Category: Gamma World

Free Broken Earth Map

a7549-brokenearthA while back I reviewed Broken Earth, a post-apocalyptic setting for Savage Worlds. I liked it. It had a nice flavor of not being too out there as a setting with enough twists and weird mutant stuff to make it interesting. One big gripe I had was the maps however. They were pretty hard to navigate using the book.

Seems a free map is available at Drivethru RPG. It’s still a little sparse on details and certainly keyed for locations in the setting, but overall I think much of an improvement from what was presented in the physical book. Worth checking out, and a shout out to the folks that run the Savage Bloggers Network for circulating this.

Litko game tokens as holiday gifts

Say you want a stocking stuffer for your nerdy, significant other, or want to give a small gift to a gamer pal. Litko makes quality plastic acrylic game tokens and other miscellaneous game items, offering a great gift for them. A long while back I made no bones about my preference using tokens and markers around the table. Having a tactile marker to represent a condition, bonus, or temporary status is great over just using pen and paper. So I’ve had a long affair of enjoying Litko products for years now. They’ve got wonderful stuff for just about any gamer you’d like to get a gift for.

The wargamer – They offer tons of sets and individual packs for tokens. From command and casualty markers, to range band and blast templates, Litko offers some fantastic tokens and markers.

The board game fan – Litko has branched out and now provides game token sets for popular board games too. Imagine spicing up your Pandemic game with these tokens…

Not to mention some really wonderful X-Wing token and marker sets…

And I’m certain Netrunner players would enjoy having these on the table…

The RPG player – Litko also offers a lot of sets and tokens for RPG games also. You can find lots of tokens to mark temporary conditions….

and complete sets are also available like this one for Savage Worlds.

They offer some more interesting items like paper figure miniature stands…

or markers for indicating which character miniature is holding a torch…

And other bits for gamers – Litko also makes a variety of bases for miniatures and other really clever items like counter dials….

and a variety of portable dice towers which can be taken apart and thrown in a zip lock bag. Perfect for those gaming tourneys.

So I encourage folks to give them a look. Several online retailers also carry their products. And if you aren’t sure about what they’d really like, well just give them a gift certificate instead. Hope folks enjoy the holidays with family and friends (and get some games in too).

Currency in Gamma World

I get the newest edition of Gamma World is a fast and loose game without needing a money system. However having a complete economy based on barter itself can get tangled up with a lot of questions. How much is a piece of junk worth? What about salvaged omega tech? For the most part I think it’s expected that players just handwave the whole affair and move on to the next set of pre-fall ruins for exploration and looting.

However if a group wanted something more of a serious game, some guidelines for a monetary system would help. An abstract system might work, with simple markers to represent wealth, but players are often rewarded with pre-fall tech and items. All these bits and pieces of technology lend itself to having some value in relation with other other goods.

For my game I wanted to delve into using monetary units, but not get too bogged down. I wanted some form of currency, and a system for figuring the value of salvage and junk. Yet at the same time not resort to a list or table of costs to figure an item’s value. So I settled on a few basic house rules to introduce an economy in my game that steps away from a complete barter system and uses a form of currency.

Bottle Caps – Taken straight out of the computer RPG, Fallout, most of monetary transactions are through bottle caps. They are lightweight, resistant to most wear and the elements, and are somewhat difficult to create. The caps do have a lifetime however, with excessive rust being an issue. As such, some caps are deemed worthless.

It is not uncommon for more devious merchants unwilling to take 5% or so of caps offered for goods. A common ploy is to complain such caps are ‘too worn for trade’. This also provides an excellent opportunity for players to wield their interaction skill and haggle a bit if desired.

Most goods and services are paid in caps. A simple local meal and a night’s rest would be a single cap, as would a full day’s menial labor (work is cheap in the post apocalypse). Most equipment that can be purchased is of relatively high quality and good craftsmanship, and would be roughly 5-6 caps a piece (ammunition being a separate purchase). Such gear and equipment might even incorporate some limited pre-fall technology, such as a compound bow having ball-bearing cams and equipped with a simple laser sight. Sets of gear like an explorer’s kit or climbing kit would run about 20 caps, a slight discount for buying several pieces of gear in one go.

