How Was The World Destroyed?

A wacky, wily game of postapocalyptic peril.

How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Havard » Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:05 pm

From Wikipedia:
Wikipedia wrote:The war that destroyed civilization in Gamma World is only vaguely described in most editions of the game, and what details are provided change from version to version:

The first two editions place a first nuclear war near the end of the 21st century, with the final war in the years AD 2309-2322, and ascribe the final annihilation to a terrorist group called "The Apocalypse" and the ensuing retaliation by surviving factions.
Later versions would radically alter the reason for the collapse.
  • The 2000 Alternity version is due to alien arrival and nuclear response.
  • The 2003 d20 Modern iteration is due to rampant use of nanotechnology and AI.
  • The 2010 edition introduces a humorous and radically different backstory that attributes the destruction of civilization to the activation of the Large Hadron Collider, which caused multiple realities to exchange features in an event known as "The Big Mistake".


Which of these backstories do you prefer? What additional possibilities does each version offer? Does the Alternity version mean there could be alien technology, or even alien invaders still around? Does the 2010 edition mean there could be gates to other realities? Does the original version allow Fallout Shelters and hidden caches of technology?

-Havard

The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 16902
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby ripvanwormer » Tue Feb 21, 2017 12:42 pm

In Dragon Magazine in the 1990s, Roger E. Moore told a story about the Death Machines left over from the war in the campaign he played in, and how just one of them managed to kill an assembly of gods from 1st edition Deities & Demigods.
ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
 
Posts: 2929
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby valis » Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:13 pm

I've always felt that it's critical to the setting to be fallout from radiation. None of the others even make sense.

I'll note that all of those don't have the charm or the success of the original gamma world, which is what you expect when you take a thing and change good ideas for no reason.
valis
Goblin
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 2:03 pm

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Dragonhelm » Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:47 pm

I prefer the 2010 version. It's fun and offers infinite possibilities. I feel like I have so much more in terms of possibilities of character archetypes.
Trampas Whiteman
---DragonHelm--->

Image

Moderator for: Dragonlance. My moderator voice is Dark Red.
User avatar
Dragonhelm
Aurak
 
Posts: 1397
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 3:53 am

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby ripvanwormer » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:07 pm

valis wrote:I've always felt that it's critical to the setting to be fallout from radiation. None of the others even make sense.


Nuclear fallout makes sense as an explanation for the setting if viewed from a Silver Age Marvel Comics perspective, in which it's natural for radiation exposure to result in superpowers.

I think the later explanations were created because it's felt that nowadays "radiation did it" no longer suffices as an explanation, since it's perhaps more widely understood now that radiation results in leukemia and fruit flies with weird numbers of legs but seldom results in telepathy or teleportation. All the recent Marvel Comics reboots tend to add genetic engineering, exotic drugs, and/or Infinity Gems to superhero origin stories. Rather than just transforming due to exposure to the Gamma Bomb, the Hulk in the cinematic and Ultimate Marvel universes was the result of a deliberate military effort to replicate the WWII super soldier project. The 2003 Hulk movie had Bruce Banner subjected to genetic engineering by his father. In the 2002 Spider-Man movie, Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically engineered spider rather than a radioactive one—this isn't really more "realistic," but as pseudoscientific explanations go probably it's easier to swallow. In 1995 Warren Ellis wrote a parodic miniseries called Ruins in which the various Silver Age origin stories resulted in deformity and death, and it's long been a running joke that a "realistic" Spider-Man would just have cancer. In the 2012 Amazing Spider-Man reboot, both Spider-Man and all his villains were in one way or another tied to the mad science research of Oscorp. The Ultimate Marvel comics universe was similar, except that Oscorp was under contract to the government attempting to recreate the supersoldier program that produced Captain America, and the chemical "Oz" that created the mutant Green Goblin and the spider that bit Peter were results of that research. In the current crop of Marvel-inspired Netflix series a mysterious corporation called IGH (speculated to stand for Inhuman Growth Hormone) seems to be responsible for the mysterious chemicals that granted superpowers to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, which might tie their powers to research involving the Inhumans. In Marvel's Earth X and its sequels, radiation is just a catalyst that activates dormant genes originally introduced in humanity by the Celestials long ago. In the Wildstorm comics in the 1990s superheroes originated from a mix of alien experimentation, human engineering, and in a few cases nanotech.

