Dragon Index | home

An Alternate Beginning Sequence for Metamorphosis Alpha

by Guy W. McLimore, Jr. (Dragon #6)

In a special hidden section of the lost starship Warden, an engineering robot discovers a minor cable break. Drawing a small torch from its built-in tool kit, the necessary repair is soon made. This circuitry interruption which has remained undiscovered and untended for many, many years is now closed, and a special computer signal sent long ago finally reaches its destination. Relays close, and a special computer unit is activated, setting into motion a special genetic laboratory.

Immediately, micro-miniature manipulators withdraw samples of human tissue from a freezer storage compartment. Unnoticed by the electronic controlling device is a cracked and damaged radioactive power capsule nearby which contaminates some of the withdrawn tissue cultures. The quick-frozen cells are moved to tanks of a special growth medium and are electrically stimulated. The cells begin to multiply, rapidly ...

Weeks later, the tanks hold full-grown adult human bodies. Some appear normal; others have strange deformities and mutations induced by the unexpected dose of radiation. All are limp, unmoving, and devoid of intelligence and identity.

Once again, micromanipulators move in, this time to attach wires and sensor strips to the foreheads of the newly-grown clones. In a matter of days, computer tapes full of general human knowledge and specific ship-related skills are played directly into the clones’ brain synapses. But again old computer malfunctions and worn-out circuitry combine to leave large gaps in the intended programming of the new potential crew members. There will be unfortunate -- perhaps eventually tragic -- lapses in their "memories" of the ship and its functions.

Thankfully, the all important final tape does play into the heads of the clones, explaining their mission. That mission is of the utmost importance to the hundreds of thousands of people in the ship.

"Program codenamed Clone Bank Alpha is activated only in case of extreme danger or damage to the ship, causing breakdown of chain of command. Upon activation, tissue samples are processed into clones of ship’s personnel, who are then programmed with the technical and general data necessary for operation of the ship. The clone bank computer terminals are to provide equipment and authorization to the clones, allowing them to reestablish chain of command and prevent disaster."

YOU are one of these clones charged with the task of rescuing the starship from disaster. But computer malfunctions have left you without the special equipment and weapons you need to master the situation. What equipment you carry you must manufacture yourself from materials available in the clone bank complex. Some of your team are not even totally human, possessing strange mutant abilities and defects. Worst of all, there are large holes in your memories. The ship’s equipment seems strange to you, and you are not sure how to operate. You remember almost nothing of the structure of the ship itself not even where the clone bank you are in is located or how to find the important areas of the ship. The aged and broken-down computers in the clone bank complex yield no information of value.

Still, you and your party have a job to do. You must leave the clone bank, and wander the ship, gathering information, and putting what skills you have to work. But it may already be too late. The disaster that caused the loss of command in the ship was long ago, and what remains is strange, and savage, and often deadly. You are entering an unknown land ...

This alternate scenario for beginning a game of Metamorphosis: Alpha has certain advantages over the idea of beginning as a barbarian from a shipboard tribe. Most notably, it eliminates the problem of so-called barbarians who own a copy of the rule book and know decidedly too much to be mere tribesmen.

CLONE BANK: DETERMINATION OF MUTATION STATUS

Die Roll Mutation Status
01-15 Mutant (1 mutation)
16-25 Mutant (2 mutations & 1 defect)
26-30 Mutant (3 mutations & 1 defect)
31-35 Mutant (4 mutations & 2 defects)
36-50 Latent Mutant Stock
51-00 Human

Physical mutations are numbered 1 through 30. Renumber mental mutations 31 through 67. Roll percentile dice for each indicated mutation on the table above. A roll of 68 through 00 is ignored. Physical defects are renumbered 1 through 12, and mental defects are renumbered 13 through 20. Roll a 20-sided die for determination of defects.

