Alternatives to First Edition Gamma World

Wednesday , 4, October 2017 4 Comments

A reader with the eminently post-apocalyptic name of Taarkoth writes in with this grievous lament:

So these and the last two posts got me interested in looking at 1e Gamma World, only for me to find to my immense frustration that, other than prohibitively expensive physical copies on ebay, the only Gamma World available for legal purchase is the WotC 4e junk. To add insult to injury, there aren’t even any shady pdf copies of the 1e rules anywhere I can find them.

Cower not, irradiated survivor of the Shadow Years!

Gamma World may be the two-headed pig-faced stepchild of the TSR line of role-playing games. And yeah, it is weird that it’s so hard to come by a copy of the real thing given that was played to death like very few rpgs ever were. But there are alternatives that have very much the same effect as injecting biogenic agents directly into your medulla oblongata. Yes, there is indeed a wealth of science fantasy gaming goodness available even in the midst of these blackest of the black years. And it doesn’t have to cost you scads of domars, either!


The fine folks over at Goblinoid Games have, out of the kindness of their multiple internal organs, created a retro-clone of first edition Gamma World that is fully compatible with their Labyrinth Lord and Advanced Edition Companion products. What does this mean…? You can move freely between and borrow heavily from “Moldvay” style Basic D&D material and hard core first edition AD&D stuff, too. The most impenetrable rules of these relics of gaming’s dark past have been distilled down into something even pure strain humans will play. And due to the wonders of recently restored Automachine technology, new copies of these great products can be ordered at any time– which saves you the cost of having partially functioning artifacts refurbished!

What’s that you say…? You’re an ardent Restorationist that refuses to deal with anyone that lacks a direct connection to the ancients themselves…? Well what if I told you that James Ward, the mastermind behind Gamma World and the creator of the first ever science fiction role-playing game, was not only recently thawed out from the cyrogenic chambers, but also had a deal with Goodman Games to bring a souped up version of Metamorphosis Alpha back into play? Granted, Metamorphosis Alpha predates Gamma World and is thus rougher and weirder and wilder and freakier. But that’s how a lot of people like it! Even better, the all new Deluxe Collector’s Edition includes lost secrets of the ancients in the form of interviews, historical analysis from Jon Peterson, and all the magazine articles that were published during the dawn of the rpg hobby.

Of course, both of these fine games together will cost you less than an authentic copy of first edition Gamma World. And given that there’s no way to know which one of these games will have the most legs at your table, you might as well get both.

It’s the only way to be sure!

  • DanH says:

    I still have my original copy of Metamorphosis Alpha in a box somewhere. Had a lot of fun playing with that one.

    There was a TV show back in the 70’s that had the same premise but I can’t remember what it was called. I know that it is on YouTube.

    • JonM says:

      You may be thinking of the Starlost – it was created by Harlan Ellison, but when the execs got involved and tried to sex it up a bit, he bailed out. There’s a novelization of it out there called, “Phoenix Without Ashes”, that discusses the mess from Ellison’s no doubt completely fair and impartial point of view, if you’re interested.

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