Thursday, August 9, 2012

[Building Character: Gamma World] Icahbog

Last week I posted a DesignReview for the Gamma World roleplaying game. Today I’m posting my first in a short series of Building Character articles based on the game. Creating player characters for Gamma World is very different from most RPGs, because a lot of the character traits are generated randomly. Therefore, these articles are going to focus on how I took the randomly generated traits and tried to imagine a cohesive interpretation of what sort of character this might be. The game’s publisher, Wizards of the Coast, has a very handy online tool for quickly generating the random elements of a character. You can see it here. I used that to generate this character's traits.


Icahbog is the first character I’m creating for this Building Character series on Gamma World. The first thing you get from the random character creation is two origins. These describe what exactly the character is. Icahbog’s origins are Reanimator and Seismic. Reanimators are supposed to raise the dead, creating zombie minions that attack their foes. Seismics are at least partly composed of living rock, and can shake the earth or pack a powerful punch. I decided to blend the two together, making Icahbog a hulking earth monster, like The Thing from Fantastic Four, with the ability to raise up smaller earth golems from the ground. Mechanically, I’m changing nothing. I’m just choosing to visualize all of his Reanimator powers as manipulating the earth instead of creating zombies. As you read over what the Reanimator powers do, you see that this idea actually works very well.

There are very few actual choices that you make when creating a character for Gamma World. One of those is choosing equipment. Since the Seismic origin already reduces Icahbog’s speed by 1, I decided to go all the way and give him heavy armor, which reduces his speed by another 1. Icahbog is going to be slow but really tough. I also gave him heavy two-handed weapons to maximize the amount of damage he can do. The other choice you can make is to choose a vocation. Vocations give you a few extra bonuses as you level up, but the first bonus doesn’t come into play until the character reaches level 4. I’m creating Ichabog as a first level character, so vocation is irrelevant. If I were to play him at a higher level I would choose the Naturalist vocation, which gives him some inside info and a few advantages when dealing with animals in combat.


Characters in Gamma World have 6 primary abilities. The values of two of these are determined by your origins, and the other four are determined randomly. Icahbog’s ability scores are: Strength 16, Constitution 13, Dexterity 10, Intelligence 11, Wisdom 18, Charisma 11. None of these are particularly low. So that’s fortunate for him. He has a high Strength and Constitution, so I’m picturing him as a really big, strong, tough guy. His wisdom is really high, too, so he’s also pretty alert and intuitive. I would play him as both tough and smart. But it might be fun to have him be a kind of quiet person, so that people who don’t know him might mistake him for a big dumb brute at first meeting. Because of his strong connection to the earth, I think he would be something of an environmentalist. He draws his strength from the earth, so he doesn’t want to see it polluted any further than it all ready is. If he was to join a cryptic alliance (Gamma World’s political factions), he would join New Dawn – a group bent on destroying technology and restoring the world to a natural paradise.


Icahbog was born to a family of farmers working a small patch of fertile land in East Dah-Koh-Tah, near the town of Far-Go. As a very young boy it was obvious his mutations were earth-related. He loved to play in the dirt, and even though his mother bathed him, he never came clean. Before long his entire body was permanently caked in a thick layer of dirt. In time, his body started to pick up rocks as well. Tiny pebbles and chips of stone would stick to his skin, eventually giving his body a rocky appearance.

Other kids began to make fun of him for being dirty, and he became something of a social misfit. Spending most of his time alone in the fields, he began talking to the earth he was tilling because it was the only thing around. It didn’t really surprise him when the earth answered. He found that he had a growing bond with the earth itself, and when he needed help or companionship the earth would rise up and form a small humanoid creature of made of dirt and rock.

When Icahbog came of age, he decided to leave the family farm and set out on his own. The earth had whispered to him rumors of far away places, and now he wanted to see them for himself. Although he was used to being without the companionship of other people, Icahbog wasn’t truly a loner. He was accustomed to the company of the earth, and he realized that it would probably be wise to find other companions to join him on his adventure. In Far-Go he met a couple of other young adventurers whom wanted to see the world, and together the three of them set out for the horizon.

Combat Tactics

Icahbog is one tough customer. All of his defenses are pretty high for first level, so he’ll be hard to land a blow on. His only weak spot is his reflexes – he’s tough but slow – so attacks that he can only defend against by getting out of the way might cause him trouble. He has a fairly high number of starting Hit Points, though, so that’s not too big of a deal. On top of that, his origins let him take 5 less damage from any physical attack and 10 less damage from any necrotic attack. Basically, this guy won’t get hurt easily. Because of this, I would have Icahbog move in close to the enemies, drawing their attention away from his allies, which may be weaker.

Icahbog is slow on the battlefield, with a speed of 4. He may have to end up relying on ranged attacks because it could be difficult for him to chase enemies down. For weapons, he’s got a heavy two-handed melee weapon, which I picture as a very large sword (because swords are awesome). He’s also got a heavy two-handed ranged weapon. I imagine that his connection to the earth can cause a large chunk of dirt and rock to simply spring into his hands, ready to be hurled at an unsuspecting foe.

From his origins, he gets the power to raise an earth golem on his turn (Reanimator’s Graveyard Summons power). This minion won’t last long, but it can move and attack once before crumbling into a pile of dirt again. This allows Icahbog to attack enemies without giving up a tactically advantageous spot. If he gets surrounded by enemies, he can stomp the ground, causing a small quake that will damage adjacent enemies and knock them on their backs (Seismic’s Seismic Stomp power). As he increases in level, Icahbog will gain powers that let him raise a shield of earth to block an attack (Reanimator’s Meatshield), crack the earth, creating a field of rubble (Reanimator’s Forest of Hands), meld his feat with the ground so that he can’t be budged (Seismic’s Ground Anchor), and throw a punch that will knock his enemy across the room (Seismic’s Clobberin’ Time).

As you can see, there aren’t a lot of choices being made here while building a character for the Gamma World RPG. This is mostly me deciding how to interpret the results I got from the random generation process. I’d be curious to read your thoughts on this character and on how I chose to develop him. You can download a copy of his character sheet below, if you would like to use him in your home game. (Simply right-click and pick “Save image as…”, or whatever the equivalent function is for non-Windows-users.)

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