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Aberrant RPG - What If: No Sterility Virus?

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Reaching back to the earliest days of the Aberrant era, a slight change with consequences.

Specifically, let us assume that Project Proteus/Aeon Society does *not* have the sterility virus, nor can they create anything functionally similar. Two questions:

1. How would the activities of the Aeon Society, Project Proteus, and Project Utopia change, due to this lack?

2. How would the setting be thus altered, come 2008 and beyond?

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Depends.

Do novas still have fertility problems... especially with baselines? Considering the virus' innate problems I'd guess yes.

Why *did* Aeon (Max's crew) think that sterility was a good idea?

Unfortunately cannon doesn't really tell us beyond "they're evil".

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Well, I tend to figure that, sans sterility virus, taint free novas are generally as fertile as normal humans or better, with both baselines and novas. The exact nature of a nova would adjust this ( a mega stamina, mega social nova might well have higher fertility, while a nova with non-aberration physical mutations is likely less fertile ). The more taint a nova has, the less fertile they are with either baselines or novas. A lot of aberrations would pretty much kill reproduction, though specifically reproduction-focused aberrations might lead to a high taint nova who can still breed ( though probably in an unsavory manner ). Accumulated chrysalis leads to less baseline fertility, but doesn't effect nova fertility ( barring again, specific aberrations ).

As for the nature of the kids, I tend to figure, higher Quantum and higher power level, more likely the kid will be a nova. Higher taint or chrysalis, and more likely the kid will be a mutated freak. And as a random aside, I theorize that kids with a nova mother are more likely to become novas than those with a nova father. Same genetics, but with nine months of increased quantum exposure.

As for why the sterility virus was considered a good thing, I always assumed it was population control. Thetis certainly wanted to keep the number of novas down, and there's not really any *other* logical motive. Fewer novas making the global situation simpler, and easier to control. After all, if even a tenth of the nova population is able to reproduce, and interested in doing so, that creates a population surge of hundreds or thousands of new novas, starting in about 2013 or so. It could be even more, if there are a fair number of male novas who go around impregnating multiple baselines per year.

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Specifically, let us assume that Project Proteus/Aeon Society does *not* have the sterility virus, nor can they create anything functionally similar. Two questions:

1. How would the activities of the Aeon Society, Project Proteus, and Project Utopia change, due to this lack?

The biggest immediate change would be Thetis & Proteus being forced to take more visible actions against novas who don't want to waste their lives being PU's disposable beasts of burden. That in turn would allow Max Mercer & his allies to take decisive (read: lethal) action against the lunatic Thetis & her band of scumbags.

With Thetis permanently out of the way, the Aeon Society I think might be more amenable to Max Mercer's attempts to bring them back in line with his original vision. PU would get less done, but with Max Mercer undisputably at the helm the cost to their novas (in accumulating Taint, drug addiction, etc.) would be a great deal less. With Slider possibly still alive, the Aberrants would likely end up becoming Max Mercer's prime group of nova allies/operatives instead of fugitives.

2. How would the setting be thus altered, come 2008 and beyond?

More novas would choose to abandon the "nova lifestyle" & seek to start families, thereby increasing the numbers of 2ndGen novas quite a bit. There would still be some Trog 2ndGens to deal with, but they'd be fewer in number than I'd expect in the canon timeline *and* there would be many more True 2ndGen novas to counter them.

The Teragen would have never have had Bounty as a member (she'd likely end up marrying Antaeus & leaving PU with him to start a family), so the numbers of Terat 2ndGens would be reduced as well. Without Bounty, the Teragen's claim of benefiting novas is pretty much limited to what the Chrysalis can offer. Novas with spouses & kids of their own are much less likely to go radical, & would be somewhat less amenable to the actions of the Primacy & Nova Vigilance.

The Directive would step up to take Proteus' place as the primary villain AFAICT. With a mandate that calls for them to exploit novas in the name of defending their baseline citizenry, I can see them attempting things straight out of 1984. With 5 First World nations supporting them, they would become a strong impetus for the non-Taint-ridden novas to relocate offworld, not to mention bringing along lots of their baseline (real) friends along with them. A possible "baseline brain drain" from the directive nations could result.

