Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Year is Six-Monkey-Slap-Slap - Adventures in Gamma World 4e

Just after 3 P.M. on a Thursday, the Large Hadron Collider worked...

Too well...

At that instant, multiple possible realities all collapsed into one.

It is now just over 50 years later and the world is mixed up jumble of ancient ruins, radioactive wastelands, unexplored jungles, and mutated wilderness and it's not done shifting.

Welcome to GAMMA WORLD!

At the beginning of December, I decided to pick up a copy of the new Gamma World Role Playing Game from my FLGS, Fair Game. In reading the sourcebook, it looked like a lot of fun and I was itching to play!

So I rounded up the usual suspects and then some. We gathered at Fair Game on December 7th and ran with it.

I decided to do character generation a tad differently. I wanted unique character origins with no overlap, so rather than rolling, I printed out a list of all the first level character origins (including Engineered Human) on card stock, cut them out as cards, shuffled them, and had the players draw randomly.

Here's what we ended up with:

Catadonia (played by Josh): Gravity Controlling Cockroach - Josh's description: "Cat was minding her own business when the 'big mistake' happened. She was a muck-shucker working in the pits of a pork rendering plant, cleaning out the chaff during third shift. The plant was 90 clicks down the hill from CERN when 'it' happened -just as a she was swatting at an errant cockroach which had crawled onto her cheek. A bright light, high-pitched squeal, and the smell of bacon potpourri is all she can remember. She awoke in the back of a garbage truck being dumped into a land-fill. Amazingly still alive - yet changed. She is now a two and a half foot cockroach who has the ability to shape gravity at will. And she developed a bit of a mutation (feature!) - a long proboscis which can be used as a stabbing weapon - doing damage and restoring health to herself. She has a stabbing weapon built into her face."
Marty's take: "She spent most of her time either climbing on things or falling into pits full of radioactive waste.  She also packed a mean laser rifle."

Fjordinnheas (played by Jon): Seismic Speedster - Marty's take: "A running conundrum, he hid and fired his rifle a lot. Jon was new to gaming, so he was finding his comfort zone."

Frank (played by Marty): Giant Hypercognitive - Marty's description: "Yep, nothing sexier than a giant with a brain...I ended up with the most gear of the group, all of which turned out to be some form of transportation. I had a truck, a horse, a wagon, a keel boat and a I played him as a redneck. A giant redneck with mandibles (my first alpha mutation) and a blonde sidekick who could claw your eyes out. He also has a 16 pack a day habit, so traveling was only done by vehicle and any walking required a sit down afterward. But oh was I brutal in combat."

Gypsie (played by Peter): Empathic Felinoid - Marty's take: "Her stats made her beautiful, graceful and dumb as a bag of hammers.  She's Frank's sidekick."

Hips (played by Eric): Plant Doppelganger - For the most part, this tree is schizophrenic. More often than not, he doubles himself (his other half named Bips), and casually converses with himself.
Marty's take: "Occasionally he would duplicate himself to distract enemies. So in theory he was two doppelgangers."

Owl (played by Joe): Hawkoid Engineered Human - Marty's take: "I just imagined him as a Silverhawk and Joe pretty much agreed. He was our aerial reconnaissance. He also saved Josh's ass when he fell into the radioactive pit and was getting plugged with crossbow bolts by some Badders."

Session #1 (December 7, 2010)

Since I hadn't run a game in a while and we wanted to see how the new Gamma World played, I decided to run the intro adventure from the rule book.

I plopped the PCs into the town of Chell and jumped right into the story. They had a few minutes to mingle, before there was a call from one side of town and the townsfolk ran to gather on that side. The PCs followed to find the crowd watching what looked like a dinner plate with dangling appendages trundling down from a nearby hill. As it approached, the townsfolk dispersed to safer vantage points. I believe Hips and Bips, Catadonia, and Fjordinnheas stood by to intercept this foreign robot. Unfortunately for them, it exploded right in front of them, to the cheers of the crowd. Bruised and battered, the PCs confronted the townsfolk asking why they weren't sufficiently warned. The answer they got was, "well, this has been happening daily for at least a week!"

