Signal Fire Studios ignites with Metamorphosis Alpha

Today Jamie Chambers, the designer of the Serenity RPG and the Cortex System, just let the world know about his next venture, Signal Fire Studios. This new game company will focus on “creating a strong lineup of role playing game titles starting in 2010 that include some familiar names” – which weren’t mentioned yet. Signal Fire’s existence was a poorly-kept secret mentioned in hushed tones at GTS ’09 in April, but news of an impending announcement was delayed – until now. Signal Fire will publish a new version of Metamorphosis Alpha, the classic sci-fi RPG, using Dungeons & Dragons: Fourth Edition rules. Original MA developer James M. Ward will be involved in the effort, as will Cam Banks, former lead developer of the Dragonlance product line. Release dates have yet to be announced, but we’ll happily await more signals of sweet roleplaying products from Signal Fire Studios in the months to come. See the pair of press releases below for more details.

Two press releases from Signal Fire Studios follow:

Action-Adventure Science Fiction Returns with Metamorphosis Alpha

Signal Fire Studios LLC is proud to announce that 2010 will see the publication of the newest incarnation of the very first science fiction role playing game, Metamorphosis Alpha! Using the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition game rules, players take on the role of mutated humans, plants, and animals and experience sci-fi action-adventure.

“The chance to work on Metamorphosis Alpha is really exciting,” says Jamie Chambers, President of Signal Fire Studios. “It’s a fun mix of nostalgia for those who’ve followed MA over the years, new rules for fans of D&D4e, and a chance to really embrace the ‘dungeon in space’ concept that the original game was created with.” The story of Metamorphosis Alpha centers on the Starship Warden, a massive generation ship stricken by a catastrophe. Its population of humans, plants, and animals are left mutated and unaware that the world they live on is actually a huge vessel traveling among the stars.

The Metamorphosis Alpha Player’s Guide is the first product in the series, and offers many new options for D&D players. It includes new races, from genetically-altered humans to self-aware plants. Four brand-new character classes, one for each of the game’s tactical roles, draw on the Mutant power source. Each is supplemented by paragon paths, epic destinies, and feats. The book also expands upon the skill system, adding the Tech skill and rules for discovering and understanding high-tech items. The book is tentatively set for publication in January 2010.

The Starship Warden sourcebook offers a comprehensive campaign setting for the 4th edition D&D rules. It gives the Dungeon Master an array of mutant creatures, androids, and other threats to challenge the heroes. In addition, this second book includes suggestions for ways to integrate the new rules with other settings or the creation of original campaigns that mix the science fiction and fantasy elements in exciting new ways.

James M. Ward, the creator and author of Metamorphosis Alpha for TSR, Inc. in the 1970s and designer of the classic MA’s own Fourth Edition, looks forward to this newest version of his creation. “D&D 4th Edition is bringing a lot of people back to the exploration, discovery, and tactical fun of the old days of the game,” says Ward. “In the early years of Dragon Magazine I wrote an article about how to combine MA with D&D. These new products will be the first time that idea is fully explored.” Ward is working with the MA design team to offer his insight and vision to the new products.

It’s important to lead designer and writer, Cam Banks, that this iteration of Metamorphosis Alpha offers the best of both worlds. “I want our MA books to be fully compatible and interchangeable with existing D&D4e and GSL products,” says Banks. “If someone wants to play a Mutant Feline Enforcer in a traditional fantasy world, the rules will support that. If a wormhole opens up and drops a Warlock into the middle of the Warden, that won’t be a huge problem, either. There’s a lot of great options, so each gaming group can make use of the new Metamorphosis Alpha products in whatever way they want. It’s fantasy meeting science-fiction head on.”

The Metamorphosis Alpha product line for D&D 4th Edition is being produced under the terms of the Game System License from Wizards of the Coast. Full details and release dates for the first two products, as well as news regarding adventures, sourcebooks, and online support materials will be announced soon.


Jamie Chambers
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Signal Fire Studios to Light the Way for New Games and Entertainment

A new game publisher is creating a strong lineup of role playing game titles starting in 2010 that include some familiar names, and carries on a legacy for producing quality tabletop games for both dedicated and casual fans. Signal Fire Studios, LLC was founded by the core creative team that has produced games based on properties including Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, and Dragonlance.

Signal Fire Studios is led by Jamie Chambers, award-winning lead writer and designer of the Cortex System role playing game products that have included a mix of licensed and original properties (Serenity, Demon Hunters). The company will use the Cortex System rules, along with other available game systems, including Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, for its tabletop RPG products depending on the needs of the product.

“We’ll definitely be using Cortex for story- and character-driven style game products. D&D 4th Edition is also a good choice for action-adventure and exploration-style games,” Chambers reports. “We want to find a good match for the material and the rules involved, but also offer our players the opportunity to use rules they are already having fun playing. But there are new role playing games in the works as well!”

Cam Banks, fantasy novelist and former lead designer of the Dragonlance game line, is an integral part of the Signal Fire Studios team. He will be developing original content and leading teams of freelance writers to produce material for both established game properties and new. Digger Hayes, art director and graphic designer, will continue his work marrying images and text to create game products that are both functional and attractive.

Signal Fire Studios will soon announce a lineup of games starting in early 2010. “Role Playing Games have always been at the heart of our business, and will continue to be with Signal Fire,” says Banks. “We’ll also be producing self-contained boxed games and really embracing the power of the Internet and digital publishing.” The company will develop an interactive website and online community, will produce regular podcasts, and is looking to develop a retailer-rewards program to offer their customers an incentive for patronizing their local game store.

“I’m really excited about the future,” says Hayes. “We’ve learned a lot over the years-both good and bad-and this is a chance to take these lessons and produce some really great games.”


Jamie Chambers

Signal Fire Studios and the SF logo are trademarks owned by Signal Fire Studios LLC. All rights reserved. Cortex System is © and ™ 2009 Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd. Used with permission. The use of another company’s trademarks is for reference only. No violation of copyright or trademark ownership is intended.


  1. Wow. I tried to sign up for a play test of just this kind of thing on the ma forums. I think this was it. Shoulda put two and two togetha.

    I’m running a classic MA game next weekend…

  2. I can honestly hope that this new edition is an improvement on the last one, which was okay as a campaign description, but as an RPG itself was desperately, woefully old fashioned and absolutely not contemporary in terms of mechanics as advertised. As to whomever thought of guns that disintegrated as soon as their ammunition was expended, well he needs to be shot with the last round.

  3. Pookie: This isn’t going to be a “new edition” of Metamorphosis Alpha, but rather a re-launch of the game line using D&D 4th Edition as the rules set. We’ll have new races and four new classes using the Mutant power source. The Metamorphosis Alpha Player’s Guide is going to have all the player-focused information, and will make it easy for anyone who wants to use any of the material for use in other D&D games. The second book is Dungeon Master information, details on the Starship Warden setting, and Monster Manual-style entries for creatures and enemies to be encountered.

    For those who requested to get in on the playtest, they should receive e-mails this week!

  4. Jamie: That sounds infinitely more interesting! I look forward to seeing the completed book.

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