The Gamma World rulebook makes the great suggestion to start adventurers in your home town, but it only offers a few paragraphs to help GMs convert their local area into its Gamma Terra version. Since I’ve been thinking about using Seattle as a campaign location, I figured I would share some of my brainstorming ideas for giving your home town a Gamma World twist.
A huge advantage of using a setting that you and your players know is that you can easily tie in tons of flavor bits. Every town and city has landmarks, both major and minor, and local jokes that can be pulled into Gamma World. A quick brainstorming session should give you a decent list of ideas for your home town, and I think those little details will definitely pay off when they come up during a game session.
A great thing to start with is a quick list of local landmarks that could serve as adventure sites. Most cities have a couple distinctive landmarks, such as Seattle’s Space Needle, that could be used, but even more ordinary locations around the city can serve as adventure sites. Here are a few good adventure locations that should be available in most cities:
- Stadiums: Arenas are easily recognizable landmarks that could still host sporting events of some sort. Gladiator matches or a twisted version of a modern sport are good options.
- Museums: Museums make a good headquarters for a local group of Archivists, but could also be full of useful trinkets and bits of Omega Tech.
- Universities: College campuses are often small communities within a larger city. They offer a mix of buildings from dorms to high-tech labs. I’d suggest tying in a school’s mascot and sports rivalries in order to add flavor to its residents. For example, badders are said to worship the Wisconsin mascot.
- Corporate Headquarters: Find a corporation with a headquarters or large office in your home town and use that to add flavor to pieces of Omega Tech or villains. For example, fighting a Ford Eradicator or a Zune DJ Bot is going to be more memorable than a generic enemy.
- Power Plants: It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out where a local power plant is located. Sporadic electricity throughout town could prompt a group of mutants to explore the plant, and then the power plant itself is a great opportunity to make use of hazardous terrain like charging grids and exposed superconducting wiring.
- Factories: Factories are another example of an adventure site that can be filled with interesting terrain like conveyor belts, stamping machines, superheated furnaces, and vats of toxic chemicals.
- Zoos: A local zoo offers a great source of exotic animal mutants and exotic terrain. A group of mutants could confront a kai lin in a sweltering, jungle-like reptile house and then moments later face off against an enormous three-headed polar bear in run-down arctic exhibit.
Mutants and Robots
Once you have a list of potential adventure sites, the next step is to brainstorm some adversaries (or potentially allies) to call each site home. The Gamma World rulebook includes a rather small set of potential opponents, but you shouldn’t feel limited to just those creatures. While brainstorming, draw on local wildlife, traditions, and whatever else comes to mind and then give these ideas a twist or two so that they fit with the strangeness of Gamma World. Once you have ideas, you can start looking for mechanics to support them. The easiest options are changing the fluff on existing monsters from either Gamma World or D&D.
For a Seattle campaign, I’d plan on using the following:
- Caws: Seattle has a rather large population of crows, so it is only fitting that mutant crows would be a threat. To create stats for caws, I’m going to start with kenkus from Monster Manual 2 and re-flavor a few of their powers as mutations and modern technology.
- Angry Seafood: As a coastal city, Seattle is known for seafood particularly salmon and crabs. Having those same aquatic creatures preying on people is a good twist for Gamma Terra. While fens and terls cover fish nicely, D&D provides the crustacean angle with crauds (Monster Manual 3) that would make perfect mutant crabs.
- Slime Slugs: The temperate rain forests surrounding Seattle are home to some pretty large slugs, and I have to imagine the side effects of the Big Mistake could result in some monstrous varieties. The menarl’s statistics are already a pretty good match for a giant slug, so I would likely just change the fluff and drop it into the wilderness just outside of Seattle’s ruins.
I hope these ideas help with fleshing out your home town for use in Gamma World.