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Chuckg

Aberrant RPG - Brainstorming an Aberrant future

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If I wanted to start a high-power Aberrant game in 2030, based loosely on the same themes that Children of Quantum Fire did but not using the same storyline or some of the base story assumptions they did, then I have about 15 years of alt-history to design as Worldwide Phase II only takes me so far.

 

But I'm lazy, so why design it all by myself when I can stea-... errr, be inspired by the brilliant work of others.  Besides, traffic been sorta slow in here recently so meh, let's inspire some post count.

 

Now, the reason I don't just steal CoQF's timeline -- well, asides from the fact that I'd be using a shit ton of other people's storyline and characters -- is because I started with a different set of design assumptions than they did, notably about Taint (see my house rules thread for details on that) and about some of the 'A Breed Apart' content that I'm not going to use.

 

Specifically, my starting thoughts were these:

 

On Nova Fertility

 

  • Not going to use 'Motherhunters' because, let's face it, we are talking about professional baby murderers here.  Guys who can get up in the morning and go 'Today I am going to stalk and kill some innocent people and small children whose only crime was in wanting to have a family/being born'. While I grant that you can entirely find some people this evil, in order for the 'motherhunting' strategy to work you have to find an army full of people this evil.  Even from a strictly utilarian and amoral standpoint, the 'motherhunting' strategy only works if you actually can ensure 99.9+% clean-out; just getting 80% or 90% guarantees that the surviving 10-20% really direly want to kill you.  And since the entire point of the strategy was the eventual fear that 2nd gen novas would become worldshakingly powerful, you can't afford even 10-20%.  As any hunter knows, you do not just wound the grizzly bear. "Never do an enemy a small injury" applies here, epically.
  • Also, any world that can reliably find enough hundreds of operatives to do a job this dirty, so reliably that they don't get a dozen Slider Incidents or more on their hands, is a world slightly above tolerance on the grim-o-meter.
  • That having been said, Proteus is certainly going to do something about nova fertility, once the sterilization drugs aren't enough. They just need to do something evil that's a more "ostensibly intelligent people could actually believe this was going to work" evil, as opposed to a strategy that's pretty much inevitably doomed to cause precisely the type of backlash that happened in CoQF.  Thetis might be crazier than a shithouse rat, but let's at least write her smarter than this, so she makes a more satisfying thump when she hits the floor.
  • So, what are they going to do? 'Some type of airborne contact sterility virus' is what first comes to mind (even with the risk of a million or several baseline deaths from mutation, etc. Thetis would still do it; like she cares? It's getting 11 minutes to doomsday here! Release the germs!).  So, some type of Spanish Flu type incident, but hey, at least Utopia solved it soon enough, right?  Meanwhile, nova birthrates crash-dive again... only this time, the novas who were already working on it know enough to figure out that Proteus just fired the next shot in the war...

On The Directive

 

  • My players and me have always had a sympathy for the Directive. Far too often the canon treats them 'Like Proteus, only with better wiretaps but a lot fewer novas, and also much stupider and more ignorant'. Far too often they're depicted as basically the General Rosses of the setting, always out there to get in your way when you're trying to save the world, but never really saving it themselves.
  • Yeah, well, toss that. This is the 21st century and we prefer something more like the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of SHIELD. Even with all the problems that was revealed to have recently. I can entirely buy a Directive that does gritty spy shit all the time and doesn't trust most novas farther than it can spit. But I don't want to buy one that sits around wishing it were in the Marvel Universe so it could build some giant purple robots, let's put it that way.
  • So, what would this 'slightly less of a dick and slightly more on the ball' Directive be doing with its opportunities? Hrm, the first thing that comes to mind is 'Remember General Endicott's exoskeletons? Maybe if it applied some of that blacktech research budget into coming up with something that let the average Directive agent at least compete vs. novas harder than your average mitoid could, they'd be slightly less paranoid-fear all the time.'  Besides, as the 'world without DeVries' thread got into, it took massive writer's fiat to delay effective VARG research into the Trinity era anyway.  In the real world, we went from the Wright Flyer to the F-22 Raptor in 100 years... for it to take 200 to go from the Nova Age to exoskeletons at least as effective as the ones in the recent Tom Cruise timeloop movie is silly.
  • Also, slightly relax the nova chargen restrictions for Directive operatives.  "Absolutely no Taint" stays, because that entirely makes sense (and is even easier to achieve under my house rules), but as the DeVries recruiter always says 'There are no worthless nova abilities, some are just worth more than others.'

