A tree, a cactus and an android walk into a bar…

No, it’s not a joke – this is my new Gamma World campaign. Not only did I finish writing my conversion to Pathfinder rules, but also my gaming group rolled up characters and we’ve played about six sessions.

Three play test sessions (mostly last year) had helped me to establish what skills I wanted, and tweak my races, classes and feats. My mutation system seems fine, but the mutations themselves have had small adjustments, even into our first two gaming sessions, as both my players and I realised what wasn’t defined or could be refined – especially things like range for powers and whether something needed an attack roll or saving throw.

My full GM Rulebook is 90 pages long (so far) and I’m now converting GW creatures to the Pathfinder system. I’ve even built the basics of the system in Hero Lab – Races, Classes, Skills, Talents, Feats, basic weapons and all armour working properly. I still have to code the mutations and artefact equipment/weapons.

So this is what I have now:

5 Genotypes (Races, with 15 Animal subtypes, and 6 plant subtypes)
10 Classes
30 base Skills (8 Crafts, and 8 Knowledge expanding those)
78 Talents (Class abilities)
101 Feats
120 Positive Mutations
25 Mutation Defects
A heap of armour, weapons and misc equipment
7 Prestige Classes
1 NPC Class
32 Creatures

An abridged PDF of my rules is available on my Resources page.


The Campaign so far has been converted 2nd edition adventures. We started with GW2 “Famine at Far-Go”, then the mini-adventure “The Albuquerque Starport”. The group is currently halfway through GW1 “The Legion of Gold”. They have reached second level and have an assortment of the ancients equipment – mostly “Pre-war” stuff, but a couple of “advanced” items. Most of them can’t wait to level up to 3rd so that they can get a Tech Familiarity feat (so they don’t use things like guns and lasers with penalties), or to get a new mutation! I have a theme that I introduced in the first adventure (“Have you heard the words of the Electron Prophet?”) that will reveal itself again soon, and steadily build up to something I’ll have to write myself later. My next blog post should be about this group and gameplay.

Gamma World is a weird blend of crazy, humorous role-play that can suddenly turn deadly serious. Our last session has good examples. A huge bright orange lion flew down out of the sky yelling at the group. It landed and looked the group’s main warrior up and down. “It’s awesome, I’ve got to have it. It looks just like the one I ate last week – what do you want for it?” Tense concern melted into laughter when they realised that Yexil’s eat cloth, especially synthetics and it wanted Hack’s pre-war armour, less the ceramic plates. They managed to trade some fabric they recovered from a clothing store (on a space station!) for two photon grenades. The very happy Yexil flew off looking for Elvis – it had seen an image and wanted his jacket. A few hours later the players were fleeing in a panic because the four screaming mutants they’d just encountered in a bunker all had life-leech – a mutation power that drains hit points from living things within 30 feet and heals the mutant. The android in the party keeps proving a valuable choice.


Apart from Gamma World – I haven’t done much this year (more reading and playing computer games than usual). I’m determined to finish painting my Zombicide abominations over the next week or two. I also have plans for a new painting project. I undercoated 20 Star Wars figures from Ral Partha this morning – with the expectation to use many of them for GW. More detail on that as it comes.

3 thoughts on “A tree, a cactus and an android walk into a bar…

  1. Loved reading this. Want to check out more of your stuff, sounds awesome.

    Am a long time gamer , mostly AD&D, started with basic, back in 83. Am reviving an old Star Frontiers/GW Mash-up campaign from the 90’s; only dabbled with GW in the 80’s. Had it, but didn’t really do anything with it. My brother and I too into D&D, we did play some Star Frontiers as teens, and then also went back to it as a break from AD&D in late 20’s. That campaign ended with the SF crew crash landing on a newly discovered planet that was 250-300 years removed from an apocalyptic event, essentially a Gamma Terra planet. I had bought the 4th Ed GW rules (in the gaming section at Walden Books) but never got around to playing it.

    Now couple decades later am getting the band back together, going to run a campaign once or twice a month with two of my brothers and my best friend. Going with the 4th edition rules, have never played them, but they seem closest to our old 2nd Ed AD&D rules so the learning curve for them, and I won’t be too bad.

    I can’t say I’ve ever “playtested” , but to get ready for this I’ve played out a few simple combat scenarios , rolling the dice out and stuff, but would like to avoid starting out the campaign and still tweaking game mechanics etc. We always had a decent number of house rules, and ‘common sense’ rule changes. You used playtesting as a great way to do that, it seems. Can you go into a little detail on the playtesting, break it down for my in a 101 or playtesting for dummies (of which I am one regarding this). I’d appreciate any input. And if anyone else replies to this and wants to lend some playtesting guidance that’s great.



    • My play-testing sessions were great for both myself and my players. It worked well for me, mostly because I was still working out converting things from “older” rules into Pathfinder, choosing what skills & feats I wanted to use, and how some of those skills/feats worked (should work, or needed to work) with technology and mutations.
      I started by creating eight pre-generated 2nd level characters. They all used a base set of ability scores (so no character had any real advantage over another), and had very simple items (weapons, armour & equipment). Each was chosen to represent one of my classes and races, with a couple of duplicates. I think I had five players for the first session and let them choose which PC they preferred. I’d also printed out a summary sheets of how some of the most used skills worked (especially where they differed from D&D/PF).
      I used “Midnight in the Mystery Garden” (6th edition d20 Adventure) which gave them a specific objective and led them through a number of encounters involving combat, using skills, negotiation, etc. I’d noted a few changes to the adventure to fit in with my rules, but mostly it got played as is. All my players have played Pathfinder/3rd Edition D&D before, and some had played early editions of Gamma World. We didn’t rush anything, and paused to check/explain rules when required. Everyone had fun.
      The follow-up to this was for me to change/adjust/remove/add any skill/feat I thought wasn’t working right, and think about my mutation costs/powers a little more carefully. I made changes to any of the character sheets that were required before our next practise session. The second adventure I’d written myself, and the players picked the same characters again. We had some time for me to show/explain any changes, and so on. After three adventures like this, I felt that I was happy with the state of my rules, and my players were now familiar enough with the way things worked to be able to create new 1st level characters and start a proper game/campaign.

      Advice/Suggestions: Pre-generate a bunch of ‘average’ characters. Write/print some of the basic rules on a couple of sheets so that people can reference them before/during the game. Start with a simple adventure and have fun. After the adventure, talk about what people liked, what worked, what was difficult, anything that could be changed or adjusted. After that, you can either do the same again another time, or have them make their own characters.


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