I suppose you were all expecting some horror campaign, weren’t you? Surprise! In the world of Gamma Terra it’s basically Halloween 24/7! GM Fivegears brings us his tale of fighting robots, laser eyes and a lot more off-the-wall hilarity. I’d pay for a slot in a game like this! Continue on for our interview, if you don’t crack a smile at least once you probably aren’t even human! In which case you’re probably a mutant so you’ll fit right in anyway.
Feel free to tell us about yourself. Family, kids, pets, dayjob, superhero-alter ego, etc.
Hey, all. Name’s Jason, recently ran off to Vegas to get married to my wonderful wife, Shannon, all marching around the strip in our wedding clothes – a common site, to be certain, but, fun – I recommend it to anyone, married or not. Currently freelancing a bit in regards to helping people with various aspects of websites, as I look for another 9-5 (that’s right, all potential employees, I’m shamelessly looking for a gig using this CotM!).
I did have an alter ego once, when I was 12, named him Koban Ekion. That might explain more about me than I care to share.
So, Gamma World: Oasis looks like a game that is a ton of fun to play in, can you give us the campaign in a nutshell?
It had been about a year and a half since I had last gotten burned out on GMing – which I think was largely my own fault. I was running a weekly tabletop and a weekly online game, I was not allowing myself to use any published material, making my own monsters, so on and so forth. I felt like it was sort of a cop-out. I don’t know where this attitude came from, because my most successful game was when I ran a D&D 3.0 game based entirely on published materials, just jury-rigged together. Seeing the aventures in the back of the Gamma World books I thought back on those halcyon days and said, “Yeah. OK. There’s something to that, I suppose, isn’t there?”
I generated about 20 random characters using WotC’s gamma world character generator, rationalized their origins the best I could, threw them in an envelope and had the players choose at random when they arrived. Off they went to fight robots, to the point they are now.
Gamma World (especially 4e) is known for being pretty gonzo and a lot think it doesn’t adapt well to ongoing campaigns. Surely you’ve got an opinion on this matter, so give it to us!
You can make (most) any campaign setting appropriate for ongoing campaigns – I don’t think Gamma World is all that different. It’s one of those settings that lets you get away with virtually anything, much like the Planescape setting, so I would argue that it’s even easier than most settings to create an ongoing setting. There is a question about lethality because of the lack of healing surges and things like that in the setting, but, I’ve found that the random mutations, powerful technology and total lack of an alignment system makes up for the loss of any “leader” class.
I’m hoping that they adapt the Gamma World origins into races for D&D in some fashion, but, I think they may have washed their hands of the whole setting, sadly.
It seems you have a lot of custom artwork going on, on your campaign page, is that all you I’m assuming? You ARE the drama cards guy, right?
To say the artwork is “mine” would likely get me sued, but I did make liberal use of pixlr.com and Google image search to find all sorts of barely appropriate banners and advertisements to help sort of reenforce the “feel” of the setting. What that actual feel is, yet, I don’t know, although cornball sci-fi seems to be the right string of words for it. I think I needed something to break up the walls of text I tend to put together, and aged banner-ads for fake products seemed to be the way to do it.
As for the Drama Card graphic, I blame you guys (OP) for that for contacting me about talking about them on your Haste Podcast. The ones I had out on the web were very D&D 4E centric, but I did make system-less ones that I’m using myself now. I thought maybe I had uploaded them somewhere online that I had forgotten, so, once again, to Google! Lo and behold, there’s all sorts of mentions about the cards on different forums – people were actually using them! I had no idea that people even knew they existed! So, that banner is just me jumping up and down, waving my hands around, acting all proud.
Freud would have something to say about that, I’m certain, but, he’s dead now, so fie on him.
What is the tone of your game, just browsing your adventure logs I chuckled quite a bit. Assuming it’s kind of zany, how do you keep all of your players in line?
When I was originally putting together the idea of the game, my thoughts immediately went to stranger elements of pop-culture, so I think any tone of seriousness went out the window immediately. The original idea was to have the game take place in the Marshall Islands, with a series of abandoned ships forming land-bridges between the atolls. All of the nuke tests they did there seems to give it a natural attraction. The idea was to create a cult to Spongebob Squarepants – who wanted to awaken their hero. Ancient texts said he “lived in a pineapple under the sea”. And there just so happened to be something KIND of pineapple shaped sunken into the water, an undetonated nuke.
