Wednesday, June 16, 2010

RPG.NET rant #16 The Great Gamma World Death March

RPG.NET rant #16
The Great Gamma World Death March

originally posted to on 03-09-2004, 01:50 PM

I thought it would be prefect. My five least incident-prone players were with me; Weasly Crusher, Deviant Boy, Ol' Yellowbelly, Blobert Smith and Rehab Boy (Formerly the Amazing Boozehound). We were gathered together at Deviant Boy's apartment.
For a time Deviant Boy and El Disgusto had been roommates but El Disgusto had found cheaper digs by moving in with a commune of Star Trek Live Action Role Players. We didn't know what went on at that strangely painted farm house but it was very immersive - in the worst sense of the word.
With El Disgusto gone (save for the slight odor of unwashed men's underwear that seemed to still hover in the air at times) it gave me a chance to try my hand at some 'ninja-free' campaigns.
And the game we were running tonight was one I had a wanted to run for a long time.

Blobert Smith: "Gamma World, how delightful!"
Me: "First edition too."
Weasly Crusher: "I remember I used to have a copy of that. I was going to run it but I loaned the rules to Psycho Dave and he sold them to the used book store..."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "You mean MILDEW'S USED BOOKS?"
Weasly Crusher: "Yeah. I always meant to buy them back but by the time I'd gotten caught up with the Columbia Book and Record club someone had snatched it up."
Me: "I bought this at MILDEW'S."
Rehab Boy: "Psycho Dave did that to you a lot didn't he?"
Weasly Crusher: "Yeah."
Me: "Sorry Weasly."
Weasly Crusher: "That's Ok, at least I still have my copy of CYBORG COMMANDO."
Blobert Smith: "You can take comfort in that at least."
Rehab Boy: "Well its like they say Re-Possession is nine tenths of the law! Ha-ha!"
Me: "Ok then... lets roll up those characters."

A short while later I had five new player characters waiting for me.

Weasly Crusher: "My character is a mutated human with heightened intelligence and hemophilia."
Blobert Smith: "My Character is a normal human that worships the writings of Roland Dahl."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "I'm playing a mutated cactus. His one possession is the little red wagon he sits in. He moves it with telekinesis."
Me: "Why.....?"
Ol' Yellowbelly: "Because no one attacks the cactus! Its brilliant!"
Deviant Boy: "I rolled up a humanoid mutant. He has size reduction, multiple appendages and enlarged appendages. I drew this picture of him? See?"

(Brief Horrified Pause)

Me: "His name is 'Doc Cock'?"

Deviant Boy: "Yeah he's like Doctor Octopus but he walks around on-"
Me: "I get it."
Deviant Boy: "They're really big and he's really small and there are eight of them and if he needs a jet boost or distance weapon all he has to do is-"
Me: "NEXT!"
Rehab Boy: "I am playing an average looking normal human with average stats and no mutations. His name is John Eric: Adventurer."
Me: "That's-"
Rehab Boy: "Ha-Ha! Get it? John-Eric Adventurer! Get it! Generic Adventurer! Ha-Ha!"
Me: "Let's get started shall we?"

The scenario I had planned was to be a simple quest that would introduce the players to the campaign world with little or no real risk. I explained that the player characters were all living on a small village called Crapsville on the outskirts of a forest. Things were peaceful but that village was woefully short on medical supplies so they sent the player characters out to the Big City at the mouth of the river to barter for the needed supplies. Everything was going great until we wrapped up the first combat encounter.

Ol' Yellowbelly: "Oh My God! We all almost died!"
Blobert Smith: "Fighting for our lives against 6 foot tall rabbits with assault rifles. How could the apocalypse bring so much irony?"
Deviant Boy: "So much for no one attacks the cactus."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "They didn't, you bastards were using me for cover!"
Rehab Boy: "My character cleans and dresses the bodies all the while singing 'My Bunny Valentine'! Ha-Ha!"
Me: "I thought you said humor was an important step in your Recovery."
Rehab Boy: "It is."
Me: "Well let me know when it starts."
Rehab Boy: "Ha-Ha! And they said you were a balding failure with no sense of humor!"
Me: "What?"
Weasly Crusher: "My character tries to stop hemorrhaging."
Deviant Boy: "My character tries to help."
Weasly Crusher: "If any of your character's appendages touches me I'll scream"
Me: "Do you guys make camp for the night?"
Deviant Boy: "Yeah, I think we should. And I think we should reevaluate what we are going to do. Who has the map?"
Weasly Crusher: "I think my character is using it for a tourniquet."

