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So, I've been working on an Abbyhack that has become an Aberrant-Inspired new superhero game system. I've been doing this for a bunch of reasons, insanity being somewhat high on the list. I'm not done yet, but I'm close enough that I wanted to start the discussion on one of the two projects I've built this for: a collaborative writing setting (with very occasional, not promised at all, ST run plot) that is modern and superheros. 

I want people's input, but I also have two parameters that are already set:

1) Modern setting. The idea is somewhat like 200X, only with the idea that time will "bungie". This means we'll have a few weeks of "start all the threads!", then a period after that that is "okay, things are going on now, try not start up new threads", then I'll post an end date i.e. "wrap this bunch up, people!". After the end date, there would be probably around a week of "okay guys, really wrap up those social threads" while I compile a "how the world reacted" to everything in the that batch of threads. Then I'd post up news articles and such to show those reactions (and PMs to anyone on more clandestine/specific occurances). The next day in real life would be the "start" date of the new batch of threads. So, we'd have periods of high activity followed by a lull in everything as the world adjusted, then back into the high activity. 

I figured this would be a way to run a "real time" game without as many crazy timeline issues (there would also be a calender, because good god, that's an amazing help), and also some set points where the rest of the world gets to react and change according to what the players have been doing. Want to invent a cure for all diseases? Okay, you can do that and send it out into the world. That will have consequences that show up in the setting. Starting a new tech company because you're an uber-mind gadgetteer? Again, new inventions and solutions and problems from all of the will actually show up in the "living world."

 

2) Superpowers are new. There will be a concrete thing that causes them, whether an event or a new drug or whatnot. I'm open to ideas/suggestions from people, and the first IC post will be whatever I decide on happening. So, you all are going to be playing some of the first supers. There is no precedence for this in the game world. Your actions (and some from NPCs) will set the starting tone for how the supers are viewed by the world at large.

 

So, what do you guys think? Questions? Suggestions?

 

Oh, another note. I don't care if the Aberrant lexicon is what comes about in the game. It's easy shorthand for all of us that know the game. I'm also fine if you guys use different language. This is meant to be fun! :)

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This might actually be interesting.

Will there be pre-existing organizations for the characters to join up in, in order to attempt to knit together certain groups and to provide hooks for further development?

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If you mean things like the Aeon Society or Project Utopia, no, not to start with, as superheroes are completely new. Superheroes are going to be completely new and not the intended outcome of whatever it is that makes them. 

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Might be interesting then to see where people group up once their nodes pop.

I was thinking about the LHC, how long in real time has it been running up to that point? If at all? My memory is betraying me.

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7 years or no, the LHC has proven to run.  What is an unknown variable, is if something were to go wrong.  Take The Flash for example, it wasn't the device working that caused the problem, it was what happened when something went wrong.  So many unknown variables could result from something like that that we'd be sifting through data for years.

Not to mention what the government would be doing once it found out what Metas could do... it'd be a whole new arms race, where the stock pile is people, not nukes.

Food for thought.

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Or for that matter, what if a smaller collider (and there are a few) had some sort of unintended sync with the LHC for a moment which triggers "it". Everything is functioning just fine, but an "unintended consequence" occurred? Or Dave's malfunction angle can also be something.

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This sounds pretty cool!

Rather than use LHC, I'd suggest something similar, but made along purely fictional lines. That gives us more flexibility.

Perhaps some kind of orbital linear accelerator...or something built on the moon. That'd require some differences between this world and the real one of course, but not too crazy.

Maybe NASA is doing some tests on 'e-drive' reactionless thrust, or monkeying around with exotic matter in an effort to make Alcubierre warp drive or something similar. Once you start introducing bleeding-edge science/psuedoscience, the sky's the limit. :)

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i think that particle accelerators as the cause have been done to death I would like to see something more tied to human biology such as http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/four-stranded-quadruple-helix-dna-structure-proven-to-exist-in-human-cells

Some sort of virus could trigger mutations within dormant dna structure.

my reasoning is simple any type of particle accelerator accident makes this a cosmic event. if it's biological it doesn't have to be it's a mutation possibly even evolution.

