Gamma World is a d20 Modern game published under Sword & Sorcery Studios, depicting the ruined wasteland following a far future apocalyptic event. It was originally published by TSR, Inc., and was licensed from Wizards of the Coast.
When Wizards of the Coast released their d20 Trademark License, White Wolf leapt to create a new imprint called Sword & Sorcery, dedicated to producing d20 content. Their first publication, Creature Collection (2000), demonstrated their dedication to d20.
Shortly afterward, White Wolf came up with another idea for increasing their d20 presence: they licensed some of the settings that Wizards of the Coast wasn't using. The first of these was Ravenloft, which resulted in White Wolf's Ravenloft Campaign Setting (2001). Then in 2002 White Wolf announced a second license, for TSR's classic post-apocalyptic science-fantasy game, Gamma World. White Wolf's new edition of the game would be built on WotC's brand new d20 Modern Roleplaying Game (2002).
When White Wolf developer Bruce Baugh was handed the Gamma World project, he was given some specific goals for the project. He was told to adapt the newest and hottest science-fiction ideas, and he was asked to create an "'80s-esque grim cyberpunk-ish corporate sort of thing". Though Baugh was happy to make Gamma World fresh and relevant again, he balked at the major tonal changes and counter-proposed something more akin to the Thundarr the Barbarian cartoon (1980-1982). His proposal was rejected … but his Gamma World would end up somewhere between the two extremes.
The d20 era actually saw two releases of ''Gamma World''-like games. The first was Jonathan's Tweet's weird and wacky "Omega World", which appeared in Dungeon #94 / Polyhedron #153 (September 2002). The second was (of course) White Wolf's '''Gamma World''', which appeared a year later. At the time, fans didn't know whether to call White Wolf's game the seventh edition (including "Omega World") or the sixth edition (skipping "Omega World"). Some split the difference by calling it Gamma World d20, but "sixth edition" has since become the settled monicker for this edition.
White Wolf's Gamma World was initially not well-received. This was in part due to editorial issues and in part due the notable changes in the setting. Some players also missed out on some of the stranger character options that had been available in previous editions: White Wolf's Gamma World Player's Guide had a relatively small number of mutations and it contained no options to play sentient plants — the latter being a requirement handed down from Wizards of the Coast.
With that said, some players enjoyed the more modern take on the setting and the ability to play in a more realistic post-apocalyptic setting. Most readers also agreed that the setting improved following the publication of Player's Handbook — that the later supplements that built on it were better and that they also filled in the gaps. For example, there were new mutations in most of the supplements for the Gamma World line.
- Appelcline, Shannon. "Product History."