 

Yeah, isn't really much of a set of starting thoughts, is it.  I'm staring at a piece of blank paper and trying to make it a timeline.

 

So, any random bits from your own prop boxes that you've never gotten a chance to use, that you want to toss in here?

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Well, as one of the players, I'd be honored if you had thought highly enough of my/our stuff to steal from it.

 

I'm guessing you liked Chang/Puck/Darrik/Infinity, Exalt! and the new Anavasi faction's work to actually fix the Teragen?

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-By 2030 you could have Dao Qi Meng and Chrysalis facing off against each other as the solutions to nova taint accrual.  There's no way some nova who voids all their taint using Qi Meng is gonna stay out of the news when it's that ubiquitous.  And if Chrysalis (using the modded rules found elsewhere here) has measurable results as ell, then the world has 2 options:  Take the slow excruciating method to power gain and stay human, or take the fast route to power and transhumanize.  Either way you'll keep your sanity and avoid turning into a tentacled lovecraftian horror loose in a hentai flik.

 

-Proto-Arm Suits like VARGs would become the next product from DeVries since there's no way they won't sick Alinsky on some mecha warfare.  EVERYONE loves giant robots! $$$$

 

Have you given any thoughts to what the Aberrant faction would be up to in this revision?

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Chang actually sorta creeped me out on the visceral level -- my own tolerance of transhumanity is somewhere around Eclipse Phase, not the outright ahuman that the more hardcore Teragen players got into.  I don't disapprove, mind.  On an artistic level, the amount of effort being put into it was exceptional. Its just not my style of art, as it were.

 

But yes, I entirely liked what she and the Anavasi were doing.  Ditto Exalt!  Ditto most of the NPCs.  Special hat tip to Snow for her scene where she was expounding on the Monster archetype and how she thought most followers of that path were being too trapped by baseline preceptions re: monsterdom.  That's the first time the Monster path ever actually made sense to me.

 

I also quite liked seeing some of the 200X characters in their more advanced incarnations.

 

Darksol: Note that one of my differing design assumptions is that while Taint is very easy to get, its not inevitable.  Check the house rules thread I linked.

 

Specifically, you don't get levels of permanent Taint by buying high Quantum or Node; you get it by choosing to buy Quantum dots tainted (which is far easier than buying them non-tainted), or by power-maxing on a regular basis without sufficient 'down time' in between to empty out your temporary taint bar (which is common because my alternate Taint system makes gaining temp Taint on a powermax inevitable, and provides a significant and very reliable benefit for power-maxing, which makes the temptation to do it often pretty damn strong).  Don't do either, and you can stay Taint 0 all the way to Quantum 10 Node 10 if you want.  (Admittedly, by that point you are roleplaying some 'separation from humanity' anyway simply because you can create universes with your brain and people can't, but its a different kind of separation, if you follow me.)

 

This was precisely because 'Taint is an inherent part of being a nova' makes all possible storylines converge towards a single omega point and, well, Quantum Fire already told that story.  In my own version, Taint should not be inevitable; Taint should be a tempting choice, but entirely a choice.

 

It also means that learning Qi Meng is not necessary in order to stay taint-free... simply following the basic themes of Qi Meng (don't strain your node) will have the effects anyway, without requiring an initiation into the secret knowledge of anything. So, no major hostility being focused on novas who practice it, because they're all learning it on their own; its a choice of which nova lifestyle you will follow, not a trade secret to be fought over.

