War Possum is pleased to announce that the Transcendence RPG engine and the first setting using it, Xenomega, is in full swing. While we are using an older system as inspiration for the new ruleset, it is being updated, modified, tweaked, and put through the wringer to produce a game that has roots in the past, but fills a void.
In 1997, TSR Inc released a science fiction game called Alternity. It was meant to be a generic scifi game with rules that could accommodate any type of modern to far future setting. It had some trappings of AD&D that was in its second edition at the time, but it had a wholly unique mechanic and focus on future technology and development. A couple of short years later, TSR was purchased by Wizards of the Coast and Alternity was soon cancelled. There weren’t many books released during its short life, but it was a solid, well-rounded game that could handle anything from an X-Files type conspiracy to a far future spacefaring campaign.
Alternity lived on through d20 Modern with some of its ideas being ported over to that. The core mechanic, though, was gone, to be replaced with the d20 mechanic that rules the 2000’s. There were a couple of things about that core mechanic that made it different and stuck in our hearts for two decades. First, it was roll under. Some other RPGs have roll under mechanics, but mostly they are percentile based where the skill has a set number and two d10s are rolled to make a 1-100 number. Second, there was the levels of success. Rolling under was a success. Under half was better, and under one-quarter was the best. Weapons do more damage the better the success, skills are done more quickly or efficiently. Third and finally is the idea of rolling multiple dice. Now, in some dice, you roll a dice pool and add up all the high numbers. However, in Alternity, the dice were either added or subtracted to result in onde number, and that number was compared against the skill to determine success or failure.
How does that help us? We’ll outright lift it and use it for our own game. The Control Die + Situation Die < Target Number is the core of Transcendence. We take that and expound on it, building everything from that simple mechanic, that one thing that makes this game what it is. We like rolling dice, but not a lot of dice, so this fits perfectly. The levels of success also help with things like magic and psionics, but the whole system needs an overhaul.
To start with, the Professions in Alternity were almost worthless. They did very little and we want to change that. In order to do that, we are taking an idea from D&D and True20 with simplified classes. We call these Pathways. They are the Expert, Warrior, Mage, Psychic, and Priest. Within each Pathway and Focuses. While a Pathway is a overarching theme of the character, the Focus is a smaller, more refined approach to the skillset.
For example, in the Psychic Pathway, there are ESPer, TK, and Soulknife Focuses. Psychics have mental powers above and beyond those of normal humans, that is what sets them apart. The ESPer though, has mental abilities that allow farseeing, telepathy, and clairvoyance. A TK has telekenesis, pyrokenesis, or something of that sort. A soulknife has the ability to summon a blade of psychic energy and fight in melee combat. All are psychics, but with different skills and roles in a group.
Skills from Alternity remain largely unchanged. There are a diverse list of skills in the game already, and nothing we can add. Skills are purchased though, with each higher rank costing more, and some skills, like Surgery, cost more than other skills, like Stealth. Magic, Prayers, and Psionics are all skill-based as well. To cast a spell, simply learn the skill and make a skill check.
Then there is technology. Weapons do more damage with greater success levels and all weapons are divided in to Low Impact, High Impact, and Energy damage types, Low impact is things like melee combat, swords and clubs. High impact is bullets. Energy is fire, lasers, or radiation. Health is divided into Stun, Wound, and Mortal. Stun is simple damage that can be brushed off and recovered from easily. Wound is more severe with cuts and bruises. Mortal is gun shot wounds that have uncontrolled bleeding or damaged organs and broken bones.
Now how does this all come together to create a character and play the game? First, create an idea for your character. A rough background, and idea of who they are and what they aim to be. Then pick a species. There will be several to choose from in the Xenomega Corebook, including Human, Moreau, Synth, V’reen, Aelfin and Arcanix. Next assign attribute points. Some races have bonuses or penalties to certain attributes, but those are added after the base number is set. Then pick a Pathway and Focus. Next assign skill points based on Path Skills and the tied attribute. Finally, purchase equipment. That’s all there is to it.
What is Xenomega?
Xenomega is the world of Earth Prime, set some many years after Day Zero and the Merging. On Earth Prime, the many multitudes of parallel worlds have been thrown together into one chaotic planet. There are places of ancient dinosaurs, high magic, deadly radiation, and even some areas where physics just does not make sense. There is high technology out there to be found and claimed, but also ancient secrets and dark magic. Creatures of myth and others that were never known to exist wander freely. All the while, humanity struggles to survive in a world where they are no longer the masters, nor the only sentient species.
There are cybernetics, mutations, killer robots, zombies, gods, demons, angels, and aliens. Dragons can be found, but are they mutants or mythological? Maybe they are both. Some twisted scientist in years past could have grafted so many different creatures together that the beast in front of you could be a genetic monstrosity, or really Cerberus.
Then there is the return of old gods, the Norse, Egyptian, Greek, Sumerian, Inca, Aztec, and others. They all seem to want new worshippers, some with higher demands than others. They have brought their foes with them as well, so that now frost giants have been seen in the tundra, while Loki may be running corporation in America. Ra and Osiris have taken over Egypt, proclaiming a new order and return to the ancient ways for their people. Mount Olympus has been discovered and commoners can literally walk up the mountain and into the house of Zeus. Across the Atlantic, Aztec gods demand human sacrifice, while a multitude of spirits have awoken in the north. These could be gods or aliens, maybe both, but whatever they are, they are here and they are powerful.
But all of that matters little to the people living in this new world. They try to survive through scavenging for ancient technology, farming like their ancestors, or pillaging from those who have settled down. Small communities dot the landscape with few large towns and rarely any actual cities. Marauding bandits travel in caravans, raiding farms and towns and leaving destruction in their wake. Beasts and monsters rampage through the countryside with no remorse.
The world is a dangerous place. It is yours to survive and claim, or die with all the others.
Coming soon! Kickstarter for the Xenomega RPG PDF with art by Seth Damoose. Planned release: May 2018!