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Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
by Alastair M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2013 05:47:45
I learnt what "Metamorphosis Alpha" was all about thanks to a review-discussion article in the first issue of "White Dwarf" magazine back in the summer of '77. Although that review was inspirational, I was already heavily committed to D&D since late in the previous year. Sadly, as a youngster with very limited funds, and D&D even then having four supplements available, MA remained just beyond reach. But I never forgot it, and some of MA's ideas, including from a further piece in "White Dwarf" 5 on adding mutated food plants and finding safe water to the game, went on to feature in my D&D campaigns. Fast-forward 36 years, and finally I have a copy of MA, thanks to the marvels of the Internet and PDF files! And it's every bit as inspirational still as I'd once hoped.

Yes, it's from a time when RPGs were in their infancy, and like the wargame rules from which they grew, it was generally expected that you'd need to amend or create some rules to plug gaps as you went along. Then as now though, a strong background setting and development can always overcome any "inconvenience" that might be thought.

I don't recall any comparable RPG set exclusively on a "generational" starship like Warden, one where if all went well (not what happens in MA, of course!), the crew and colonists were expected to continue their lives in a managed, fully-functional, enclosed ecosystem on-board, leaving it to their ancestors to reach and colonise the destination planet. Subsequently, the third and fourth editions (and presumably also the seemingly imminent fifth) changed MA's setting more towards that of a "sleeper" starship, where the crew and colonists were maintained in stasis units until arrival, and where the ship's main computer had become insane.

Weirdly, it's this alternate setting which forms the basis for the short adventure included here, albeit this is largely unrelated to the craft as detailed in these first edition rules! While both concepts have their merits, it's a little disappointing the original premise seems not to have been thought strong enough to fully support here. Similarly, instead of doing a proper revised edition, the "official errata" are simply tacked-on separately, while despite claims of grammatical and spelling corrections having been made, a more thorough check would have been beneficial in places.

I understand WardCo's energies are probably thought better concentrated on the newer editions of MA, but this primary setting shouldn't be ignored by gamers, since there are some beautiful ideas here that deserve exploration, and which won't be found quite the same elsewhere.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
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Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
by Ed S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/20/2013 04:06:48
this is the game that got me into gaming years ago(i bought the original when it came out in stores) my first rpg experience was with met alpha. so when i found a reprint here i just had to get it for myself. trying to recaoture the magic. i guess. happy gaming to all!!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
by Eric K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/28/2012 17:35:18
So glad this was released in this format! Always wanted to own this game and now I do.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Eric, Thanks for taking the time to provide a bit of feedback. I hope you get many years of gaming pleasure from your copy of the game. Craig J. Brain WardCo.
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
by William W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/09/2012 13:02:51
A great treatment of the first sci-fi RPG in history. The scans are nice and clear, the images come through nicely, and all of the text is searchable.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
William, Thanks very much for taking the time to provide feedback. I am glad that you are happy with the book. Regards, Craig J. Brain WardCo.
Metamorphosis Alpha: The House On The Hill
by Marvin B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/13/2011 09:20:19
I started playing METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA back in the 1970's and the 1st edition is still my favorite.

HOUSE ON THE HILL is written with 1E MA in mind. It has a very old-school look to it with B&W interior line art and blue maps, much like the AD&D modules of the era. I wish that HOUSE ON THE HILL had been done in the 70's because maybe the METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA rpg would have become more mainstream back then.

As to the adventure itself, it's well written and fun to play. The house itself has 17 different encounter areas well detailed. There is a section near the end of the module (written by James Ward, the original designer of METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA) that gives some ideas for variant houses. There is a 10-page section of rules and tables for random house creation, along with a template for you to design some of your own.

Anyone who plays METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA of any edition will find that this is an awesome resource, and I think it's a fun adventure to play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha: The House On The Hill
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MAJOR Issue #1
by Curt M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2010 21:23:55
Wait. Aren't these supposed to be free? WardCo. has decided to charge for the MAJOR issues to support James M Ward's medical fund. When I read this online, I purchased the majority of WardCo's products. James M Ward's work has brought this community virtually unfathomable creative inspiration, not to mention years of fun! The man wrote the original Gamma World. We didn't have an opportunity to directly say "Thank you" to either Gygax or Arneson. Let's do it for Ward. Please purchase WardCo pdfs.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MAJOR Issue #1
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Publisher Reply:
Curt, Thanks very much for picking this up and taking the time to comment and rate it. Yes, these were originally free, but we canvassed the folks who contributed articles, and after no objections, started charging for these to help Jim Ward out. Again, thanks for your support, Craig J. Brain WardCo.
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2010 13:58:23
What can I add that the others haven't already said? This was the FIRST RPG that I ever owned.

My buddies had OD&D and AD&D1e and I had MA. We would take turns GMing both. Yes, we even had a couple of 'crossovers' from D&D to MA and viceversa. I spent countless hours working on my version of the Warden.

The very first adventure I took them on had them hooked on MA. Naturally, it is very dated according to current standards, but you have a complete, playable set of rules with which you can have hours of fun. Many gamers today like having a 'bare-bones' system that they can house-rule or customize.

Try finding an original, printed copy of this game (I still have mine). It will cost you big bucks. Releasing it in .pdf format was a godsend, and will hopefully bring fresh fans.

I own an extensive collection of OOP RPGs and supplements. Having them available in pdf format is great in case of a fire or other type of disaster.

Buy it, try it! You can't go wrong for the price of a single meal at McDonalds.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
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Metamorphosis Alpha: The House On The Hill
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/15/2010 13:29:49
I was one of the playtesters for this module, and all I can say, is that it was a ton of fun! Once I received the final product, I noticed all of the suggestions and tables to customize your own RHMDU. They are truely astounding! Game masters can use these tables for populating other structures on the fly. Truely a great (must have) product for Metamorphosis Alpha.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha: The House On The Hill
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Publisher Reply:
David, Thanks for the feedback. Very much appreciated! Craig J. Brain
Metamorphosis Alpha 4th Edition GM's Screen
by Eric F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/05/2009 18:11:11
This is a perfect addition to the Metamorphosis Alpha's game master's tool kit everything your going to need to go adventuring about the Warden is right at your finger tips. The scan is crisp & clean. The tables are accurate & even give you a handy weapon's table of all of the tools right from the main rulebook. The price is right & the tables are more then functional. This is a lovingly crafted little toolbox that will provide the game master with hours of game play. Grab the dice,keep your laser handy & go play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha 4th Edition GM's Screen
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Publisher Reply:
Eric, Thank you for the feedback. It's nice to see that this has found a good home. Best wishes, Craig J. Brain
Metamorphosis Alpha 4th Edition GM's Screen
by Ronald W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/30/2009 09:13:38
I loved Metamorphosis Alpha 2.5 decades ago. This is a great addition to my collection.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Ronald, Thanks very much for taking the time to post a review. I am glad you like this little addition. Please let us (Jim Ward or I) know if there's anything else we can do to help you enjoy the game :) We can be contacted via our forums at www.metamorphosisalpha.net/phpBBv3/index.php Regards, Craig J. Brain
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
by David R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2009 15:59:56
This is a good re-print of an old classic. I really wish the font size was increased and the errata included in the text, instead of separate.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
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Publisher Reply:
David, Thanks very much for the feedback! We are looking at a larger print version in the future. The pdf version has a lot of minor fixes incorporated into the main text (typos and grammar), but the main body of text was left alone to keep it as close as possible to the original. The larger print version will incorporate all of the errata as well as many of the Dragon Magazine articles - which Jim Ward owns the rights to. Regards, Craig J. Brain
Metamorphosis Alpha 4th Edition
by Edmund W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2008 00:37:39
This is a particularly sweet book. It is a particularly enjoyable return to the Starship Warden. Although the setting is revised from the original 1st edition, it is really easy to adapt in either direction. The rules revisions and expansions only add and take nothing away. Although I am more of a fan of the original 1st edition setting, the overall work builds on the strengths of the original.

The style of game might not be for everybody, however. Characters are quite flimsy in this setting - this is not new to Metamorphosis Alpha, however, so fans of the original should not be startled. Players who are over-attached to their character's needn't get this book, but if a fun death is as great as a fun life in a character for you, then welcome aboard (the wolfoids will love you).

New players should approach this game if they enjoy survival-type games (without the "horror" element), and are able to suspend disbelief (radiation produces not-quite-X-Man mutations, mutant badgers conquer plots of land, and a tree might well be the most cunning, vicious, and versatile villain in your campaign). If this is the case, then the game is nothing but fun from beginning to end.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha 4th Edition
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Publisher Reply:
Edmund, Thanks for the kind words. We are glad that you are enjoying the book, and hope to release more material that you will enjoy just as much over the next year or so. Craig J. Brain WardCo.
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
by Edmund W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2008 03:21:43
This product is all that, though it lacks a bag of chips (even for the reasonable price, less than 50 pages does not earn a bag of chips). The original Metamorphosis Alpha setting has not been emulated in the newer editions per se (currently on its 4th edition, and a very worthy book that is to get, though unavailable in PDF), rather presenting an alternate Warden whose population are a lot closer to being original crew. Thus, for the data on the original setting, devoid of aliens and other colony ships, this is the thing.

The rules set is still workable, although even with errata it's bare bones. This was actually standard fare at the time, the idea being that you would do most of the creation of the ship yourself on the fly as you play/run the game, using the brief notes on each of the decks of the ship, all of its technologies, etc., and fleshing it out. Dragon magazine articles (available online at www.metamorphosisalpha.com, as opposed to www.metamorphosisalpha.net which is the official website) gave notes on androids, rules for robot PCs, and a whole host of other tasty elements.

This setting is, to me, superior to the new 4th ed one. Although the alien plotline in itself is fun, the change of making PCs who are technologically semi-literate and historically aware, even if addled or debased, doesn't convey the original feel of the game. Playing or running this original version of the game, and reading the text, is like reading an existentialist novel, only it lacks the pretention or heavy-handed morality play. That in itself is worth gold to anybody who likes to mix dramatic roleplay with dungeon crawling goodness, such as any long-time fan of D&D settings like Ravenloft or Dark Sun.

The game itself is better than good, and although the older mechanics have a number of dings and breaks, it's all good fare.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
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Publisher Reply:
Edmund, Thanks for the kind words. I'll make sure that Jim Ward sees this review. Warmest regards, Craig J. Brain WardCo.
Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition
by Daniel P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/05/2007 23:33:10
This is a classic game for a great price! (watch for the POD version due to hit the scene at lulu.com before Christmas)

The main question readers of this review will want answered is - should I buy this? In a word, yes.

Why?

This isn't JUST the very first science fiction RPG ever published. You won't JUST be supporting one of the founders of the whole fandangled RPG hobby. This game is an old-school icon for what it means to play in a gritty, fight-for-your-life environment where smarts, mutations, and a bit of luck can save you from the android maniacs and mutated beasts that are out for your blood. Don't even get me started about the insane AI running the whole show.

This game's system is an adapted version of AD&D 1e/ OD&D (both available here at RPGnow as PDFs).

Look, don't expect some glossy, fancy, "unified game mechanic" nonsense here. We're talkin' an old-school kick-you-in-the-gut system with role-playing (and maybe a radiation blast) as your only means of survival, buddy, and don't let any "3.5/OGL" confuse you!

Take the Metamorphosis 1e challenge. I dare you. Buy this game, play it as written for a few sessions, and decide for yourself if RPG "advancement" means anything. This game is just as relevant today as the day Jim Ward wrote it up. Buy it, play it, house rule it, and for god's sake have fun with it!

This game is a piece of gaming history, so don't let it pass you by.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Daniel, Thank you for posting this. I think you captured Jim Ward's intent perfectly with your sentence: "Buy it, play it, house rule it, and for god's sake have fun with it!" We will continue to work hard towards getting this out as a POD product as well. Regards, Craig J. Brain A piece of the WardCo. puzzle.
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