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Another good one with the Quad-Helix mutation. After all, that means double the genetic data. Would make sense if someone is being re-coded to like... throw energy blasts or fly without wings...

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Okay, so this has sparked an idea from me:

A new virus pops up that effects only mitochondria; this means that it will effect any organism with eukaryiotic cells. Infection can be asymptomatic, leaving the carrier completely unaffected. Those that do show symptoms generally respond with a mono condition for a few weeks (mosly feel overwhelmingly tired), then get better. In a small percentage, however, the virus mutates the mitochondria and grants the ability to create and interact with a new form of energy. If the person or creature handles the changes well, they become 'supers'; if the change causes too much Backlash in their system, they become Monsters (whether human or not). 

 

This model leads to some interesting differences from Aberrant: 

  1. No node, though it can still be used mechanically to represent the efficiency of the mitochondrial mutation. There is no headache or aberration for high MM, though.
  2. There are no 'latents' or to be more precise, everyone is 'latent'. The exact combination of specific strain of the virus and the interaction with the mitochondria of an individual means that someone could be exposed over and over again to different variations of the virus and never 'pop', while another person experiences only one exposure and comes out a powerhouse. 
  3. Animals, anything with eukaryiotic cells, can be affected. 
  4. The emergence of novas (or whatever we call them) occurs over a period of weeks initially, instead of from one action. 

Thoughts?

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1: This concept is cracking. I'm with Jeremy here when I say this is good stuff.

2: I wager Monsters are NPCs... and not exactly ones we could hold a conversation with?

 

I actually sort of hope we start with the default power settings for Aberrant (1Q, 30NP, etc...)
Unless you had something else in mind.

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Indeed. I do like how the 'cause' of it is much harder to pin down. Even when people find out it's this virus, there's too many factors to easily figure out who can be come super and who can't. It's a combination of luck, your genes, and environmental factors that can't all be easily controlled.

That doesn't mean people won't TRY to control it of course...with generally tragic results...but I like how the odds of anyone actually succeeding are incredibly small.

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Don't see why 'Monsters' can't be interacted with or be PCs either. Just a name, assuming they are Novas with shitloads of 'taint' and 'aberrations' or even someone with no real powers and just an aberration or two. Say someone got the virus and it just left him with Pointed Ears and Green Hair. Could be a 'monster' who just looks like an elf and has no real powers.

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My intention was that "Monsters" are anything that is so destructive it has to be hunted down and killed. I do also have a new ruleset to go with this (abby-inspired) so things will look a bit different. Lemme throw out the basics here and let people discuss:

  1. No Quantum stat and no Taint stat. Don't worry, I'll come back to these things.
  2. Instead of successes, you now have Target Numbers to reach with the die roll.
  3. Attributes tell you how many dice, skills/powers tell you what type of dice. 
  4. Mega Attributes give you an adittional d20 per point to the roll, but (barring the use of a few specific powers) you must max out your base Attribute before you can purchase mega attributes. 
  5. Skills and powers can both be "mastered"; this makes the die type a d20 for all dice in the roll (not just applicable megas). Some powers have other effects from mastering as well. All skills and powers list their pre-reqs for mastery.
  6. All the old Extras and Mastery buffs are now Enhancements that can be purchased for each power. Mastery Enhancements can only be purchased for powers that have already been mastered.
  7. Almost all powers are what Aberrant would call "suite" powers. Once a power is purchased, all maneuvers under it are available at their listed cost. The control on this is the Energy (read: quantum point) cost and the TN for successfully pulling the manuever off. There are fewer individual powers to choose from (relatively speaking), but individual powers pack more punch.
  8. Health is now a point system instead of a "level" system. You have two stats: Energy and Health. Energy powers your abilities and also counts as "near misses" (damage goes here first). Health is your actual health/physical integrity. Once you're out of Energy, you can power abilities with Health, but you take Backlash. Also, once you dip into Health you take negatives on rolls because you're actually injured.
  9. Backlash (read: Taint) now accrues by points. As you go up in Backlash you accrue negatives to your use of anything enhanced (powers, Enhancements, Megas). There are three ways to deal with Backlash. You can "sink" Backlash points into Aberrations (essentially you purchase them with the Backlash points). The Backlash goes away and your character gains an aberration that has its own permanent mechanics. That is "instinctual" way that everyone can do. Chrysalis and Qu Meng will also be able to be developed and I'm working on mechanics for them. There is no "and now your character is an NPC" stat in this game because that's stupid.
  10. Appearance is no longer a stat, it has been replaced with Willpower as an Attribute. There is no seperate Willpower stat now. Skills have been redistributed (and Enhancements will be as well), and a couple of skills have been dropped or added. The playbook will have the new skill list. 
  11. Specialties in a skill allow the dice to pop. 

