[WIR] Gamma World, first edition (1978)

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
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The rakox is basically a mammalian Triceratops. The name is a pun — rack (as in rack of antlers) + ox.

1 kg is 2 lb, that's the easiest way to think of it. You'll be about 10% off, but it's good enough for a rough estimate. And 1 ton is 1 ton is 1 ton, or at least that's close enough for eyeballing, whether you're talking metric or English units (or long or short tons).
Yeah, I know you can roughly double it, but what I mean is that I always have to "translate" kilos to pounds before I can get a sense of the weight. It's like if someone tells me, "I'm losing weight! I'm down to 72 kilos!" I have no idea what that means until I do the math in my head to pounds. It's like someone who speaks a second language but not well enough to "think" in that language, if you know what I mean.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
I can sympathize.

They've even included a pared-down copy of the map from the original boxed set! The book even has a nice little spine labelled GAMMA WORLD SCIENCE-FANTASY ROLE-PLAYING GAME TSR (you may know the original book was staple-bound and didn't have a spine as such--not sure of the technical printing term for that).
Saddle stitched. The fancier ones can be sewn, but most are stapled. They have the advantage of laying flat. Your new reprint is perfect bound, aka square bound. We know yours is glued, because it's print on demand, and so are most regular print run perfect bounds. Except for really fancy sewn versions (Gamma World 7e is actually one of the RPG books that qualifies), perfect bound books can't be laid flat without harming the spine, and makes it lot harder to read maps that go into the spine, or pages that don't have enough trough. My perfect bound reprint of Boot Hill is very hard to read, for that reason; the words fall into the crease between pages. (Enough so, that I can't really recommend buying it.)

Maybe someone more zoologically inclined can explain to me why we need the “gas bag” added to the wings to enable flight. But either way, the idea of a flying carnivorous plant is some seriously creepy shit.
I always read wings/gas bag as either/or, not wings + gas bag. Though to be fair, a gas bag by itself would just be a balloon, and floating is not true flight. For powered flight, you'd need some kind of propulsion, whether it's flapping wings, a biological air intake and expulsion system, explosive seed rocket system, or something more creative.

Don't have a lot to say about the plant mutations, other than to say they generally do more damage than the humanoid/mutated animal mutations. And that table was irresistible to players.

After the initial discussion of Physical Combat, there is a brief section on Mental Combat which is fairly straightforward. We are told that mental combat essentially involves the use of mental mutations by PCs, NPCs, or any other creatures, including plants. Like physical attacks, a mental attack is made by rolling 1d20 and comparing the result with a to-hit number on the attack matrix, cross-referenced by comparing the attacker and defender’s respective Mental Strength ratings. One important detail that we have not heard previously is that the defender can make a roll against mental attacks even if sleeping. As we know from the earlier section in the book covering attributes and character creation, Pure Strain Humans cannot make mental attacks but they can still make mental defense rolls, so the Mental Strength attribute is as important for PSH as for any other PC.
Quick summary of how the Mental Attack Matrix table works: Everything is from the attacker's perspective. You don't roll to see if you negate or reduce the effect, the mutant attacking you rolls to see if they get through your defenses. So it's equivalent to an attack roll, not a save. And the similarities to an attack roll go even further -- while it's rarely mentioned in the mutation section, the combat section makes it very clear that you must roll on the Mental Attack Matrix every time you use a power from the mental mutation table to attack a creature. This significantly mitigates the apparent power of many of those mutations.

Physical combat is based on the attacker's weapon type vs. the defender's defenses, and attack skill isn't factored it. Mental combat is different, it's a test of attack skill vs. defender skill. On top of that, they both use the same ability: Mental Strength (MS). The attacker's base chance of success if 55%. That applies when attacker and defender both have the same MS score. If the attacker has a higher score, increase the chance by 5% per point of difference. Same if the defender has the higher score, except reduce the chance by 5% per point of difference. If the chance increases to 100%, it's an automatic success. This happens when the attacker's score is 9 points higher than the defender's. If the chance is reduced to 0%, the mental mutation has no effect. This happens when the defender's score is 11 points higher than the attacker's. This is very swingy, compared to the Physical Attack Matrix, where energy weapons typically have roughly the same chance of success against many or even most armors (and that chance is generally less than 50%, except for lasers). Even with physical weapons, the chance of success only ranges from 10% to 80%.
 