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Speaking of the Teragen (my favorite faction) if you started a game where history was revised from canon, you are absolutely going to have PCs develop such a faction as what Darrik here just mentioned.  Most of us will not sit idly by and allow it to be the "sabbat" of Aberrant.

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interesting, I will try to get you something more constructive once I'm at home...

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Speaking of the Teragen (my favorite faction) if you started a game where history was revised from canon, you are absolutely going to have PCs develop such a faction as what Darrik here just mentioned.  Most of us will not sit idly by and allow it to be the "sabbat" of Aberrant.

 

I'm sticking with canon up until the end of Worldwide Phase II, as none of my design changes will really alter any of those events (my system doesn't preclude the possibility of the heavily Taint-buttered like Antaeus or Melchior, it just means that they on some level did it to themselves instead of having it done to them by the vicissitudes of fate, is all).  But yeah, after that, a new Teragen faction rising up precisely because some people are sick of them being the Sabbat and the other causes such as Utopia are starting to fail to be a suitable beacon for many novas, entirely.  Already, one thought inspired by talking it out with other peoples!

 

Well, that plus the Casablancas also getting a major boost, as if the Teragen is getting a big influx of 'straights', that's the faction they're going to understand the best.

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Well, as one of the players, I'd be honored if you had thought highly enough of my/our stuff to steal from it.

Oh, I'm totally swiping NPCs and setting bits from it and 200X for my upcoming 'Worldwide Phase 1.1' game that I'm about to run for my local group (its a generic-ish 2010 thing, not this.  This is a long-range design project). 

 

I'm just gonna do retail theft, not wholesale.  :)

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Long as it's not the Beta-Harvesters under leviathan.  Those ppl always struck me as even more Juvenile than nosferatu vamps for reveling in all that grossness (Even the damn tzimisce had dignity in their weird).  The Alpha-Harvesters seem like they're going to turn into the Teragen IT dept under Dr. Zola...er Zia.

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On my end, I had the concept of the fact that Kamiko had the last of the actually still functional FTL ships, using her own power for warping and cross-time travel that she instead of going to other stars, could go to other universes. The way she traveled was just like how her warps worked, and her ship could use the same method for trans-universal travel.

 

Of course this would have taken her and whoever else that went with her out of the equation for dealing with the core universe's problems, but by this point, Kamiko was a non-player. All she had was the Bibliotheca Sacra that she was setting up to be an academy for Dragon's Nest children, and to start finding her own way in Qi Meng. She needed a very quiet, private place.

 

It's not that Kamiko wouldn't return to the Prime universe, it's just more she has the opportunity to explore, so she takes it. That was the original concept of GNS. When Starseed disappeared, that sort of ended that program. Leaving just Kamiko's NSS Hikari Maru.

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Feel free to use Bombshell and/or Katya Skovskaya, if you liked either of them from 200X or QF.

 

As for the setting, depending on how canon you want to keep it - I always had one idea that I thought would work and was a reasonable work-around the whole sterility/fertility/motherhunter issue... Novas don't breed true. Novas can have children just fine, but there is no guarantee that their kid will erupt or even have the latent capability to erupt (thought they might have a higher chance). There is really no such thing as a second gen Nova.

 

This adds another issue as it forces Novas to need baselines to a degree, if they want to increase their numbers. The Teragen's hidden daycare is instead made up of children they have found to be latent at a young age and are raising to hold their values. Proteus, instead of hunting down breeding novas and their progeny, instead are looking for latent individuals and either eliminating them, trying to steer their lives to their own ends (like the Teragen), or trying to find a way to turn off Latency (I think one of the fan books for Aeon/Trinity said someone had developed a vaccine that forever turned off latency).

 

Just an idea.

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Proteus coming up with a vaccine against latency is evil.  I like it.

