[Alternity] Xenologist’s Guide

Other RPGs

Xenologist’s Guide
Revised: 5/31/2017

On the topic of creating new alien species/races for the new Sasquatch Game Studio Alternity game, given the information below, what alien species/races would you like to be able to create/design for you own Alternity campaigns?

To clarify, Sasquatch Game Studios is producing their own new Alternity SF Settings (Protostar & an unnamed 2nd setting) as they don’t hold the licenses to the previous Alternity (1998) settings of Star*Drive, Dark*Matter, Gamma World, StarCraft Adventures, or Star Frontier as these are held by WOTC. While they cannot legally create those races, they most likely can create an online conversion doc, or post the stats for generic aliens that just seem to be familiar and make a natural fit for those settings.

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I would very much like to see a “point-based species creator system” that can be used both to create PC species/races, and monsters/adversaries as appropriate for that setting.

Considering that Alternity is going to be a “tool box” based system that can be used across a variety of SF settings and genres, having a “built from the beginning” system to handle the creation of PC species/races and the monsters/adversary they encounter has many advantages. Among them is having a baseline to judge how powerful, challenging or difficult a species or adversary is (AKA Challenge Rating, Effective Character Level, Threat Level…), as it is based on standardized math it should be possible to incorporate in gaming software like Hero Lab, be consistent across the core rules and any “setting modules” that are released, makes it more likely that TPPs can add to this system in a balanced way, and also makes it easier for GMs like me (who are math challenged) to design species/adversaries in a sound mathematical/logical way, and not based on guesswork.

An example of a point based race creator system is the one from Paizo's Advance Race Guide, but note that this was created YEARS after the core rules, and they had to retrofit the races that already existed, did not pick up as much TPPs support, and wasn’t really expanded upon with additional first party material. I encourage SGS take the opposite approach.

I would like to see the Xenologist Guide have enough point-based species creator options to design a wide variety of races (with at least a basic level of psionics, bio-tech, cyber-tech and the like), and I would not be adverse if additional setting or genre specific options are included in a module where appropriate (examples below):

Core Rules + Mental Powers/Psionics:
Star Wars
Mass Effect
Babylon 5

Core Rules + Fantasy + Magic:
Dragon Star
Warhammer 40K

Core Rules + Post-Apocalyptic + Mutation:
Gamma World
Fall Out

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Xenologist’s Guide: What would sci-fi be without aliens for the heroes to encounter, battle, or bargain with? The Xenologist’s Guide expands the selection of aliens presented in the Core Rulebook, providing the GM with scores of new adversaries, threats, and potential allies for the players to meet, each with its own full-color illustration.

Richard Baker Collaborator on April 4
@Christopher -- Possibly, but I think that sort of material might look better as part of the Xenologist's Guide. I'm a lot more comfortable with adding species design as a meaty appendix to another book than theming a whole sourcebook around it. Then again, it's kind of up to our backers, so if that's something you guys tell us that you want, we'll certainly figure out a way to deliver on it.

Sasquatch Game Studio LLC 5-time creator on April 8
For something like a point-based species creator, it's really a matter of taking our own design guidelines and transforming it into a readable and presentable format. It's definitely something we can add to the outline of the Xenologist's Guide - or maybe the core rulebook depending on our space constraints there.
I really like those flat pack minis - it's a great solution for those that want to play with minis but don't want to break the bank and/or spend many weekends painting.

Richard Baker Collaborator on April 13
@ Thomas: We don't have any specific plans for a Perks and Flaws system. I can imagine making some unusual perk-like talents available, but "paying" for those with flaws is territory we're probably not going to explore.

Richard Baker Collaborator on April 24
@ James -- We plan to present at least a reasonable selection of aliens, monsters, and NPCs in the Core Rulebook. Naturally we're hopeful that the Xenologist's Guide unlocks, so that we'll be able to expand that selection immediately. We haven't yet composed the exact list of adversaries we intend to design, so I can't promise that "werewolf" is included. But I would imagine that we'll have aliens built with mechanics that could be borrowed or reskinned as werewolves by a GM who likes to tinker. And we're definitely planning to include some material for cyborgs and psi as part of the sci-fi toolkit offered by the Core Rulebook. So, yeah, I think you could handle Weird Wars with Alternity.

[20:11] <+Twiggly> Are you including archetypical aliens like Grays, Reptilians and Xenobugs?
[20:18] <+SasquatchRich> Twiggly: We’re planning a small selection of species in the Core Rules. We’re deciding now whether it’s better to go with “generic” concepts like Gray, Hulking Monster, Cyborg and leave the details for specific setting books, or go ahead and flesh out full cultures.
[20:19] <+SasquatchRich> I mean, it’s fun to make up interesting alien species with unique cultures and outlooks, but if you’re playing Mad Max that’s wasted page space for you. Tough call for us.

[20:20] <~Dan> You mentioned rules for mutations. Can you say a bit about those? How “gonzo” are they, for example?
[20:22] <+SasquatchRich> RE: mutations . . . fairly modest for the Core Rules. Big crazy mutations are more like superpowers, and superpowers probably belong in their own Alternity expansion.

[–]SeattlePhanSasquatch Game Studio
We're actually debating the question of PC species even as we speak. There are two basic approaches we might use: "generic" species that can then be tuned for a specific setting, or "complete" species that include a fair amount of culture and outlook in the Core Rulebook that might then be adjusted or rewritten in a specific setting. For example, one of our species concepts could be "hulk" (you're a big, strong, scary guy--wookie, weren, bugbear, Valerian miner, we don't care, they all could use similar mechanics). Or we might present the Trahlok, an honorable warrior race from the high-G planet of Trahlos IV. We like elements of both approaches.
As you might have guessed, one of those missing species is a hulk/bruiser race. The other one is still up in the air; I have a notion for an energy being in manifested form, but it's only a notion right now.

[–]SeattlePhanSasquatch Game Studio
RE: question #3: Essentially, the Xenologist's Guide is a "monster manual" for Alternity. We'll present interesting and dangerous aliens suitable for any planet-hopping campaign. Naturally, many (most? all?) will be useful for the Protostar setting, but we don't see this as a Protostar-specific book. We'll probably present monsters as 2-page entries, although simple critters might work 1 to a page.

(Editor’s Note: This quote below is in reply to a request for a conversion doc for races covered under the previous Alternity various settings/IPs.)
[–]SeattlePhanSasquatch Game Studio
We certainly could, although I wonder where that information is best presented -- does it belong in the Core Rulebook if we're not otherwise making use of those species? Maybe it's okay as an appendix. You'd really just be getting the mechanics, but if folks really want that, I imagine we could oblige.

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