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Take Your First Look At The Upcoming ALTERNITY RPG!

Later this year, Sasquatch Game Studios will be releasing the new version of the 1990s Alternity science fiction roleplaying game. It features a brand new system, and is designed by industry veterans Dave Noonan, Richard Baker, and Bill Slavicsek. The creators have kindly sent along a sneak preview of the upcoming game, which I'm excited to share with you right here. Next week, there will be a 50(ish) page free demo/playtest packet you can download, with a short adventure by Dave Noonan, another by Rich Baker, and a brief rules overview. For now, though, take a look at the preview below!


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Reynard

Legend
Alternity was probably the greatest lost of the end of the TSR era and the pivot toward the d20 system. It had so much potential, with two great full fledged settings plus a decent (not great) implementation of another classic (Gamma World). It is too bad we never got to see what Alternity could have turned into or how Star*Drive would have developed into the sci-fi Forgotten Realms.
 


3ArmSally

First Post
I was a huge fan of the original Alternity and still use it when I want a detailed rule system that functions close to how the real world does. So far it looks like they're keeping that feel while building a combat game that has engrossing settings and locals that only get more exciting with the players' imaginations without relying on time consuming map building by the GM prior to play.
 


Henry

Autoexreginated
I see dice steps that seems to indicate it's the same base sustem at least, which is cool - i wonder if they'll keep the same stun/wounds/mortal system that I liked so much back then? I had a lot of fun with that system - i'm looking forward to this, even if I don't know if i'll get to play it outside of conventions. :) right now, between 5e, Pathfinder, and upcoming Starfinder, my room for new games is limited.
 

RedSiegfried

First Post
I remember looking at the original Alternity back in the day and thinking "Wow, this d20 thing would really work for D&D." Then again, the whole 90s are kind of hazy to me now so maybe D&D 3.0 was out already, or was it released in about 2000? My History check is fail today.
 


Dartavian

Explorer
Alternity as a system for the player was pretty awesome; for the GM it was a complete nightmare; to many -/+ steps made it a real pain to run, especially when dealing with multiple NPC's & Creatures. to .
 

EvilDwarf

First Post
Well, I was VERY excited when I heard about Alternity's return, but I have to say my heart sank when I read "Security -d4" and "-2 steps on attack rolls." Alternity's original system was genius -at that time- and an obvious precursor to the d20/Difficulty Class system we have now. But, it was a precursor system that was, like I said, a brilliant flash of insight at the time, but has now been refined into a lean and mean resolution system. I'm disappointed that this precursor mechanic is coming back. So, if the legacy mechanic is intact, what's so new? Will it be "roll high is good?" Is that the revision to the new game mechanic? Inverting Alternity's original tables?
 

Reynard

Legend
Well, I was VERY excited when I heard about Alternity's return, but I have to say my heart sank when I read "Security -d4" and "-2 steps on attack rolls." Alternity's original system was genius -at that time- and an obvious precursor to the d20/Difficulty Class system we have now. But, it was a precursor system that was, like I said, a brilliant flash of insight at the time, but has now been refined into a lean and mean resolution system. I'm disappointed that this precursor mechanic is coming back. So, if the legacy mechanic is intact, what's so new? Will it be "roll high is good?" Is that the revision to the new game mechanic? Inverting Alternity's original tables?

I have never understood the assertion that Alternity was the bones on which the d20 system was built. There really isn't a lot of evidence for that. For more influence came from various Skills and Options 2E stuff, I think.
 


EvilDwarf

First Post
I have never understood the assertion that Alternity was the bones on which the d20 system was built. There really isn't a lot of evidence for that. For more influence came from various Skills and Options 2E stuff, I think.

You're right in that I've never actually read a designer say they took inspiration from the Alternity mechanic, but it's obvious that it's one of if not THE first to take into account the difficulty of the task, and adjust the "target" accordingly. Accept, it adjusts the target through the dice steps instead of adjusting the "AC" (DC) of the task. You can see the 2E holdover in the "roll low," but the mechanic that introduces the idea of difficulty seems definitely a basis for the idea of Difficulty Class, only cleaned up.

