In just a couple of weeks, I’ll be starting a Gamma World campaign with a new group. As mentioned previously, my last group broke up because they all went off to college, and so I was left with an empty game table. The library (where I DM) was open to me continuing “game night,” so I got another group together; however, they want to play Gamma World.
While I’m a little sad to not be running D&D on a regular basis anymore, I’m also quite excited to really take Gamma World out for a campaign long test drive. I have lots of plans, and you can expect me to share them with you in the coming months. (Never fear, there will still be D&D content to be found here on a regular basis)
With that in mind, I’m going to be implementing some small house rules that will hopefully make the game more fun in the long run. I felt house rules were necessary because Gamma World seems to have been designed with as low complexity as possible. That’s fine for a one shot (which is how most people use the system) but I felt adding a little complexity might add to the campaign overall.
What follows are the first half of the house rules I’ll be implementing. These are the rules that will directly affect the players. On Thursday, I’ll be presenting rules changes from the other side of the screen, as well as a couple of “out of the ordinary” campaign planning tools I’m using.
I think the biggest change will be the (re)addition of domars to the game. In case you are unfamiliar with earlier editions of Gamma World, domars are the currency of Gamma Terra. By using domars instead of a bartering economy, I’m actually removing a bit of DM work from the game. I don’t have to figure out how much Omega Tech equals a tank of gas when PCs want to make a trade. Also, I’m adding a resource to the game – I can drop it as treasure, or allow the characters to circumvent obstacles by spending it (e.g., buy train tickets instead of making a travel skill challenge). So, adding currency removes a layer of complexity for me, as the DM, and adds a layer of (hopefully fun) complexity for the players through a spendable resource. It’s also a necessary addition in order for me to implement…
The Black Market
The Black Market will be a specific location in the PC’s home area where they can buy and sell Omega Tech and Alpha Mutations (in potion form). There are a few reasons I’m doing this. First, it will simply be a fun location full of all sorts of characters. Second, buying items in the market will be the only means of players building custom Omega and Alpha decks. So instead of starting at level 1 with a deck stacked full of items and mutations they want, the players will have to earn domars through adventuring in order to buy items for their decks. Hopefully this will create more investment in the items that a player owns. Now, that’s not to say I won’t also be giving out random Omega Tech as treasure, but the market will allow players to buy items from their “wish list” instead of hoping something they want comes up in a random draw.
There will be a future article explaining how I will price Black Market items, as well as how I will determine the amount of treasure to give out in the form of Domars.
The Alpha Pen (or “AP”) will be a consumable item that looks a lot like an Epipen. It will allow a player, as a free action, to dump an Alpha Mutation they don’t like, and draw a new one from their deck. This particular mechanic won’t change the game too much, as the APs will be quite rare, but I thought it would create an interesting decision point for players – when is an appropriate moment to spend such a rare consumable?
Partially Non-Random Characters
Yes, I get it. The whole point of character creation in Gamma World is “hey! totally random!” but I wanted to give my players at least a tiny bit of control over what their final character would look like. And really, it was a truly tiny bit. Instead of rolling their third skill, I allowed them to simply choose it. On top of that small amount of control it gave my players over what their character would look like, it also gave them the opportunity to make sure all the skills were covered. As it turned out, there is a LOT of “interaction” at the table and none of several other skills, so we’ll see whether they try to actually cover their bases, or just go with what seems interesting.
I’m interested to see how these changes affect gameplay. If I had to guess, I’d say the Alphapen won’t change too much, but the Domars and Black Market will be radical changes – for the better, I hope. What are your thoughts?