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Aberrant RPG - Toning it down


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In my never-ending quest to find more annoying, yet pertinent questions to ask:

As an ST, do you allow your players to "tone down" their character's mega-Socials?

It is a House Rule I have played with for a long time, but I wanted to check and see if anyone else went that route.

The premise is this: you can control your strength and dexterity so that, barring aberrations, you can lift up both an Earth Mover and a Ming vase. You can run across the Sahara in an hour, but don't sonic boom the folks on the subway when you move to a seat.

Could you do the same thing with your Mega-Social abilities?

In general, we agreed this was most difficult to do with M-App, because it simulates much of your physical appearence, but you could still dress down and hide this pretty easily.

M-Charisma was just internalizing your natural drive and aura. With M-Manip., you were just careful what you said, and how you said it.

All of these are concious actions on the part of the character. Certainly, if you got distracted, or whatever, your natural 'power' came roaring back.

Just some thoughts.

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If the character has had experience of using their powers subtly and is inclined to act that way then I let players tone things down. If someone has just errupted then they probably wouldn't be able to do so. Also certain kinds of nature might make it difficult for someone to turn the power down, especially Mega Socials. If someone always seeks to be the centre of attention but needs to lay low you might want to have them make a willpower roll or something.

In regard to other Mega Atts don't forget the potential of such scenes as:-

I pick up the Ming vase.


'Oopps, sorry about your vase mate, hope it wasn't expensive.'

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I agree with Walker in that I would let a player with experience using the power tone it down, but not someone that just got the power. I play characters getting new powers a little differently than anyone else I've played with, and this would fall into that. Under certain circumstances I may impose a die penalty because they are concentrating to try and hide their true nature, but it would really depend on the character and what they were trying to hide.

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I haven't read anywhere that any of the Mega-Socials are always on. Or at the very least hard to conceal without effort.

Yes, your character has MApp of 3, but if you muss yourself up, you'll look like the other dregs.

You may have a MMani of 3, but do you really want to manipulate everyone around you?

You may have a MCha of 3, but I don't see why you can't just not show off.

Simply put, if a player says they're being "Unobtrusive", let them. Why worry about the rules?

It interests me as to why GMs/DMs/Storytellers/whatnot love trying to find ways to make player's lives difficult.

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"...you can control your strength and dexterity so that, barring aberrations, you can lift up both an Earth Mover and a Ming vase. You can run across the Sahara in an hour, but don't sonic boom the folks on the subway when you move to a seat."

Not sure that carries over. If you are a very strong normal human, you don't have to use your full strength. However, if you're a very likable person, it's hard to not be likeable. You can deliberately try to piss someone off or even just speak in monosyllables, but it's hard to do the equivalent of, say, using only Charisma 3. If you want to deal with someone normally, you pretty much have to be likable. After all, you're not making anybody like you, you just are likable.

With manipulation, everyone is always manipulating everyone. If you have mega-manipulation and you don't want to use it, you would basically be manipulating people into behaving as if you weren't as good at manipulatiing them. Similar issue with mentals, really - you can behave as if you were dumber than you are, but you can't really 'think down.'

Appearance...I can see the dressing down idea, but I'd point out some people in the real world really do look good no matter how they dress (short of layered burlap sacks). Raise this to a superhuman level, and I'm not sure you could pull it off.

Personally, I've never had it come up in a game, but I'd probably take the easy way out and allow variations of Mr. Nobody for mega -charisma and -manipulation.

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I'm leaning towards Alex here, although I notice that few people are considering Dormancy here. Dorming down would allow you to do pretty much exactly as what's specified here, and you can consider it "thinking down" in a very real sense. As has been mentioned long time ago, I suspect that many Mega-Mental Novas learn how to Dorm down quite quickly, if they don't want to go insane in a overstimulating/dumb/slow baseline world...

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Originally posted by Kirby1024:
I'm leaning towards Alex here, although I notice that few people are considering Dormancy here. Dorming down would allow you to do pretty much exactly as what's specified here, and you can consider it "thinking down" in a very real sense. As has been mentioned long time ago, I suspect that many Mega-Mental Novas learn how to Dorm down quite quickly, if they don't want to go insane in a overstimulating/dumb/slow baseline world...
I disagree vehemently with this last bit. That's implying that reducing one's intelligence is preferable to the alternative, and I sincerely doubt most highly-intelligent people would find the diminishment of their faculties an improvement over the idiocy of their lessors. I think the "God, was *I* ever *THAT* stupid?" feeling would echo for a bit, and sure, they'd probably stop associating with the majority of people out there. The advantages such an intellect provides are too-tempting to consciously give up simply because someone doesn't understand you.

I personally suspect Dormancy would be a terrifying to most of the Mega-Intellectuals. It's hard to conceptualize going from 125 IQ to a 60 IQ, for example. Going from say, 300 IQ to 100 IQ would be just as radical, if not more so. Having your vocabulary and language base cut in half would not make you more comfortable in a social environment where you are more accustomed to being far more articulate, for example, nor would the loss of your logic processes necessarily make a bad film more enjoyable. I think the memory of how your mind normally works in comparison to how it was working at that moment in the dormed state would be distracting.

