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Chuckg

Aberrant RPG - It's That Time Again

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Yes, its the time known as 'Wherein I try to start up an Aberrant campaign with my tabletop group'.  I post it here because its only fair to let people know I'm going to be ripping your shit off from the various old Aberrant games in the pbp archive wholesale.  :)

 

(Seriously, so many useful NPCs I can swipe from there, even if I'm going to customize them and change some names.  Thanks, fellas!  Remember, if I steal from more than three of you its not plagiarism, its "research").  

 

I'd like to say which ones I'm stealing but my players can see this board and, well, spoilers.

 

Given our schedules and the risky nature of the concept I'd guesstimate I have about a 60% chance of getting this one off the ground at present.  That having been said, enough build-up, I'll share the idea with you.   Suggestions, warnings, cautionary tales, and etc. are encouraged, if anybody has any.

 

*cut-and-paste the pitch sheet I handed out to my players*

 

Note: This is not repeat not a PBP solicitation, this is just me talking about the next campaign I'm planning for the Ancient Aberrant tabletop group of old and inviting feedback, suggestions, etc. if anybody cares. Feel free to steal anything in here for your own use, Lord knows I did. 

 

 

Campaign Pitch

 

"What would you do with the power of a god?" is the question the Aberrant RPG claims to ask, and so few campaigns actually answer.

 

In this game, the question is "What would you do with the status of a god?" This game assumes that you are amongst the first tier of novas in the world. You are a figure of power, influence, and a goodly amount of self-determination. If you are a member of a major faction, you are a figure that many in the faction look to as an example, as a figure of guidance and direction. If you are a member of a minor or self-created faction, you thoroughly dominate it. Websites exist just to track your movements, fan clubs stress-test your OpMail spam filters every week, and you can't remember the last time somebody didn't return one of your phone calls.

 

You have climbed the heights of nova power. You have indulged all of your obvious indulgences, fulfilled all your easy dreams, set yourself up for life, and are still going to live a couple more centuries… centuries where you don't have to do a single blessed thing you don't want to, while still being able to maintain your lifestyle indefinitely.

 

So now what do you do?

 

Character Generation

 

  • First create your baseline self from scratch starting with 1 dot in each attribute, 1 dot of Willpower, and 150 bonus points.
  • Then do the "nova" phase of your life with 5 dots of permanent Quantum and 200 nova points.
  • Bonus points may not be spent on Quantum, quantum-related backgrounds, or other quantum-related traits. The one exception is quantum-related merits such as Taint Resistant, as there is no other way to purchase merits except with quantum points.
  • Starting Quantum cannot be bought up or down from 5.
  • Maximum allowable starting permanent Taint is 5.
  • Characters may be independent, or members of any faction except Proteus or the Teragen.
  • Characters must have a minimum of 5 dots total in any combination of the Backing, Contacts, Followers, and Influence backgrounds.
  • Characters may purchase 6 dots in Allies, Backing, Cipher, Contacts, Followers, Influence, or Resources, subject to DM approval. Use the Background Enhancements in A! for an idea of what this will encompass. 6-dot Backgrounds require DM approval. (I intend to be generous with approval, but I still need authority to block things such as 'No, you cannot have Backing 6 (Utopia), because that would make you Laragione, Pax, or Thetis.')
  • Maximum Backing allowable in any of the major factions is 5. Backing 6 is available only if you're creating your own or taking a minor faction.
  • Backstories are required to provide a character goal or set of goals and how your character is working towards them. Players are encouraged to suggest setting changes their characters have already achieved, subject to DM approval. Players are encouraged to provide possible antagonists or plot hooks. Players are encouraged to at least briefly sketch out their own Allies and Followers, if any.
  • We are using my set of Aberrant house rules. Ask me if you don't already have a copy.

