Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Played Metamorphosis Alpha

Metamorphosis Alpha! MA is the legendary first ever Science Fiction RPG that I've longed to play since I first heard of it in about 1985. Now James Ward, the original writer, is offering Metamorphosis Alpha through Lulu. It's a fabulous bargain.
Clyde-Bob is a human with a bricked iPhone and a mutant slave. Plunge Bob is also human. Quazzar is a winged horse with two brains. Chump is a huge mutated rabbit with armored plates and telekentic powers. They are off to the world of the gods to bring back an artifact and thus enter full adulthood as members of the tribe.

In the frozen mud plain in the center of the Great Habitation Complex beneath the 120' tall pile of shopping cards, Clyde-Bob convinces the lord of the talking chameleon crow people to become his vassal (in exchange for certain favors and shiny objects) and sets up a potentially lucrative scrap metal mining operation. He then convinces a working domestic robot to become his personal chef.

Plunge-Bob and Quazzar flee the crows by flying down the giant radioactive slag aqueduct and penetrate the lost medical facility beyond. There they defeat the security lockdown console, decipher the mutagenic purge chamber, and transform Plunge-Bob into a genetically perfect specific of humanity.

Chump investigates the complex of endless apartment units, narrowly defeats the massive metal-skinned badger, and finds a functioning laser rifle for her new toy.
The tribesfolk return to the scrapheap, but are dismayed to discover that the teleport device that brought them hence has failed, and needs complex repairs!

Metamorphosis Alph is rife with weirdness and coolness in equal amounts. Every character had ample opportunity to be killed horribly, but they all pulled through and garnered great rewards in the process. At one point I explained calmly to Clyde-Bob that if his attempt to convince the crow people to parlay with him failed, he would certainly be torn apart by the flock. He decided to take the chance.

The ability of humans to gain mutants as followers is very strange. I'm reasonably sure that John Ward did not intend the first roll of the game to happen when the humans turn to the mutant PCs and attempt to take them as followers so they can ride into battle on their backs. I can totally see shying away from this aspect of the game and limiting it in play, but we decided to take it on and embrace it fully.

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Blogger Billiam Babble said...

I've just bought this. Feels really great to get back to the earliest sci-fi RPG ever. I was shocked by the small number of pages but the print is so small that you actually do get value for money. Really glad I've got it.

Your character choices sound MENTAL! (I guess you choose not to play on the Starship Warden?)

March 22, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

Yeah, I read in an interview somewhere that John Ward just assumed that people would play on their own version of the Warden, possibly named after themselves. My players haven't figured out what kind of environment they're in yet. :)

The game is really packed in. Sometimes I think there's a sentence where you could use a paragraph, but I just make house rulings as I go.

Also, we rolled mutations randomly to save time!

March 22, 2012 at 2:10 PM

Blogger Billiam Babble said...

I like the sound of that - PCs not fully comprehending the environment. Suddenly I'm reminded a little of Paranoia, like rats in a maze, but the scientists are dead and the purpose is meaningless. oh dear, starting to get existential. :o
Random mutations - that's crazy wild talk. I remember not being too thrilled at playing a plant in Gamma World, but hey no-one said coping in the post apocalypse would be easy!

March 29, 2012 at 3:56 PM


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