Monday, August 18, 2014

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 1

As I mentioned yesterday, we got our Gamma World game rolling.

"Hillbilly" (me)
"Caveman" (Jon L)
"Short Bus" (Mike D)
"Princess" (Andy D)
"Barbie" (Mike H)

We woke up from a dream-filled sleep at the start of the session. We spilled out of cryogenic containers in our boxers, in a dilapidated and clearly long-abandoned bunker we later found out was code-named "Van Buren." Some of the cryo containers were black, some empty, some spilled out choking and rapidly dying troopers. Others were intact, but there was no clear way to activate them.

We were part of 4th Squad, C Company, 3rd Rifle Platoon from 1-90, 4th BGT, 20th Homeland Division.

At this point, the GM handed us identical character sheets with a pick-list of disads and skill packages and upgrades to choose from. He also handed one of us a bunch of cards with pre-chosen "callsign" nicknames on them . . . and we each chose one for the person on our left. Hence the awesome nicknames we would never choose for ourselves.

Name Cards photo GammaWorldGame002_zps1639dc53.jpg

After this, some C-3PO-crude androids told us the rest of our unit was already deployed, and a Adjunct Captain Hopper was waiting for us outside. Before that, we had 15 (real-world) minutes to select gear before the damaged air conditioning units ran down too far to let us continue to breathe. We started grabbing guns, and decided to standardize around 7.62mm because of its higher damage than the M4 series, and around 9mm for small arms. So we ended up with an M110, three SCAR-Hs, an M14, and six 9mm pistols. We also grabbed a rainbow of injectors with no clear idea what they do. Naturally we pushed out time to at least 20 minutes, and choking and faint, stumbled out of the bunker laden down with guns and ammo and food and such. Oh, and wind-up watches that double as rad detectors. Handy! Worrying.

Some scrawled hints from predecessors included this one, which Cavemen made sure to memorize: "It it's blue, good for you. If it's green, keep it clean. If it's red, burn your dead. If it's black..."

Naturally when we exited the bunker, there was no sign of any greater robot, no Captain Hopper, no nothing - and no way to re-open the door. Nice. We sorted out the extra gear Caveman dragged out and then parceled it out. We hiked up the tunnel to the greenish light we saw in the distance. We found what looked like an AT-ST sized ED-209. I shimmied up and let down a rope for Short Bus, who examined it as best he could. We weren't able to determine much except it was pretty high tech, but also extremely old and rusted.

The world around us was also startling. The sky was green, overcast, and bright-ish. The ground was greened and mossed/molded over, and "snow" of mold was coming down lightly. We were able to identify a road under the mold, and decided to follow it.

After a day's hike, we camped along the side of the road, in shifts, letting one guy sleep the whole night. Nothing molested us, but "night" was just a dimming of the overcast brightness of day.

In the "morning" we headed out, and came to a chasm spanned by the one-winged fuselage of an aircraft bigger than the biggest airlines we ever saw. We'd have to enter First, exit Steerage. Out on the wing was a wooden contraption looking like a Christmas tree. We checked that out first (well, scouts did under the guns of overwatch) but couldn't determine anything except that it was man-made. We couldn't see in - if I recall correctly the windows didn't angle well or were covered where they did.

We entered the fuselage. Inside, it split around a central walled area. So we left Princess with his M110 sniper rifle to watch the right, and the four of us started up the left. The idea was, he could guard our six and flank, we'd concentrate force on the left, and then we could link up with him either comeback toward him or fetch him down the cleared side.

We heard some sounds that indicated that there were occupants. So we moved in, assuming hostiles. We found some - almost immediately we came under fire from bows and were charged by mail-armored spear-toting 1.5m tall badgers. We dubbed them Badders with no meta-knowledge whatsoever. Their arrows were spark plug tipped, the spears and mail showed signs of scrounged and re-purposed materials.

We had a brawl. Short Bus lead with an entry shield and his 9mm, the rest of us had long arms out. Short Bus blocked a few arrows that studded into his shield, and I wasn't able to spot the bowmen well enough to do much except take an arrow in the left shoulder and then one in the left leg, both missing my trauma plates. In return, I perforated a couple of badders and hosed down a few interior walls around torso height to kill anyone behind the cover. Meanwhile their armor shrugged off the head shots of Short Bus, but the 7.62mm shots we fired did well, killing most of them in short order (especially if we managed 2-3 rounds into a single badder.)

Princess shot down some guys advancing down his wing. Barbie advanced aggressively along with Short Bus and short down at least a half-dozen of the critters. Cavemman and I advanced a little more cautiously and shot down targets of opportunity and shot up cover that would be an obvious shelter for the bowmen.

In the end, those, we killed 20 of the badders. We decapitated them and tossed them off the cliff, and otherwise checked them for loot - none. Huh.

Airplane Bridge photo GammaWorldGame001_zpsd06f7646.jpg

(In retrospect, we maybe should have sent someone over the top, maybe everyone. Oh well.)

On the far side of the plane we found 3 men buried to their necks. Two were dead, the other was a green guy. A big dog came out of the woods and emoted at us, and let us know the green dude was its master. Those of us with folding shovels got to work and got him out. We couldn't communicate with him, but we showed we'd follow him and dubbed him Bruce for no reason I can now recall.

We followed him to a village where the last of Bal'Cree tribe live, despite having a big sign saying Kamp Kazoo. We met their elder, the Elder Kell, their second-in-command, Agar (who carries an M16A4 and a stop sign shield), and their champion, the ape-centaur Peyonne.