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DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
PART 31: PLAY OF THE GAME (ENCOUNTERS: CREATURES 36-39)

We’re almost done the bestiary! Not that it matters much, but I was re-reading some of my previous posts and I realized that I actually mis-recorded the creature number several posts back; as I stated at the start, there are 46 creatures in GAMMA WORLD but we are now at creature #36, not 35 (as the previous post suggests).

MUTANT PLANTS
Here are the names of every bush, weed, tree, and fungus in GAMMA WORLD. Thought experiment: try and guess what the plant looks like and what its mutations and abilities are just by its name. Seriously, I honestly love those weird, arbitrary, completely-made-up GAMMA WORLD creature names. There are eleven of these nasty mutant plants, listed here:

Ber Lep
Crep Plant
Horl Choo
Kep
Narl Ep
Obb
Perth
Pineto
Seroon Lou
Win Seen
Zeethh

Let’s talk about the first four.

Ber Lep
A gigantic floating plant comparable to a lily pad, stretching 2 meters (6.5 feet) in diameter, and thick enough to support the weight of an average human, the ber lep exudes a “sweet smelling acid” it uses to attract and consume animals and insects. Unfortunately we are told nothing about the game mechanics beyond that it is “slow-acting.” Suppose a PC decided to have a nap on a ber lep. What would happen? I’m assuming the acid would dissolve the PC. But would it? How powerful is the acid? At what rate does the PC lose hit points to the acid? Is there any defense against it? We are also told that if endangered the ber lep will teleport to a location 5d6 meters distant. Overall seems pretty harmless if the PCs learn to stay from it.

Crep Plant
Not a crep, mind you; this is a crep “plant.” One dwells on water (completely submerged), the other on land (in any area with abundant rain). Other than coloration (pink for water; red for land) the two variations are essentially the same. They are unintelligent, but if attacked have the following mental mutations: death field generation, molecular disruption, and life leech; it feeds using life leech. Crep plants also have the following plant-specific mutations: mobility, 1d4 manipulative vines, and parasitic attachment. It is these mutations which allow the crep plant to reproduce; it slaps a leaf-like attachment onto a victim and begins draining blood at the rate of 10 hp per round. Once the victim is dead, the attachment falls off and burrows into the ground (either on dry land or at the bottom of a lake or ocean floor) to become a new crep plant.

The idea of a crep plant scurrying after you (mobility) waving its manipulative vines with their parasitic sucker leaves is a wonderful image, again making me think of THE THING (even though that creature probably wasn’t a plant--though who's to say for sure?).

Horl Choo
This 18-hit dice monstrosity looks somewhat like a porcupine but with 5d6 3-meter long (9.8 feet) razor-sharp poisonous stems which resemble a porcupine’s quills. The horl choo will fire these stems at you like crossbow bolts if you approach within 90 meters; they are tipped with intensity 9 poison and do 3d6 puncture damage as well. But wait, there’s more! The quill is attached to the horl choo by a powerful vine; after impaling you with the flying, poisonous, 10-foot-long stem, the horl choo drags your twitching, impaled form back to it to dissolve your dying ass with digestive juices. The horl choo also has limited mobility to search for new hunting grounds. We're never told the size of the creature, but the comparison to a porcupine has me thinking of it as rather small and very heavy/dense, like a large turtle, with long, thin, impossibly strong stems waving around all over it.

