Friday, March 22, 2024

Combat Charts and Gamma World

Since I just convinced one of my two kids groups at the library to switch from 13th Age F20 Fantasy to Gamma World (because some of them are just insane little chaos agents and many of them keep wanting to make guns and bombs), it's timely that I'm looking at the early Gamma World combat charts and their weapon/attacks vs. armor/defense tables

Previously we had looked at AD&D and V&V, both of which have additional complexity in the inclusion of PC combat skill as determined by level. This isn't a factor in early Gamma World, where the weapon class and armor class are the determining factors, as characters start very capable and highly gear dependent. So rather than V&V where you cross reference attack and defense and then apply a modifier based on comparative levels, or AD&D where you compare defense and level with a modifier based on comparative weapons, here you're just comparing armor and weapon. 

With a whole separate table for what each armor class code means. Note that while shields are on here as changing an AC, they stop being relevant at AC 4 - the higher ACs are just too potent for the shield to matter. The other important thing to note is that in 1E Gamma World, Dexterity doesn't modify AC - the armor is the armor, DX doesn't help you dodge. This means the weapon vs. armor chart is unsullied. 

And then there's the weapon class table, which has some weapon classes that contain just a single weapon....

This gets very close to the implied physics model in V&V - Vibro Weapons (<cough> LIGHTSABERS!) have Weapon Class 4 and 5 pretty much all to themselves and if you look at the attack matrix they have an amazing ability to tear through armor. Stun Whips in WC 6 are all on their own, and can exactly detail how these weapons interact with armor, and show how good they are at hitting through low tech armor... as do robotic tentacles. You can see how the logic of this works inside the fight. 

Now, these chances to hit are modified by PS and DX for melee and ranged combat, and MIGHT be modified by level. Gamma World is interesting in that going up levels doesn't have a predetermined response. There are no classes in Gamma World, and leveling up gives you a random benefit that might be an increase in to hit, but might also be bonuses to characteristics or damage. Level means so little in Gamma World 1E it might almost not be there, aside from how the GM is reminded to make the chances for the PCs to accomplish things greater as they gain levels. It's such an Old School, high GM control, high trust environment.

But for our purposes it's the most pure of the weapon to armor chart concept. So much in Gamma World depends on the equipment you can scavenge, repair and use, and the combat charts back that up.


  1. What's fascinating but frustrating here is how the "weapon classes" are really just damage types. (and the weapon/armor chart is built to match, with vibro-type weapons getting to basically ignore most classes of armor while stun whips are strong against flesh and don't drop off on effectiveness against powered armor as much as conventional weaponry, but are generally weak to armor) but with the number in between as an extra/confusing factor. Given that it's Gamma World I'd have to wonder if some powers allow you to make attacks "as per weapon type X" or whether special attacks for being a cactus, electric eel, or whatnot use their own mechanics (I never got far enough into Gamma World to know these things).

  2. I’d have to reread all the mutation descriptions but I don’t _think_ so. This is one of the places where V&Vs execution is better because it skips the weapon class and armor class and goes just to description that can readily be extrapolated.