The PCs decided to head up the hill to find out where they were coming from. Frank and Gypsie jumped in Frank's pickup with Hips and Bips in the bed of the truck and Owl carried Cat and Fjord. At the top of the hill, they find some pig-men (Porkers) rutting around and an old stone tower guarded by giant badger humanoids (Badders) armed with crossbows.

Owl decided to drop Cat and Fjord off on top of the tower while Frank proceeded to drive his truck through the cluster of Porkers. Combat was on at that point. For the most part, Owl and Fjord sniped from above, Cat scurried down the tower to engage the Badders, Frank kept rolling over the Porkers while Gypsie took pot-shots, and I believe Hips and Bips pummeled anything that came near them. The Badders took the strategy of burrowing in to hide and popping up to fire occasional crossbow bolts. The Porkers provided minimal resistance, but one ended up on the hood of the car, smashed in the windshield, and Foul Belched in Gypsie's lap.

Marty's take:

"The system plays like a very simple D&D, which is great for newcomers (of which we had two) but a little frustrating for people more familiar with the original ruleset. It was just a matter of getting used to the simplicity.

…suffice it to say it was a lot of fun.  We ended up fighting some Porkers and Badders and my pickup truck came in handy. It also got filled with pig vomit, but that'll wash out…"

Session #2 (December 14, 2010)

Josh's summary (see unedited, and funnier, version here):

"For this session, we were short a few players due to real-life getting in the way. Gypsie was being played by Marty (with Pete’s blessing) and Hips basically rooted himself on the spot and sat out (as a Plant Doppelganger, it was a natural way of having him sit out).

After the first encounter, we found ourselves outside of this 30 foot tower with dead humanoid badgers and pig-men strewn about the front yard. Obviously our next step was to investigate within.

Frank would guard the front entrance while Gypsie (the cat woman) would climb into his pickup truck and crash through the front door.

So much for subtlety!

I decided immediately to get a higher vantage point and scurried up the outside wall to the roof (hooray cockroach abilities!).

Owl also decided discretion was appropriate, so decided to fly up to the roof - with Fjordinnheas in-tow.

So there are three of us on or hovering above the roof while the truck accelerates toward the front door. Fjord decides he wants to use his seismic ability to crash through the roof, so Owl dutifully drops him.

Simultaneously, Fjord crashes in through the roof while the truck drives through the front door and chaos ensues. A battle takes place with more ‘badders’ (the giant badger critters) and a bat-winged lion monster that fires lasers from it eyes named a Yexil.

Anyway - the combination of a “boss” Badder, and that Yexil put us into some pretty rough times. We barely avoided being totally decimated with the final scene culminating with Owl teetering on the brink of unconsciousness and stabbing the Yexil in the eye, delivering the final blow.

All in all, a great encounter."

Marty's summary:

"Gamma World was pretty fun, but ... it ended up being a shorter night and we only got through one encounter. It was almost a TPK (total party kill) though, and it required our Engineered Hawk/Humanoid standing his ground to get us through. My Giant blasted a few Badders (mutant Badgers) but went down like a sack of shit after getting nailed with a psychic assault of some type. The rest of the group faired about as well, getting taken out one by one by a Yexil (batwinged lion monster that fires lasers from it eyes) until it was just the aforementioned Hawk/Humanoid, who managed, while teetering on the edge of unconsciousness, to stab the creature through its laser firing eyes. He kept the other eye as a trophy. Thankfully he also happened to be one of the better trained members of our little group and his medical skills kept us all from bleeding out.

All in all it was fun, Gypsie, who I was running, mutated four times throughout the encounter. That only happens when you roll a "1", so you can imagine how well I was fairing. Went from having the ability to shunt people out of time to growing tentacles to turning into living mud to...well, I don't remember the last one, but I didn't last long in the fight with it either way."

GM Note: Fjord spent some time riding the Yexil like a bucking bronco!

