D&D 5E Why not Alternity? (Or, will or how might WotC do SF?)

Mercurius

Legend
In the revised edition thread I brought up the idea of WotC expanding into science fiction after the 50th anniversary, so in 2025 and beyond, and mentioned Alternity which, for some reason, I always forget about. I think it is because the late 90s were one of the longer fallow periods in my gaming career, when I didn't play for several years (my interest was re-perked when I heard about 3E and discovered a little website called "Eric Noah's 3E News" way back in 1999).

So I missed Alternity, at least when it came out. I did discover it a few years later but while I never played it, I was impressed with how it handled SF with a proto-3E rules set and liked the way it offered different science fiction settings (Star Drive = space opera, Gamma World = post-apocalyptic, Dark Matter = paranormal modern).

Alternity formed the basis for the later d20 Modern and Future games, although I also can't really comment on those, as I didn't play them. But I mention Alternity because I prefer the aesthetic of it; "Alternity" is catchier and more evocative than "d20 Modern" and "d20 Future."

Anyhow, I suggested that after the anniversary in 2024, presumably with revised core rulebooks, that WotC should start the second decade of 5E ("Phase Two") with a broader, more diverse approach to D&D. I'm guessing that over the next few years (2021-23) they will complete "Phase One" by fleshing out the classic D&D game in the form of 5E books, including coverage of the planes and the last of the modern classics, Dark Sun (and possibly Dragonlance, but I think it less likely than the other two). Meaning, "Phase One" is about fleshing out the possibilities of D&D proper, while "Phase Two" would continue that stream, but broaden it, offering a wider range of gaming possibilities, both within fantasy D&D, but also (potentially) non-fantasy gaming. Or that's what I'd like to see, at least!

So what do you think about reviving Alternity, at least as the basic template of a SF game by WotC? Could it be popular? It seems that translating the popularity of D&D to science fiction is a never-fully-realized holy grail of RPGs. Starfinder seems popular enough to keep publishing, but I'm guessing it isn't nearly as popular as Pathfinder. But just because it has never been done, doesn't mean it isn't possible, and of course a SF game doesn't have to be as popular as D&D (it likely never will be) for it to be a success. By "success" I mean ongoing publication, at least beyond a few years - which is what seems to always happen.

On the other hand, WotC might think that the market is already covered, with Fria Ligan's various SF games (Tales from the Loop, Coriolis, Mutant, Alien, etc), Starfinder, Numenera, etc. On the other hand, WotC has something that none of those companies have: a 50 million strong audience who would be more prone to try "D&D in space" or "D&D in a post-apocalyptic America" than something they've never even heard of.

What say you? Do you see WotC expanding beyond fantasy D&D? If so, when and how?
 

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Mercurius

Legend
As an aside, I'll mention the term "Fantastika," coined (or made somewhat known) by the well-regarded science fiction historian, John Clute. It is a meta-term that includes Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror. Clute doesn't do this, but I think you could make the argument that it should also include super heroes as its own major sub-genre within Fantastika, although I assume that Clute goes with the technical notion of super heroes being a sub-genre of SF.

Anyhow, if I'm WotC I might look at this as a template for the future of the D&D franchise: how to cover the span of Fantastika. They've got D&D for Fantasy, and it touches upon Horror. But what about SF and Super Heroes?

Of course media type matters. SF, Fantasy, and Horror are all popular as literature and film; Super Heroes is even more popular than the others as film, although with greatly lessened print popularity and they've never really been popular as non-graphic literature. And it may be that with the huge popularity of superhero films, the time is ripe for a new take on a superhero RPG. Do you think WotC might venture in this direction?

So I'm thinking about a new "Alternity" line with several settings:
*Space opera
*Post-apocalyptic/mutants
*Paranormal/horror
*Superheroes
 


Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
In the revised edition thread I brought up the idea of WotC expanding into science fiction after the 50th anniversary, so in 2025 and beyond, and mentioned Alternity which, for some reason, I always forget about. I think it is because the late 90s were one of the longer fallow periods in my gaming career, when I didn't play for several years (my interest was re-perked when I heard about 3E and discovered a little website called "Eric Noah's 3E News" way back in 1999).

So I missed Alternity, at least when it came out. I did discover it a few years later but while I never played it, I was impressed with how it handled SF with a proto-3E rules set and liked the way it offered different science fiction settings (Star Drive = space opera, Gamma World = post-apocalyptic, Dark Matter = paranormal modern).

