Well, I finally did it. I ran Gamma World last night for the first time since buying it almost two weeks ago.
Since the release of 4e, I have been running regular D&D games. I’ve run a few campaigns at this point and many many one-offs. However, working games around various schedules has gotten difficult the last few months and I have not run a game in almost as long. That’s way too long for me.
I decided I might look to other games that I could pull other people into on short notice to scratch the itch and Gamma World seemed like the perfect game to do that with. From everything I read, people were really enjoying it. It uses (simplified) 4e rules, which everyone here I know is very familiar with. This was a huge bonus, and really helped make the decision to try it out much easier for them.
It’s GOOD to be zany?
We laughed tonight – a lot. I was explaining to one of the players that one thing I really enjoyed was how the game embraces the naturally zany humor we bring to our games anyway. I compared this to D&D where when things get crazy, we try to tone it down and “get back on track”. In Gamma World the wacky, off-the-wall humor and outbursts are part of the game itself. That’s not to say you can’t laugh and have fun in D&D – you can, and we DO – but in Gamma World it’s baked into the game… into the mechanics and setting. Getting “off track” just feels so right!
Simplicity means more gets done.
There are less options in Gamma World compared to 4th Edition D&D and that really sped things up. We were able to run three encounters in about two and a half hours of play. There are fewer powers, and no feats for example. As someone who loves having options, it seemed to me that there would not be enough to hold my interest for long, but I think the randomness of the Alpha and Omega cards really helps shake things up and prevents combat from feeling too stale.
The players loved it
One of the players actually commented that he had more fun playing Gamma World than he did playing D&D. Granted, he hasn’t played a lot of D&D (4e was his first experience), and he hasn’t played with me as a DM much (kidding, kidding… but really, he hasn’t), but he had a lot of fun. The other players had a blast as well and looked forward to playing again.
One of the things that was mentioned as a real positive was the cards. They loved not knowing what they were going to get next – the surprise and anticipation of what was to come was very appealing to them.
DM-ing Gamma World is…
Easy. I really didn’t prepare much and was afraid, when it came time to play, that my lack of preparation might hinder the enjoyment for the players. But as it turned out, you don’t need to do much prep work. The encounters in the book are on two adjacent pages. It takes almost no time to read the tactics and get a feel for the layout and environment. In fact, the 3rd encounter I was entirely un-prepared for as I only expected we would have time for two. So, I simply handed out new Alpha and Omega cards to the players and while they looked them over and talked to each other about what they got, I quickly skimmed the encounter. By the time they were done checking out the cards, I was good to go.
Fun. It’s hard to have a bad time when the players are having so much fun, but it really is just an enjoyable game to run. The ease with which you can run encounters allowed me to relax a bit more and really explore the wackiness of the game along with the players.
Should you buy Gamma World?
I think it’s defiantly worth a shot. I had never looked at the price of the game until I was at my FLGS picking it up and I was surprised. I expected it to be $50, but it in fact it was only $30 (when/where I got it)! I already knew I was going to get it, but when I saw the price was $20 lower than I expected, I decided I would go ahead and grab the Essentials Dungeon Tiles as well!
It is a great game anyway, but I think it’s especially good if you are in my position – looking for a lighter RPG to play one-offs with and to get a break from the usual seriousness of a typical game. It was different enough for us to consider it a fresh new thing, but as it is built on 4e rules it was similar enough to what we are playing that we didn’t feel like we would need to invest multiple sessions before we got used to it. Most of the gamers here I know need that kind of balance before they are going to be willing to step outside of D&D, so it was a perfect fit really.
That’s about it. We all had a great time and look forward to playing again!