Gamma World Newbie - Setting Question

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So I picked up Gamma World and I have been trying to wrap my head around the game world, but haven't completely succeeded.  Sections in the rules book that explain the setting and environments of Gamma World are very brief.  Even the monster entries don't have very good descriptions.  The fluff in this box is dismal and to me that's a problem because this is my first encounter with Gamma World.  I looked at the adventure in the back of the book and the fluff isn't there either.

Can someone explain to me what the setting of Gamma World is supposed to be like, other than just a post apocalyptic  Earth?   It just seems really vague and I REALLY want to make the most out of the game when i run it for my group.  Humor seems to be the thing to emphasize the most in the game.  Maybe someone can tell me why they think this game is so fun? But I definitely need some advice here on the setting.  Its not that I don't think I could fill in the gaps myself, but I am more trying to be prepared to create a game that IS Gamma World represented like it should be, you know?

"Lost? Confused? Lacking direction? Need to find a purpose in your life?"

     -Welcome to Night Vale Proverb

My first piece of advice would be to not try to make it funny or silly.  Just let that happen when it happens.

As for the vagueness of the setting, it really is to give you the room to run it how you want.  The basic premise is that an infinite number of possible realities got compressed and collapsed in on themselves.  Included in those realities are nuclear devastation, aliens and a whole slew of stuff.

You really can't get it wrong.  If you want an area to play in, maps, names, etc., simply take your home town/area and imagine if it got hit with nuclear weapons and sometime over the next 150 years, resettled by a variety of mutants, survivors and monsters.  As well, a good bunch of alternate timelines, aliens and any other sci-fi thing you can think of gets dumped into the area.

Some buildings away from major blast sites would still be around, others would be newly built.  Others would have warped in from other timelines. 

Setting is a bit of an issue with GW since it and the backstory tend to subtly change each edition.  I mean, its a direct descendent of a game that was set on a multi-level starship, so its very hard to pin down.  Most previous editions had the apocalypse set as centuries from now (think of movies like Blade Runner with hovercars and stuff), the game set thousands of years after that, and mutations and tech being the results of leftover science in the rubble infecting the world over that time.  In this edition the apocalypse in a couple of years, the game is only set a couple of centuries later, and mutations and tech come from an influx of material from alternate dimensions and timelines (like in other games like Rifts and Torg).  Its really sort of a mess, and since its now intended as an small introductory game they don't have space to lavish on sorting it out past the material on p4.

Anyway, the simplest way to think about the current setting is to take your favorite post-apolacyptic media property (the Fallout game series and Mad Max movies particularly) and then assume that a whole bunch of gateways to other movies and games opened up and vomited a sample of their stuff into that world, and then closed without warning.  So you've basically got fortress cities with unwashed people using bad sci-fi slang and equipment duct taped together from multiple sources, fending off armies of biker gangs, things from horror movies, and the live action versions of cartoon characters...  And as far as that last bit, keep in mind that a cartoon character unleashed in the real world and played seriously is probably WAY more frightening and lethal then a horror movie monster, even if it looks friendier at first, since they function by an entirely alien set of rules.

I see.  So basically the GM has to create the setting based on the principles which the background story glosses over.  Well, thanks for the answers you provided.  

My group likes to get into role play a bit before they go off and start combat.  So I am going to have to create a brief setting for them to get a sense of the Gamma World game on my own.  The "foothills" make me think of San Gabriel Valley (for those of us in California).  So maybe since I am using the adventure in the back of the book I will go for that as the basis of my setting and mutate, twist and apocalypsize away the terrain!  Maybe I'll even throw in a couple of descendants of folks my friends and I know for kicks (i.e. the great grandson of your current boss)! 

Thanks everyone. 

"Lost? Confused? Lacking direction? Need to find a purpose in your life?"

     -Welcome to Night Vale Proverb

You can't go too far wrong setting your GW game in the general area you live, your hometown, or some other place you (and your players) are very familiar with.  Occassionally coming accross a ruined 'Tomb of the Ancients' that you recognize is fun.  With the weirdness of the Big Mistake setting, you can also cross it with a fictional setting or genre you're into.  If there's a cyberpunk setting you like, just assume that 'Xi' hit your corner of Gamma Terra particularly hard, for instance, and include chunks of that setting.

 

 

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Just a quick example from my particular campaign. The players have a map to the 'Jade Palace' which is going to turn out to be a Chinese Food Warehouse overrun with mutant rats - stupid fun for all involved.