[WIR] Gamma World, first edition (1978)

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
I suspect you're all reading too much into the "space capsule" phrasing, and it was simply to indicate the suits were self-contained environment systems. The bulk of such suits would be more substantial than normal armor (as I suggested, the Heinlein model was that they made the wearer look like a gorilla) but there's no reason to judge anything regarding that as referring to the shape of the armor.
That doesn't follow. How do you crawl into a suit of armor? That's not phrasing anyone would use. And the gorilla suits from Starship Troopers are probably the inspiration for features in the defensive armors, like the jet assisted jumps. The evidence suggests the offensive armors are something bigger.

The offensive armours sound like they're just a bit bigger than traditional articulated armour. Iron Man style armour is slim enough that you need different pieces for head, chest, shoulders, waist etc. But these offensive jobs are probably so big and thick that the whole head and torso is a single rigid piece. Arms are still articulated, albeit probably kinda stumpy-looking due to great thickness.

A good example might be the Terran Marines, from Starcraft. They have helmets, but they're clearly just big domes welded to the shoulders; they have arms, but the armour is so bulky that their hand only comes up to the middle forearm, so the suit's fingers are operated via linkage. Oh, and most users are welded in, because they use convict "volunteers".
I think that's an excellent explanation. The offensive armors are just barely suits. You crawl into an opening in the back, and stick your limbs into arm- and leg- holes, but the suit's limbs extend much further.

Another example might be the Iron Monger armor from the first Iron Man movie.
 
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Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
That doesn't follow. How do you crawl into a suit of armor? That's not phrasing anyone would use. And the gorilla suits from Starship Troopers are probably the inspiration for features in the defensive armors, like the jet assisted jumps. The evidence suggests the offensive armors are something bigger.
If you simply open up the top end and slide down into the rest, that's exactly the phrasing I'd use. Far as that goes, it seems likely how you got into said Starship Trooper suits (or maybe stepped in from an opening in the back, as you mention earlier). Its honestly not that far different from how some early spacesuit and deep sea diving models worked.
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
If you simply open up the top end and slide down into the rest, that's exactly the phrasing I'd use. Far as that goes, it seems likely how you got into said Starship Trooper suits (or maybe stepped in from an opening in the back, as you mention earlier). Its honestly not that far different from how some early spacesuit and deep sea diving models worked.
Worming or stepping isn't crawling, I think the phrasing implies something bigger, like the Starcraft marines s/LaSH mentioned, or Obadiah Stane's weapon system. Those are big enough to start justifying the word, as you clamber over the suit into a opening when the head/helmet flips back, or something similar. I think that concept is the best fit for the descriptions in GW1.

Heinlein's gorilla suits seem closer to the inertia armor. You might step into them since they're rigid and probably have a pop open feature, but the anatomy of the suit still corresponds to the gross features of the human anatomy underneath.

Only peripherally related, but I think that also matches the lifting strengths/punching ability given for the offensive suits. While nothing similar is mentioned for the defensive armor, they probably should increase strength as well, along with mobility/speed, though to a much lesser degree. Though lifting strength is almost beside the point, because powered armor is more about mobility and being a weapon platform, it's not about acting like a forklift.

While we're familiar with super-strength from comic books and the cinema, it's always been very unrealistic. After a certain point, it doesn't really matter how strong something is, how much it can lift in uncontrolled circumstances is going to be more limited by its mass. Even if your hydraulics are sufficient to hold apart two plates that are mimicking the pressure of hundreds of tons, if you only weigh 1,000 lbs (half a tonne) and you grab a 40 ton truck, it's you who's going to move not the truck. Real lifting tools would be massively heavily (there's a reason for all that lead in the butt of a forklift), or involve bracing against supports designed to bear that weight. GW1 seems to support that more realistic kind of limit, rather than the mass-ignoring super strength.

The offensive suits can lift 1.5 to 2 metric tons without any real qualifications, which suggests they're probably roughly that massive. While the defensive suits can probably weigh hundreds of pounds, this is alleviated by servomotors so the wearer doesn't notice the extra burden. But while this bulks up a human like a gorilla, no matter how powerful they can't move free weights like stalled bubble cars or recalcitrant rakoxen as easily as the more massive offensive armors, and are more likely to be pushed back or thrown around.
 