 

Faction-Specific Notes

 

  • Aberrants: The Quarry faction (see Aberrants:Expose) essentially disbanded with the unveiling of the Proteus conspiracy and the apparent public drive of Utopia to root out and destroy it from within, as they think they've won. Those remaining Aberrants who still do not trust Utopia's sincerity are members of the Rebels or the Hidden now. Membership in this faction is thus a reduced benefit.
  • DeVries: DeVries novas have a minimum Resources of 3 (and usually higher). Backing 5 in DeVries represents a top-tier 'exclusive' contract, where you are not allowed to find paying work except through DeVries (as detailed in the Elites sourcebook). Lower ranks of Backing represent a non-exclusive freelance status.
  • Directive: While Directive novas are allowed, their distrust of powerful novas and chargen restrictions will admittedly make writing concepts and backstories for a nova of your power level still in Directive service to be quite difficult. Should anyone still wish to try, the chargen restrictions on Directive characters are as follows:
    • Characters must have the absolute minimum of starting Taint (1 dot, from quantum 5).
    • Characters must have powers that are relatively subtle and stealth-capable (the list in the Directive sourcebook is a useful guideline but is not necessarily binding), or
    • Characters must not be publicly known as Directive novas but instead be operating in an 'undercover' or 'deniable' role, probably in another faction.
    • Directive novas have a minimum Resources of 2 and a minimum Cipher of 3.
    • Directive novas may have a maximum Backing or Equipment of 4 (the Directive still does not fully trust its nova operatives), and usually lower. The Directive-specific backgrounds of 'Favors' and 'Rank' will not be used.
  • Head of State: Possible with DM negotiation. Be prepared to explain why Utopia either agrees with what you did or hasn't successfully ousted you yet. Be prepared to purchase relevant Backgrounds.
  • National Super Team: You're the most powerful member of it and would need an extremely good explanation for why you're not leading it. Yes, even Nippontai.
  • Proteus: Membership in this faction is not allowed.
  • Teragen: Membership in this faction is not allowed.
  • Utopia: Any Utopia concepts, including Team Tomorrow members, are allowable. (And at this power level, not being scouted for T2M recruitment will require an explanation.) Utopian novas are paid well and receive mandatory counseling if they develop serious lifestyle problems; they have a minimum Resources of 3.

 

Setting


The start date will be January 1, 2010. The events of "Worldwide Phase I" have just concluded, with the following points as public knowledge:

 

  • Randall Portman was elected President of the United States.
  • Antaeus has gone on an extended sabbatical from his normal duties with Utopia, to personally take charge of the Ethiopian terraforming campaign. Progress on the terraforming campaign has been slowed "to ensure the ecological health of the region".
  • After a tense stand-off of several days' duration initially caused by an attempt to serve a search warrant, federal agents aided by Project Utopia negotiators successfully secured the compound of a minor nova cult in Boulder City, Nevada. No casualties were reported. Rumors of the reappearance of the nova cult's missing founder, Gabriel "The Miracle" Melchior, as the cause of the stand-off were not substantiated.
  • In November 2009, Andre Corbin turned himself in to Team Tomorrow's custody at the Rashoud Facility in Bahrain along with evidence gathered by the nova faction called the Aberrants revealing the existence of a conspiracy within Project Utopia allegedly called 'Project Proteus', which had ordered Slider's death when she first discovered their existence.
  • Andre Corbin's case is currently pending in court, primarily at his own insistence. It is expected that he will be acquitted.
  • The revelation of a rogue conspiracy of fanatics within Utopia has shaken public confidence in Utopia, but many people still believe in Utopia's renewed dedication to cleansing its own internal corruption. However, popular sentiment is that Utopia should not be given substantially more power than it already has until after it has solved its internal problems.
  • During the confrontation with Corbin, a Teragen strike force led by Divis Mal himself made an attack on the Bahrain facility, trying to take advantage of the press coverage and break open the facility to "reveal the truth" about inhumane experiments on captured novas allegedly taking place there. While it was revealed that some novas had been confined in the facility, Utopia explained that they were dangerously ill with 'Quantum Backlash Syndrome' and undergoing physical and psychiatric treatment while research was being undertaken into a cure. Although most escapees were promptly recaptured, several dangerous, mentally-ill novas that had been confined in the Bahrain facility are still believed to be at large.
  • Caestus Pax suffered a crushing on-camera defeat during the Bahrain Incident, having been entirely overwhelmed by Divis Mal. Mal has been publicly revealed as the most powerful nova on Earth.
  • The Bahrain incident has made 'Quantum Backlash Syndrome' (permanent Taint) a part of the public lexicon as opposed to a rumor or an obscure piece of scientific knowledge. No cure is yet known, although periods of rest and moderation in use of nova powers are recommended for sufferers of QBS.