 

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I would rather drop all aberrant nomenclature with as much system changes being done It seems confusing trying to use aberrant when it isnt aberrant anymore. at least it confuses me

 

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Mega Attributes give you an adittional d20 per point to the roll, but (barring the use of a few specific powers) you must max out your base Attribute before you can purchase mega attribute

How do you handle mega attribute enhancements? In many cases these are what would have been used to define a super in aberrant if I have to max my attribute before I can buy a mega how is this going to work?

Almost all powers are what Aberrant would call "suite" powers. Once a power is purchased, all maneuvers under it are available at their listed cost. The control on this is the Energy (read: quantum point) cost and the TN for successfully pulling the maneuver off. There are fewer individual powers to choose from (relatively speaking), but individual powers pack more punch.

I would like to see an elaboration of this I'm not following it.

Health is now a point system instead of a "level" system. You have two stats: Energy and Health. Energy powers your abilities and also counts as "near misses" (damage goes here first). Health is your actual health/physical integrity. Once you're out of Energy, you can power abilities with Health, but you take Backlash. Also, once you dip into Health you take negatives on rolls because you're actually injured.

This sounds like everyone has force field. which doesn't fit all concepts. I think if your going to go with abstract hitpoint system just have one track so as not to complicate matters

Backlash (read: Taint) now accrues by points. As you go up in Backlash you accrue negatives to your use of anything enhanced (powers, Enhancements, Megas). There are three ways to deal with Backlash. You can "sink" Backlash points into Aberrations (essentially you purchase them with the Backlash points). The Backlash goes away and your character gains an aberration that has its own permanent mechanics. That is "instinctual" way that everyone can do. Chrysalis and Qu Meng will also be able to be developed and I'm working on mechanics for them. There is no "and now your character is an NPC" stat in this game because that's stupid. This seems to be a double punitive. you get penalties and then take an aberration to just get a different set of penalties. imo backlash should lead to the aberration and the aberration be the penalty.

 

 

Keep in mind this is just a first blush reading of what you are suggesting. there may be context that im missing or elaboration will bring better understanding

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  1. Enhancements are bought separately and will not require Megas as a universal rule. 
  2. I'm still working on the powers list. Once I finish the first draft, I'll post it up here. That's my current project. 
  3. Forcefield is a maneuver under Armor that soaks energy damage. In this, you're having to manage your Energy pool for both use of powers and to avoid Health damage (which takes much longer to heal). Also, using Health to activate powers allows someone to survive a nasty fight, but is now how Backlash is accrued as you are ripping energy out of your body's natural pattern to get off another power. The inspiration for this system came from the Star Wars d20 game I've been playing for a while that has Vitality and Wounds. The system works very smoothly in play, and the Jedi use Vitality to power their Force Effects. The effects are powerful, but the Jedi has to temper how often they use them since it makes it easier to get them into Wounds in combat. 
  4. The penalties for a permanent aberration will generally be social penalties, while the penalty for Backlash lowers the nova's effectiveness at being a nova. Backlash does lead to aberrations, but I wanted to give the players some control over the aberrations that they manifest and give them a reason to cash in their Backlash. I suppose it could be done that once you reach a certain amount of backlash you have to take an aberration, but that didn't sit will with me as it also makes scaling the aberrations difficult. How would you determine, other than by random chance, what level of aberration someone receives when they reach their Backlash cap?

