Actual Playability and Longevity of Gamma World

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Let me start off by saying I LOVE Gamma World in all its incarnations.

I'm wondering how many here are currently running GW as a campaign or just one-shots between other games.

I am not nor ever was a D&D4e player/DM. I stopped at 3.5 and went back to Basic and AD&D for my fantasy. When this version of GW came out I was sketchy at best and not looking forward to the Card mechanic... However in the end I bought all 3 GW sets and have a full set of Cards also.

I ran a few combat sessions to get myself up to par with some friends, felt pretty good and set out to run a Games Day at my Local RPG store because they had never signed up for the GW Game Day and I had no clue about it. I ended up DMing for 1 player and it actually went very well. I made up everything off the cuff and used random monsters right from the book. Also I ran the Game Day adventure "Trouble in Freesboro" at Home for my regular group.

Now this is where I have major issues, and am wondering if others have had the same. Or am I just not getting the whole 4E thing!?!?!?

My regular group was 6 players and I did not alter the adventure in any way. I wanted to play it straight and we would all learn together. Now I have been in RPG's since '82 and so have all my players. I discovered that (and this may be because the group was too big) this version of GW turned into 1-1/2 to 2 hour long sessions of just tactical tabletop combat with each encounter! Players getting bogged down with what choices to make for everything from Quick or Powerful? At-Will or Encounter? Omega Tech or Alpha mutation? Did I add ALL the bonuses correctly?

I know some of it was all of our collective non 4E knowledge, but it took us about 8 hours total to complete that adventure over 3 seperate game sessions with very little role-playing involved. By the End I was wiped and we never played  GW4e again.

That session I ran for 1 player at the Game Store for about 2 1/2 hours was completely the opposite. The kid had no prior RPG knowledge, we rolled up a PC together for him. There was a ton non-dice rolling roleplaying and 4 encounters with different monsters. Now granted he did run from 2 of those encounters but still....

I am currently getting ready to dive in again with 2 PC's this time and see how it goes. I do NOT like the way the 4E system wants me to balance encounters to the PC's. I like to have what ever I want in an area and the PC's talk or battle it. If they start getting thier butt kicked they better run. I do NOT change or alter the monsters from the book either. Alot of times I noticed I forgot to have monsters do things because the Stat blocks were, well, too long.

Do battles (encounters) take this long normally in GW or D&D4E, is what I'm going through normal for this version of GW?

What have you guys actually expierenced in GW playability.
How many PC's do you typically have?

Thanks for listening.
The more people you add, the longer the encounters are going to go.  Naturally, the more people you have, the harder or more enemies you have to have to keep the encounters competative.

I play 4E a lot, and am starting to put together a gamma world game, and yes, combats can sometimes last literally for hours.  But some nights we have almost no combat and all in character rping.  Just depends on where the story takes us that night.  (We also use a forum for some of the rping, since many of us live a long way away, keeps us in contact. ;) )

But yeah, the sweet spot in 4E and this edition of GW I would imagine as well, is about 4 players.  Any more and it gets bogged down, and any less and you have to start altering the encounters to make them a little easier.

I would have your players start off at level one, and work your way up from there, so they can get used to their characters as they add other combat options in.  The number one thing to stress before going into combat, is know what you can do, and when are good times to do what you do.  Make characters the day before maybe, and let the players go over them, maybe give them some strategy talk time before the session starts so they can get some basic ideas of what should happen down. (Would definately recomend this for any 1 shot group.)

Once you are familiar DMing 4E and the players become more familiar with thier characters, and with the system in general, combat should speed up a lot.

Hope this helps! 

Since 3rd edition (and possibly 2nd, but I never ran a game under those rules, so dont accurately recall the encounter design paradigm there) D&D has been geared for a DM and 4 players (one of each class group fighter/mage, cleric, thief). in fact in the CR system of 3rd and 3.5 it states that the CR rating numbers should be equal to the everage level of a group of 4.


Not sure if they kept that paradigm with 4th and GW but it would be no suprise.

Yeah, it is pretty similar, in 4E you want one each of striker, defender, controller, and leader.  You can get by without the controller, but it makes it a bit more difficult.

In GW there are no true roles, since the origins are supposed to be random, and you'll never know what you're going to have at the table.  That's why I'd recomend the pregame strategy talk so everyone knows what everyone else can do. 
Thanks guys,

I feel the game will flow better with between 2-4 players. I saw longer battle times with 3e as well it just seemed outrageous to me in GW. But, 6-7 PC's + monsters will do that....