Alternity formed the basis for the later d20 Modern and Future games, although I also can't really comment on those, as I didn't play them. But I mention Alternity because I prefer the aesthetic of it; "Alternity" is catchier and more evocative than "d20 Modern" and "d20 Future."

Anyhow, I suggested that after the anniversary in 2024, presumably with revised core rulebooks, that WotC should start the second decade of 5E ("Phase Two") with a broader, more diverse approach to D&D. I'm guessing that over the next few years (2021-23) they will complete "Phase One" by fleshing out the classic D&D game in the form of 5E books, including coverage of the planes and the last of the modern classics, Dark Sun (and possibly Dragonlance, but I think it less likely than the other two). Meaning, "Phase One" is about fleshing out the possibilities of D&D proper, while "Phase Two" would continue that stream, but broaden it, offering a wider range of gaming possibilities, both within fantasy D&D, but also (potentially) non-fantasy gaming. Or that's what I'd like to see, at least!

So what do you think about reviving Alternity, at least as the basic template of a SF game by WotC? Could it be popular? It seems that translating the popularity of D&D to science fiction is a never-fully-realized holy grail of RPGs. Starfinder seems popular enough to keep publishing, but I'm guessing it isn't nearly as popular as Pathfinder. But just because it has never been done, doesn't mean it isn't possible, and of course a SF game doesn't have to be as popular as D&D (it likely never will be) for it to be a success. By "success" I mean ongoing publication, at least beyond a few years - which is what seems to always happen.

On the other hand, WotC might think that the market is already covered, with Fria Ligan's various SF games (Tales from the Loop, Coriolis, Mutant, Alien, etc), Starfinder, Numenera, etc. On the other hand, WotC has something that none of those companies have: a 50 million strong audience who would be more prone to try "D&D in space" or "D&D in a post-apocalyptic America" than something they've never even heard of.

What say you? Do you see WotC expanding beyond fantasy D&D? If so, when and how?

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I actually don't know what Star Frontiers as a game system is actually like, and really just want expanded options building off of 5E except Sci-Fi specific classes and races.

What I do want, is to revive the old brand (not really the rules) of Star Frontier. Alternity sounds... kind of weird, it isn't quite as "on-the-nose" as D&D or Star Frontiers is.
 

Mercurius

Legend
View attachment 137463

I actually don't know what Star Frontiers as a game system is actually like, and really just want expanded options building off of 5E except Sci-Fi specific classes and races.

What I do want, is to revive the old brand (not really the rules) of Star Frontier. Alternity sounds... kind of weird, it isn't quite as "on-the-nose" as D&D or Star Frontiers is.
Well, Star Drive was strongly influenced by Star Frontiers. And the point is that Star Frontiers could be the space opera setting for "Alternity," just as Gamma World (Or something similar) would be the post-apocalyptic setting.

I'm not attached to the word "Alternity" (thus the quotation marks), but it is the idea of a meta-sf game that offers different approaches, in a similar sense that I hope that WotC continues to broaden D&D via a range of settings. We've got classic FR, horror fantasy with Ravenloft, "gearpunk" fantasy with Eberron, Grecian fantasy with Theros, whatever-you-want-to-call-it fantasy with Ravnica. And hopefully we'll soon have planar fantasy with Planescape and post-apocalyptic dark fantasy with Dark Sun.

Science Fiction is arguably even more diverse than Fantasy, with so many different variations. I'm saying that I'd like to see WotC approach SF in this way, rathe than the "Pathfinder in Space!" approach of Starfinder (nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to see WotC go a different route).
 


Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Science Fiction is arguably even more diverse than Fantasy, with so many different variations. I'm saying that I'd like to see WotC approach SF in this way, rathe than the "Pathfinder in Space!" approach of Starfinder (nothing wrong with that, but I'd like to see WotC go a different route).

I largely disagree here (personal taste)... I actually do want "D&D 5E in Space!" Essentially, a 5E Starfinder.

The biggest draw of 5E to me is that it is so popular. It is super easy to get people to play 5E as opposed to any other game, because almost all TTRPG people have at least tried it (and it's most peoples favorite). So getting someone to play a sci-fi game would be a lot easier if the basic rules (stats, saving throws, HP, that stuff) is all the same. Now, getting new classes, races, and abilities would be totally necessary to make it unique and set it apart from base D&D.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
I want a sci-fi game with mysterious wizards. No elves like in d&d. It maybe a mysterious sidhe that are not PC’s but that are as mysterious as the Leshay from 3.5 epic book.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I largely disagree here (personal taste)... I actually do want "D&D 5E in Space!" Essentially, a 5E Starfinder.
It isn't either/or, though. Alternity is broader than Starfinder, but could include it as one of their settings. But I think it would sacrifice depth and range within that line.