 

Note: Although the world is largely based on the canon timeline, anything not in public knowledge or otherwise known to the characters at game start may be subject to change without notice. So while some conspiracy within Utopia existed and had Slider killed (as that was revealed during the Bahrain Incident), it is not necessarily called 'Proteus' or run by a paranoid old woman who is the dumbest smart person to ever live.

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Aaaand, some useful mechanical stuff.  Notably, my house rules for Followers and Resources.

 

Anybody from the Sphere Aberrant 2.0 crew will recognize a lot of the Followers rules... because they're based on their version.  Nice work there, guys.

 

Followers

 

Followers are generally useful only in one core competency each, and have lesser or no skill if asked to perform tasks outside their competence range. Followers represent people who actually have a full-time job doing what you tell them to do. Any nova can potentially have almost any # of fans and admirers out there in the larger world, and that is represented by backgrounds such as Influence. You only need to take them as Followers if you actually keep them around on a regular basis and send them to do things for you.

 

Followers represent people don't have any other day-to-day duties other than what you personally assign them, or who accompany you into hazardous situations on a regular basis. To be in charge of large groups of people in a more organizational sense, take Backing.

 

Followers come in four tiers: Fans, Regulars, Specialists, and Veterans. Each tier above Fan counts as multiple Fans for each follower of that tier taken.

 

  • Fans: The weakest and least capable form of Follower, these are basically ordinary citizens with no special skills. Dice pools in their core competency tend to be in the 3d range, and their relevant attributes are all 2s with maybe a 3 or a 1 in there somewhere. Relying on them for more than routine errands is generally a bad idea.
  • Regulars (cost 5 Fans): These are people who have made a career out of their core competency and do it for a living, but aren't anything noteworthy at it. Dice pools generally run around 5d in their core competency and their relevant attributes are usually a mixture of 2s and 3s.
  • Experienced (cost 10 Fans): People who have a noteworthy level of skill at what they do. Their relevant attributes are at least 3s and their die pools tend to run around 7d.
  • Veterans (cost 25 Fans): The most capable type of Follower available is the Veteran (for anything above this, take an Ally dot). Whether an experienced scientist, a special forces commando, or a top-end lawyer, they have relevant attributes averaging 4 dots with the occasional 5. Their relevant die pools are 9d or higher. They're the best that normal amounts of money can buy.

 

Each dot in the Followers background provides a certain # of Fans (or lesser amounts of higher-level Followers), as specified:

 

  • 1 dot: Up to 5 Fans worth of followers.
  • 2 dots: Up to 25 Fans worth of followers.
  • 3 dots: Up to 100 Fans worth of followers.
  • 4 dots: Up to 750 Fans worth followers.
  • 5 dots: Up to 5,000 Fans worth of followers
  • 6 dots: Thousands and thousands. DM's discretion.

 

Resources

 

All characters, unless they choose otherwise, are assumed able to provide for their minimum subsistence somehow. Your Resources background represents how much disposable income you have.

 

