But with Gamma World I feel particularly disappointed as Gamma World for me is the one game besides D&D that keeps coming back again and again - and most of the time in very different shapes... kind of mutated. Which for me shows that many others also do not manage to bring their love with the one perfect Gamma game into line with the then current state.
So what does this mean specifically. I want to achieve the following goals with Gaia Gamma:
- The game should be complete and self-contained. One ruleset to bind them all ;-) ! The basic rules should include everything you will ever need to play the game, be it as one-shots or extended campaigns. Several former editions fit this bill so I don't see anything particularly challenging about this requirement.
- The game should provide full and explicit support for the various genotypes in the game. I despised the various editions that mentioned sentient plants and animals and then stated "Just make it up". Although I believe in making things up, here very basic support is missing. Gamma World 4th edition IMHO got that part right by providing many examples for sentient plants and animals - but I want to improve that by providing some more.
- The game should include a skill system. Most editions failed in that respect but ultimately I believe that any game including the word "Science" in its genre also needs to have a skill system. This is also one of the major points where I disagree with the present OSR movement. Skills very well were a part of old school games - just look at all the stuff put out by FGU. It's just the D&D world that for a long time eschewed skills. Which was different with my group - for us the best thing of AD&D 2nd edition (not old school, I know) was the introduction of the skill system. But I agree in that skills should be encompassing and open - no fiddly detailed systems that try to regulate everything, no skills that automate roleplaying, etc. More on that in later posts.
- There should be lots of mutations. That's what all the fun basically is about and I hate the various editions that come with crippled mutation lists of about 20 mutations or so (the White Wolf edition here coming to mind).
- Hard science doesn't matter. Gaia Gamma explicitly is a Science Fantasy game. So besides providing some ideas for the causes of the current state of the world I won't care for whether mutations arise from nanotechnology, biogenetics, radiation, cosmic rays or whatever. A setting like Gamma World just can't work when caring for science so I won't try at all. And it saves valuable content space, too ;-)
- Randomness is inportant. There should be many random elements in the game in order to be surprised again and again.
- Some kind of class and/or level system should be present to allow for a quick start. I have a specific system in mind for Gaia Gamma that I will discuss in future posts to see what you think about it.
- The combat system should be "somewhat" deadly. Not overly so that combat is no fun (what use would all the cool gizmos and mutations be otherwise?) but also not too boring (Gamma World 4th edition with its miniscule damage and enormous amounts of hit points coming to mind.
- I want Gaia Gamma to be a game that fits into the "Old school revolution" mold. What I mean by that I will elaborate in yet another future post.