Famine in Far-Go Review

I've never played Gamma World before Wizards got their hands on it, an experience that I enjoyed but unable to indulge in nearly as frequently as I do Dungeons & Dragons. I'd heard from some source or other that Famine in Far-Go is also an adventure from a much older Gamma World edition, and chickens are implemented in some capacity. The cover certainly tries to make them look menacing, though even bulging with muscles and dual-wielding bloody cleavers isn't going to cut it. The expansion box is half as thick, containing a rulebook that roughly the same size as the Gamma World book, a small collection of cryptic allegiance cards, three sheets of monster tokens, and two foldout maps likely used in the adventure.

Chapter 1 adds twenty new origins, as well as instructions on how to use origins from Gamma World if you want to mix and match them. I like the exploding origin. Initially, you can damage very creature within 2 squares of you as an at-will, and while you can eventually explode once per encounter as an immediate reaction, the best one is the expert power: you literally explode, doing a burst 4 attack that removes you from play until your next turn, after which you reform yourself. Other origins let you control magnetic fields, be Stretch Armstrong, play a monkey, and more. There's also additional tables for ancient junk and starting gear (again, with instructions to determine which table to use if you want to include the ones from Gamma World).

Chapter 2 details five cryptic alliances that have more or less (loosely) good intentions, at least compared to the rest. Some want to make the world a better place through psychic coercion, while others want to use technology to destroy other technology. These are intended for players to pick from in order to add additional agendas to their characters, which might cause them to butt heads with other characters depending on if and how their agendas conflict. Yes, these come on cards. No, they aren't randomized. You get all five player-intended allegiances, with two cards each (doubles). Like D&D backgrounds they aren't mandatory, but provide a small benefit that might inconvenience the rest of the party (especially the one that imposes a penalty to Omega charge checks in order to gain a bonus that lasts for the rest of the game session).

Additionally, there are seven major and twelve minor alliances intended for game masters to give some background flavor to villains. These range from packs of goth kids to heavy-metal biker gangs to shotgun-toting nuns.

Chapter 3 adds over 50 new monsters (if you count variants to the theme), expanding the menagerie to include bizarre creatures like life-draining bipedal dogs, horse-shaped ambulatory cacti, and rage zombies (along with other kinds, too). The level range is alright, eschewing levels 1, 9, and 10, and they included a level 8 elite space dragon as an almost end game threat, unfortunately called a poong. One of my favorites is the hopper (aka, jackalope), which is a very easily scared, Large-sized critter that camouflages itself so long as it doesn't move too far.

For those curious about the froghemoth, its a level 8 elite soldier with a stat block that eats up the entire page, capable of making four tentacle attacks per round, which has an auto-damaging "mark" kicker effect, and can make a tentacle attack as a free action anytime someone hits it in melee. Its bite does a hefty amount of damage, and immobilizes you. The worse part is that if it bites you, it can try to swallow you as a minor action, meaning that you take automatic damage and are stunned until you make a save.

For those of you that wanted more story content in Gamma World (myself included), chapter 4 is a good place to get you started. Its kind of a lite-Nentir Vale treatment that provides you with twelves pages of history and information on a region of east Dah-Koh-Tah. Some of it is intended for the adventure, but a good deal can be used as a foundation for further adventures and encounter ideas. About half the pages are devoted to the city of Far-Go, including a stat block for the city, a map, and key NPCs and locations.

Crashed aliens. Fungus people. Mutant chickens. The adventure in chapter 5 eats up about a third of the book, and with good reason: the characters have a lot on their plate to deal with. See, aliens have crashed on Gamma Terra and are trying to fix their ship, but have unknowingly released russet mold into the area, which has caused local flora to grow to a very large size. The farmers use it to fertilize their crops, not knowing that the mutated plants become sentient and attack. This doesn't stop a band of mutant chickens from a factory south-west of the town to steal the crops and continue using the fungus to speed up plant growth, creating more violent fungus people. Finally, those aliens? The ones that just want to go home? They keep suffering setbacks due to mutating cockroaches stealing parts from their ship.

This adventure looks a lot better than Steading of the Iron King. Its got a sandbox feel to it, allowing characters some flexibility as to where they go (and what they'll face). There's some depth supplied for NPCs and the town, instead of just having you save a nondescript town from random, missile-launching robots. It also (re)introduces skill challenge rules on the off chance that you only play Gamma World and not D&D.

If you're a fan of Gamma World, this is a must-have. If you're on the fence, I'd flip through it, as the added content will probably sway your vote. If you hate Gamma World, then don't bother: its just more wacky wasteland hijinks.

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