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Evil on multiple levels!  Turning off telluric latency kills off Psiads and Daredevils too.  Way to piss off the universe Proteus, no more funding for YOU!

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Hrm, yeah, I can imagine that Aeon would not be interested in choking off the other Inspired.  But how to make an anti-latency vaccine target only novas, as well as appear innocuous enough that it can be ubiquitously distributed across the planet (via WHO, probably, or by Triton selling it to vaccine distributors) without anyone catching on?  Sure, not having it touch the Utopia label will help, as the people already on the lookout for Utopian conspiracies will be less prone to look at it, but even so.

 

Yeah, it'd have to be coupled with an effort to find 'suitable' latents and preserve and groom them as a potential Aeon/Proteus recruiting pool.  Which would be a job for the Project Insight algorithm from "Winter Soldier", and I'm not sure I'd want to give that kind of power to anyone in the Aberrant setting, let alone Proteus.

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Well... what about something that will really throw things for a loop?

A Mega-Intelligent medical genius of a Nova figures out how to safely treat Taint. She can't correct Aberrations, but Taint in of itself she can fix.

Suddenly a recruiting pool for Terats dries up... How could this be spun?

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Fork #1:

 

Hrm.  The Terats lose their portion of the recruiting pool that is 'People who are seeking help with Taint'.   Leaving them only with 'People who like the Null Manifesto', 'People who like fucking with baselines and ignoring baseline law' (not necessarily the same as category #1), and 'People who are seriously into transcension and deliberately seek Chrysalis'.

 

The Teragen are not going to become weaker in an absolute sense (nova power is nova power, whether its politically or culturally "in" or not, and they still have a shit ton of that), but they are going to have to separate the weekend bikers from the serious outlaws, as it were.  Because they're going to increasingly radicalize.  The Teragen are not the place you go now to be trendy, its the place you go if you dedicate yourself to rejecting conventional society.

 

Orzaiz isn't going to leave, he's seriously philosophically committed to Teras.  Therefore, most of the Casablancas aren't going to leave.  But the Teragen internal tensions are going to get worse, way worse.

 

Probably gonna get the Night of the Long Knives early.  Although given that the cause will be different, Mal's solution would probably not be 'Stand back and may the best nova win' this time.  I think.  Maybe.

 

Fork #2:

 

... but on the other hand, the Teragen actually do have their own use for Taint-B-Gone; if you're doing Chrysalis right you're not supposed to be getting any permanent Taint, just temporary that you then convert over to Chrysalis.  Having Taint-B-Gone available to scrub away their near misses and let them try again only makes following the path of Chrysalis easier. And even if the production version of Taint-B-Gone also removes Chrysalis as well as permanent Taint, meh, like the Teragen don't have enough superbrains available to take the formula and create Taint-B-Gone v2: Teras Compatible Version.

 

Which means that the Teras can go totally mainstream now, as they don't have all the Taint-maddened freaks hanging around no more, just the succesfully ascended.  Even Mal could use this to help clear out a few of his mental aberrations, think more clearly and all.  So in this fork, the Teragen actually become more politically powerful, as more of them can go out in the daylight.

 

Granted, the Harvesters are going to freak the hell out, but, well, if Divis Mal ultimately has to cull their entire branch as a failed experiment, they can suck Elemental Plasma Mastery (Mastery 2) and die.  Hey, the path to transcension sometimes has to leave behind those who just aren't willing to adapt and all.

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In "The New Flesh" there were 1st generation taint meds listed in the medical innovations, so your work is already done for you there.  If they make a more efficient version and release that, it'll become the next Vykodin, prescribed by every paraphysician whenever possible.

 

In fork 2, I see the B-section of the harvesters either splitting off from the Teragen entirely since they're no longer someplace encouraging sheer monstrousness for the hell of it; or dividing into 2 with some joining Nova Vigilance and other leaving the terats entirely.  If that bastard Tarik is still alive he'll probably try to scoop them up into the Companions so he has more muscle power, and if Apostle is still alive he'll convert them to the Church of Mal if he can.

 

Considering how the bad elements of the Teragen may just fall right off, Mal very well could just stand there and let it happen.

 

As to their political clout; if the rest of the world has taint meds there are now 3 options:

1) train under Qi meng masters and slowly gain power while preserving balance

2) use prescription taint meds and stay generally stagnant

3) join the teragen and shed humanity to gain power faster

 

Humans DO like power, so the terats will never be without recruits, but they also need to be a part of society so the number will fall a little shorter. 

 

Honestly I wonder more about what the other factions would do once the existence of the other inspired comes to light.  The Directive would be ALL OVER psiads and Daredevils like a jealous BF.  And Utopia already has 2 divisions dedicated to researching them.

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Aeon Society has 2 divisions dedicated to researching Psiads and Daredevils (according to the APG - naturally occuring Psions are not once mentioned in any Trinity book, AFAIK), not Utopia, which is the division dedicated to researching Novas/Stalwarts. With the possible exception of Larangione, Utopia probably doesn't even know the other divisions exist (and maybe Proteus, but they aren't really Utopia, but more of Aeon hatchetmen). :P

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Fork #1:

 

Hrm.  The Terats lose their portion of the recruiting pool that is 'People who are seeking help with Taint'.   Leaving them only with 'People who like the Null Manifesto', 'People who like fucking with baselines and ignoring baseline law' (not necessarily the same as category #1), and 'People who are seriously into transcension and deliberately seek Chrysalis'.

 

The Teragen are not going to become weaker in an absolute sense (nova power is nova power, whether its politically or culturally "in" or not, and they still have a shit ton of that), but they are going to have to separate the weekend bikers from the serious outlaws, as it were.  Because they're going to increasingly radicalize.  The Teragen are not the place you go now to be trendy, its the place you go if you dedicate yourself to rejecting conventional society.

 

Orzaiz isn't going to leave, he's seriously philosophically committed to Teras.  Therefore, most of the Casablancas aren't going to leave.  But the Teragen internal tensions are going to get worse, way worse.

 

Probably gonna get the Night of the Long Knives early.  Although given that the cause will be different, Mal's solution would probably not be 'Stand back and may the best nova win' this time.  I think.  Maybe.

 

Fork #2:

 

... but on the other hand, the Teragen actually do have their own use for Taint-B-Gone; if you're doing Chrysalis right you're not supposed to be getting any permanent Taint, just temporary that you then convert over to Chrysalis.  Having Taint-B-Gone available to scrub away their near misses and let them try again only makes following the path of Chrysalis easier. And even if the production version of Taint-B-Gone also removes Chrysalis as well as permanent Taint, meh, like the Teragen don't have enough superbrains available to take the formula and create Taint-B-Gone v2: Teras Compatible Version.

 

Which means that the Teras can go totally mainstream now, as they don't have all the Taint-maddened freaks hanging around no more, just the succesfully ascended.  Even Mal could use this to help clear out a few of his mental aberrations, think more clearly and all.  So in this fork, the Teragen actually become more politically powerful, as more of them can go out in the daylight.

 

Granted, the Harvesters are going to freak the hell out, but, well, if Divis Mal ultimately has to cull their entire branch as a failed experiment, they can suck Elemental Plasma Mastery (Mastery 2) and die.  Hey, the path to transcension sometimes has to leave behind those who just aren't willing to adapt and all.

 

Actually the drug wouldn't cure aberrations, only the taint that causes them.

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Not necessarily.   But even if so, once the taint is gone then its not really an aberration locked in place, its a flaw/false aberration that can be bought off with XP or otherwise treated, which still is a great help.