Ashnod always felt "vulnerable" dormed down, and one of the biggest reasons was because her mental capacity was diminished. After seeing the world through Mega-intelligent and Mega-Wits eyes, it was a vastly different world seeing it without it. She couldn't "think as clearly," so to speak.

Perhaps if you didn't remember what it was like to Mega-Intelligent when dormed down, it wouldn't be so bad, but I have a feeling once you powered up again the first time after learning how to dorm you'd be reluctant to do it again, knowing what you give up every time you do it.

The thought of losing any of my mental faculties is horrifying to me, and I'm just a baseline. ^_~
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Originally posted by Kirby1024:
...if they don't want to go insane in a overstimulating/dumb/slow baseline world...
With mega perceptions this is probably a good thing but I think the real geniuses would probably do what Widget and Prodigy do. Start playing games on larger and larger scales. A really rare nova might make the choice but don't you think that'd be unusual? The kind of guy that thought being brilliant would be great but discovered he was alway unhappy and wanted the old life back?

ON Topic:
I agree with these attributes being fundamentally different even if they are just 'other' attributes and enhancements. Remembering the descriptions of some of the social attributes and enhancements (cuz I can't find my ^&^% book) weren't there indications that people reacted differently to the nova just because they possessed the attribute or enhancement?

I think it was worded as people "tend" to this or certain reaction are "usual" or "not uncommon". That makes me think people have an instinctual or subconsious reaction to being in the novas presence.

This kind of thing is why we all wanted the mega social book so badly.
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In terms of the game I run, I tend to fall on the "Always on, at full strength." side of this arguement. Wouldn't a mega-manipulative Nova be using their mega-dice to convince people they're not mega-social?

I like the idea that Nova's mega-attributes sometimes interfere with their ability to interact with others on a "normal" level (ie without mega-attributes in play).

As I see it, if a Player wants to switch off his or her abilities then they should get the Dormancy background. When a Nova is trying to bleed Temporary Taint they're intentionally holding back quantum energies across the board. I'd argue most Novas don't have the precision to hold back on just one mega-attribute at a time.

Speaking of precision. If a mega-strong Nova isn't allowed to hold back some of their auto-successes without the Enhancement of the same name then is it fair to allow a mega-social to?

As the mega-strong sometimes break things without meaning, so do the mega-socials sometimes unintentionally influence regular types (both Nova and baseline).

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I have a couple of thoughts here.

First I’ll tackle mega-appearance … this is the only attribute that I don’t think could be ‘toned down.’ Lets take the example of a mega-beautiful woman who doesn’t want to be recognized. First she dresses up like a bag lady. Then she smears dirt all over her face. Finally she tangles her hair until it’s an unrecognizable mess. When she goes out on the street very few people will actually look at her. They will see the clothing, hair, and maybe the dirt and simply look past her. However anyone who does bother to look will instantly see that under the mess is one attractive lady. Her ‘disguise’ will exploit folks preconceptions and thus their attention but will not fundamentally alter the fact that she is beautiful. Now a full Hollywood special effects makeover or shapeshift on the other hand….

Next up are mega-charisma and mega-manipulation. These I have no problem with someone ‘toning down’ … however it would take constant attention to do so. Most novas wouldn’t bother with taking the effort to learn how or with policing themselves later. The comparison to strength is a good one. After I started lifting weights I was constantly surprised at my own strength for a while. It took time and effort to learn how to not use too much in a given situation. Things like making sure that I don’t squeeze too hard when shaking hands. However some folks never bother. They have the death grip and don’t care to learn how to moderate.

With manipulation it would be pretty easy to avoid ‘using too much.’ Simply thinking about what to say before opening one’s mouth would be enough in many cases. Manipulation is all about getting people to do what you want … so masking desires or talking about other things avoids manipulation all together. Talking on subject so to speak, like at a trial, it would be much harder but would still be doable IMO. At the *very* worst a ST might require a willpower point be spent to avoid manipulation but I don’t think that I would in most cases.

Charisma covers a bit more and would thus be harder to use less of but it would still be doable. Watching what one says, how one dresses, and even how one moves could mute the effects of mega-charisma. Again it would take constant effort and lots of novas simply wouldn’t bother learning how or with policing themselves.

In terms of game mechanics I think that Vixen brought up a strong point:

The section on the removal of taint states that mega-atts and powers must be used at half strength or less, so that seems to imply that they CAN be used at a lesser degree of potency.
I agree 100% that this implies that most mega attributes could be used at a lesser potency … if desired. The key here is that most of the time it would simply take too much effort to bother so baselines and a lot of other novas could easily be influenced unintentionally by a mega-social nova.

Now, while slightly off topic, the dormancy & mega-int / wits discussion is very interesting. Something I would point out to Ashnod though is that a nova who stays dormed most of the time probably wouldn’t mind as much. The might see their brain as being ‘supercharged’ when not dormed but as long as they spend little time that way I don’t think that they would perceive themselves as ‘not thinking clearly’ when dormed.

It *is* a bit more problematic for the ones who don’t dorm regularly but I can think of reasons why a given nova might do so. Aberrations in nova form, especially mental ones, could lead a nova to not mind dorming so much.

