First Impressions Review: “Famine in Far-Go”

Famine in Far-Go is the new release for the new version of the Gamma World RPG. It is one part expansion set, providing new rules for both the players and GM to use, and one part large adventure, spanning several levels.

What You Get In The Box

  • 4 sheets worth of cardstock counters, covering all the new monsters in the book.
  • 10 cards, 2 each of the 5 new Cryptic Alliance cards.
  • 2 double sided poster maps (5 different encounter areas altogether)
  • 160 page book, including 20 new mutant origins, cryptic alliances (both the 5 for PCs and plenty more for NPCs), 67 monsters, writeup of the town of Far-Go in East Dah-Koh-Tah, and complete Famine in Far-Go mini-campaign that takes characters from 3rd to 6th level.

20 New Origins

The list has already been revealed. There are some great new traits (like the Alien’s “not from this world trait”, where the GM chooses from two Alpha Mutations to give you whenever you’d draw one), and a lot more of these origins also contain weaknesses (like the Reanimated’s slower speed.) Of course, the humor in the origin descriptions is present here as well, like this from the Mythic description: “You might be a tentacled monstrosity from a sunken city, a blonde-haired Nordic with a lantern jaw and a big hammer, or a famous author with curious ideas about aliens.”

While new origins do add a bit of complexity to character creation (as with any sourcebook), given the amount of duplicate origins I see in most games, having more origins available is definitely a plus. Of course, with new origins all contain a host of new character concepts and random pairs. If I somehow roll Wheeled Simian I’m not sure how any other character will be able to compare.

The book also contains a new starting gear table (which was desperately needed) and a new ancient junk table. Of course, you’re already using the Junkulator instead, right?

Cryptic Alliances

Five cryptic alliances are available to PCs: Brotherhood of Thought, Children of the Atom, New Dawn, Restorationists, and Servants of the Eye. Each one has a card in the game that can be used either to give each person their own secret alliance for their character’s lifespan, a temporary alliance for the session only, or one alliance for the entire party. Each alliance card gives a benefit to those who reveal it at the expense of the other party members.

Like any “secret faction” RPG, it’s probably best to discuss with your group how they feel, and be ready for stronger and more direct intra-party conflict. Some players enjoy that, some players despise it. So make sure everyone’s on the same page before implementing them into the game. Another option might be to give them out as rewards in-game if the party allies with members of a cryptic alliance while on a mission for them.

Each cryptic alliance, including the 7 dangerous (NPC) cryptic alliances, has an explanation of their agenda, some other descriptive details, and a sample NPC for that alliance. This is all great fodder for adventure planning, and dare I say it, complete Gamma World campaigns. There’s even a page of minor alliances, for those of you who want to throw up the horns and encounter the Metal Gods.

And, as an aside, this is the book that drives home all the Paranoia influences. There’s even a dangerous cryptic alliance that worships a computer that gives them orders, so you too can be a mutant member of a secret society bossed around by a friendly computer. If only you had multiple clones…

Poster Maps

Useful for anyone running their own Gamma World games of course. Not as much variety as I’d like, with a lot of ruined streets and a few interiors similar to some of the existing maps. The ruined intersection and gas station are some of the best of the bunch.

58 New Monsters

Plenty of new monsters from levels 2 to 8 are included, both in their own section and as part of the adventure. The monsters skew towards the 3-6 range (like the adventure itself). Many of them are in the “mutated animal” style, like the dog-like Arks, the sinister horse Brutorz, or the fowl Gallus-Gallus. Some of my favorites though bust out of that mold. The massive extraterrestrial Mantrap plant is a level 4 solo controller that can command minds, the energy-draining Neep Neeps, or the Relentless Killer Robot that stalks you until you are terminated. My favorite monster though has to be the alien Visitors. The Death Saucer is an 8th level gargantuan solo (I guess you can use an upside-down paper plate to represent it) that deploys Visitor Shock Troopers while hitting you with death rays and neutron bombs.

Oh, and of course, there’s zombies of various kinds, origins, and speeds. You know a zombie apocalypse adventure is on all of our minds for Gamma World.

Visit Scenic Far-Go

In the fourth chapter, we get a write-up of East Dah-Koh-Tah. We’re treated to a bit of history, both of the original adventure module and the area. There are descriptions of various important areas in the Far-Go region, like the ancient woods or the Glittermarsh, each with enough information to pull at least one adventure seed out of each.

There’s also the town of Far-Go itself, with a numbered map for all the important buildings in town. Though many are the kind of place you’d find in a D&D town (with Gamma World twists), there’s a few references in a few of the buildings. I don’t want to spoil them, but I highly recommend reading them for yourself.

Lack of Food in East Dah-Koh-Tah

Without giving anything away to those who might want to play through, I recommend the adventure. Taking elements from both the original Famine in Far-Go adventure and Expedition to Barrier Peaks, the PCs become embroiled in the troubles surrounding Far-Go, that as often happens, come from many sources. The PCs can investigate several different leads, and begin to find a common thread. The adventure is designed such that the PCs can determine which leads they follow up and in what order, which does make a difference in what happens. With Far-Go being the center point, there’s also plenty of opportunities for roleplaying amongst the residents as the adventure progresses. The encounters all take place on the provided poster maps (both the ones from this set and the core Gamma World boxed set.)

Like most WotC adventures, I would have liked to have seen a bit more advice in the encounters about adding in some other roleplaying opportunities. There’s some decent traps and terrain features, and the adventure introduces Skill Challenges officially into Gamma World that spice the encounters up. Still, when you’ve got a world where monsters eat clothes and aliens really want to be taken to your leader, would it be difficult to add in some extra advice about how to handle the encounters without an all-out fight every time?

Conclusions

If you’re a fan of the new Gamma World game, you’re probably going to want to pick this book up, even if you have no intention of running the included adventure. The new origins, poster maps, and monsters alone make this a worthwhile purchase. The optional cryptic alliance cards and the adventure are extra irradiated gravy, and the story material to mine from the dangerous alliances and the town of Far-Go fills in gaps that the original boxed set lacked.

Is this an essential purchase, though? Not by any means. The original 20 origins is plenty of combinations to keep you going for a while, and there’s plenty of great articles elsewhere that can help with some of the other pieces it provides.

As for me, I’ll be over there playing my Exploding Shapeshifter who worships the mighty atom as he battles zombies in an abandoned factory.

Famine in Far-Go is available now from Wizards Premiere Stores and elsewhere on December 21st.

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.

Comments

  1. Great first impressions, thanks Dave! Can you give me a better idea of what some of the less specific origins are introduced as – such as wheeled, explosive, etc.? Even just the quote text at the top might help me envision them a bit better!

  2. I find this set hillarious because i actually live in fargo. its the largest city in North Dakota on the eastern boarder. just incase people forgot that people actually live up here.