The 2016 publication of Metamorphosis Alpha is another game that I picked up in a charity bundle that benefited Doctors Without Borders. This is only the third game that I used (along with The Agency and When The Moon Hangs Low) for the 2023 Character Creation Challenge. There are another 25ish games in the bundle that I could have used this year. I’m certain that I’ll use a couple of them in future challenges.
If this game sounds familiar, it is the predecessor to TSR’s Gamma World. This edition of Metamorphosis Alpha was written by the original designer, James M. Ward and published by Signal Fire Studios.
So the PDF of the core rulebook has 160 pages. The character sheet has two pages. The Character Building steps start on page 19, but I would recommend reading the basic game play chapter (start on page 13 if you are already familiar with roleplaying.
The first thing that needs to be determined is the character’s stock. Are they a pure human, mutated human, mutated animal or mutated plant? The rules state you can choose or roll. Yea, I’m gonna roll. And this guy is going to be a mutated plant. I’m provided the movement stats for someone of this stock and instructed to take physical, mental and plant mutations.
The next step is to determine the traits of the character. Not only is this the talents and training a character may have, but the negative aspects they possess as well. There is a questionnaire provided when building a new character. It then tells you to place that trait in one of five categories. Amazing (which adds 3 to your dice pool when using that trait), Good (+2D), Competent (+1D), Weak (-1D) and Hopeless (-3D). It doesn’t provide a list of possible traits here, but there are some listed in chapter 4. Let me swing down there and find out what they are? I wish they had given us a basic chart to do a quick look and then let me decide which traits I wanted to do a full description read on. I picked out what my plant guy would have both good and bad traits in.
Now we pick our qualities. These are specific actions that you are good (aka a talent) and bad (aka a liability) at. I get 2D of talents and can take 2D of additional liabilities to get 2D more talents. I believe that these are the specialties that are listed under the traits if I’m reading the rules correctly (I had to do a lot of jumping around to make sure).
Finally we are to the mutations. A mutation is beneficial while a defect is not. You start out with 6D of mutations and can take 4D more if you also take 4D of defects. I picked out my mutations I thought would be specific for a walking talking tree.
Next comes equipment. A talking, walking tree with natural weapons starting with equipment? I’m going to go with he’s a primitive and doesn’t have any to start. However a kind woman who he helped gave him a special necklace that he keeps hidden on him. But he has no idea what it does, if it does anything at all. He doesn’t think about this, he only wants to protect the plants that can’t move or speak.
Technically the character is done according to the steps seen on page 19. However I don’t have a name for the character (I called him Spikeleaf) and there are a lot of blank spots on the sheet (initiative, dodge, radiation resistance, wound capacity and fatigue capacity. So I did a search in the PDF and found these items. However some of the descriptions didn’t fully give me the answers (what is my dodge starting at? Just the 2D? If I don’t have a specialty do I not get it?) Ugh, I’m done. Here is the character sheet.
I thought it was interesting that the character sheet had a place for the player’s name, but not a place for the character’s name. But I did like that they had the game basics listed on the second page of the character sheet.
The system itself sounds plausible and usable. With how some of the documentation was a little lacking I probably would have asked quite a few questions to an experienced GM. I also like the world that the game would be taking place in as it sounds interesting. I’m sad that the likely hood of actually playing this game is very little. I don’t know if I’d be able to do any homebrewing for this game until after I’ve played it.
I had one reader respond that they had experienced similar issues with the GURPS character creation system that I had. When I talked with a GM who loved running GURPS, he informed me that he used a special program to set up characters and make sure they had all of the many, many items added and set up. While I’m looking forward to the GURPS game at Salt Con, I’m glad that I don’t have to create a character for it.
I had another interesting experience yesterday. While at a massive Seventh Fleet event, one of the members told me that they were reading my blog posts. Wow, thank you. Sometimes when I write these posts out I wonder if anyone is really reading them. So to get some validation made me feel good. Thank you Evelyn.
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