Packaged, properly sealed food and drink are also worth 5 caps each and are highly prized. Fresh water, unless sealed in a pre-fall container, does not have much value. Most water must pass a sniffer test (usually some simple-to-operate pre-fall tech that quickly analyzes a portion) before it could be sold. Most communities are notorious for passing off lightly irradiated water to travelers as ‘sniffer free’ pure H-TWO-O.

Yawns – Yawns are pre-fall currency that are highly prized for their rarity and resistance to all forms of damage. A single yawn is worth 50 caps.Typically such currency is a small, engraved plastic disk with a square hole. The disks are roughly 25 mm in diameter and 2 mm thick. Yawns are lightweight and practically indestructible. They are made of an inert material and are highly resistant to radiation. Some incredibly wealthy individuals have been known to create clothing layered in such disks, almost as a suit of mail to protect themselves from radiation.

The characters and lettering on these disks are of a pre-fall language that can be found on most omega tech. Some elders claim that they were the common currency of several tribes that fell under the influence of one great power. Some claim that such power was obtained not through warfare, but through economic might, with the disks taking the name of that great tribe’s coin.

Junk Salvage Value – Junk salvage that players find are of relatively good condition and usually worth 2 caps each as a base value. Some items require a power source to operate. Such junk would be worth 5 times the base value (10 caps). Jury-rigged batteries, alternate homemade fuels, and simplified pre-fall energy producing technology (automated solar panels, geothermal power plants, tidal and wind generators, Mr. FusionTM biowaste reactors, etc.) are readily available, allowing many forms of older technology able to operate. The energy needed to operate such technology is easy to obtain, but what is lost is the manufacturing ability to create such technological marvels.

Actual scrap is worth much less that the typical junk salvage that players would find during their adventures and is the common target commodity of Junkers (people willing to gather up such scrap material). Due to their poor quality (and at times highly radioactive nature), scrap junk at best would be 1/8th the base salvage value. Usually 8-10 pieces of scrap junk might be enough to warrant a price of 2 caps. However some especially resourceful beings are able to make a living gathering such scrap, and old refuse storage facilities have been the spark of many armed conflicts between wandering bands of Junkers.

Omega Tech – Functioning omega tech is worth 50 times the base value of salvage (100 caps) mostly due to their limited functionality. Omega tech that can be jury-rigged to operate as salvageable tech is a little more reliable and worth a bit more. Omega tech that can be salvaged is worth 75 times the base amount, or 150 caps.

Some especially rare omega tech may be worth much more. Automated facilities that operate algae farms, water purification plants, and robot manufacturing facilities are some examples. These locations are highly prized and sometimes result in entire communities residing on the grounds of such places.

Freesound.org – sounds for your game

A while back I linked a gaming site that had various MMO soundtracks you could download. They had a pretty nice selection and found a few tracks that would work well for some background music to my sessions. I used to shy away from having music for my games. However I found with a decent mix you could get something playing in the background on a loop adding a little flavor to the game, and still not make it a distraction to what was happening around the table.

A few months ago I ran a Savage Worlds game for a local con. Being a demo game with new people, I really wanted to add something to the session to make it stand out. Normally I’m not one for sound effects. However for a few key points in the game, I wanted to add something to make it more of an engaging experience. As it was a horror sci-fi game, I also wanted some type of ambient noise to get everyone in the mood. Having a MP3 player and a miniature speaker, I could easily get something portable up and be able to play some tracks without it being too fiddly and taking up a bunch of space on the table.

So I needed to try and pick up some sounds. I stumbled across Freesound.org and fell into the rabbit hole of creative commons sound files. A bit of digging and I was able to find that perfect space ship alarm. There were tons of industrial and factory sounds. You can really find some wonderful ambient stuff. As for my sci-fi horror game, I settled on a few and also threw in a particularly longer ambient music track that was perfect for setting the mood.

The tracks are free, but many require attribution if being used in other projects. Consider throwing a bit of money to the site also as a donation. There are some nice tracks folks have made available. As for me, I am certainly going to be mining this for certain games. I simply cannot see running a horror game taking place on a dark and stormy night without using this site for some needed atmosphere.