Now what I strongly disagree with is the idea that mega-int would lead inevitably to the sphinx like gamesmanship of Widget. Not every normal person has fun training their cats to play with them and do tricks … but essentially that is exactly what Widget is doing. She is playing with beings who are no more match for her than cats are for you and I. In fact that sounds like it would make a very boring hobby for most.

This reminds me of an old saying that goes something like this:

Intelligent people talk about ideas

Above average people talk about things

Dumb people talk about other people.

I think that most mega-int novas would end up focused mostly on things and ideas not people. And playing games with people still means that ones intellect is focused more on people than on ideas or things.
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A couple of thoughts for you, David.

Firstly, we should get the obligatory boiler plate out of the way; the novas conception of what they are and how they do what they do is going to affect their usage of anything even indirectly associated with quantum. Extending this idea just slightly I would say that even though as a group we tend to think of mega-attributes as logrythmic extensions of normal abilities and falling under many of the same rules, the game reality is that's simply a prevalent view not a law of physics. This doesn't directly contradict any of your thoughts but I bring it up to point out we'd be able to find an exception to any idea or interpretation if we invoked that.

mega appearance

I fully agree with your wonderfully worded thoughts here and would sum it up as saying anything capable of obscuring appearance can detract from it. It might get into an interesting opposing contest between the perceptions/preceptions of an onlooker vs the disguise/obscuring abilities of the nova but it's very possible. Some will see the rags and look away while others will see at least a hint of the beauty underneath. Not as clean or as sure a thing as Mr Nobody but such is life in the game.


In general I'm less inclined to your way of thinking here even though I accept the premise that muting the effect is possible. Yes, the examples you cite are going to, or at least should, lead to less of an effect in onlooker. That doesn't change the fact that the onlooker are looking to the nova just because the nova isn't exploiting the effect for a goal. Muting the attribute? No, you're muting an overt effect but as they're going to notice the nova in this manner I don't think anyone can claim they were "one of the guys".

The nova is simply refraining from exploiting the notice/fascination.

segue on dormancy & mega-int / wits

Interesting to me as well but I would draw your attention to the fact that you're stipulating less reluctance from one who dorms regularly without actually overting stipulating why they might be dorming. The reasons are very possibly interlinked and rooted in personality as well as how they perceive their full abilities. That gets back to the boiler plate I mentioned above so I'll drop it now.

The aberrations argument is interesting and germane but again leads back into personality and perceptions. Essentially it invokes the core issue in the game of power vs price. While we generally think of the price as that paid for gaining greater power, you've pointed out that the price is one that may be called due at what we view as lower power levels and with starting novas. Is it worth whatever power you can access when you're active to appear hideous? Or taking the chance of doing something you're against when dormed but might seem reasonable when fully charged?

Even though we're speaking of other attributes, this still reminds me of Jekyl/Hyde or the modern retelling of the story as Bruce Banner / the Hulk. The alter ego is the transcendent state of freedom but the original personality may well hesitate to set the other side free knowing it can and eventually will do things they themselves would be horrified by.

Intellect and sphinx-dom

I disagree on the views regarding mega intellect and sphinx mentality. Also, I have some knowledge of Widget and can honestly say there are as many different views of the character as there are people expressing opinions. Some of us saw her as the epitome of intellect on the path of the sphinx mentality while others saw her as the conceptual opposite of it doing battle against sphinxes while trying not to become as they are.

Mileage varies.

More to the point; I think it can safely be said intellects are going to use their gifts. The point isn't that they will inevitably lose empathy rather that they will see the world differently than lesser intellects.

As much as I like your proverb I am forced to examine the possibility that it doesn't really apply to the types of beings we're talking about. Your definition of "people" on a personal level is probably at least slightly divergent from mine. This isn't going to change just because one of us has more raw mental processing ability than any other being on the planet. I am willing to believe after living in that state for a while, the nova's personal definition is going to shift from the starting position. It may lead to a state of heightened compassion rather than disdain for the lesser intellects.

Mileage is going to vary depending on your starting assumptions of the individual.

One intellect might, from a simple compassion of nature, work tirelessly to perform tasks seen as furthering or assisting mankind. Another may play the social games we think of when we speak of the sphinx. Its not the tools or their goals that seperate them. The motivation that drive their actions is what defines their differences. I should point out its possible that compassionate nova might be the biggest bastard you can envision while the sphinx the most beneficient of god-kings. Compassionate does equate to nice and not everyone is out to get you just because they don't particularly care about you.

Both are using their intellect and solving riddles and as always mileage will vary. wink

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I've always assumed that Mega-Stamina couldn't be lowered for most Mega-Stamina things. (Exception: Regen).

Ditto lots of other megas.

We do have the option to not go all out for powers (not roll Megas for Shapechange or whatever).

So the question is, do we have the option to be lazy and not roll all dice when doing a normal skill task? I think the answer is "Yes".

A better question is to what degree we can control it? Can we drop Mega-App for one person but not for another?