After we finally saw the 3E mechanic, about a year later I happened across Alternity, and smacked my head at both how obvious the connection, how simple the next step was, but also seeing the genius in the D20 simplicity--something that the arguably clunky Step Dice System didn't include. Although, like I said, that was pretty genius at the time, too.
 

EvilDwarf

First Post
Two quick things: I want to note that Steve Schubert is the third designer. We're consulting with Bill and he'll be making some substantial contributions later on, but Steve's done more work on our initial draft.

Second: We "flipped" the core mechanic so it's now a roll-high system. Here's a design blog post about our core mechanic work, in case you're curious: http://www.sasquatchgamestudio.com/alternity-design-blog-2-the-core-mechanic/

Thank you for the info! i didn't mean to rain on the Alternity roll out parade--don't want to be one of those guys :erm:

I'm still very interested to see what your team has come up with--but I admit, like I said, my heart sank just a bit at the hint of legacy mechanic. But, we've just been given a peek.

Looking forward to the big preview next week and best wishes on the success of the Alternity rebirth!
 


Ravenheart87

Explorer
This comment intrigues me as I am trying to discern how to figure this out.

It was just a comment on their (kind of ignorant and generalizing) sidebar note about video game level design, with a typo included. It's even funnier if I think about how many adventure modules I have seen with empty corridors and rooms containing only enemies.
 

Rich Baker

First Post
[MENTION=46843]EvilDwarf[/MENTION] -- No worries. I'm happy to see folks engaged. Part of being a designer is learning that you won't please everybody all of the time. I *think* the mechanic's a little more fun and spontaneous than the DCs of the 3e-era games, but as they say, YMMV. I appreciate folks willing to take a look and make an informed decision!

Interesting thing about our mechanic: Essentially it's d20 with a DC of 20 for everything you do and the ability to score excellent or stellar success by hitting DC 25 or DC 30 on a check.
 

MadTruman

First Post
Alternity was probably the greatest lost of the end of the TSR era and the pivot toward the d20 system. It had so much potential, with two great full fledged settings plus a decent (not great) implementation of another classic (Gamma World). It is too bad we never got to see what Alternity could have turned into or how Star*Drive would have developed into the sci-fi Forgotten Realms.

True, true, true.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
Back in about 1998 I ran a very well-received homebrew of Star*Drive where the PCs chased an AI of Bill Gates across the Galaxy to keep him from intiating a hostile corporate takeover of Insight's (and then Voidcorp's) resources. Good times. :)

My favorite memory of the entire campaign was from the player who had designed the group's pilot. He was a master of ANY vehicle - could drive or pilot the :):):):) out of anything with a motor, rocketa, wheels, tracks, propellers, or wings. However, didn't have a weapon skill on the whole sheet. Couldn't fire a gun worth a damn.

Group gets pinned down by thugs in a building - they scream for backup, he screams back, "i can't fight!" Finally, frustrated, he drives the armored car THROUGH a narrow display window, running over thugs backwards and forwards repeatedly while narrowly missing the PCs, making phenomenal rolls, even one point he convinced me to let him use his Drive skill to open his door at the right time to body-check the last thug. :) One of those moments that gets repeated in a game group for years.
 
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Stacie GmrGrl

Adventurer
Sooo... They took what was unique about Alternity, and made it pretty much a simplified variant of Earthdawns and Cortex Classic roll high systems. A system many have said was not a good system, because it uses polyhedrals in different ways.

It'll definitely bring more people to this version of Alternity, but its ironic a lot of people are praising them for this change when others have done extremely similar systems conceptually and those other games have often been looked down upon.

Even Earthdawn 4e switched to the Every 5 you beat the Target Number by you get a bonus method.

That said, I'm stoked. Its Alternity. Its sci-fi. It'll look very pretty on my book shelf next to all my other Sci-fi games. It'll go between Fragged Empires and Coriolis.
 

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