In 1998, after TSR had been bought out by WotC, but before it was dropped as a separate brand, it released a generic rules set for science fiction role playing game. It was written by Bill Slavicsek and Richard Baker. Characters would be created by a points system for six statistics (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Will, and Personality) and take on one of five classes (Combat Specialist, Tech Operator, Free Agent, Diplomat, and Mindwalker). Using a dual dice mechanic of rolling a control die (d20) and situation dice (such as d4) for resolving tasks but the dice size and number rolled could change due to circumstantial modifiers. The aim being to succeed by roll low under a target number (such as a skill) then working out what degree of success or failure occurred. Classes were rather weakly defined with each class having an innate benefit and a discount on their appropriate skills, and except for psionic skills any character could eventually excel at anything they wanted to spend points on.
Despite being a nicely-illustrated book, having good reviews and a well presented rule book, it had little in the way of actual sales. There were a few campaign settings sold for it, notably a pen and paper version of Blizzard's PC game Starcraft. The product line was discontinued but settings such as Dark Matter survived into D20 Modern. Wizards of the Coast axed the product line and instead focused on Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition.
The main far-future setting of the Alternity line. Star*Drive is set at the dawn of the 26th century, and humanity has spread out across the Orion Arm. The first galactic war saw the end of colonial rule from Earth, while the century-long second galactic war forged the colonies into a dozen powerful stellar nations united into three alliances. The growing nations have encountered dozens of sentient species, of which several stand out.
- Fraal: The gray aliens; slender, telepathic humanoids with black eyes, the fraal arrived in the Sol system thousands of years ago, having forgotten both their homeworld and their destination. Over the centuries they attempted to communicate with humanity but without success until humans began to colonize the solar system. The combination of terran mass reactor technology and fraal gravitic propulsion made the stardrive possible, allowing faster than light travel. After contact, Fraal society divided into the builders, who live among humans, and the wanderers, who went back into isolation.
- Aleerians (Mechalus): The nice borg; a fully cyborgized species. Typically pacifists but they don't regard cyberwar to be violence. Their trade agreement with the Rigunmor Consortium leases mechalus recruits as contract hackers and tech experts to anyone who can pay.
- Weren: Hulked out trolls with fur. Weren are a brutish pre-modern species that recently invented flintlocks and printing, with the same effect that those inventions had on Earth (ie, fuckhueg holy wars). A small recruiting outposts in the wastelands allows individual weren to take their chances in the stars, but those who leave may never return. While most who emigrate become soldiers or mercenaries, a surprising number adopt the Orlamu faith and become missionaries.
- Sesheyans: Batpeople. A primitive race of nocturnal avians, the sesheyans have the ignominious distinction of being the first species enslaved by humanity due to not reading the fine print on their trade agreement. Most free Sesheyans live outside the law as pirates and criminals.
- T'sa: Excitable velociraptors. The t'sa colonized several systems without FTL before humanity encountered them, and consider themselves to be a sovereign stellar nation (despite being as outnumbered as the Tau). However, the t'sa have an inquisitive and cosmopolitan nature, and have emigrated throughout human space even as their home nation has continued to grow.
- Deepfallen: Telepathic merfolk, an engineered race created as a
doomsday deviceconduit for transcendence. If they use their collective power, they can wipe their entire planet of all sentient life, supposedly casting the inhabitants consciousnesses into the immaterium but definitely making everyone dead. Accidentally used this power once on human colonists before realizing these newcomers don't share the death cult their creators had.
- Austrin-Ontis Unlimited: The south will rise again. Austrins are every stereotype of a redneck gun nut. A corporate nation, citizens are shareholders. Serious hateboner for the Nariacs. Not quite the an-cap paradise it sounds like, but dueling is legal and gun ownership rate is 99%.
- Borealis Republic: A space oligarchy except with titles based on academic achievement. About half their population consists of clones.
- Hatire Community: Space Amish. Discovered an ancient alien holy site and incorporated it into their faith. Militarily weak aside from their psykers, but they're allied with the Thuldans.
- Insight: Hacker nation; you can't stop the signal. Insight's secession from VoidCorp basically signaled the end of the second galactic war. Smallest nation by far, but their grid warriors will slice your bank account and shit up your twitter.
- Nariac Domain: Soviet Russia. Into cyborg modifications and social control. They're basically a client state of Voidcorp, which they resent but they have no other friends due to fielding lots of cyborg soldiers in the last war.
- Orion League: The United Federation of Planets. Best pals with the Orlamu.
- Orlamu Theocracy: Worships drivespace and stardrive tech, their faith was founded by the first FTL test pilot. Discovered the Weren and protects their homeworld from cultural contamination. Builds the best stardrives.
- Rigunmor Star Consortium: An entire nation of rogue traders. They discovered the Mechalus and are filthy rich. Instead of elections they have periodic audits and whomever is richest is in charge.
- StarMech Collective: Lazy corellians. StarMechs are expert engineers with a hedonism streak. They have lots of robots to do the actual work. Another corporate nation where citizens are shareholders, although it's effectively a liberal democracy.
- Thuldan Empire: The Imperium of Man. The largest stellar nation, thinks they should rule the galaxy and has tried to. Really into genetic engineering, really not into xenos.
- Union of Sol: Terra and everything within 50 light years of Terra. Overcrowded, their main export is prisoners. Resents the Galactic Concord for usurping Earth's rightful role.
- VoidCorp: 90's era Microsoft in space. Enslaved the Sesheyans. The only corporate nation to treat citizens as employees who can't quit. Universally despised by the rest of humanity but they are one of the strongest nations.
- Galactic Concord: The New Republic. Formed to govern buffer zones after the second galactic war. Most of their territory consists of ruined battlefield systems, but they have a very powerful military strong enough to take on any one stellar nation if need be. The T'sa cluster is in Concord space.
- Expansion Pentad: An agreement between Thuldan and VoidCorp to divide the galaxy between themselves. Hatire is friendly with Thuldan, and Nariac is a client state of VoidCorp. The fifth member, Dreth, didn't survive the war and most of their space is now Concord territory.
- Profit Confederation: Formed out of desperation; Rigunmor, Solar, Austrin, and StarMech teamed up in order to not get steamrolled. StarMech is on good terms with Rigunmor but otherwise it's mostly an alliance of necessity between frenimes.
- FreeSpace Alliance: Orion and Orlamu, best bros for life. They protected Borealis from being picked off.