Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Buddies

But before I do that...

Buddies are great, aren't they? You hang out with them, make music, watch movies, eat food. Sometimes you even play roleplaying games with them, like I did this week. For all of my blogging bluster, it has been a really long time since I actually, you know, gamed with anyone. So after I finished an intensive week of projects for library school, I decided to call a couple of my friends up and let the good times roll.

We gathered over at Marcos and CJ's house with a carefully purchased assortment of Cheetos and Mountain Dew (to complete the experience) and my copy of the D&D Gamma World boxset. While Marcos, CJ and my friend Mike from college rolled up character origins, I was frantically winging the skeleton of the potential adventure and the basics of Radon, the town that it took place in. I wanted to do the classic 'post-apocalyptic gang wants to take over a small town for its natural resources' bit, but give it a bit of a twist. So the resource that the porker motorgang was chasing after was not gas or weapons, but food. Specifically, a mineshaft filled with tasty, genetically modified beetles that reproduced at an alarming rate and ate anything they were given. We never got that far, but it's nice to think about your prep work.

Our characters were:
  • Chimp Eastwood (CJ), a Giant Simian, who's 20 Strength and naturally rolled 17 Constitution made him the de-facto piledriver of the group. Skilled in Mechanics, he carried a big ol' hammer and an electric nailgun, which he could use to pretty deadly effect with his Ape Rage (no joke, actual power from Famine in Far-Go)
  • Bogo Free (Mike), a Magnetic Arachnoid, described as a kind of regular looking guy with a giant web-spinning thorax. Accompanied by a HAL-esque talking laser helmet, Bogo also used what we referred to as a 'cargo-cult railgun' that used his natural magnetism to fire projectiles.
  • Problem Glueth (Marcos), a Gelatinous Nightmare apparently from a parallel universe where life never evolved above single celled organisms (albeit very big ones). A private detective by trade, Problem used his gelatinous body to form blades, shields and his patented Goomerangs.
As you can see, a finer group of adventures doesn't exist. The trio started out on the Road heading towards Radon to deliver goods and mail to the local post station, rolling in a pick-up truck towing Problem's wagon and canoe (Gamma World's random crap tables are fantastic.) But on that hallowed highway, they come across a smashed up trailer with a large cloud of glowing red birds hovering over it. The trio attempted to move past the blood birds, but ended up attracting their vicious ire and combat began.

It was vicious. Chimp and Bogo initially tried to close into melee with the avian bastards, but the blood birds radiated a damaging aura and each of their attacks inflicted ongoing damage against our heroes. After splitting up and retreating to a safe distance, Chimp was unexpectedly tagged by a bullet from a distant rifle, wielded by a sneaky dabber who hid in wait to scavenge the gear from the victims of the blood birds! With Chimp distracted, the blood bird flock focused their attention on Bogo, whose attempts to use his laser helmet were met with robotic disdain and the sound of batteries draining. Chimp used his powerful Alpha mutation to throw up an invisible wall of force between the dabber and his allies so that he and Problem could focus fire on the dreaded bird swarm. Down to a minuscule amount of hit points, Bogo freed himself from the blood birds and spat an entangling web of venom that managed to keep the swarm tied down and immobilized for the next five or six turns thanks to my crappy saving throws.

As the force field faded, the dabber was greeted by the sight of Problem vibrating his gloopy body like the Hypnotoad, channeling terrifying psychic flashbacks into the poor creature's head. He remembered how his father left him in the wilderness to fend for himself and never truly cared. As the dabber continued firing at ghostly images of his awful past (and missing), Chimp took a rage-fueled run at his assailant, who instinctively flung open his vest and triggered a claymore mine attached to his belt buckle that sent the ape-man flying. Problem continued to lock down the poor, misunderstood bastard while his allies went to finish off the rest of the swarm. Trapped inside the radiation aura once again, Bogo managed to deliver the killing blow to the dreaded birds.

With their enemies defeated, the trio united to finally deliver the mail to the town of Radon. The post office was a ragged tent-city affair and the mutant on duty told them that they could get a free meal at the local greasy spoon Bud's before turning in. The food was delicious, if disconcertingly all called... clams. As night fell, Bogo and Chimp found their lodgings at the Huck, an arcade-game filled tavern with a creepy animatronic animal band and Problem found his at El Rancho, the stable where he unsuccessfully tried to barter for the owner's riding mantis.

At night, the party was awoken by the sounds of revving engines and rumbling dirt. Making their way outside, they were confronted with a late night biker gang invasion of dear old Radon! The fight wasn't as punishing as the confrontation on the way to town, but the motorcycle-riding porkers were vicious in their attacks. The day was finally won when Chimp rolled a 1, which caused him to switch out his Alpha Mutation for the Teleportation power. He made his Overcharge roll, then sent every remaining biker 50 ft. into the air. As folks who have played a 4E game know, falling damage is a bitch. Each porker took about 5d10 damage and pretty much disintegrated on contact with the ground.

That's where the night ended and it was a pretty wild ride. The pared-down 4th Edition system behind Gamma World is damned solid and my friends had a great time pulling, throwing and zapping people with mutant powers. The only caveat is that Gamma World is super deadly with less than 5 people in the party. It's really hard to make appropriate challenges for three people without making them overly deadly. The first encounter of the evening was designed for 4th level characters and our heroes barely escaped with their lives.

All in all, we had a great time and played until I had literally run out of prep material. Unfortunately, Mike has since gone back to school and I am left solely with Marcos and CJ as adventuring companions. Though I really do love the new Gamma World, I'm afraid that it would be way too lethal for their early leveled characters, so the eventual Assholes in Space game will definitely involve the two of them and hopefully some more folks.


  1. I'm not usually one for the gonzo-ness of Gamma World, but that's an amazing group indeed. Sounds like a great session too!

    I've had quite a bit of luck building a group up using In three sessions, we've gone from two players to five!

  2. Thanks! Pittsburgh's Meetup group seems very D&D-focused, but I think I have more fears of gaming with people I don't know, as my general tactic has been to convert existing friends to gaming instead of the other way around.

  3. You know, that's been my strategy for my whole gaming career as well, but I was just having miserable luck with it this past year so I decided to try something new. My strategy was just to trawl through member profiles and look for people who listed similar interests, then contact them to set something up. That formed the core of the group, and we've attracted other players since. So far no CatPissMen, everyone's decent and likable. It's a crap shoot for sure, but sometimes it's worth a try.