Converting D&D Monsters To Gamma World, Part II

In the first installment of this mini series, I discussed one of the problems facing DMs who want to port D&D monsters into Gamma World – namely, how to convert energy typed damage between systems. The answer to the problem was fairly straightforward. In this installment, I’m going to tackle a problem whose answer is far less objective. Which D&D monsters are appropriate for Gamma World? Put another way: is there an easy way to find D&D monsters that are appropriate for Gamma World? The answer to the first question is, as I hinted, highly subjective. In the end, you decide what’s appropriate for your game, not me. If you think dragons and orcs will make your Gamma World game awesome, who am I to judge? Make your game awesome! But I do think we can point to some monsters that seem to fit better with the published Gamma World setting, as it stands in the books. The answer to the second question hinges on the first – we need to agree on what types of D&D monsters are appropriate for Gamma World first.

Let’s start by naming some things that don’t belong in Gamma World (remember – my own opinon): classic fantasy creatures. I would place dragons and orcs in this category (borrowing from my example above) as well as unicorns, fey creatures, trolls, ogres, hydras… you get the picture. If you can find it in classical mythology or something Tolkien wrote, it’s out. I would also exclude things that are classic D&D creatures. Into this category falls creatures like Beholders and Owlbears. The reason I would exclude this second category of creatures is not because they couldn’t fit into Gamma World. I exclude them because they’re so closely tied to D&D, players might find it a bit jarring to encounter them in another setting. I would also exclude undead – zombies are probably the only undead that fit well in a post-apocalyptic setting, and we already have Gamma World stat blocks for them. Finally, I would exclude elementals. That one’s a personal preference, and I don’t have a really good basis for it other than, “it doesn’t feel right.” Of course, there are exceptions to the rules (isn’t there always?) but I think this is a pretty good starting point.

So, what does fit? Flipping through the published Gamma World monsters, I see a lot of sentient plants, a lot of giant insects, mutated humanoids and “humanoid” animals, robots, and aliens. That’s a great starting point. I’m going to start with plants because the original Gamma World (and Metamorphosis Alpha) featured fearsome plant monsters prominently, as did many of Brian Aldiss’ works which are cited as inspiration for Jim Ward’s work. Plant creatures in the compendium: 79 (remember, with the monster builder, it’s simple to level monsters) Here are just a few examples:

  • Myconids
  • Vine Horror
  • Shambling Mound (this is an exception to the “classic D&D monster” rule)
  • Zombie Cactus (awesome!)
  • Arborean Plant Terror
  • Treant (this one rides the line of “classic fantasy” creatures; just don’t call it a “Treant” …in Gamma World, we call it a Forestal)

Next, we’ll take giant insects. This one takes a little more research because in D&D giant insects are simply tagged as “natural beast” with no “insect” subtype. There’s a lot that falls into that category – including dragons. 602 creatures to be exact, and I’m not sure there’s a good way to narrow the list. Fortunately, scrolling through the list should give you some good ideas for non-insect monsters that would fit in Gamma World as well – as a matter of fact, this is probably the best search you can do for general ideas. Scrolling through that list gave me a dozen (or more) great choices for Gamma World compatible monsters (Otyugh? Manticore? Zairtail? Yes, please!). Here are some examples of giant insects:

  • Ankheg
  • Stirge
  • Beetles (and Scarabs)
  • Scorpions
  • Spiders
  • Kruthik (sort of?)
  • Ant, Giant
  • Rust Monster
  • Neogi (not a “natural beast,” but fits best here)

Okay, on to mutated humanoids. Once again, D&D is full choices. The best way to search for these is to use the keyword “natural humanoid.” You can tag it with a keyword (like “aquatic”) as well, if you’re thinking of a certain setting. Total results: 1,753 (!), many of which get thrown out because of the “classic fantasy” rule (elves, gnomes, goblins, etc.) Here are some of the better examples:

  • Bullywug
  • Grimlock (Need a Morlock?)
  • Sahuagin
  • Gnoll (Gamma World has “Arks,” but Gnolls could fill out some more options. Just call them Arks)
  • Doppelganger (Yes, this is a Gamma World origin)
  • Ettin (Again, they have a different name in Gamma world – Orlen. This just gives you more options)
  • Troglodyte
  • Ettercap
  • Choker

In the interest of space, I’m going to stop there, and break this one up into two pieces. Look for the next installment next Tuesday. In the meantime, what creatures from the above categories did I miss? And do you agree with my “rules for exclusion”?

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4 Responses to Converting D&D Monsters To Gamma World, Part II

  1. @TheSheDM says:

    kruthiks are reptiles and I don’t know why 😦 they really should be insects.

  2. It’s true D&D specific monsters might be jarring to some players, but how cool would it be to open up on a beholder with a fusion rifle?
    Even being strict about excluding classic D&D monsters you’ve got to include the mind flayer, even if just for its association with the starship Warden in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks 🙂

    • Benoit says:

      I totally agree that, if you feel it’s appropriate, a Beholder would fit into a Gamma World game just fine. I’m merely sketching out some rules of thumb to consider. I felt that the “jarring” factor should be a consideration when porting monsters from D&D to Gamma World. As to Mind Flayers, I definitely agree that they’re one of those exceptions to the rule. (See also the “Octopoid” origin)

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