Posts Tagged Gamma World

Gaming Withdrawals

I’ve talked about my weekly game night on this blog before. A short time ago it moved from Tuesday nights, where it had been quite comfortably for several years to Friday nights. Long story short with the combination of my work life, specifically closing shifts on Thursday and Saturday nights, and my home life, specifically actually enjoying spending time with my fiancĂ©e, Friday game nights just weren’t working for me. So it was with a heavy heart and a much reluctance that I called the regular DM and host, the nucleus of our table, and resigned my seat from the Friday night game. In the process I also let him know that I would come back in a heart beat if it moved back to Tuesday nights, I’ve quite specifically built my life around having Tuesday nights for gaming and have maintained a much more casual miscellaneous game night on Tuesdays since D&D moved to Fridays. Not only would I come back for a Tuesday game, but I would be willing to DM, because I know this man and bribery is often a successful tactic (there’s a reason why Munchkin has so many “Bribe the DM” cards). So they’re still playing Fridays at the moment, but I’m told there is active consideration for a Tuesday night game instead. There were real and valid reasons why the table moved from our successful Tuesday night slot to Fridays, so I get why it’s not an easy decision.

It’s left me thinking a lot about DMing though. The biggest problem being, that while I would be down for running a game, I don’t really want to run a classic D&D (4e) campaign. My preferences basically break down into these options (without much order to preference).

1. Gamma World – I’ve already talked extensively about my desire to run a Gamma World game on this blog so this shouldn’t come as any surprise. And really considering that it uses the existing 4th edition rules set, if I’m not going to run a classic D&D campaign this will be the option that I’m most likely to be able to sell the table on.

2. Dresden Files RPG – Now I’ve been wanting to run this game for a long time, and the people who are consistently present for my current Tuesday night miscellaneous game night might actually be willing to give it a try. Two of them are Dresden Files fans already and have expressed a little interest, and one of them has always been willing to experiment with new systems in the past. The downside is that it’s an entirely new system not at all based on D&D rules, that we would all be learning from scratch. As the GM I’ll be the one expected to know the rules system best (not just the setting). That’s never really been my strong suit at a DM, I’ve always had other people at the table to rely on to help with black-and-white rules decisions. So while I would love to tackle to story side of things, I find the prospect of mastering and helming an entirely foreign game system a bit daunting. Also my regular D&D players would be resistant to an entirely new system not based on D&D.

3. Super Hero RPG – This is probably mostly due to recently diving back into the comic book world. In high school we had a lot of fun with the Heroes Unlimited game system. I doubt I would try to use it again since it would be a foreign system to most of my table and they’re resistant to change. Since then I’ve even discovered a OGL (3.0 D&D) based system that would be much simpler then the Heroes Unlimited engine and more palatable to my regular D&D players since all of them played 3.0/3.5 back in the day. Once again, I think this would only really work with my smaller (and more open-minded) Miscellaneous Game Night group and not the larger D&D table. This and Dresden Files might be my first two choices though if the D&D group stays on Friday nights. The comic book and Dresden Files concepts work much better with a smaller table where attendance might be less reliable than our D&D group. D&D has a hard time working with less than 4 players in my opinion, but Dresden Files RPG and the Super Hero one would work just fine with 2 or 3 players, and throwing the occasional 4th in there when it comes up.

4. Dark Sun – This is basically 4e D&D but in a campaign setting I’ve found really interesting and have wanted to delve into since PAX Prime 2010. I probably have a greater chance of selling this to my D&D table then I do Gamma World. I also find it the least interesting of my options, but I would prefer to do that over a traditional D&D campaign.

Anyways, maybe this is all just gaming withdrawals. I just wasn’t enjoying D&D classic all that much before I left the table, but that also might have been because I was frustrated with the use of my time and wasn’t really willing to be at the table to begin with. Anyways, it all bears some more thought. I think it’s at least bringing up at my next Miscellaneous Tuesday game to see if they want to do something a bit more than just Munchkins, Bang!, and Zombies!!!

hotelnerd signing out

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Gamma World Campaign Plans

So last Tuesday was my every other week D&D game night, which I’ve already posted about earlier. During the session I got the table to agree to give Gamma World a try for my next campaign. Generally we just play in the traditional D&D High Fantasy setting, but Gamma World is a complete change, it’s a Science Fiction/Fantasy type world set after a massive global apocalypse has struck the Earth. Now the world is known as Gamma Terra.