We also met an English-speaking man named Servin the Younger, who told us he was a Restorationist. He'd learned English from books, and led us to his shelter. We talked with him.

Here I'm quoting our GM:
"The other 20th's that woke up in the past seem to have been the One-Ninety's Company B and Company D, which were listed as "Active/Evacuated". That would be about 500 personnel, lead by a Major Ward, which became allies with the Bal'Cree community of tribes. Ward named his solders "Gamma's Ghosts". Ward and his Ghosts arrived in the area "about 120 snows ago". The war with the Badders lasted "forty generations". The war ended and the Ghosts departed "about 60 snows ago". A "snow" seems to be less than a year. A "generation" is a Badder generation, duration unknown."

And that's what we pulled out of talking to him. Basically, the 20th woke up, partly, came out, tried to set up civilization, fought Badders, and then headed off looking for the US of A. Or something to help them restart it. Also, to the north we heard about "Purists" - guys who hated mutants. I joked about joining the good guys, but it didn't go over.

Oh yeah, and somewhere in here someone pointed at my wound and told me about a red arrow. Aha. We tried one of the colored injectors we'd scrounged and it healed up my injury. Nice.

Naturally, we got the Restorationist to translate for us, heard some badders had raided the tribe along with armored men, and agreed to go off and hunt them down. Because, f*** you badders.

We rested, ate, and headed out with a tamarind-looking guide called Chee. It lead us to an "Elevator Highway" - elevated highway - and we climbed up. On the lower level, which was set for rails, we found long-abandoned evidence of a 20th Homeland HQ. Chee left us alone, and we eventually climbed up to meet it.

We followed until we reached, many hours later, a statue to a tribesman and a 20th Homeland guy. Probably a Gamma Ghost.

At that point the highway ended, and we climbed down.

We found an impact crater with hills inside, and armed with a map from Chee (who took off), headed into it. We noticed we had a bit more background radiation.

Rad Zone photo GammaWorldGame003_zps5a08c018.jpg

We started to explore it, and spotted a guard - one of those armored men. "Robot" said me. No one disagreed. There was some silly talk about negotiating, but instead we had Princess shoot it in the torso. It turned to us and charged! So we took knees and aimed, and when it got closer (despite another shot from Princess) we shot. It took a few rounds from me, Short Bus, and Barbie (while Caveman watched our flank) and it dropped.

We checked it out - it had US Military-like gear, a bullpup rifle (I took it), a telecoping baton (Barbie took that), and nothing else. Naturally, it was a robot, although uniformed.

Another hill had a burned-out gallows on it. From there, we kept moving and up a hill marked oddly on our map. As we did, Princess saw 3 robots marching around towards us. He got a little jumpy on the trigger and shot the lead one. It charged him as the other two ran the other way. Uh-oh. We charged up the hill, felt the warmth of more radiation, and then turned and ran back. Meanwhile Princess kept shooting, so we lined up and waited for his target to come into view. When the robot did, we shot it to hell.

We stopped there.


Quoting the GM:

"I'll mention a couple of things you left out, not to imply that they're significant, but to be there to remind folks if they look back over your summary to refresh their memories before we play again.

1) Between the Plane Bridge and the outskirts of Kamp Kazoo, the PCs arrived at an intersection at which a number of roads and paths came together. In addition to the road they were already on (coming in from the west, and exiting to the east) there were two overgrown footpaths: one leading northwest and the other southwest. A wide and largely level road went south. In the middle of the intersection was a M*A*S*H-style signpost identifying them, but it was molded over and illegible.

2) Between the entrance to Kamp Kazoo and the Bal'Cree village was a large depression in the ground, about the size of a large sports stadium. Inside were thousands of gravestones arranged in cramped rows, like Arlington or the cemeteries for WWII GIs in Normandy.

You also didn't mention the as-yet-unidentified case of "black baseballs" that Caveman stashed in his ruck. I'm sure those aren't important, though. I bet the Ghosts just loved playing baseball during downtime in the war with the Badders. If you're going to restore the United States, you gotta restore our national pastime first, otherwise what's the point, right?


I think there are two ways to play Gamma World. One, be serious. Feel the weight of the apocalypse, fret over the lost loved ones and the darkness of the setting. Or just take the joke as it is and get on with shooting mutant badgers. I went for the latter from the word go, because that's how I like my games to unfold.

The game was slightly on rails, which is pretty much ideal when you get started - everyone wants to do stuff, no one has any idea what that stuff could be.

Our GM is using GURPS, fairly light as far as I can tell, along with a lot from GURPS Action. The range bands made combat really easy to deal with. Lots of shots at -0, then some a -7, some at -11. No problems, no "I step so my range penalty goes down."

He also rolled damage, so we just shot and saw hits, but had to observe the results. It worked well, and I don't think anyone even batted an eye when he just started that up.

The GM prep work was amazing, too, and let the action unfold smoothly and easily.

It was a really good time, and I'm looking forward to playing out the rest of the session.


  1. I love the whole crazy mutant stuff in Gamma World the monsters and races are unknown. It is a good break from D&D monsters that are already well known. Stormbringer used to have chaos type mutants that were a fun change of pace for D&D style fantasy monsters that the players don't know about in advance. Anyway, I will enjoy reading these, posts.

    1. Sadly for the GM, some of us know Gamma World so well when we saw the badders, we were like, "Don't they have Mental Strength 16 and Empathy?"

      We know too much, but it's still fun.


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