October 13th, 2010

no help whatsoever, Warning: No Help

Writer's Block: On the road again

If you could go on a road trip with any person, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?

If you could go on a road trip with any person, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?

I'd go with a live person. A dead person might save on some expenses, but the conversation would suffer, and they can't spell you behind the wheel.

RPG: grognard, grognard

Why, indeed?

I confess that I was a little disappointed when the new edition of Gamma World decided to use a collectible card model to implement random mutations. Gimmicky mechanics like that tend to keep a niche game limited to a niche market.

I was also a little dismayed when the game description included adjectives like "wacky" and "rollicking". On the day of its release, one of my store's regular customers, looked at the blurb on the box, and summed up exactly what I'd been thinking: "Aw, jeez. We always played it straight."

On the other claw ... one problem with the White Wolf version of the game was that they took it too seriously, downplaying the frankly comic-book super-power mutations of "classic" ΓW, trying to treat it as semi-hard SF.

And ... certainly, Back In The Day, we "played it straight" -- but only as "straight" as we played D&D. In those ancient days of yore, there was always a level of whimsy at the tabletop. A D&D adventure could include a Burma Shave sign or an encounter at Monty Python's Bridge of Doom, and it didn't derail the game or detract from the atmosphere. A game like Gamma World wasn't played so much "straight" as "deadpan", and surely, Gabe and Tycho's tale of a Funeral for a Deceased Laser fits perfectly with that style.

The new game uses D&D4 "as a foundation". I hope it's a solid foundation that leaves it essentially D&D-compatible; a huge chunk of the critters in any given Monster Manual fit a post-apocalyptic science-fantasy setting far better than they fit the Tolkien Bar Sinister motifs that the "traditional" D&D settings try to ape.

And, yes ... I'd love to be able to effortlessly treat one game as a supplement for the other, and run a setting with the mix of "sorcery and super-science" of Thundaar the Barbarian.

I have half-a-dozen entries with the "Gamma World" tag, but somehow, I've never managed to link any of them to Bigfella Machine's Mutant Bastards gallery. WotC really should have hired the Bigfella to create the look and feel for the new book.