The organized crime groups that deal in nova-derived drugs *will* try to attack nova families as a convenient supply of source material. This would lead in turn to those groups being obliterated en masse by outraged novas. Not even elites would risk the toxic PR damage that taking the crooks' money to defend them would earn them. It's also the only possible thing I think that could see PU, the Teragen & the Directive joining in an alliance of convenience to accomplish (short of defending against an alien/extradimensional invasion). The head of the Directive really wants to have Zhukov's head on a pike - they have some seriously bad history.

The DeVries elites become *much* less attractive as employers for family novas who have non-combat options for supporting their spouses & kids.

The Protectors & the Daedelus League become much more popular/numerous as Earthside nations/corporations/etc. attempt to exploit nova families. I can see Ceres and/or Mars being openly colonized as a preparatory step before establishing one or more extrasolar colonies.

>Whew!< Quite the rant there. They're just my speculations, though - YMMV.

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In general without the Sterility virus I'd go along with 'A Breed Apart' for the mechanics of Nova fertility (both with Novas and Baselines). This implies that Novahood is a dominant gene and so over time more people would beome Novas as the generations progress.

Thetis/Proteus wouldn't have one of their major tools to limit the numbers of Novas, and given the nature of 2nd Gen Novas (Node spread throughout their bodies and potentially exhibiting powers from a very early age) they will have to move to extreme measures very quickly. This leaves them much more open to discovery and being dealt with - quite likely with fatal consequences for most of them.

PU would have to help setup a system for dealing with Nova children alongside the Nova parents, and in some cases instead of the Nova parents (assuming that the rock star/groupie lifestyle still holds sway for a proportion of the male Novas). There will also be some inevitable but tragic occurences where a baseline parent is seriously injured/effected by the unconscious use of powers by a young 2nd Gen Nova. The first 2nd Gen could appear as early as 1999/2000 and unless you decide that they only get their powers at puberty (is that contra canon?) the children could start exhibiting powers years before 2008.

I agree with Sprocket, it will significantly alter the relative strength/importance of most of the groups/factions listed for 2008, and in the case of the Aberrants there would be no need for them to exist - they came together to expose the sterility virus and other machinations of Proteus as/when they could.

The problems of bringing up 2nd gen would tend to make Nova parents band together more, as the normal baseline childcare/support is unlikely to be able to deal with them very well. This would tend to produce self-isolating nova communities alongside/within normal society and so strengthen those groups looking to setup colonies offworld.

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I agree with most of what Rorx is saying, esp. about the rules outlined in Aberrant: A Breed Apart. (I'd like to claim that I didn't mention it out of modesty, but I didn't remember it at the time. ::laugh ) I'm not sure exactly how the rules from AB:ABA translate into "the M-R sequence for novas is a dominant trait", but genetics past the basic Mendelian isn't one of my strong points & I'm rusty on it to boot.

On the Teragen: the value of their Chrysalis process for fertile novas is actually greater than I'd originally indicated. For those novas who want to have families but also have problems with Taint, the Chrysalis does allow them to reduce their accumulated Taint & alter their own aberrations. Assuming that they use the Chrysalis mainly for that, the chances of their begetting Trog 2ndGen novas are greatly reduced.

About the Aberrants, though: I think they'd find plenty of other reasons than Proteus to stick around, esp. if they can rely on Mercer's help (& vice versa). Proteus was only the most egregious of the groups seeking to harm/exploit innocent novas & their baseline relatives. With Proteus gone, there are many who will step in to fill that void. The Directive, organized crime, national governments, corporations, religions... etc, etc., ad nauseam. And those are just the sort of threats the Aberrants formed to defend themselves & other innocent novas against.