Gamma World

So I’ve decided to set my campaign in the blasted and flooded remains of San Francisco, since I’ve lived there and we’re close enough that my players will all have a good idea of the surrounding area as a baseline. Thanks to the apocalypse that has torn apart the world, I’ll get to play with it in all sorts of interesting ways. For starters, I’m going to play with global sea levels, which might actually turn San Francisco in an island. This Map is a lot of fun to play with to get an idea of what raising sea levels could do to the immediate area.

Now I want to do lots of other things. Like the Giant’s baseball stadium might become a bloody gladiatorial arena. Market Street might become the new harbor/docks area. I’ll get to people the city with all sorts of interesting and twisted mutated lifeforms. Massive living plant creatures in Golden Gate Park that hate Meat Bags? I’m picturing a somewhat benevolent dictator that rules the city either from a palace inside the city (maybe convert Civic Center and City Hall?) or from Alcatraz (which might be under water ruling it out) or from Yerba Buena Island, I’m not sure about the details on him yet, but I think his wife might be a giant arachnoid creature a consummate schemer and plotter. I’m thinking I might make Angel Island either the home to some crazy mad scientist, or a penal colony, or both. The Golden Gate Bridge will likely become just two tall towers in the opening of the bay. Maybe inhabited by a tribe of gargoyle like creatures? I think the Muni and BART tunnels will have to possess some sort of dangerous threat in their depths, and maybe from the collision of the worlds, and construction since the Big Mistake, there have been more tunnels dug. Maybe some sort of Frog/Mole hybrid creatures in the depths of the city? Maybe they would be some sort of slave underclass. There could be an Over Town and an Under Town that way. There’ll be some sort of city guard, or enforcers for the ruler of the city, but I’m not sure how I want to twist them, some sort of Zombies or other undead? Also I think the city and area will be somewhat feudal in nature, there will be the ruler (essentially a king) and then an aristocracy of some kind with Lords and Counts and Dukes, Knights, and whatnot, and then a merchant class and peasant class and likely some sort of servant/slave class too, but I haven’t picked a system I want to bastardize or mimic. It’ll kind of be up to the players how much they want to embrace or this system. The nobility will likely have small holdings outside the city core in the surrounding area, a Count of Oakland (gotta give it a Gamma name though) and the Duke of Marrrin and the Duchess of Sand Bruknow. I think you get the idea…. Or maybe you don’t…I’m not sure I do yet.

The potential is really limitless with this setting.

I’m picturing the starting point of my campaign, and I keeping coming back to the first scene being in a bar. That’s a tried and true classic starting point for many RPG Campaigns. But I’ll give it the Gamma World twist. I’ve already pictured much of it, it’s called the Loose Screw, and it’s a brothel/strip club owned and staffed by robots, androids, cyborgs, and other artificial intelligent lifeforms, but open to all. And it’s possible that the campaign won’t start here, but I think it will have to be a location that comes up at the very least in the campaign. I like the idea of starting here though, it keeps popping up in my head.

I need to sit down with a map of San Francisco, probably in Photoshop and really define the boundaries of the remaining city, and what is just dilapidated ruins and wild zone. I’m picturing a massive wall around the main city core built of rubble and debris from the rest of the city. I think there’ll be a fairly high level of Omega Tech (futuristic gadgets) within the city itself.

Anyways, I just wanted to put all these ideas down somewhere for once. Maybe putting them out there will let new ones generate. Also, I’d love to hear suggestions on other tweaks and twists that can be made to the iconic city. Especially from anyone that has maybe already made their own conversion of San Francisco into a Gamma World setting.

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Game Night and Gamma World

Don't split the party! Hold the fraking hall way!

Game night last night! First one in like a month, so this was very eagerly awaited. The picture above was snapped as things started to get…hairy. Cleared the room of minions only to have three Worgs mounted by goblins come down the hall way. That’s the Avenger out in front and we soon discovered (after my Warlord came to back him up) that the Worgs could shift 8 and through occupied squares….audible sigh…NEVER SPLIT THE GOD DAMN PARTY!

