Monday, July 27, 2015

Why no Nations in Gamma World?

I've been doing a little preliminary work on my massive Gamma World/Metamorphosis Alpha/Gammarauders/Gamma Knights (new element!) campaign, and something occurred to me.

Why in the Gamma World default campaign setting, does it seem like there aren't any large nations? We're centuries past the Big Oops, but it still seems like the only signs of civilization are tiny little hardscrabble villages and towns like Far-Go. There doesn't seem to be any sense of a trade network and the communications that go with trade, no religions (!!!), and no governments that extend farther than the size of a city-state.

Now, maybe this is something that's dealt with in later editions of the game (you know me, I stick with older versions of stuff whenever I can), but it seems entirely unlikely that in the centuries since the bombs fell, government hasn't spread past the tiny village stage.

This seems doubly unlikely given the fact that we have the cryptic alliances out there, supposedly spanning the world (or at least the North American continent). How are they organized? If they have agents in those hardscrabble villages, how do they communicate with one another if there aren't any trade routes?

For that matter, why aren't there any nations? Have them separated by hundreds of miles of mutant-haunted wastelands, but surely there should be cities, and land to feed the cities, and towns to collect the produce of the land, and so forth. And with that comes manufacturing, at least at some level. Sure, maybe the secrets of the Ancients have been lost, and nobody knows how to make powered armor or artificial intelligence any more, but firearms should be easy enough.

The first edition rulebook does give this question some attention:
There should be a minimal number of cities in GAMMA WORLD, as there are simply too few survivors, and there hasn't been time though, since the Shadow Years, for any great new cities to have grown. All of the old cities lie in radioactive ruin, or have been completely obliterated or swallowed up by the rising seas. What cities there are will generally be situated on a coast or river, and are near the few remaining robot farms (explained later). City populations should range between 5,000 to 50,000 humans, mutants, intelligent plants. etc.
In both the first and third editions of the game, the interval from the holocaust to the present day is 170 years or so. I submit that, population or no, that's enough time for someone to extend their influence beyond the boundaries of a city-state, especially if they have populations reaching 50,000.

These nations needn't be too large, but even a city of 50,000 humans is going to need farmland, and that farmland needs villages to support it. Assuming there aren't any handy robotic farms or computerized food factories handy.

I think adding that level to Gamma World would be a terrific way to add a whole layer of play to a campaign. Not only do you have local authorities, and agents of the cryptic alliances, but there are also (probably distant) rulers who have to be taken into account. And naturally those rulers go to war on occasion, which gives an excuse to have your bioborgs and associated popcorn assault an enemy town. It would also give those cryptic alliances a sandbox in which to pursue their schemes. I kinda like the idea, and will be incorporating it into my long-dreamed-of campaign.