  • 0 dots: You are broke. You survive by possessing the Adaptability enhancement, or being homeless and relying on charity, or (at best) living in a flophouse or a one-room tenement and spending virtually all of your menial income on rent, cheap noodles, and government cheese. (Curse that nova appetite!)
  • 1 dot: You are poor and struggling. You live in a rented room or at best a cheap apartment, or in someone else's house or basement. You can buy minor everyday items like cheap clothes or fast food, but nothing quality, and if you even own a car at all it’s something you bought at scrap-metal prices and is likely to break down any month now. Your cellular is a cheap flip-phone that doesn't even get the OpNet, and if you have a computer it's some cheapo refurbished laptop and runs like a snail.
  • 2 dots: You have a solid lower-class or lower-middle lifestyle. You likely have a good used car and an average apartment, or a small house in a lower-class neighborhood, own a PC and a cell phone, and can make occasional leisure purchases.
  • 3 dots:  You have an affluent middle-class lifestyle. You own a house, have a full selection of personal electronics, get a new car every several years, and can eat out at fancy restaurants.
  • 4 dots: You are a millionaire. You almost certainly own a big fancy house and at least one luxury car. What most people imagine as expensive luxuries you consider to be everyday conveniences. You can casually impulse-buy what average people save multiple paychecks for. You're in the 1%.
  • 5 dots: You are a multi-millionaire, with assets well into eight or nine figures. You own multiple mansions and garages full of cars, if you want. You fly first-class to another continent every weekend if you want. Your "impulse buys" are things like $30,000 designer shoes or ordering expensive champagne for everyone in the nightclub. You are in the 0.1%.
  • 6 dots: Billionaire and up. You are one of the wealthiest people in the world. If you don't own extensive properties in multiple nations its because you just don't want to. It takes a dedicated financial staff to manage your assets and keep track of your taxes, and you can't remember the last time you actually needed to ask for the price of anything you were buying that was smaller than a corporation.

 

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Looking forward on hearing more about your game and how it goes, and seeing more setting details as they arise (and don't spoil anything for any of your players who may be watching). :)

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Well, one timeline change I already made.

 

Geryon did not kill the Mayor of Tampa for enacting (and having Utopia help him enforce, seriously?  seriously?!?) an anti-nova ordinance.  This is because in my timeline, when said mayor advocated for such a law, the Tampa city attorney reminded him of the existence of something called "the Civil Rights Act of 1964" (which, among other things, absolutely forbade racial segregation of public facilities and accomodations).(*)  Seriously, Aberrant writers, you really effed up this one.

 

Now, what Geryon did do was waste the President of the Palestinean Authority (who was also the head of Hamas) when that guy on the extremist anti-nova law train in his jurisdiction.  However, Raoul Orzaiz found it somewhat easier to go on live TV and explain why this was a justified retaliation by the sovereign nation of Geryon And Pals, because its not like the US and other nations haven't gone 'welp, that's it, your latest Islamic extremist fuckmookery done crossed a line' and crossed national borders to go whack some dude, so, this time they had a lot less grounds to object on.

 

And then several months later Geryon wiped out a group of Michaelites to make the point 'But I'll still kill people on United States soil too', but since he wasn't directly assassinating politicians (and had in fact killed a group of Michaelites who were into lynchings), again it was more of a mixed message thing, while still getting the point across to those who are paying attention ("Now, I'm not directly threatening Congress, but... if I'm willing to kill a sovereign nation's political leader because he done shit, and I'm willing to kill people on US soil if they done shit, does that mean I'm willing to kill US politicians if you do shit?  Well... how badly do you want to find out?").

 

Which is, of course, exactly why he did it.  In this continuity Geryon at least occasionally listens to his more politically-minded acquaintances re: messaging strategy.  :)

 

 

 

(*) The attempted legal counterargument of 'Novas are not merely an ethnic or racial difference but something fundamentally other than people and should be treated differently' should also fails in court utterly, at least in the Aeonverse, because of something 'The Zurich Accords', whose whole rationale is 'nova law = people law, 'cause novas = people, seriously, we mean it'. There is no way Utopia would remotely allow anyone to set a legal precedent that the ZA didn't apply in their town, let alone actually help them do it.

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Knowing what I do now, I started blaming the most retarded Utopia errors on poor management brought about by Doyen possession of its baselines.  It is refreshing that your setting doesn't allow for such obvious fuckups on their part, your campaign logs will be an interesting read.  B)

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This assumes we're ever going to get started, sadly.   New work schedules are pretty much wiping some of my players out from being able to do anything.  *sighs*   One of my players' bosses is a recurring lunatic on this topic, another one just changed jobs... bleah.

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You could always run a PBP....just sayin'...

 

(^_^)

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And hopefully after the holidays, schedules will settle down more. :)

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Well, I have character concept outlines from my PCs now, even if writeups are still pending. Hopefully we can get spun up in the next couple of months.

 

Julianne (last name TBD)

Allegiance: Independent (Amazon Terraforming Project)

Allegiance: Daedalus League

 

A brilliant iconoclast, Julianne is one of the most mega-intelligent novas on Earth in addition to her smattering of other Mega-Attributes, her ability to open spacewarps, and her very powerful and versatile Elemental Mastery of water. A former senior member of the Project Utopia Environmental Sciences research staff, she resigned some months before her colleague Antaeus walked away from Project Utopia himself and for largely the same reason -- growing impatience at being micromanaged by baselines that didn't have a millionth of her brains, and who entirely didn't share her sense of priorities regarding research goals or budget, especially regarding her ruling passion of space exploration and interplanetary expansion.  Having made ends meet since then as a private consultant, she has recently been retained by the government of Brazil to head up a giant economic superdevelopment project that is intended to use both a massive commitment of government resources and private investors, and the efforts and abilities of a large team of freelance novas, to terraform and then industrially and economically develop large amounts of the Amazon basin while still preserving the environment. Despite expected opposition from both Greenwar and the Colombian cartels, the government of Brazil and the corporate sponsors of this effort are determined to see this through, and the project is set to formally start the same year the campaign starts. Since this is the first national-scale "nova superproject" in the world to be done entirely independent of Project Utopia, all the eyes of the world are turning to Brazil to see what will happen.

 

Julianne's eventual goal is to use the success of this project to attain enough prominence in both the scientific and business fields to be able to work on her true passion -- an independent interplanetary colonization and terraforming project. She's already entered talks with a space-travelling nova named Cyrus Kattrak, and they are tentatively exploring the idea of founding a 'Daedalus League' to create a nova space project.  (Note: The campaign start date being 2010, it actually predates the canon founding of the Daedalus League -- so when the player announced an interest in creating a nova space program, I pointed out that they were in a position to become one of the founding members of Daedalus, and they said yes.  Cyrus Kattrak, being an NPC, is now demoted to the assistant founder.)

 

Hector Alvarez

Allegiance: Corporate (Disney-Apple)

 

Having erupted in 1999, Hector is the oldest of the PCs. As the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for the Disney-Apple conglomerate and a superhumanly talented investor Hector is one of the world's wealthiest novas (Resources 6), exceeded in size or scope of business interests only by luminaries such as Anna DeVries. An obscure Hollywood stuntman when he erupted with mega-physical and -social gifts, and minor intellectual gifts, along with several powers involving the control of light and illusions, he rapidly got in on the ground floor of nova filmmaking and celebritydom. Becoming the star of a highly-acclaimed if more than slightly cheesy series of nova buddy cop action movies (the "Rick Danger" franchise), as well as several other high-ticket roles in other summer blockbusters, he rapidly earned enough money to found his own independent production studio. Pennies From Heaven, his first independent movie, was a highly-acclaimed drama about a burnt-out old municipal defender and a naive young 'Utopian' nova teaming up to try and do aid work in the favela mega-slums of Rio de Janeiro. Earning multiple Academy Awards for its uncompromising and powerful portrayal of themes about poverty, corruption, idealism, and persistence, that film rapidly sent the 'Paragon Pictures' studio on a runaway climb to success.

 

In only a few years he had made the climb to being a major mover and shaker in filmmaking and a multi-multi-millionaire in his own right, and was for that reason approached by the Board of Directors for the recently-merged Disney-Apple conglomerate with an offer to become CEO (and after his charismatic pitch to the Board and multi-million-dollar investment of his own assets into further stock purchases, also Chairman of the Board). Under a very strong competitive crunch from ViaSoft and its nova researchers and assets, Disney-Apple sought to overcome this by obtaining a mega-business CEO with a comprehensive experience in media production and content distribution to compensate. Having just concluded his second year as CEO, he has managed to bring Disney-Apple back to a respectable market share and also broken new ground in the field of digital content distribution with his invention of the "OpFlix" franchise, but is still working on ViaSoft's being well ahead in the patent race, as well as those never-quite-proven allegations of ViaSoft's nova-fueled industrial espionage... and despite being Chairman of the Board and CEO, Hector still has to keep the rest of the Board happy with his performance, as even with his vast wealth he can only own a few percent of the stock of a megacorporate conglomerate of this size. (Backing 5, not 6.)

