Alternity & Star*Drive

Nostalgia compels me to ask if anyone here ever played with TSR’s short-lived Alternity system, or more specifically the Star*Drive setting.

Alternity arrived a few years before TSR was bought out by WotC. It basically provided rules for science fiction role-playing. Rather than sticking to any one subgenre, it was meant to cover a wide breadth, and could even be used for fantasy (I’m not sure why anyone would, but the option was there).

I bought both the Player’s and Gamemaster’s Handbooks when they came out (back when I was in high school), and ran a few sessions with my friends. Unfortunately the rules seemed kind of cumbersome. I say “seemed” because it’s entirely possible that I misinterpreted them in some way. In fact, I know I got the rules confused for a few initial sessions. Still, we had fun. Ultimately I like science fiction considerably more than fantasy (ironic, I know, considering my WoW fanfic efforts), so I appreciated the attempt. At the time, I was not aware of other SF games like Traveller, and Dark Heresy didn’t exist yet. There was Shadowrun, but that never really did it for me.

TSR even launched a few campaign settings for Alternity: StarDrive and Dark Matter. I was never too familiar with Dark Matter, though I know it involves conspiracy theories. I own the StarDrive campaign book. It’s a pretty good kitchen-sink type space opera. I’m not sure if it benefitted by trying to include every single option from the Player’s Handbook (I don’t think they quite figured out how to incorporate psionics, mutations, and cybernetics all at once), but I definitely liked it overall.

I think what I enjoyed most about Star*Drive was the relative absence of aliens. This is not to say that there weren’t any; the Gray-esque fraal played a very important part. Rather, it was mostly about humans. I find that when game creators make aliens, they often just take one human trait and amplify it. I don’t usually find this very compelling. By having multiple human factions, they can pretty much do the same thing without having to worry about things like alien biology, and how that might influence their psychology.

Anyway, comment with your own memories (or questions, if you’re not familiar with this).

I’m guessing that nobody here is familiar with Star*Drive. In case anyone’s curious though, I did make a TVTropes entry for it:

I remember it as the SF flagship of TSR back then but I was never that interested (more of a fantasy type of guy).

I heard about Alternity but it was around the time my local bookshop (my source of RPG materials) closed down, so I missed on ever seen it. (There’s a new bookshop now open BTW, and I’ve been reviewing D&D products here lately.)

Thanks for the info BTW. :slight_smile: