Metamorphosis Alpha was an early science fiction roleplaying game developed around the time of the first release of Dungeons and Dragons by Jim Ward for TSR in 1976. It was published as a 30 page book in the TSR standard softcover 8.5" x 11" format. Another of the grandfather of all roleplaying games, it was the first science fiction game ever published, and it was the third roleplaying game ever published. (Coming after both Dungeons and Dragons and Boot Hill.)

The premise of Metamorphosis Alpha is that you are residents on a starship called the Warden (from the designer's name, Jim Ward) that has suffered a disaster. The disaster wiped out most of the residents of the ship, the humans that did survive have degenerated into tribes and no longer remember that they are even on a starship. In addition, radiation has seeped into the ship and mutated humans, animals, and even plants. You can play a normal human, a mutated human, or a mutated animal. If this sounds suspiciously like Gamma World, then you'd have the right idea. This game eventually led to the creation of Gamma World.

Metamorphosis Alpha was very similar in rules to Dungeons and Dragons. (The stats: Radiation Resistance, Mental Resistance, Dexterity, Strength, Leadership Potential, and Constitution) In many ways, you can see that the game was effectively just Jim Ward's home D&D campaign. Instead of a dungeon in a fantasy land, he put the dungeon in space. One thing was that this was a very deadly dungeon. (One where Wandering Damage jokes might not be just jokes.) If you played a mutant, you would roll to see how many mutations you got, and then pick them from a chart. For each beneficial mutation you got, the referee (or Ship Master as he was called) would roll for a random malign mutation. Combat, however, was almost identical to Dungeons and Dragons. It's very obvious that Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and Metamorphosis Alpha came from the same group.

That one book was all that was ever officially published for the roleplaying game of Metamorphosis Alpha by TSR. Later they would produce Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega which was an Amazing Engine supplement to play under a different system. (This was originally intended to be a Gamma World supplment, but the Gamma World setting got cancelled before the supplement was released). There are currently plans by Fast Forward Games to print a 25th Anniversarary Edition of MA.

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