Let me start by copying and pasting three tweets from Twitter :
cadorette: Last night was awesome, playing #GammaWorld w/ @fredhicks (our GM) @rdonoghue @LodestoneDavid @DaveTheGame @GeeksDreamGirl & @CUnderkoffler.
. . .and:
fredhicks: Any player from last night who blogs or sends me something to blog containing actual play for the #gammaworld session gets +1 piece of oTech
. . . and:
fredhicks: @CUnderkoffler A short LJ entry about being the dead guy and how that shaped your experience would be killer.
 Because I'm lazy, and actually am having trouble remembering who of the other players has an LJ account to link to, or even what their LJ names are. Add to the comments?
Okay, all that is the set-up for this post. Let me go back, and talk a little about Gamma World in general and specific, then get into the game last night and the experience that Fred wants me to relate.
I never played Gamma World (TSR) when I was a kid. My gaming group had rolled up characters once, but never actually played. (If I recall correctly, I would have been playing a six-winged flying fox with cryokinesis.)
Then, back in 2003/2004, Bruce Baugh asked me (alongside other cool folks) to contribute a chapter to the Gamma World Game Master's Guide (Sword & Sorcery). And I did that. (I've always been a little ticked that edition didn't get the love it deserved: IMAO, a combination of publisher mandates and pre-release nerdfury clouded everything over, despite strong efforts by the writing teams of the books to stem or ameliorate both factors.)
Hearing folks talk about the new edition of Gamma World (WotC), I could really hear the excitement in their voices. Things I heard about how the system worked (stripped down D&D 4e, with some mix 'n match goodness, non-collectible card-based abilities, and plenty of random rolls) got me really interested. I joked that I'd have to raid the penny jar, then flip one to decide if I spent the proceeds on Gamma World or the Leverage RPG.
I'll be spending my immediate penny jar hoard on Leverage, but that's not because I dislike Gamma World. Quite the opposite. It's still in that "pick up when I have extra cash" ranking, just not in the "skip dinner" category.
Why? Mostly, because I don't need it. I'm perfectly happy to use the GM's stack of Alpha Mutation and Omega Tech cards. It's just as easy to ask one of the folks in the group to look up what my roll means on a random table as it is to look it up myself. And the gameplay is close enough to D&D 4e that I remember most of how that works, in my fragmentary way. (Now, if I were gonna gamemaster GW, or was particularly interested in crafting themed Alpha Mutations/Omega Tech decks for my character, I'd move GW up to "skip dinner." )
Okay, onward to talk about last night's game.
Character creation was quick, simple, random, and silly. My character's Origins were "Giant" and "Empathic" -- so I immediately named him "Andre." Very-very strong, very charismatic, had some cool bonuses, effects, and powers. . . and I rolled terribly for his other stats. A Giant with a Constitution of 9 is not good. (Plus, Giant-Empathic is one of those combos that, at first level, doesn't have an At-Will power on either Origin. Not that that ended up mattering.)
I'd say, call it a half-hour to forty-five minutes for a table of six players to generate characters the first time. Mostly because an ungodly number of us randomly rolled "keelboat" as equipment, we came up with the idea that we were water-gypsies travelling the waters of the Chuzzy Puck Bay, fightin' crimes and makin' up rhymes (well, you know).
(Fred, I'm telling you once again: watch some Adventure Time! It's a lot like Gamma World.)
So, we land at Heralds Harbor, since we've heard that there is an ALLMART (hail, ALLMART!) still standing somewhere down the road, and we desperately need supplies. We start down the road with one of our wagons, and eventually run into the Inevitable Ambush.
I believe that in the first round of combat, Andre moved a couple squares and threw his wrought-iron fencepost javelin through a slashy-knifey tumbleweedy thing -- and was then immediately attacked by it for big damage... and 5 countinuing acid damage. The next critter to go was some sort of radiation spitting plant, which hit Andre for moderate damage... and 5 continuing radiation damage. So, at the end of the first round of combat, Andre had dropped from 21 hitpoints to 7... and would essentially drop to -3 at the beginning of his next turn.
So, that happens. Andre drops to -3, passes his (expedited?) Death Checks, and uses his Second Wind (bringing him back up to 7 HP) -- and blows both continuing damage saves. That means he'll drop back to -3 again at the beginning of his next turn, only this time there's no Second Wind.
Fred did some rules mojo here (expediting again?), and instead of waiting, I did all the rolls for the next round right then to determine that yes, Andre was D-E-D, dead, and melting into a puddle of radioactive goo.
Another tweet (tweeted around that time) as I asked for a chocolate-covered cashew, and Tom said something snarky:
geeksdreamgirl: "I'm going to die! I can have a fucking cashew." - @CUnderkoffler, enjoying Gamma World (and a cashew)
So, I said, "Cool, I'm dead -- I'm gonna go grab a smoke, then come back in and roll up a new character."
So, that happened.
Before the end of the fight... and I'm talking it was only two or three more rounds. And I had another ciggy break after rolling up my new character: Artie, the Pyrokinetic Plant.
The character sheets and handouts we had made this a snap. The thing that took the longest was figuring out his name. Call it... 7 minutes, tops? (And that involved asking Rob to look up what the rolls for my random equipment meant.)
I rolled much better stat-wise for Artie than I did for Andre, and Artie is a generally more effective all-around character (having an At-Will is a big deal)... but here's what's neat: Andre was still better at certain things to a higher level than Artie, and some of his abilities synergized a whole lot better.
I found that really interesting -- even with "crappy rolls" Andre still could outperform the "spiffy rolls" Artie, in certain not-rare circumstances.
Upshot: before the end of the fight where my first character died, my second character "woke up" from where he'd been sleeping in the back of the wagon, and got in one or two shots against one of the foes still standing. Pretty sweet.
I'ma liking this game!