A Detour to Gamma Terra

Since Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, aka Nov. 23) was a day I knew not everyone would be available for gaming, I planned a different game than our regularly scheduled D&D game. I decided it would be a good chance to try Gamma World. A few folks on Twitter suggested that I set the game in a mall and somehow work in references to Black Friday, so I did. And since I’m hopelessly behind in updating this post, the actual game write-up will be brief…also, some names may have changed since I can’t remember exactly what Gamma Speak I used now…except The Walma. It’s always THE WALMA.

In the world of Gamma Terra, Black Free Day is the day after the Feast of Hallothankwanzamassukah. It is thought to be an orgiastic celebration of looting and consumerism at a mystical place known as The Walma. After finding out the PCs were not hungover or dead from the previous evening’s celebrations, the village elder sent them in search of The Walma.

After a rambling, Simpsons-homage-filled set of directions*, the chosen villagers headed out of the relative safety of ‘Tain Squa and into the wilderness. The directions were surprisingly accurate and they made exceptionally good use of the environment to defeat some mutated horrors which sought to eat them. A battle was raging at The Walma when they arrived between various groups of scavengers including Porkers, Badders, and mutants. They decided not to risk a frontal engagement and circled around looking for other entrances**.

They found a group of dabbers (they’re mutated bipedal raccoons) trying to break into a large overhead door marked UT  ERVI. One extremely intimidating encounter later, the PCs were trying to break into a large overhead door marked UT ERVI while the dabbers were running for the hills. They broke into The Walma, found a few wheeled carts and proceeded to loot the store out from under the battle raging outside…except for the guys in the canned good aisle who were determined to make the PCs pay in BLOOD for their bounty.

While it was a fairly close fight with some friendly fire injuries and a lot of collateral damage, the PCs won the day and returned victorious to ‘Tain Squa with their Hallothankwanzamassukah bounty.

Everyone seemed to have a really good time with this game. A few players commented that the preferred the simplified system of Gamma World to D&D 4E (Savage Worlds…here we come!). I really liked the wacky amalgamation of the real world and the fantastic, especially since I could throw in post-apoc tropes as well as cram in Borderlands-like weapons (which will see more play in future games) and it all fits because: GAMMA WORLD. The combat encounters weren’t as good as I wanted because I was counting on two hours of prep time that I didn’t get when a guest player showed up two hours early.

And, I got to use the toy cars I bought for my ill-fated Gen Con Atomic Highway/Fallout game, so that’s a plus. I think Gamma World will be my go-to Alt game while we’re playing D&D 4E. Once the Eberron game wraps-up, I may switch to Pathfinder, though, ’cause I really want to run some adventure paths and my Rise of the Runelords Deluxe Collector’s Edition is here (it was my reward to myself for working through my vacation this summer…and getting a bonus for doing so). On the other hand, as a GM, I like rules-light systems more and more these days and Pathfinder is anything but rules-light. I can do rules-heavy as a player, but as a GM, game-prep for rules-heavy systems is more like work than enjoyment, and I get PAID for work. I hope prep for an adventure path won’t be so bad since I won’t have to write up every encounter and plot point myself.

I think I actually enjoy running this genre (or at least a more modern genre) of game to Fantasy. With fantasy, I’m worried about anachronisms when I have to ad lib, and that really makes me have to think too hard when things go off the rails. In a more futuristic or modern setting, I can just go off on a Simpsons/Futurama-inspired ramble and it fits. The comic tangent in the directions just wouldn’t fit in the with the tone I like in my fantasy, but works with Gamma World. Maybe I need to stick with pre-written adventures for Fantasy and when I need to stretch my creative legs play games more modern/sci-fi in tone.

* “Follow Dry Gulch until you find that big, rotten tree. Hopefully, it hasn’t fallen down yet. Turn left and you should see a big elevated road. You know that road use to take you south to the river. Of course, walking, that would take you days. You’d just followed that elevated road all the way until you got to the big river, cross it, then you could keep going south until you practically hit the ocean. Why, I bet that was at least a week away. Maybe more, hell, I don’t know, I never went there. I went down three days, though. It gets hilly and I heard the hills used to be covered in trees what wouldn’t eat you. We’d tie an onion to our belts, ‘cause that was the style of the time, plus, it kept the trees from eating you, at least, my old man always said it would. Of course, he thought you could stick fat people with a pin and they’d pop like a balloon…”

** The area they traveled was based on the area in which we live. So, to prevent meta-gamey cheese, I totally burned Gander Mountain to the ground***. They already had enough guns anyway.

*** For those of you from the U.S. Government who are spying on my blog, I’m talking about a tabletop GAME. I did NOT engage in any domestic terrorism. I have better things to do with my life. I suggest you do the same and go out and catch real criminals and stop spying on the people who pay your salary. Yes, I’m talking about you, George. YOU. The one in Fairfax.  Also, you have a spot on your tie. Sometimes, the dry cleaner can get those out, but usually you have to buy a new tie. Take some pride in your appearance, dude.

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