Recently, I had to reform my gaming group. You see after our Christmas hiatus, we found that we didn't have enough people anymore. This was due to players moving or having changes in their job schedules. This left us with too few players. This of course meant we needed to get new players. This left us with a big problem. What to we play?
You see there were two different Pathfinder Games that were going on. Do we try to integrate the new players into those games? Both games had already gone through massive players changes in the past and only may one or two characters that started the adventures were still around. As Game Master (but not for these games), I could not fathom trying to retcon the new players into the those games. I had the added wrinkle that some of the new players I got couldn't guarantee that they could make it every session. It was decided that we should just play a new game, hopefully one that adventures could be done in one or two sessions. That way players could come and go more easily.
We discuss several games that I could run with little effort. In the end, Gamma World won out. Although I own three editions; 1st, 2nd, and 4th, I decided to stick with 2nd edition. I choose it because I could easily run the classic GW1 Legion of Gold module with little or not modification. It was cool because it had 3 mini-adventures that I thought could be played in 1 or 2 sessions. I think even the final part of the adventure can easily be played in 1 or 2 sessions.
Since almost no one had the rules, we had to make characters at the first session. A few people came over a little early to make them. One nice thing about GW 2nd is that character generation is simple and random. I think including buying equipment most people got it done in about one with several of the players doing things at the same time. Smartly, I printed out copies of equipment lists and the like. In the end, we ended up with four mutated humans and one pure strain human.
No matter who you are, I don't think you can take Gamma World seriously. I know I can't. My players certainly couldn't. But for me, that is what makes it fun. Player get to have crazy mutations like 4 arms and 4 legs, wings, hand that emit low level radiation, and the like. They also get to run into really silly creatures like humanoid mutant badgers with axes and crossbows or giant termites with gas generation. Of course Gary Gygax's GW1 module does help matters. Gygax pretty much seemed to have written as fantasy module but with mutants and technology instead of elves and magic. It takes place in a barony for example. I think he also assumes that most people are normal humans and not mutants. At least no where can I find where major NPCs are said to mutants.
So what did the players think of the game system? I think they enjoyed the lack of rules. For example character creation is easy, there are no classes nor skills. There are only race choices after that, the players can decide for themselves if they are sneaky or more martial in attitude. After using the hardcore initiative systems in most modern Role-Playing Games, the rather simple system was nice change of pace. When it was the player's turn, we either went around the table or the players just decided which of them would go first. It was a little odd to get use to doing again. Still I think the players enjoyed the experience. There was much laughter and mockery. In general, I think everyone had fun.
The only downside is that we only game every two weeks and our next session is not until the first weekend in March.
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