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Metamorphosis Alpha Modifications

by A. Mark Ratner (Dragon #16)

While Metamorphosis Alpha (MA) is an excellent game certain problems arise for players choosing to play mutants (and for their ref’s!) One common problem is how to evaluate a mutant’s attempt to figure out how to use (or what is the use of) a device, weapon, etc. Humans use the rules on pp 21-22, cross indexing their leadership potential and the item’s complexity level, but mutants have no leadership potential, so a new ability for mutants is needed, their mechanical (or technical) aptitude. This ability is a regular three dice roll, and is used wherever humans would use leadership potential on the device learning table on page 22.

A more serious problem arises with mutations of animals other than human. Since in the unmutated form they have intelligence less than the human norm, and do not have hands or other manipulative members (with a few exceptions) the ref’ should require that they use Mental Mutation (MM) 1, and Physical Mutation (PM) 4, to gain human level intelligence and manipulative paws or whatever. This ruling means that a mutated animal has two less useful mutations than a mutated human, so why should anyone pick an animal mutation?

The answer here is that animals have certain advantages over men, and the ref’ must allow his mutants to use them. Animals’ senses are generally better than men’s, they are often stronger then men, they have natural weapons, and many have special abilities that in a human would be a mutation, for example wings, natural camouflage (equal) to PM11 in their natural surroundings), tough hides and outstanding dexterity and balance.

The table given here is not intended to be an all encompassing list, but rather a guideline for ref’s to use. Referees should expand the chart as needed in their games. Indeed, since MA is a free-form game system the ref’ should not hesitate to modify the chart as he feels appropriate.

It is assumed that all player characters playing mutated animals use MM 1 to increase their intelligence to human level. To increase it beyond human norm use MM34 as well.

Players do not have to use manipulative members. If their creature does not have them (either naturally or mutated) they cannot use tools, devices, etc. Anything you can use with your hand in a mitten with the thumb taped down an animal could use, but few items fall into this category.

Players with animals are incapable of human speech without PM4, but would still be able to understand human speech and work out a system of communication. Alternately they can use MM 5, telepathy. If PM 4 is used once it can alter both the paws and vocal cords to allow both manual dexterity and human speech.

Chart Notes

*This is not the number of hit dice, rather it is the number of dice rolled to obtain the number of hit dice, i.e. if a 3 appears in this column the animal has from 3 to 18 hit dice. Note that players and important non-player characters (NPC) have twice the hit dice of normal animals or men. Therefore a herd of horses will have only half the number of hit dice shown on this table, since the table is designed for player characters. Similarly the table on page 17 of MA is designed for normal NPCs, if a player becomes a creature from that table he (or she) would have twice the hit dice shown.

**Strength is not used with damage from natural weapons (unless PM25 is used) because the strength of the animal is designed into the table. The strength is used when the mutant uses a club, sword or other weapon.

  1. PM 4 giving hands or manipulative paws decreases speed by 33%.
  2. Cold blooded animal will die of heat or cold quickly if not protected.
  3. Good swimmer.
  4. Natural camouflage.
  5. Can go for long time without eating (several weeks).
  6. Has fair manipulative organs without mutation.
  7. Good climber.
  8. Constriction damage varies with size, approx. 1 dice per 6’ of snake.
  9. Has tongue that can extend to catch insects, etc.
  10. Dexterity halved if not coiled.
  11. Has heat sensing organ, detects warm blooded animals at 10’
  12. Keen eyesight, equal to PM 22 except cannot see infrared or ultraviolet.
  13. Can see infrared.
  14. Can Fly.
  15. Balance equal to PM 27.
  16. Light bones and body structure, effect of PM 42 when struck with sword, axe, club, etc. Arrows, darts, spears, poison, and energy attacks do only normal damage.
  17. Nocturnal, good night vision, vision may not be as good in bright light.
  18. Has horns or antlers.
  19. Can jump high obstacles and broad ditches.
  20. Needs PM 4 to become an amphibian.
  21. Smell equal to PM 19 upwind, 1/3 as good without wind, 1/10 as good downwind.
  22. Hearing equivalent to PM 20 with 1/2 range. Can be surprised by something that is very quiet, base chance 1/12.
  23. If PM 4 is used to gain manipulative members the animal becomes 6 limbed, with its hands above the forelegs (similar to a centaur.)
  24. Poor vision.
  25. Can hold breath for a long time (15 min. or more.)
  26. Color blind.

