Yesterday I generated a character from my first edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the wonderful blue book by Dr. John Eric Holmes. It is not unusual for “The Blue Book of the Physician” or something similar to show up in my games given how formative it was for me.
Notice, however, I say the blue book was my first edition of D&D, not my first RPG. At the same time, I bought another rpg, Gamma World. As I noted yesterday, I bought Holmes in book form, not the boxed set, and the store had no dice. It did have copies of GW which the gentleman explaining to me what I needed to get into D&D said would provide the dice.
I can’t be sure, but I think I read Gamma World first. At the time, my fantasy reading had yet to include a lot of the standards of the era. Through D&D, I’d find Lovecraft, Dunsany, Vance, Howard, Norton, and Lieber, among others. I had read the Narnia books and The Hobbit but had not yet tackled The Lord of the Rings. In contrast, I watched Star Trek every afternoon, read nearly all the Heinlein juveniles, and tore through any science fiction I got my hands on. So, GW was built for me.
So, let’s roll up a first edition Gamma World character.
The procedure isn’t very different from Holmes and OD&D, which is no surprise. Although it wasn’t as blatant in pointing to AD&D as Holmes, it was seeped in AD&D as we’d learn a little over a year later when the 1st Edition DMG came out with complete crossover rules.
Before we roll attributes we must decide if we want to play a Pure Strain Human (capitals in the rules), a humanoid, or a mutated animal. If you think being a pure human would be boring without the special power mutations might bring the rules make this point:
One might think that the PSH character is doomed. However, PSH characters have some advantages to themselves that compenstate for their lack of mutations.
The Pure Strain Human is a direct descendent of pre-2322 stock. PSH characters with proper identification will always be recognized by pre-2322 robotic units, and by the same token, can pass security checks that would block most mutatants.Gamma World, pg 7G
I’m going to go with a humanoid. Mutated animals require some referee input on thinks like speech, manual manipulation, and so on based on animal stock which I don’t have doing this series.
So, time to roll in order for Mental Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, Charisma, Constitution, and Physical Strength. Looks a lot like D&D, just with a slightly different order and a renaming of Wisdom to the more sciency “Mental Strength”. That’s exactly what it is. Gamma World, however enshrines the 4D6 keep the high the method, another nod to AD&D. So, let’s roll.
Pretty good, but it is annoying my constitution is the lowest, as we’ll see below. Bonuses are about halfway between OD&D and AD&D without exceptional strength modifiers. One interesting twist is charisma includes a table for adjustments base on PSH, humanoid, and mutated animals.
One big difference is you start with all your hit points. They are not based on level and there is no class to change the dice. Instead, you get a D6 for each point of constitution. Rolling 9D6 I get 39 or a bit over 4 per die. Not the maximum I got the past two days, but above average.
Next up is two D4 rolls for the number of physical and mental mutations. Mutations can be either randomly rolled or chosen. If chosen the referee will then generate defect mutations for the character if he got four or more. I got a 1 and a 3 indicating 1 physical and 3 mental mutations. I’ll submit to the percentiles instead of taking a pair of mental defects as well.
There is a risk that defects will be rolled, but I’ll take it.
For the physical mutation I rolled a for Skin Structure Change. This is a defect, my luck.
As the name implies, the skin of the mutant changes for the worst. Suggestions: thin skin — add 1 point to each die of damage sustained, water soluable skin — contact with water does 1 die of damage per melee turn; phosphorescent skin — mutant glows in the dark (enough to give away position, but not enough to see by); light sensitive skin — skin burns for 1-3 dice of damage when exposed to bright light.Gamma World pg. 10;
How can I pass up being a mutant who was nuked ’til he glowed.
For the three mental mutations I rolled 10, 22, and 25 for De-evolution (not a defect), Fear Impulse (which is a defect), and Force Field Generation. I got as many defects as I would have by picked, but with two fewer good mutations.
Very old school.
De-evolution is a mental attack that strips other mutatants of their ability, devolving them back to their original biological stock. Fear impulse means I have an irrational fear of something and cannot look at it. I need to roll a D6 to determine wha
De-evolution allows me to use a mental attack to strip positive mutations from other by devolving back to their base biological stock.
Fear Impulse mean I fear something to the point I cannot look at something without dropping everything and running away. I need to roll a D6 to determine the object of my fear and get a 2. I have an irrational fear of a random mutated insect to be determined by the referee.
Force Field Generation allows me once per day to create a force field about 6 inches from my body that can withstand five dice of damage. It requires concentration to maintain and can last up to one hour or until it takes those five dice of damage.
Gamma World provides no starting money or equipment list for new characters as those are part of the starting scenario. All we need is a name. As an homage to the wonderful comic Ex-Mutants I’m going to name him Belushi after the only male mutant restored (De-evolved) by the three-eyed Dr. Emmanuel Cugat in the first issue.
Instead of an index card, this time I’ll use a piece of loose-leaf paper as I did with my first few characters for both games.