Then I started playing it, and, well... it was kind of dull. I mean, it was fun at first, but there was no point beyond survival. In D&D there is the leveling system, which makes you more powerful, and gives you more things that you can do as you grow in power. In Gamma World, you just got more hit points, and unless you took a bath in radiation, the powers you had at 1st level were the same ones you had at 10th. Invariably the first level or so was fun, as you discovered the world and felt out your mutations and how they interacted with the mutations of the rest of the group, but eventually the party settled into The Way of Doing Things. The floating monkey would use Paralyze on the Land Shark while the Mutated Human would use its telekenesis to hurl rocks from a distance, and the Pure Strain Human would charge in, vibrosword flashing. Tactics could be applied, sure, but if you have a Paralyze attack that works 80% of the time, why would you use that Lower Temperature mutation? It got to the point where I found myself, as a GM, rejiggering my adventures to give the party chances to use their mutations until I thought - there must be a better way.
Gamma World 4th edition tweaked the system a bit, giving characters classes and skills which grew as time progressed, but being able to swim better was not really what I was looking for. The 4th Edition Gamma World took it a bit farther, with the randomization of the powers occuring multiple times per session, but that seemed to take away some of the fun that came from designing a character. It became more Roll Playing than Role Playing, y'dig?
It never even occurred to me to just go ahead and create my own game, I was too used to suckling at the teat of TSR and WoTC. But thanks to the OSR fellas and some time spent playing Labyrinth Lord, I've been inspired. Since Gamma World isn't covered by the OGL, I'm going to create my own game which is TOTALLY NOT INSPIRED BY GAMMA WORLD IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM.
So far, I've got concepts. Trying to hang these concepts on a game system will be a challenge, but I think if I can do it, the result will be a game that I can really enjoy. And if someone else does too, even better. Worst case scenario is that I end up writing a bunch of stuff nobody ever reads, but at least that keeps me writing.
So my concepts are as follows:
- Post Apocalyptic Setting
- Mostly mental mutations, physical mutations are VERY rare
- Mutated Humans, Mutated Animals, Mutated Plants
- Mutagens of some sort (radiation, chemicals, etc) are EVERYWHERE. The longer you spend adventuring, the more of these you accumulate. The more you accumulate, the more you mutate.
- The more you mutate, the weaker you become - there are no happy endings here. In the end, you're gonna die, but you'll never be more powerful than you are the moment right before you do.
- Level 10 is the "Ultimate Level". By Level 10, you've accumulated so much radiation or whatever that you're looking like that guy in Robocop, after he crashed into the truck of toxic waste. Well, not really, but you get the point.
- The PCs as agents of change - civilization is digging itself out of the wreckage, and the players actions dictate the course of that emerging culture. If they act nobly, the world becomes a better place. If they act like dicks, it turns into Bartertown.
What kind of world do you want to leave behind when you go?