If you thought novas were globally important before, they'll become even more so once the baseline Powers That Be begin to understand the potential of the 2ndGen novas. I don't know about you guys, but that sounds like one *heck* of an impetus for novas to get their families & friends off-Earth ASAP. Think about it: even the most altruistic/sympathetic of the novas are living on a world where 90% (ballpark guesstimation) of the populace wants to exploit them & theirs in any way that's profitable and/or possible. That does not make for good relations with the general run of baseline humanity. ::wacko

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I agree with most of what Rorx is saying, esp. about the rules outlined in Aberrant: A Breed Apart. (I'd like to claim that I didn't mention it out of modesty, but I didn't remember it at the time. ::laugh ) I'm not sure exactly how the rules from AB:ABA translate into "the M-R sequence for novas is a dominant trait", but genetics past the basic Mendelian isn't one of my strong points & I'm rusty on it to boot.

My genetics probably isn't even that good, I was just assuming from the numbers in ABA, which I'll summarrise some of here.

Nova Father and Baseline Mother: 25% 1st Gen Nova, 50% Latent* or High Quantum Baseline child

Nova Mother and Baseline Father: 50% 1st Gen Nova, 100% Latent* or High Quantum Baseline child

Nova Father and HQB Mother: 50% 2nd Gen Nova, 100% Latent or HQB child

Nova Mother and HQB Father: 80% 2nd Gen Nova, 100% Latent or HQB child

HQB Father and HQB Mother: 10% 1st Gen Nova, 1% 2nd Gen Nova, 50% Latent or HQB

* Latents are those who have the M-R gene sequence and who may erupt/be triggered as Nova, Psiad/Psion, or Daredevil/Superior depending on environmental factors.

High Quantum [/Psi?] Background baselines can never erupts as an Inspired but do increase the likelyhood of their descendents doing so. According to ABA they make up about 2 per million of the population.

Hmmm, looks like a parallel/related Psion topic could be starting soon. ::biggrin

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the Chrysalis does allow them to reduce their accumulated Taint & alter their own aberrations

Yeah, but part of the price of Chrysalis is *increased* social difficulties. That's a very serious problem for a family nova. Lots of novas are going to end up married to baselines. This BTW will keep the number of 2nd gen kids down.

Speaking of the family nova, the whole family lifestyle makes it less likely they'll get taint. I.e. fewer powermaxes, more rest.

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A few thoughts:

Without the sterility virus, there's not a whole lot Proteus can *do* to en masse restrain the nova population. All their options either won't work, or won't work and will also expose themselves to retaliatory destruction.

So, presuming Thetis isn't utterly insane ( not a certain presumption ), Proteus' activity would be notably toned down, and lose the biggest ethically dubious element.

This means that, odds are, Slider does not get assassinated, and the Aberrants as such don't form. Oh, there will likely be an anti-Utopia movement, especially if Utopia bumps up their aboveboard efforts to monopolize the nova population. What it won't become is the scared, paranoid army of fugitives that the Aberrants are in canon.

This basically makes them relatively useless for Sophia Rousseau's purposes, thus depriving her of the relatively loyal, and strongly dependent, nova army she had been cultivating. Which throws a serious monkey wrench in her scheming, as there really isn't anything she could do that would provide a satisfactory replacement. She could secretly manipulate the Directive, but that provides less benefits for more effort. Joining the Teragen is out, as there are too many canny manipulators playing that field already, too many people who could just plain kill her, and Divis Mal probably wouldn't tolerate a manipulative schemer who isn't at least vaguely a believer in Teragen philosophy.

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That would require presuming that Sophia Rousseau could:

1. Teleport and otherwise demonstrate all the powers Slider did

2. Spend literally years pretending to be a naive idealistic superheroine without anyone picking up on her deception

. . .in other words, its just this side of possible. ::tongue

Nonetheless, doesn't change my thesis. Slider dying was the catalyst event, but the coalescing of the Aberrant faction was mainly because Utopia really *did*, in fact, have secret horrible evil stuff going on. Without the sterility conspiracy, most of the punch goes away.

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Ya, true... although PU was pretty harsh on their novas in some of the books.