The player characters made camp in the shadows of some ruins, after wringing out the map and drying it they began to make plans.

Ol' Yellowbelly: "I think we should turn back. It's not safe here."
Rehab Boy: "You say that every game."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "No I don't!"
Weasly Crusher: "You said that the time we played the ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE game."
Ol'Yellowbelly: "I was well within my rights that Mr. Peabody has crazy eyes."
Deviant Boy: "We are on a mission of mercy here. We can't be worried about herds of killer rabbits."
Blobert Smith: "Look at the map. It appears that we are taking the long route to the Big City."
Weasly Crusher: "But I thought this was the only road."
Deviant Boy: "Let me see that map. Hey he's right, we're taking the long way around. The journey that's taking us over a week could be done in three days if we just cut through here and make a beeline for the Big City."
Me: "So you want to take a shortcut through the Desert of Certain Doom?"

The players briefly talked amongst themselves. In their whispers I could hear the sound of a campaign falling apart.

Deviant Boy: "Yes."
Me: "Let me say this again, you want to take a shortcut through the Desert of Certain Doom? You know the part of the map here with all the radiation and biohazard symbols on it?"

Once again the players briefly talked amongst themselves. Subtlety was failing me so as they talked I pointed to the map and made spooky noises.

Deviant Boy: "Yes."
Me: "All right then is there anything else you would like to do before your characters turn in for the night? After all you want to wake up bright an early to make your way across the Desert of Certain Doom. That's the Desert of Certain Doom."
Weasly Crusher: "I try not to bleed so much."
Deviant Boy:" My character has some pretty involved grooming rituals he has to go through."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "My character hides behind a rock."
Rehab Boy: "I lie down next to him so he's between a ROCK AND A HARD CASE! Ha-Ha!"
Blobert Smith: "Yes, my character preaches about the sacred mystery of the Everlasting Gobstopper."

In the morning the player characters broke camp and made their way into the Desert of Certain Doom. Suddenly their chance of combat encounters more then doubled in regularity and ferocity. I thought of all the planned role-playing encounters I had set up for this scenario. I imagined them standing by the side if the road twiddling their thumbs like actors that had never gotten their cues. It was after a particularly rough fight with some giant tics we took our first casualty.

Weasly Crusher: "Well that's it, I bled to death."
Deviant Boy: "Through the ragged stump at the end of your neck."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "I didn't think it was possible for a cactus to wet itself."
Rehab Boy: "The dice are with me tonight!"
Blobert Smith: "I take out some pieces of chocolate and start giving the last rites to Weasly's character..."
Me: "How do you-"
Blobert Smith: "...Body of Wonka. Amen."

I always knew playing Role Playing Games would get me sent to Hell, I had just never been sure how and why until that very moment.

Weasly Crusher: "Can I make a new character?"
Me: "How will you meet the rest of the party?"
Blobert Smith: "Perhaps he lives here."
Me: "In the Desert of Certain Doom?"
Rehab Boy: "Maybe he likes beachfront property! Ha-Ha!"
Me: "I'm sorry it just doesn't make any sense."
Weasly Crusher: "No that's ok. I should head home then."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "Uh- I'm your ride home."
Weasly Crusher: "I'll walk."
Rehab Boy: "It's snowing- and you know what they say... There's no business like snow business. Ha-Ha!"
Weasly Crusher: "I'll take the bus."
Blobert Smith: "But it is a Sunday night and the last bus has already come and gone like a midseason replacement TV series starring Charo and Emmanuel Lewis."
Weasly Crusher: "Then I'll hitchhike."
Deviant Boy: "You know what could happen to a tender morsel like you?"

(Brief Horrified Pause)

Deviant Boy: "What?"
Me: "Ok. I will let Weasly make a new character if we never speak of that last moment again."

Weasly rolled up a new character with practiced ease while the rest of the part blundered around in the Desert of Certain Doom like a rant in search of a punchline. His character was a normal human with minimal hit points living alone in the middle of a deadly wasteland. It didn't make a lick of sense but then what did I know? I was only the Gamemaster.

Weasly Crusher: "My character decides to abandoned his diseased sod farm and join the party."
Rehab Boy: "Why would anyone want to farm diseased sod? Sod that! Ha- Ha!"
Blobert Smith: "The joy of finding a new companion has caused me to sing. Oppmpa Loompa Doopaty Doo, I've got another hymnal for you. What do you do when you're farming up sod. As an occupation its certainly odd. What if you think-"
Deviant Boy: "I kill him."

