Excerpts Archive | 9/13/2010
Article Header Image
What Is the Gamma World Game?
Gamma World Excerpts

The D&D Gamma World game is a science-fantasy roleplaying game. Heroes armed with amazing mutant powers and advanced technology fight to survive the perils of the world and drive back savagery, ignorance, and inhuman menaces threatening to extinguish what little hope is left for the broken world. It’s a lot like the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game and similar games, but instead of a classic fantasy set ting of elves, dragons, orcs, and such, you’re exploring a world of bizarre, mutated monsters, killer robots, and bloodthirsty marauders.

Like any other roleplaying game, the D&D Gamma World Game is a game of your imagination. It’s part storytelling, part social interaction, part war game, part card game, and part dice game. You and your friends create heroic characters (also known as heroes, adventurers, or explorers) who develop and grow with every challenge they overcome. One player is the Game Master. The Game Master controls the monsters and enemies that the other players’ characters face, narrates the action, and sets up the adventures. Together, the Game Master and the players make the game come alive.

What’ s in this Game?

The D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game box includes the following:

  • 160-page rule book (the book you’re holding), which includes rules for how to play
  • instructions for how to make characters, descriptions of monsters, and your firs t adventure
  • 2 two-sided battle maps
  • 4 character sheets
  • 4 sheets of tokens representing characters and monsters
  • A Game Master’s deck of 80 cards, divided into 40 Alpha Mutation cards and 40 Omega Tech cards

In addition, you’ll probably want to pick up a few D&D Gamma World Booster Packs. These contain additional Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech cards. You can play the game using only the Game Master’s deck, but the cards in the booster packs let you customize your character with a broader selection of powers.

Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech Cards

The mutant abilities your character gains and the advanced tech he or she finds are highly unpredictable. One minute, you could have feelers that help you avoid walking into walls in the dark, and the next minute, you might manifest a deadly disintegrating touch. The gear you find might be a 25th-century teddy bear or a fusion rifle. These variable aspects of your character are reflected by the Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech cards you draw during play. The D&D Gamma World Game includes a starter deck of 80 cards, but you can build your own mutation and tech decks by purchasing additional D&D Gamma World Booster Packs. (The booster pack included with the starter shows you a sample of the cards you can get.)

Using Cards

The D&D Gamma World Game introduces an unusual element to Dungeons & Dragons games: collectible cards that represent your most powerful or unusual mutations and the items of advanced technology you possess. These are known as Alpha Mutations and Omega Tech. You can play using only the s tarter cards that came in the game box, but a player can create a customized character by building his or her own Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech decks from booster packs. Likewise, a Game Master can also customize his or her own decks.

Preparing for Play

Before a game, the Game Master sorts the cards from each starter deck by type, creating a Game Master’s Alpha Mutation deck and Game Master’s Omega Tech deck, shuffles them, and keeps them separate. These decks might also include additional cards from booster packs the Game Master added to adjust the flavor of the decks.

All the cards in the game box are part of the Game Master’s decks. Players can either use the Game Master’s decks or create their own decks from booster packs. Each player-created deck must include at least seven cards of the proper type (mutation or tech) and can’t have more than two copies of any specific card—no fair filling your Omega Tech deck with nothing but fusion rifles!

Using Cards in Play

The Game Master doesn’t use cards for the monsters or villains—they’re only for player characters. Sometimes players draw cards from the Game Master’s deck, and sometimes they draw from their own decks (if they have decks; if not, all draws are from the Game Master’s decks). A card can be in one of three locations:

Draw Deck: Cards that you haven’t drawn yet are in a draw deck. There are two draw decks (one for Alpha Mutation cards, and one for Omega Tech cards). If you have your own decks, shuffle each one separately before play begins, and keep them face down—you might know what’s in your deck, but you don’t know when a specific card is going to come up.

Readied: When you draw a card, you place it face up on the table and it becomes readied. While you have a card readied, you can use the power or benefit described on it. You can have only a limited number of Alpha Mutation cards readied at a time, but you can have any number of Omega Tech cards readied. Readied Omega Tech cards remain readied—they’re in play until you use them up.

Discard: Put cards you have expended in a discard pile. Don’t return them to your draw deck. Discard your Alpha Mutation cards at the end of each encounter (even if you didn’t use them); you also discard them if you experience an Alpha flux. If you use the power of an Omega Tech card during an encounter, at the end of that encounter make a check to determine if the card remains readied or if you have to discard it (you might be able to salvage an Omega Tech card before discarding it; see "Salvaging Omega Tech," page 69). During an extended rest, reshuffle your Alpha Mutation cards and your Omega Tech cards back into their respective draw decks.

Rebuilding Decks

The Game Master and each player rebuild their Alpha and Omega decks at the end of a game session or when the player characters stop adventuring to take an extended rest. Discarded cards are returned to their respective decks and each deck is shuffled. Be careful not to mix cards from a player’s deck with the Game Master’s deck. If the Game Master’s deck runs out of cards during a game session, reshuffle the Game Master’s deck and continue play, but do not reshuffle player decks before the end of a session.

Excerpt Schedule

Monday Friday

September 13

What’s in the Game

September 17

Character Overview

September 20

Character Origins

September 24


September 27

Running a Game

October 1

Monster: Porker

October 4

Monster: Robot

October 8