Well, I finally got to try Gamma World. Let me tell you, the game met all my expectations. As a D&D 4e player, it was incredibly easy to pick up, but because of the Alpha Mutation/Omega Tech cards, it felt like a very different game. Hats off to you Wizards of the Coast.
Now, I’m not going to go into an in-depth review of the gameplay or character creation or who played what at the table or even what the adventure was like. It’s been done, and I don’t need to do it too. What I will do, however, is discuss some ideas we kicked around a little bit afterwards. Since the cards were the biggest difference from D&D 4e, we mostly talked about ways we might house rule their usage. Please bear in mind that we haven’t tried any of these things yet, they’re still ideas. And hey, if you take one of our ideas and use it, let us know how it worked out in the comments! Below are mostly thoughts summarized by myself and Tyson, the DM.
Tyson: I think you should have to build your deck like “triangles.” For every Uncommon, you have to have 2 Commons to support it. For every Rare, you have to have 2 Uncommons to support it. So the minimum 7-card deck could be 4 Commons, 2 Uncommons, 1 Rare. To get a second Rare you’d have to double the deck size to 14; for another Uncommon you’d have to add 2 more Commons first. That way you can’t just stack the deck with piles of awesome.
You could also do a “booster draft” with the cards that came with the game, especially when people don’t have their own decks. Divide them up, and let people pick one card and pass the rest on. You can stop after 7 cards, or keep going as long as you want.
Benoit: I like the idea of a booster draft. It would deliberately stack the DMs deck with the least desirable cards. Then you could work in rules that force players to draw off the DM deck in the same way that Alpha Flux (rolling a 1) is a forced draw off the DMs deck.
Tyson: Omega Tech I think I would continue to distribute as random loot with only a DM Omega deck in play. However, there’s a way to incorporate personal “tech decks” into play in a way that makes sense. At the start, no one would have their own Omega Tech deck, but instead would draw off the DM Omega deck. However, when a card is exhausted, instead of going into the DMs “general” discard pile, you have the option of putting it into your own personal discard pile. Then, once you have 7 discards, that becomes your Omega Tech deck. After that point, when you would next find Omega Tech you can draw from your deck with a roll of 10+ instead of drawing off the general pile. This would represent finding a power cell or some other means to repower one of your items. Consumables still go boom, of course, and once you Salvage an item it gets removed from your discard deck. I think this would work best in an ongoing campaign, where you’re cycling through a lot more Omega Tech than you would in a one-shot.
Benoit: I know we talked about permanent Alpha mutations, but I don’t think the game was made to be played that way. Some of the mutations are too overpowered to be permanent. (The Angry DM thinks so too. I asked him.) Besides, I think half the fun is getting a new mutation. However, you could make the mutations less “regular” without breaking the game, I think. For example, you could rule that you only mutate at the end of combat if you rolled a natural 15 or better in initiative. This could represent a larger than normal adrenaline crash after combat, triggering a mutation. I also liked the mutation variety given by Beta Moss [fantastic terrain], and think there should be more of that. Also, players should be able to partially control their mutations. For example, you could give each player a “mutation potion” periodically. Spending the potion (and a minor action) would let them dump a mutation they don’t like in order to draw a new one. It would be another resource for the players to use, and gives a little control back.
I also like the idea of being able to pick up Omega Tech mid-combat. The DM could mark certain monsters on the board as having “a really big gun” strapped to their back. Once that monster is dropped, anyone adjacent can use a minor action to “grab the tech” (draw an Omega Tech card), but ONLY if they agree to use it immediately. Kind of a desparate “grab this thing and just pull the trigger, I hope it works” kind of idea.
I’ll leave you with this: as we were playing I kept thinking “Men in Black,” especially when looking at some of the Omega Tech. I guess it didn’t help that the first piece of Omega Tech I got was the Disruptor Pike. I took one look at its attack and said, “Hey, I got the Noisy Cricket!”