Thursday, March 18, 2021

Science Fantasy Adventure!

As it turns out, TSR placed a lot of full-page advertisements in the pages of Boys' Life magazine during the late 1970s and early 1980s, which only makes sense, given its readership. The ad below is from the May 1980 issue and is for Gamma World 

The ad contains all the usual things you'd expect, but there is one small item of note. Notice that it mentions that, in addition to Legion of Gold, a product called Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega is "coming soon." Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega was regularly mentioned as "coming soon" and seems to have been a product that would have updated Metamorphosis Alpha for use with Gamma World. In that form, it was never released, though a different product with the same title was published in 1994.

Though I adored Gamma World and consider it one of my favorite RPGs, I tend to assume that it wasn't very successful for TSR. Consequently, I'm surprised when I'm reminded that the company actively promoted the game in advertisements like this one (and this one). It's another reminder that one's memories of the past are often mistaken, or at least muddled, especially when said memories are from more than four decades ago.


  1. GW was the second RPG I played. I got it for my birthday in April 1982. I still remember opening it at the table at the restaurant, my mother was not pleased I opened it and started reading it at the table. I remember thinking how cool the dice were, as the only ones I had at that time were the sets from the Moldvay/Cook BX sets. And the map! Wow, was that an eye opener for campaign map possibilities! I'd not yet seen either the Wilderlands or Greyhawk yet, so that was the first large scale map I'd seen.

    Played it in every edition since, except for 7th. Reverted back to 2nd after trying 3rd Edition, 4th was the best, 5th (Alternity) was ok, the S&S edition was unfortunately botched. Would love to see it revived as a 5E book, a supplement for D&D. I use Mutant Future now, mostly, for PA games.

  2. A while back I made an attempt to survey all of the Boy's Life D&D ads, since they featured Holmes Basic so prominently early on. I noticed a big dropoff after the early '80s, possibly due to the Satanic Panic.

    See them all here:
    TSR Ads in Boys Life 1977-1982

  3. I remember seeing ads for Gamma World in Dragon and possibly in comic books, but nobody I knew had ever actually played it, and the Waldenbooks we all got our D&D stuff from never carried it. Despite none of us ever playing it, we nonetheless "knew" that it was a silly game about radioactive mutants; pretty sure I assumed from the "gamma" in the title that it had something to do with the Incredible Hulk.

  4. I had a much better 'feel' for running Gamma World than I did D&D, not sure why... maybe it was just more in synch with the sort of stuff I was reading/watching.
    We pretty much played it like Rifts... before Rifts was ever a thing. Very 'kitchen sink', pulling lots of stuff in from Heavy Metal comix and undergrounds like Slow Death and Moondog.

  5. First scifi (well, scifan, I suppose) game I actually ran, although I'd played Traveller and Starships & Spacemen and Star Patrol for a while before that. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever gotten to actually play GW outside of one-shots.