Reserves in D&D
Q. Do you think an Omega World system of reserve points could make a cleric-less D&D world workable?
A. Sure, as long as you are OK with characters dying. D&D with reserves but no clerics would be playable, but more characters would still die. Reserves are good for a low-magic campaign or just a low-power campaign. Omega World plays a lot like D&D, only a lot more random and exaggerated.
Stock and Size
Q. Since the rules don't specify, are all characters assumed to be Medium creatures, regardless of their base stock?
A. Yes, all the stocks listed are Medium.
Originally, I had "big" (Medium) and "little" (Small) versions of each nonhuman stock. After all, most mammals, reptiles, and arthropods are smaller than humans, so I figured lots of mutants of those types would also be smaller than humans. But playtesters (especially Rob Heinsoo) didn't like playing little guys, so I made all the stocks Medium. When I took out the rules for Small characters I probably wound up accidentally deleting all reference to size from the stock descriptions. Oops.
My idea that lots of mutated animals should be Small was a wrong-headed intrusion of biological logic into a virulently anti-biological game.
Stock Mutations and Defects
Q. The way I understand it, clickies, hairies, and scalies receive their stock mutations for free (they do not count against their total mutation value). But if they roll Stock Mutation when rolling for Random Mutations, they then roll in the Random Stock Mutation column of Table 1-2, and these DO count against the total value of their mutations. Is this accurate?
A. Indeed. You have parsed the ambiguous rules correctly. If stock mutations counted against your mutation value, I would have totaled it up for you. I try to be a considerate RPG designer. The entry "Stock Mutation" on the mutation table should say "Random Stock Mutation."
Q. What about stock defects?
A. OK, sorry it's so confusing, but it works like this. Mutants get stock mutations for free. Their stock mutations are figured into their ECLs. Mutants only get random stock mutations and stock defects if they roll them on the mutation and defect tables. Every clicky has an exoskeleton, but not every clicky has crude hands. Clickies are more likely to have crude hands than other mutants are, but not all of them have crude hands. Random stock mutations and stock defects count like any other mutation or defect.
Q. Do you have any plans for a follow-up article including mutant stocks using amphibians or avians as the base?
A. No. Omega World was a labor of love for me, and it took a lot more time that I'd bargained for. I don't see myself writing more for it, nor do I see myself writing any other substantial RPGs any time soon. It took time away from my home campaign.
Plus, amphibians are an evolutionary backwater. They gave rise to reptiles, but they don't have much going for them other than that. And birds can't handle head-to-head competition with mammals. The best thing they have going for them is that their wings let them get away from us mammals, because we're clearly superior. Some birds get away from us tactically (such as flying birds) and other strategically (such as the now flightless birds that gave up their wings once they had flew to safe havens from mammals).
My personal mammal jingoism aside, I'd like to see an ambitious fan generate some rules for "squishies" and "fluffies." I'd recommend that the birdfolk not be able to fly well. Flight can really mess up a game, especially if only one character has it.
Q. Do you have a electronic file of a map of Omega World Earth, or any of its continents?
A. I don't have a map of Omega World. The game doesn't have a default setting; it's not that kind of game. In my Gamma World campaigns of years past, I never used the continental maps. Our campaigns were always only on a local scale, and we never made much use of the map of bombed out North America.
In fact, I played Omega World as disconnected from the modern world. I see it as pretty much "anything goes," and tying the game to a real-world location runs counter to how I ran my campaign.
For that matter, the appearance of toasters and such in the art for Omega World also isn't what my campaigns are about. I never much enjoyed the "houseware" aspect of Gamma World. That stuff was part of Erik Mona's vision for the game.
At one point, I thought of using Weird Wars (d20 WorldWar II plus the supernatural) as a resource for my hypothetical d20 Gamma World campaign. It would have been World War II meets Gamma World, with the idea that the Manhattan Project set up a chain reaction that ravaged the world. One reason I rejected that idea was that the WWII gear would locate the campaign geographically. If the PCs found a Stuka dive bomber, the players would know that they were in Europe or Africa, as the Stukas never made it to other continents. I didn't want to have to locate the campaign in any particular continent.
(Another reason I didn't do "Gamma World War II", as attractive as mutants with bazookas may be, is that Weird War didn't have any rules for Stukas. How someone can publish an RPG about WWII and not provide stats for Stukas, the coolest airplane ever, is beyond me.)
Q. Are you going to do more stuff for Omega World, or can you get Paizo to do more stuff?
A. I'm not going to do any more work on Omega World. I had to take time away from my family and my D&D campaign to work do the game. It was fun, but I don't want to do any more with it. The good folks at Paizo might want to do more, but that's up to them. In any event, the game was designed to make it easy for you to create your own stuff, so I hope that it keeps you busy. And if you come up with something cool that you want to share with other Omega World players, post a note to my guestbook and maybe I can put it up here, on my site.