I never agreed with the whole "1 of each class for best party results". I believe PC's should be what they want (or in GW case roll for Origin) and plan and play smart. Or at least as smart as they can.

As I stated above, I don't equalize enemies to PC's. If I think a monster is what I want in an area and it works in my adventure idea it's there. I play rather more Sand-box than railroad, so it works because they can always return later to fight a monster that had previously whipped the parties butts.

Do you guys always use counters and maps when an ENCOUNTER occurs?

I ask because I feel you could not use them and still have a successful ENCOUNTER. After all even D&D did not always have to use battle-mats and minis.

I did not use any counters or maps with the single player intro game I did and it went great.

Has anyone else NOT used the counters and maps for ENCOUNTERS? This is something I'm going to give a whirl in my upcoming game.
My group uses the battle mats, but that is mostly because we all really like military strategy, so we really take our time with combat encounters.

One of my old groups never used a map of any kind.  The DM did have some cool pics of all our locations, but that was about it.

So I've seen it both ways, but with 4E/GW I do perfer the map. 
Not long ago I created and ran a GW adventure. There were four combat and one skill challenge. This took about four hours to run. Most of the time drag was because two of the three players had never played before and it was my first time GMing a Gamma World. We were checking the rules a lot and making mistakes but, all and all we though it ran quicker than a usual D&D4E game. We consiter Gamma World as 4E lite. We enjoyed the faster pace making it a roller coaster type of experience. As I practice and tweak my mistakes it should go smoother and maybe quicker. I'm not trying to rush a game but a game that can be concluded in one session is so pleasant.
Our group has had similar issues. We have six players and a GM (me) and battle situations just seem to take forever. I'm hoping to figure out a way to streamline this somehow but so far I don't have any great solutions.

I've been hoping that someone would publish a 4E-lite system (perhaps the boardgames will do) so I can play without all of the powers, etc, but I fear that 5E will be out before I see this.

Marv (Finarvyn) Master of Mutants (MA and GW) Playing 5E D&D and liking it! OD&D player since 1975

...
Do you guys always use counters and maps when an ENCOUNTER occurs?

I ask because I feel you could not use them and still have a successful ENCOUNTER. After all even D&D did not always have to use battle-mats and minis.

I did not use any counters or maps with the single player intro game I did and it went great.

Has anyone else NOT used the counters and maps for ENCOUNTERS? This is something I'm going to give a whirl in my upcoming game.



Mightyeroc,

In my games I do not always use the map and mini's. I try only to use it for larger "more important" battles. Because I don't want my players I have devised a system that we use o have a quicker fight for just battling random encounters and mooks... You can still fully use your powers and what not, but it takes out the tactical sense movement and makes a more "magic the gathering" like feeling of combat.

We did this because in the beginning levels of a 4e game, we were able to run a group of 4 players against a group of enemies and complete it in about 30 minutes. But as we went up levels the encounters became more complex and some take 2 hours complete (at level 5+). Players just had more options to use. I shudder to think about DnD at level 20+.

Perhaps in the comming days I will outline this speed process.


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I've been hoping that someone would publish a 4E-lite system (perhaps the boardgames will do) so I can play without all of the powers, etc, but I fear that 5E will be out before I see this.



Finarvyn,

Could you please clarify what you mean about "boardgames" will do?

Did you mean you hope that someone creates a 'Castle Ravenloft' type GW game? (Some did do so... but it does not exist anymore.) Search Gamma World & Castle Ravenloft on Google... You should find good information. I will try to email you the link....

Or did you mean something else?

I am feeling better about not using the counters and battlemats except for BIG battles, as DrWonder said.

I was alittle afraid that without those items players would feel they were getting ripped off! But I do believe as in Original D&D, this version can be played without those items. The DM just has to be really good at describing the scene etc.  And let's be honest a ranged radiation ray of 10sq is still 50 feet in literal description.

In 2 weeks I should be running a GW game for my brother and a friend. I am going to run it without maps and counters. I will post about it.
...
I've been hoping that someone would publish a 4E-lite system (perhaps the boardgames will do) so I can play without all of the powers, etc, but I fear that 5E will be out before I see this.

Could you please clarify what you mean about "boardgames" will do?

Did you mean you hope that someone creates a 'Castle Ravenloft' type GW game? (Some did do so... but it does not exist anymore.) Search Gamma World & Castle Ravenloft on Google... You should find good information. I will try to email you the link....



I meant that using the three 4E-based board games as a general RPG system seems a lot easier than running actual 4E, since no one seems to have created a 4E-lite product like I'm hoping to find.