Session #3 (December 21, 2010)

New character addition: Brainulo (played by Chris): Radioactive Telekinetic - Basically a giant floating brain that armors itself with a shifting shield of telekinetically manipulated scraps of metal and talks with a Stephen Hawking-like voice box.

Joe's summary:

"As we last left the game, everyone was still within the tower after killing the mighty Yexil. We resumed with finishing up the exploration of the basic level of the tower, nothing of real interest was found.

At that point both Owl and Fjord heard a loud sound coming from outside, Owl flew up to the roof to get a vantage point as Fjord ran to the main doors. Once outside we all saw a group of three Porker-bikers, they were examining the carnage that was left by our first encounter. We also noted that there was a large lead box in a sidecar attached to one of the bikes.

Owl hears them yell out, "we must report this to Tangh!", and they start up their bikes and head out down a path. At this point we all decide to pile into the battle damaged, rusty old truck with Gypsie in the driver's seat. Lady luck is on her side as she is able to drive full speed, in reverse, down the hill and over one of the Porkers.

A short chase ensues where the remaining Porkers attempt to out run us. But Gypsie, with the truck still in reverse mind you, is keeping up and is close enough for Cat to use her gravitational power to slow down the Porker that is escorting the large lead box. At this point the box bursts open to reveal a what appears to be a giant exposed brain. Gypsie catches up with and runs over the slowed Porker. He flies into the back of the truck and lands on the unexpecting Cockroach (ewww… Cat smothered in dead Porker…). Gypsie slams on the brakes, the truck stops and we all get out to examine the brain.

This is where we learn that the brain, named Brainulo, was captured by the Porkers and kept inside this lead box for an unknown amount of time. We tell Brainulo everything we have yet discovered and experienced and then travel back up to the tower. I wasn't that happy about letting the last Porker go, but alas, I could not keep up with him. Besides, Gypsie was driving.

We reentered the tower and proceeded to the stairs leading down. As we made our way over there, one of the exploding saucers came running up the stairs and explodes in the the middle of us, damaging almost everyone. After the explosion we head down to the basement where another encounter quickly takes place.

We take out a few enemies and find ourselves in a larger room with a huge humming machine in the center and even more enemies circled around it. The fight that proceeds takes longer because the enemies appear to be healing themselves, also those of us that are close to the machine are taking mental damage every turn. We focus our attacks on the machine and destroy it, and the rest of the Badders after that. After the battle, we notice there is a cage in the corner of the room that contain four brainless, human zombies."

GM Note: At one point, Owl zorched one of the Badders by whipping out the Yexil eye, aiming, and yanking on the optic nerve bundle!

Session #4 (December 28, 2010)

New character addition: Cloud (played by John): Electrical Swarm - Basically a small semi-solid storm cloud that hovers 5 feet above the ground. John has cleverly integrated most of his starting gear as "features" of the cloud (e.g. he has low-light vision as he started with night vision goggles).

Marty's summary:

"Having successfully defeated the Badders in their fortress and destroying their brain melting machine, we proceeded to search the room and try to figure out what was going on with the zombie people locked in the cell. Cat (the roach) poked and prodded them with her antennae while Brainulo split his attention between them and the now-defunct machine. During her probing, Cat discovered a strange goo on the floor with an electrical current running through it. It was determined it was some type of protoplasm and the decision was made to see if it would react to an outside stimulus. Fjord and Cat probed at it from different sides while Frank headed back up to his truck to grab a battery, his generator and some jumper cables. Owl wandered off down some Badder tunnels we'd discovered while Gypsy herded the zombies out of the cell and into a corner.

Frank returned and, with Brainulo's guidance, pumped electrical life into the protoplasm. Much to Franks surprise, the Goo grew and in a thunderous voice demanded MORE ENERGY. Enter John's character. Welcome to the game John!

Anyway, Frank, Brainulo, and the newly formed Goo/Cloud tried to figure stuff out as the group began looking for Owl. Brainulo decided to hang back and fiddle with the broken machine and watch over the zombies as the rest of the group pressed ahead (Chris was out for this session).