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I disagree with your perspective, but that's the nature of them, we can disagree and agree. ^_^

Unless the Nova erupted with the ability to dorm, they are going to spend a significant portion of their "learning to dorm" period with their hightened intellect fully active. Hence, the first time you dorm, you're going to be caught off guard at times by how limited you've become.

Imagine your full intelligence and mental faculties are they are now. Imagine it now being reduced...30%? 50%? Can you even conceive of what that would be like? If you had the ability to do it at will, WOULD you? WHY?

I'm not saying that Mega-Intellectuals don't dorm, far from it. Surivival, disguise, there are any number of reasons they would need to depending on the circumstance. I am saying, however, that I don't believe any Mega-Intellectual is going to dorm down SPECIFICALLY, in Kirby's words, to not "go insane in a overstimulating/dumb/slow baseline world..."

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"would a nova who had Downs Syndrome in their pre-nova life and erupted with Mega-Int *ever* dorm?"

"Flowers For Algernon."

Nice thought - throws a new perspective on Ashnod's comments.

However, it should be pointed out that most dormed mega-mentals are still going to be smart - they still retain increased Attributes, just not Mega-Attributes. While not required, it is likely that a Mega-Intelligent nova would also have increase intelligence. Be an odd duck who didn't.

Could be interesting to play though...

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FYI: pg. 150 of the Basic Aberrant book.

It specifically says that

"... utilizing all quantum powers and Mega-Attributes at maximum of half normal strength, ..."

Okay, that implies that any mega-attribute could be used "toned down". For instance, you could punch someone with less than you full Mega-Strength, but I would believe it would have to be used in full levels (5 automatic successes/level used).

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Originally posted by David Kincaid:
Ashnod, would that not vary depending on the goals and personality of the nova in question?

Now for an even more extreme example would a nova who had Downs Syndrome in their pre-nova life and erupted with Mega-Int *ever* dorm?
It's probably worth pointing out at this point that a Nova with Downs Syndrome would either have the condition lessened/cured by nova-dom, or have it significantly increased by Taint, but the point is made.


Ashnod, I respectfully retract the strong version of my original argument. I see where you're going, and can identify with it enough to see how it could apply (hell, my greatest fear in this world is losing my mind, even beyond the fear of death or losing my loved ones).

That said, I think you are discarding the weak version of the argument out-of-hand. Consider. I often watch television for the sole purpose of "turning my brain off". Even me, a person who considers his mind an integral aspect of my personality, often finds that my tendency to over-think things to be somewhat annoying. It gets in the way of a considerable amount of activities that simply don't require much thinking.

There are plenty of activities that humans do automatically, to the point that trying to think about how we do something actually interferes with our process of doing it. In this case, finding ways to "downgrade" a person's cognitive capabilities has considerable utility.

Consider an interesting example of a detective who erupts. Before his eruption, he was a highly intuitive detective, relying on his capacity to think like they think, to be able to anticipate where they're heading. However, he was always jealous of those detectives who seem to be able to pick up the crooks purely with the evidence. At the very least, they weren't killing themselves by forcing a change in perspective.

So, in short, the empathic detective becomes a Cold, Mega-Intelligent Nova, capable of taking even the slightest hints of evidence, and then determining who the killer was, and how the killing took place. To the second.

Unfortunately, In this city there's another Mega-Intelligent Nova, one who isn't Cold. He's smart to the point where the evidence never points to him. In fact, it doesn't point to anyone. However, the Mega-Intelligent Nova is, to some extent, still human, and still reacts, to a point, like a human.

In short, what's needed here is not a factual approach, but an empathic approach. This can come up more than one would expect. The evidence is not always clear. Even the best Evidence Gatherers may get stuck if they don't take into account motivations and emotional states of the criminals they track down (something that a Cold nova might not be capable of doing). In such a case, it might well be in the nova's best interest to learn to dorm down at will, specifically so he can shut his brain off, and work on an empathic level again.

Let's take another tack. Are we sure that every Mega-Intelligent Nova will consider their intelligence part of their persona?

Consider me. As stated above, my mind is what is most important to me. You can cripple me, and my view of myself isn't irreparably harmed. You can disfigure me in a freak accident, and my view of myself probably won't suffer too much. But take away my mind, take away my thinking capabilities, and my sense of self goes out the window. My mind is what I am.

I may sound like I'm supporting Ashnod's argument here, but bear with me. Now, we've considered that case. Now let's consider some other cases.

Say we have a Model. This Model is at the top of her profession, one step away from being a supermodel. She doesn't need to rely on her mind all that much, although certainly she's not stupid. Say she gets into an accident. Her exterior is not affected, but she gains some minor brain damage, just enough to reduce her mental capacity by 15 IQ points or so. It's definitely a massive change (it's a standard deviation's worth of change to be precise), but will she really miss it? This is debatable. Her mind is not a primary aspect of who she is. It's her looks, what she relies on everyday, that is more likely to be a primary aspect. If you disfigured her, say in a freak acid accident, this would more likely ruin her for a considerable amount of time. Her entire livelihood, gone in a puff of smoke.

