Sure, Gamma Terra is full of violence, radiation, and freakish monsters, but behind the psychotic robots, bizarre aliens, and human supremacists are powerful ideas sparked from collective beliefs about how the world ought to be. Most folks can’t rub two ideas together beyond figuring out where their next meal is coming from or where they might find shelter from the acid rain. They lack the drive or commitment to act on the thoughts cluttering the insides of their little attics.
All the limitations of an individual go out the window when a critical mass of folks come together. Attitudes and positions gel into an agenda that everyone agrees with (or at least doesn’t disagree with enough to argue about it), and suddenly folks start getting things done. The group empower s a member to act upon whatever crazy, reasonable, misguided, intelligent, evil, or virtuous impulse he or she might have. On other worlds, such groups form into political parties, religions, or chess clubs.
On Gamma Terra, these groups become cryptic alliances.
Whether that mutant crackpot is an insane genetic purist, a mutated animal terrorist, a machine cultist, a hopeful idealist, or something else, there’s a cryptic alliance for it. Five of the alliances in chapter 2 of Famine in Far-Go—the Brotherhood of Thought, the Children of the Atom, the New Dawn, the Restorationists, and the Servants of the Eye —are designed for player characters. As an option during character generation, you can give each player a random cryptic alliance card (included in the box), which he or she should conceal. The card gives the player an extra goal to pursue during the game. The goals of different alliances often conflict, so the players might find themselves at odds, which is entirely the point. Try out the cards; if they aren’t fun for your group, don’t use them.
In addition to the cryptic alliances meant for players, there are also seven major alliances and twelve minor ones meant for the Game Master’s use. These other groups can provide backgrounds and motivations for villains, or be a useful tool to shine a light into Gamma Terra’s darker corners.
Using Cryptic Alliance Cards
Cryptic alliance cards are designed to be fun secrets that motivate the players to act against one another and reveal their hidden agendas during the game session. Each card provides a small benefit to the player, a penalty to his or her allies, or both. Within a few sessions, the secrets come out. After that happens, players can use the following options to keep the fun going:
- Keep the card after you reveal it (at least until you make a new character). Your cryptic alliance will no longer be a surprise, but you can still use the alliance’s background for flavor.
- Your character is a mercenary who sells his or her services to whichever group pays the most. Draw a new cryptic alliance card each session. The card you draw is the alliance that bid the highest that week.
- Draw a single cryptic alliance card for the entire group. Each of the characters are working for that alliance. There’s no secret, but each player can use the details of the alliance to flavor his or her character appropriately.
Children of the Atom (Radioactivists)
"Fear not the tentacle! The gift of mutation demonstrates the Atom’s favor. Embrace your form, and know you are made in god’s perfect image."
Gamma Terra is awash with radioactivity, and in every place it spills a glorious glow into the night sky, some nut job will worship it. The Children of the Atom is a horde of such nut jobs, bundled together and sold at cost. Members believe that the nuclear wars were a salvation of radioactivity brought to the world by a messiah, leaving behind the endless energy of the Atom as its legacy. To a Radioactivist, being exposed to radioactive materials means basking in holiness, and the mutations that blossom on flesh exposed to radiation are judgments passed by the almighty Atom. Thus, mutants, blessed with great powers, are the Atom’s chosen people.