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Entry updated 7 December 2016. Tagged: Game.

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Role Playing Game (1998). Tactical Studies Rules (TSR). Designed by Bill Slavicsek, Richard Baker.

Alternity was an attempt to create a generic system for role playing in science fiction milieux. It had limited success commercially, though much of the background material was reused in d20 Modern (2002) (see d20). The Alternity core rules are not linked to any specific setting; instead, separate supplements were produced containing different backgrounds for use with the game. StarDrive (1998 TSR) designed by David Eckelberry and Richard Baker is Space Opera, featuring competing "stellar nations" which emphasize different aspects of human nature (a concept familiar from Gordon R Dickson's Dorsai novels). The default campaign setting is the Verge, a frontier area abandoned during the century long Second Galactic War and threatened by an unknown alien species.

The more interesting DarkMatter (1999 TSR) designed by Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook describes a present day occult conspiracy setting, whose tone is reminiscent of both The X-Files (1993-2002) and Robert Shea's and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! sequence. DarkMatter offers a kind of grand unified conspiracy theory, in which recurring tides of "dark matter" cause the appearance of many different types of strange phenomena throughout history, including Psionics, Alien visitors, functional magick and the destruction of Atlantis. The result is a game of secrets and mysteries which offers what is perhaps the most successful role playing milieu of its kind.

Related works: The fifth edition of Gamma World (2000) was released as a supplement for the Alternity system. Starcraft Adventures (2000 Wizards of the Coast) designed by Bill Slavicsek, David Eckelberry, Shawn Carnes is a Role Playing Game set in the Starcraft (1998) universe which uses a simplified version of the Alternity core rules. DarkMatter was republished for the d20 system in 2006 by Wizards of the Coast.

A number of Ties were produced for the two main Alternity settings. The StarDrive line includes Diane Duane's Harbinger trilogy: Starrise at Corrivale (1998), Storm at Eldala (1999) and Nightfall at Algemron (2000). Other related works of fiction are: On the Verge (1998) by Roland J Green; Starfall (anth 1998) edited by Martin H Greenberg; Zero Point (1999) by Richard Baker; Two of Minds (2000) by William Keith, and Gridrunner (2000), by Thomas Reid. Several novels were also written for DarkMatter, including In Hollow Houses (2000) by Gary Braunbeck; If Whispers Call (2000) by Don Bassingthwaite; In Fluid Silence (2001) by G W Tirpa; Of Aged Angels (2001) by Monte Cook, and By Dust Consumed (2001 ebook), also by Bassingthwaite. [NT]


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