The original edition of the game takes place on a generation spaceship, the starship Warden that has been struck by an unknown cataclysmic event that killed many of the colonists and crew. Thus, the characters must survive their missions in this ship (which they believe to be a world) where they no longer understand the technology around them and they encounter numerous mutated creatures. In essence, Metamorphosis Alpha is a dungeon crawl in space.
Players can opt to create a human, a mutated human, a mutated plant or a mutated creature as their character. A number of articles in Dragon expanded upon these options to include clones and robot characters as well as adding rules for cybernetics. There are five common player characteristics: radiation resistance, mental resistance, dexterity, strength, and constitution. Human players added a sixth characteristic, leadership potential, while mutated humans and creatures add a random number of mutations, both physical and mental. Metamorphosis Alpha's combat rules are very similar to those used in the original edition of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).
Metamorphosis Alpha is the intellectual precursor to Gamma World (1978), also produced by TSR.
Editions and supplements
Metamorphosis Alpha was first published in 1976 by TSR. It was written by James M. Ward and illustrated by Dave Sutherland III.
In 1981, Ward announced plans to rewrite the game as Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega, a supplement for the 1st edition Gamma World rules (Anon 1981). The Gamma World supplement was never completed, but in 1994, TSR used the title Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega for an Amazing Engine supplement written by Slade Henson.
In 2002, Ward's company, Fast Forward Entertainment, published a new version of the game, entitled Metamorphosis Alpha: 25th Anniversary Edition. It was designed by Ward himself.
In 2006, Metamorphosis Alpha 4th Edition was released by Mudpuppy Games. This edition contained original material by Ward and additional new material and photography by Craig J. Brain. The book cover and interior illustrations were painted and drawn by Jim Holloway with most of the cartography by Ryan Wolfe.
In 2007, WardCo. released an official errata sheet for Metamorphosis Alpha First Edition, which is available from the official website and released a revised edition of the first-edition rules through OneBookShelf as a PDF.
In 2010, WardCo. released "The House On The Hill" adventure module for Metamorphosis Alpha (1st edition) as a PDF through OneBookshelf and the printed edition through Amazon. The adventure was written by Craig J. Brain, with bonus content by James M. Ward. The illustrations for the adventure were by Lee Smith and Dave Sutherland III.
In 2012, WardCo. released a reprint of the original edition of the game via Lulu with the addition of a new adventure and a number of corrections.
In 2014, WardCo and Goodman Games. released a hardbound deluxe edition of the original 1st edition via kickstarter including new adventures and consolidated other content from magazines and new content.
Source: Wikipedia, "Metamorphosis Alpha", available under the CC-BY-SA License.