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Enhancements are bought separately and will not require Megas as a universal rule. 

I will wait and see how you write this up but it seems to me that unless you make enhancements into powers you almost have to have the mega attribute. the best example that pops in my head is mega jump. without being super strong you pretty much have to make it a separate power that allows leaping or it doesn't make sense. Regeneration is another. without needing mega stamina then why wouldnt every super take regeneration.

Forcefield is a maneuver under Armor that soaks energy damage. In this, you're having to manage your Energy pool for both use of powers and to avoid Health damage (which takes much longer to heal). Also, using Health to activate powers allows someone to survive a nasty fight, but is now how Backlash is accrued as you are ripping energy out of your body's natural pattern to get off another power. The inspiration for this system came from the Star Wars d20 game I've been playing for a while that has Vitality and Wounds. The system works very smoothly in play, and the Jedi use Vitality to power their Force Effects. The effects are powerful, but the Jedi has to temper how often they use them since it makes it easier to get them into Wounds in combat. 

I remember this from starwars and i didn't like it then and I don't like now. I don't mind burning health when your out of power as a sacrifice sort of dramatic thing. But i don't like using power as health that make a double draw on one attribute and a potentially unfair one. If I have some powers that are passive and don't really need to be powered then i effectively have double hit points.

The penalties for a permanent aberration will generally be social penalties, while the penalty for Backlash lowers the nova's effectiveness at being a nova. Backlash does lead to aberrations, but I wanted to give the players some control over the aberrations that they manifest and give them a reason to cash in their Backlash. I suppose it could be done that once you reach a certain amount of backlash you have to take an aberration, but that didn't sit will with me as it also makes scaling the aberrations difficult. How would you determine, other than by random chance, what level of aberration someone receives when they reach their Backlash cap?

The point of aberrations was to show that humans were not built for that type of power and that it twisted them. If your taking that away i would just remove aberrations from the process. If a player wants to make a "monster" with all the social problems while still being a good guy let him do it from the get go. without aberrations having a meaningful and character altering purpose I would get rid of backlash altogether. Its a concept tied to aberrant and the further you drift from that the less needed it is.

 

again I am playing devils advocate not trying to shoot things down

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  1. Some Enhancements have become powers or power maneuvers. Enhancements (and I think you're right, we should drop the Abby nomenclature so there aren't weird associations and expectations) now don't add to die rolls or do as much mechanically. Some of them grant access to specific power maneuvers without having to purchase the full power, others give access to types of actions you can't do otherwise, and others manipulate mechanics of powers (like Abby Extras). I've got the list done and I'll post it up when I finish the powers list as well, as it will make more sense when looked at side by side. 
  2. "Passive" powers now require an investment of Energy points, meaning points that are unavailable so long as the passive power is being used. So, to use Armor, you have to invest 5 pts. If your Energy pool was originally 35, it now functions as if it were 30. You can "power down" the Armor to get your pool to go back to 35, but the actual Energy has to have time to regenerate, so you won't have access to those five points after powering down your Armor until the next scene. 
  3. I like the idea of "Power with a Price" and want to keep that. Backlash is a good way of showing that. Also, I do plan to introduce alternatives to aberrations (ala Chrysalis and Qu Meng in Aberrant), so I want to keep that part of the system/setting. The idea here is that a nova's body can handle a certain amount of strain (ie Energy points), but once it passing a certain point (you start spending Health points), it then begins to twist and damage the nova's base pattern. Eventually that leads to aberrations.

