Ask The Readers: Tell me about Gamma World!

Gamma World Let me start by saying that I didn’t particularly enjoy playing D&D 4th Edition. Over the course of about half a dozen game sessions and after reading to various rulebooks I realized that it’s not the game for me. Especially the emphasis on combat and the dissociated mechanics put me off quite a bit. From what I’ve seen D&D Essentials fixes a few of my issues with the game, but since I have enough other fantasy RPGs I haven’t actually felt the need to go back to D&D.

But for some reason I am still intrigued by a D&D-based game: Gamma World. The new Gamma World introduces another element I usually don’t like in RPGs and that are the collectable power cards, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that this game could actually be fun. From what I’ve seen it could be a great beer & pretzels game that you can play with a group of friends when you’re taking a pause from your regular campaign or when you are just in the mood for a wacky post-apoc game with anthropomorphic animals and weird mutations.

The game box is not particularly expensive and most of the reviews I’ve read indicate that it’s actually pretty good. A few people even suggested that Gamma World is actually the better D&D.

But before I make a decision I wanted to ask you, my trusted readers, what you think about Gamma World. Have you played it? If so, did you like it? Is it possible to run a game in a bit less wacky setting if you wish to do so? What are your experiences with Gamma World? Please share your thoughts below!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

9 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: Tell me about Gamma World!”

  1. While I never played either version of Gamma World, I recently picked up the Gamma World novel Sooner Dead by Mel Odom for cheap. It was an interesting read and a nice introduction to the setting.

    There’s a second Gamma World novel out now Red Sails in the Fallout by Paul Kidd.

  2. Thanks for the advice, Frank! Perhaps I will pick those up, too.

    By the way, I have a couple of days off before and after christmas, perhaps we can meet then, if you have the time. 🙂

  3. Interesting topic. I found this german review very entertaining. The review points to the WotC chargen which is fun, and reviews 2 older editions: the Omega Wolrd minigame and .. a retro clone that was not mentioned on wikpiedia: Mutant Future. Someone also made a Pathfinder conversion/adaption here.

    Lots of free stuff. Apparently GW lives from random character generation (although it is not completely random in some versions). The 4E version has mutation cards that you have to buy extra. In boosters. Not good.

    PS: I’m not slacking off my codes compiling! 🙂

  4. I have the D&D Gamma World box and both supplements. I’ve played the game a few times and also ran the game for a while. Whether playing or running, I’ve always found it enjoyable. I’ve never attempted serious play with it, and while I imagine its possible, there are plenty of more serious games already, and Gamma World is definitely intended to be comedic.

    The one thing everyone I’ve encountered universally enjoys is character creation. You can roll dice to pick which of the three books to use before rolling a d20 for your first origin and again for your second origin. There are no races and classes, only “origins,” which mostly include various mutations but also things like Android, Alien, Demon, and Time Traveler.

    Whatever two origins you get, it’s up to you to justify them however you can imagine, and that’s really the fun part. “I’m a Seismic Time Traveler.. OK, I’m actually a living Terracotta Warrior.” “I got Mythic and Simian.. I’m an ape that was sent into space and gained superpowers from cosmic radiation.” “Hawkoid and Plant? I’m an Aussie explorer named Wallaby Jones!”

    As silly as it is, it is quite possible to get attached to a character, though some people find it more satisfying to get what humor they can from one character before moving to the next for a new supply of jokes. There’s plenty of freedom in flavor, as character creation doesn’t even involve gaining specific weapons and armor: you pick from a preset categories and describe the objects however you like. When I played for D&D Gamma World Game Day, I had an Android Seismic I called “Ginny the Gynoid,” who used as a weapon a length of pipe with the head of an android she didn’t like at the end. She renamed him “Hamdroid” (since he was effectively a large hammer weapon) and loved to slam his still-active head into things between his complaints and commentary.

    With Gamma World, there isn’t exactly much of a core world to play in: there are some descriptions here and there, and some sample adventures you can play in the books, but the whole idea is that virtually every possible alternate really collided into each other 150 years ago, after the “Big Mistake,” and so it gives you the freedom to do pretty much anything you want with the setting. If I get around to running it again, I’m pretty sure we’ll be setting the moon on fire.

  5. I’ve played WOTC Gamma World a couple times. I was calling it 4e Gamma World for a while, but GW nerds kept getting bent and telling me it wasn’t really the 4th Edition (yeah…I know).

    Anyway, at this point, I’d play WOTC GW again. I’d even run WOTC GW, given the opportunity. 4e? Not so much. I ran it for a couple years and it just turned into a grind (anyone want to buy a bunch of 4e books?).

    The “collectible card” aspect of the game is completely optional. The core deck that comes in the box has plenty of mutations and tech. You could easily ban any additional cards from the table, or as it is intended, leave it up to your players. If they want more tech/mutations, it’s on them. The stuff in those packs don’t seem to be inherently “better” than the stuff in the core deck, just different. You could probably throw out the whole deck and just use tech/mutations as you would in older versions of the game, without much penalty.

    Chargen is fun, in my opinion. Then again, I love random chargen. Trying to figure what it means to be a speedster android or seismic plaugueweilder is part of the fun.

    Combat seemed to move a bit faster than standard 4e. Then again, the folks I was playing with had their 4e chops down at the time. Weapons were a bit more deadly, though, so it did seem easier to kill stuff without getting into the modern D&D combat grind.

    .If you HATE 4e outright, no matter what, you probably aren’t going to like this game. If you have some unnatural attachment to earlier editions of the game and feel that any updating should be a crime, you probably aren’t going to like this game. If you hate “goofy” and/or “random” crap happening constantly, you probably aren’t going to like this game. If you’re looking for a goofy one-shot or mini-campaign, great for filling a gap between other games, I’d say give it a second look.

    WOTC has a free character generator on the site –

    A quick run through there will give you some general ideas about what characters and powers look like. Mutations and tech happen on the cards, though.

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