This 'universe book' for Amazing Engine opens with the complete core ruleset as described in the Amazing Engine System Guide (so you don't need to buy that) and so can be regarded as a complete game. You do, however, have to create a Player Core if you don't already have one before making your Player Character - the Player Core is a high-level overview of the type of character you prefer to play (the assumption being that you go for the same type all the time and irrespective of setting) which allows you, for example, to transfer experience between your characters in different universes (as defined by the various universe books)... even though you cannot actually transfer an entire character from one universe to another. This time it's well integrated with the particular universe in question, so the overview of character creation uses setting-appropriate races, skills, and so on.
Then on to the Preface. This explains this setting's origins in the 1975 Metamorphosis Alpha game which concerned a lost starship - a generation ship - and the effect that isolation had upon the crew. Think of it as a science-fiction dungeon, an enclosed and finite space filled with all manner of creatures and technology, with most of the inhabitants having no idea that they are even on a ship.
Concept introduced, we take a look at The History of the Starship Warden. At the dawn of space exploration, generation ships were sent out to establish colonies who then, as colonies do, decided that they wanted to become independent. Earth didn't care much for that and in gearing up to keep them by force created a massive supercomputer to defend Earth... only it got a virus, ran amok and destroyed great swathes of the very planet it was supposed to protect. Not surprisingly, nobody paid much attention to the next generation ship that had recently departed... some 18 years after its launch, Earth communications just ceased. A few years later they had their own disaster, passing through an undetected cloud of radiation that affected virtually all parts of the ship and everything aboard. With most people dead and the majority of the rest mutated, some thirty years later they reached their destination where the few surviving crew and their descendents (who had barricaded themselves on the bridge) initiated terraforming - and were then overrun by mutated passengers who had lost most of their understanding of what the ship's original mission was. The ultimate objective of the party will be to find out what is going on and perhaps initiate colonisation of the virgin world awaiting them below.
The next section discusses the roles of both player and GM. Player-characters may be intelligent animals, mutated humans, 'pure' humans or even intelligent plants. (I assume that 'intelligent' means 'sentient' here.) Moving on to GMs, there are suggestions for campaigns, beginning with the party completely unaware that they are on a ship at all. Once they discover that, they'll be able to move to different levels and explore more fully. An alternative is to have them awaken from a VERY long cryogentic sleep, original crew members frozen soon after launch as their skills would not be required until they reached their destination... only the poor dears have lost their memories and have no idea where they are or what they are supposed to do. (This can be entertaining, I played in something similar a few years back.) Or they may know exactly who they are and why they were 'sleeping' - but have no idea what has happened on board ship during the centuries they were asleep... You could even have them be on another ship entirely, just encountering this strange vessel and going to explore. The possibilities are endless, there are eight suggested here but you might come up with one of your own instead.
Next, we run through character creation. This includes devising interesting (and useful) mutations for humans, animals and plants, with notes on how they all work within the game mechanics as well as descriptions. Skills are likewise detailed. Awards and Experience and Tech Levels are the next two sections, along with a section on Artefacts. There's a delightful chart to aid in figuring out what an artefact does, which may lead the party to come to a completely wrong conclusion perfectly logically! There are loads of sample artefacts to try it out on as well.
Then there is a chapter devoted to Combat and the rules pertaining to it. Options are discussed at length. This is followed by a collection of Creatures of the Starship Warden - your monster collection, and a weird and wonderful lot they are too. Artificial lifeforms are not neglected with a chapter on The Robotic Opponent to give you plenty of ideas.
Finally, there's a massive deck-by-deck gazetteer of the entire ship. There are nine decks in total. Just reading through it will spawn ideas of adventures to run on each deck.
This is a good interpretation of the 'generation ship gone wrong' concept using the Amazing Engine ruleset. Whether or not you are familar with the original Metamorphosis Alpah - or for that matter the Gamma World series that followed it - this has the potential for some great gaming.
Return to Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega page.
Reviewed: 12 March 2018