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Aeon Society has 2 divisions dedicated to researching Psiads and Daredevils (according to the APG - naturally occuring Psions are not once mentioned in any Trinity book, AFAIK), not Utopia, which is the division dedicated to researching Novas/Stalwarts. With the possible exception of Larangione, Utopia probably doesn't even know the other divisions exist (and maybe Proteus, but they aren't really Utopia, but more of Aeon hatchetmen). :P

 

is it AEON?  I thought i twas just another black-budget division of Utopia....  Oh well, they all stem from the same place anyway.

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My latest thought, which ties into the 'motherhunting might be a good comic book plot but it makes no sense if you think about it'...

 

OK, so suppose its 2030 or so, and Thetis and Laragione and the Aeon board of directors are sitting around the table lookin' at the facts.

 

  • Nova sterility is a bust. Between what some unknown nova just Ecological Supremacy'ed the nova population into having (the ongoing speculation that Bounty or someone basically dropped Health and Fertility enhancements on the global nova population when they finally hit q8) and the incompleteness of the prior coverage and just too many examples of 'novas actually are fertile!' getting out for cover-ups to work and for people to believe the lie anymore, the genie is just plain out of the bottle.  Over the next 20 years, the 2nd generation nova population will be increasing beyond anyone's ability to prevent no matter how evil the evil decides to get.
  • As a logical consequence of this, the future 'Aberrant War' that Mercer warned Aeon when he returned to the modern era is now, in their perception, inevitable. As far as they can see, the failure of nova sterility is the failure of their last chance to stop the tide of events.
  • Motherhunting won't work to change this. They see that already in advance. Its just trying to hull-patch the Titanic.

So, what now?

 

My first thought is 'If Aeon/Proteus think the war is inevitable now, they will shift focus from trying to avoid it to trying to win it before it starts'.  And the first step to that is getting the rest of the world to agree with them that novas are not their saviors, but the monsters that will kill them all.

 

  1. Gut Project Utopia. The 'prevent the Aberrant War by encouraging man and nova to come together in harmony -- under Aeon control' track is, they think, a bust.  So, time to abandon it. They are serendipitously aided in this by the fact that on hearing that his life's work (bring man and nova together in harmony) is now being deemed 'unfeasible' and Aeon is shifting gears to the exact opposite without even stripping the clutch, Laragione is probably going to flip his shit.  Which means Proteus has him whacked, which only helps them wreck Utopia anyway, as Laragione is a key piece holding it together.
  2. Pull out. Its time for the cockroaches to go back under the fridge. All of that secret support Proteus was giving Utopia, that behind-the-scenes aid? Gone. Utopia's now being cut loose from Aeon support... easy enough to do, as the only people who knew it was being given in the first place were either the Proteus moles or Laragione (who is now dead). Utopia gets to serve as a failed dream while Proteus slinks back into the shadows along with the rest of Aeon. Time to work on secret counter-nova stuff. Time to work on encouraging governments to build more orbital railguns. Time to work on doomsday shelters and lifeboat caches so that when the Aberrant War destroys civilization, Aeon survives and can rule the ruins. IOW, a path to the canonical Trinity future.
  3. If the Aberrant War is 'inevitable', then control the timing of the detonation. Like in the other 2030 timeline being speculated on, and what dribs we know from canon, the 2030s are when the bloom comes off of nova celebrity anyway. Well, now that's gonna get some help, if not a primary cause of. All of that subtle societal manipulation Aeon did to grease the ways for Utopia and help create positive superhero-ish imagery of novas? Bam. They just reversed the polarity of the neutron flow. As subtly as possible, of course (too obvious a fast reversal only makes it plain what's going on to everyone), but they done it.

 

Of course, you can see Thetis' and Mercer's own mental limitations and presumptions here. What Aeon is actually doing is not 'preparing for the inevitable' but instead actually causing the Aberrant War, in a self-fulfilling prophecy that didn't have to come true until after they decided that it must.