Consider another example, one of the body-builder. He's also top of his profession, gaining medals for his work at various body-building competitions. Again, he's not stupid, but he's not generally required to call upon his cognitive capacities, except in the usual, everyday manner. In this case, it's his physical attributes, his strength, that would seem to be his primary association with his self-image. Now, you could place him in the same accident as before, drop his IQ by a standard deviation. It probably won't have that much effect on how he lives his life. But, say, make him a quadraplegic...

I think, Ashnod, that you place far too much emphasis on the mind as the be-all, end-all. That the mind changes everything. I'm not entirely sure that view is justified. I find it somewhat unlikely that every Mega-Intelligent/Witty nova has that attribute as their primary association with their self-image. There are plenty of professions where large amounts of thinking are not required, and if you talk to some intellectuals, even they will tell you that they do not think all the time. They often have hobbies that mean they don't have to think for a while. Intelligence is as limiting as it is expanding, and I'm sure that anyone past IQ 130 will be able to talk to you at length about this (alas, I cannot, My IQ only lies at around 110-126).

I'm not convinced that that magic dot in Mega-Intelligence/Wits must change a nova to the point where they cannot live without it. I agree that the probability of this is somewhat hight, but were this the case, then this argument should extend to the Mega-Physical traits as well as Mega-Mental and Mega-Social. This should apply to all Quantum Powers, to all Enhancements. In short, I think your argument is too broad.

There are a multitude of reasons why a Mega-Intelligent/Witty nova may not consider that trait among their primary self associations. I do not believe that a person uses these traits in every mental endeavour. I believe that it logically does not make sense, and also makes for boring role-playing. If every Mega-Intelligent Nova must be entirely reliant upon their Mega-Traits, then it removes much of variety that should be present.
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It's not about considering your intelligence part of your "persona." It's about the fact that it makes up how you look at the world, how you perceive it, how you catalog it, essentially your entirely REALITY is defined by your mind. You can envision half your strength, cause your body is somewhat exterior to whatever it is that makes up your conscious self. You can see it.

Intelligence, the mind, however you label it, defines everything about you internally. You can examine your charisma, your manipulation, your appearance, your stamina, your strength, and your dexterity. This does not work in reverse. The Mental Attributes define and qualify the other 6. You can consciously CHOOSE to use less Strength than you have. You can CHOOSE not to be as Manipulate as you normally do. Can you CHOOSE to not use all of your Intelligence? no.

You CAN choose to limit your knowledges, ergo, make the conscious decision to not use a certain set of sciences to solve a problem, but your logic, creativity, and intuitive centers are still working at their full levels. Essentially, the CPU, Hard Disk, and motherboard are still working, but some files aren't accessible. Ironically, you're making your intelligence work overtime, because you've defined parameters that it must work within to solve the given problem. Plus, you have to make the cognizant decision to abandon any solutions that occur because unintentional use of the sciences you've chosen to deny yourself.

Dorming down, you understand, means you're downgrading the CPU, Hard Disk, and Motherboard to legacy equipment.

It's not about defining yourself by your intelligence. It's that your intelligence defines how you exist. Not in terms of quality of happiness, but how you see the world and interact with it.

To address your examples:

A bodybuilder who loses half his IQ might forget proper safety and workout habits.

The model who loses 15 IQ now has trouble holding the same degree of conversations she had before the accident. She frequently forgets words and pauses for a while to remember exactly what she was thinking about. The rest of community begin to slowly drift away from her as a result.

Granted, it will be dependant upon how intelligent they were to begin with, but simply because they CONSCIOUSLY defined their livelihood by another attribute doesn't mean their internal self isn't affected.

Changes in how you can process, recall, create, or understand information alters fundamental pieces of someone's identity, whether they are conscious of this or not.

To your other point, about "turning your brain off." Choosing an activity which requires you not to think doesn't alter your ability to think. You're still processing information while watching TV, even if you're not processing it to the same degree that say, calculus, but if you halved your intelligence before watching TV, are you going to enjoy it the same way you would normally. Constantly thinking isn't what I'm getting at, it's having the capacity for thought diminished when you might actually want or need to.

When you have the choice of having all of your mental faculties, or a percentage of them, I really don't think most people are going to opt to have their faculties reduced unless circumstances require them to be.

According the the text, a SINGLE dot of Mega Intelligence makes the Nova immeasurable by human standards of intelligence. As the dots increase, so does the factor of immeasurability. At 3-5 dots, a single dot Mega-Intellectual is incapable of comprehending the mind of the higher-rated Nova. They are simply that far off the charts. Now, dorm that Nova back down to a simple 130-180 IQ individual...you've gone from being immeasurable by most Novas to being less intelligent than some baselines.

Think about it.

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I guess the thing that rankles me about your argument is the insistence that Intelligence is "Special" - That it's inviolable, where I can see plenty of cases where that's not the case. Perhaps it's useful to split the argument between it's Real life implications and it's Game implications, because the two are mildly different.

According to your argument, I can choose to make limited use of any of my faculties bar one - Intelligence. I can reduce my strength, be more clumsy, hurt more, see less, react slower, look worse, convince less, and be liked less, but the one thing I cannot do is think with less clarity. This singling out, I think is somewhat misguided.

I mean, I've really had to think about how a person might use less than their entire Dexterity or Stamina. I'm not sure it's possible. In the case of Dexterity, you can try, if you like, to throw something sloppily, to not balance your best, but if you think about it, this changes nothing. You may remove some important heuristic that you use to go at your best, but everything you use other than that is still at that higher performance rate. It's not dropping your effective Dexterity, it's directly countering your high Dexterity rate by using tricks that make the task harder. In game terms, you're not using less dice, you're just upping the Difficulty.

I find this situation is mirrored in Stamina. How the hell do you consciously use less Stamina? I'm not sure you can. Again, you can use tricks to "cancel out" your advantageous higher stamina, but again, in game terms this is more like upping difficulty, not reducing dice pools. You're making the task more difficult for yourself, rather than reducing your inherant capabilities.

Does this sound familiar? This sounds very similar to the argument you're using to isolate Intelligence. I think this argument can, in fact, be applied to every Attribute. You don't reduce your Appearance, you place a difficulty on yourself to cancel out your advantageous higher Appearance. Same with Manipulation. You're still just as Manipulative, you're just making it more difficult by not using a few tricks you know. Not reducing your inherant capabilities, making it more difficult to leverage that advantage.

In this case, I can't see how Intelligence can be isolated. As I said, your argument is too broad - it can be applied to all the Attributes. It may even be possible to extend it out to the Mega-Attributes and Quantum Powers, although I can see reasons why you wouldn't. Intelligence, though, is no more special than any other inherant trait you have. In that case, You must either apply the rule consistently to all Attributes, or not Apply it at all.

And as I've said, a higher Intelligence brings with it it's own problems, problems that would be magnified at Hyperint levels. Even at my somewhat low IQ (which at most is still only 1 and a bit Standard Deviations out), I've felt the loneliness of knowing that I'm seeing the world differently to everyone else. More than once, I've wished to only be as intelligent as everyone else, just so I can fit in.

Why wouldn't a nova feel that way? Intelligence is isolating. Humans are inherantly social creatures. If there's anything that Psychology has shown, it's that at least. Humans get seriously screwy without a social circle they can relate to. If they don't have it, they get depressed, their social capacities get stunted, Mentally, bad stuff happens. Now, we can say that a Mega-Intelligent nova Transcends this, but I'm not so sure. A Mega-Intelligent nova will certainly rationalise things far easier, but that cognitive anxiety is still under all that rationalisation, and that sort of thing does not die.

In this case, why wouldn't a Mega-Intelligent nova realise that the best thing for them may well be to dorm down, specifically so they can have a chance at relating to people? It makes perfect sense to a Intelligence 3 boy here, surely it must be plain in the face to someone beyond my level (then again, maybe not - that rationalisation is in high gear in Mega-Intelligent novas, they may refuse to see it at all).

Remember, every nova was once human, even the Mega-Intelligent ones - That humanity doesn't disappear even when you transcend the IQ scale. Intelligence is not inherantly good for a human, although certainly a hyperint might think so. A nova may leave that humanity behind, choose to embrace that which is inhuman (and baseline humans have done so, so it's not like they can't) - but during the initial stages of being a nova, that humanity weighs heavily even on those with transcendent IQs. It's only after weighing the choices that a hyperint may choose to reject his humanity. I don't believe that every hyperint will choose this road - some will attempt to hold on to their humanity, and much of that may involve repressing their Mega-Intelligence by dorming down.

Now, I'm not saying it's a perfect solution - they certainly will realise that they're missing out on what they once had. But maybe that mind will rationalise it as a choice they had to make. Emotions make strange bedfellows of everyone. Noone's immune to emotions clouding their judgement. Hyperints may be better at keeping their logic on the straight and narrow, but even Hyperints can't carry the entirety of the world in their head - they have to restrict some of their view, and in that, emotion and illogic will have a part in what they reject.

I think that you're downgrading the bad sides of Intelligence, in many ways. I'm sure that there are plenty of novas who react exactly as you state, just as I'm equally sure that there will be novas who are terrified of their inhuman intellects and wish to run away from them, or that there will be those who choose to forsake their intelligence for the chance to speak to their lifelong friends.

In Aberrant, you cannot forget your humanity. You cannot forget that there are implications for each part of humanity you give up. Not everyone will willingly take that road. Mega-Intelligent Novas can only think as well as the information that is given to them, or the information that they choose to be relevant. And that makes much of the difference in this case. There will be people who act counter to how you would react. It's human nature, after all.

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Toning down your intelligence:

Being spontaneous; not over-analyzing things; having somewhat dangerous fun

-Intelligence being your knowledge capacity and your ability to corrilate data in a reasonalble fashion.

Toning down your wits:

Mindless activities; repetative tasks; enjoying a long, quiet moment.

-Wits being how quickly you use your intellect and process your perceptions.

Toning down your percetpion:

Okay, who has ever gone around without their glasses when they need them? For that matter, you can limit what you look at and hear, though it is a concious effort.

-Perception being how well you corrilate what your sense pick up.

Just my theories on the matter. Besides, apparently novas can limit how much they use their megas, no matter how much we can or can't limit our normal attributes.