Further down the Badder hole the group discovered Owl in a cave filled with luminescent blue moss and three very angry killer moths - moths that seemed to bend time and space around them. A fight ensued. Three exploded time/space bending killer moths later, our heroes were victorious, coming through with only minor scrapes and scratches. Gypsie suffered a mighty bruised ego, though, and Frank probably hasn't heard the last of it.

Pressing on, the group entered a large natural cave filled with 20-25 foot crystalline formations, an electrical grid and a giant sphincter....door. Guarding the door were two flying disc robots, ones similar to the kind that had been exploding outside of town. Fjord attempted to talk to the guards, hoping to get past them without a fight. He failed spectacularly and mutated on the spot. As a matter of fact, Fjord managed to do this twice during the encounter, first gaining the ability to death read (viewing a corpse's last memories) and then, when he attempted to overcharge the death reading, gained the ability to alter reality and reverse events. Or something like that. All I remember is him falling to ground and sputtering.

Having defeated the robots, the group discovered a control panel in the center of the room and prepared to open the door and face whatever was on the other side."

GM Note: Half the party leveled up at that point.

Session #5 (January 4, 2011)

Chris' recap:

Our party rose from a long rest in the cavernous room that held some bue crystals that emitted a strange electroluminescent glow. In the center of the room was a console station with an assortment of levers and buttons. Surrounding the console was a field of indecipherable glyphs. At one side of the room was an irising door that when opened, issued forth the hovering bastard robots with their flagellating umbilical arms. One robot came into the room, but Brainulo was able to take control of the machine and return it to it's point of origin. While the robot hovered in the door frame and kept the "sphincter" open, a glance into the adjacent room found another dark area. Cat jumped at the opportunity to try her hand at mining and chipped away a small piece of the glowing blue mineral. When the mineral was struck, however, the floor panel marked with runes delivered a painful electric shock to anyone touching one of the crystals or standing within the demarcated floor area. Brainulo and Cat took a stinging shock at this time, but we were succesful in puzzling out the rudimentary controls of the center console. Unfortunately, this process also destroyed the robot and those standing by the door were caught in the explosion. With the door controls available and mineral in hand, it was decided to explore the adjacent room, and the blue mineral was tossed in to see if it would illuminate the area.

It didn't do much of anything, but luckily, once inside the next room, lights flickered on and machinery in the center of the room hummed into life. A quick scan of the room, and it was discovered that the robots that we had been encountering had a larger counterpart. The room was dotted with alcoves, and they housed either the small robot disks or larger modules that had more complicated apparatus and some nasty looking appendages. Frank charged forth and swung his axe at tthe closest three robots. Two were quickly destroyed, but the larger one remained and struck back. Not only was this robot awakened by the strike, but the other robots in the room buzzed into life and immediately moved to intercept our intruding party. Owl rushed in to aid Frank, and in a flurry of blows, both were struck down! While Owl and Frank were barely clinging to life, the rest of our group made their best effort to dispatch the rest of the robot attack. The familiar sound of metal sliding against metal was heard, and more of the smaller robots floated into the room. Gypsie was furiously slashing away, and Cat was using her natural salivary discharge to do her best to injure the robots. After a particularly rough melee engagement, Cat was restrained, and when she pulled away from the robot, it had taken on an insectoid appearance. It was no less deadly in its new form, however. Brainulo tried to rush around the room to disable the consoles that allowed the smaller robots into the room. Once the room was sealed and the robots had been destroyed, we tended to our wounded and searched the lockers within the room. Not much of use was found (such as a pager that didn't get any signal, or a roll of velcro) and it was decided that we should press on. Opening the door at the far side of the room, we could see the red glow of lasers criss-crossing across the room from floor to ceiling, and...."