W = water speed
F = Flying speed

Mutated Animal Chart

Animal Type Size Dice for Abilities Hit
Dice*
Armor
Class
Move Damage** Notes
RR MR DX ST C
Mammals
  Horse 1500# 3 3 3 5 3 5 7 18 1-8 Hoof 19, 21, 22, 23
  Deer 200# 3 3 3 3 3 3 7 18 1-4 Hoof
1-8 Antlers
18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 4
  Moose 1500# 3 3 3 5 3 6 7 15 1-8 Hoof
1-12 Antlers
18, 21, 22, 23, 3, 4
  Mountain Goat 200# 3 3 3 3 3 3 7 16 1-4 Hoof
1-8 Antlers
4, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23
  Black/Brown Bear 300# 3 3 3 4 3 4 5 8 1-8 Bite
1-8 Claws
4, 21, 22
  Grizzly Bear 800# 3 3 3 5 2 6 5 8 1-12 Bite
1-10 Claws
4, 21, 22
  Armadillo 15# 3 3 3 1+1 4 2 7 4 1-3 Claws 4, 21, 22, Has PM 17
  Boar 350# 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 12 1-10 Tusk 4, 21, 22, 1
  Elephant 1200# 3 3 2+1 10 4 12 4 12 2-24 Tusk
1-8 Trunk/Crush
6, 21, 22, 24
  Pigmy Elephant 350# 3 3 3 4 3 4 5 12 1-10 Tusk
1-4 Trunk
6, 4, 21, 22, 24
  Raccoon 25# 3 3 3+1 1+1 3 2 8 6 1-4 Bite
1-4 Claws
3, 4, 7, 21, 22
  Skunk 20# 3 3 3 1 3 2 8 6 1-4 Bite 4, 22, Has PM 8
  Gorilla 500# 3 3 2+1 5 4 5 7 4 1-6 Bite 6, 21, 22
  Sea lion 100# 3 3 3 2 3 3 8 4 (12 W) 1-6 Bite 3, 15, 25
Canines
  Coyote 50# 3 3 4 2 3 3 7 12 1-6 Bite 1, 3, 4, 21, 22, 26
  Wolf 80# 3 3 4 2 3 3 7 12 1-8 Bite 1, 3, 4, 21, 22, 26
  Fox 25# 3 3 4 1+1 3 2 8 12 1-4 Bite 1, 3, 4, 21, 22, 26
  Mastiff 160# 3 3 3 3 3 4 7 12 1-8 Bite 1, 3, 4, 21, 22, 26
Felines
  Domestic Cat 20# 3 3 4 1 3 2 8 8 1-4 Bite
1-2 Claws
1, 4, 7, 15, 17, 21, 22, 26
  Cougar 150# 3 3 3+1 2+1 3 4 7 12 1-6 Bite
1-4 Claws
1, 4, 7, 15, 17, 21, 22, 26
  Lynx 45# 3 3 4 2 3 3 8 12 1-4 Bite
1-3 Claws
1, 4, 7, 15, 17, 21, 22, 26
  Lion 500# 3 3 3 4 4 6 6 12 1-10 Bite
1-8 Claws
1, 4, 7, 15, 17, 21, 22, 26
REPTILES
  Alligator 400# 4 3 2+1 4 4 6 3 4 (8 W) 2-24 Bite
1-12 Tail
1, 2, 3, 5
  Chameleon 2 Ft. 4 3 2+1 2 3 2 5 2 1-4 Bite 2, 6, 7, 9, has PM 11
  Gila monster 2 Ft. 4 3 3 2 3 2 4 2 1-4 Bite
1-3 Claws
1, 2, 4, 5, Poison (12)
  Komodo dragon 200# 4 3 3 5 4 5 4 6 1-12 Bite
1-8 Claws
1, 2, 4, 5
  Swift Lizard 3 Ft. 4 3 4 2 3 2 5 9 1-4 Bite
1-3 Claws
1, 2, 4
Snakes
  Constrictors 6-30 Ft. 4 3 4 1/6 3 to 4 2 to 6 6 1 1-6 Bite
Constriction
2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10
  Pit Viper 4-6 Ft. 4 3 4 1 3 2 6 1 1-6 Bite
Poison (12)
2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11
  Viper 4-12 Ft. 4 3 4 1 3 2 to 3 6 1 1-6 Bite
Poison (15)
2, 3, 4, 5, 10
BIRDS
  Eagle 42 In. 3 3 4 2+1 3 2+1 8 1 (18 F) 1-6 Beak
1-4 Talons
4, 12, 14, 15, 16
  Falcon 18 In. 3 3 4 1 3 1+1 8 1 (24 F) 1-4 Beak
1-3 Talons
4, 12, 14, 15, 16
  Owl 30 In. 3 3 4 2 3 2 8 1 (18 F) 1-4 Beak
1-4 Talons
4, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
  Duck 24 In. 3 3 4 1 3 1+1 8 1 (2 W, 18 F) 1-3 Beak 3, 4, 12, 14, 15, 16
  Swan 60 In. 3 3 4 2+1 3 2+1 8 1 (2 W, 18 F) 1-4 Beak 3, 4, 12, 14, 15, 16
MISC.
  Turtle 125# 4 3 2 2 3 3+1 6 2 1-12 Bite 2, 3, Has PM 17
  Octopus 100#
9’ Tentacles
4 3 3 3 3 3 7 2 (8 W) 1-3 Tentacles 2, 3, 6, 7, 20

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