Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Combat Charts and Gamma World Mutations

In my last post on this Joshua Kronengold posted the question of how Gamma World's combat chart handled mutations: since the combat chart had weapon class 7 as "Robotic tentacles", was there any mutation that said "the mutants tail/hair/tentacles attack as weapon class 7", or similar things for say, laser rifles and mutant laser generation. 

The answer is "no", because mutant powers that attack people apparently just do damage, no attack roll needed. How this squares with Power Armor giving you some defense against Black Ray Pistols but not Radiating Eyes is left as an exercise to the reader. Mutations are generally limited in how often they can be used, but when they're used they hit and do damage, at least somewhat. 

That's interesting in that it puts Gamma World in a space between D&D (which doesn't have energy attacks on its combat chart but does allow saving throws against them, which are swapping attack and defense rolls), and V&V, which compresses all of melee into one entry on the chart and then gives each energy attack and defense its own line. 

I'm trying really hard to not homebrew the Gamma World 4E that I had the kids roll up characters in for the library game, but if i did (when I do) it will include putting in something like a combat chart. GW 4E doesn't have one, devolving to an utterly bizarre mish mash of ascending armor class with the term THAC being the to hit bonus*, so it loses all the inherent physics/this part of the how technology works is consistent model of the original Gamma World that makes exploration easier, and replaces it with something deeply confusing when you think about it but more familar kinda.

*That's right. you take the THAC0 that's needed to make descending armor class rational, then replace the descending armor class to ascending armor class so you can just see the number you need to hit - and remove the concept of the Armor's Class having any meaning against the Weapon Class for the 2E AD&D model - so that the modifier just needs to be a bonus, but you still give it the term "To Hit Armor Class".... <facepalm> 

This does get to the core of Joshua's complaint: "What's fascinating but frustrating here is how the "weapon classes" are really just damage types.... but with the number in between as an extra/confusing factor." Yes. There are a lot of extra confusing factors in every edition of Gamma World. Anywhere that there was new ground to be broken the game designers came up with various new models to do it, but eveything is just kinda half-assed. It's maddening. 

Wednesday we're going to look at how Gamma World 1E and 4E compare to V&V 1E and 2E in terms of power/mutation description and design.

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