Kep
A horrific, 20-hit dice carnivorous plant which grows completely underground in sandy soil. I like it already. Its roots extent outwards in an elaborate network for 30 meters, able to sense pressure or movement on the ground above. Squeeze roots will spring from the ground and ensnare the prey for 5d6 crushing damage (there is no mention about number of roots, so it is reasonable to think of these squeeze roots as many in number but small, thin, and strong rather than large, thick, distinct tentacle vines). Once the prey stops squirming (presumably from dying) digestive juices begin to do their wonderful work. If the kep loses more than half its hit points it lets go of its prey and retreats underground. Since the entire plant is underground, presumably any damage the PCs can do will be done to the squeeze roots; there are no mechanics given or suggested for how the PCs fight this thing other than just by counter-attacking the roots.

The entry on the kep closes with these wonderful sentences: “After each meal, the plant produces one mobile seed. It tunnels to the surface and scurries away in search of a home.”

Brrrr.
 

Unka Josh

Social Justice Game Dev
RPGnet Member
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Note that "Death Field Generation" plus "Life Leech" on the Crep Plant. That combo turns up more than once...
 

s/LaSH

Member
RPGnet Member
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I must conclude that, in whatever language was globally dominant just prior to the Big Oops, "-ep" was a root indicating plants. Or maybe murder.

The language still might have been English, of course. I mean, the language has spontaneously developed words like "ok", "derp", and "nom", sometimes overnight. "Ep" might have been a popular meme in the brief window when desktop bio-engineering carnivorous plants was legal and popular on the net (just before it was abruptly very not legal, which was just before it was abruptly not practical any more because all the desktop bio-engineering systems were now components of the stratosphere).
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
A general question for everyone: How do you handle mental mutations?

Because the combat section is really clear: If you attack another creature with a mental mutation, you have to roll on the mental attack matrix. That applies to mental blasts, mental control, death fields, life leech, and so on. Which makes the death field + life leech combo pretty ineffective. But the mental mutation section doesn't mention this, and one mutation (de-evolution) mentions you have to make a mental attack, which makes it sound like it only applies to that mutation. And from a practical standpoint, it would be a pain in the ass to apply it to life leech, because it means rolling a mental attack every round against everyone in range. I know we ignored it, most of the time. But I now think that was a mistake.
 

randlathor66

Registered User
Validated User
I imagine that the Horl Choo's body would have to have some mass to it as it launches a 3-meter long quill/spine out to 90-meters (nearly a full American football field!) and with a line attached. That takes some thrust. Otherwise it could look very similar to some of the spiny sea urchins that exist today - only they are much, much smaller and cannot launch their poisonous spines.
 

DavetheLost

Registered User
Validated User
We were very inconsistent in how we handled mental mutations. De-evolution and mental biast we used attack rolls for, life leech we didn't. On reflection we probably should have used the mental attack matrix more than we did.
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
A general question for everyone: How do you handle mental mutations?

Because the combat section is really clear: If you attack another creature with a mental mutation, you have to roll on the mental attack matrix. That applies to mental blasts, mental control, death fields, life leech, and so on. Which makes the death field + life leech combo pretty ineffective. But the mental mutation section doesn't mention this, and one mutation (de-evolution) mentions you have to make a mental attack, which makes it sound like it only applies to that mutation. And from a practical standpoint, it would be a pain in the ass to apply it to life leech, because it means rolling a mental attack every round against everyone in range. I know we ignored it, most of the time. But I now think that was a mistake.
Yes, I would agree with you about rolling the attack, although I wouldn't require a roll every round for life leech. If the PC "hits" an opponent with life leech one round, then I've always ruled that he has "latched on" in a psychic sense and will keep draining hp every round thereafter unless interrupted.
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
Note that "Death Field Generation" plus "Life Leech" on the Crep Plant. That combo turns up more than once...
I love it. A ripple in the air and a horrible draining sensation (death field) and you're down to 1 hp. Next round, that 1 hp is gone as you feel your life force ripped out of you (life leech). Death. But as Sleeper points out, each would require a roll on the mental attack matrix. Still awesome though.
 
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