Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gamma World Supers -- Out of the Box

I mentioned in my recent Gamma World review that the games mechanics felt very much like a super hero role playing game to me and that my current GW game was being run with a post-apocalyptic super hero theme. In my world, the mutant heroes have decided to pick up the legacy of the heroic legends of the Ancients and defend the defenseless. Consider it a Legion of Superheroes meets Ralph Bakshi's Wizards.

But the game could be run as a straight modern super hero game straight out of the box with minimal changes to keep the tone heroic and to avoid comedic randomness. I will make a list of recommendations and follow this with two examples, one a randomly created character and the other a "modeled" character based on an existing superhero.

  • Interpret the origins broadly. Look at what the powers and abilities affect the world around them and use the descriptive text second.
  • To simulate super strong characters do the following. First, use skill checks to simulate lifting capability and base lifting cars etc on an Athletics check (scaled by level). "Hard" difficulties for 10 tons or so and as per page 95, "a super-challenging" check for 100 tons. Require that the character be themed super strong to gain the benefit. Second, use the weapons table on page 74 as your ally. There are no rules for disarming in GW and who says that a "Heavy Two-Handed Melee Weapon" isn't a haymaker? Third, use the abstract armor rules to help you simulate characters like a certain rock covered blue eyed strongman. He's got innate Heavy Armor. It's simple, abstract, and freeform. Go with it.
  • Speaking of that weapons chart, don't be afraid to have it simulate all kinds of super hero attacks. A patriotic shield wielding brawler obviously is using a light one handed ranged weapon. Since the game assumes you "can find or make new projectiles as needed," you can simply rule that the shield returning to his hand is automatic. The "ricochet" ability of said patriot might require a power, but the basic throw doesn't.
  • Take off your Hero System Microscopic Glasses. Don't be afraid to be abstract instead of granular. Rather than requiring a specific rule be crafted for your specific action, modify broad rules to specific applications.

Now for a couple of examples.

Random Hero

Interpreting Plant -- Plant Characters have a high Con (18), a bonus to overcharging biological powers, are trained in nature, have high Fort, are vulnerable to fire, and once an encounter can damage and slow all enemies in a large burst.

Interpreting Yeti -- Yeti are Strong (16) as secondary, are also trained in nature, have a bonus to AC for being tough, resist cold, and can rake with their claws once an encounter, which slows their opponent.

Got it...

Doctor Chillbourne

Doctor Thaddeus Chadbourne was a undergraduate student assisting a professor who researching the polar ice caps when he came upon an amulet in one of his deep core samples. Upon examining the amulet Thaddeus body was altered. He acquired the ability to generate cold and manipulate the water in the air around him to create armor and weaponry. He also discovered that his body structure had become more hardy. He was now super strong and resistant to cold, but alterations in his body make up have made him vulnerable to heat based attacks.

STRENGTH: 16 (+3)
  • Atheletics -- +4
  • Acrobatics +0
  • Stealth +0
  • Conspiracy +1
  • Mechanics +1
  • Science +1
WISDOM: 9 (-1)
  • Insight +0
  • Nature +8
  • Perception +0
CHARISMA: 11 (+0)
  • Interaction +1

HP: 30 Movement: 5 (Heavy Ice Sheath)
AC: 19 (Heavy Ice Sheath)
FORT: 17
REFL: 11
WILL: 11
RESIST: Cold 10, Vuln Fire 5

ATTACKS (Interpreted from Weapons on Page 74)
Blast of Cold (Heavy One Handed Ranged)
Intense Cold Wave (Heavy Two Handed Ranged)
"Ice" Claws (Heavy One Handed Melee)

Heavy Ice Sheath (Heavy Armor)

Chillwave (Encounter as per Lashing Creepers)
Devastating Ice Claw Blow (Encounter as per Big Claws)

BRAIN FREEZE (As per LMAO Base Card)

AMULET OF NEGESTH (As per Flash Neurojack)

I have left out some of the specifics of how the powers work, I want you to buy the game after all, but I am ready to play this character. As you can see, it didn't take much to adapt existing power titles based on their effects. Lashing Creepers does damage and then slows the opponent. That seems like a wave of cold to me. His Athletics check, and Yeti Origin (one of the super strong origins), will let him lift 10 tons on a 13 or better and more on higher rolls, but topping out at 20 tons if I choose a +5 to skill check for double the weight rule with categories doubling with each level increase as well.

Now for the "modeled" character:


STRENGTH: 10 (+0)
  • Atheletics -- +1
DEXTERITY: 18 (+4)
  • Acrobatics +9 (Flying Tricks Only)
  • Stealth +5
  • Conspiracy +1
  • Mechanics +1
  • Science +1
WISDOM: 16 (+3)
  • Insight +4
  • Nature +4
  • Perception +4
CHARISMA: 16 (+3)
  • Interaction +8

HP: 26 Movement: 8
AC: 18 (Flame On!)
FORT: 13
REFL: 17
WILL: 14
RESIST: Fire 10

ATTACKS (Interpreted from Weapons on Page 74)
Fiery Energy Blast (Light One Handed Ranged)
Double Fiery Blast (Light Two Handed Ranged)
Fiery Punch (Light One Handed Melee)

Flame On! (Light Armor)

Fiery Aura (see page 49, house rule auras can be turned off per 4e standard)
Mobile Assault (Encounter - as per Quick Attack)
Intense Flame (At Will as per Fiery Flare)

ALPHA POWERS (Deck of 7 Selected Cards, Can only use 1 at a time):
WALL OF FIRE x1 (as per Force Field Generation)
FLIGHT x2 (as per Fire Wings)
ENHANCED FLAME AURA x2 (As per Shimmershield)
SMALL NOVA BLAST x1 (as per Body of Light)
LARGE NOVA BLAST x1 (as per Explode!)

None Selected

I had to use cards from the booster to do this particular modeling of Johnny Storm, but I could have gone a different route to simulate his powers had I wanted. I think that this looks like a highly playable character. He won't be flying in every encounter, though he will be flying in about 30% of them and the odds increase as he goes up in level. I don't foresee adding more Alpha Powers as he levels up and with eventually being able to use 3 alpha powers at the same time, he will be able to fly in most encounters. That's if I use the "core" rules and make the players change Alphas after each encounter and on a roll of 1. House rules could guarantee the use of core powers.

My thoughts are that super heroes tend to have more powers than they actually use in any given encounter, so it isn't too big a deal for Johnny to only fly 30% of the time. Otherwise, I'd have given him the Hawkoid type which has a flight speed to start with.
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