 

With his nova abilities and stamina Hector still finds time to personally write, produce and direct the occasional movie despite being a full-time CEO. His latest major hit, The Tears of the Warrior, about a wildly successful fictional elite named "Einherjar"(*) who suffered a crisis of conscience when ordered to abandon an innocent village to be murdered by his agency's own client in the Congo and instead turned his back on every possible dream of success in order to do the right thing, earned both record box office #'s in every market on the globe and five separate attempted lawsuits from Anna DeVries (none succesful).

 

(*) Yes, I'm stealing the occasional bit of stuff from other campaigns on this site to help build my own. But, I sincerely mean it as a compliment:)

 

On the personal side, Hector maintains an amiable but strained relationship with his ex-wife and his two children, due to their divorce shortly after his eruption when their marriage collapsed underneath the strains of his sudden rise to novadom and superstardom.

 

Brendan "Lugh" O'Donnell

Allegiance: Project Utopia (Team Tomorrow)

 

Brendan O'Donnell was a rich young socialite of mixed descent, the child of a wealthy Irish family that had married into Spanish nobility. He grew up moving back and forth between both countries, a brilliant and charismatic young man with a great deal of potential, but also a hard-partying adrenaline junkie. Upon graduating university he decided to make his taste for unconventional experiences into an asset and became an international photojournalist, doing assignments ranging from photo safaris for National Geographic on up to being an embedded correspondent with UN peacekeeping forces during the Equatorial Wars. It was during one of the latter assignments in early 2002 that he erupted, when the small unit of baseline Utopia Peacekeeping troops he was in the jungle with came under attack from an elite. Becoming a nova with superhuman charisma, physical attributes, and a keen and agile mind, Brendan not only fought off the elite but managed to successfully rally and take command of the unit and lead them to a wildly successful conclusion of their original mission.

 

Joining Project Utopia immediately after his eruption, Brendan has gone on to become a valued member of Team Tomorrow. Brendan fulfills this demanding set of responsibilities with a rare adaptability, his nova gifts making him both physically strong, fast, and agile and mentally and socially brilliant. While you can find T2M members as good or better than him in most of his individual skills, Brendan is still rare in that he can with equal facility be assigned to charm crowds as a public spokesman, escort Geisha to a high-level diplomatic function with savoir-faire, head up a complicated scientific investigation into illegal technology, or roll out on a combat mission to trade punches with Geryon. In his not-copious spare time he's also gotten into becoming a novox performer, out of his old love for hanging around the edges of the rock music scene when he was a party-boy baseline.

 

Having just concluded a year-long tour as the administrative head and chief training officer/mentor for the new 'Teen Tomorrow' project (an assignment that kept him busy and out of the way for much of the entire Slider crisis, although he was part of the T2M response team at the Bahrain Incident and personally took down Chiraben while fighting alongside Andre Corbin), Brendan starts the campaign in his new job as the Team Tomorrow Special Projects Coordinator, a senior member of the command staff reporting directly to Director Justin Laragione instead of through Caestus Pax. In practice Brendan is still what he has been for the past several years -- the odd-jobs man for T2M, the flexible troubleshooter and the Director's personal crisis management operative. With several hand-picked members of the T2M Auxiliary that basically see themselves as 'Brendan's superhero team' (Allies 6), along with a dedicated strike company of elite Peacekeeping troops on indefinite detached duty to T2M Special Projects (Followers 5), and an extremely wide circle of friends and acquaintances both within the Project and outside of it (Contacts 6), Brendan is rapidly becoming a force of his own in the Utopia hierarchy (Backing 5).

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And, now on indefinite hiatus.  Not our schedules' fault this time, but mine.  The creative juices just plain dried up while I was putting the whole thing together, and I've been blocked for weeks.

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