I like the new gamma world. It’s a fun game and a great way to get new players familiar with the combat mechanics for 4E. Not to mention a great game in its own right for something to run once in a while. The entire random character generation and throw caution to the wind playstyle really kept my group’s attention.
One thing I did miss though was the classic idea of people surviving some huge nuclear calamity, surrounded by technological wonders of some long lost race of ancestors. In fact D&D was a lot like the older Gamma World in that flavor of exploring old ruins, except you are running around with assault rifles and vibro swords.
So the new idea of all these alternate realities converging into one with the newest version of 4E fell a little short for me. One aspect I liked was the utter craziness you could come up with and it could fit in a sudden collapse of the world today. But I liked the idea of most societies being highly advanced, surrounded by wondrous technology, and then that world suddenly falling apart at the doom of a nuclear war.
So I worked a new timeline into my game. I wanted to move things ahead, but not so much that our entire concept of societies and communities were lost. I wanted the individual homes, high rise apartments, and a corner store still there, just surrounded in the trappings of high tech. You could still find some older technology around. Maybe things weren’t that advanced for everyone, with some countries in the third world still lagging behind a little.
Most knowledge would be lost, but you could have pockets of people that could hold onto those secrets. I also wanted the potential to throw something in from space, so you have colonies on Mars and the moon. Who knows if some of the colonists have returned and set themselves up as gods.
I wanted some kind of explanation why everyone gets a sudden mutation at the drop of the hat. So what if in the near future just about everyone incorporated some manner of genetic engineering? The systems and vectors for inserting selected genes then becomes a key target for random mutation. Be exposed to some potent chemical mutagen or a high dose of radiation and this pliable genome goes wild. It’s fantasy, but a serviceable explanation.
Lastly, I still wanted something to allow for the introduction of crazy creatures, mutated animals just wasn’t enough. I wanted something even more out there. I then remembered the short story (and horror movie too) by Steven King, The Mist. What about some great accident that opens up a hole into another dimension? And through that hole I could allow for all manner of monsters and wild beasts to pour into our own world.
It might serve as a way to explain a sudden collapse for Earth. It also might explain the use of nuclear weapons, some event so drastic it would require deploying these destructive weapons. Not to mention the possibility these dimensional holes might pop up repeatedly, allowing for another potential adventure idea. Yeah, I needed a different timeline. So below is what I use for my game.
None can remember the cause, but tales tell of two great tribes that went to war with such savagery and horrible weapons, they blotted out of the sun and scorched the earth. They had put a curse on the land and it twisted and contorted the life that sprung there for generations to come. Those those were able to survive crawled among the wreckage of great cities and slowly found their senses. The beings in this altered earth rebuilt and grew prosperous on the bones of the old world.
Some claim to know old speak, but many feel they are simply spinning tales of fancy. Others claim that some of the old race exists, hidden away in deep holes in the ground or even fallen from the sky. Again, many in the world think these legends and tall tales to pass time at the fireside. But no one can deny that a great race of man had existed. They had flourished and created a fantastic world of marvelous magical items. What happened to them, what was the cause of the Great War, no one can say. The people of the world only hope that they can avoid a similar fate…
The creation of a nano multi-lightwave emitter and photo detector is developed laying the foundation of organic computers. Now computer data does not have to be binary code, but can transmit different active states of information. Coupled with the ability to reliably synthesize one atom diameter gold nanowires using bacteria, computer processing power makes a quantum leap forward.
Small scale cold fusion is developed. The creation of nanobots is now a distinct possibility. The advances in computer science have allowed for the sequencing of nearly every living organism on the planet. Advances are made in gene therapy. Genetic engineering of animals and plants become commonplace.
Greater understanding of developmental biology has lead to the discovery of selective tissue cloning. This allows for rapid regeneration of tissues and leads the way for stunning medical advances, allowing doctors to selectively turn off (and on) genes, almost eliminating many forms of cancer.
Solar powered nanobots are successfully developed to handle a multitude of tasks. Fusion power replaces the internal combustion engine (except in the most under developed countries) and advances are made to miniaturize fusion reactors.
Wide scale gene manipulation becomes common for most developed countries. Nearly 1/5 of all children in the world are altered to express selected traits. AgriPepsiCo becomes the first company to successfully patent and release a genetically modified animal fit for human consumption, PigBox, a square shaped pig. Sentient AI is achieved in large super computers. Human cloning is banned worldwide, but many countries begin to develop secret military programs covertly. The first international colony on the moon is established.
Fusion technology is refined to power many handheld devices. Automated robots with limited AI are commonplace. The development of cybernetic implants becomes a reality with the first quadra-transplant conducted on military volunteers. Genetically modified crops and livestock are the norm. Unique designer animal pets become the rage for many people of developed countries.
Almost 1/2 the world’s population is either genetically modified or have cybernetic implants. Many genetic modifications include the incorporation of animal and/or plant genes. Mars is colonized by competing individual nations. The United States, desperate to keep up with the greater superpowers of China and the United Federation of Asia, uses genetically modified human clones extensively for this endeavor.
In an attempt to develop faster-than-light travel a warp field generator is tested in Russia. This creates an rift into an unknown dimension. Hordes of creatures from this other world pour into Earth. Most of Asia falls into chaos with this rapid invasion of wild beasts.
A large scale nuclear strike into Russia from the United States and Europe are done in attempt to close the interdimensional rift (some claim it was an excuse to strike at the greater neighboring superpower, China). As a response, the remaining Chinese provinces and remnants of India launch a counter strike to the US and European countries. It is unknown if the nuclear strike was successful in closing the rift. The great decline begins.
Records are unclear, but some claim the worldwide nuclear winter finally lifts. Society has collapsed and the world man has known is gone.
Very little knowledge of the past is retained. Mankind is forever altered with pliable genomes susceptible to sudden mutations from intense radiation and chemical mutagens. Mutants stand side-by-side with the remaining humans in this strange new world.