Good afternoon kids your uncle Eric is back with a slightly different take on old school campaigns when we our ten year old players brains were thrown a curve ball. I was just hitting ten years old in 1980. The world was a grey ball full of promises & the ever looming threat of nuclear war. In fact looking back on it I don't think that there was ever a time when that shadow wasn't over my shoulder. So I was moving back to Connecticut from New York State in November of that year. There are some games & campaigns that stick with you as a player and DM. This was one when Barbra the wife of our regular dungeon master took over the regularly sceduled Gamma World 1st edition game. Up till then most of our games were gonzo ruin exploration crossed over with Space 1999 style ruins. Our DM was my father's best friend and a retired RAF pilot so things had definitive British slant. But he was called away for a few months and his wife took over our game (actually his mother had passed & he had to settle the estate with his siblings). I played with his kids who were best friends ( they're a whole other blog entry). Barbra was an Royal Air Force bride so she was a bit on the young side and as we would soon learn 'The Tomorrow People' show fanatic. She took Gamma World and sort of turned it on its ear.
Suddenly we were generating modern day PC's who were the next stage of human evolution (Homo novis) known colloquially as Tomorrow People. We were kids who had 'broken out' and were coming to terms with our abilities;"normal child might at some point between childhood and late adolescence experience a process called "breaking out" and develop special paranormal abilities. These abilities include psionic powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation." That little wrinkle that the show had where the characters "psychological make-up prevents them from intentionally killing others." Yeah that went out the window. The campaign resembled something between the 'Fury', 'Escape From Witch Mountain' & 'Carrie'.
Gamma World got a lot more weird as we discovered a modern day bunker in London with a weird set of Gamma World style computers & a very interesting A.I. who was going to be our guiding light, conscience, and Barbara's voice in the game. She followed the program loosely at best which was fine with us kids;"The original series was produced by Thames Television for ITV. The Tomorrow People operate out of a secret base, The lab, built in an abandoned London Underground station. The lab was revamped at the beginning of Series 6. The team watches for new Tomorrow People "breaking out" to help them through the process and sometimes deal with attention from extraterrestrial species as well as facing more earthbound dangers. They also have connections with the "Galactic Federation" which oversees the welfare of telepathic species throughout the galaxy. In addition to their psychic powers, they use advanced technology such as the biological (called in the series "biotronic") computer TIM, which is capable of original thought, telepathy, and can augment their psychic powers. TIM also helps the Tomorrow People to teleport long distances, although they must be wearing a device installed into a belt or bracelet for this to work. Teleportation is referred to as jaunting in the programme. The team used jaunting belts up to the end of Series 5, after which they used much smaller wristbands."
The teleportation, the connections to the Galactic Federation, and connections with her husband's Space 1999 style Metamorphosis Alpha 1st edition were sprinkled, picked up, and used as she needed them. It was a glorious campaign. She wrote all of her own adventures which had us zipping around the globe. There was a sprinkle of Dr.Who in there on occasion.
And what kinds of menaces did our little group of six kids face down? Well it was pretty simple actually the various Cryptic Alliances of Gamma World came back to our little corner of London down through time or through an alternative gate ways to menace us. There was the odd sprinkling of wizards and various things from the Monster Manual as the monster menace out of time. Barbra was one of my favorite DM's & possibly the one who had the most influence on me as a kid. How did the campaign end? Did the kids prevent the coming apocalypse? I never knew because I moved back to Connecticut & for awhile at least I lost track of my adopted uncle and his family. This was long before the internet & the chaos of family took far more of my time. More on that soon. Years later she would pass on from cancer way too young, I still miss her today. There have been so many times when I could have used her counsel & guidance in life & gaming.
There were a lot of firsts with this game campaign. Barbara was my first female DM & she was far better then her husband (she was patient, a methodical planner, a hell of a mapper & the pacing of her adventures were very well done) and she also reveled in the gonzo aspect of the science fantasy of Gamma World. She also sat me down & taught me how to look past the setting limitations of a table top rpg to make it my own as a DM.