If you haven’t heard about Gamma World, I assume you have been living in a Gaming Void for the last year or so. The Gamma World roleplaying game hit shelves in mid-October of 2010, but living in Japan, I wasn’t able to pick it up right at release, so this review is coming a bit late. There are a lot of people who have already caught on to how awesome Gamma World is, since the game goes back quite a long time in terms of editions, but this new version which uses some of the D&D 4e rules, which is what I want to talk about today.
The Rules for Gamma World are a bit different from the rules of traditional 4e. Although they follow the general guide, the rules used in GW are much more streamlined and simple. The rules in GW for character generation are much simpler than in baseline 4e. Instead of choosing a class, a build, skills, powers, etc., you start with 2 different Character Origins which range from cockroaches to androids. These Origins give you everything you need for your character, except for gear. [As mentioned by Dyson Logos in the comments here, in the subsequent expansion packs there are another 28 total other origins, bringing the origin total to 48]
Gear in GW is also a lot different than in 4e; instead of a host of different weapons which you choose from, instead, you pick a type of weapon, one handed, two handed, light, heavy, all of which have a standard damage range. What is really great about this system is it allows you to customize and play around with what weapon you are actually wielding. You could be wielding a giant two-handed Tuna, or a monkey wrench. It really comes up to personal imagination and role-playing when it comes to deciding what you are going to use as your own personal beating stick.
The other cool part of equipment is all the random junk that you pick up in the world. When you make your character, you get to start the game with a weapon or two as well as a bunch of stuff that you pick up along your journey in Gamma Terra. This stuff ranges from things like pack animals to generators. Figuring out what you start with in Gamma World is a lot of fun. Randomly selecting character origins, skills, and starting gear makes GW a very unique character building experience, which is remarkably similar to the enjoyment that I got from building characters in Classic Traveler. They have an interactive character sheet which makes this process much faster, but honestly, you don’t really need it. Making characters in GW is not all that hard and doing it at the game table is a lot of fun, not just for you, but for everyone at the table.