For our next campaign, we’re going Sci-Fi. We’ll be using the Alternity ruleset. Written by Bill Slavicsek and Richard Baker it was published by TSR in 1998, it had a short but bright life.
There’s stuff in Alternity that worked it’s way into d20, although not the central dice mechanic of course, which is a bit different. Heading in the direction of D&D 3e and d20 were things such as:
- Skills instead of non weapon proficiencies
- Skill points and ranks
- Perks were the same as feats
- A unified mechanic for all conflict resolution
I like Alternity because it’s does for sci-fi what D&D does for fantasy, it’s a generic ruleset rather than a ruleset bundled with an implied setting. For setting purposes we have always based our Alternity games upon the Elite series of games by David Braben, most specifically Frontier First Encounters.
This is great for me as GM, I can fire up FFE on my laptop and use all the gorgeous detail on planets and systems without me having to make anything up or remember anything. Also FFE keeps track of the time and date for me handily, as well as the party’s ship details. Here’s some of the handy info I’ll be using.
The star map is huge, this is just a small view of only 9 sectors, there are 67 million sectors in the game, covering the whole of our galaxy. Sol is at sector [0,0], the bottom left sector is [-5192, -5412] and the top right is [2279,2779]! The star map is huge indeed. There are in total exactly 513,982,470 star systems. This is more data on a setting than a GM will ever need!
As you can see from the image of Sol above all the human explored systems have details on their planetary bodies, starports and orbital stations. Major story important systems have a bit of blurb as well. Every explored system has orbital paths as shown below.
Of particular use to me if the players start to trade goods between systems is the imports and exports that are available at each inhabited system, as well as things that would be illegal to trade in.
Overall using the computer game in this way gives me as GM access to a very rich resource of detail and setting fluff. Also since some nice Russian chaps have created a DirectX update of this 15 year old game then I can also generate some nice visuals for handouts.
My players have started to write character backgrounds and I can’t wait to start soon! If you’re in our area (West Herts, UK) then we have open slots for players! For more information see http://whrpg.com.