RE: Sophia

Pax was strong.

Mal was smart.

Scripture was perceptive.

We think Sophia was deceptive.

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Sophia is definitely the deceptive one, yeah.

And, as far as Proteus, well, you know me. I have argued in the past that they've gone way into black hat territory. Nonetheless, IMO, without the sterility conspiracy, you just don't have the material to found the Aberrant faction. In scale, heinousness, and pointlessness, the sterilization is pretty much the worst thing Proteus does, by far, and the main basis for the backlash that allowed the Aberrants to form. Revelations centered around other stuff done by Proteus, well, it may get you some followers, may galvanize others already opposed to Utopia, but it won't produce the same effect. Especially since stuff like the Children, is a *lot* easier to conceal, bury, or write off as a "rogue individual."

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the Chrysalis does allow them to reduce their accumulated Taint & alter their own aberrations

Yeah, but part of the price of Chrysalis is *increased* social difficulties. That's a very serious problem for a family nova. Lots of novas are going to end up married to baselines. This BTW will keep the number of 2nd gen kids down.

Speaking of the family nova, the whole family lifestyle makes it less likely they'll get taint. I.e. fewer powermaxes, more rest.

It was my thinking that the Chrysalis-using novas would tend to take other Chrysalis-using novas for spouses due to the increased social difficulties you mentioned. 100% agreed that said difficulties would make raising the resulting True 2ndGen kids all the more problematic, though. Also agreed on te benefits of the "family nova" lifestyle.

So, presuming Thetis isn't utterly insane ( not a certain presumption ), Proteus' activity would be notably toned down, and lose the biggest ethically dubious element.

AFAICT the writers of Aberrant were pretty clear that Director Thetis is utterly insane. Anyone who's pet project is the creation of a nova sterility agent that's administered by gassing the entire planet with it - and damn any consequences for all other life on Earth - is not rational by any means.

Re: Sophia Rousseau as Slider-

Even with Q6 nova powers, that's stretching it. Sophia using Slider as a convenient martyr/patsy to catalyze the forming of the Aberrants is more plausible.

Re: Proteus' other activities-

I'd have to disagree that there wouldn't be plenty of other reasons for Proteus to be taken out by the Aberrants and/or Max Mercer without the Sterility virus. Assassinating clear & present threats like Asif ibn Karim (see AB:PU, p. 103) is one thing, but killing a Utopian nova's baseline wife & his 2 kids (same book, p. 108) is just about as evil as you can get.

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The paradox here is that Ptoteus wanted to keep the number of novas down as a sort of undercover genocide...ostensibly to prevent or give Terrans the upper hand in Max's predicted Aberrant War. Unfortunately its Proteu's activities, including the sterility program that play a big part in tarnishing Utopia's otherwise noble ideals. It is Proteus that pushes novas too hard, locks them up in Bahrain, engineers Elite conflict to keep them killing each other etc. In effect Proteus exacerbates the problem. If you take away the seedy dark side, maybe Utopia's more noble elements have a chance to really create a Utopia. Rather than Bahrain locking away tainted Novas and pushing them too far, the problem would be taken seriously and Novas would be properly educated about safe power use.

The real kicker to me is...do precogs see *the* future, or do they just see *one* future...and then in their actions actually make it happen? Sort of like Max Mercer = Donnie Darko...he is the Big Q6 equivalent probability altering paramorph. For all his noble intentions, what if all of the things that happen are directly the result of his effect on reality???

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I tend to think that is actually the case. Whether a misguided idealist who didn't really understand his powers, or an arrogant megalomaniac who wanted to custom design the future of the world ( you know what *my* money is on ), his random time jumps and attempts to alter history in response basically created the Aberrant War. Or more precisely, his choices and actions in the 30s and 40s ultimately broke Donighal's faith in humanity, and then through either ignorance, malign neglect, or worse, he created the organization that would for some insane reason decide Thetis was *just the person* to put in charge of black ops.