Well I suppose that was inevitable. There was another pause while Blobert Smith rolled up another character, a boneless mutant goth prostitute named Vespa. She and Doc Cock became fast friends. The rest of the party just shuddered, even the cactus. Their treck across the Desert of Certain doom continued.

Me: "Ok what are you doing?"
Deviant Boy: "I scout ahead and search for encounters."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "Are you insane?"
Deviant Boy: "What?"
Ol' Yellowbelly: "You're LOOKING for combat encounters."
Deviant Boy: "No my character is scouting ahead to make sure we don't get ambushed."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "But by doing that you're making sure we do get ambushed. You're changing a GM decision into a player made dice roll."
Deviant Boy: "How would my character know that? And are you saying that the less you know the safer you are?"
Ol' Yellowbelly: "That's the creed I live my life by."
Me: "So what do you want to do?"
Deviant Boy: "I go scout ahead."
Ol'Yellowbelly: "I run."
Weasly Crusher: "Actually you roll."
Rehab Boy: "And I rule! Ha-Ha!"
Me: "So you're really breaking off from the party?"
Ol' Yellowbelly: "Yes! I want to live!"
Me: "Ok, and Deviant Boy I need you to make some rolls."
Rehab Boy: "He's rolling and he's rolling... rollin' rollin' rollin' keep those doggies rollin Rawhide! Ha-Ha!"

So Ol' Yellowbelly character tried to get back home and the rest of the party soldiered on. Another combat broke out and a critical hit took out another player character.

Deviant Boy: "Noooooooooooooo!"
Me: "Sorry. Bad luck there."
Weasly Crusher: "For any other character a groin shot wouldn't be so fatal."
Blobert Smith: "Vespa sobs wildly and cradles the grisly remains to her bosom."
Rehab Boy: "That's not like her to go off all half-cocked like that! Ha-Ha!"
Weasly Crusher: "Dude we did that same joke 2 rants ago."
Me: "Hey! No breaking character while breaking character."
Deviant Boy: "Well since everyone else got to make a new character can I?"
Me: "Sure, but no more of this penis monster stuff."
Deviant Boy: "Hey, mark my words someday there will be an entire genre of films dealing with tentacle penis monsters."
Me: "Give me a break. The day that happens is the day I get porno for free through my phone lines."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "Am I home yet?"
Me: "Look I told you already, your wagon's wheel broke running from those ground hogs. you're stuck."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "But I'm stuck out in the middle of the woods! How will I survive?"
Weasly Crusher: "You're a cactus..."
Rehab Boy: "No reason to be a prick about it! Ha-Ha!"
Me: "Let me ask you a question."
Rehab Boy: "As they say in Alaska, 'Eskimo questions and I tell you no lies.' Ha-Ha!"
Me: "Do you feel that unlicensed pilots should be allowed to fly airplanes?"
Rehab Boy: "What?"
Me: "I said, do you feel that unlicensed pilots should be allowed to fly airplanes?"
Rehab Boy: "Of course not."
Me: "Should unlicensed doctors be allowed to perform surgery."
Rehab Boy: "No."
Me: "Then using that logic maybe you should let people that are FUNNY TELL THE FUCKING JOKES!!! How about that? Ha-Ha!"

No one was surprised when Rehab Boy stormed out, we tried to get the game going again but suddenly we realized something.

Weasly Crusher: "Hey I suddenly realized something."
Ol' Yellowbelly: "That you need to go back for the cactus?"
Weasly Crusher: "No. I just realized that no one in the party is from the little village of Crapsville. We have no reason to be on this quest."
Blobert Smith: "I think Rehab Boy's character had the map."
Deviant Boy: "Yeah why is my six-fingered hermaphrodite here?"
Me: "And for that matter why am I here?"

There wasn't much of a game left after that but we were pretty much snowed in so we sat up for a little while discussing what went wrong. All the players agreed that there should have been some kind of warning that the Desert of Certain Doom might be dangerous.
The next day I cashed in the Gamma World books for store credit at MILDEW'S and picked up a copy of CHAMPIONS. It was the same CHAMPIONS book I had loaned to Psycho Dave years ago.


  1. Deviant Boy: "Hey, mark my words someday there will be an entire genre of films dealing with tentacle penis monsters."

    Me: "Give me a break. The day that happens is the day I get porno for free through my phone lines."

    Even if it's just God fucking with your mind for a laugh, you must EAT your hat good sir. If only for the sake of honor.

    1. Truly, Deviant Boy was a genius ahead of his time