Episode 3: James M. Ward and Metamorphosis Alpha

This episode’s guest hails from the very earliest days of TSR, having met Gary Gygax at a bookstore where they discovered each other’s love of classic fantasy and science fiction literature. This chance meeting eventually resulted in the world’s first science fiction role playing game, Metamorphosis Alpha, being published in 1976. Taking the assignment from Gary to go write “a science-fiction version of D&D.” James M. Ward did just that, pioneering the genre with his game setting aboard a generational starship — the proverbial “dungeon in space.”

Then in 2014, an odd thing happened. Though Metamorphosis Alpha had never been long out of print throughout various subsequent editions, Goodman Games brought back the original first edition of the game in a deluxe hardback reprint, and continues to support that edition of the game with myriad adventures, supplements, and kickstarter projects. So tonight, we’ll be focusing on the sources of inspiration for that first edition of the game, from books to movies to comics.

Works and influences discussed on this show:

Metamorphosis Alpha history
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metamorphosis_Alpha

Metamorphosis Alpha Deluxe Hardback Reprint and supplements
http://www.goodman-games.com/MApreview.html

Metamorphosis Alpha 1st edition PDF and supplements
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/2191/WardCo?filters=0_0_0_0

Orphans of the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
http://www.amazon.com/Orphans-Sky-Robert-Heinlein-ebook/dp/B004KZOPS4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447520790&sr=8-1&keywords=orphans+in+the+sky

Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss
http://www.amazon.com/Non-Stop-Brian-W-Aldiss-ebook/dp/B013JQMJLE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447520873&sr=8-1&keywords=non+stop+aldiss

Superman – Types of Kryptonite
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kryptonite

Magnus Robot Fighter – Gold Key Comics
http://www.amazon.com/Magnus-Robot-Fighter-Archives-v-ebook/dp/B00HX46ZA0/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1447520921&sr=8-7&keywords=magnus+robot+fighter

Mighty Samson – Gold Key Comicshttp://www.amazon.com/Mighty-Samson-Archives-Dark-Horse/dp/1595825797/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1447870511&sr=8-3&keywords=mighty+samson

2 Responses to “Episode 3: James M. Ward and Metamorphosis Alpha”

  1. I believe Mighty Sampson was a mutant – hence his great strength.

  2. Surely very few GMs are renaming Greyhawk or Blackmoor in order to play in those settings. And so it is with the Warden…

    And I’m sure more than a few consider gaming on *the* Warden as a tribute to the author.

    Thanks for the interview, guys!

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