Of course, you can look at the urge to update classic origin stories like this as the result of joykilling pedants overthinking what should be simple fantasy and just embrace the classic trope of superpowered radioactive mutants. And that's fine. That's what the fourth edition Gamma World rules (the edition I have) did, noting briefly that radiation is probably not going to result in beneficial mutations before noting that a "realistic" campaign set after a nuclear holocaust would be a lot grimmer than Gamma World is intended to be. But I don't think updating origin stories is bad per se. "Genetic engineering did it" is an equally fantastic explanation for telekinesis as "radiation did it," but it's not a worse one, and I can definitely imagine dystopian governments or corporate nation-states creating engineered soldiers to fight in future wars, soldiers whose descendants continue to have exotic powers. Similarly, alternate realities or aliens or nanotech seem like perfectly serviceable ideas.

While a nuclear exchange would probably not gift superpowers to the survivors, it remains a very effective way to explain why civilization collapsed, so it can still be part of Gamma World's background even if the backstory is supplemented with other elements. For the most part, Gamma World PCs aren't going to know very much about pre-cataclysmic history anyway, so it doesn't matter much what explanation a GM goes with. There was a war and lost civilization of the Ancients collapsed. No one knows what exactly happened. That's really enough.
Last edited by ripvanwormer on Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
 
Posts: 2929
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby ripvanwormer » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:31 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:In Dragon Magazine in the 1990s, Roger E. Moore told a story about the Death Machines left over from the war in the campaign he played in, and how just one of them managed to kill an assembly of gods from 1st edition Deities & Demigods.


Found it. Dragon #156, the April 1990 issue, has Roger E. Moore write affectionately about the Death Machines from James M. Ward's Gamma World campaign.

Roger E. Moore wrote:James M. Ward (TSR's GAMMA WORLD game): I was in a GAMMA WORLD game that Jim Ward ran a few years ago. It scared me to death. Jim has a habit of rolling huge numbers of dice of damage at the snap of a laser, and his campaign was full of amusing things such as Cthulhu-size lake monsters and death-ray satellites that diced up ground targets with impunity. But his most famous creation was the subtly named Death Machine, a nice little military relic of the Social Wars of the game's background.

What's a Death Machine, some of you may ask. Here's a story: A few years ago, when I was in the Army, I told everyone in my gaming group to each pick his or her favorite deity from the AD&D game, and prepare to role-play that deity in a special scenario I had developed. The next hour was spent in feverish excitement as a large assortment of gods and supermonsters met on a deserted plain and awaited their opponents. Suddenly a huge space-time warp opened up in front of the incredible assembly... and out of the alien warp came three brand-new, fully armed, fully powered Death Machines on random programming.

Two gods died in the first 10 seconds of combat, each taking over 700 hp of damage. A third god died before the minute-long fight was over, and two other gods (including Demogorgon) fled the battlefield in utter panic. All the rest of the deities were pounded with atomic missiles, lasers, bombs, rockets, shells, bullets, force fields, and death rays. Thor bent the nose of one Death Machine with Mjolnir but took a nuke in return. If I had not used random attacks, all of the gods would have died in 30 seconds, no sweat. It was wonderful.

None of the PCs in any GAMMA WORLD games we had thereafter ever stayed within sighting distance of a Death Machine. However, I understand that Jim has run GAMMA WORLD campaigns in the past in which whole fleets of Death Machines would fly off into the wilderness and be completely destroyed by mutant strains of crab grass. Properly run, a good GAMMA WORLD game should cause Fear with a capital F in any pitiful, barbaric mutant who dares poke his head out of his cave. Thank you, Jim.
ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
 
Posts: 2929
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Yaztromo » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:20 pm

Ripvanwormer, your comment is really great, but I hope you can't deny that Gamma world and Gamma radiation have at least a little bit in common and not by mistake.
I'm the Real Nowhere Man, sitting in my Nowhere Land,
making all my Nowhere plans for Nobody.
User avatar
Yaztromo
The Real Nowhere Man
 
Posts: 854
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 10:55 pm

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby ripvanwormer » Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:32 pm

Yaztromo wrote:Ripvanwormer, your comment is really great, but I hope you can't deny that Gamma world and Gamma radiation have at least a little bit in common and not by mistake.


That sounds likely. I hadn't thought about it, to be honest; I thought it was mostly a reference to the Greek letter in Metamorphosis Alpha.
ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
 
Posts: 2929
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:00 pm

As rip in his usual sagacity notes, the different variations on the premise from later editions were probably intended to better explain a phenomenon that was once greatly misunderstood due to technical limitations as well as widespread fear of a nuclear holocaust. Certainly, the earlier editions of Gamma World- for all that they were as forward thinking as they could be about future technologies- couldn't have necessarily anticipated the real world innovations and ideas that came out later, particularly the massive explosion of the digital revolution. In short, they really couldn't keep up with Moore's Law.

