Ability Scores vs. Level

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Hey, I just purchased Gamma World earlier this week, and plan to run it with some friends. Reading through the book, and then re-reading the relevant section, I noticed that ability scores don't change whatsoever through the course of a character's life. This seems pretty unbalanced; you mean to tell me that a level 1 character and a level 10 character have the same Strength bonus? If there are any homebrew solutions to this, it would be great to hear; I'm a little bit stumped by this oddity.
That's correct. Unlike D&D 4e, Gamma World does not increase your abilities with your level. I don't know why, they just don't.

I mean, if you wanted to do that, you could but think about the origin powers, criticals, and alpha mutations you get. Does GW really need ability increases as well?

If you choose to house rule, I'd go with either the 4e rules for benefits by level for the heroic tier.
Alright, that sounds like a solid backup option. I'm going to try and run the game with non-modded rules and see how the balance works out. I just can't imagine modifier-based things and the like scaling well, but now I have a backup plan. Thanks!
The other thing to think about is that Mutants get a bonus at every level. Heroes get one every other level.

Attribute bonuses come one every four, right? So you've got another 2 +1's from 1st to 10th. 

So even with 10's across the board on both characters, a mutant has +10 to every roll he makes and a hero has +5 to every roll and +2 to one attribute or +1 to two attributes. 

I think the system balances out okay even without stat bonuses.  
What Kaz said.  It's already abstracted into the system. In D&D, you would be selecting feats, getting magic items with "pluses", raising ability scores, etc as you level up, plus the half your level thing. You don't do any of that in Gamma World. Instead, you just add your whole level to everything. It's supposed to represent all of that.
Yeah, its not unbalanced. In fact, much of the system seems pretty direct out of the 4e DMG's system for built-in enhancement bonuses in low-magic campaigns.

The math adds up more or less the same. In fact, I think Gamma World Chars actually come out a little ahead on the accuracy scale if you aren't counting untyped feat-stacking cheese in 4e.

Certainly, in practice, my players didn't have much trouble hitting monsters, and the monsters didnt have much trouble hitting them. GW is supposed to be fast-paced and brutal.
It's already abstracted into the system.

Boy, the number of editorials I've seen over the years tied to this very statement. Folks used to bash older editions of D&D for having combat that wasn't realistic enough because it didn't follow every sword thrust and parry, but the early editorials in Dragon from the 1970's clearly explained what D&D combat was supposed to represent. I think that game designers ought to do a more complete job of explaining things that are "abstracted" into a game mechanic so that players can see the big picture better.

I agree that in GW stat increases aren't needed because of the way mutations work. Character development is well balanced without them. Since it's your game feel free to advance stats if your characters feel cheated otherwise. Keep in mind, however, that older editions of D&D worked just fine without the stat increases, either. Your players may be used to stat gains, but that's a player perception and not a design necessity.




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

To springboard off of my earlier thought (and honestly I don't know if anyone but me is interesed in this), it's interesting to look at the development of GW over the decades. I played 1E back in the late 1970's and the basic rules system was clearly based off of D&D but also had some differences. For example, some of the early editions had no rules for character advancement.

I think that one difference between D&D and GW is the style of each game. D&D has its spellcasters but also has a high percentage of characters based on combat. Many of the stat bonuses directly attach to combat actions, so increasing stats helps fighter types increase fighting ability. In GW nearly everyone is like a magic-user, since they all have mutations (which are conceptually similar to "spells" in D&D). If D&D had been designed to be a Magic-user-only game, it would have followed a different evolutionary path as well.

Just two cents from an old, crusty guy. Wink

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

I think that game designers ought to do a more complete job of explaining things that are "abstracted" into a game mechanic so that players can see the big picture better.


Yes, a standalone game that is complete and working without any reference to the other game needs to explain that it uses a different bonus advancement that abstractly matches up with the same evel advancement that a completely different RPG uses, by making reference to a number of game mechanics and terms that do not exist in GW.

This makes perfect sense, and should be mandatory - clearly.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!
Hey, I just purchased Gamma World earlier this week, and plan to run it with some friends. Reading through the book, and then re-reading the relevant section, I noticed that ability scores don't change whatsoever through the course of a character's life. This seems pretty unbalanced; you mean to tell me that a level 1 character and a level 10 character have the same Strength bonus? If there are any homebrew solutions to this, it would be great to hear; I'm a little bit stumped by this oddity.



Sure it looks weird to someone coming from 4e, but really: you don't trust that the designers knew what they were doing? Play it before you dissect it!
but really: you don't trust that the designers knew what they were doing?



Actually, a lot of people don't entirely trust the designers. And a fair number of OTHER people think those people are somewhat justified even if they dont share the sentiment.

WotC has a had a long history of putting out poorly-balanced or unwisely-made things. Its been a problem since they took over full time with 3rd Edition. I know a LOT of 3.5 DMs who just stopped allowing new material in general after awhile because the power creep got so bad, and there's been loads of cases in 4E where powers that were blatantly broken were published and had to be overhauled a month or two after release.

I'm not trying to malign WotC or anything on this point (I personally think they have a hell of a lot of things to keep track of, and do a pretty decent job, and at least they DO erratta their mistakes), but I can easilly see why someone would be leery of new changes to a system.

I mean, look at the business of Monster Creation and Skill Check DCs. They just screwed up big time on the math for that one with the initial release of 4E, and managed to even spawn a new derogotory term in the community (feat tax) because of how they first tried to fix it.

So, I can see why people would start looking critically at something before even having tried it.
but really: you don't trust that the designers knew what they were doing?



Actually, a lot of people don't entirely trust the designers. And a fair number of OTHER people think those people are somewhat justified even if they dont share the sentiment.

WotC has a had a long history of putting out poorly-balanced or unwisely-made things. Its been a problem since they took over full time with 3rd Edition. I know a LOT of 3.5 DMs who just stopped allowing new material in general after awhile because the power creep got so bad, and there's been loads of cases in 4E where powers that were blatantly broken were published and had to be overhauled a month or two after release.

I'm not trying to malign WotC or anything on this point (I personally think they have a hell of a lot of things to keep track of, and do a pretty decent job, and at least they DO erratta their mistakes), but I can easilly see why someone would be leery of new changes to a system.

I mean, look at the business of Monster Creation and Skill Check DCs. They just screwed up big time on the math for that one with the initial release of 4E, and managed to even spawn a new derogotory term in the community (feat tax) because of how they first tried to fix it.

So, I can see why people would start looking critically at something before even having tried it.

I largely agree with this sentiment, but at the same time, I don't actually think there was power creep in 3.5 other than the occasional broken spell or feat (like Divine Channeling). If anything, there was _reverse_ power creep, because all the best classes were in the Player's Handbook and all the splatbook classes sucked, with rare exceptions like Dread Necromancer and Warmage which were not actually more powerful than PHB classes like the Druid or Cleric.  Even the Tome of Battle classes in the end were not more powerful than the PHB high water mark classes; sure, maybe they were better than the Fighter but the Fighter was underpowered to start with, not balanced appropriately to a proper power tier. Even then, they were largely doing one high-damage attack per round instead of attacking 4 times per round, and it often balanced out in total damage output.

I don't actually think there was power creep in 3.5 other than the occasional broken spell or feat (like Divine Channeling). If anything, there was _reverse_ power creep, because all the best classes were in the Player's Handbook and all the splatbook classes sucked, with rare exceptions like Dread Necromancer and Warmage which were not actually more powerful than PHB classes like the Druid or Cleric.



The only real reason those classes were more powerful was because of the newer stuff. If you compared a straight fighter or wizard with PHB only feats, to a Swordmage with only Tome of Battle feats, Swordmage had more powerful stuff hands down. Same goes for many other pairings. That's power creep.

Likewise, a Wizard with only PHB stuff is far less powerful than a Wizard with access to all the other books. Again, thats power creep.
Yes, a standalone game that is complete and working without any reference to the other game needs to explain that it uses a different bonus advancement that abstractly matches up with the same evel advancement that a completely different RPG uses, by making reference to a number of game mechanics and terms that do not exist in GW.

This makes perfect sense, and should be mandatory - clearly.


Funny, but you actually said two things that are opposites (although I see where you are coming from!). If it's truly "standalone" and "complete" then it wouldn't need to have additional explanation. Wink

The real problem is that it uses a pre-existing game system (D&D 4E) and when it deviates from that system it ought to warn players so they don't get confused. So you see something that isn't the same as the root system and think it's a problem, but the designers should be a bit more proactive with "behind the screen" kind of notes to explain why they chose to be different.

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

If it's truly "standalone" and "complete" then it wouldn't need to have additional explanation.


It doesn't. You (and the OP) are the ones asking for additional explanation... but that explanation is NOT NECESSARY.
Everything you need to know is in the complete, standalone game.
The fact it might be different from what you expect quite simply does not matter.
The book says "these are the numbers." End of discussion.

The real problem is that it uses a pre-existing game system (D&D 4E) and when it deviates from that system it ought to warn players so they don't get confused.


Does Mutants and Masterminds tell you every single way it deviates from d20OGL? No, it does not.
It doesn't have to. Everything you need to know is in the complete, standalone game.
Anything that's different? Is NOT part of the game and thus does not matter.
If you end up confused, it's YOUR probem. The solution is to RTFM, and stop trying to impose rules from a different game on this one.

A game is not standalone if it is making rule references to another product.
It uses a game engine, but it is not using the exact same rules.
It does not need to explain where it differs, or why.