LATENT MUTANT STOCK

These are humans who have latent mutant abilities that may be brought out by radiation. Keep track of how many levels of radiation CUMULATIVE have been absorbed by any one latent mutant. This is the percentage chance that the accumulated radiation effect will bring out the latent mutations. Roll each time the character is affected by radiation and lives. If the latent mutations are brought out, roll on the following table:

Die Roll Effects
01-50 1 mutation
51-75 2 mutations & 1 defect
76-90 3 mutations & 2 defects
91-00 DEATH (lethal mutation)

PROGRAMMED SHIP SKILLS

Die Roll Number of skills
01-50 1 minor skill
51-60 1 major & 1 minor skill
61-75 1 major & 2 minor skills
76-85 2 major skills
86-90 2 major & 1 minor skill
91-95 2 major & 2 minor skills
96-99 2 major & 3 minor skills
00 ROLL SPECIAL SKILL (humans only)

MAJOR SKILLS (player’s choice)

MINOR SKILLS (player’s choice)

SPECIAL SKILLS

Die Roll Skill
01-15 Psionic Healer
16-30 Machine Talent
31-45 Immortal
46-60 Probability Shifter
61-75 Resurrection Talent
76-90 Mental Battery
91-00 Ability Duplicator

EXPLANATIONS OF SKILLS

Weapons Officer: + 1 on rolls to hit with ship’s weaponry

Medical Officer: Can heal 1 point of damage per man per day with minimum equipment

Radiation Technician: Can identify radiation areas from condition of local plants, effects on animals and players, etc.

Band Unit Maintenance Technician: Expert with color band circuitry. Has possibility of bypassing band locks (at referee’s option)

Food Service Technician: 25 per cent change to identify harmful substances

Shuttlecraft Pilot: Able to fly ship’s shuttle vehicles

Transport Technician: Familiar with road systems, sub shuttle tubes, anti-grav sled repair, etc.

Geneticist/Chemlife Technician: Conversant with both human genetics and android construction

Small Unit Repair Technician: Able to repair minor damage to ship’s equipment depending on complexity (referee’s option)

Survival Training Specialist: + 1 to hit with all weapons. 1-6 pts. damage hand-to-hand combat with humans and humanoids (Only one per party)

Ship Superstructure Technician: Familiar with hull construction, including methods of working with duralloy

Psionic Healer: Can heal 1-6 points of damage per person per day, or twice that (taking 1-6 pts. himself in the latter case)

Machine Talent: Possesses instinctive affinity with all machines.

Immortal: Totally immune to poison, radiation, and disease. Regenerates 5 hit points per day. Transfusion of blood into a non-immortal cures 2-40 hit points, and can be done once a month.

Probability Shifter: Can influence a die roll by investing hit points (1 hit point = 1 percentage point; 5 hit points = 1 20-sided die point; 10 hit points= 1 6-sided die point). Use of this power, and direction and magnitude of influence, must be declared before rolling. This power can be used whenever the character affected by the roll is within 25 ft. of the person with the power.

Resurrection Talent: Can restore life by pouring own hit points into another’s body. The amount of points invested becomes the maximum hit points for the resurrected person. This can be no more than the original number of hit points the dead character had. Each full day dead adds 10 percent to the number of points that must be invested. (Example: A man three days dead must have 39 points invested to gain 30.) Persons with bodies not intact or not recoverable cannot be resurrected, nor can persons already once resurrected by this method.

Mental Battery: Can power any item within 20 feet with mental energy, with 5 percent chance (cumulative) of "burnout" each melee round. Powering an item takes no real concentration, but power ends if person with battery power is knocked unconscious or moved out of range.

Burnout Chart

Die Roll Result
01-50 Unable to use power for one day
51-75 Unconscious 1-20 min. plus 1 -day wait to use power again
76-85 Unconscious 1-6 hours plus 2-day wait to use power again
86-90 As 76-85 plus take 1-20 pts. damage
91-99 As 86-90 plus take additional 1-20 pts. damage
00 Death from energy burnout

Ability Duplicator: May duplicate any one single mutant ability (mental or physical) or one single human attribute (strength, constitution, dexterity, etc.) of any being within 100 yards. Roll for burnout as above each melee round but with 10 percent non-cumulative chance of burnout.

Dragon Index | home