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randlathor66

Registered User
Validated User
Just to make it explicit, the GAMMA KNIGHTS boxed set was for 4e GAMMA WORLD, not 1e. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. :) I actually have a copy of that boxed set somewhere; I'll see if I can find it and maybe throw up an image or two. Thanks for reminding me!
I thought it was more of a stand alone product, not tied to any specific rules set. I just love those armors, and for some reason my favorite is the "basic" Battle Armor version, with one hand usable and the other a Mark VII Blaser (or something like that). You need to use the picture on page 11 of the "Knights of Gamma Terra" book - not the battle book. Mark Nelson did a great job on those.
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
I thought it was more of a stand alone product, not tied to any specific rules set. I just love those armors, and for some reason my favorite is the "basic" Battle Armor version, with one hand usable and the other a Mark VII Blaser (or something like that). You need to use the picture on page 11 of the "Knights of Gamma Terra" book - not the battle book. Mark Nelson did a great job on those.
Agreed! The pictures are excellent. As to the mechanics, you may well be right; it's been years since I've even looked at my copy of GAMMA KNIGHTS. In terms of its branding (logo, etc.) and time of release, it was part of the 4e line-up. But as you say, it may have been mechanics-agnostic. At any rate, the illustrations are excellent; I just wouldn't see them as "canon" for interpreting what 1e armor looks like (I'm a stickler that way). ;-)
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Gamma World is not a zero-to-hero game from what I can see, and PCs start powerful and stay that way. Artifacts are temporary power-ups that might help out for a scenario or two, but are then discarded. I don't know if that's intended, but it feels that way.
I've been thinking about this as the let's read has progressed, but I came to a quasi opposite conclusion. I think GW is very much a zero to hero game, but it's defined almost entirely by security cards and equipment, not personal advancement. The game assumes you start with spears or similar, which means combat can take 20 rounds as you whittle down those impressive starting hp totals 1d6 at a time. There are a few offensive mutations, but generally they don't do a huge amount of damage (3d6 mental blast, 1d6 cumulative cryo/pyrokinesis, etc.). The better ones tend to either control, disable, directly kill -- or enhance attacks. For real damage, and persistent defenses, you need equipment. And while equipment drops are somewhat random, and power cells run out, the accumulation over time causes a steady increase in power. You have better suits of armor to waste those power cells on, more spare weapons to pull out, and are less likely to fall back to AC 9 or 1d8 damage by default; and are more likely to be able to sustain a good AC and a strong offensive weapon. The one counter to this is command cards tend to be too easy to acquire.

Though it wouldn't be hard to structure the game around a more rigorus progression. Instead of just a few colored cards, have a wide range of security cards, with numerical levels. A starting character might find a security 1 card, while a very powerful character might have a security 10 card. Treat what they unlock like dungeon levels, so unlocking a security 3 door tends to bring level 3 threats, and level 3 rewards. Keep it randomized of course, but within a tighter ranger. The party would progress over time, reaching deeper levels, with better armors, better weapons, and more dangerous threats. It's artificial of course, but we know the concept works well in a game. You could even keep starting hit points total high, and still get this effect. Alternately, have D&D style hit points, or something in the middle (instead of starting with 10d hp, or going from 1d to 10d, perhaps start at 5d and increase to 10d). Though linking advancement to improvements in saving throws (i.e. mental, and perhaps poison and radiation resistance) would be a good idea.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
I thought it was more of a stand alone product, not tied to any specific rules set.
Gammarauders is its own thing. Gamma Knights has 4e stats for the equipment and rules so that it can be used solo.

And all this talk about powered armor is making me want to run a SST style campaign using 4e, 5e, or MF rules. The mutant design rules can make some very freaky aliens to hunt.
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
PART 43: PLAY OF THE GAME (Vehicles)

Before we look at vehicles, I wanted to give you folks another reminder of the haunting beauty of the layout of 1e. We are currently plowing through several pages of pure minimalism: line after line of small print, spartan, purely functional text. The book does have some wonderful illustrations, of course, and I’ve shown you some in this thread. But it also has no hesitation about abandoning graphic text in favor of telephone-book style data lists. I love it. Is it just nostalgia? Of course it is. Now get off my goddamn lawn!

Ahem.

The authors know the limitations of a 56-page book so they preface this short section on vehicles with this disclaimer: “The list of vehicles given here only begins to describe the great variety available to the Ancients, and the referee is encouraged to devise many more.” That said, they go on to describe seven sample vehicles. Thankfully, there is no GURPS-type complexity madness. And with the exception of the first vehicle type (which is basically ordinary cars and trucks as we know them today), you won’t be surprised to know that we have no idea what any of these vehicles looks like.

Here they are:

Civilian Internal Combustion
Like pagers and fax machines in the 2010s, the old-tech internal combustion engine kept being a thing up until the Apocalypse. The authors stress that these cars are “much like the cars and trucks of today” and run on “alcohol or fossil fuel.” The authors point out that “a separate fuel source will be required, as any left in the tanks will long since have evaporated.”

Military Alcohol Combustion
These are “the 24th century version of the jeeps, trucks, armored personnel, and cargo carriers used by the military.” In terms of locomotion, there are wheeled, tracked, and antigrav versions--which hover just above the surface (think Luke’s landspeeder, which made a profound impact on me as a kid). Speed is determined by the purity of alcohol.