Session #6 (January 11, 2011)

Chris' recap:

"Our team continued to press on into the adjacent room, only to find that the room had a sloping floor that dropped precipitouosly towards the middle of the room. Criss-crossing the center of the room, and emitting a red glow, a series of lasers made further exploration impossible. Beyond the lasers, in the faint red light, we could see two more of the larger robots we have encountered, as well as some fearsome looking soldiers that were packing heat. These soldiers appeared to be some horrific mutation of rabbits, and clearly their physiology never intended for them to stand upright. Frank bolted into the room, but rather than beginning to smash anyone in his path, he tried to communicate with these rabbit creatures. He called out to them, but they sneered in derision and shouted something back about the Iron King in schlurpy, lispy tones. Frank seemed to think that diplomacy had failed, but another effort was made to talk our way through the situation. Brainulo called out to them, but again was met with scorn, and one of the hoop soldiers readied his weapon. Owl, meanwhile, was experiencing some bizarre change in which his feathers molted into a glowing gold bioluminscence.

Sensing this attack, Brainulo took his chance to remotely control one of the robots and set the bot's sights squarely at the hoppy bastard. While a rocket went flying towards the rabbit, he fired and shot Brainulo. At this point, Owl joined the fray and attacked from long distance, injuring the other rabbit. We were able to remotely wrest control of the panel away from the rabbits, turned off the lasers, and moved closer for the attack. Gypsie adeptly jumped on her hoverboard and drew close to the uncontrolled robot and tried to attack while performing a 360 kickflip ollie. This overly complicated jump dashed gypsie from her board, smashing it into a wall! The robot closest to gypsie attempted to track and fire at her, but mutated in the process and became a see-through assemblage of laser light. This new mutation allowed it to emit a painful laser blast to all of us close to it. The robot under our control again fired at the rabbits, and they were immolated in the rocket blast. In an attempt to get it to shoot the other robot, it suffered a mutation of it's own, changing into some sort of hideous amalagm of robot and rabbit. Frank drew his shotgun and blew that furry monster out of the air. Fortunately, the laser light robot reassumed its tangible form and we were able to down it as well.

The Hoop soldiers weren't carrying much but their weapons, vests, and Stupendico badges. We continued into the next hallway, and after searching a series of ransacked laboratories, we came away with one post-it note that read "The Nanites are over-active - from the desk of Jackie Treehorn." We moved on down the hall to another aperture door, Owl opened it, and with a quick look around we spied three Hoop soliders and another pair of the larger model robots. In the center of the room were two giant vats of purple solution that was pulsing faintly. The Hoop soldier towards the back of the room was on a suspended catwalk and was wearing some sort of steel helmet - the Iron King. Above the room, a giant mechanical arm was supsended and looked to be a remnant of some previous manufacturing operation. Owl closed and locked the door as quickly as possible, and we decided to retreat back a step and take a rest to take stock of our situation.

After a few hours, we went back to the door and opened it only to find six of the smaller hoverbots waiting for us! We must have been spotted, and they accumulated a small army as we rested. Owl cried out in a horrifying shriek, Brainulo unleashed a telepathic blast that took out the smaller robots, and Frank charged into the room to attack the Hoop soldiers on the ground. While embroiled in combat, the Iron King used something to bring the mechanical arm to life and grabbed Frank, squeezing him!

Gypsie, in an unexplained sugar rush, charged in, and, in a flurry of claws, blinded one of the Hoop soldiers. He wandered off, slipping in a pool of the purple solution. Brainulo locked radioactive eyes onto the downed hoop soldier and this gaze killed him. Overhead, Frank was hauled off to one of the purple vats and plopped in! Gypsie struck the other Hoop in a flurry of claws and blinded him as well. One of the larger model robots tried to fire, but instead, turned into a hovering glob of purple goo. Gypsie bounded after the now gooey robot and, in yet another a flurry of claws, it fell to the floor. Frank, having climbed out of the purple nanite bath, clambered up the catwalk, and, with his mandible pincers, bit off the head of the Iron King - his head and helmet falling to the floor. Brainulo retrieved the helmet, now controlling the mechanical arm, grabbed the remaining robot, and squeezed it in a satisfying crunch. There was much rejoicing!

Hopefully our cockroach friend is still waiting for us back in the previous chamber. Time to return to town, let them know that the robots won't be bothering them anymore, rape the horses, and ride out of town on their women! (wait, what?!)"

GM Note: Most of the party made it to level three!

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