Our DM had to work late so we spent the first part of the night playing Zombie Dice and then Bang! It also gave me time to prime the pump a little on running a Gamma World campaign. Everyone was pretty much willing to give it a try. So I’ll just start writing a campaign to start in a couple months. YaaaY! New stuff!

On a side note, we recently replaced our piece of gradually warping plexi glass covering the gridded matt we play on with a piece of glass originally destined for a sliding glass door. I think it was a great improvement, except for the fact that dice sound very annoying and loud when rolled on actual glass. What sort of supplies do you all use for your game tables? I’d love a digital game table system, but they haven’t been perfected yet, though the demo I saw at PAX made me a little tumescent at the time, and they’re still ungoddly expensive! And the internet is surprisingly unhelpful at finding information about what I saw there. #GoogleFail

However, I now want The Vizier very much…. And this was a great homebrew job Now I just need a couple spare thousand dollars to throw at such an extravagances and a room worth putting such a table in. Our set up really isn’t that bad, in fact it’s better then anything my friends and I had before we started playing with this group, and it’s better then many game tables likely have. But still….it’s always nice to dream.

Anyways, it’s time to go off and start being productive for the day. I have a pile of laundry, a car that needs an oil change, that god damn barbecue regulator to finally replace, and probably a couple of other things I’ve forgotten. Then back to work tomorrow!

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This Week in Nerd…

I’m reading the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comics on my Xoom and absolutely loving it. I was up for 2 hours last night as the fiance slept reading. Joss Whedon is just one of my favorite story tellers. Let’s sum this up in a nut shell….the Buffy series finale on TV was world shattering, and the Angel series finale was a massive cliff hanger because they weren’t expecting to have the show cancelled. Angel still has one of my favorite final lines/scenes from a TV Series, all of our battered heroes gathered in an alley while literal hell consumes LA, Angel standing at the forefront with a sword and he says “I get the dragon” END OF SHOW! The Buffy and Angel comics essentially pick up where the TV series’ left us hanging. Sunnydale has been destroyed, but now there are not just one (err…I mean two) Slayers, there are hundreds of them around the world, and army of hot chicks with super powers for Buffy to lead against the forces of evil. LA has been sucked into some hell dimension and the heroes of Angel struggle to survive, even though some of them are dead and ghosts. Yeah…if you weren’t a fan of Buffy & Angel, this just isn’t the read for you. But if you were a fan, these books are just delightful because Joss is still essentially the “show runner” like he was on the TV show, overseeing the story arch and much of the dialogue (which I think Joss Whedon is a master of) still has his distinctive word play, rhythm, and humor. Add to that, there’s no budget constraining the creative process as far as special effects, and we get a globe spanning epic adventure that the TV series probably couldn’t have pulled off at the time. It’s what I wish they would do with the Serenity/Firefly comics, but the graphic novels of that series I’ve picked up have mostly been disappointing from a “continuing the storyline” standpoint. These comics have also been out for a while, so they might not be news to anyone, but I’ve been plowing through them lately, and I wanted to share that.

Also, in recent Nerd World news, Star Trek TOS, TNG, Voyager, and Enterprise are all available on Netflix streaming! NERDGASM OOOOOOOOOOOH! It’s one of the shows I’ve been wishing for Netflix to carry since I got my account. I already own almost all of TNG (I didn’t bother buying the 2nd season) and most of DS9 on DVD. I went out and bought them before I had things like credit card debt, car insurance, rent, utilities, and so forth. And over all the DVD sets just aren’t worth money they charge. At a price point of nearly $100 a season ($110 when I bought most of them actually), that’s nearly double what you pay for most TV show DVD sets. And for what? The special features are woefully inadequate (no episode commentary from cast, crew & creators is my biggest complaint for the price point), the packaging isn’t all that unique, collectible, or awesome, and there’s just nothing special about them really. Having them all a few clicks away on Netflix is just totally awesome. Even for the ones I have on DVD, because they’ll be far more accessible to me this way then in my massive binders of DVDs. DS9 as usual got the shaft and isn’t available. Which is disappointing for me. Not everyone liked DS9, especially since it and Babylon 5 were on TV as about the same time and they were very similar series. DS9 was darker than TNG and TOS, and had a very different story telling technique. Namely, instead of just the occasional 2 part episode, or an episode that referenced back to a previous episode event, we had truly serialized story telling with story arcs that spanned an entire season or more. The Dominion War put out some of my favorite Trek episodes. I still credit a lot of that to Ronald D Moore, because you can see the similarities between DS9’s narrative and Battlestar Galactica’s, and then the horrible disparities in the disappointment that was Star Trek Voyager. Voyager that the potential to be dark, and gritty and show an entirely different side to Trek. A singular Federation starship, thrown across the galaxy and making its way back home 70,000 light years had so much more potential. They occasionally scratched on it, but not nearly enough. There should have been a constant struggle for basic supplies and resources, even with replicator technology. It frankly should have been a lot more like Stargate Universe and Battlestar Galactica then Gilligan’s Island.