I got the link but can't seem to get past the "are you a human" security to download the darned thing. Embarassed Whatever words I type in don't seem to be what the computer is looking for.

Marv (Finarvyn) Master of Mutants (MA and GW) Playing 5E D&D and liking it! OD&D player since 1975

Finarvyn,

I have sent you a message to google docs... see if you can download it.

Anyone else who wants wants it, I can send you a link.
I did get the link, and thanks!

Marv (Finarvyn) Master of Mutants (MA and GW) Playing 5E D&D and liking it! OD&D player since 1975

When running larger amounts of players (7-16) I have found it useful to not use a battlemap, but use a small DM map where I keep track of all characters and creatures.  I do it loosely.  Player says I move here, I tell them whether or not they can.  All push pull slides etc turn into direct to hit bonuses or damage bonuses, players choice.  All players should have their action thought of before hand so their turn goes fast.  The basic rule of thumb;  the more players, the simpler and faster each turn has to be.

This system has evolved a little.  In every group of players, it always seems their is one players who likes the tactical sides of things.  We let him/her run all player movement (with consultation from the moving player).  It does speed things up.  He/she usually knows what would be the best move for said player.  Of course, the player sometimes wants to do something, and that is fine.

I also use loose "moral" rules.  If it is turning into a hp slugfest and it is obvious the players are going to win, and it fits within the context of the encounter, the monsters break or surrender.  It can create good RP'ing moments.

Using these guidelines, with a normal sized group of 5-7, we can clear a lot of encounters in a night.
PeelSeelTwo, thanks!

That is all very helpful, and sort of where I was thinking of taking it. I do the loose "morale" thing as well so fights don't drag out to a "video game" conclusion.

As stated before I was always a bit worried Players might feel jipped somehow if I did not use a battlemap.
My group is playing two GW campaigns right now.  I am running a home-brew campaign where the PC's have just hit 6th level, and one of my players is running the published mods.  

I enjoy GW but after these campaigns I think we'll give it a rest for a while and try another system.  
This will be my first foray into a GW4e campaign, we'll see how long it goes. I would like to at least get through all 3 published modules, "Steading of the Iron King" is now finished.

You can follow our progress in our Group:  Flori-Duh Gammarauders

if anyone is interested.

My longest Gamma World Campaigns were with 2nd ed. throughout the mid eighties into the early 90's.

I also ran a Mutant Future (retro clone GW) / Metamorphosis Alpha combo mini campaign, gosh 2 years ago now that lasted about 4 months.

But GW no matter the version was always my backup game of choice.
Combat grindfest 4e happens when:

1. The DM is unwilling to allow combats to be resolved without playing through the fight.

Specifically if you just automatically call for initiative when the players walk into a room full of monsters, you're heading for combat grindfest. Additionally if every monster only attempts diplomacy so it can get the jump on the players later, you'll head towards combat grindfest. If your monsters are content to wait in their lair completely alert 24/7 and never ever leave it no matter what... combat grindfest.

Let your players negotiate. Let your players lure monsters into ambushes. Let your players sneak past monsters.

2. You have too many equal-level soldiers and brutes, and too many higher levelled monsters, or other similar "you can't hurt me" creatures.

If this happens, defenses get high, the players miss a lot, and the players have tons of hitpoints to grind through. Result - longer combats. You're much better off facing players with 2 equal-levelled creatures than 1 higher level creature of an equivalent xp budget. Even better is to put in tons of minions.

This also covers creatures which weaken, stun, daze, slow and blind on a regular basis, or ones which are immune to common damage types. The game gets boring when the players turns are regularly wasted, because monsters take a longer time to die, and during that time your player is just going "I do nothing. again."

3. Your monsters are immune to terrain effects

Players want to have fun and experience your battlefield, and you want the monsters to die in interesting ways. So why are your monsters standing next to a giant lava pit immune to lava? Is that fun at all? This somewhat ties into 2 - wasted turns are boring. At least a couple of times, your players will try to do the smart thing and push a creature into lava, and when that has zero effect, it's a wasted turn that just serves to draw out the combat. It also frustrates the player and makes them less likely to care about how you describe a room.

In concert with 1, feel free to put combat-ending hazards in your game. Don't stop with a measly 3d6 damage for dipping in the lava just because more would insta-kill a monster. Bump it right up and speed up the fight for canny players. Make the deathtrap dance-of-death room a real deathtrap.

Of course if you do these, make sure the players know that environmental hazards are likely to be really nasty.
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