactus horses...
- I Love Nuclear Power
- Improbable Weapon User: Since the game is set in a Scavenger World, it is almost a given that your characters will be these. You could wield a stop sign, a telephone pole, vending machines...really anything you can think of that fits within the one-handed/two-handed light/heavy melee/ranged parameters.
- Killer Robot: Technically could be your player character. The Created are an entire faction made of Killer Robots.
- Light 'em Up: Photonic origins.
- Lost Technology
- Machine Worship
- Make Me Wanna Shout: The 1E Sonic Attack Ability mutation.
- The Multiverse: The seventh edition backstory features the Large Hadron Collider causing several different realities to intermingle and exchange places, in an event called "the big mistake". Furthermore, Dopplegangers create their doubles by pulling them out of alternate realities.
- Nano Machines
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Because you can choose two origins for your character, and the origins are each quite different, you can end up with lots of these. Android Plants, Vampire Octopoids, a hoard of tiny yetis...
- Overclocking Attack: Alpha mutations have this option, with a 45% chance of failure.
- Plant Person
- Playing with Fire
- Psychic Block Defense
- Radiation Immune Mutants: Notably averted. While there were mutations that allowed for resistance to radiation, it wasn't universal to all mutants.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: It's D&D, but AFTER THE END! AND SILLY!
- Rule of Cool
- Rule of Fun
- Scavenger World
- Shrouded in Myth: The world before the Cataclysm. Old technology are known as artifacts, electricty is called lightning and machinery, particularly robots, are called live metal.
- Sickly Green Glow
- Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness
- The original game, 4th edition, and Omega World are so far on the silly scale that it mutates and flies out into space. 3rd edition and 6th edition, on the other hand, land on the more serious part of the scale, but not to the very end.
- 7th Edition is much closer to the silly end, including a suggestion that you could respond to a villain by pulling out a cane and singing and dancing like Michigan J. Frog, a backstory in which Peshtigo, Wisconsin suffered nuclear annihilation by the French an untold number of times over (it's said to have happened in 3% of the originally-separate universes that combined into Gamma Terra), random shout-outs to virtually everything under the sun, and not even an attempt to make the yexil (Basically cloth-eating anthropomorphic manticore bandits with laser eyes—no, really) or the other more bizarre monsters anything except completely ridiculous.
- Sliding Scale of Turn Realism: Round by Round.
- Spare Body Parts
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Literally.
- Super Spit: Several Dragon magazine articles gave new mutations and mutants with this ability, and the Bu'daan in GW6 Alpha Factor.
- Swiss Army Weapon: The Chameleon Rifle in module GW6 Alpha Factor.
- The Worm That Walks: One of the possible character origins. Depending on your primary origin and your secondary origin, you could be anything from a horde of cockroaches, to a mass of nanomachines, to a horde of sentient, hive-minded kittens.
- Universal Ammunition: The 7th edition uses an abstract system of ammunition, where any weapon can use any type of ammo. However, using more than one shot per encounter will cause you to run out.
- Unspecified Apocalypse: Most of the game's versions are highly vague about the reason why Earth has been destroyed.
- Vampiric Draining: Adventure GW1 Legion of Gold. In the buggem lair, the parn embryots will jump onto victims' heads or shoulders, bite them and suck out their bodily fluids at a rate of 10 Hit Points per combat round.
- Wetware CPU: Androids. Inverted with AIs.
- When Trees Attack: Plants are a possible character origin in all of the editions. Also there have always been numerous species of plant-monsters to spice up wilderness adventures.
- X Meets Y: D&D meets Fallout. (Although, chronologically speaking, Fallout is actually Gamma World meets Mad Max.)