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Gamma World (1e)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2021 14:14:49

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/

There is an important piece of my 40+ years of D&D anniversary that I have neglected and I thought I must rectify that as soon as I can.

1981 was a banner year for D&D. I FINALLY got my real copy of the game, the Moldvay D&D Basic Set which I have talked about ad nauseam here for years. Within that "Gateway to Adventure" catalog there was another game that I knew a little about and would also soon be part of my ever-growing desire for a good sci-fi game. That game was TSR's own Gamma World.

Over the next few years, I'd spend time with this game and other editions of it, but it was this first edition that really grabbed me like no other.

I am going to review Gamma World here and talk a little about what I did with it and what I will do in the future. For this, I am considering my original Gamma World book (the box and dice are long gone), the Print on Demand version, and PDFs from DriveThruRPG.

Gamma World (1978, 1981)

Living thru the Nuclear Scare was an interesting time. I vividly recall having conversations with kids my own age about how they saw no future because the Russians were growing to blow us all up any day. Regan was president and I was convinced he was going to do something stupid to get us all nuked. Instead, he just destroyed the middle-class. But the threat was there all the time. The news, the movies, even all the music videos, to quote Frank Zappa, used all the same cheesy atom bomb explosions. Yup we were going to all die and the world become a nuclear wasteland where people drove around Mad-Max style in supercars and fought for the remaining resources.

I suppose then given that environment a game like Gamma World was inevitable. Gamma World was our world, but very different. It is always interesting to read an older game describe how the world of their future and our present would turn out. Gamma World paints a nice picture of the early 21st century as a time when we stopped polluting the Earth and taking resources from it. Science Fiction indeed. With that, let's delve into this book.

Gamma World original print vs new PoD

Introduction

There is a lot of interesting thing going on here. We know this is a (maybe even THE) Post-Apocalyptic game. This said apocalypse began in 2309 going to 2322. We get some world-building here with various wars leading up to the attack against a group known as The Apocalypse by what remained of the various governments and groups and The Apocalypse fought back. While it is not said to be a nuclear disaster, that is certainly how it feels. We know that due to this event that some life-forms were completely wiped out and others were mutated into new and strange forms. It is stated that many of the weapons were biological in nature too. So we have a heady stew of alchemical death raining from the skies. The year is now 2471 (450 years from now). There are humans and other things here and that is where our adventures begin. I can't help but draw parallels between this and the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century TV series which came out at the same time. Gamma World predates the TV show, but not Buck Rogers. The TV series takes place in 2491, so 20 years after GW. With TSR's later dangerous flirtation with Buck Rogers, I wonder if any attempt was made to bring the two lines together? I certainly would have tried if I had been into GW as much as I was into D&D.

How to Use This Book & Designing Gamma World

An overview of what this book is about and how to use it. If you ever played an RPG then you know what is here. If you ever played AD&D then you might even have this section memorized. Gamma World uses the same dice as D&D.

The designing part covers what you are likely to encounter in a typical Gamma World setting. It is a broad overview meant only to introduce the players. Details will come later.

Creating Characters

If you can create a D&D character then you can create a Gamma World character; they are largely the same and makes you wonder why there was no unified game system used at TSR. Well...I have my guesses. You have three "races" Pure Strain Humans, Humanoids, and Mutated Animals. Your attributes are Mental Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, Charisma, Constitution, and Physical Strength. I am sure these are recognizable. Pure Strain Humans are just that, but Humanoids and Mutated Animals can have mutations. These are rolled randomly of course and some are beneficial others are defects. You can have a physical and/or a mental mutation. Mental ones can even include psionic abilities. Plants can also have mutations. This covers quite a bit of the book, but that is not really a surprise I suppose.

Since the tables in the game are based on various ability scores they are more important in normal play than they are in (A)D&D. Levels and experience points use does not even come up until page 42.

Play of the Game

This covers the rules of the Gamma World game. We start out with what happened a lot in GW; moving from place to place and searching for things. Combat is the next section with weapons from clubs all the way to fusion rifles. We get some combat matrices that look like they were cribbed from D&D Basic. This is a good thing. There is even something here that I always an improvement, the Mental Attack Matrix. I mean this could have, should have, been ported back to AD&D and been better than the psionics system used there.

Encounters

Gamma World is a Gygaxian fun-house dungeon writ large. That doesn't mean everything you encounter will try to kill you, but that is a good assumption. The creatures are not as evocative as say the creatures from the Monster Manual but they are compatible with each other so if your really want an orc in Gamma World game it is easy.

Also presented are various alliances. These are the groups, factions and tribes you can encounter. Only a few are presented here and the Game Master is encouraged to make more.

Artifacts and Equipment

Maybe more so than D&D there is a good reason for all these "treasures" to be laying around. But there is always the chance that something will fail. Gamma World takes the device flow charts from Expedition to Barrier Peaks (it's "cousin" adventure in AD&D) and dials it up to 11.

