Alternity: The Settings

Alternity was around for a good while and TSR published a lot of content for it. They had a number of settings for it – two of which were good!

Star*Drive

Star*Drive is a far future, gravity age, space opera type of campaign setting. They tried to bundle the feels of Traveller, Bablylon 5, and anti-bug-alien-war (we’ll say Starship Troopers) all in one. Evil megacorps! Stellar nations fitting every major stereotype! Ancient artifacts left behind by progenitor races! Dozens of retiring alien races! Ovipositors waiting to be rammed down your throat!

Star*Drive is pretty good.  The PC alien races aren’t as interesting as my all time favorite, Star Frontiers, but are still fun.  Humans are #1, other PC playable alien races are total minorities. The weren are big furry monstrosities from a Renaissance era planet (Wookiees). The mechalus are genetically cybered by this point and dress like Borat. The t’sa are little nimble lizard men, and the sesheyans are eight-eyed flying bug-bat-men. And there’s the fraal, who are Greys by any other name.

After massive galaxy shattering wars, the dozen galactic nations have been joined by a thirteenth, the Galactic Concord, formed form parts of all 12 to create a peacekeeping nation – like the UN if the UN were an actual country, very The Federation from Star Trek in feel.

Most of the action takes place not in “Old Space,” for that would require work on the part of authors, but out in the lightly inhabited “Verge”, a frontier region. They published thirteen supplements for the setting, including a bunch of alien books.

Our The Lighthouse campaign is set in Star*Drive.

Dark•Matter

Dark•Matter is a modern day paranormal conspiracy setting, designed to tap into the huge popularity of the X-Files, Millenium, and the 100 other TV series infesting the genre from the late 1990s on. And it war surprisingly good, probably thanks to the skillful authoring of Wolfgang Baur Monte Cook.

I was prepared to discount Dark Matter (I’ll pass on that dot crap from now on), already owning Dark Conspiracy, Bureau 13, Conspiracy X, and other games in the genre, but it was more than  just a me-too effort on the part of TSR.

What sold me was the Dark Matter fastplay adventure Exit 23.  You can download it with background info and sample PCs here from alternityrpg.net. It can be hard to write evocative modern day settings and characters for some reason, but here they nailed it.

Gamma World

TSR is never reluctant to return to the older cows, and true to form they couldn’t resist putting out a new version of the early sci-fi postapocalyptic RPG Gamma World with their new ruleset. A fifth edition!

I never played this.  I hate Gamma World. I like postapocalyptic, but GW is postapocalyptic the way Tomb of Horrors is medieval fantasy. A friend and I actually had Jim Ward run a game of Gamma World for us at a con and it sucked and I refuse to say any more about it.

Starcraft

It’s funny, you would think licensed properties would be good, but TSR always jacked them up.  Like their Diablo supplement for D&D, they put out a Starcraft supplement for Alternity, StarCraft Adventures.  It was more of a separate small game using a fastplay version of the Alternity rules.

Four different game settings!  They were serious about this game, for a while until they got demented by licensing Star Wars and decided to kill it.

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