Sunday, January 29, 2012


Check it out, 7 fingers on each hand and 7 toes on each foot

So, you've received the Metamorphosis Alpha reprint that you ordered from Lulu and you're all proud because you think that you've reached the pinnacle of Metamorphosis Alpha geekhood. Please. It's a good start, but nothing says Pure Strain Geek like a Metamorphosis Alpha T-shirt. With one of these, you will have guaranteed geek cred, like you could get a loan from the geek bank without a co-signer.

Your humble host has finally read Jim Ward's short story “Footsteps in the Sky,” originally published in Dragon #19 (October 1978) but available at for registered users. Essentially, it's a 'coming of age' story, but aboard the starship Warden and with mutants and robots. It contains some information relevant to today's post. It also contains information that definitively confirms one assumption and corrects another assumption I made in a prior post.

On page 18 are listed 'Mutated Human Types,' specifically five breeds of humanoid numbered one through five. Why numbers and not descriptive names? On the Metamorphosis Alpha boards, Ward states...

When I put numbers to them, I was hoping that others would make their own versions and then players could play in the different campaigns and be amazed at how different humanoid 1 was from game to game.

However, in issue number 5 of The Dragon (March 1977), Ward states in his article, “Some Ideas Missed In Metamorphosis Alpha,” that...

The number three humanoids, knowing all about poison, naturally have antidotes that are obtainable for things that these small humanoids could normally never get hold of.

This seems to suggest that number three humanoids should appear in Metamorphosis Alpha campaigns just as they are described in the rulebook. Regardless, I can understand why the humanoids do not possess descriptive names. How would each of these races of humanoids refer to themselves? I would think that each race would refer to itself as 'human beings' or 'people.' Since there is a single, common language used on the Warden, the same term would apply to all of them. How others refer to a given race will vary depending on perspective. In “Footsteps in the Sky,” number four humanoids are referred to as “the furred ones” (as distinct from furries). Assuming that the number four humanoids have a language, they would distinguish the other humanoid races primarily by their less than hirsute appearance.

Number one humanoids are short, stocky and typically inhabit hills or mountains. One is tempted to call them 'Dwarves,' but the similarity to the standard fantasy race ends there. They are “only semi-intelligent” but nonetheless possess the intellectual capacity to use bows and blowguns. Player characters should hope those are the only weapons they use. Due to their “triple-ply muscles,” they have a “strength factor of 24.” This means they inflict an additional ten points of damage when they hit with striking weapons. They also seem to possess the equivalent of the 'heat generation' physical mutation.

While they look normal (or even sickly) number two humanoids have a 'mental factor' of 18. When available, they prefer to wear cured pegasus hide.* They have a formidable array of mental mutations of Teleportation, Force Field Generation, Repulsion Field, and Telepathy. As a drawback, they have “a fear impulse for any intelligent plant.” I think I would probably get freaked out by intelligent plants too.

Number three humanoids are only one foot tall; however they seem to be very resilient. Aside from having a mental resistance of 17, an Armor Class of 2, and eight hit dice, they are resistant to: “poison, radiation, paralyzation, illusions, gases, chemical acids, and lasers.” Given their size, they tend not to use “technological devices.” However, curiously, they “have a very extensive knowledge of the antidotes for all mutated dangers.” Given their broad resistances, why would they need antidotes? Perhaps they have broad resistances because of their antidotes. Oh yeah, number three humanoids also have precognition.

Number four humanoids, “the furred ones,” are atavistic. They no longer walk erect and have paw like hands (including claws with poison sacs). They are – as their name suggests – furred. Their fur makes this type of humanoid “resistant to contact poisons and paralyzation attacks” and, seemingly, grants them an Armor Class of 5. Oh yeah, number four humanoids also have precognition.

The number five humanoids are the most common type. It's easy to understand why; they have “a skin that reflects all types of energy,” nine hit dice, a mental resistance score of at least 15, and they are “fully intelligent,” enabling them to effectively utilize “both mutated and technological materials.” They are easily recognizable due to their four arms.

*  According to page 16, “...[T]he creature [has] an unusually tough skin that is extremely difficult to pierce.” One supposes that this property is retained, at least in part, when the hide is cured. The pegasus has an Armor Class of 3, which is equivalent to 'thin metal armor or full carapace.' Number two humanoids have an Armor Class of 5, which is equivalent to 'cured hide or plant fiber armor.' I guess this is because of the pegasus hide rather than a default Armor Class without it. If so, the 'pegasus nature' of the hide does not seem to confer benefits in excess of 'normal' hide unless it is lighter than mormal (as suggested by the statement, “The race usually wears light body armor in the form of cured pegasus hide...”).


  1. I'm eating these up Perdustin! I'm starting to prep the adventure I'm going to run for my players, so anything I can find on MA is way helpful.

  2. You are a stupid jerk who posts to YDIS. Why should I give a shit about what you have to say?

    Oh, that's right.

    I don't!

    1. Thanks for the validation! It's nice to know I'm doing something right.