 

Likewise, the fact that they have cut Utopia loose from all the secret murdering and lying and cheating Proteus and Aeon was doing on its behalf does not necessarily kill Utopia... not if your particular campaign deems that heroic and sincere efforts by the actually decent majority of Utopia (as well as some player characters, ahem) are enough to actually make it work. Especially if you also choose to believe (or not) that 'y'know, Proteus' secret murdering may have been greasing some ways for Utopia, but was actually being counterproductive in others, so their absence is a net gain'. Depends on where you want to set the brightness knob, yes.  (And yes, I was partly inspired by Vector and Glory and the other 'decent ones of the old guard' still in Utopia in CoQF, even if what they were doing in that timeline basically ended in nothing.)

 

So... basically, Proteus (which predated Utopia anyway) pulls the hell out of Utopia and leaves behind Utopia's husk to (in their minds) die.  Yeah, what can we do with that?

 

Oh yes, and Mal and Rousseau are of course going to know exactly what's really going on when Proteus starts its paradigm shift. What will they do in response?

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- Mal is just going to make everything worse. You know it.

 

- Rosseau is going to reach out to Utopia at this point, because if you think about it, the core of the organization always has been honest and good, but Proteus used it as a place to cover up its dirty work. Utopia itself by now has a lot of power and probably would work willingly against its old bosses.

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In this scenario mal prolly will make it worse, as proteus has just gutted mercer's dream leaving the world with a Magneto but no prof X.  That's all the justification mal needs to say "yup, i was right all along!"  Of course, he also doesn't really need to do anything specific.

 

Rousseau is probably going to take over Utopia and make it into a decent organization (thru proxies of course)

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'Rousseau reaches out to take Utopia' is, now that you point it out, an obvious enough move that Aeon already has to be expecting it.  So, what would their chess countermove be?

 

'Let Rousseau grasp Utopia, then hang most of Proteus' evil shit on it and throw her the anchor' is a particularly elegant solution, but might not be workable.

 

Hmmm.  It occurs to me that at least one Proteus operative will be staying with Utopia for the foreseeable future -- Caestus Pax.  (Who is a knowing Proteus operative, reread "Into The Arms of the Angel of Wrath" and the denouement.)  Now, whether they're cutting him loose too (without telling him) or whether he'll be OK with presiding over the 'tragic downfall' of Utopia over the next 15 years or so is indeterminate.  But either way, he's going to block Rousseau the hell out.

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Unless of course, she exposes him as a Proteus agent and cans him. Or whatever excuse is given to the public. Basically, all the arrogance and prickness of decades will get turned to bite him.

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'She' being who, Thetis?  She has no reason to and every reason not to.  She being Rousseau?  I don't think the Aberrants ever found out for sure that Psyche was a Proteus agent, let alone Pax... and Rousseau can't exactly just take over Project Utopia like nothing, especially if Proteus' exit strategy is to make Pax the Director ("Action President!") while the actual bureaucratic duties devolve on the staff, much like he leads Team Tomorrow.

 

Plus, natch, in order to become Utopia's next Director, Rousseau has to publicly reveal herself and remain in a known location... and there's reasons she ain't been doing that.

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'She' being who, Thetis?  She has no reason to and every reason not to.  She being Rousseau?  I don't think the Aberrants ever found out for sure that Psyche was a Proteus agent, let alone Pax... and Rousseau can't exactly just take over Project Utopia like nothing, especially if Proteus' exit strategy is to make Pax the Director ("Action President!") while the actual bureaucratic duties devolve on the staff, much like he leads Team Tomorrow.

 

Plus, natch, in order to become Utopia's next Director, Rousseau has to publicly reveal herself and remain in a known location... and there's reasons she ain't been doing that.

 

No, Rosseau. Anyway, given the extra decades that we're presuming, I'd think they could sniff out both of them.

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Yes, meanwhile looking at all this, again, we see White Wolf's methodology of "The players are along for the ride and can't change the metaplot one bit".