As an aside, another possible result of this alternate timeline: Proteus might decide to put a bullet in Anna DeVries, early, preempting her organization. With the nova population boom a decade away or so, encouraging elite warfare to prune the nova population is less meaningful. Ergo, it might be worth it to avert nova mercenary companies from becoming prime global factions while glorifying warfare.

( IMO, fanning elite warfare was a double-edged sword in canon, *anyway*. Sure, hundreds or thousands of mostly-Chinese novas got themselves conveniently killed. . . but a few dozen successful elites thus gained power, experience, glory, and money. Trading a dozen dead mooks for a single amoral war god is not much an improvement )

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The paradox here is that Proteus wanted to keep the number of novas down as a sort of undercover genocide...ostensibly to prevent or give Terrans the upper hand in Max's predicted Aberrant War. Unfortunately its Proteus' activities, including the sterility program that play a big part in tarnishing Utopia's otherwise noble ideals. It is Proteus that pushes novas too hard, locks them up in Bahrain, engineers Elite conflict to keep them killing each other etc. In effect Proteus exacerbates the problem.

Agreed that Proteus' efforts were/are/will be (temporal perspective shifts really do mess up one's use of tenses, don't they? ::laugh ) a major catalyst for the Aberrant War, but don't be thinking that removing Thetis' version of Proteus will derail history from that particular course. The major corporations & governments of the time will still be hellbent on exploiting novas in any way they can. The resulting stress can easily sour nova-baseline relations, even without counting the increased risk of accumulating Taint by working their tails off for the local political/business bigshots.

The whole situation is pretty much a global pressure-cooker - all removing Proteus does is vent off some of the hottest steam & slow the cooking process down somewhat. It's just that without Thetis, the pressure will soon be increasing again for different reasons.

Re: Max Mercer-

Now you've got me curious: is Max the misguided idealist (the view which canon seems to support) or the megalomaniac by your thinking? Also, are you taking the "Double-Slit Max" material from Ian Watson's Trinity Storytellers Guide wiki into account?

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The major corporations & governments of the time will still be hellbent on exploiting novas in any way they can.

True, but this doesn't *have* to be destructive. At least in the US it's not like we have slave labor. As the ones with the limited resource, Novas are pretty much in the controlling seat when it comes to contract negotiations.

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Me, personally? I guess you could say I'm a little in between. Which is to say, he started as a misguided idealist slash hypocrite, who thought carefully controlling superhumanity and keeping it from overly influencing the greater world was for the good of humanity ( meanwhile ignoring who and what he was, and how this conveniently made the world more susceptible to his own machinations ).

Sometime later on, probably shortly before or after he raised arms to strike down his best friend, for the crime of trying to stop genocide, he either hardened and darkened himself in response to this 'harsh necessity', or outright admitted to himself that what he really wanted to do all along was be king of the world, manipulating everything from atop his inspired throne. And that means the rest of humanity can't come along.

Which is to say, IMO? The real tragedy of the Adventure era is that, in a time of heroes, there were two that were the greatest. One fell into darkness, and then destroyed the other. Come the 21st century, and the Aberrant era? The Aeon Society that backs rewriting history to hide the truth, perpetrates mass sterilization, seeks to destroy that which it cannot control, seeks to control all superhumans, and ultimately pushes the world into a nigh-apocalyptic war? That is ultimately the true face of Maxwell Mercer, and what he had become.

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Or to phrase it a different way? When the UN declared open war on all novas in 2051 ( or so )?

I envision a scene much like the climax of Watchmen, with Max Mercer sitting before an array of viewing screens displaying the decision, reactions worldwide, the carnage already extant, novas evil, mad, and desperately heroic all alike. . . and Mercer himself crying out ". . .I did it. I DID IT!" in glee.

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Or to phrase it a different way? When the UN declared open war on all novas in 2051 ( or so )?

I envision a scene much like the climax of Watchmen, with Max Mercer sitting before an array of viewing screens displaying the decision, reactions worldwide, the carnage already extant, novas evil, mad, and desperately heroic all alike. . . and Mercer himself crying out ". . .I did it. I DID IT!" in glee.