I definitely think the guiding principle of GW is fundamentally a radioactive holocaust. It's right there in the name, after all ("Gamma" as in gamma radiation). I think- regardless of what other aspects of different iterations of the game you might otherwise incorporate- that you would be doing the setting a disservice to ignore nuclear war as at least a (big) element of how the setting came to be.

That said, though, I think the specifics of what happened were never that important, either, so much as just a general sense of it. The events of the apocalypse are so far removed, and records (much less memories) of it are vague, inaccessible, and/or unreliable. Survival in the moment is the raison d'etre, with rebuilding coming only if and when that occurs. And understanding is a very low priority.

There is a story in the intro page of GW 3E (and I think it is in 2E, too) that is a storyteller's narrative of the cataclysm, and I think that is my favorite way of detailing the holocaust. By word of mouth, by recollection of tales told by previous tellers, as a mythology. How much of it is factual, how much fiction, is for the listener to decide.
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.
Image
User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
 
Posts: 3896
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Dread Delgath » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:42 pm

I've come to view Gamma World as a game that should never keep up with the Real World's technological advancements. That game would be boring if done semi-accurately. Played 100% accurately, that game would be suicidal tendency depressing. :x

The only way to play Gamma World is absolutely from the 1950's comic book superheroes science fiction perspective, and that absolutely includes the comic book version of radiation that creates powerful mutants. Real radiation that causes long term health issues, a long-drawn out and painful death, and birth defects in infants isn't game-worthy material, unless you really love depressing #*@% like that.

I started in the early 80's with 2nd edition rules, eventually bought 3rd edition rules and couldn't make heads or tails of it. When 4th edition came out in the early 90's, I owned that system and made great use of it in a years long campaign. However, it never felt like the original (to me) 2nd edition game. Something was definitely missing...

Several rules debates over the phone and internet arguments on the old Gamma World e-lists & yahoo groups later, and I'll only ever run a 1st or 2nd edition Gamma World game again. It is for the best, trust me. ;)

They say that there is no wrong way to play D&D, but I have to say that, yes, there is only one right way to play Gamma World, and experience everything in the box that Jim Ward intended for us to experience. :twisted:

Oh, and to answer the OP: I do the original nuclear holocaust as the source of destruction in GW background, but I wouldn't disallow space-travel, aliens and/or multi-dimensional beings with "magic" powers from showing up too. :mrgreen:
My D&D 5th edition Dakan Mar Campaign setting Conspectus and Campaign Rules here at The Piazza Forums, a Fool's Errand WIP.
User avatar
Dread Delgath
Frost Giant
 
Posts: 964
Joined: Mon May 26, 2008 10:09 pm
Location: Thankfully, NOT where the swirl starts when you flush the country.

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:59 pm

Getting slightly OT now, but rip mentioned a Warren Ellis comic upthread, and that and Dread Delgath's post reminded me of a really excellent issue of Planetary penned by Warren Ellis that is very much in the vein of what we're talking about here- an admixture of the reality of the radiation/nuclear experimentation of history and the fantasy around it. It is Planetary #8, "The Day the Earth Turned Slower." Very much a mashup of the old 50's sci-fi mutants and giant bugs and things that are one of the chief inspirations of the post-apocalyptic Gamma World, and connecting it to RW secret experiments and such. Very cool.
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.
Image
User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
 
Posts: 3896
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby ripvanwormer » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:54 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:Getting slightly OT now, but rip mentioned a Warren Ellis comic upthread.


I was thinking specifically of Warren Ellis' runs on Stormwatch and The Authority when I mentioned '90s Wildstorm comics, too, since they're such a frenetic mix of engineered clones, alien hybrids, cross-dimensional travel, nanotech, magic and other tropes. They sort of loosely take place in the same universe as Planetary.
ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
 
Posts: 2929
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:11 am

ripvanwormer wrote:I was thinking specifically of Warren Ellis' runs on Stormwatch and The Authority when I mentioned '90s Wildstorm comics, too, since they're such a frenetic mix of engineered clones, alien hybrids, cross-dimensional travel, nanotech, magic and other tropes. They sort of loosely take place in the same universe as Planetary.


I wouldn't call it loose; they were explicitly taking place at the same time (there was even a crossover between them featuring, of all people, H.P. Lovecraft). Elijah Snow and Jenny Sparks share a pretty unique bond, too.

