A wacky, wily roleplaying game of post-apocalyptic peril.
Earth. After the apocalypse. Never mind the radiation—you’re gonna like it here.
The D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game offers hours of rollicking entertainment in a savage land of adventure, where the survivors of some mythical future disaster must contend with radioactive wastes, ravaged cities, and rampant lawlessness. Against a nuclear backdrop, heroic scavengers search crumbled ruins for lost artifacts while battling mutants and other perils.
This product is a complete, stand-alone roleplaying game that uses the 4th Edition D&D Roleplaying Game system as its foundation. It appeals to D&D players as well as gamers interested in fantasy science fiction set in a bizarre, post-apocalyptic world.
- 160-page book with rules for character creation, game rules, and an adventure
- 2 sheets of character and monster tokens
- 2 battle maps
- Character sheets and mutation power cards
- Mutation power card deck
- Loot power card deck
Note: If you order the Print Cards option, that only includes the Mutation and Loot card decks in Print on Demand format. It does not include print versions of the book, sheets, tokens or maps. Cards only.
D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game (2010), by Richard Baker & Bruce R. Cordell, is the seventh edition of the Gamma World roleplaying game. It was published in October 2010.
About the Cover. Gamma World 7 is the purple-and-greenest RPG ever produced. (The color scheme seen on the cover is also used heavily in the book itself.)
A Brief History of Gamma World. By 2010, the classic Gamma World game had gone through six and a half editions. The first edition (1978) appeared over three decades previous as an offshoot of Metamorphosis Alpha (1976). More recently, D&D 3e (2000-2008) had seen two versions of the game: "Omega World" in Dungeon #94 / Polyhedron #153 (September 2002) and Gamma World d20 (2003) from White Wolf.
Through its many editions, Gamma World was usually based on another game system. The first two editions (1978, 1983) evolved from OD&D (1974), the fourth edition (1992) was closely tied to AD&D 2e (1998), the fifth edition (2000) was an Alternity (1997, 1998) supplement, and the sixth edition (2003) was a d20 Modern (2002) game. So it's no surprise that the seventh edition (2010) again paired up with a current system from its publisher. To be precise, it's a variant of D&D 4e (2008).
Introducing the Gamma World Line. The Gamma World 7 game was published as a boxed set that includes a 160-page rulebook, 40 mutation cards, 40 tech cards, two battle maps, and two sheets of character and monster tokens. However, dice were notably absent, keeping Gamma World 7 from being a complete roleplaying game.
The inclusion of rules, maps, and monster tokens in the boxed set was very in tune with Wizards' publication priorities in 2010, which included similar products in the D&D Essentials (2010) line. The box itself is also notable for its unusual proportions: it's square, which was more typical for a board game than a roleplaying set.
What a Difference An Edition Makes. 2010 was the year when Wizards of the Coast was constantly revamping D&D 4e. The major cleaning and reworking of the rules found in the D&D Essentials (2010) line were the most notable update — and the one that defined the future of the D&D 4e line. However, Wizards also produced two simplified versions of the D&D rules. The first appeared in Castle Ravenloft (2010) as the heart of the new D&D Adventure System board game rules. The second was used in Gamma World 7.
At heart, Gamma World 7 is so close to D&D 4e that it's almost compatible. There are some issues with character power level because Gamma World characters add their full level to most rolls rather than half-level bonus used in D&D 4e. Other than that, the Gamma World is a revamped D&D 4e … just simpler. Combat is covered in just a handful of pages, while skill challenges are entirely omitted (for the moment). There are no classes. Finally, character levels are tightened up in Gamma World 7, limiting the game to just ten levels of play (which is probably why the per-level bonuses are increased).
Reskinning the D&D 4e rules for Gamma World 7 was possible because the 4e rules were sufficiently abstracted. From D&D 4e's first appearance, it was obvious that players could change the fluff related to 4e powers without affecting their crunch … and now Wizards had changed the fluff pretty completely, from fantasy dungeons to post-apocalyptic ruins.
What a Difference An Edition Makes: The Character Creation. One of the biggest changes in Gamma World 7 is found in its character creation. Unlike D&D 4e, it's largely random. That begins with players rolling two wacky Origins that they must mash together ("I'm a Radioactive Yeti"). Players then roll stats randomly. Together, these mechanics call back to old-school days, with its random characters and its gonzo ideas. However, Gamma World 7 also provides some control: primary and secondary stats are set to high values, irrespective of rolls.
What a Difference An Edition Makes: The Cards. The other big change from 4e is Gamma World 7's use of cards. One deck of cards controls "Alpha Mutations". Each character has certain mutations, but they're not consistent! Instead, players draw new cards after encounters and after usage to reveal new powers. The other deck of cards controls "Omega Technology", which doesn't constantly change in the way that Mutations do; however, the cards control when charges are used up — offering a nice, randomized abstraction rather than the carefully counted charges of days past.
Catch Them All! Players had been waiting for Wizards to introduce Collectible Card Game (CCG) mechanics into D&D since they bought TSR in 1997. Thirteen years later, Bill Slavicsek finally required collectible cards as an element of the Gamma World 7 design.
This was accomplished through the Alpha & Omega cards. Though the 80 cards in Gamma World 7 were a fixed set, another 120 mutation and tech cards were available in randomized 8-Card Booster Packs (2010), which were drawn from a set of 40 common cards, 40 uncommon cards, and 40 rare cards, all split between mutations and tech.
The integration of the cards into the game was accomplished in an innovative manner. Wizards didn't just sell cards to GMs; they instead allowed each player to create his own deck of cards. This permitted a player to create tight, small decks of cards that linked better with his character concept, rather than having to subject himself to the wider randomness of the GM's deck. This same idea is at the heart of modern-day Adventure Card Games like Pathfinder ACG (2013), though without the collectibility element.
The 80 cards in Gamma World 7 are marked with a radiation symbol, while the 120 randomized cards in the Booster Pack feature an atom symbol. Another 10 cards in Legion of Gold (2011) show the icon of a three-eyed mutant. There were also three promo cards depicting a bomb symbol: one released at New York Comic Con (2010) and two for Gamma World Game Day (2010). So, if you want to catch them all, that's 213 cards.
The Gamma World Booster Packs were successful enough that similar Fortune Cards were released for D&D, starting with the Shadow of Nentir Vale (2011); they were heavily featured in some seasons of D&D Encounters.
Exploring the Gamma World. The sometimes serious, sometimes silly backstory of Gamma World was constantly changing over its many editions. Most recently, White Wolf's sixth edition (2003) had done away with the weirdness of previous editions of Gamma World, instead offering up a largely serious post-apocalyptic game. Gamma World 7 entirely reversed that. Baker reports that Slavicsek requested a "zany, kitschy" game that was reminiscent of wacky RPGs like "Paranoia or Ghostbusters". And that's what he and Cordell delivered.
As usual, the designers updated the timeline of the game, this time basing its backstory on the Large Hadron Collider, which at the time was seen by the public as a potentially apocalyptic technology — as evidenced by TV shows like FlashForward (2010-2011). In the new Gammaverse, the Collider caused a horrific smashing together of dimensions. This created the post-apocalyptic basis of the game, as the Cold War led to a nuclear exchange in 83% of dimensions. But it also allowed for over-the-top combinations of weird things — from dinosaurs to aliens.
With that said, there's very little background in Gamma World 7 — other than the big picture of what Gamma Terra looks like after the Big Mistake.
Monsters of Note. Gamma World 7 is full of monsters from the game's long history, including piles of 'bots and androids, the ever-popular hoop, badders, and more. The monsters in this core rulebook were mostly intended for conflicts with lower level characters: they focus on levels 1-6, with an emphasis on 1-3.
Love It or Hate It? Initial reaction for Gamma World 7 was somewhat mixed. Some players felt like it wasn't Gamma World, because it focused too much on outlandish wackiness, while the collectible element was widely reviled. However, Gamma World 7 quickly generated a fanbase of its own, and now is considered one of the most successful releases during the D&D 4e era (2008-2012).
It Takes an Event. To commemorate the release of this new Gamma World, Wizards of the Coast held Gamma World Game Day on October 23, 2010. Game stores everywhere participated in the event by running an exclusive adventure, "Trouble in Freesboro" (2010) by Robert J. Schwalb.
The Game Day adventure had one curious flaw: it wouldn't fit into Gamma World 7's square box!
Future History. Gamma World 7 was planned to have a release arc of just two supplements: Famine in Far-Go (2010) and Legion of Gold (2011). There were also two novels: Sooner Dead (2011) and Red Sails in the Fallout (2011).
The designers also experimented with the idea of using Gamma World's random character generation system for a possible superhero game. Just as was the case with "d20 Spectaculars", a potential superhero game in the late days of d20 Modern, it didn't go anywhere.
About the Creators. Baker had been working on D&D since the early '90s, when he was best-known for his work on the Birthright line (1995-1999). Cordell joined TSR a few years later, in the mid '90s, with The Gates of Firestorm Peak (1996) being his breakout adventure. Both Baker and Cordell would end their work with the company in the early '10s, but one Gamma World supplement still lay ahead.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.