Hmm.. cool ::biggrin

My take on Max was always that he sullied his soul for the best possible outcome for humanity as a free people. That was his tragedy - that he knew that all the evil things he does/did/will do are necessary, so he keeps Whitley around for a conscience. Mal is a bit of a tragic figure also, but it's difficult to blame Max for him. You've got to remember the era that they grew up in.

I remember my players' revulsion at seeing the happy, friendly humans of Eden; people who had surrendered their spirit to patrons who were so much more than them. It became something of a focus of my game - the difference between being a sentinel and being a patron and being a god.

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I would argue its entirely possible to be sentinel, patron, *and* god. The trick is to instill inspiration in your followers, rather than dependency.

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I would argue its entirely possible to be sentinel, patron, *and* god. The trick is to instill inspiration in your followers, rather than dependency.

Ah, but to do that you need to either 1) pass the responsibility for a people's wellbeing back to those people OR 2) you need to be seen to be capable of failure, or 3) you need to be really evil.

Number 3) will inspire people to overcome you, but if they see you as a God they'll tend to toward despair rather than inspiration. Alternatively they'll be evil too and go out to follow your example. At this point you're not being a sentinel because you're encouraging people to put themselves into harm's way.

Number 2) doesn't work well with the idea of Godness. You'd be a patron rather than a god.

Option 1) only really works if you have a reasonable reason for withdrawing - i.e. your time on this Earth is past - so whilst your message is out there everything else you do is behind the scenes. If you don't withdraw people will come to count on you. If your power is absolute they will depend on you absolutely.

This is a bit of a philosophical thing in my Trinity game: One of the races that my PCs encountered in their travels heard the story of Earth and became convinced that someone was trying to kill off humanity because their culture's belief was that a society's longevity was inversly proportional to the difference in power between an average member of a society and a sentinel for that society. Seeing as Earth had powerful protectors given to it again and again it seemed to them like repeated assassination attempts.

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Add uncertainty to all that and it works a little better.

*Sometimes* you step in. Sometimes you don't.

You don't Heal everything... but you could so it's best to be on your good side.

You don't catch all criminals... but if the common perception is that if someone steps far enough out of line a glowing, bullet proof nova will show up (that's close to a quote).

Etc.

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There's also the usage of mega socials to *specifically* inspire and encourage mortal subjects/followers/worshippers. Sure, your natural inclination might be to let the novas do things for you, but damn it, Superman believes you have it in you to do and be more, and just plain believes in you period. How could you not at least try?

Not all usages of mega socials have to be for selfish reasons, after all.

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... but damn it, Superman believes you have it in you to do and be more, and just plain believes in you period. How could you not at least try?

Works for the Doctor (Who) as well. One of the themes of the show is how the Doctor shows people to be better than they were, or thought they were.

Oh dear, I feel another character idea coming on...::biggrin

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So, presuming Thetis isn't utterly insane ( not a certain presumption ), Proteus' activity would be notably toned down, and lose the biggest ethically dubious element.
Thetis strikes me as a canny sociopath with a pathological phobia of novas from the moment they appear.
And, as far as Proteus, well, you know me. I have argued in the past that they've gone way into black hat territory. Nonetheless, IMO, without the sterility conspiracy, you just don't have the material to found the Aberrant faction. In scale, heinousness, and pointlessness, the sterilization is pretty much the worst thing Proteus does, by far, and the main basis for the backlash that allowed the Aberrants to form. Revelations centered around other stuff done by Proteus, well, it may get you some followers, may galvanize others already opposed to Utopia, but it won't produce the same effect.
In fact, things like the Bahrain prison/experimental test facility are almost necessary in the world. If there's nowhere to put the novas who are violently (or even passively) dangerous to the world at large, your only other option is to somehow exile them from the solar system (thus delaying the problem, and possibly generating new ones) or summary execution (which is not a good precedent to set). If Proteus isn't going to lock them up, then the Directive will kill them, either with firepower or Eclipsodol.

