Saturday, April 8, 2023

Interlude: The Aquabot

Before taking a look at Famine in Far-Go as the fourth part of my ongoing examination of the setting of Gamma World, I wanted to draw attention to another article from Polyhedron. As the official 'zine of the Role Playing Game Association (RPGA), Polyhedron often published some very fascinating articles for TSR's non-D&D RPGs, articles that introduced new rules or setting elements that would never appear elsewhere. This made Polyhedron of great value to me and receiving it was, in fact, the only reason I became a paid member of the RPGA, since I was never much of a convention goer, nor did I ever participate in official RPGA events. 

Issue #20 of the 'zine (1984) presents an "encounter" for use with the just-released second edition of Gamma World, the Aquabot, featured on its cover in an illustration by Roger Raupp.

The article, written by James M. Ward and Roger Raupp gives very little detail on the origins of the Aquabot (this would be rectified in a later Dragon article, which I'll discuss in an upcoming post). The bulk of the article focuses on the Aquabot's game stats, followed by a two-page schematic of the immense machine of unspecified height.
I bring this article to your attention because it introduces the Aquabot as part of a military force attacking a stronghold city of the Radioactivists cryptic alliance on the west coast of North America. The Aquabot had come out of the ocean and it's stated to be part of a larger invasion force with unknown intentions. At the time, I found this interesting, because it was the first hint of an ongoing, unfolding event within the setting of Gamma World, which had previously been presented largely as a traditional sandbox. As we'll see in an upcoming post, the Aquabot would also herald the introduction of something else to the setting of Gamma World.


  1. I don't know anything about Gamma World or the Aquabot, but given the "rising sun" imagery and the fact that it's a giant transforming robot, I suspect that someone involed had been watching Japanese anime.

    1. It's difficult to imagine how it could be less so! Perhaps if they were piloted by teenage boys, or via "radio watch".

    2. I find it fascinating how often certain trends and fads infiltrate only vaguely related media. In this case, as I'll explain in another post, the authors did something interesting with it, but it's still a little strange to see an anime-style mech appear in Gamma World.

    3. There were other anime-style mecha in Gamma World, in Dragon magazine #101.

  2. Japanese influence aside, the head of the mech on the cover there is clearly drawing from the Flying Sub from Irwin Allen's Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea.