Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Favourite Game, That I've Never Really Played

I've played Dungeons and Dragons the longest, and most consistently, of any of the roleplaying games that I've played, but my favourite game, ever since I first played it, was Gamma World.

If you're not familiar, it's a post-apocalyptic game, where you play humans and mutants trying to survive in the ruins of civilization. It is hundreds of years after the apocalypse, with much of the knowledge of The Ancients lost. They are seen as almost mystical, and their technology bordering on magic. You could choose to be a Pure Strain Human, a human with no mutations, and a high resistance to radiation and disease. You could be a Mutated Human, with fantastical physical and mental mutations, some beneficial, some defects. You could also play a Mutated Animal, choosing a basic stock animal and applying mutations like mutated humans have.

Typically, you started off in a primitive village, your people scraping out a basic existence in the harsh world. Many adventures start off with rites of passage... sending the group of young humans and mutants out to recover some ancient artifact, to prove their strength and advance them into adulthood.

I've owned every edition of this (except the d20 version, which I thought was a faker, undeserving of the name Gamma World), however, I've never really played it. When I started playing 1st edition game, with my best friend at the time, Quintin. I was a pure strain human, who had some psychic abilities, which I'd "stolen" from the show "The Powers of Matthew Star". The main character of that show was an alien who looked human, and it was sort of the typical 70's "on the run, and helping anyone he comes across" show. Kind of like "The Littlest Hobo", but with an alien kid. heh.

(The only way I was able to remember the name of this show was by recalling that Louis Gossett Jr was in it, as Matthew's guardian, and I'm shocked that I was able to remember even that detail. Thinking back, the show was likely HORRIBLE. heh. I mean, look a that guy's HAIR!)

The only things I'd encountered in his adventures was stuff Quintin took from Return of the Jedi, since there is a type of armor called "Plastic Armor", which could easily be Stormtrooper armor, and Quintin and I were obsessed with Star Wars at the time (yeah, I'm not at all obsessed with it today... *shoves his full suit of Stormtrooper armor into the closet, where you can't see it*). I encountered some aliens, and that was about it. No mutants, no ancient artifacts, none of the actual themes of the game.

I played another game of it, for one session, with my friends Steve and Francis, and probably a few others, but I can't remember who. I started them off with the Rite of Passage adventure in the Allegheny County area, near Pittsburgh, but we got bogged down in the rules and me being rather inexperienced with being a Games Master, and we just went back to D&D.

So, I feel that I can't really count either of those two instances.

I'm not exactly sure what has drawn me to this game over the years, despite never really playing it. Maybe it's the message behind it... that the world can be torn down by war and destruction, and we will go on, at least in some form. There is a spirit of rebuilding to the game.

I was told a couple of years ago, by a fellow gamer, that I'm the only person he knows that ever took the game seriously. Every time he got a game going, it was just a silly, wacky game, but I've just never seen it that way. I actually found it pretty strange when he told me that. Okay, yeah, your characters have fantastical mutations that would never happen in real life, and there are mutated humanoid animals (one adventure module even included cycloptic, human-sized, intelligent chickens), however the writing of the game has never inspired any "yucks" from me. I mean, they didn't make it particularly dark or depressing either (not like other post-apocalyptic games have done), at least not any more than D&D was, but it never struck me as game you were supposed to "clown up".

Well, regardless, I've always had my plans to run a game of this. From time to time, I've envisioned what the city I've lived in (Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa, Atlanta) would look like in the setting, and how the unique characteristics of the city would translate. Not in some kind of screwed up, morbid "The world ending would be cool" kind of way, but just "If I were to set my Gamma World game here, what would I draw for the city skyline? What would the iconic places of this city look like? What traditions or superstitions would the people cling to or warp over the years?"

One interesting, and humorous fact... Altanta is considered a Gamma World City.


  1. I vaguely remember you starting a game with Steve H. and me (and maybe the Matias brothers) but I don't think we got very far.

  2. I wouldn't doubt it, but if that's the case, your memory is better than mine in this instance. :)

  3. Hey Scott - I have a book called Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse that has some of the action in post-apocalyptic Atlanta. I'll try to dig it up and loan it to you.