Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gamma World

Saturday night Crystal and I got to be a players in a Gamma World game run by Ethan for his wife, friend (Chris) and us. While I do adore the role of dungeon master, it is always a welcome break to come to the table with nothing but a character sheet, pencil and dice. The random dice roll character generation in Gamma World is fun. As with all character creation though, it takes longer than you would think. Filling in the stats, doing the math and checking/rechecking the book for four people of varying pen and paper experience takes time.

Once the game got rolling though being familiar with D&D 4e was a huge bonus. It meant Ethan only had to walk two people, instead of four, through the mechanics. I sometimes take for granted the complexity of move, minor, standard to the uninitiated. After a few rounds in the first encounter everyone was buzzing through their turns though.

The first encounter reminded me that I see the table from two very different perspectives. As a dungeon master I like to keep my monsters alive as long as possible, seeing them as an challenge to overcome. As a player I get bored if an encounter drags out. This was evident on Saturday night. When we got to the point were the monsters were no longer a threat to us I wanted to move on. Instead we had to slog through an additional three to four rounds necessary to end it.

Ethan recognized the same thing, because he followed that encounter up by halving the hit points of the monsters for the rest of the night. A great adjustment and a technique I will be adopting with some modification in the future. Long encounters mean less variety and role playing for the hours alloted for a gaming. It also means more work, but I am learning to live with that.

My character was a Plant Felinoid named Scratch Furrington. While it was a cool concept to work around nothing about his two origins really manifested themselves in the actual game. My basic melee and range attacks were my go to all night. Something a I'd consider a short coming of the game's mechanics. My origin standard and encounter powers had less plus attack and damage than my basic attacks. The effects they offered (slow and knock prone) were never worth the trade off. This seemed to be true for everyone. Which meant we all could have just as easily been humans with odd weapons (speed limit signs and cans of green beans).

Where the origins felt under powered the Alpha and Omega cards were cool in that offered varying levels of usefulness. Their ever changing nature add a much need variety to the table where the origins dropped the ball. While I only used one of my alpha cards (clutch blind) and none of my omega our group did get a rifle that dropped monsters like the hammer of God (7d8 ftw).

The pick up and play nature of Gamma World was a welcome addition to what is becoming a monthly gaming habit. No matter who I play with, what table it is at or what game system it is, I end up playing once a month. It is nice to know that is always there and I hope Gamma World makes it back into the rotation in the future.

P.S. Best house rule ever, a silly/cheesy catchphrase before your attack grants +1 to said attack. Offered up the best humor of the night. More on that in Ethan's write up of our game night. Who by the way did a fantastic job.

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