Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Old School Science Fantasy Commentary With The Metamorphosis Alpha First Edition RPG System

Science fantasy action in the depths of space! You awaken from cryosleep to a very different world! Where are you? Are you surrounded by a mutated jungle? Basking in the irriated wastelands? Why is the city abandoned and has your tribe secured the giant stone tower from the metal ones?

The star ship Warden is still adrift in space as of 2016 & last night at about four A.M. I pulled out my copy of Metamorphosis Alpha first edition. Looking through this relic of  Nineteen Seventy Six  is like looking into a crystallized time capsule of old school memory, of dying and rebirth over and over again with a pencil and paper because I was a mutant warrior someplace aboard the star ship SS Warden. Metamorphosis Alpha first edition  is minimalist science fantasy gaming at its best.

This is post apocalyptic science fantasy role playing in a giant space dungeon from the ground up. Your playing a mutant, human,or with some of the original  Dragon magazine expansions you play a mutant with even more extreme mutations.

What is the heart of the Metamorphosis Alpha? The SS Warden is the ultimate dungeon in space right off the
bat;"There are descriptions of all 17 levels of the Starship Warden, a 50 mile long, damaged vessel with some real problems for it's inhabitants. Mutants galore!" Weird mutated animals, twisted plants & lots of mutants along with lots & lots of robots to maintain the Warden's levels. I'm not the only person who felt this way even Mr.G.Gygax loved the game;"Gary Gygax comments that "Metamorphosis Alpha is a game that breaks the typical level-progression reward mold but nevertheless offers a rich, if sometimes difficult to gain, array of player rewards — from the knowledge of the environment to beneficial character mutations, learned skills to the acquisition of tech items and other equipment. Furthermore it blends fantasy with weird and super science in a unique manner that is captivating to players with imaginations suited to such a startling mixture. Metamorphosis Alpha — in any edition — stimulates the imagination, encourages keen thinking, and breaks the mold of typical fantasy and science fiction roleplaying games. If that doesn't make it one of the best hobby games ever, I don't know what would."
So what about the hugely successful Goodman games kickstarter for Metamorphosis Alpha & the Dungeon Crawl Classics material that has come out in the wild? Well, that's an entirely separate blog entry in my humble opinion. Because of the breath and scope of the material as well as the upcoming release of Mutant Crawl Classics rpg system as well as how they interconnect.

  • There are more then a few ways of using Metamorphosis Alpha to enhance and create a great old school campaign.
  1. Metamorphosis Alpha is built on the same Dungeons & Dragons engine so conversion is dead simple. This also means that with a bit of math you the dungeon master could expand the space craft in Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. Need expanded levels and more challenges for your adventurers, there are tables to randomly create brand new levels of the SS Warden. 
  2. The MA book is only thirty two pages and yet contains a complete game to run a campaign level game for a long time. Yet death is around every corner so its also a great pick up game. 
  3. If you own original Dungeons & Dragons books then you've got a perfect monster expansion for the game. 
  4. Infinite SS Warden levels, because there are some great tables for generating levels, places, settings, etc for the Warden you can add or subtract rooms, levels, vary conditions aboard the space craft. These same tables can be also used to create your own space craft adventure locations something that I took great advantage of over the years including torturing Gamma World or original Dungeons & Dragons players. 
  5. Retrofuture technology that places the SS Warden right in the center of the great galactic space finds list. The star ship has to be worth an interstellar fortune. I've heard rumors of Traveller rpg games where the Warden was a massive campaign salvage find. 
  6. Metamorphosis Alpha can be used to generate UFO adventure locations in the wastelands of your favorite old school post apocalyptic games. 
  7. The Warden is a treasure trove of dungeon ecology in space and has a perfect system to create mutant NPC's for itself  or OD&D. 
  8. By down playing the mutant or alien aspects of the game and upping the human aspects a DM could create a modern city or Matrix style game where the illusion of the normal is shattered once the full weirdness of the Warden comes into play. To enhance this I've used other NPC's as androids and robots. This works especially well if the game's tech era is set from the 60's thru the early 80's. 
  9. Twist on the above theme is too take an Eighties cult classic horror movie such as C.H.U.D.D. and then add another level of weirdness as the city level is revealed to be simply another level of the SS Warden. 
  10. What if the PC's have actually landed on the colony world and the wasteland surrounding their village was caused by the Warden's landing. Once again the Warden might be the source for all of the mutant madness surrounding the village. All of the tools are included to run this style of game in MA.

    Metamorphosis Alpha is brilliant at what it does which is to create and maintain a mega dungeon environment in space. James Ward did a great job with the original system and it remains a favorite of mine to this day. Easy to use, clever in its simplicity and compactness yet able to handle a wide variety of ways for the PC's to die. The SS Warden remains a favorite place to explore even in 2016 for my table as dangerous when I stepped out from my cryo tube back in '77 as it is today.

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