On a good reason someone would limit their own mega-Int.: You have these friends you really like and your just a tad smarter than they are, but you like hanging around with them. You become brighter and brighter and they don't. Sometimes you just want to hang out with your friends, but your massive intellect keeps getting in the way. You realize you are 'looking down' on your less intellectual friends. So, you elect to 'dumb down' for a time and enjoy the good ole days.

After all, I do think M-Int is one of the great seperating factors for nova/baseline relations and even nova/nova relations.

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I will now choose to be spontaneous... smile

Seems like the main difference between some of the arguers is that one can, or envision, leting their mind idle and the other can't. Okay, that jives with what I know about people. One can go to the worst movie and enjoy the eye candy while the other one is thinking about the dialogue, the lighting, the design of their chairs, how the popcorn tastes better at this theater but the soda is flat...

Toning down your wits:

I like your example of perception better, the part about making a conscious effort. I would think toning down wits would involve making conscious effort and being aware of the motions you're making. Let's just say it's like meditating and being actually aware instead of simply doing.

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Originally posted by Jager:
Just my theories on the matter. Besides, apparently novas can limit how much they use their megas, no matter how much we can or can't limit our normal attributes.
And I can think of easy ways in which to rationalise this - Mega-Attributes and Quantum Powers are based upon their Quantum. A Nova can reduce their effectiveness by reducing the level of Quantum energy dedicated to those capabilities...
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Another interesting take on this:

There is no way in the IC world of "measuring" Taint, aside from the fact that at some point, you aberrate. In fact, if you are acquiring Taint as a result of Quantum or Node increase, do you even realize that you're acquiring it?

Secondly, how does a Nova decide "Okay, I need to try and reduce my Taint?" A player can decide, "I'm three temp points away from getting my first aberration, so I need my character to take it easy for a while so I can try and roll some of this off."

I've always felt the "using everything at half" to make an attempt at reducing Taint is more a player mechanic than an actual known IC way of reducing something there is no way of really quantifying.

For example, I doubt you can be told at a Rashoud Facility that if you only use half your power for a few weeks you can try expelling some Taint. Concepts of permanent and temporary Taint simply don't exist to the characters.

What's everyone else's take on this?

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Well I think that there is a general understanding that if you use your abilities less that it helps reduce quantum buildup.

I also think that it while IC a character might not know that he has 3 permanant and 8 temporary taint ... he might know that he has been pushing it lately & innately feel that he should take it easy for a while.

Brainwaves also has a Mega-Perception enhancement to allow a PC to know *exactly* how much taint they have....

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And Ashnod rocks the house again.

Observation one would explain why some novas rack up taint with apparent ignorance/disregard; they can't really judge it until they aberrate. And even then they're responding to the aberration not the taint. Of course the social penalties of taint means baseline react badly to them based (in the novas mind) on a trifling matter like strange eyes, tentacles or odd skin conditions so the nova starts thinking bad thoughts about baselines. That throws an interesting light on the sense of alienation novas experience.

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Good one, Ashnod.

In the games I have been in(were it mattered), and the ones I've run, you could feel yourself accumulating temporary taint, just not how much.

There were two ways to get used to it.

1) It builds up until it becomes permanent taint, then your mind and body adapt to it.

2) You make an active effort to "fight it off", so to speak. Basically, you take it easy, dorm down a for a while, and don't do anything to stress your system, and your body eventually flushes it out.

My view on it anyway. One of the odd things can be how the mind and body interpret Temp. Taint. To some, it might feel like a good thing, like a "high".

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There is no way in the IC world of "measuring" Taint, aside from the fact that at some point, you aberrate. In fact, if you are acquiring Taint as a result of Quantum or Node increase, do you even realize that you're acquiring it?

There is an example in the books (AB:World Wide?) where a nova (ZOD? ZOB?) is starting to develop metalic skin. As I recall he already had one low level aberration (big head). My impression was that (for this character at least) an aberration doesn't just "pop" into being when you hit temp taint 10.

And I've always felt that one of the causes of the war was PU not telling everyone about taint. Yes, it would have scared the baselines, but the novas could have then gotten less taint and stayed saner.

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I can certainly see a few permutations that could result from this problem.

Has anyone considered running the game in which Aberrations "creep up slowly"? You pick the next aberration the character gets, then as your Temporary Taint increases, the Aberration starts

"phasing in", so to speak. If you play with something like this, it might allow a character to see that he's obviously been working too hard, and maybe he should cool down for a while. Alternately, it may come so subtlely that he won't notice the change until it's too late...

Alternately, especially after a major Backlash (if you botch a big Max out roll), the book indicates that it's not unusual to manifest temporary Aberrations due to the sudden influx of Taint. Again, when you suddenly start hearing voices in your head, you might consider cooling down...

That said, if you can't sense it, you got no chance. It might not manifest in a concrete way, more of a sense of "not right-ness". Of course, Terats may not feel that way at all, choosing to embrace that feeling.

Either way, I'm not sure how much I can add to the discussion - most of the good comments have been taken already cool

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... is starting to develop metalic skin.

