Alternity Campaign Kit
Author: David Eckelberry
Company/Publisher: TSR/Wizards of the Coast
Page count: screen and 32 page booklet
Playtest Review by John Snyder on 07/04/98. Genre tags: none
This review is for the product that was sent to me, compliments of RPGNET. Thank you.
The Alternity Science Fiction game has arrived, and like all good game systems, provides its gamemasters with a GM Screen, or Campaign Kit as they're calling it..
Upon first inspection, this looks quite promising. The screen consists of four panels and is full color. There is also a 32 page book of "goodies"- more on that later.
The interior of the screen is well organized. I am a big fan of the 'more than three panels' type of screens. The left side contains the situation die step chart from page 48 of the Player's Handbook. It is much larger than needs to be and takes up more space than truly necessary. The rest of the tables on the inside deal with all of those pesky modifiers that seem to crop up into game play, you know the: Skills & Resistance Modifiers, Skill Checks, Situation Modifiers, Medical Science and Investigation Modifiers, Movement rates, Buying and Selling, Impact Damage, Modifiers for armed/unarmed and ranged attacks, vehicle and ship modifiers. Even a half panel is dedicated to Vehicle maneuvers. That pretty much takes care of the interior of the screen. WOW! It's all here! Right? Wrong. All weapon descriptions are on the outside of the screen facing the players. Yes, the players can see what every weapon does for damage. Maybe they'll be nice enough to tell you if you don't want to crack open the Player's Handbook. This really drove me nuts!! I guess I am really partial to having all the weapon stats on the inside so that, I the gamemaster, can see them!! TSR really dropped the ball with that one. The screen art consists of one panel with the woman from the cover-jacket.
The 32 page book of "goodies" that I mentioned earlier consists of forms and character sheets. While this is not all bad, it sure is not very good either. First off, the character sheets have a gray tone to all the areas where one has to write information. Try copying that and writing/erasing with any kind of frequency. Bad call there, leave out the gray next time. There are sheets for every hero, with every hero/mindwalker variation. There are only four variations of this sheet, one for mindwalkers, one for mutants, one for cyberneticist and one for the rest of the heroes, but there are 10 sheets included with the book, each with a different heading at the top. The back of each sheet shows the skill selection sheet. Somehow TSR found it necessary to include 8 copies of the same sheet. Of course, there is a skill selection sheet for the Mindwalker class (the included two sheets for that one). The supplemental hero sheet that one uses to list gear, skills and weapons is also covered with a gray tone. That won't turn out well after an encounter with a copier. The extra sheets in the 32 page book of goodies contains forms for extras, a GM record form, ship log form, ship status form and 6 pages of ship design forms. The ship forms will be pretty handy, except that, yup, you guessed it-gray on almost every spot where one has to write.
The jacket that covers the screen and booklet has the cover art on front and the UPC/price on the back. There is absolutely nothing on the inside of the jacket. Totally blank. Why include it? Just put the price on the last page of the booklet. I would've expected that there would be something of value on the inside of the jacket, but I was wrong. Quoting a friend of mine, "It is a total waste of paper. A company like TSR should be able to be a bit more efficient than that, it's a waste and there is NO EXSCUSE for it!!". Right on man.
In summary, there is a very little that I can say about the product that is overwhelmingly good. Four panel screen that is full color. That's it. There are just too many things that I dislike about this product, but unfortunately, it is almost a necessity. Maybe if I have the time I'll buy some poster-board and make my own, or just copy the weapon stats and put them on the inside of the cover! What a novel idea, funny that they didn't think of it.
Style: 3 (Average)