But it's definitely kind of an Ellis niche, almost. Heck, even Transmetropolitan has some post-apocalyptic elements to it that wouldn't be entirely out of place in some Gamma World campaigns. :lol:
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.
Image
User avatar
Cthulhudrew
Green Dragon
 
Posts: 3896
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby dulsi » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:55 pm

The note in the final adventure in the Alternity version about the history of the world just ruins that whole history for me.

Frankly I don't think it matters much. I think radiation should be involved so that you have radioactive areas. I don't mind adding nanotech and genetic engineering as reasons for some of the insanity.
Dennis Payne -- Identical Games
Support Roon's Raccoon Sprintladder on Lego Ideas.
ImageImage
User avatar
dulsi
Storm Giant
 
Posts: 1749
Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:20 am

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby ghendar » Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:16 pm

I favor the nuclear holocaust scenario as the basis for Gamma World. It's what I've always known and preferred. However, I see no reason why you can't do other causes. I do think radiation of some kind needs to be brought into it though. let's say that you prefer a plague scenario that kills most of the population. You might have a couple reactors melt down during the crisis, or perhaps some madman gets his hands on a couple missiles and fires them off. You would then have those iconic radiated areas.

For some time, I've wanted to do a setting influenced by Thundarr the Barbarian, Fallout, and Kamandi. Lots of mutants, magic, radiation, and anthropormorphic animal races.
Fifth registered member, bitches!

If the Unapproachable East was so unapproachable, how did anyone get there?
User avatar
ghendar
Hill Giant
 
Posts: 518
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 8:11 pm
Location: Acererak's Rumpus Room

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Dread Delgath » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:06 pm

ghendar wrote:I favor the nuclear holocaust scenario as the basis for Gamma World. It's what I've always known and preferred. However, I see no reason why you can't do other causes. I do think radiation of some kind needs to be brought into it though. let's say that you prefer a plague scenario that kills most of the population. You might have a couple reactors melt down during the crisis, or perhaps some madman gets his hands on a couple missiles and fires them off. You would then have those iconic radiated areas.

For some time, I've wanted to do a setting influenced by Thundarr the Barbarian, Fallout, and Kamandi. Lots of mutants, magic, radiation, and anthropormorphic animal races.


I'd play that!

IIRC, Tim Hartin, (Turgenev on Dragonsfoot) created a d20 compatible version of Thundarr the Barbarian - and it may have been coupled with the Herculoids. But, I can't find hide nor hair of either beastie in my files or online. The wonderful thing about it is that it is compatible with Gamma World, and something I'd port directly into my game.

And I'm sure there may be a Fallout sourcebook (netbook) out there, as well as Kamandi. :mrgreen:
My D&D 5th edition Dakan Mar Campaign setting Conspectus and Campaign Rules here at The Piazza Forums, a Fool's Errand WIP.
User avatar
Dread Delgath
Frost Giant
 
Posts: 964
Joined: Mon May 26, 2008 10:09 pm
Location: Thankfully, NOT where the swirl starts when you flush the country.

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby Havard » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:13 pm

Dread Delgath wrote:And I'm sure there may be a Fallout sourcebook (netbook) out there,


Now that sounds very interesting! :)

-Havard

The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
 
Posts: 16902
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby ghendar » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:18 pm

I seem to recall hearing something about a pencil and paper Fallout game. Crap, now this is going to drive me buggy.
Fifth registered member, bitches!

If the Unapproachable East was so unapproachable, how did anyone get there?
User avatar
ghendar
Hill Giant
 
Posts: 518
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 8:11 pm
Location: Acererak's Rumpus Room

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby The Dark » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:51 am

ghendar wrote:I seem to recall hearing something about a pencil and paper Fallout game. Crap, now this is going to drive me buggy.
Exodus was licensed by Interplay until Bethesda stepped in and made them genericize it. There's also the Fallout: PNP game (PDF) with a wiki at the Vault.
The Dark
Troll
 
Posts: 302
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:05 pm

Re: How Was The World Destroyed?

Postby ghendar » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:04 pm

The Dark wrote:
ghendar wrote:I seem to recall hearing something about a pencil and paper Fallout game. Crap, now this is going to drive me buggy.
Exodus was licensed by Interplay until Bethesda stepped in and made them genericize it. There's also the Fallout: PNP game (PDF) with a wiki at the Vault.


Awesome, thanks!
Fifth registered member, bitches!

If the Unapproachable East was so unapproachable, how did anyone get there?
User avatar
ghendar
Hill Giant
 
Posts: 518
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 8:11 pm
Location: Acererak's Rumpus Room


Return to Gamma World

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests