Retro Gaming at its finest
Way back in the day, one of the first SF roleplaying games that my friends and I played (nay, played to death) was METAMORPHASIS ALPHA, a TSR product by the inestimable James Ward.
The premise of this great little game was simple: you were born on a great generational spaceship named Warden. The spaceship long ago passed through a radiation storm that affected the entire crew, animals and plant life of the Warden, causing rampant mutation and the death of the original crew.
So Warden drifts, her systems still miraculously running (somehow), giving rise to rumors of ancestors of the crew still being on duty… somewhere. Warden is immense.. huge… each deck is several miles long and contains different ecosystems. The desecendants of the crew have gone tribal (some of the mutants with advance mutation powers, some of them advanced animals, some of them mutated plants). Life is short and brutish on the main ecosystem decks.. as the denizens fight with each other to survive. You play a RPG character, one of those tribesmen who is out skylarking and adventuring.
This was a game I played (and ran adventures in) ad infinitum, long after it was out of print, because of the elegance of the setting and the plot design. My gaming group loved it and many epic adventures came about as a result of this setting.
I’m pleased to see that the ORIGINAL game is available as a rtf download, which I recommend to any SF Roleplayers out there. You can see what was done with a pencil, paper and some imagination, back in the days before everything was handed to you. Virtually everything ever published for the original game is also available on that site, as well.
Some good news: James Ward, the original author of MA, is publishing a 25th anniversary edition, which will update the original in many ways.
For more information, check the official new MA site
Ward’s new book, Midshipwizard Halcyon Blythe, is a good read if you like this sort of thing. I just finished it.