I wish Gamma World became “New d20 System”

The new Gamma World was a game I walked into with high skepticism, but ultimately found it quirky enough to love. My players go batshit with it, and every session is a laugh riot (whether I want it to be or not.)  It’s not the somewhat grim, surreal survival post-apocalypse I want it to be (still waiting on Darwin’s World: Savage World edition.) But, it’s quick to pick up and play. My players are constantly torn between keeping their characters or rolling new ones. It’s easy (for me) to ad-lib and run with minimal preparation. Overall, it was a good purchase for our “off nights” and spontaneous urges to play something.

But my favorite elements of Gamma World isn’t the quirky, gonzo humor. The power and item cards, while fun in play, are easily a feature I could handle tossing to the wayside. What I adore most about the new Gamma World is what WoTC has pulled off: a complete RPG experience in a single 160 page booklet. Despite its foundation being based off one of the most book-heavy rules systems, they managed a single product that covers everything from character creation, to combat, conditions and monsters. Sure, it was a box set with maps and tokens and cards….but it could easily stand with just the book.

And deep down inside, I wish they would strip it down again, and give us a new skeleton to keep in our toolbox.

Silly Idea: a new d20 Stand Alone, or “GSLite”.

This is simply a hypothetical “Wouldn’t it be cool if” scenario. How awesome would it be if they used the same basic rules structure from Gamma World, but gave it a more generic, universal approach? Give us a thick, single book like the size of the Rules Compendium. Give us varying lists of generic Origins (Hell, you could mimic Races/Backgrounds/Classes/Archetypes with these.) Have a diverse group of opponents that span different genres…Thugs, grunts, some basic monsters, zombies, robots etc. Finally, give some brief advice articles on world building, creating a setting, and designing your own foes and playable origins.

What can I say? I read through Gamma World and the one thing I kept thinking was this should have been WoTC’s answer to Savage Worlds. They saved all of 4E’s mechanics and core rules but made it more abstract, loose and adjustable for players to reskin to their liking. I think it would have brought a lot of anti-4E and non-D&D gamers to see how cool the core system actually is, and maybe open them up a bit to checking out the rest of the D&D game lines just to farm compatible ideas.

While this product may never come into existence, the good news is my skull contains a dangerous factory for crazy ideas. Just because I am a self proclaimed “RPG tinker gnome”,  don’t be surprised if you see some crazy future blog posts containing some home brew adaptations.

3 thoughts on “I wish Gamma World became “New d20 System””

  1. Amen to that. Strip 4e bare and it would make a brilliant generic system. Gamma World proves it can be done.

    I’ve considered retro-fitting D&D’s race & classes into Gamma World’s Origins system to simplify them. Good to know I’m not the only one with crazy ideas 🙂

    1. No you’re not crazy. I was thinking a roll on a Racial and Class origin tables, and letting the players decide which was Primary and Secondary to them. That way if someone rolled something like “Dwarven Thief” they could decide if they want to focus on their class more (being sneaky, backstabby) or their racial background (being a stout, tough stubborn brute.)

  2. I have been waiting for a generic system to replate what d20 Modern/Future was for 3.0. This is it. With slight modifications to various origins, I have the basic Strong, Fast, Tough, Dedicated, Charismatic, and Smart classes. Racial Origins are just as easy. GW takes the strengths of 4.0 without bogging down in specialized feats and optimized character builds.

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