This section also covers trade, the value of goods, and robots. I wonder how many Gamma World games changed the importance of robots after the Terminator movies came out?

The last few pages cover an example of play and there are some charts (random encounters) and hex grids that can be removed for use. They look right at home next to my D&D charts of the same period.

Print on Demand

The Print on Demand version might be one of the best ones yet. Yes, the maps from the box set have to be printed out, but that is not a big deal. The new PoD is clear and easy to read.

Nothing is lost in the translation. Plus the new pod uses the box art for the front and back covers so everything is here. All that is missing is dice.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gamma World (1e)
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The Shattered Circle (2e)
by Nigel P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/07/2021 06:59:24

Often overlooked because it came at the tail end of 2E, this is simply one of the best dungeon adventures that TSR/WotC ever published. It makes sense. It has mystery. It has great locations. It's a reminder of just how good Bruce Cordell used to be at designing adventures. Buy it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Shattered Circle (2e)
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DL16 World of Krynn (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 18:19:09

PDF Scan Quality Review: This is a retyped module with placed images that are a little fuzzy. Text is very clear and easy to read.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • +1 for clear easy to read text
  • pages are centered with a good clean margin all around.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DL16 World of Krynn (1e)
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DL15 Mists of Krynn (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 18:15:52

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. In this case the print is readble unlike some of the other DL modules. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text into notepad and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • pages are centered with a good clean margin all around.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL15 Mists of Krynn (1e)
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DL14 Dragons of Triumph (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 18:13:58

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. In this case the print is readble unlike some of the other DL modules. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text into notepad and it appears the text is rather clean.

Included 3 books

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • included BW Map 22x28 (in book 3)
  • pages are centered with a good clean margin all around.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL14 Dragons of Triumph (1e)
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DL13 Dragons of Truth (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 18:05:10

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. In this case the print is readble unlike some of the other DL modules. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text into notepad and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • included hex map 22x34 one page
  • pages are centered with a good clean margin all around.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL13 Dragons of Truth (1e)
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DL12 Dragons of Faith (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 18:03:03

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. In this case the print is readble unlike some of the other DL modules. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text into notepad and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • included color map 22x34
  • included 22x34 poster mini-maps
  • included color tokens are somewhat-aligned for duplex printing
  • pages are centered with a good clean margin all around.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL12 Dragons of Faith (1e)
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DL11 Dragons of Glory (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 17:59:35

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. In this case the print is readble unlike some of the other DL modules. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text into notepad and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • hex map split over (2) 22x34 pages
  • included color tokens are aligned for duplex printing
  • pages are centered with a good clean margin all around.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL11 Dragons of Glory (1e)
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DL10 Dragons of Dreams (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 17:55:23

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. In this case the print is readble unlike some of the other DL modules. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text into notepad and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • Pages are centered with good clean margins all around.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL10 Dragons of Dreams (1e)
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DL9 Dragons of Deceit (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 17:51:04

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. A quick copy paste of the OCR text into notepad and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • +1 pages are centered with good clean margins all around
  • Included 11x17 color map on one page


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL9 Dragons of Deceit (1e)
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DL8 Dragons of War (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 17:46:08

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. Small table text is hard to read. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text info notepad and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • included (2) 22x34 color map on one page
  • Bookmarks included
  • +1 Someone took the time to make sure the pages were aligned center good clean margins all around.


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL8 Dragons of War (1e)
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DL7 Dragons of Light (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 17:39:22

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out on the graphics. This is a retype so the text is very easy to read.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • +1 clear text
  • included map split over (4) 8.5x11 pages
  • Margins could be a little better, page creeps to the edge on some pages.
  • Bookmarks included


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DL7 Dragons of Light (1e)
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DL6 Dragons of Ice (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 17:34:06

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. In this case the print is readble unlike some of the other DL modules. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text info my FG module and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • hex map split over two 8.5x11 pages
  • Included 11x14 color map on one page


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DL6 Dragons of Ice (1e)
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DL5 Dragons of Mystery (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 17:28:30

PDF Scan Quality Review: This looks to be a retype of the text. Very clear to read. The page scan cropping could be better. Page alignment is all over the margins.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • +1 clear reable text
  • Bookmarks included
  • included map is split over (4) 8.5x11 pages


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DL5 Dragons of Mystery (1e)
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DL4 Dragons of Desolation (1e)
by Tom K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/06/2021 17:19:59

PDF Scan Quality Review: The scan quality is a little blown out. They dropped the background and lost some of the softness of the print. Hard to determine some letters from others for example C and E all look the same to me. However a quick copy paste of the OCR text info my FG module and it appears the text is rather clean.

  • +1 for being Dragonlance.
  • Bookmarks included
  • large (22x34) poster map included


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DL4 Dragons of Desolation (1e)
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