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Oh, I don't doubt that some kind of super prison is needed. The problem is that its all kept secret, and thus ends up being less about imprisoning nova lawbreakers, and more about imprisoning whoever pisses off Project Utopia. Superhumans should get all the normal benefits of due process, or else you are tacitly saying that the Teragen are right, re: novas and the law.

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Oh, I don't doubt that some kind of super prison is needed. The problem is that its all kept secret, and thus ends up being less about imprisoning nova lawbreakers, and more about imprisoning whoever pisses off Project Utopia. Superhumans should get all the normal benefits of due process, or else you are tacitly saying that the Teragen are right, re: novas and the law.
Due Process is a real problem with novas.

Mega-Social 5 might very well mean you *can't* be convicted.

Q6+ might very well mean if they give you the chance to be dangerous you *will* be on a scale that society can't tolerate.

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Due Process is a real problem with novas.

Mega-Social 5 might very well mean you *can't* be convicted.

They cover this specifically in some of the flavor text; I forget if it's in the core book, the APG, or the Year One book, but it mentions at least two novas - a telepath who was "psychic raping" his girlfriend by forcing her to meld with him, and a cult leader who was eating the loners who joined her sex-cult. The telepath didn't even get tried, and the cult leader was found not guilty twice.

You can't try them in absentia or by proxy, because that's not legal (in the US, at least). You could try making them only present in a courtroom via telepresence (or Directive "beer goggles"), but with Almost Live that might still not work. The only way to counter it is to put a higher Mega-Social nova against them as the prosecution ... which leads straight into questions of whether the legal procedures, or the nova powers, are responsible for convictions. If you build some other gadget or technology designed to shield the baseline (or nova) jury from the powers of the nova on trial, you implicitly introduce an element of doubt as to whether the system is (or just could be) rigged; it has taken decades for advances in forensic science, such as fingerprints, DNA, ballistic evidence, to be accepted by Joe Baseline.

There is no good answer. Utopia handles it badly, but it seems to be more because of Proteus than in spite of Proteus. The Bahrain facility is described as a Proteus playground. With a weaker (or non-existant Proteus) the Bahrain facility will probably still exist, but closer to the stated goal of helping novas overcome their Taint. (They may or may not succeed, but without Proteus it makes it more likely.)

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It's year 1 and IMHO that telepath's girlfriend changed her mind after the fact. I.e. she agreed and found it was too much for her. Considering her boyfriend could have reordered her mind I have to think he left her go after she tried to walk away.

Sooth would help a lot. I'm not sure bringing in a higher order M-Social type is "fair", because he or she could convict *anyone*.

So what does that leave? Trial by telepath?

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Of course, with Max there is a third option: He could have gone insane at some point, and possibly tried to erase some of the stuff he was doing/had done. You never know how adjusting the timeline would affect him, and it's possible that remembering all of the extraneous timelines could have made him crazy....

FR

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Why shouldn't he? Admittedly, I am thinking of a certain Outer Limits episode (where a physics professor who was raped develops a time portal allowing her to go back and kill criminals before they did what they got convicted for), but that was reinforced by Parker on Seven Days.

It would fit in with White Wolf that he would be driven insane by all the changes he makes. Of course, it would also be reasonable that he would return to sanity, thus creating a really weird situation: Max-Original makes changes, Max-Insane undoes those changes, and then Max-Sane has to make the original changes stick. If you really want a warped campaign, could you imagine a group backing any one of those three? Snake and Spider anyone?

I know someone's head is going to pop...

TS

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At the moment we're not even sure that Max *can* change the future, much less the past. ::sly

At the other extreme we have the Butterfly Effect or whatever that was called.

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Not *quite* true, I think the APG specified the 'default' assumptions regarding time for the setting. That said, a setting where you have three different Maxwell Mercer's could be interesting. Its even better if this is not clear from the players perspective, though. Both in the "confusing distinct Mercers for the same guy" sense, and the "not realizing a given temporal player is a Mercer" sense.

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