I’ve been in several of Jeffro’s Gamma World sessions at this point, and it’s been a blast. It hadn’t occurred to me that GW though is sortof like Traveller.
Each of these six campaign map locations constitute full fledged factions in their own right. They have their own strengths and weaknesses, their own goals, their own relationships with each of the other surrounding groups. And note that they could each serve as their own campaign premise for spin-off campaigns! To develop the next stage of detail of the campaign map, I only have to revisit each of these situations, visualize what’s going on from their perspective, and add the five or six odd things that surround them and that define Gamma World for them.
Gamma World is not about the usual things that role-playing games focus on. In fact, it takes something that’s secondary or tertiary in other games and it makes it the main thing. When you run a dungeon-focused game, you may have a general notion of the campaign state and how it changes each time the players return to town. This sort of thing tends to develop so slowly from session to session that it is often dispensed with entirely.
In contrast, Gamma World campaign has much more in common with the faction dynamics of a dungeon… but without the walls and the levels! A Gamma World campaign is like a set of Traveller worlds. placed right up next to each other… but anyone from any of the worlds can go to any other… and they don’t need a spaceship to do it! The many mutant types combined with the various cryptic alliances means that there is all kinds of wildly different creatures right next to each other and all up to something wildly different from everybody else.
Taking that gaming premise and running with it results in an entirely different sort of gaming experience that’s liable to be light years away from what you might otherwise impose on the rules set.
I will say this – Jeffro plays in a very open-table friendly way, as I’ve also described. The campaign centers around the town. There’s always an excuse for someone new to pop in. Unlike Traveller campaigns that move around, the smalled time scale to find things and go places provides more of an excuse as to why someone isn’t available for one foray but is the next – Wilbur the two-headed pig wasn’t in the last game. Characters have died. In fact my first character died unceremoniously after doing a couple pretty cool things.
Gamma world is harsh that way.
For a game where the characters are also epic compared to the normal guys, hit points are also precious – you heal them very slowly. Sure you can take a hit. Once. But then the next thing comes along, and the next.
Smart players learn that “fair fights” are a bad thing.
As a result, while I fully agree that life-leech is overpowered, insofar as we used it, it also has some nasty limitations. Especially if you want to keep having friends. Or a village.