Art of the Genre

I have a love of Gamma World that can be traced back to my Cold War infatuation with nuclear oblivion, so make no mistake that I take a good deal of pride in my collection of post-apocalyptic RPGs, as well as my own creations Future Warrior and my After the Apocalypse card game.

That said, I’d have to admit that my favorite edition of Gamma World would be the 3rd Edition, and today I’m going to talk a bit about Kim Eastland’s Alpha Factor.

Written in 1986, this module is 38 pages of introductory procedure that sets new characters in the Gamma World universe and puts them on a quest that will span another half-dozen supplements. 

However, I’m here to talk about the art, and that will be pretty easy as this is a Gamma World 3rd Edition work, and thus the beneficiary of the period right after the ousting of Gary Gygax from TSR as well as the beginning of the financial disaster the company suffered through for the next fifteen years until its ultimate demise.

Gamma World 3rd Edition was always notorious for having little artwork that painted a picture of the setting, and this is no different.  In fact the ineptitude of the module in its care for artwork is shown firsthand when Keith Parkinson is named as the cover artist although Clyde Caldwell is the actual painter.

Caldwell’s piece is typical Caldwell, meaning a heavy breasted woman in clothing that shouldn't appear anywhere but a strip club.  The skill of the painter is evident, but the ridiculousness of the image is hard to fathom, even if she’s just defeated a muscle-bound cyborg in a wasteland world with two moons… wait, two moons?  What the hell is this?  Gamma World is set on Earth, and last time I checked we only had one moon…

Again, we are seeing a prime example of skimping on art, as this piece was obviously painted for another purpose and repackaged here, probably instead of a late or rejected Keith Parkinson cover that should have been there in its place [and thus crediting him as the cover artist].

Inside, artist Jim Holloway has exactly two b/w illustrations on content before giving us another half dozen spot creature illustrations for the bestiary. 

In all, it is a terrible showing by TSR, and although the cover gets marks for chauvinistic coolness, I can’t give the entirety too much credit.

Artistic Rating: 2 [out of 5]

Written by Scott Taylor — August 19, 2013

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