Monday, October 24, 2011

Retro Review - Gamma World 1992 (4th edition)

Gamma World (TSR 1992)

To me this is one of the best versions of Gamma World, before the OGL, before the edition wars. 4th edition of Gamma World, not to be confused with D&D4E - Gamma World (which is seventh edition). Produced by TSR in 1992, in a single 192 page perfect bound book. Here's the Wiki Link. Now, I never got any of the adventures printed for earlier versions, Famine in Far-go being my favorite, so I missed the 4th edition ones. GW4e was unfortunately discontinued in 1994, and had no Dragon Magazine Support really (1 article).

In this version you could be a Pure Strain Human, Mutant Human, Mutant Animal (many base varieties), or even a Mutant Plant! This version had basic classes (Examiner, Scout, Esper and Enforcer); each class has access to class specific skills, and gave different advances. Mutations were still random, divided between physical, mental and plant mutations, d6 physical, d6-5 mental powers though on a 6 you'd have 5 mental/0 physical. The mutant animals had base PS/DX/CN scores that had 2d4 rolled to add to them. The mutations are the best thing about the game, with so many mutations, and the defects cut back and limited, you could roll many many variations of characters.

This was produced during the era of 2nd edition AD&D and thus gets rid of THAC0, and replaces it with a basic THAC [To Hit Armor Class] and MHAC [Mentally Hit Armor Class], the equivalent to BAB from 3.x edition. Stats are PS (physical strength), DX (dexterity), CN (constitution), MS (Mental Strength), IN (Intelligence), CH (Charisma) and Finally SN (Senses). So the attributes are quite close to the AD&D attributes in effect, PS= Strength, MS=Wisdom. Senses is new, but really straight forward. The game uses hit points but the saves are all based on health or mental defense. A Simple system, which in my opinion was superior to AD&D 2e (which I quit because my house rules were massive.)

Every creature in the monster section is illustrated and has a half page write-up. The experience system for the creatures is pretty well covered to award XP based upon the  power level of the creatures, better than AD&D2E even, due to the page 141 table covering everything from 30 AC to having a usable artifact.

This is the last of the revisions to the original Gamma World, (I owned 2e and 3e as well). After this came Alternity based rules, then d20 rules, and finally D&D4E ruleset...which is by far the worst of the lot, with the constantly changing Alpha mutations, dumbed down weapon system, and lack of the original character options; it was just too generic and random...I'll Grognard this one thanks.

All in all this is one of my favorite old school games, where even character creation is a blast! (On Par with BL23C).  We've been making characters for fun over the weekend, Ian made a Mutant Wolf that happens to have a poor Dual brain, which he thinks is hilarious. Sean rolled a Mutant Fungus, which has 3 legs, heh...kinda funny.