I decided to jump from the earliest edition of this game (Metamorphosis Alpha) to the most recent version of the game that I own (and also, the only other version of the game that I own), to see what had changed and what had remained the same.
The short-short version is: The rules are better. It feels like it's a much better thought out game and game world. A lot of the early ideas (mutants, etc.), have been updated and expanded to differentiate them and make them more interesting. There's still a bizarre preoccupation with future tech, for reasons I can't quite explain. The game is set on an irradiated, post-apocalyptic earth instead of on a space ship, which helps to explain all the wilderness and the stable populations of various mutant beasties.
Once again, I went in without any idea of what I was going to make, other than that I wanted to make some kind of mutant creature, because that's way more fun than playing a straight human.
The game starts me off with the Mutated Animal template. I get some Physical and some Mental Mutations. +2 Stealth, -6 to Robot Recognition (robots once served human masters, and I am not human), and I get some abilities from the animal stock, which I must choose.
Amused that it's an option, and reminded of a certain character I played at a LARP once, I choose Weasel. Weasel gives me a Physical Strength (PS) 9, Dexterity (DX) 12, and Constitution (CN) 5. I can also bite for 1d6 damage, get Night Vision (per the mutation), and have a Base Speed of 14 (9 if I walk just on my hind legs).
I can also choose to have my mutant be of a stable strain, which means there's a village of weasel-people just like me off in the world somewhere. Cool. I can dig that. Let's do that. Maybe they live somewhere in the ruins of Venice. (Inside joke)
I now get to do adjustments. To start with, I look exactly like a weasel, except I’m smart. If I was under a meter in height, I’m now a meter in height. I cannot talk or use tools, however, various mutations can remedy this. If I don’t take any mutations to make me more human, I get +1 Physical Mutation, but have -8 Robot Recognition.
I get all of the stats listed above, plus a 2d4 roll. There are also other attributes for which I must roll. Different species (Mutant Plant, Mutant Animal, Human) all have different ways of rolling for their listed attributes. For every other attribute but Senses and Mutation Power, I roll 3d6 (like you do). The other two are calculated by 4d6 drop the lowest. Thank you, TSR.
I should also point out that Mutation Power seems to need to be rolled for each power that requires it (it's basically a casting roll). At least, I think it does. The rules are quite extensive, but I was skimming.
Now I roll for my mutant powers (1d6, consult chart). I will always get five mutations, but the roll tells me how they split. In my case, I get three Physical and two Mental. I now roll percentile dice and consult the appropriate charts.
Unlike Metamorphosis Alpha, there's a wide variety of powers that are all very well described and defined. In addition, the GM doesn't get the ability to hobble me with a randomly awful power. There are still powers that are defects (marked with a D), but I'm not guaranteed to have one (or any), and if I roll them, it's my fault. In addition, I can only have one physical and one mental defect maximum, so I won't wind up playing a character whose mutant abilities only weaken them.
Now, the mutant powers that turn my animal from a mutant animal into an uplifted, bipedal animal are not listed in this section. They are listed in the animal section, however, and they are Talk, Bipedal, and Manipulate Tools and Objects. I spend all three of my Physical Mutation points to buy these. I am now a chatty, humanoid weasel. Yes.
And now I determine my mental mutations.
99: Roll 2 mental mutations. Okay!
95: Pick any one mental mutation of your choice.
I was bound to roll well sooner or later!
I roll for my two random mutations and get:
04: Death Field Generation (This ability has a Mutation Power score. It's 11.)
28: Heightened Mental Attribute
This is funny, because the character that I played, who was nicknamed "Weasel," was a super-smart necromancer. So I decide to go whole hog (full weasel?) and name the character "Callen."
Death Field Generation allows me to damage the life force of all living things around me. The field isn't as game-breaking as one might thing it is, because it also targets me. I can also only use it once per week.
Heightened Mental Attribute randomly affects one of my three mental stats (Mental Strength, Intelligence, or Charisma). I add a number of points equal to 6 - the attribute's modifier. This is nice, because it's guaranteed to give low attributes a nice bump. I roll 1d3 and get 3. My Charisma gets improved. It's modifier is +6, so I raise it to 18. Hello, cutie!
Telekinetic Hand is the power I took for my selected power. It doesn't have the oomph of true Telekinesis, but it allows me to make fine motor manipulation as if I was using my hand.
Now I get to pick my character class. There are four: Enforcer (Fighter), Esper (Magic User), Examiner (Good with Tools), Scout (Rogue). I decide to go with Examiner, because it's the different one, and because the character that this character is loosely based on was interested in ancient history and magical artifacts.
My class gives me a whole pile of things, including one randomly rolled Tech IV item (I get a parachute), +1 Robot Recognition, +1 Use Artifacts per level, 16 points to distribute between four skills: Avoid Artifact Disaster, Jury-Rig, Read Schematics, and Repair Artifact. Since I have 16 points and 4 skills, I make them 4 each. Mostly because I don't know what's better.
All classes have several common skills, with percentages based on the class itself. These are Read, Write, Ride, and Swim. Examiners have Read 100%, Write 100%, Ride 25%, and Swim 10%.
After that, I get my derived attributes. They are also called skills and everyone gets them. I will say that this rulebook is laid out in kind of a strange way. For instance, my derived attributes are based on my primary attributes, but are listed after classes, not with the attributes themselves. But what do I know? I'm not a game designer.
The derived attributes are a big, long list, and it sort of clunks up a game whose design I felt was running pretty smoothly thus far. I won't copy the list here, but you can see it at the end, with the character. I will note that they kept CN as hit dice, just like it was in Metamorphosis Alpha, which is something I rather liked.
I now have the option of joining a Cryptic Alliance. I take a read through them and they are all silly. Like, okay, not silly-silly like Paranoia, but not too many steps removed from that. I find that I can't take any of them seriously and, so, I don't join any. Besides, I'm playing a charismatic loner. I don't need no allies!
Now we get to the Equipment section and, to my mind, the most baffling part of the game. The world is listed as being Tech III generally, which makes it Renaissance-times, according to the book. This would be fine, except things like laser pistols and micromissiles are listed under Common Equipment. It's fine, because I can't afford them anyway, but it seems like a very strange design choice. I would almost prefer it be split up like D&D, with regular equipment being more primitive and fancy future stuff being the "magic items."
The section also says that the GM gets to decide how much money and equipment I get based on where the game starts. Then it says, "oh, just kidding. Give them 250 + 1d10 x 10 donars." I roll a 1. So I get 260 donars. I purchase some basic weapons and armor and decide to call it a day.
Callen, Level 1 Mutant Weasel Examiner
Physical Strength: 13, +1
Dexterity: 18, +3
Constitution: 10, +0
Mental Strength: 13, +1
Intelligence: 12, +0
Charisma: 18, +3
Senses: 11, +0
Manipulate Tools and Objects
Death Field Generation: 11, +0
Telekinetic Hand: 14, +1
Heightened Charisma: +6
+1 to Robot Recognition and Use Artifacts
+1 bonus to Use Artifacts per level
Avoid Artifact Disaster: 4
Read Schematics: 4
Repair Artifact: 4
THAC melee: PS mod (1)
THAC ranged: DX mod (3)
Armor Class: 10 + DX mod (13)
MD: 10 + MS mod (11)
Hit Points: CNd6, or 10d6 (39)
Health: 10 + CN mod (10)
Use Artifacts: IN mod, (0)
Perception: SN score + IN mod (11)
Stealth: DX mod (3)
Remain Unseen: IN mod (0)
Speed: Base + DX mod (14/9)
Robot Recognition: 20 - mods (15)
Flintlock Pistol 2d8, 40 D
Dagger 1d4 5 D
Studded Leather AC 3 25 D
24 musket balls, gunpowder, and horn 10 D