I finally saw X-Men First Class last week. I deemed it a good addition to the franchise, a far better contribution then X-Men 3: Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I really enjoyed that it tried very hard to stick to the essential back story of Magneto and Professor X as two friends that turned into violent enemies. It took some liberties with the cannon that I didn’t appreciate, like reinventing Angel, a character we already saw on-screen correctly, into a stripper with bug wings and exploding spit. I don’t mind them inventing new cannon and new characters as necessary, and oddly I didn’t mind the reinvented Moria McTaggert, but it’s a fine line for them to walk between appeasing the masses of the movie going population and pleasing the die-hard comic fans. I realized that despite January Jones being an astoundingly beautiful women, and damn did I appreciate her in the canonically appropriate skimpy White Queen outfits, she’s not a great actress. Which Mad Men has fooled me into believing, but look at January as White Queen and Betty Draper, she’s not really doing that much different, it’s just enough that she’s gorgeous really. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Mystique/Raven though, and I didn’t mind that they replaced Juggernaut with Mystique for Professor X’s adopted sibling that turns villain. Jennifer Lawrence brought a humanity and sympathy to the character that just wasn’t there in the earlier movies where she was just Rebecca Romijn in nothing but some scales and blue body paint making my pants a few sizes too small whenever she was on-screen. And Jennifer Lawrence did this great job while looking hot too. Over all I wouldn’t be opposed to there being another X-Men movie set with this team in the past. I think they could do some really great stuff with it as a period piece that would speak to the core themes that X-Men were originally about. Hell it’s set in the time period when X-Men first started being published. Let’s use the X-Men movies more like the original comics tried to occasionally, and great Sci-Fi should let’s use it to start a discussion through metaphor about social topics and issues that are controversial or uncomfortable to talk about. X-Men has always been a great platform to explore civil rights.

My plans to play a Gamma World campaign are moving along nicely. At least for our table play testing we’ll be using some slightly illegal proxy cards to see if we want to invest in the game fully. It’s a topic we’ll be discussing tomorrow night at our every-other-week game session of traditional D&D. I’m still really excited to give it a chance, my favorite part of being a DM is world building, and I love finding new sandboxes to play in.

Lastly, I’ve become a huge fan of the Philip DeFranco Show on the YouTubes. It’s like John Stewart on the Daily Show, but with someone more my age, and coming out of the internet in a way that only the internet can provide. A glimpse of entertainment in the future? Perhaps…. Check out a couple of episodes, they’re short, but fun.

Well, I wish everyone a Happy 4th of July. I’m working tonight, just like last 4th of July, but if I’m not too busy, I should still be able to see the fireworks on property. Everyone else, go drink some beer for me and have some barbeque! It’s a’mur’ick’an!

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Campaign Idea #2

So I already posted one of the campaign ideas I’m working on for my next bout as the DM at my weekly D&D table. D&D is traditionally set in a genre that’s called “High Fantasy” like Lord of the Rings, but that’s not the only genre available with this game. Gamma World has been around for a long time, but I haven’t ever really been aware of it until recently when they updated it and released the latest version for the 4e rules set. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic future in which Earth, now known as Gamma Terra has been torn apart by a global catastrophe, the genre is called “Science Fantasy”. Instead of having a well crafted mace and shield, you might be using a mangled parking-meter and a hammered stop sign strapped to your arm. You could be sporting a good old cross-bow, or you could also be holding a futuristic laser gun, just depending on what you’ve been able to salvage from the blasted waste land. Instead of playing different races, elves, dwarves, halflings, humans, etc…. you play weird and twisted mutants. You could be a mutated sentient tree with a computer for a brain, or and alien cockroach, or someone who looks mostly human but shoots fire from his hands. All sorts of crazy fun mutations await the characters, cause that’s not even touching on Alpha Mutations and Omega Tech! That’s just the reader’s digest version, here’s a link to the Wikipedia Gamma World article.

I bought the starting box set, and just enjoyed looking through that an picturing a campaign so much that I went out and bought the two currently available expansions. After drooling over the core book for a couple of weeks, I passed it off to our Main DM to see what he thought of the system. Mainly, will the table be interested in playing it, and what does he think of this modified system. I really think MainDM is one of the smartest guys I know, he just hasn’t done a whole lot with that smarts. That said, he’s really good at looking at a game, any game and picking it apart down to the skeleton, really good at understand the mechanics of a game just by reading the manual. He gave me a tentative nod that Gamma World is something that the table might have fun with, so I’m likely going to run with this campaign idea before any others. We’ll probably at least give it a good test drive. If it’s a hit then I might just run with it for a while. And if we don’t end up using Gamma World for a long haul, I think I might still find some interesting ways to integrate aspects of the game into my next campaign.

Campaign Name: Gamma World: San Francisco

Setting Synopsis: It’s been 153 years since “The Great Mistake” and much of the world is still a blasted wasteland where civilization is all but unheard of. You’ve all grown up in this world of radiation, savagery, hideous mutations, and strange technologies. You’ve all grown up and lived most of your lives in FranizCo, a small city owned and run by a mostly benevolent dictator the Highlord Protector & Proprietor Arminger whose family has ruled the area with an iron fist from the island fortress Traz since the days immediately after the Great Mistake. FranizCo and the immediate surrounding area exists in relative peace, the one glimmering light of civilization in thousands of miles. Every day is still a struggle against the chaos that rules just past the city’s rough walls and polluted shores. Adventureres are needed to gather supplies and recover hidden treasures of technology of the many worlds. Darkness gathers in the east where barbarous tribes of mutants have heard stories of the glimmering jewel that FranizCo has become and they’ve started to become organized under a new and mysterious charismatic leader.

Now, I’m still relatively new to the Gamma World setting, so I haven’t even started to pick out monsters or really get into the nitty-gritty details of my campaign, the monsters they’ll face, the NPCs they’ll encounter, but that’s the broad stroke of what I have in mind. I’m also considering raising the global water level (global warming on steroids? Or something even more insane?), which I would likely take the water level high enough to turn San Francisco into an island. In which case Alcatraz might no longer be the seat of High Lord Protector & Proprietor Arminger, because Alcatraz would be under water, but Angel Island would still be poking out…. Also the name is up for changing, I just stole a name for the time being from “Dies the Fire” so that I would have an easy reminder of the type of character I’m envisioning the bastard to be.

I also think it might be fun to mix in other elements from other Sci-Fi fiction into Gamma World. What happens when the TARDIS lands on Gamma Terra? Will the Doctor help or burn the planet so it can start again?

Also MainDM and I have some concerns about the CCG element of the game. Part of the 4e rules involves the use of Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech cards, which are hard to really explain. Basically on top of dice and figures and a character sheet, you also have a small deck of cards which represent some crazy genetic mutations your character has and some awesome futuristic technology that you’ve scavenged from the wasteland. The main set comes with a deck of cards that your entire table can use, but none of us really want to make this a heavy investment, but at the same time, we dislike not having all the cards available to us to give us the full range of customization available for the game. MainDM and I have talked about some proxy options, but surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of pirated or disreputable sources available for the game that would let us accomplish this easily. It could be the ultimate turn off for us on Gamma World, but it might not, none of us really want to make a couple $100 investment in the game quite yet. It would have to be really fraking awesome for that to happen.

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