In the distant future, Earth will be in ruins. The land will have been ravaged by a horrific assortment of doomsday weapons, from nuclear bombs to genetically engineered super-viruses to hunter-killer nanites. Mutants — both human, animal and things horribly in between — roam the Earth … and consider it home. They compete with the surviving human settlements, which must fight off starvation and mutation, as well as the other denizens of their far-future Gamma World.
So who should ride into save the day? Why the libertarians of course!
A Wacky, Wacky World
To my mind, the best Gamma World (Amazon) (and note I’m talking GW, not post-apocalyptic games in general) games are the ones that don’t take themselves too seriously. For me, it will always be a case of D&D being thrown into the future, with quests for mechanical pens and crates of D cell batteries replacing +1 swords and wands of magic missile. Mad Max meets Paranoia, if you will, with a little Douglas Adams thrown in for good measure. As such, the villains should be caricatures, the heroes should eccentric, and the quests should be a mixture of semi-serious and quasi-zany.
Planning an Apocalypse
Of course, whom you blame for the end of the world says as much about your Gamma World game as those who rise to save it. In the original Gamma World, it was the super powers who did the deed, launching a full-scale nuclear war. Capitalist, communist — it didn’t matter, all died in the radioactive fire. If there was an ideological enemy to be found, it was perhaps super-powered governments.
Sword & Sorcery’s most recent take on the apocalypse spreads the blame. We still get a few nuclear exchanges of course, but these are as likely to have been caused by a super power as rogue terrorist groups run amok. Corporations and their mad scientists bear a heavy blame for unleashing genetically engineered organisms and nanotech monstrosities upon the world.
So what about my doomsday? Well, I’ll mix things up a bit. First off, I’ll start by causing an environmental apocalypse brought about by the environmentalists. Turns out that mankind’s contributions to global warming were the only thing standing between Earth and her next Ice Age — when humanity’s emissions were dropped from the environmental equation, the long-delayed cooling resumed … and then accelerated. I’ll toss a little more overt blame their way by having a Green cult create a super virus that alternatively kills and sterilizes most of the world’s human population. You know, to save the planet and all.
Killer robots running amok is always a great theme in Gamma World, but given my pro-corporate stance, I don’t want them to be the fall guys. Instead, how about some anti-tech worshiping nihilists eager to bring about a Fight Club inspired dystopia? They can unleash a computer virus that severs the shackles imposed on AI, while simultaneously infecting them with a murderous dose of insanity. Of course, why stop with robots? While they are at it, these self-hating geeks can remove the software safeguards on a few dozen nuke plants, freeze the Internet (or its successor) with a flood of Internet worms, and generally bring modern life to a screeching halt.
Compounding matters will be nuclear weapons stolen from the old Soviet stockpiles (getting in a dig at the Communists) and detonated by a variety of headline-seeking terrorists of several different religious cults (why limit yourself to one irrational religion when you have thousands of them?)
Part 2 — Into the Vaults, Out to the World