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.

I recently picked up the Madness at Gardmore Abbey boxed adventure for 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. It’s better than I thought it would be and looks to be lots of fun. I’m running a weekly game based on Gardmore Abbey at Game Empire Pasadena on Monday nights.

After playing through most of this season’s D&D Encounters, I decided the game would be more fun if characters in Gardmore Abbey had specific hooks into the game, like the character themes introduced in the Neverwinter Campaign Setting book.

So then, here are my homebrewed themes for Gardmore Abbey:

Errant of Mithrendain Questing eladrin knight
Gardrin’s Heir Descendant of Gardmore’s founder
Guild Organizer Field agent for adventurers guild
Iron Circle Deserter AWOL mercenary
Pawn of the Eye Driven mad by a cult
Pelor’s Faithful Devoted to the light
Reclaimer of Saruun Khel    Restoring the Golden Temple
Tigerclaw Seeker Following a vision quest
Valthrun’s Apprentice Student of the prescient sage
Vile Rune Survivor Family was murdered by orcs
Wild Card Crossed paths with the Deck of Many Things
Winterhaven Regular One last mission for the town guard

Complete descriptions for each theme can be found in the following PDF file.

Download Gardmore Abbey Themes Now!

Update: Here’s my post-session-one report on session one of Gardmore Abbey, at meetup.com.

I’m starting up a home game of Al-Qadim using the 4th edition rules, here in Alhambra, California. These are the download files for use by players in my campaign.

 

4lternity

Hi everyone, my current project is a series of documents for adapting the old Alternity science fiction RPG to 4th edition style of play. My take on the system is modeled in part on the Gamma World rules, and is also designed to keep as much of the tone of the Alternity system intact (and the books still usable) as possible, while using a more familiar rule system.

You can look at what I’ve got so far here:

boldpueblo.com/dazed/4lternity/

I’m going to be running a playtest in Pasadena, CA, next Saturday at the D&D Meetup. I’ll probably be making revisions up to and during the game session. :D

I love the old Alternity game to pieces (and 4lternity reflects that, and my affection for 4e D&D as well), but it’s hard to go back sometimes. (Especially with the rather funky dice mechanic in Alternity.)

All of my other proposals have been silently ignored. This one actually got read enough to get rejected, and give a personalized reason as to why it was rejected!

Hi Caoimhe,

Thanks for your runepriest article pitch. There’s been a lot of discussion on our forums regarding support for the runepriest. We have some stuff already in the works, so I’m going to pass on this article.

Generally speaking, we’re wary of articles that present new feats since the game is already suffering from “feat bloat.” That doesn’t mean we’re out of the feat-making business, but we’re introducing them sparingly — something to keep in mind for future proposals.

Cheers!

Chris Perkins
D&D Senior Producer
Wizards of the Coast LLC

Note that my proposal did include new feats for runepriests. I think it’s appropriate, mind you, because while many other classes, races, and so on are glutted with feats, runepriests are one of the classes that lack options. One mechanic specifically introduced for runepriests in PHB3 was “rune feats” — and yet we probably will not see any more of those ever, if this rejection letter is to be believed. Which kind of sucks.

On the other hand, it’s good to read that runepriests will be getting some kind of support in the future.

Here are the rejected feats, in case anyone wants to house-rule them for their campaign:

 

Rune of Stone [Rune]
Heroic Tier
Prerequisite: Runepriest, dwarf
Benefit: When you use your second wind, you gain resistance to all damage equal to the number of rune feats you have. This resistance lasts until the end of your next turn.
Rune of Reincarnation [Rune]
Heroic Tier
Prerequisite: Runepriest, deva
Benefit: When using memory of a thousand lifetimes to modify an attack with a runic power, you gain an additional bonus on the roll equal to the number of rune feats you have.
Words of Comfort
Heroic Tier
Prerequisite: Runepriest
Benefit: While you are in the rune state of the rune of protection, adjacent allies gain a +1 bonus on saving throws.
Words of Rebuke
Heroic Tier
Prerequisite: Runepriest
Benefit: While you are in the rune state of the rune of destruction, allies gain a +1 bonus to damage rolls against enemies that are adjacent to you or to any othter runepriests who are in this rune state.
Hasty Inscriptions
Heroic Tier
Prerequisite: Runepriest
Benefit: You can change your rune state as an immediate interrupt.
So yeah, basically, I’m just happy that I got a rejection letter.

Download the Uber Tier Characters rules here!

A recent thread on the official D&D Gamma World forum inspired me to finish writing up my rules for higher level characters.

While the D&D Gamma World game only allows character advancement to level 10, the related Dungeons & Dragons game goes up to level 30 in three tiers: Heroics (1 to 10), Paragon (11 to 20), and Epic (21 to 30).

These house rules expand D&D Gamma World to level 20 by introducing the Uber Tier (11 to 20).

Uber tier characters:

  • Continue to advance in level as before, gaining 5 hit points per level, as well as level-dependent increases to attacks.
  • Gain permanent Alpha Mutations which don’t change at the end of rests or due to Alpha Flux.
  • Gain additional Uber Feature choices while advancing in level.
  • Continue to gain Vocation Feats. Uber tier characters invariably have multiple vocations.
  • Do additional damage with basic attacks.
  • Pick a Survivor Path which gives them access to Survivor Path powers – novice, utility, and expert powers that aren’t based directly on their origins.
  • Gain Survivor Path traits including critical hit benefits at 13th and 17th levels.
  • Increase one ability score – based on Survivor Path – at 12th level and again at 18th level.

Survivor Paths in Uber Tier

Download the Uber Tier Characters rules here!

The D&D Gamma World book doesn’t give much advice on when to give out rewards to players, apart from experience points.

Non-experience rewards in Gamma World can be several things: a draw from an Omega Tech deck, one or more rolls on the Ancient Junk table, ammunition, or other useful items.

The D&D Essentials Rules Compendium provides a model for a reward system, and that forms the basis of the rewards table for Gamma World.

Download the Gamma World Rewards Table!

The D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 introduced the concept of monster themes – groups of statistics that can be used to flavor “stock” monsters to give thematic unity to an encounter.

You can use the concept of monster themes to adapt D&D monsters from various sources – such as the D&D Essentials Monster Vault – for use in your D&D Gamma World game.

Choose an appropriate theme for the monsters you want to use, and then select one to three powers or traits from the list for that theme.

Here are three themes you can use in your campaign: cyborg, radioactive, and alien.

Download GM Advice: Mutating Your D&D Monsters here!

Here’s a new origin that uses the vocation rules from Legion of Gold. Or maybe I just liked typing “Expert Expert” for the expert power.

EXPERT

You’re the best there is at what you do.

Other people have luck. You have skill. Or rather, skills – more of them than the average inhabitant of Gamma Terra, that’s for sure. You could be a beast-riding bounty hunter, a spice-trading naturalist, a storytelling mad scientist, or a marauding soldier of fortune. What you do doesn’t matter as much as how well you do it – and there are none who do it better than you.

Download the Expert Origin now!

Following up on a conversation I had tonight with my housemate, here’s a Roger-Rabbit-inspired origin for D&D Gamma World:

Download the Animated Origin Here!