Obsidian Portal Kickstarter wrapping up

A possible dashboard layout. Spiffy!

I’ve frequently gushed on this blog how much I love Obsidian Portal. In fact, I’ve been a fan of the site for a long time. It’s been very functional over the years however I understand the people running it really want to give it a face lift.

A Kickstarter campaign is wrapping up in a few days. Fortunately, they’ve made their funding goals and then some. I’ve been a freebie user for a long time and I appreciate Obsidian Portal allowing that. If you aren’t a regular subscriber to their system this kickstarter is a great way to support the site.

So I hope folks are willing to send a few dollars their way. The project is funded. It’s a nice way to thank them for all the support they give to the gaming community. There are only 5 more days until the campaign ends, so if you are inclined be sure to support it soon.

Free MMO soundtracks for your game

I never really was into having music in the background while I play RPGs. However it’s something I’ve begun to dabble in. I don’t go for making a specific playlist. Rather I started using soundtracks. I can typically just put it on a loop without having to worry about the music being a hindrance to play.

MMO soundtracks are pretty good sources for background music, and one of my favorites of late has been the Age of Conan Soundtrack. It just fits my Savage Worlds hack of Dark Sun very well. Just the right touch to give the session a little ambiance and not be too distracting.

Massively is a MMO news site that recently posted a gold mine of links for free MMO soundtracks. It’s a bit of a pain to go through as many are individual tracks. However I think you can easily have a ton of tunes to mix and match for your game. The links likely cover a pretty wide spread of ‘sci-fi’ themed stuff to your typical fantasy music. Hope folks find this useful for their games.

Making alpha mutation decks through a card draft

GammaWorld4thThe alpha mutation cards in Gamma World are a pretty fun. After every encounter, or if a player rolls a 1 on a d20, the player draws a new mutation card to replace the one in his hand (or had used). Other environmental effects can also cause a player to draw a new card. It can be a lot of fun using this mechanic, however the player is totally at the whim of cards in the GM deck. To get around this, a player could assemble his own personal deck of cards. This might be desired if a character is going after a certain theme of mutations for RP reasons, or just prefers powers that would work off a specific stat.

I imagine WotC would then love the player to go out and purchase several booster card packs to create their own personal deck of cards. Good marketing there. An optional part of the game, but the diehard player may just decide to jump in an buy a ton of cards to get a little more control on his mutation draws. A workaround for this however is using a mechanic in many boardgames and other card games, a card draft.

Out of the box, Gamma World has 44 mutation cards (40 in the deck and 4 from an included booster pack). Staying with the 7 card minimum deck, you can have 6 players each having their own personal alpha mutation deck without having buy any additional booster packs. You generate these decks by dealing out all the cards, each player selects a card they want, passing the excess to another player.

As a step by step example:

1. Deal out all the cards – Some players will end up with extra cards, don’t worry about this. However you could always have all the players roll off, with the highest roll (resolving ties) being the first player dealt.

2. Each player selects a single card – Each player goes through all the cards in their hand, and selects one card they want to keep. They set that card aside for their deck.

3. Pass the remaining cards – Each player then passes the remaining cards to the player on their left.

Repeat steps 2-3 until a deck of 7 cards is made for each player.

Each player will eventually have 7 cards they have set aside. This is their deck for the night’s game. The remaining cards are given to the GM as his mutation deck.

I like having the excess cards given to the GM to allow for alpha flux mutations from other weird sources. If a player runs out of alpha cards in his deck he can draw from the GM deck. If you want a little more structured game, when a player runs out of cards allow them to reshuffle their discard pile and place it face down to make a new draw deck.

You can do a card draft for omega tech cards, but I prefer keeping them as a single GM deck. Yet instead of handing out a specified card to each player individually, deal the cards in a single pile face up on the table. Allow the players to barter, argue, or agree (boooooorrrring) on which card they will take. This way there is a little control the players have in choosing what tech card they want, but it is still a random draw. I like this better than giving the players a chance to draw from their own stacked omega tech deck.

If you have players complaining about the wildness of alpha mutation cards, and want to give them a little more control with the types they get, consider using a card draft. You get a pretty good selection right out of the box and can accommodate quite a few players at the table.