Most of all, it does not have to justify it's changes. It doesn't have to be balanced against another, unconnected game, and it doesn't have to explain anything... beyond the complete, stadalone rules.

Which it does.

You want explanation and justification for the baggage you're bringing in yourself.
Here's an example of "baggage".
In a lot of games, "defender wins ties" is a common rule.
Last night I saw some people playing Castle Ravenloft.
Whenever the attack roll exactly matched the target AC, the owner would declare "defender wins ties".
This is not in the rules. Nothing even remotely close to it exists in the rules. But because this guy played games where "defender wins ties", he brought that assumption with him into a game where, on an attack roll, there's no such thing as a tie... and if the roll looks like a tie, then the attacker actually wins.

You're doing the same thing here. You're bringing your assumptions about D&D into a game that's NOT D&D. Gamma World has it's own rules, it lays out all it's rules, and that's it. Your 4E baggage is what's creating the issue... you're trying to import 4E assumptions into a non-4E game... and then you demand explanation and justification for why something that isn't D&D doesn't have the same rules as D&D.

Your explanation and answer is "It's not D&D". There is nothing else to be said. Everything you need to know is in the book.

If you assume that something is a problem because it's not the same as D&D, that's your baggage. You bring in your assumptions about what should be correct, and completely disregard the fact that the rules (the thing you are questioning) says what actually is correct.

You say it should warn players? What, the fact it's GAMMA WORLD isn't enough of a warning that it is not D&D?
Your proposed "behind the screen" notes are completely inappropriate for such a product. You do not refer to the rules of a different game inside a separate game, it will do nothing but cause confusion.

OTOH, it would be fine as a web article for anyone curious. But there's no absolute need or requirement (nor incentive) to do it.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!

Does Mutants and Masterminds tell you every single way it deviates from d20OGL? No, it does not.
It doesn't have to. Everything you need to know is in the complete, standalone game.
Anything that's different? Is NOT part of the game and thus does not matter.
If you end up confused, it's YOUR probem. The solution is to RTFM, and stop trying to impose rules from a different game on this one.

A game is not standalone if it is making rule references to another product.
It uses a game engine, but it is not using the exact same rules.
It does not need to explain where it differs, or why.

It's not a complete, standalone game. It makes references to rules elements from D&D, like Charge, that are not explained within the GW booklet.

You say it should warn players? What, the fact it's GAMMA WORLD isn't enough of a warning that it is not D&D?

It's not Gamma World anymore. It is, in fact, referred to incessantly both on the cover and within the booklet as D&D Gamma World.
It's not a complete, standalone game. It makes references to rules elements from D&D, like Charge, that are not explained within the GW booklet.


That is an editing error, not a deliberately designed dependency on a completely separate and unrelated product.

You say it should warn players? What, the fact it's GAMMA WORLD isn't enough of a warning that it is not D&D?

It's not Gamma World anymore. It is, in fact, referred to incessantly both on the cover and within the booklet as D&D Gamma World.

And I just played 4 games of D&D Castle Ravenloft.

Should I assume that has the same rules as 4E, and that it's not a complete game?
It doesn't mention opportunity attacks, so it must be incomplete, and I need to reference a completely different product line to be sure.

CLEARLY.

Use some uncommon sense. Sheesh.
AlexandraErin: If last season was any indication, I think Encounters is pretty much the elemental opposite of "organized" play!

If it's truly "standalone" and "complete" then it wouldn't need to have additional explanation.


It doesn't. You (and the OP) are the ones asking for additional explanation... but that explanation is NOT NECESSARY.
Everything you need to know is in the complete, standalone game.
The fact it might be different from what you expect quite simply does not matter.
The book says "these are the numbers." End of discussion.

Use some uncommon sense. Sheesh.

I guess my reply would be “use some tact.” In other words, don’t assume that folks with questions and/or comments are morons.

I wasn’t asking for clarification. If you read my posts you’ll see that I was offering explanation and bringing in a historical perspective of Gamma World through the decades. Historically the game was “built” on various editions of D&D and this is still true today.


Also, it’s advertised as “D&D Gamma World” which implies that it’s based on D&D. Sure, it’s designed to be standalone and advertised as such for newbies, but it’s also D&D which means that veterans have certain expectations. If you vary from those expectations, it would be clever to give some explanations or details about those changes. Not “mandatory” by any means, but a game designer ought to think ahead and anticipate things that might confuse the customer. That’s what playtesting is all about. That’s why there are so many interesting discussions on these boards, since we don’t all interpret the same sentence or paragraph in the same way.


I agree that if one reads carefully the rules clearly spell out how things are done in GW, but if a person has played D&D 4E before then this person may not realize the necessity of looking for changes or variations between GW and D&D. Most people tend to skim what they “know” and fill in details with what they expect to find. If they mess up, don't blast people for it.

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

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