A good week for the Old School: 1st edition AD&D and Metamorphosis Alpha are back

19 Jan

It’s only 8:00am where I live, but already there’s two pieces of mind-blowing good news via Eric Franklin and Grognardia.

Eric left me a message on Glass (a bookmarking/conversational app you should really check out) letting me know that James M. Ward’s legendary science fiction roleplaying game Metamorphosis Alpha is back in print via Lulu.

In the game, which was the first SF RPG and the foundation for Gamma World, you play the inhabitant of a starship where things went Horribly Wrong at some point in the past, resulting in weird mutations and a breakdown of civilization. When I was 13 this concept baffled me when I read about it  (I wondered how much mileage you could get out of exploring a limited setting like a ship?) but I never saw a copy of the game. I’m looking forward to finally getting my hands on it.

I already have copies of 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but no matter! I’m going to buy them again, because Wizards of the Coast announced that they’re bringing the three core rulebooks of AD&D 1st edition back into print in April with new cover art. A portion of the profits will go toward the Gygax Memorial Fund. Here’s the press release (PDF.) This is delightful news although the “new cover art” bit makes me apprehensive. The original cover of the 1st edition Players Handbook is one of the most iconic images in hobby gaming, after all.

I think WotC’s announcement is a nice example of the company walking the talk. Nearly everything you read about the next edition of Dungeons & Dragons frames it as a version of the game that will unify fans of every edition, and which will incorporate the best elements from each. Making a beloved early edition available again is a good step toward showing D&D’s fans that they really mean it. As Jeff said, “I know an olive branch when I see one”

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