Realizing I would be having a frost giant and a plant/motorcycle hybrid fight short-pants wearing cultists amidst a battleship graveyard in the Pacific to prevent a nuke from going off, I promptly took my medication and decided to read from the back of the book for the time being.
I’m no different than any GM when it comes to keeping players in-line – threats of physical violence tend to get people in line long enough for you to at least give them an idea what’s going on in-game. They then look at me in disdain, and shoot any NPC that gives them lip with a freeze-gun.
Maybe I shoulda’ nuke’d ‘em.
Speaking of players, how many do you have and how long have you known them?
In today’s economy (if I hear that phrase one more time…) I relocated to Florida to find myself a gig. I did a little digging around, locally, and actually interrupted a perfectly good game that was going on at the Wizard’s Wall (big ups to local gaming stores) and met Ed, who is our resident psychic mushroom in the GW game. He introduced me to several other players, including Steve, playing Gak, and Skippy, the famous Q-dizzle rock-alien. So I’ve known them, a little over a year now, actually – they’ve already experienced one of my burnouts. Oh, how the time flies.
David and Karen I met via my wife, both fantastic individuals who somehow tolerate the above crew.
What other games/movies inspire you, especially for this campaign? I think I smell a little Fallout influence (and I love it)!
Fallout is an obvious influence, but I think Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and all the sci-fis they’ve introduced me to has proven an even stronger influence. All of that retro-science was beautiful and sleek, and a lot of the cheap sets they used actually worked (intentionally or not) to make a lot of the settings seem so desolate. I also like to steal NPCs from off-the-beaten-path sci-fi musicals, for some strange reason. The American Astronaut was basically the theme to a short-live Firefly campaign; I dread what I might come up with after watching The Forbidden Zone (Oingo Boingo late-70s musical).
As for games, I think Paranoia and Rifts have always had a strong influence over me, though I haven’t been able to sit down and run a proper campaign in either, yet. Try as I might, I can’t get the players to outright betray each other yet. Although, I did recently introduce Cryptic Alliances…
Are there any custom additions or tweaks you’ve done to the 4e gamma world system?
The Drama Cards are the big one. I was going to have a simple one-shot transitional adventure that would introduce some of the car rules that they put up on the WotC site – a simple concept: have the players run away from a group of Hell’s Angelfish after having stolen some Ancient technology. David puts down an “ambush” card – I have to generate some pig bikers to jump into the fray. Steve plays “natural disaster” – suddenly tornadoes start touching down. So, yeah, I’d say that’s the major addition that throws the game into weird directions (even for Gamma World). I love it, and I think my players love it, too – they get to add these little subplots into the story where it would be 100% my decision what’s going on in the world, and simply having them react to it, otherwise.
Above that, I haven’t felt any need to add much. As I mentioned above, the optional driving rules are in effect, and I make liberal use of the “GM’s best friend” in 4E, +2 or -2 depending on any given situation. It works wonders.
Okay, before we mutate on out of here, give us some GM’ing pearls of wisdom.
If you’re anything like me, first off, I apologize. Also, if you’re anything like me, gaming is a social thing, so, it stands to reason that the players should have a lot more say than most gaming systems say they should. I think back to one occasion where a player was playing a game for the first time, and the GM asked what her character was doing – she began to tell him so, as well as the NPC’s reactions around her, basically shaping the story. That is until the GM shut her down, saying “no no no, you only say what your character does”, which I thought was a shame. Let the players help create your world to some extent (while still maintaining the general direction and control of the setting). It’s less work for you, and you get all the credit if it’s a good game – and you can blame the player if it’s a bad one.
Also, if same-said player that described their character in that fashion later decides to get drunk and make out with another girl on the hood of your car, I think that helps the creative process, too.
That wraps it up this time guys, tune in next month for another extraordinary campaign basking in the lime light. Think your campaign is CotM material, or know of one that you’d like to deem worthy? Shout about it in the featured campaign submission thread on the forums, we’ll see you all next month! Happy Halloween and try to stay away from all those radiated candy apples!