Turbine Cars
This is a weird one (to me). Here’s the complete, brief description: “These holdovers from the 23rd century were still in limited use. They are all wheeled, and powered by an efficient turbine which burns fossil fuels. A solar cell on the roof powers the lights, radar, and climate control systems.”

I’m trying to figure out what a turbine engine is in this context. I’m pretty sure it’s a jet engine of some sort, but I am (obviously) no engineer. At any rate, the authors are suggesting that the turbine engine was largely obsolete by the time of the Apocalypse.

Flit Car
This is essentially a flying car, seen in lots of popular science fiction. My most immediate analogy is the spinner from BLADE RUNNER (1982) but of course as far back as the 1950s (as we entered the jet age and atomic age) we had wonderful predictions like this. This car either hovers just above the ground or flies through the air. It can travel 200 km/h hovering, and 400 km/h flight, with a “service ceiling” of 16 km (I’m assuming that means its maximum altitude is 16 km, because if “service ceiling” denotes range or distance car can drive before requiring servicing, then the 16 km figure makes no sense). The battery powers the car for 200 hours on the ground and 100 hours in the air.

Environmental Car
This highly-restricted car (which has its own nuclear reactor) was only available to government agencies (if GAMMA WORLD had been written during the Cyberpunk era, I suspect it would be government agencies and multi-national corporations). The aptly-named environmental car can “fly, travel on the ground, move over and under water, and in our space (good for one round trip to the moon).” Each fuel cylinder can power the car for 4 weeks of earth use or 1 week in outer space. Airspeed: 500km/h; Groundspeed: 150km/h; Underwater speed: 75 km/h.

Hmm. If airspeed is the rate of travel in outer space, you’d have a damn hard time getting to the moon and back in one week (some quick and dirty math on my hand-held calculator has me thinking it would take over 30 days just to get to the moon at that speed). Unless there are multiple fuel cylinders and not just one; the text doesn’t tell us. Of course, the authors could be handwaving space travel and just saying, "You can get to the moon and back in 1 week." I wonder if there's a bathroom on the bubble car? Maybe two or three bathrooms? I don't know about you, but for me, being stuck in a car (even a large car) with 20 people for 1 week would probably lead to a special kind of madness.

Bubble Car
“This ultimate transportation vehicle was affordable by only the world’s richest governments and is extremely rare in GAMMA WORLD.” After that opening salvo, the authors describe this vehicle with a dizzying array of stats which I will summarize in list form:
Power source: Solar cells (main power source), atomic energy cell (backup power source/energy field power source).
Recharging capacity (solar cells): 10 hours of each 72 must be spent in direct sunlight.
Duration of atomic cells: 24 hours constant use.
Passengers: 20
Cargo capacity: 3 metric tons
Environment: Outer space, ocean depths, land, or air
Energy field: Defensive, absorbs first 25 hp damage each melee round.
Air speed: Ten times the speed of sound.

Hmm. I probably should have taken more physics in high school, but I’m pretty sure an atomic energy cell should last a lot longer than 24 hours of use. But what the hell do I know? I'm not even sure what a turbine engine is.

After the Bubble Car, the authors have a final category, which they simply call “Other”. They (probably unnecessarily) advise the referee to include anything else that he or she desires, such as rail travel, helicopters, cargo ships, and so on.

Next up is "Miscellaneous Energy Devices." See you next time!
 

Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
Turbines generate a lot of power for their mass, are relatively simple and easy to maintain, and are fuel efficient when cruising. Automobile manufacturers tested cars using turbines in the 1960s and 1970s, including setting the land speed record, which is probably how the idea percolated into GW. The main downsides are they're not efficient in street driving with stopping/starting and lot of changes in rpm, because they prefer to run at a constant speed; and the extreme heat generated by the high rpm[1], which can be tough on things like bolts.

[1] Jay Leno has one of the original turbine cars, and it apparently idles at 22,000 rpm.

And top speed doesn't matter in space[2]. In an atmosphere, you hit top speed when you crank the engine up to max, and then you can fly at that speed as long as fuel holds out. When you take your foot off the pedal, you quickly lose speed because of friction, and altitude because of gravity. Which means you'll crash if you're out of fuel. That's not what happens in space. In space, when you take your foot off the pedal, you keep moving at the same speed and direction indefinitely. And when you hold down the pedal, you just keep going faster and faster and faster. The fastest way to get to some destination[3] is to accelerate until you're halfway there, flip over, and then decelerate for the rest of the trip[4]. So whatever the environmental car's top speed is in an atmosphere, you can't just extrapolate those numbers and apply it to space travel.

[2] Ignoring light speed, because it shouldn't be a major factor for a week-long trip to the Moon.
[3] Ignoring things like using a gravitational well for a slingshot effect, which again shouldn't be a factor on a trip the Moon.
[4] That's not how the Apollo astronauts traveled, because it requires hideous amounts of fuel. Even though they launched skyscrapers full of fuel, it was only enough to push a tiny capsule into space and then coast most of the way.
 
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