Gamma Terra is a dangerous place. If you want to make it to the next town, you’d better go well armed. Ancient firearms are the best choice for self-defense, but they’re expensive. If you can’t afford a gun, a sword or a crossbow is an acceptable fallback.
According to legend, the Ancients bought the things they needed using dirty paper or little plastic cards, but among the towns and tribes, these aren’t worth a whole lot. Merchants and local lords try to make coinage of precious metal, or repurpose Ancient coinage by stamping it with their own emblems and values. Such currencies retain their values only in those limited domains, or among people that have resources to burn on the pretty “shinies.” People throw around words such as “silver dollars” and “gold bullion,” but you can’t eat such valuables—not without the right mutations! Barter is the rule of the day, especially in savage lands; a handful of rifle bullets is worth weeks of provisions or a good horse. Ancient devices are often worth at least a few dollars even if they’re old junk, since they can be stripped for parts and used to keep other devices functional.
Gear in Gamma Terra falls into two distinct tech levels: tech that was common in most worlds before the Big Mistake, and high-tech items that were either common in only a few alternate worlds, or were available but very rare in most worlds.
Common tech is called scavenged gear. It includes everything commonplace, from weapons and cobbled-together armor to transport and canned food. Everyone’s got some, and sometimes it’s worth trading for more or different scavenged gear. What everyone wants, however, are Omega Tech items.
Omega Tech is better than what can normally be scavenged. These items come from the most advanced of the alternate worlds that appeared during the Big Mistake. The artifacts of these worlds are weapons and devices of awesome power—when they work. A hundred and fifty years is a long time, and a lot of the initial pieces of Omega Tech were burned off in the chaos that followed the convergence. Functional devices of Omega Tech are priceless and are rarely traded, bought, or sold; you acquire Omega Tech by finding it during exploration and adventures.
Anyone who travels more than a few miles from a place of safety in Gamma Terra soon learns that it’s wise to be prepared for anything. You need armor to keep knives and eye beams away from your flesh, and weapons to repay your attackers in kind. But neither one helps you when you get lost in a radioactive desert or find your path blocked by a cliff or a river.
Here are some examples of the various weapon categories that appear as scavenged gear.
Light Melee Weapon: This is an agile weapon that rewards a certain level of finesse in melee combat. Examples: A pair of scissors, a Bowie knife, a short length of rebar, a machete, a Louisville slugger, a souvenir katana.
Heavy Melee Weapon: This is a direct weapon that requires some muscle to use effectively. Examples: A board with a nail in it, a sledge hammer, an iron, an I-beam, a speed limit sign (with post), a parking meter, a television, a chain saw.
Light Ranged Weapon: This is a swift, mobile weapon that you throw at your enemy or that launches an easily crafted or easily collected projectile at the enemy. These weapons don’t require ammunition (page 74), because the game assumes that your character can find or make new projectiles as needed. Examples: A thrown knife, a dart, a makeshift sling, an icicle, a replica shuriken, an aluminum compound bow.
Light Gun: This is a swift, mobile weapon that uses ammunition that you can’t easily find or make yourself. Guns require ammunition (page 74). Examples: A Glock or a Baretta, an assault rifle, a hunting rifle.
Heavy Ranged Weapon: This is a slow but impactful weapon that you throw at your enemy or that launches an easily crafted or easily collected projectile at the enemy. These weapons don’t require ammunition (page 74), because the game assumes that your character can find or make new projectiles as needed. Examples: A thrown hand axe, a sizable rock, a table saw blade, a bowling ball, a potato gun, an Olympic hammer.
Heavy Gun: This is a swift, mobile weapon that uses ammunition that you can’t easily find or make yourself. Guns require ammunition (page 74). Examples: A .45 magnum (the most powerful handgun in the pre-Mistake world), a shotgun, a small but portable autocannon.
Ammunition: Bullets are a limited resource that you must use sparingly. In the D&D Gamma World game, ammunition is abstract: You either have ammo, or you don’t. If you do, you can use ammunition to fire any weapon you have that requires ammunition. If you don’t, you can’t.
If you use ammunition only once in an encounter: You are managing your ammo reserves carefully. At the end of the encounter, you still have ammunition.
If you use ammunition more than once in an encounter: You’re going whole hog—you might as well rock ‘n’ roll, because at the end of the encounter, you are out of ammo. You must acquire more before you can use a weapon that requires ammunition again (if you borrow some from an ally, then that ally is out of ammo.) Your Game Master determines when you find more ammo.
Omega Tech and Salvage
If you have any success at all as an explorer, your best gear won’t be stuff you buy—it’ll be stuff you find, which is represented by Omega Tech cards (page 68). Usually, you’ll have the opportunity to search your surroundings and draw an Omega Tech card after a successful encounter or challenge; your Game Master lets you know when this occurs.
Some Omega Tech cards have a salvage entry, which allows you to make improvised repairs or replace key components with jury-rigged parts to salvage the item. The item never functions at full power again, but it becomes permanently operational using the secondary statistics provided. Other than its exalted origin, salvaged tech is normal equipment.