Tuesday, January 31, 2012
"The Ares Section" included a lot of Gamma World articles, many by its creator, James M. Ward. One of my favorites was a follow-up piece to a description of the Moon in the game's setting. Published in issue #87 (July 1984), "A Field Guide to Lunar Mutants" described the weird creatures that inhabited Tycho Center base in Gamma World's 25th century. As detailed by Ward in his earlier article, Tycho Center is devoid of humanoid and animal life. Its inhabitants consist entirely of mutated plants and "macrobes" -- giant single-celled organisms -- that acquired strange abilities and sentience due to scientific experiments allowed to continue unchecked in the absence of human oversight. Two mutually hostile species vie for Tycho Center and any PCs who visit will find themselves thrown into the middle of a warzone.
What I liked most about this article and its predecessor was not just its descriptions of weird mutants, but rather its suggestion -- a suggestion found throughout Gamma World -- that end of human civilization ushered in a new age, an age where potential successors to mankind have risen up and now seek to lay claim to the Earth as their own. It's a setting that's ripe for moody heroism (and bathos), provided the referee is willing to play up the "weird" aspects of the post-apocalyptic world humanity has inadvertently created in its hubris. "A Field Guide to Lunar Mutants," with its coordinating eye macrobes and tech-wielding rosoids really helped bring that home to me as a teenager, which is why I have a particular fondness for this article. One of these days, I need to start up a Gamma World (or Mutant Future!) campaign and see in what ways I'd do things differently as a middle-aged man that I didn't as a younger one.