January 26, 2008

The World After

Recent conversations with Mike (check out his blog—far better than mine—here) have gotten me thinking about the Gamma World game. I was always basically a “D&D player”; I experimented a bit with other systems—Mythus, TORG, etc.—and I own a few systems that seem cool but I’ve never actually played—Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, and Vampire come to mind—but I always came back to the gold standard, flaws and all.

The one system that pulled me away for a time was Gamma World, the first edition with the grey book. True, the rules were basically D&D rules, and perhaps that made it more approachable, but it was also the subject matter. I’ve always found end of the world type scenarios fascinating, and GW had all the right elements: cool tables full of superhero power-like mutations, weird and malfunctioning robots and androids (Westworld is one of my favorite films of all time), secret societies with hidden agendas, and a campaign milieu that allowed for a broad variety of encounters.

My friends and I played eagerly, especially when we needed a break from wizards and dragons, and I still remember our adventures set around the starting city of Horn. We battled badders and arks (mutated, intelligent badger-men and dog-men), destroyed killer androids, puzzled over ancient artifacts, and lived in terror of the mighty Death Machine. It was great fun.

Last week I took advantage of a stop made at my folks house to raid my old closet. This meant laying on my belly in the dust, pushing up layers of boxes and reaching and straining for that most-buried box that still held some old modules. It took about 20 minutes of struggle and some scraped knuckles, but buried amid old Dragon magazines and convention brochures I hit pay dirt—the Gamma World motherlode. I unearthed the Gamma World second edition boxed set (I never played past the 3rd) and several modules … Famine in Far-go, The Cleansing War of Garik Blackhand, The Mind Masters, and Alpha Factor.

Flipping through the old books was like a trip down memory lane, and it opened my mind to new possibilities. Slaying dragons is awesome (especially a young white my duskblade helped fell the other day), but mutants and androids are a cool chance of pace.
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