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The vitality thing is fine for d20 Star Wars as a way to keep jedi from using lots of powers all the time and thereby keeping the other non-force using Classes more relevant, but in a supers game where you want poeple to be using powers it just seems really counter productive.

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Noir - That's actually a really good point. Hrm. Maybe just go back to a "power pool" that is separate from health/combat stuff, then put back in a mechanic of "dying for power" where you can convert Health points to Energy points (like a 1 for 3) but take Backlash for it. 

I guess the other option is to take out energy management all together and just let people use their powers. The TN to activate powers becomes the control method, and I'll have to redo some "passive" powers. 

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A power pool could work. I think it might also be workable to call the pool 'fatigue' and have it represent power usage, physical exertion, and perhaps some kinds of nonlethal damage like tasing and getting beaten in the face with non-super-strength? Fatigue hits half, and you have a 'fatigued' condition. If it hits 1, you're exhausted...and you pass out at zero?

Or somesuch?

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Considering we rarely kept track of our Quantum pools when played Abberant in PBP games anyway, it's not a bad way to go.  99% of the time, we just accepted an agreement on 'what was too much' and went from there.

I think the only time I ever had to call Shenanigans on Quantum Pool was Waki... but... that was Waki, so...

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 am curious to know if this is still being considered or not. I like the idea and while I'm tentative about the Aberrant system (Even an heavily modified one) I am open-minded and curious.

 

Thinking about "origins of powers", Both DC Universe Online and the inFAMOUS series of games have excellent ideas.  In DCUO, Lex Luthor from the future comes to the past and unleashes a bunch of Braniac-created Nanites that give people powers.  In inFAMOUS, it's a device called The Ray Sphere (and intimated in the 3rd game that the destruction of the big bad at the end of the 2nd game) created the Conduits.  While neither of these examples should be used whole cloth, the idea that someone deliberately engineered the conditions/event that gave humanity acces to super powers is a pretty cool one.

 

inFAMOUS is also a good (if simple) example of how player actions can influence puplic opinion of people with powers...

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I am still working on this! :) At the moment, we've seemed to have settled on the virus/mitochondria idea, with the mutation allowing supers to process chameleon dark energy (it's a real thing!) and basically access dark matter/energy to do their physics-defying stuff. 

Also, at this point, it's not the aberrant system. It's somewhat inspired by it, but it's wandered far enough off to warrant the separation. I'm a little stuck on the last two power sets, so I'm going to work on some other system pieces for a bit, then come back to them to wrap up what's needed for a basic launch of the game. Hopefully I'll have time tomorrow to get through a bunch of that. :)

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Okay, here's the first draft! It's not a complete book right now because I know the audience knows Aberrant enough not to need everything spelled out. I will be working on making it a stand-alone guide, but I wanted to get people's opinions and to ensure those that have been interested that the project is moving forward. Also, a lot of the numbers (especially how much damage attack powers do) have just been spitballed or given the same number just to put something down. If you have better ideas, please let me know. 

Abbyhack.pdf

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Notes for the second draft: 

  1. On the skill lists and powers lists, the Primary Attribute is both the Attribute that the skill or power uses to determine the number of dice to roll as well as a prereq for Mastery. The Primary attribute must be at at least a Chameleon (Mega) rating of 1 before Mastery can be purchased; as well, the secondary attribute must be at least a 4 and the synergy skill must be at at least a d10.
  2. I do need to add in the Backlash Aberrations (if anyone has a better term than aberrations, please speak up). 
  3. Add in the Advantage equivalents for the Enhancements in Forceful Personalities, The New Flesh, and Brainwaves.

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Did a quick read through and so far I am interested.  Something I'd just like to clarify for my own sake; the maneuvers under each power don't have to be purchased separately correct?  meaning that you can attempt any maneuver for the powers you have?

 

Oh, and I don't really get the skill chart.  Can you give a little explanation please?

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