Wizards of the Coast D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game
Try to survive in the crazy post-apocalyptic Gamma World...
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Hardcore RPG players may recognize the name Gamma World. Way back in 1978 two of the guys at TSR (and members of the Dungeons & Dragons team) created a science/fantasy game using much of the existing D&D rules system. The world, however, was quite different. A post-apocalyptic wasteland, Gamma World featured mutants, high technology, and much more. Throughout the years Gamma World would pop up again and again, and its time has come again! After all, one can only beat up orcs and goblins for so long before you yearn for something more. Wizards of the Coast has just released the D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game, and it's quite a ride. The initial release contains (just about) everything you need to play, all wrapped up in a hefty box.
The Gamma World Roleplaying Game box set is certainly eye-catching with a rusty neon green background and splashy artwork featuring a tentacled female hero shooting a huge energy rifle at a mutant rat with three eyes, horns, and a flashlight in its mouth! No, it’s not your average RPG. You'll also see that the game is recommended for players 12 and up.
The back of the box has lots of information including images and a listing of the contents and a sidebar showing off the other Gamma World products.
The outside may look cool, but you'll want to get inside as quickly as possible. Break it open and you'll see a cardboard insert that matches the cover's background image, framing the Gamma World rulebook. Under the book is a miniature game map and a slot holding the 80 card GM deck. Take out the cards to see a listing of the components still to come! Under the cardboard and sheathed in plastic are the maps, character sheets, pop out monster and hero tokens, and a bonus card pack (more on that later). Just like in the D&D Red Box (read our review HERE), there's also a handy sheet that shows some of the other great Dungeons & Dragons products.
So, what is Gamma World all about? Well, it's now the year 2162, and things are in bad shape. Scientists tinkering with the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland did something wrong and caused the "Big Mistake," smashing together an entire multiverse of Earths into one planet. The resulting chaos is
Gamma Terra, a land of strange energies, forgotten civilizations, mutants, fusion rifles, and just about anything else you can think of!
The rulebook sets out this scenario in just a few pages before jumping into the game itself. As you'll quickly learn, Gamma World is all about chaos; it's hard to prepare when literally anything could be lurking around the next corner!
Gamma World is based on the mechanics of the current 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, so if you're familiar with that game you'll pick up this one right away. And even if you're not playing D&D (and you should be; 4th Edition is awesome) the somewhat simplified rules laid out in this rulebook are easy to
understand and won't take long to assimilate. There's the usual explanation of "what's an RPG" and how to play in general, along with the core mechanic of the d20. Seriously, the entire "How to Play" chapter is only 20 pages! What comes next is the best part: Character Creation!
Remember when I said that much of what happens in Gamma World is random? Well, so is the process by which you create your hero! Simply roll two 20-sided dice on the Origin Table. Some of the options include android, giant, hawkoid, pyrokinetic, radioactive, and yeti. Your origins determine much of your starting stats and powers, and dice rolls fill in the rest of your attributes and even skill knowledge!
Your biggest choice is gear, but not in the way you think. There are general classes of armor and weapons from which you can choose, but the real fun is coming up with your own description of what they look like and do. Don't forget to write all of this down on the included character sheets, which are streamlined and easy to use.
Aside from the randomness and unique setting, most of that sounds like your average RPG character generation phase, right? Well, here's where Gamma World adds another unique element: collectible cards. Cards come in two flavors, Alpha Mutations and Omega Tech, and each provides some sort of game effect. The Gamma World RPG comes with a set of 80 cards (40/40) along with a bonus booster pack of the collectible version!
From these cards you choose a deck of no fewer than 7 of each type, with no duplicates. During the game you will draw cards from this deck and use their powers, discarding and getting new ones as you go! Some of the interesting and hilarious cards include "Footus Ginormicus," "Venomous Spurs," "Leaky Fusion Rifle," and "Inflatable Friend."
Put that all together and what do you get? Well, I sat down to play over the weekend and rolled up a character. In no time my player group was introduced to Zippy McGee, a Felinoid Speedster who's all about going fast! He's incredibly agile with the special powers of Slashing Claws and Quick Attack. For Alpha Mutations I loaded up on Accelerated Reflexes (did I mention he's fast?), Shaggy Pelt, Stink Glands, Rubbery Skeleton, LMAO (causing laughter in your enemy), Force Field Generation, and Hyperactive. Omega Tech consists of Unstable Vibroblade, Adrenaline Pill, Headmounted Laser, Inertial Armor, Unreliable Jet Pack, Fish-Killer Grenade, and an Animatronic Toy!
The rulebook goes on to give you a nice overview of how to play, with easy to read sections on the world of Gamma Terra, combat, conditions that can affect characters, advancement, adventure ideas, terrain, and more. Next up is a 34 page chapter on monsters with everything from mutant badgers called
Badders to hideous amalgam creatures called Yexil. The rulebook concludes with a really fun eight-part adventure called "Steading of the Iron King" in which your heroes investigate strange robot-related happenings and come across an Ancient factory in which things have gone... strange.
Of course, playing RPGs is much more fun with physical components, and that's where the maps and tokens come in. Each map depicts two areas on two sides, with playing sites ranging from rocky wilderness to metallic factory floors. The rulebook adventure will take you throughout these maps, and you're of course free to use them in your games. The two double-sided token sheets have plenty of sturdy cardboard discs representing both monsters and heroes corresponding to the art in the rulebook. Best of all, the maps and tokens are fully compatible with other D&D physical products so you can play
on any D&D map or use its miniatures!
If you enjoy roleplaying games and any sort of post-apocalyptic setting with crazy elements from robots to mutants, Gamma World is definitely for you. It's easy to learn (especially if you're familiar with RPGs in general or 4th Edition D&D in particular), and a lot of fun. The cards bring an element to the game that sets it apart, and what player doesn't want to choose from hundreds of silly and bizarre powers and tech items to spice up the game? The writing in the rulebook and on the cards is very good and very funny, and you can tell by the multiple references to other properties ("Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men," "Bamf," "Clobberin' Time," Khan Noonien Singh, etc.) that the game's creators are geeks just like us.
Gamma World is available now at gaming and comic book stores everywhere with an MSRP of $40. CLICK HERE to find a store near you. That's not all; keep your eyes open, because there are at least two Gamma World expansion kits coming soon that will further detail the crazy world of Gamma Terra!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Sample Courtesy of Wizards of the Coast