Meaning, I see two general options:

*Alternity - a SF cap-system that offers a variety of settings of SF sub-genres, in a somewhat similar way that D&D offers different flavors of fantasy via its settings. But each setting would likely be "one and done," like D&D, or rather "two and done" (setting and story arc) as there wouldn't necessarily be a default setting like there is with D&D.

*D&D in Space - a singular game and setting of science fantasy that is developed through story arcs, ala the Realms with D&D.

Actually, if one of the settings in the former approach proved really popular and fans were clamoring for more, they could develop it further.
The biggest draw of 5E to me is that it is so popular. It is super easy to get people to play 5E as opposed to any other game, because almost all TTRPG people have at least tried it (and it's most peoples favorite). So getting someone to play a sci-fi game would be a lot easier if the basic rules (stats, saving throws, HP, that stuff) is all the same. Now, getting new classes, races, and abilities would be totally necessary to make it unique and set it apart from base D&D.
I think the same basic structure of race-class-subclass could be used, but still offer different details without being confusing. Meaning, the structure is what makes it easy even if the races and classes are different.
 


Stormonu

Legend
Alternity is no longer owned by WotC (and a 2nd edition for it exists, BTW, under it’s current owners).

I would like to see a Sci-Fi offering from the makers of D&D, but more like Star Frontiers and not like Starfinder. I don’t particularly want it to use the class and level engine either - I’d rather a more free-form approach to accumulating skills and talents that can be advanced seperately without putting characters into some arbitrary box or artifically restricted “level”.

P.S.: Bring back Gamma World would be nice too. The 4E version was … not what I wanted.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
*Alternity - a SF cap-system that offers a variety of settings of SF sub-genres, in a somewhat similar way that D&D offers different flavors of fantasy via its settings. But each setting would likely be "one and done," like D&D, or rather "two and done" (setting and story arc) as there wouldn't necessarily be a default setting like there is with D&D.

*D&D in Space - a singular game and setting of science fantasy that is developed through story arcs, ala the Realms with D&D.

Well, now you're talking essentially about releasing an entire new product line. I definitely don't see that in the cards.

The best I'm willing to hope for is a rules book with a handful of classes, new races, and a little fluff on creating a Sci-Fi setting (using Star Frontiers world as an example). Then a short adventure included. Essentially, trying to smoosh the PHB, DMG, and an adventure into one condensed book, with the implication that the owner has the D&D core books.

Anything more than that... yeah, it won't happen. Too much risk involved as Davies says.

If that one book sells like hotcakes, then they'd pursue more setting/adventures, but that's an if.
 


Unless sales show any sign of slowing down, why would WotC bother? It'd sure be a more interesting hobby if its biggest company had a more diverse output, but people simply love stabbing stuff in dungeons, and also pretending that stabbing a vampire in a spooky manor means you're in a different genre than when you stab a kobold in a dank cavern.
 


Disney doesn't want Hasbro to produce a new brand as potential rival of Star Wars.

Today players would ask mind-upload and digital inmortality like in Eclipse Phase RPG and Altered Carbone.

With high-tech weapons you can kill dinosaurs, megafaun and kaijus with only one-shot. This means you can't use the old system of XPs reward/Changueling Rating of d20 System.

The most likely will be a TTRPG based in the future sci-fi videogame being developed by Archetype Entertaiment.

I imagine Gamma World like the middle step between D&D and d20 Future. And this has got lot of antropomorphic animals, perfect to be sold as action figures. Do you remember Batle-Beasts?
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Disney doesn't want Hasbro to produce a new brand as potential rival of Star Wars.

Today players would ask mind-upload and digital inmortality like in Eclipse Phase RPG and Altered Carbone.

With high-tech weapons you can kill dinosaurs, megafaun and kaijus with only one-shot. This means you can't use the old system of XPs reward/Changueling Rating of d20 System.

The most likely will be a TTRPG based in the future sci-fi videogame being developed by Archetype Entertaiment.

I imagine Gamma World like the middle step between D&D and d20 Future. And this has got lot of antropomorphic animals, perfect to be sold as action figures. Do you remember Batle-Beasts?
This seems oddly narrow as a set of notions. Even in high-tech settings, Kaiju don't usually get one-shotted by guns. I agree about the XP system generally though, of course I don't even use for D&D, so there's that.
 




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