Mmm... I seem to remember, somewhere in the core book, a recommendation for temporary taint giving the nova a 'precursor' view of aberrations. Using Troll's example from the book, the nova's skin begins to take on a metallic sheen so they have a choice of trying to throttle down their usage and hope it goes away or ignoring it and doing what they need to do.

As a character there may well be no way to know whether something is permanent or temporary except by trying to moderate quantum usage and seeing if it goes away. It must seem almost inexplicable to the characters since they don't know about permanent vice temporary taints.

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I assume that most Novas have been told a little about Quantum Backlash Syndrome during their training at a Rashoud Facility. Part of their training program could involve instruction on sensible use of your powers, not over-stretching yourself, and resting properly if you suffer backlash.

Even Teragen trained Novas would be educated on controlling the flow of Taint within themselves, as part of their education in controlling and transforming it into Chrysalis.

I've always interpretted Project:Utopia's hesitence to be more open about Taint as something of a good thing. They don't want to freak out baseline humanity with the news that the stronger Novas get, the crazier they get. There'd be death squads knocking on every Nova's door.

Maybe the war starts because the news about Taint gets out.

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I'm not so sure about that. In operation Genesis (the follow on to Eden) PU pushes the hell out of their novas and Proteus is given instructions to get them out of sight as soon as they begin to aberrate. I'm not commenting on the beneficience of the Project here, it just seems strange so many novas would allow themselves to be pushed so hard if awareness of quantum backlash was in their early training.

It's like being educated on the dangers of steroids and then being offered your very own trainer to make sure you get the needle in the vein properly.

PU sets itself up as the authority on all things nova. One side of that may be that if you got problems you get a visit from PU, or a temporary stay in Bahrain as talked about in the books, as a wake up call. But the information to make informed decisions on your own? That's not what PU is about. They can't be and still hold the position of authority they need to pull off their agenda.

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Cody, Steriods are bad ... unless a doctor administers the injections, or so I'm told. Utopia could be playing the same game.

Personally, I think that by this time in the Aberrant product development, the decision that Utopia = Bad/ Teragen = Good had been made.

Thus we are left with these dumb-ass calls and the over-obvious indications that "something is rotten" at the core of Utopia. Utopia keeps getting more heavy-handed, and Proteus gets even worse. Somewhere along the way, Aberrant stopped being an adult superhero game and something to be played by 12-year olds. To me, anyway.

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For me it was the portrayal of the Teragen in any of the books outside of the core book and AB: Terragen. Aside from the schizo attitude, "Brotherhood of Evil Mutants" vs "Alien Gods", the need for every possible faction to be represented while insuring the scenerio ends with definitive resolutions (found at the end of the plot railroad tracks) doesn't work well in their case.

And while we're talking about it; somebody needs to slap that little shit Synapse as the zip fanboy and poseur as he inevitably ends up being cast as whenever he gets introduced. Powerful yeah but a little character development would have gone a long way in his case. And they call Corbin a screw off.


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Jager, I for one have to agree that for a time Aberrant got Hijacked by a plot that I frankly don't see it shouldn't have gone.

Fortunately, a good GM can realise that there is no "canon police" that keep you and your gaming group in line with the storyline.

I have said it before and I will say it again, if you don't see something you like, change it. Quite frankly the world as I see it is:



Teragen=Everything in between.

Elites=A necessary evil.

Corporates=Some good(Endeavor *wink*), some evil.

Independents=The true good guys.

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That whole storyline in Phase 1 is a little confusing. On one hand Proteus seems desperate to protect the world from Taint-crazed Novas, yet they are letting Utopia push their operatives beyond safe limits (although the Novas are all using adrenocillin to reduce the stress). As you say, it's at this point the metaplot really pushes the Utopia = Bad/ Teragen = Good line.

As it seems to be running in my game, from my Players perspectives (don't want to give the game away to those who come on this site).

Utopia: Good, but misguided.

Proteus: Evil.

Teragen: Varies from Casablancas (good) to Harvesters (evil). Nova Vigilance is somewhere in the middle.

Directive: At the moment, the Players see little difference between them and Proteus.

Aberrants: Good.

Independants: Normally good (the Players are independant).

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Certainly not absolutes, they're just the way things seem to the Players at the moment. Whether it's true or not, I leave up to the investigative prowess of my Players.

They aren't sure that the entirety of the Directive is evil, recent evidence points to a Sphinx manipulating the English branch.

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Sphere:I've always interpreted Project:Utopia's hesitance to be more open about Taint as something of a good thing. They don't want to freak out baseline humanity with the news that the stronger Novas get, the crazier they get. There'd be death squads knocking on every Nova's door.
In the short run, it is a good thing.

In the long run, the truth couldn't be hidden, and while PU was hiding from it, a bunch of ignorant novas racked up a truckload of taint. Worse, hiding from the truth left a vacuum that the Teragen stepped in and filled.

In general, novas shouldn't power max, and if they do they should only do so rarely and only in times of great need. Meeting an arbitrary deadline for someone's progress report doesn't fit that bill. And note that it wasn't just the teraforming project that was doing this. The nova who went nuts and started the war by trashing the op-net was a Microsoft Employee, debugging computer programs.
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