Next Saturday I’m going to be running more outer-space adventures at Pasadena’s D&D meetup, using the 4lternity variant of 4th edition D&D I’ve been working on.
In the spirit of the recently announced 5e D&D/D&D Next, here’s a description of 4lternity broken down into modular components.
Module: Gamma World Math
D&D Gamma World showed that you could simplify 4e D&D by fixing the math used on player characters. Instead of scores (defenses, skills, attack rolls, etc.) being based on this:
Attribute + 1/2 Level + Extra Bonuses (feats, items, class bonuses, etc.)
In Gamma World they’re based on this:
Attribute + Level
This gets rid of the need for “enhancement bonuses” on weapons, armor, and neck slot items; for “feat taxes;” for “inherent bonuses;” for tier-based scaling bonuses; and other little fiddly bits.
Module: Alternity Skills
4th edition D&D has 17 skills. Alternity has 40 skills. 4lternity uses the vastly expanded Alternity list for skills, because that’s what a science fiction game requires for distinguishing characters.
The features of the Alternity skill module are:
- Your race gives you 6 skills for free.
- Your class gives you more skills, chosen from your list of class skills.
- You get to choose bonus skills (those which aren’t necessarily class skills) as well, with the number modified by your Intelligence modifier.
- Each skill has subskills called specialties.
- You choose your specialties from your list of class specialties.
- You get bonus specialties with the number modified by your Wisdom modifier.
- Gamma World math: If you’re trained in a skill, you get Ability Modifier + 2 + Level as your skill roll. If you’re trained in a specialty, that adds an extra +2.
- Alternity skills aren’t just non-combat, but include skills that you use when making attacks: Modern Ranged Weapons, Primitive Ranged Weapons, Unarmed Combat, Melee Weapons, Heavy Weapons. (This accounts in part for why the skill list is longer than D&D.)
Module: Alternity Classes
The classes for 4lternity are adaptations of the original five Alternity character classes to 4e D&D rules — with the classes primarily built as subclasses or variants of the existing Essentials classes. The classes are:
- Combat Spec: A variant of fighter, with a defender aura that’s modified for use with ranged weapons.
- Diplomat: A variant of warlord with a focus on directing the battle, and a free “multiclass” into one of the other classes.
- Free Agent: A variant of rogue with sneak attack and backstab abilities, plus fast talk for getting into or out of a jam.
- Mindwalker: A variant psion with a broad range of mental powers based on 5 psionic disciplines.
- Tech Op: An Int-based martial controller with specialization in a field of technology or science.
Module: Alternity Races
The standard D&D races are replaced with:
- Humans: as per 4e D&D.
- Fraal: psionic “grey” aliens.
- Mechalus: cybernetic pacifistic aliens.
- Sesheyan: winged jungle-born aliens.
- T’sa: quick, reptilian aliens.
- Weren: large furred aliens.
See my player handout Welcome to the Verge for better descriptions of the Alternity races.
Module: Alternity Equipment
The weapons and armor from Alternity actually extend the 4e D&D list instead of replacing it. Stats for “primitive” weapons or armor such as swords, bows and chainmail remain the same as in 4e D&D; the list just expands onward to cover more advanced weapons and armor.
- Weapons do either “impact” damage or “energy” damage, instead of D&D’s plethora of typed damage. (There’s also “bleed” and “psychic” damage types in 4lternity.)
- High tech armor provides resistance against impact and/or energy damage.
- There are a number of new weapon properties such as energized, autofire, and piercing which are used to stat up futuristic weapons.
- Weapons have an accuracy rating (-2 to +2) instead of a proficiency bonus; the math works out the same but comes at it from a different angle.