In CoQF we were making an effort to actually break the back of the metaplot and change fate. Thing is if it wasn't for key OOC things happening it would have happened. The loss of Starseed from the site, the collapse of the game followed by the introduction of a plan derailing alien plot changed matters.

Finally the fact that the group factioned off between Terats and Qi-Meng would have only produced a variant of the Aberrant war, only know between two points of view with the rest of Novas and Humanity in the middle.

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Yes, meanwhile looking at all this, again, we see White Wolf's methodology of "The players are along for the ride and can't change the metaplot one bit".

Actually, my reason for saying 'Rousseau just doesn't swoop in and save Utopia' is to leave that open for the PCs to do.  :)

 

Admittedly, you'd need 2nd gen power to get around the big Pax-based obstruction, but I suppose if the PCs don't have that we can say "Thetis pushed the button on the cortex bomb full of VTP that Pax has been carrying around in his head for the last couple of decades(*), and once he was powerless had his head cut off and the corpse vaporized" because in that iteration Pax wasn't up for 'welp, time to burn Utopia' any more than Laragione was.  After all, he does have his huge huge huge (did I say huge? I meant HUGE) ego tied up in it.

 

 

(*) His forcibly dormed period in intensive care right after the beatdown Divis Mal gave him in Worldwide Phase I would have been a perfect time to put that thing in, as "Gabriel" established that VTP was already available by that date.

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Thing is, how would any of the players be given the opportunity to stop the car before it teeters off the cliff, as it were? Where is each potential out? Or is the point for it to go all to hell because the book said so?

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That would depend on what a particular bunch of players did.  But Proteus' three main preparations here are 'emphasize human/nova tensions', 'sponsor anti-nova-blacktech research', and 'cut Utopia loose of all those black ops we did behind the scenes to grease its ways and let Utopia's implosion sour human/nova relations'.  Players could conceivably screw up any one or all of the three.

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Rousseau never rules openly, she always uses proxys (a lot like the goddamn Doyen), and given her probability mastery, she might pull some cheap trick like preserving Laragione from his otherwise gruesome fate so she can keep someone decent in the seat of power for Utopia.  She'd probably stay in the background and wait for a PC to want to pick up the corpse of utopia before it gets cold so she can "arrange" for them to succeed and befoul Proteus's plans.

 

Given enough players you might have a concerted multi-tiered attack on Proteus itself to the point where AEON has no choice but to denounce it entirely or go down in flames with it.  AEON doesn't have infinite influence either after all.

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I would actually find 'Rousseau did it for you/you are pawns' to be more deprotagonizing than the other thing, really.

 

I entirely agree that what Aeon thinks is going to happen and what actually does end up happening should be two different things, due to PC interference in the middle.

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For my 2 credit's worth, what ChuckG is describing here looks like a prime opportunity for Mercer himself to salvage Aeon by killing Thetis & Ozaki, destroying her corrupted version of Proteus and having the majority of the current Aeon Council arrested as war criminals. That lets him retake control over Aeon with a lot less fuss than happened in the canon metaplot.

 

AFA Qi Meng? The idea of Qi Meng going really public is appealing, but how many novas are going to have the focus and desire to put themselves through the necessary training regime? IIRC, Quantum Fire (via the NPC Shen) proposed the idea that only 10% of the nova population would be capable of doing so successfully. Granted the basic lifestyle advice will have its effect - don't strain your node, etc. - but how would a prospective student find a true Qi Meng master to study under? Seems to me there'd be a lot of fly-by-night frauds & con-men posing as such, much like there are with the RL martial arts schools.

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Thing is, at least from what I have heard and seen in the chatter of various projects, another way to safe growth is the careful and systematic discipline of developing your node. Novas that have reached NStage with low to 0 taint and no or very minor aberrations in the process would be looked toward as some answer to the Teragen way.

To be honest with Aeon embracing these novas and giving them prominence to teach other novas their way would be a far easier proposition than Qi Meng which is a hard road where failure is pretty harsh. You have some room for failure in the careful road to NStage.

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